1,2,3,4… I Declare a RAD War- Part 4
by Kathryn Taylor
The war has ended... I have surrendered... With surmounting pain and heartache, I wave a white flag, holding it high above my tear-streaked face. For so many years, I stood my ground with fortitude… Discouragement, loneliness, exhaustion, and defeat have overcome me. I have replaced my spiritual strength with earthly attempts to save myself. I am like Jonah, shouting over the storm, “Throw me overboard!”… I am like Moses, whining to God, “Not me Lord. I can’t do it!”… I was at war with my twin RADs... my marriage… but most of all… I was at war with myself and God. Like with most wars, there appears to be no winner. My family looks like the aftermath of a Civil War battle… So many left wounded. Like the city of Hiroshima, I did not see it coming and had no idea of the far-reaching destruction. I was blinded by my own pain. Like Custer, I tried to take a stand, not realizing until too late, how defeated I already was... Like Alice walking through the looking glass, I walked right out of my life and stepped into a world where nothing seemed real. I was numb… yet so alive. I felt trapped... yet so free. Everything seemed strange and foreign, yet it felt like this had been my life for years. I lost what I’d loved the most. But, I was also now free from what nearly killed me. I am now hundreds of miles away from my family. I am the one who ran away, yet my heart insists it was run-off. I am with another man, and my husband of twenty-three years is sending me divorce papers. The rumors in the town of my former life are, as most RAD family rumors go, full of lies, embellishments, half-truths and misconceptions. Stories, opinions and judgments have been handed down to create one more part of my life that never happened.
Years ago, we adopted nine-year old, boy/girl RAD twins. Their disorder was at the severe end of the spectrum, causing my family to live a nightmarish existence. I became a warrior mom out of necessity. I fought this battle nearly alone by the time eight years had passed. As with most RAD families, I was the primary target of the twins’ hatred, as well as, the one blamed for all their acting out. We had no friends left by the time the child abuse investigations cleared us of wrongdoing, so no one really cared when the county attorney said we deserved a medal of honor instead of condemnation. To my community, I would always be the horrible mom who treated her adopted kids terribly. Nothing would change their minds. No one would ever know how much I loved and sacrificed for them.
Last year, I discovered that my husband had an affair. He crossed a line that I never thought he would. His love was one thing that kept me sane battling RAD all those years. It seemed as though he defected and joined forces with the rebel twins, seeking to press me to the depths of despair. This warrior mom, overnight, turned into a deserter. I wanted to run away with my tail between my legs. I became bulimic and self abusive. I changed how I dressed, dyed my hair, drank more, and strayed from my very strong Christian convictions. I went to bars with my husband, terrified of losing him, doing anything to keep him.
I had been home-schooling the twins for years, but decided to enroll them into public high school to make it through this tough time. As with any double-edged sword, it came with a whole new set of problems. The twins unleashed an all-out attack with the full support of their new friends who believed me to be the most hideous of all Cinderella step~mothers. The twins began stealing things from home, vandalizing our property, and were caught in a plot to burn the house down.
I began seeing the twins’ therapist to work on my own issues. She thought I had some issues of my own from childhood to work on. She thought that I was very co-dependent. She thought my husband had many attachment issues. I began discovering how, over the years, I had taken almost full responsibility for my families’ relationships. I tried to fill in where others were not pulling their weight. My husband was a ghost father. He was a ghost husband. He was a workaholic and led his secret life, but, as he put it, “kept a roof over our heads and food on the table”. But I was lonely, so lonely. I buried myself into my birth-sons for relationship, but they were all but grown, not around much anymore. My life was spent almost full time now, with the sixteen-year-old twins, their RADness, and their hatred.
Life continued to spin out of control for me. My husband was pulling away more and more again. He refused to go to counseling with me and kept claiming all the problems were in the past. I kept catching him in lies... For the first time in my perfectionist life, I was ready to rebel. I was not going to be responsible, accountable, reliable, predictable or anything else that I had done my whole life. I felt like all the sacrifice, all the right choice making, all the being good, did absolutely nothing, but hurt me. I was so tired of trying to make people want to be with me. I was tired of being the one who cared more, loved more, hurt more. I was so tired of begging for someone to love me. I had tried to be so perfect my whole life to protect myself from rejection. People in my life had made their choices… irregardless of how it hurt me. Family and friends have looked out for their own interests. They accused me falsely and abandoned me. For years, now, I have faced my twins’ hatred and rage and paid dearly for it. I could not take it any more. I parented my children alone wishing to save my husband from the heartache of RAD. I felt guilty for being the one who wanted children, being the one who wanted to do fostercare, and the one who wanted to adopt. To find out that he was running around being unfaithful while I carried the weight at home crushed me like a tank on a rampage. I would never again go back and put myself in the line of fire. I was done being attacked daily. I was done not being defended. I was done being blamed for all the problems. I was done with everyone around me not having accountability. I was not going back. My husband refused to agree to healthy changes.
Choices were made, choices that could not be taken back. I lost all relationship with my children. I loved them so much. I had spent my whole life raising them. I had failed them. I hurt them by taking in the twins. I hurt them by tolerating and blinding myself to their dad’s problems. I had hurt them by hanging on and on and on to something that should have been stopped. I should have stopped things before I snapped. Even though I tried to be so perfect and godly, I now see how much I had hurt them instead. I hope one day they can forgive me. I hope that one day they will speak to me again. I hope that one day they will know the truth of what really happened. I hope one day they will accept that God had forgiven me, even though I’m not with their dad......
I hear the twins are doing wonderful now. I had worried for years, how in the world I would ever get these two transitioned into adulthood. What a terribly simple, yet extremely painful cure! They are doing well in school. They see their birth-family again. They hold down jobs and work hard. They have little to no supervision, and very little expectations from their dad. They’ve quit being gross and control their bodily functions perfectly. I have been scapegoated for their and their father’s problems. It hurts knowing how hard I tried and how hard they fought me. But, I would rather take undeserved blame than live with any more of the pain, hatred, and disrespect I endured for so long with no foreseeable change. I hope that the twins keep on being perfect, now that they have won their war… now that they have gotten rid of the one they have hated for so very long… now that they have their birth family back… now that I am the scapegoat getting blamed for it all. I hope they can find the happiness they think I robbed them of. I can live with everyone believing it was all of my fault. I can live with my ex and the twins being happy. I can live with their hate. I just miss my boys and their families. I miss them so very much… If only they understood the kind of pain and heartache that stole me away from them. It was the pain… the heartache… the hard-heartedness… the sickness of RAD... addictions… lost hope… vanishing dreams… It was the reality of what really was-
2006 All rights reserved, ã Kathryn Taylor
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Update February 2008
Almost two years have passed. There is still great heartache. There are still broken relationships. There is still many regrets and remorse. All my pain and heartache of parenting RAD and battling addictions is gone. However, just as much pain and heartache has taken it’s place. The loss of my kids, missing my grandson, trying to live in a new relationship with sooo much baggage… in both of us. There are new battles. There are new wounds. Life, this side of heaven, will continue to always be a challenge.
The bible talks about being persecuted and suffering for righteousness. That pain is minuscule compared to the pain and suffering of making choices apart from God, choices involving sin and rebellion. I, never, in a million years, would recommend to someone to take matters into their own hands. I’m sure that there are many, many others out there in the same boat I was in. Do not do what I did! Running!! Drinking!! Jumping quickly into another relationship!!
What would I do differently? Get into personal counseling for yourself… Be bitterly honest. Get treated for depression. Find a church, even if you are the only one who goes. Do NOT allow yourself to get isolated. I know how incredibly hard that is in RAD-world. Many of us are very co-dependent with a spouse who insists on things being very unhealthy. That was my biggest weakness. I felt so powerless to demand things to be dealt with. I finally stood up to him, but I was far too mad, far too drunk, far too done with his lies, that I wouldn’t even consider counseling when he gave in.
Find people that will pray… I thought all this advice was impossible. That’s why I did what I did. I’m here to tell you to look harder, be stronger, until you get help. I feel like the rich man in hell begging for someone to send word to my brothers to not end up like him. Be warned, sisters and brothers!!
Wow.... I just got done reading all 4 parts of my story this morning. Seems like decades ago. My second marriage was an abusive one.... emotionally and physically. It ended 4 years ago. I spent well over a year getting counselling and getting involved in church and a program called Life Skills based in Denver, CO. It is the most incredibly intense healing experience I've ever encountered. Every RAD parent, or anyone struggling in close relationships should invest the time. I have been single for several years now. I am strong, happy and at peace. I love the work that I do and life is very good. I'm expecting my 10th grandchild this fall and have reconnected with 3 of my five children. One of those is my twin daughter. It's amazing how much she hated me growing up and now we are talking and communicating. One day, she told me that now that she is mature and grown she sees things differently and understands why I left. As I watch my kids from afar, I can now see that there is so much good in them that I know I am responsible for. I know they are who they are because of the time, energy, and love I tried so hard to provide. I grieve all the weakness, mistakes and heartaches that hurt them along the way. I think at the end of life, all parents feel that way.