Is there healing from Reactive Attachment Disorder without treatment? The experts say no. I would almost agree, as RAD is notoriously difficult (but not certainly not impossible) to heal even with treatment. But then there’s my strange story…
RAD Girl Gone Wild, Down a Perilous Road
Is there healing from Reactive Attachment Disorder — for A RAD girl gone wild?
No RAD therapy or treatment, no training for my parents so they would know how to deal with me, no EMDR, NFB…nothing, because there was nothing — unless you count a few months of one-on-one counseling with a therapist who had never heard of attachment disorders. Few had at that time.
And as we have seen, this approach does not work with RAD. Slowly healing over the course of decades is not something I’d recommend, especially for the poor parents. The experts say that no one ever heals from RAD without intervention and the proper help. Some even claim that no one ever heals from it at all.
To this latter statement, I say nonsense. I guess my own intervention and help – the first part anyway — was a bit unorthodox — okay, very unorthodox! Again, not something I’d recommend to anyone. But I’m sure my parents were desperate. I was desperate.
As I stated in that earlier post, I grew up in great need of affection, yet shunning the affection I so desperately needed, which is typical of these kids. I knew there was something different about me, something missing inside, but couldn’t put my finger on it. I mentioned moving through life like a zombie, on the inside anyway.
In some ways, I seemed like a perfectly normal little girl, and later, a perfectly normal, silly, hormonal teen. But on the inside, everything was different.
There was a disconnect – it’s so hard to describe. It was like living in a hologram, where I’m the only thing that’s real and the world and people around me, while they look, act, and sound real, are mere holograms.
Or…is it me that is the hologram? The emptiness inside was indescribable. While there were a few friendships that lasted years, my relationships were superficial because after all, to give anyone even the quickest glimpse inside was too terrifying. It was somewhere even I couldn’t go.
I pretty much covered that in my second post, “Is There a Zombie Apocalypse in Your Home?” so if you haven’t read that yet, check it out! It will make the rest of this post more understandable.
This is me at about 3 years old. I was about 5 and my sister about 13 when she put this picture in a scrapbook and penned the caption, “Where’d everybody go?” And below that, the glaring and sad observation, “She looks like a lost soul, doesn’t she?” (if only she knew!) Even as a child, when I looked at this picture, the irony was not lost on me.
Wild Girls and the Long, Winding Road to Healing
By the time I was 13, I was, as my mom would say, “Wild as a March hare.” She and Dad tried everything they knew to do, but I was incorrigible. I ran away several times. I had a few friends who were as wild as I was, and what one couldn’t think of (as in, something appalling that would get us into big trouble), the other could. And did.
I hitchhiked to most of the disreputable places I’d go, if I didn’t have some lunatic friend with a car and driver’s license available. Of course, I dropped out of high school, three months into my sophomore year because after all, school was for children and at 15, I was all grown up and had too many parties to go to.
One freezing night in January just over a year later, I put on my coat and walked out of the house in a huff. I left because that was how I dealt with everything that upset me, unless I was freaking out.
There was very little traffic that night, but I stuck out my thumb and managed to get a ride a couple of miles down the road before being let off. I had no idea where to go, what to do. Just like my life, I was aimless.
I was beginning to think I would surely freeze to death, when suddenly my hitchhiking efforts were rewarded as a beat-up old Chevy Malibu pulled over. I hopped in, and the amiable young man at the wheel grinned and greeted me warmly.
“Where ‘ya headed?”
“Nowhere, really.” (a sad, true statement; more than I realized)
“Hey, me too! I’m just out driving around because I’m bored. Want a beer?”
For the record, at that time in my state, it was legal to drink while driving (yes, I know it’s shocking, but it was a long time ago, and things were different), provided you were at least 21 and were not drunk. He was 25 and stone cold sober, and so was within his rights to be sipping from the six-pack of Bud he had on the front seat.
What was a wee bit less than legal, however, was the fact that he merrily handed me one of his Bud friends, since I was only 16. And a half. Ah, well. We miraculously survived.
Six months later we were married.
No, I was not pregnant. But the night we met, the strangest thing had happened. I took him home to meet my parents. I never did stuff like that. We were together every day. I felt at ease with him…I think because there was just enough intimacy that I felt loved, yet the relationship was still comfortably superficial.
Which probably also explains why the age difference made no difference. And I immediately settled down into a safe and sane domestic routine, because I’d finally gotten what I wanted: what I thought was the ideal relationship and my own home, where no one could tell me what to do and I could finally live like the adult I’d tried to be almost since I was a toddler.
Like many RAD kids, I hated authority. Didn’t hate my parents, just authority. As I’ve said, my poor bewildered parents tried so hard, but unless you know how to parent a kid with this disorder and get the proper help, you’re sunk.
To be honest, the relationship and subsequent marriage may have saved my life, as eventually I probably would have taken my last ride with a psychotic stranger, never to be seen alive again.
My parents obviously knew this and, although we never discussed it (remember, I was incapable at this time of having an honest heart-to-heart with anyone except my husband, and even those talks were never very deep), I know that this is why they allowed me to marry at 17.
Now please, before you get into an uproar and are tempted to light up my inbox like a five-alarm blaze throughout a fireworks warehouse district, let me be perfectly clear: I am not recommending this! I do not think you should immediately marry off your teenage daughters!
Just because I jumped off that particular cliff doesn’t mean everyone should. Now, back to the story.
Several years later we were blessed with two beautiful, amazing children. Through the years I’d been ever-so-slowly learning how to love and show affection, and even talk somewhat about my feelings.
Having children increased my capacity for love and affection exponentially, although I still had a long way to go. But in many ways, we were both still a mess and divorced after almost 14 years.
My choice of a second husband was sheer lunacy as that marriage proved to be disastrous and abusive. Then finally came the third marriage — and I think all of this goes to show that, although I had made great strides by then, I still had such a long, long way to go.
By the grace of God, I not only survived but continued to thaw on the inside and bit by bit the walls around my heart continued to crumble as I continued to heal. Plus, as I shared with you in my last post, Dr. Leaf’s 21 Day Brain Detox has brought additional healing. And years later, I am still married to my third husband!
But Wait, There’s More!
Remember in my last post when I told you this series was going to end with a surprise twist? Care to guess what that is?
No, my husband is not a millionaire. Or a prince. He’s not famous. My kids are not famous. I have not suddenly been miraculously healed of all my health issues (although the Lyme seems to be gone, or at least in remission — and I could still be miraculously healed!).
And no, my life is still not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.
Okay, here it is: I found my birth family. And as it turned out, they had been looking for me!
But that, my friends, is another story for next week. Stay tuned!