It took a long time for me to understand the RAD child emotions that my oldest daughter expressed. I wish I heard what she meant instead of what she said.
Go Away! I HATE YOU!!!
Have you ever been cheated on and ended up divorced? I hope you haven’t had to go through that. How about “dumped?” Have you ever been dumped? You thought you had the perfect relationship, things were going along well and out of the blue you hear how it’s not your fault; It’s not you… It’s them. Did you feel betrayed? Did you feel like the lame explanation was a copout? Were you sick to your stomach? Did you wake up the next day, or every day for the next week wondering if it was all a bad dream, only to have the sickness return to your stomach when you realized it was all too real? Was there a time during the rawness when you decided that you would never let yourself be hurt like that again? For people who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder, the RAD child emotions that accompany the condition dwarf any feelings of being dumped in a romantic relationship.
When I write about Reactive Attachment Disorder I have a horrible habit of generalizing. I know better. I have three children who suffer from that condition and each one is different. They vary in the severity of the disorder and their RAD child emotions differ. Still, it’s my goal to help parents, friends and family of people who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder to get through the most difficult times, when they feel the darkest and most helpless. Not all victims are plagued with severe RAD. While there are usually common denominators, histories and early conditions do not necessarily apply to all. The RAD child emotions I will write about today may or may not apply to an individual, but it is my hope that those who are close to people who suffer from RAD will look for things that may be consistent with their loved one’s history rather than assuming that everything in the article applies to their situation. No one should assume that they get to tell someone else how they should feel or why they should feel that way.
So… back to being dumped. Do remember when you first started to get close to someone else? At each point that you became more emotionally vested, were you that much more afraid of what might happen? Did you ever mistake a suggestion that the two of you “needed to talk” to be about a breakup speech when it turned out to be something small and totally manageable? Now, imagine yourself as an infant with no other relationship experience than your first mother (and perhaps, to a lesser degree your first father). You haven’t seen some relationships work and others, not. You only know that you are completely vested in the relationship of the only person you trust, implicitly. Worse, since you’re a mammal, nature has programmed you to believe that this mother will take care of you. Then it happens. You get dumped. What kind of RAD child emotions would you experience? Remember, you haven’t just witnessed a relationship failure. You have witnessed THE relationship failure. In your experience of attachment, failure is 100%.
Using a term like RAD child emotions is kind of an oxymoron
Do you know anyone who went the route of becoming totally shallow in relationships after the failure of a romantic relationship? Chances are that they didn’t give up on non-platonic relationships altogether. Did they become manipulative to get what they wanted without risking the pain of failed attachment? Did they lie to take care of their “needs” while having no conscience about the needs of the other person? Did they constantly charm people other than the one who was under the misguided assumption that they were loved? Were they constantly “grooming” the next conquest for when they needed to bail, before getting committed or attached? RAD child emotions are kind of like that. In severe cases they can be much worse.
Using a term like RAD child emotions is kind of an oxymoron. Really, a person who suffers from severe Reactive Attachment Disorder has had so many negative emotions or negative emotions that were so intense that they are trying to minimize emotions. In fact, that’s a subject for another day. Consequently, the overwhelming emotion tends to be fear. This can lead to actions such as “hurt before you get hurt,” or “never truly commit.”
It took a long time for me to begin to understand the RAD child emotions that my oldest daughter expressed. When my wife and I kept going back again and again, trying to show her that relationships really could work, every time we saw progress, she would tear down the bridge. When she screamed that she hated us and told us to go away and never come back, that is what I heard. It would have been better had I understood the very basic and primal way that her brain had been forced to develop in order to protect her.
We would have come so much further, so much sooner had I heard what she meant instead of what she said: “Don’t you understand that I can’t take the trauma of losing someone I love, again? Can’t you realize that I can’t maintain my sanity with that much emotional pain? That is why I can’t love you! That is why I can never truly love anyone, ever again.”
Of course she was wrong. Her RAD child emotions evolved. When we kept going back, eventually, after many years, her mind began to learn that relationships could last. My oldest daughter still struggles with RAD child emotions. But she loves us and admits that, now. She still has setbacks and she still has bad days and even difficult times. Still, one of the greatest rewards that my wife and I have had in parenting was to hear our Russian daughter mean it when she said: “I love my family. Family most important thing.”
Often, readers receive as much help from other readers in the comments section as they do from the blog article, itself. Please be generous with your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. There are lots of people who need what you have to share. This is your chance to help them.
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