By Kathryn Taylor
Johnny left his family...
He left his wife, 3 young children, and all of his extended family and friends. He really did not want to go, but he knew he had to. His country was at war and it needed him to fight for freedom... He deployed with his unit.... Even though he was a gentle, loving man, who avoided conflict with his wit and humor, Johnny was now faced with violence all around him. He was now in a foreign country, surrounded by fellow soldiers. He had to trust these men with his life... and they had to trust him.
Months passed. The pain of missing his family and friends slowly lost it’s sting. The trauma of conflict, blood, and constant danger took its toll on Johnny. He suffered the loss of comrades in battle. He nearly lost his own life... twice. He was in a constant state of hyper-vigilance, never fully resting, always watching his back. He became careful not to get too close to any of his buddies after all he'd been through... His job was to do his duty and do it well. He wanted everyone else to do the same! The better they did it, the sooner they would get home... What kept him strong, was knowing that his sacrifice was for his family and his country.
More months passed... Johnny began to lose sight of who he was. Survival~mode now ruled... He had to kill or be killed. With each passing day, his hatred for his enemy grew. This hatred fueled his existence. This hatred kept him alive... He was no longer the man who brought his wife flowers, tucked his kids into bed after a piggyback ride, or grilled his famous barbecue ribs for friends and family on a hot beer chilled Sunday afternoon.
One day, Johnny's superior officer came to him. He told Johnny that he noticed a drastic change in his personality.
"I know how tough this is for you, Johnny," he said, "I'm worried about you."
"Well, life is a bit different here... of course I’ve changed! We’ve all changed!" Johnny blurted out.
"I just hate to see you become this way because of the fight. You need to find a way to keep being the gentle, kind man that you are," his superior replied to the outburst, "Do you think there might be a better way of dealing with the stress?" he asked.
Johnny was in shock... He was doing all he could to cope with these awful circumstances. How do you make war a pleasant experience?! How do you not let strife and atrocity change you? How do you not hate the ones who are trying to kill you everyday?! How are you supposed to let your guard down in the middle of battle?... Isn't the time to change.... when you get home with your family and the threat is gone?! Johnny was so confused...
In families fighting with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and other behavior disorders, we parents are the warriors who become hardened and changed in trying to protect our loved ones and those around us. We used to be kind, loving, and fun to be with... We had friends... We were friends to others... We did things together as a family... things like eating out, going to the movies, the lake, biking, hiking and more. We loved our kids and our kids loved us back.
For various reasons, one or more troubled children enter our homes. War was declared and we were forced to serve and protect. As parents, we take in these children to love and nurture. However, the children see us as the enemy and are combat ready. They are equipped with the most up-to-date arsenal. Our other children scamper for cover as shrapnel pelt them with ambush attacks from their new siblings. We parents move to the front lines to intervene and protect the innocent. No matter what the peace-seeking mission is, the enemy always manages to sabotage it. Our homes slowly became war-zones filled with violence. Land mines are anywhere and everywhere. When least expected, someone unknowingly steps on a land-mine. All freeze... We recognize that almost silent but deadly click beneath our feet... Out of necessity and with expert precision, we parents have mastered the art of 'bomb squad technicians', limiting the destruction and casualties... Bedrooms become foxholes of protection... Possessions become objects for raiding and looting... Movable objects become guided missiles fueled by bottled-up juvenile rage. Our homes take on the smell of third world country streets, as the enemy eliminate their waste inappropriately. More and more drastic measures are taken to keep the enemy at bay. Unlike Johnny, whose family is safe back home, we parents battle with our loved ones all around us. Rather than support our war, our country despise and question what we are doing. We are treated like Vietnam veterans. So very few understand our war, or the sacrifices we make. Our comrades have been wounded, captured, or run off by the enemy. Like Rambo, we find ourselves alone... enraged by injustice and the need to be free. Our mission is to rescue the prisoners of war... destroy the power of the enemy... and keep all the innocents safe from harm. So, we become hyper-vigilant. We do our duty on less and less sleep. We begin hating the enemy.
But, we are parents!... and the enemy?!... Our children?!... We can't hate children!... We must love children!... So, we love... And when we love, the enemies explode mortars of hate unexpectedly into our hearts. Bandaging our bloody wounds, we hide ourselves until we can regain strength. We must be smarter... We must not make mistakes... We must end this war... We must kill or be killed...
But, they are children!... We must love the children! So, we love... with a little bit of hate. We nurture... with shields protecting our hearts... Every day is alike... There are no reinforcements. No peace treaties are honored. No supplies make it through to the front lines. All rescue missions are aborted, due to the political rhetoric that keeps Reactive Attachment Disorder and the like, our dirty little secrets.
One day, an ally approaches a warrior parent... a parent who has been fighting alone for years. He tells her that he understands her war; he understands her enemy... He wants to help in the fight. He is worried about her. He will bring in reinforcements. He will help her turn the enemy back into a child. She is shell-shocked. She is numb... She is used to fighting... She must win... The more he gets to know her, the more he worries about her. He spends more and more time focusing on her... The enemy keeps attacking...
He inquires, "Why do you keep reacting to the children?... Is it something from your past?... Do you think you can become soft and kind again, even though they attack you?... Can you fight this war without trying to protect your heart?... Can you open your heart to them again?"...
Rambo-mom is shocked and confused. She is doing all she can to cope with her war-torn circumstances. How does she not let strife and atrocity change her? How does she not hate the one who is trying to kill her everyday? How does she love the child and hate the enemy? How does she keep her family safe with hugs and kisses, when door alarms and video cameras work so much better? Will she ever have friends again? Will her family ever feel the security of peace again? How does she let her guard down in the middle of a battle? She didn't want to be a warrior anymore.... but her child still wanted to be the enemy... She didn't want to fight anymore... but no one would surrender...
How would it ever end?... Could it ever end?... Who would promise safety for her family?
...Children have far too much power today. It is a very dangerous thing for them to have, and it is far more dangerous for children who are deeply troubled. Our society has gone overboard with child abuse allegations. Like with the Salem Witch Trials, there are many good people under attack and persecution. Parents are helpless to a society that is driven by fear, looking to accuse and blame. There are so many people out in the world who have hurt, abused, abandoned, and neglected the children we try to love. Most of those people never had to answer for what they did, nor have so many of them suffered the hate of the children they’ve hurt. Those children want someone to pay for what was done to them. Most often, those who pay are the ones who are willing to love them, even if it means a life of war. And, it is these families that fight it alone.
I dream of a day when RAD, and other behavior disorders, will be known, as commonly as Cancer, or ADHD. I dream of a day when helping people will not be all about high~dollar cures. I dream of a day when people will quit judging, but instead, will seek to understand and support. I dream of a day when my home will be a place of peace. I dream of a day when my enemy-children will be able to say, "I love you Mom," without detonating another ticking bomb in my heart. I dream this dream for my comrades, as well.
Until then and after, we must remember there is hope in the Lord. That can be a very hard truth to grasp in the midst of war. I remember crying out to GOD daily, begging HIM to give me one week... or even just one day... of peace. It never came having twin RADs. So, I thought HE had abandoned me. It left me weak and defenseless. That was my downfall.
Most of my stress and anxiety was coming from myself....my expectations, my desire to be liked, understood, accepted. My focus should have been on doing what I knew to be right... and leaving the rest to God. No matter how it seems, GOD is in control. It is within HIS design that you are the parent of the child/children that fights against you so. We must re~evaluated success, for it is not over til it's over. Your children may grow up and leave your home, seemingly unsucessful, hating you, rejecting you... but you have no idea how your influence on their lives may have made a difference in it, or their future children's lives. Noah had no idea how his obedience saved mankind and beasts... He faced ridicule for what he was doing. Everyone thought him crazy... even after the rain began. Not until it didn't stop did they change their opinions... and then it was too late.
Joseph went through such injustice and horrible misfortune, from family and strangers alike, for decades. It was in his character and belief in God, to live his life in truth, integrity and faith, no matter what. By doing so, he saved his entire family. It was his ability to forgive and walk in God's truth and love that brought restoration to his family.
David was annointed to be the next King of Israel, only to spend years running for his life from the insanity of the one he tried to serve, Saul. How awful and confusing that must have been?
How about Mary, the mother of Jesus... weeping at the foot of the cross, as her son... the son of God was dying? She knew for certain who HE was... But, she had no idea how GOD was going to make HIM the Savior of the world... Life is confusing... life is messy... life is painful... Our only hope is to be obedient and trust that God knows what HE is doing, and it is no accident that we are the parents in the families we are in.
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