Joe has only been preaching to me for what.... a year and a half now??? "You need to get away every once in a while," he'd say. "You really need to get some breaks from TLP." I remember sitting there for what seemed like a million times... listening to Joe preach to me about the importance of getting a break from a RAD child. "Yeah... right," I'd think to myself. "Who in the heck would ever want to take TLP for an entire weekend?" Seriously, back then... I wouldn't have wished that nightmare on my worst enemy. So I'd just nod to Joe in agreement, say goodbye, and go back home to my RADiculously stressful family life.
As time moved on... and as TLP started becoming more and more manageable... I sometimes daydreamed about busting out of this RAD life and going away for a weekend of sanity. Yet, I never did. I always had some very good reasons for never letting myself get away too. Besides that really big issue of who would watch him for the weekend... I also worried about a series of other problems too. I worried that the respite provider might not be experienced enough to deal with his special needs. "What if they got angry, handled things wrong, or even worse... hit him." After all, I've had my own share of days when I had to actually start counting myself... talking to myself... and even back away from him to ensure that I didn't do something really stupid out of anger. "Come on Joe," I'd think to myself as he continued to bug me about the need to get a break. "We're not just talking about any ordinary child here. We're talking about a child that can literally bring a parent to their knees in just a matter of seconds. A child that could make a parent cry without even having to give it very much thought."
As much as I truly wanted to get some breathing space, I had to consider all possible catastrophes before just dumping my child off and walking away as if I had not a care in the world. What if he totally destroyed someone's home? What if he thought that we were abandoning him... like his birth family had done in his earlier years? Wouldn't that only cause us more unnecessary grief... and wouldn't that set us all back a few more steps? Would a weekend away really be worth the price we'd have to pay when we arrived back home? Surely he'd find a way to punish us for leaving him behind. We had been working sooooooo hard to get TLP well... to get him to where his behaviors were manageable. Why would I ever want to risk doing something that might push us back to the very beginning... to all of those old behavioral problems? And so it was decided. My husband and I were doomed to a life of imprisonment with our little RADish... and that was just the way it was going to have to be.
Unfortunately, life just has this way of throwing more and more CRAP at us no matter how much we struggle to stay afloat. Just as TLP started becoming more and more "normal" ... and life started feeling more relaxed... and I started to actually see myself maybe being able to get away... some personal family issues started creeping up out of the woodwork. "Great," I say to myself. "TLP is going to become a survivor, just in time to watch his mother become an emotional basket case." Of course, everyone is so full of good advice for people when their world is crumbling down around them... and I think I may have heard it all.
"You need to do something to reduce the stress."
"You need to try to relax and take care of your self,"
"You need to get a little more sleep... you look terrible."
Yet, the days turned to weeks, and the weeks to months... before reality reached out and smacked me right in my the face. I knew that I was really headed for a nervous breakdown this time, and I knew that I needed to get away from everyone. Although TLP was doing much better.... he was still a RAD child... and we still lived our days with some major control issues. I knew that there was only one thing that I could do to regain my sanity. I needed to Break Out! I needed to just walk away from all of this life stress... and RAD stress... and find some way to breathe... before it killed me. It was then that the little voice inside my head started to argue with me again. "What kind of a mother just walks away and leaves her family for an entire weekend? You adopted this child... he's your responsibility. If you leave... the problems are still going to be waiting for you when you get back home."
So last Tuesday, I spent an entire hour talking to Joe. I did a pretty good job dancing around the big issue at first, but eventually I heard myself spitting out some very "real" feelings.
"I need to go away somewhere," I said to him as I tried really hard not to cry. "I just need to get away from everyone.... everything... from my husband.... from my kids.... from my life. I just need to go somewhere alone.... so I can think."
About the time that I started to cringe at the thought of what Joe might be thinking," he started to speak. "Go home and talk to you husband," he said. "Go tell him that you need to get away."
I'll spare everyone from the pitiful details of the emotional conversation that I had with my husband two days later.... but on Friday... I was packing for my much needed weekend getaway. As I left the house, I told my husband that I had absolutely no clue where I was headed... and I really didn't. At the time, even a bench in the park sounded pretty appealing to me.
I started driving.... not really knowing where I was going. Yet, it actually felt really good to be going nowhere. I was leaving... and I was going to have a peaceful weekend locked up inside a motel room somewhere with nobody around to bother me... nobody to tell me that I looked awful... nobody to ask me if I was okay... and nobody to tell me to relax. I wasn't going to have to spend my weekend answering telephones.... doors.... or fighting with defiant children. That was going to be my husbands job this weekend. So... it was just me.... my truck... my suitcase.... and my cell phone.
As I hopped onto the highway... I still didn't really know where I was headed. At first I almost headed north because I really wanted to spend a weekend at The Wellston Inn (long story), but I also knew that I wanted to meet my friend CAT who was about four hours East of me. I started playing eenie meenie miney mo... and the next thing I knew... I was headed towards CATS house. I figured that I'd drive a few hours and then get a motel for the night. Then the next day I'd drive the last hour and maybe call CAT and see if she was free to meet me for coffee. Sounded like a very good plan to me. I'd still get my weekend of quiet... and also get to meet one of my TLP friends.
Well... like I said earlier.... life just has this way of throwing CRAP at us sometimes. About two hours into my journey... my truck decided that it needed to take a little break. So... here I was stranded in a strange town... in the dark... and in the pouring rain. Yeah! Good way to start out the first night of a "stress free" weekend getaway. I actually kept pretty calm as I approached the service station. "Can you put a new alternator on my truck?" I asked politely. "Sure.... I can do it on Monday," the man replies. "Hmmmmmmm... " I said ever so calmly. "Are there any motels here in town?" The man pointed the way to the only motel in town... the one that just happened to have no vacancies. Just my luck... but I wasn't about to let that small detail ruin my stress free weekend. "No problem," I thought to myself. "I'll just sleep in the truck. It's quiet... just me and the rain... no kids. Yep... that's just what I'm going to do."
Well... after sitting around thinking for a short time... I decided that I needed to give it up. I was stranded... and even if I waited out the night... my alternator problem was still going to be there for me in the morning. The only problem was... who was I going to call? I couldn't call my husband. No way! I could never call him and admit that I couldn't even survive a weekend getaway without his help. Nope... I knew I couldn't call him and ask him to yank TLP out of bed and drive 2 1/2 hours to come and rescue me. Hesitantly, I picked up the telephone and dialed CATS number. I don't even remember exactly what I said, but I think it had something to do with my life being an awful mess. The next thing I knew... CAT was on her way to make a 1 1/2 hour drive to come and rescue a pitifully stranded RAD mom that she'd never even met before.
From the minute that I stepped foot into her car... I immediately felt safe. We chatted like old friends all the way back to her house, and then on into the wee hours of the morning. I didn't mind sharing the couch with one of her dogs... and didn't even mind waking up to the wet sloppy kisses and the wagging tail. All I know is that I wouldn't have wanted to trade this wonderful night at CAT's house... for any lonely old motel room. Thank you CAT for rescuing me. Thank you for opening your home to me. Thank you for driving me around town to find an alternator... and for escorting me safely back to my truck. Thank you for being such a great friend.
So to all of you who are wondering what the moral of this whole long boring story is....
Please listen to your Attachment Therapist and try to plan some time away from your little RADish before you get so stressed out that you start flying by the seat of your pants like I did. I now realize that although I couldn't avoid some of the stress that has recently come into my life... I could have at least been more emotionally ready to handle the additional stress if I would have just allowed myself the privilege of being human. These kids take a lot out of all of us. They are so demanding... and if we allow them to suck the life out of us... they might actually succeed in doing that. Please... take the time to take care of yourselves. Make the time to get away and breathe a little. But.... if life gets too rough... and you ever feel the need to impulsively "Bust Out"... always be sure to point your vehicle in the direction of another RAD family... just to be safe. ; )