aspiring to live life out of LOVE and not FEAR

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Really Awesome Dude

I've mentioned girly in previous posts, my spunky 8 year old, and hubby in passing, but so far I haven't mentioned my Really Awesome Dude. The backstory, in an appalingly too brief nutshell, is that we struggled with infertility, went through humiliating tests, expensive treatments and I became a depressed human pincushion. That lasted about three years and was my first big crisis in life, the rock my world, make me question everything I believe in how God relates to me kind of way. Needless to say, that time in my life became a fork in the road for me and I think that I took the road less travelled that made all the difference, and that was that while I was angry and confused, I chose to dump all my junk right on God's lap, pound his chest, sob, and we got through it together. I'm sure I'll go through more of that in more detail in later posts, but today I really want to tell you about my son, my Really Awesome Dude, and you have to know about what led my hubby and I to adopt. And you need to know that it wasn't because we were super-spiritual-better-than-you kind of people. We wanted kids. They weren't coming in the usual way, so we started looking into adoption. Now, 7 plus years later, adoption is for sure the way I would have built my family even if I could go back in a time machine and change those heartbreaking years.

Back to the point, my Really Awesome Dude. He and my girlie were both born in Russia. We found a great local adoption agency and jumped through the hoops, exchanging our medical bearing-all for a different kind of self-exposure. Homestudy, interviews with therapists, financial statements, discussions about how we settle conflict, yada, yada, yada. And then, we finally landed on American soil with the two cutest kiddos in existance. Girlie was 7 months old, with a brown lady helmet hairdo and Really Awesome Dude was 20 months, with an unhealed scab on the back of his head from rocking himself in his crib. Both had pale, waxy skin and dry hair. Both were teeny and scrawny. We were scared and exhilirated and wondered what on earth we had done.

Things went quite easily with girlie. She was like a 14 pound tree frog, clinging to me, searching my eyes and absorbing every ounce of love I had for her. And I had a lot. She was gorgeous and wanted me to hold her every second of every day, which is exactly what I had longed for for several years. We clicked instantly. Really Awesome Dude was hubby's charge for most of the stay in Russia as well as the trip home. He wasn't sure what to do with a baby, so girlie became a permanent attachment to my left hip and he and Dude began to figure out life together. But things for Dude were a lot more challenging. He didn't know how to be held, make eye contact, accept comfort and his world was just ROCKED. And he didn't like it one bit. He reacted out of fear, arching his back when we held him, refusing to be rocked to sleep, screaming and rocking himself in his bed until he finally fell asleep exhausted. I wasn't sure what was going on, but I knew life wouldn't be the same and I was overwhelmed. Hubby and I both struggled, a LOT, over the next few years. More to come on that later on. I'm trying to get to my point. Sheesh, I give a lot of background. Kudos if you're still following.

Eventually things got so out of control with Dude that we had to seek professional help. Enough denial, enough hoping that more time would equal growing out of it. When he went to Kindergarten, things erupted, and God bless his K teacher, because she earned at least a million jewels in her crown that year.

We sought out a child psyciatrist and got the diagnosis I'd been dreading for five years: Reactive Attachment Disorder. Unless you're an adoptive or foster parent, or a therapist, you probably don't know much about it. Google it, just for kicks, and see how scary it is when you find lists that say Adolf Hitler and his ilk had RAD.

In the past two years, since the diagnosis, we've had plenty of ups and downs. I just got a packet in the mail from the therapist's office containing this year's notes: 2 inches thick. For reals. Had to make a copy of it - $48 at Kinko's. Yep. I've thought I was about to lose my sanity, my marriage and be locked up in a funny farm. But I haven't and I'm not. THE GRACE OF GOD, people. Grace of God.

This is how I survive the yearly insurance reevaluation mountain-o-paperwork: taking myself out to lunch and enjoying some good coffee. This is how I spent our rainy day today, in a presh hat, no less.

My Reactive Attachment Disordered kid is now my Really Awesome Dude. Last year at this time he was in an alternative learning environment classroom for 45 minutes each day with me in the classroom. This year he's in a regular 3rd grade class. And that has only happened because he's worked darn hard and because the ALE teacher is practically a saint. He's had outside-his-mind fits, sure, bitten me and twist-pinched me leaving goose eggs that have melted into rainbow colored bruises, yes. But we're making it. He's also learning that his dad and I are sticking around, no matter what. That he matters. That no matter how hard he tries to push us away out of trauma and self-preservation, we will not go away and he is not on his own. He's learned to use words and trust us and his teachers to help him deal with anxiety, overwhelm and terror.

Oh my gosh, when I think about how many times I've treated God the same way, attempting to keep control to myself, afraid to trust him, comforting myself in maladaptive ways (BlueBell stuffing control freak!!), the more I've come to realize that I have Reactive Attachment Disorder, for crying out loud. The attachment therapist once told me that Dude is my "opportunity to grow" and wow, was she right. Because he's taught me so much about the Lord's love for me that I wouldn't undo one single insane meltdown (of either of ours). If I, an emotional and conditionally loving human can stick with him and love him as fiercely as I do, then how much more does God love me? My perfectionistic-perform-so-I'll-please-God kind of mentality is gone. Glory hallelujah, amen. He loves me because of who HE is. Because he's the dad. He knows I struggle and push him away out of my own fear. He's patient. He can take my doubts and my failings. Does that make me want to act out and live a hedonistic wild existence? Heck no. It makes me crazy nuts about him. I can finally be loved freely and love freely. I can falter and grow. I can revel in grace. I can give it to others because I've received it. And it's because of the most unlikely gift in the world: Reactive Attachment Disorder. God, thank you for my Really Awesome Dude. He's a treasure and you gave him to me. How on earth could you love me that much?

And for a crazy girl who makes me remember to find my silly, I am eternally grateful:

1 comment:

  1. I know you've shared that video link before, but I've never watched it until this morning. I sat and watched several of hers. As much as I don't want them to and our last counselor said they didn't, they fit Jae in so many ways. I'm waiting on a referral now. Time for more help.