Tis the Season for PTSD, triggers and other mixed-up emotions. Did I just describe your Christmas season? This has been my life for many years.
When I was a kid, I loved everything to do with Christmas. My family just consisted of my mother, dad and my sister. We moved from Nebraska to Utah when I was six-years-old. All our relatives were back in Nebraska or Missouri.
My parents always wanted us to have a special time. They made a big deal of us getting what we requested and our Christmas began on Christmas Eve. We had a big dinner that night, then we’d open our gifts and finally head to the midnight service at church.
Christmas Day was a special time. We all slept in. If my sister and I awoke before our parents, we played with our toys and each other. Occasionally we visited the neighbor kids to show what we all had received.
For the longest time, I had to pretend I believed in Santa Claus. I learned Santa didn’t exist when I was four. My mother tried to keep me from finding out that she was really Santa, but that didn’t work out as she planned.
When my sister married and had her two boys, we still had a wonderful Christmas. I loved both my nephews and we had such a great time together. The whole season was enjoyable.
It was a shock to me when my daughter came. Her first holiday was Halloween and she hated it and did not want to go trick or treating, even when my youngest nephew offered to take her. My birthday was in November and we had a big family party. My daughter started a fight with me and then with my mother. I couldn’t figure out why my daughter had such anger.
When we tried to give my daughter a Christmas to remember. it became a Christmas to try to forget how she made it so unhappy. I didn’t know what I know now. Kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder can ruin any family gathering with just a few angry rants. They never do well in activities where other people are having a great time.
Practically everyone I’ve talked to has stories about how their child with RAD sabotaged Christmas or other family gatherings. Our lives are never the same.
I became almost anxious as the Christmas season came around. I never knew what my daughter would do to make it awful. Believe me, she was a master at making everyone want to leave with her tirades and fights. The fights were always with either me or my mother.
Thinking of Christmas still triggers me. The other day I received an email from her wishing me a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I almost didn’t want to read it, because I feel that somehow shy’s trying to manipulate me. My PTSD kicked in. I was sick to my stomach again.
Right now, thinking of Christmas, I just want it over with. So does the rest of my family. We have no Christmas spirit. It’s non-existent. I feel we all lost something special that can never be repeated because of a child with RAD.
Some people have told me we’d get our joy back, but with the arrival of my daughter’s email, it keeps telling me that isn’t likely to ever happen.
Yes, my experiences with my daughter have made me what I am today. I’m a passionate advocate for families of children with RAD. I want the world to know and understand what causes RAD and how to train professionals to understand that it’s not the adoptive parents’ fault that their child has had early age trauma, but others’ bad parenting or professionals’ bad decisions that are the cause.
I will pray that all my readers have a joyful and blessed holiday season.
MERRY CHISTMAS AND A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR
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N. Ann Lamphere, MSW