By: Deborah Novo
It has been fifteen years that I have been “in the trenches” with two sons with Reactive Attachment Disorder. I have had so many moments feeling inspired and motivated to be an awesome therapeutic parent only to be plunged into the mindset of ” I can’t take it anymore.”
When I first began caring for the boys, I felt confident that my compassionate personality and nursing experience would provide me the skill set to handle most situations. I was not prepared for the extent of their broken thinking and destructive behaviors. Parenting our two sons has given my husband and me the opportunity to practice unconditional love and access inner resources that we did not know we possessed.
However, before we could reach this point we had to first emerge from the darkness and this meant more than just surviving. Often, being a parent means sacrifice. But, it does not mean sacrificing self. Every time I even inwardly reacted to another incident it made me feel like I was moving further away from who I truly was as a person.
Then, a wonderful thing happened. I studied a technique called Emotional Freedom Technique (“EFT”) hoping to add to our repertoire of tools to help the boys. When I was receiving additional EFT training by a local psychologist the stories of the boys came abounding. I realized I was sharing my anger and despair over how to heal their minds and hearts.
The psychologist asked me a very pointed question, “who do you think you are?” He continued, “your children are here to grow in wisdom and love on their terms not yours.” I was mad. I am their Mom who loves them enormously and feels responsible for them growing into respectful and responsible souls. The psychologist softly chuckled at my response and replied, “you are only responsible for being their guide and teacher, their outcome will be based on their journey all of which you have no control over.” He was right.
So I gave myself permission to detach from the emotional roller coaster of the Attachment Disordered child. I am not responsible for their outcome. As their guide, I am responsible for providing them with unconditional love, safety and opportunities to practice courage. As Dr. Bruce Perry shares in his book, The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog, there is a neurosequential approach to healing. Our home needs to reflect parents who live with a compassionate heart and a peaceful mind. We continue to have strong expectations that they will continue to practice being respectful, responsible and genuine people. It surely doesn’t mean that the old feeling of helplessness doesn’t occasionally pop up. But it does mean I choose to let their process unfold without being attached to when and how that will happen…what a relief!
Positive Affirmation: I no longer wait in line to ride the Roller Coaster. I choose to be peaceful despite what is going on around me.