I had begun to research Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) many months ago, in an attempt to make sense of some of the psychological troubling things going on in my life that were making me feel as if I was going insane, which, in turn, left a few to actually believe I was psychotic and unsafe/unstable as a person, what I learned has been both freeing as well as troubling, as it still is difficult to navigate the emotions that come from this disorder in children.

I am shamed to admit that I believe both of my children suffered from this after looking at the symptoms (only 1 of many available symptoms lists) and reflecting on the life I led during some of their most formative years in an abusive marriage.  I feel guilty that they may suffer from this disorder, or at least have to a degree while some was simply due to their ages, when I know I was working 2 jobs from the time my youngest was about 2 until she was 8, plus in that time I was in the process of trying to divorce and had begun to live part-time outside of the marital home in another city for 4 days a week.  I abandoned my children when they needed me the most and I left them in an abusive situation that I felt I had no real way out of other than to work as much I was (and then begin a home based business where I traveled a lot and even when I was home, was quite often busy with the business aspect, and not there for them emotionally when they needed me to be).  I vowed to stop being so involved in my side business and strictly stick to my full time job (which involved me working 6 to 7 days a week for approximately 5 months or so out of the year), when I knew I was determined to end my marriage, and especially after the final incident between my ex-husband and I ended up with him in jail for domestic assault and a CPS investigation occurred.  I knew I needed to stay at home and focus more on my children, and the guilt of knowing I allowed them to be in a very unhealthy situation drove my motivation in many ways, even though I never really wanted to end my side business since it was something I truly enjoyed and was quite successful with it.

I can look back on things now and see why my children throughout the years had many issues with me being an active parent; I had been in many ways, but once I began working 2 jobs to support the household bills (just to make ends meet), I had left them into the care of my ex-husband who had his own troubles with depression, anger, and poor coping skills when it came to stress.  I wish I had other options, though it was either that I worked 2 jobs, or we would lose our house due to not being able to pay the mortgage (let alone other basic needs), and while I’ve gotten over being bitter about that situation, it definitely was a huge part in how my children have struggled for the last almost 3 years since the domestic assault incident to have connected with me and are now not showing as many symptoms of RAD with continued therapy for each of them, as well as continued effort on my part to enhance my parenting skills.

The very difficult part in this is the isolation I felt in the thoughts of this disorder/other psychological problems as being a very realistic thing happening with hope to overcome, not simply just affecting my own children but also feeling another child I cared for and was close to for a little over 2 years had/has the same disorder that could be overcome with support from various sources.  My children’s father has not been very supportive of therapy efforts for our children over many years (he has been against any form of psychological therapy other than to suggest I seek it out for myself only), though especially within the last almost 3 years, however, he has begun to be less critical of my efforts to have our children continue different forms of therapy.  It also felt like denial and a lack of support in what I felt were potential problems from the father of the other child, though there was nothing I could really do, since it wasn’t my child.  I have never truly felt supported when it came to my own children’s problems, let alone someone else’s child’s problems, and as much as I love the other child that is not mine and tried every thing I could to be there as a loving and supportive parental model for them, the more I did that is suggested to control the disorder, the more chaos and fighting happened that culminated in 2 people (at a minimum, as others were involved, but not on a daily basis) leaving a relationship, a home, my children, and me.  The more I researched this, the “parental figure” that is not the biological mother/father of the child, will usually get the brunt end of the disorder, and unless the biological child’s parent is supportive of the other parental figure, then more chaos and fighting will tend to occur and it tends to be a large factor (if not the largest factor) in many relationships ending.  My children did their fair share of acting out in ways that made it very difficult to co-parent effectively with their biological and non-biological parental figures involved, and I can look back on quite a few things and see that while, at the time, I thought of even a worse scenario than RAD, it definitely fit and explains a lot of the conflict that happened.  Logically knowing all of the information I do up to now makes it a bit easier to put into practice some good general parenting skills, it certainly does not help the feelings I have of being a complete and utter failure as a mother, let alone a woman worthy of a relationship, or coming to grips with some of the very critical remarks about me as a person and parent that I’ve heard over the years (including more than just the last 2 years).

It was heartbreaking to have a child, whom I went to great lengths to show love and affection to as well as make them feel as if they were one of my own even though they were not, no longer in my life, let alone the knowledge of my part in making things worse for everyone involved.  In some ways, though, I know having the father leave me/the relationship and detaching was for the best, especially when it appeared, from my side at least (probable biased/irrational thinking) that led to some resentment, that children could talk about me/others in my family poorly without reproach or confrontation, yet when I reached out to friends for support of the situation that I felt like I was getting totally lost in, I was criticized for “talking shit” and “blaming”. I felt like some sort of double standard that was difficult for me to accept, so I know, logically, that what happened with ending things/the situation as we had known it for a while was for the best of all of us.

I not only saw and admitted to what my own children did, I admitted to times I acted in a way that was more irrational and emotionally reactive instead of the more calm and rational person I have tried to become over the years, and still want to become.  I felt dismissed and I didn’t feel validated, which ended up leading me to act much more emotionally than I wish I would have and know I can control better.  I know I can do better; I want to continue to grow in how to not be as emotional when it comes to handling difficult situations that are triggers to the side of me that deals with stress, so I can become better at being proactive instead of reactive.  It takes practice…something I’ve been determined to consciously be more active in doing each day in some small way or another.

I feel more shame and guilt than I do resentment; my own children appear to have suffered from this disorder, which is guilt inducing in so many ways even though none were officially diagnosed (that I am aware of).  Unfortunately, the shame of being seen as a “bad” parent and avoiding reality made it a difficult thing for me to accept, so I strive to keep working each day on trying to understand the intricacies of some psychological reasons for others’ actions/reactions so it will be easier to forgive and let go of things that ended up invading my dreams and brought me to a psychotic point (not just with parenting and goes as far back as pain I’ve dealt with since a child). I know it’s best for me to accept reality for what it is with my children and continue to learn better parenting skills for their sake, as well as anyone else that enters my life in an intimate relationship of any sort (regardless of it being male or female, platonic or romantic), as I do not wish to make the same mistakes I did before…I never want anyone to suffer the way we all did again…children or adults.

I wish I would have learned about this disorder 3 or more years ago…not only within the last year…as maybe I could have handled things better and not ended up abandoning my own children for so long, let alone another child that really needed a supportive mother figure to not abandon her/shut her out of their life again.

There is so much guilt, heartache, and such a deep sense of loss, on so many levels, and some days, the pain hits out of nowhere, and I feel as if I’ve taken 2 steps forward, then 1 step back.  I know I just need to keep moving forward and learn from all of this…

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People I work with, along with close friends, are now commenting daily on my weight loss and are actually getting concerned, though all I can reply back with is that it’s just from stress, though I leave out the “from the abusive life I’ve lived in for so long and am breaking free from each day”.  I just want this torturous part of my life to end.  I mean, I think 30+ years of physical, mental, and emotional abuse, mainly as me on the receiving end, though also being the one to dole it out from time to time, is really taking its toll on me.

This has affected me physically, as I go into an almost anorexic state of eating when I feel the pressures of my emotions encroaching on my brain, and I lose my appetite when I am anxious more so than eat when I should or even when I try.  When there is severe anger that results in bitter and dramatic lashing out and doling out pain purposely, I lose any appetite for, sometimes, days on end.  In the last year I have lost nearly 30 pounds, and I don’t want to lose anymore, though what can I do when I’m finally trying, and succeeding, in shedding of the mountains of effects of abuse that went on for so long, and he finds some way to get into my brain, fucking my head so hard that I almost feel physically disoriented.

Why?  Why does the timing always come on the heels of my happiness?  Does he do it purposely or is it just a very stunted defense mechanism that he finds is most effective?

I had, probably, the absolutely best week and weekend of my life, other than the standard “best” times of my wedding and 2 of the most wonderful children I could have asked for in so many ways, and he just had to try to bring me down to his level with judgements that cut me down so much that, yet again, I was nothing but a worthless slut that simply slept with any man she could and was a spoiled brat that wouldn’t accept what he wanted to give…his love and affection.  I was a quitter and continually just lead him on.

But wait!  He doesn’t want to get a divorce and even before he asked for an outright answer prior to actually accusing me of sleeping with someone recently, he was the one that “made out” with another woman from his own past, which turned into, when speaking about the make out session a 2nd time, getting oral sex from this woman, which then turned into, when speaking about the make out session from a strange first topic that was tied to it, he “made it to 3rd base” with her when I finally asked crudely and bluntly “So, what, you finger fucked her?”.

So, he did all but actually penetrate her, which he said he just couldn’t do because of his feelings to me (being his legal wife), which all happened within a week and a half of finally meeting each other for the first time in so many years, and he has the audacity to make accusations that I had slept with someone else and tell me that I am still continuing to be a cheater?

I fucking hate him some days.  It’s mind fucks like that which drives people to insanity and if they don’t know how to deal with it, end up believing some of the awful insinuations that are thrown out there but never directly confronted.  Then the “perfectionism” comes into play during conversations, making sure to deflect more and your attention is diverted to repeating what you said in some specific way that is more correct than originally stated.

He is a master at this, and after I finally was able to physically put distance between us when I was living with a friend in another city for a few days a week a couple of years ago, I became determined to get myself and our children into a safer and healthier situation, otherwise I feared that they would end up repeating the same cycles for possibly the same amount of time as me, if not more.  My job as a parent is to teach them how to make it in life and survive so they can hopefully thrive.

I didn’t realize that the 12-step support group I began to attend 18 months ago for one reason, would open my life up in ways to see the entire situation of my life with more clarity and a determination from the absolute depths of my soul.  I felt, day by day, that I was more of a warrior in a way, planning on attacking the toxicity that was slowly killing not only her, but the family she created and had always wanted.  I knew it would take time, patience, planning, and trying to grow stronger each day to make it to the end, where her new life would begin, though I had not even come close to thinking it would end up like it has so far.  The most surprising things have been both emotionally and physically draining, as well as emotionally and physically energetic.

I realize that I’m still allowing him to control me in some ways, but I will not let him, as I am not as weak as I once was, and I will continue to get stronger as I can see reality for what it is and I refuse to focus on things that distracted me from the realities before me.  The cliché of how the best revenge is to be happy is definitely one I seem to come back to, as this is how my life seems to have always been – every time I have something good happen, either my mom or my husband was there to pull me down in some way.

One of the most recent moments of just how insidious those soul torturing belittling and condescending words can infuse your entire being happened when I went out with friends to sing karaoke.  Why I didn’t realize it then, but realized it after he verbally beat me down the next day calling something I did inappropriate and attacked the character of someone I care about, who happens to be male and likes me, and all I could see was rage building within me, and the clarity of why I did, or better didn’t do, in trying to sing came to the forefront during my insomnia afterwards.

I get up on stage every so often within the last 4 years and read my poetry, which is a way I show the absolute pain I’ve been through, as well as the hopes and joys that really only occurred within the last 6 or 7 years, and is my soul written out in an artistic form that is open for interpretation, as a way to still keep my soul hidden as only I know what memories those poems invoke for me and I don’t have to speak about them as my poem will speak for me once to cover so much.

If I can open my soul up that way, then why the Hell can’t I get up and sing a song in front of, most likely drunk, people instead of simply belting songs out in my car or in the comfort of my home?

Oh, that’s right.  It’s probably because I’ve been told since I was a child that I was not good at singing whatsoever, even when I was in choirs within our church and during middle school.  I think my husband’s criticism of my singing hurt the worst because he would make sure I knew that, since he sang in an A Capella/barbershop chorus and was in choirs for a longer time than I had, that he knew more than me to be judgmental and critical of my pitch or tone, under the pretense of trying to make sure I didn’t make a fool out of myself and to get better at singing.  I have been told, while trying to lightly sing in the vehicle with him over the years, to just stop singing, as it was too hard to listen to. Oh, there are so many times and ways he told me how horrible I was at singing, and how he didn’t like me trying to sing at all, that I get embarrassed if I sing around anyone other than a few trusted people.

When I would go with him to his practices, I would sit there in awe of him, and I would praise him often outside of the practices as well.  I know my one downfall in this scenario is that I was a 19/20 year old girl on the heels of past family and relationship trauma, and I was a bit too clingy to him being of drinking age and wanting to go out with the group after practices to a bar to socialize a bit.  I tried to make up for it by praising him and requesting that he sing around me more often, though I wasn’t wise enough to know that some ways of requesting are more harmful than helpful, and I think my requests of singing something other than his chorus songs, to sing me something more contemporary, as it would show off his talents in a way I rarely had gotten to see, though I think he felt that I was attacking him, and it may be that I wasn’t as clear in communicating then compared to now (though I am sure I can still learn more ways to communicate clearly and concisely), even though I never meant it other than encouragement.

So, I was at the bar with some friends recently, and I had 2 people who care about me a lot try to get me to pick a song to sing.  Granted, that night, in and of itself, was quite emotional and probably for another entry, which left me feeling just a bit more introverted than extroverted as I was earlier, and I just had this nagging thought that I didn’t want to embarrass the ones I cared about so much, so I just didn’t want to take that risk or put myself out there like that.  I couldn’t let myself give that part of me to be possibly attacked and used against me like it had been for so long before.

I broke down in tears when I came to that conclusion in the shadows of the night that I stared at for so long alone the night after the bar and shortly after my husband’s latest confrontation with me.  It is a hard habit to break those, almost automatic responses and defense mechanisms, to let yourself live authentically to the world, and while I’ve made some strides, I have at least one more first step to make now…

I won’t let him do that to me anymore, because even though we are legally married, I keep being reminded of why I knew, but tried to deny it and work against it for years, that I did not want to be married to HIM and began my journey that has come to where I’m at now.  The journey has a lot of bumps to go over, but I know now that they are not mountains, as I thought they were at one time, and for that, I am grateful and I am looking forward to finally getting up on stage soon and actually sing a song around a crowd, and be glad I finally found the courage to do it and not worry if someone wanted to criticize me or say that I do not sing well at all and should not try again.  I have been around enough nights of karaoke over the years to know how people react to other people singing, and I know I’d rather get some drunk laughs or praise, or sober helpful hints or small signs of support, regardless of how well I did in their opinion.  I know that, in all reality, most people do not treat others they way I allowed the most important people in my life to treat me, and I am finally ready to just do it.

Ironically, what he does not realize is that for all the character attacks he threw at the man who has spent time with me most often lately, it is that man who has touched me quite deeply by treating me with more respect and courtesy than I have received in years.  He, probably unknowingly, is the inspiring me to let myself stop living and looking in the past in more areas in my life than I had already consciously chosen to move forward in prior to actually spending any time with each other past occasional messages within the last few months or the one or two yearly social functions we had attended together years ago.

My friend asked me to pick one of two songs, and while he sang the song I chose, I was delighted to receive an impromptu serenade for part of the song, along with him coaxing me into joining him for a few measures and a kiss before he went on to end the song and left me blushing, to be totally honest.  My great friend that was with us leaned over to me after the exchange and said, “I’ll be the first one to say it, ‘Aww…’ and I mean it in a very good way.”  In those short moments, a memory of that time in history, along with how I physically and emotionally felt then, will forever be seared in my soul.  It is a moment I can hardly describe, let alone the rest of that night, but I know it was such a positive impact that no matter what is said to discredit him, this man has proven that, as an imperfect human, he has more class and puts in more genuine effort than the man that was attacking him, and that’s all that matters to me.  I learned a lot from the mistakes I have made and the struggles of my marriage, let alone struggles of growing up, and the one I think is most important now is to listen to those around me and take heed to what they say…

They remind me of where my passions are and when I am truly happy.  They remind me that they are looking out for me, and if they believe that someone or something may be unhealthy, they will tell me, so I should take their support as genuine and notice the reality of what they say, or even don’t say.

Yeah, I think that karaoke will have to be a “to do” one evening fairly soon…all thanks to you.

A Bitter Reality

December 13, 2012


First song that sets the backdrop for this part of my life has got to be “Narcissistic Cannibal” by Korn, with the raw and deep emotions in not only the tone of the voice, but in the message it actually conveys within the lyrics. This applies to a few people in my life only and things I keep in my life when I probably shouldn’t let some things just continue to be status quo…

“Don’t wanna be sly and defile you
Desecrate my mind and rely on you
I just wanna break this crown
But it’s hard when I’m so run down…”

I truly am run down from trying to maintain a status that flexes to and fro, with hidden expectations that turned to resentments, between someone who is to never to break a promise yet striving for perfection, and the most vile person that quits when they promised they never would. I want to stop wearing this invisible crown that changes on a dime, and I never know what will be blamed once I started to rely so much on you. My mind has been ravaged in ways that cannot begin to be told, sending it bouncing to extremes from one end of the pole to the other.

“And you’re so cynical, Narcissistic Cannibal!
Got to bring myself back from the dead!…”

I have always been to blame for the problems, and he always wanted to be right, no matter what the actual cost was, and I accepted it for a time, being dragged away from who I was towards what I know was dead…my hopes and dreams of further education and exploration of life, with someone I would be honored to call a life partner, best friend, soul mate, lover, and maybe even husband…while helping them grow in whatever ways they may want.

“Sometimes, I hate, the life, I made
Everything’s wrong every time
Pushing on I can’t escape
Everything that comes my way
Is haunting me taking its sweet time
Holding on I’m lost in a haze
Fighting life to the end of my days…”

I hate that I let my life get this way. I rushed into something because I felt the hurt of an unspoken rejection. I was rescued right when I was close to both making it completely on my own and losing it all because of one wrong move fueled by good intentions. I took words at face value and chose to ignore behaviors that were abusive, and even fell victim to being the attacker, so I own up to making it worse, or at least not actively better. I take steps forward, seeking outside help, for I feel it’s taking so painstakingly long and I have these hurdles that keep popping up that I have to continue conquering to get to where I want to be and letting go of that toxicity because I won’t stop having dreams and goals just because of you.

“Don’t wanna be rude but I have to
Nothing’s good about the hell you put me through
I just need to look around
See that life that has come unbound…”

The Hell you put me through has some happy moments, sometimes as small as pebbles, some a bit larger like a smooth skipping stone, and only a couple large rocks, filed away in my mind, heart, and soul. The effects of adding other stones on top of those, as they were held to the limbo status, because of the fears you carried and I had to hold as well because you chose to deny them, tossing them behind you, not realizing they landed right in front of me in my path of you. I held my stone but dropped in pace behind you slightly. With each denial of the reality I spoke of, I added my own stones inside me so I could focus on moving the stones you kept laying in my path, trying desperately to be what you said I was, yet continually had more stones added in front of me you expected me to work a way around to find you again, so I eventually started tossing a few stones your way as well as I wore further and further down. Once the stones got to be too great for me to bear, I finally saw that for me to lose the burden I was carrying and tossing, I had to toss the stones a different way, whether it was knocking two stones together to break them into smaller and more manageable sizes or acknowledge the size that they are and toss them beside me to mark my path…

And now is where the next song in the backdrop of my life starts chiming in, “Breaking The Habit” by Linkin Park, which I will break down in my next entry, because I know I will break the habit that has taken over in direct as well as insidious ways, and not only survive, but also thrive, even if only emotionally…

When I Needed You

February 14, 2012


When I Needed You

Here I sit in tears
Begging for a friend
An empathetic ear
But you are too busy
Trying to get laid instead.
Even though you said
You wouldn’t be pursuing
Now you add yet another notch
To your pathetic belt,
Superficial more important
Than what you said was heartfelt.
You swore you would be here,
Yet when I needed you,
The only thing I wanted,
You show yourself as too self-absorbed
And now taking advantage,
Already beginning to lose what you had
Though you refused to see it,
Scared of your own labels
And sacred limitations.
Solace I find where you dislike
In emotional bonds
Of those who have proven
Time and again
Regardless of abuse
They at least feign regard
If nothing else.

©Ami May 2012