Thursday, May 1, 2008

meet em, RADical #1

em is a gorgeous little eight-year-old with killer blue eyes. she's smart, funny, brave, artistic, creative, and just beautiful. that's who the world sees. here's the real em:
sadly, she doesn't think she's pretty at all! she's heard all her life that she looks like her (first) mom. she used to be pretty but now shows the affects of heroin addiction and of course was a very crappy mom, so em didn't see her as pretty. plus her self-esteem is non-existent.
em has a diagnosis of RAD, PTSD, and now possibly some ADD (which is more easily missed in girls than boys since they tend to be quieter-ish). she may also have some coordination issues like her brother and i plan to have her tested by an OT soon. again, that can be missed in girls because she's not *quite* as all-out as the boys.
em was with her sucky first mom (and sucky first grandma) for 6 years where she was extremely neglected and subject to lots of yucky things. she obviously learned to survive by shutting down her emotions and now she honestly has none, nada. in attachment therapy, where she's learning to "feel her feelings" she's quite honest and says she doesn't want to. why would anyone WANT to feel sad? of course we "normal" humans say because then you feel all the good things more too, like love! but she doesn't know that love feels good (it didn't for 6 years, why would it now?), so i can certainly understand her reluctance!
after two years here, she's very happy, content, safe, compliant, and willing to be a wonderful and active member of the family, she just doesn't love or let herself be loved. i'm sad for her, for me, for the rest of the family. but i'm also happy because i do see improvement! she's had some feelings sneak up on her and it's (almost) comical. once she started to cry when her brother was in trouble, but she didn't know why. or she's been *way* overly sad about a silly little thing. but they're starting to come out so we know she can get there! it's sad to know that she knows though. she'll say well that was mean and that would hurt my feelings if i had any. :(
and because of not understanding love, she's a perfectionist. she's the perfect daughter (so this is where most people would close the book!!). but i know that she's the perfect daughter so that she can stay here. in her brain, if she's not perfect, we won't love her, so we'll send her away. to us normals, that is madness! but it's happened to her before, so of course she thinks that! moms are supposed to be good and love their kids, so em must have not been a good daughter for her first mom to have sent her away. of course we know better, that her first mom was a complete moron and her brain was eaten by heroin and sheer stupidity. (you can be politically correct if you wish and say she struggled with a heroin addition which is a disorder and she wasn't able to be a good mom, but you'd be wrong.) she was stupid. of course i put that much more gently to em, especially since she feels so much like her first mom. we're nice, hard as that is, but we know it's best for em.
wow, there are so many other things, (like everything on the RAD list). she can't relax on our laps yet. she gets very nervous and giggly if she feels love from us. she doesn't know to think about other people's feelings (of course, she doesn't know what feelings are like!) so she's often inconsiderate. she has that "i deserve to be served" attitude that i still struggle with. (i've read alot it's prevalent in the "stereotypical poor" community who feel they're owed help from the govt, owed certain wages, etc. i ignorantly figured if they had little, they'd appreciate having a lot. nope, not happening here! theoretically i totally get it, but boy, still frustrating!) we FINALLY got rid of the potty issues and got her out of diapers when she was 7. i'm not sure i'm ready to think back on those days! shew.

so, that's em in a nutshell. our perfect gorgeous fun little hollow girl that hopefully one day will love us like we love her!


lisa said...

My 13 year old step daughter (M) has RAD, and shows many of the traits that you mention. One day she was admiring a toddler that was with a friend of mine. She went on about how cute the child was, how pretty, etcetera. My friend agreed with her, and asked her if she thought the little one was smart, if she thought that she, (my friend,) was lucky to have such a wonderful child. My daughter agreed with a huge smile. My friend then told M. that this child was a foster child who had had half the bones in her body broken as a baby and had been left alone in a crib for days at a time. She had RAD, was terrified of men, etc. My friend asked M. if the baby was still beautiful, smart, a blessing. It made M. stop. She saw the obvious correlation between her and the baby, and she knew that that baby deserved everything wonderful that the world had to offer. She was able to see that none of it had been the baby's fault. She asked my friend if she was going to keep the baby, and my friend replied, "forever, for always, and no matter what."