Saturday, July 21, 2018

Flashbacks and PTSD in RAD Moms



My son and I are fans of Dwayne Johnson although for distinctly different reasons ;-) We all went to see his newest movie called Skyscraper. All is well in my world, I'm happy, healthy, and I'm enjoying a movie in a cool theater on a hot summer day. Skyscraper is exactly what I expected from the trailer and I'm enjoying the fun. 

And then.

The movie was nearing the end. Dwayne Johnson, who plays a father named Will, and his daughter Georgia are caught at the very top of a burning skyscraper. He has pretty much moved mountains to get to his family who were caught in the inferno. He's managed to get his wife and son out of the building. But now, here he is, at the very tip top, fire surrounding them both. They're sitting on the floor, daughter between his knees and his arms wrapped around her. There is nowhere to go, end of the line. Holding her tight and kissing the top of her head, he says something along the lines of, "I'm sorry."

Cue unexpected PTSD flashback.

It's 2015. My daughter with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) has been home for 6 years. My son and I are shells of our former selves and Brad and I fight every day. Brad and I are soul mates. We rarely fight. The occasional argument or disagreement but we don't scream at each other. Ever. We've been together many life times and we've pretty much got it down to a science. Boy has that changed.

Our 8 year old son is extremely depressed and is being forced (unbeknownst to us) into a teeny-tiny life by our daughter. 


We live in a domestic violence household except it's our 10 year old daughter who is the abuser. 


No one believes me.


(You can scroll on down to see all kinds of posts about RAD but this sums it up fairly quickly.)


I've tried everything I can think of to help her and even learned new and unusual ways of living life with her--always trying to help her heal. Some things will work for a short time. Some things make her worse. Still I try.

I tell myself, "I will never give up."


And yet...


Here I am, sitting on top of a skyscraper, my son in my arms, no where to go and the world on fire around me. 


Always I am in protection mode but as much as I am always, always "on" and head on a swivel, it is never enough to protect my family 100%. The abuse that is heaped on myself and those I love just flattens me.


There is nowhere for my daughter to go that will help her and that we can afford.


Divorcing the love of my life and taking our son with me wouldn't fix it--Brad doesn't believe that our daughter is a danger. If we split he will believe her lies and not protect our son from her abuse when they are at his house.


Suicide? In the back of my mind, but in reality, nope. There is no way I will leave my son with no protection.


Nothing can be done and no one believes me. I am helpless and hopeless. 

And so, eyes wide and full of fear at the raging inferno that no one else will see, I sit with my son wrapped in my arms, kiss his head and whisper, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."


I snap back. I'm sitting in the movie theater in July 2018. We are all safe: my husband and I have come through and are stronger than ever, my son is thriving, I am thriving, and my daughter is doing well in her home. I'm ok. I breathe in a deep breath. Blink. Touch my arms to my son's on my right and Brad's on my left. Breathe. In and out. I am right here. Safe right now. I feel my feet on the recliner and wiggle them around. I feel my skin touching my loved ones. I feel my breath. The movie comes back into focus. I'm here, in this moment. That was two and a half years ago. 

Nowadays, this doesn't happen very often and the length of time gets shorter as I learn to pull myself back into my body. I'm able to process what happened a little more each time, to put more words and feelings into the experience instead of sitting in stunned silence. Healing isn't a linear process but instead seems to jump around. I don't mind, I'm just glad there is movement! 

So, why do I tell you all this? Because RAD moms are often diagnosed with PTSD. Flashbacks can happen and it's okay to give yourself a break--whatever emotions you have about them are normal. AND also know, you aren't broken. You aren't damaged for life. You can heal. 

In the RAD Mom Summer Camp retreat in early July (a 3 day, all inclusive, healing retreat held at my ranch in Colorado, specifically for RAD moms) one of the shifts was from believing, "I will never get back to who I was before this trauma." to, "I am healing and becoming a new and better version of myself." 



Hi, I'm Julia and I'm a trauma-informed certified Equine Gestalt Coach, artist of 30 years, and Reiki Master. I combine my skills to create an individualized care plan for each client. As an adoptive mother of two (one with Reactive Attachment Disorder and one "glass child"), I am intimately familiar with the trials and tribulations RAD moms and their glass children face as they navigate the muddy waters of life with a mentally ill child. While I see many types of people in my practice, my heart and my specialty is the health and healing of RAD moms and their glass children. Learn more at The Mother Ranch.

If you have a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder in your home and are feeling scared and alone, please join the facebook group called The Underground World of RAD. I am the admin/moderator, there are a few questions to answer and then you'll be added, lifted up, supported, and believed. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Co-active coaching and the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method


One of the interesting things about the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method (EGC or EGCM) is that the style of coaching is different than some. It's called "co-active" and what that means is that I believe every client already has all of his/her answers lying within but often out of conscious awareness. One of my jobs is to assist my clients in finding their own answers.

Advice is easy to come by don't you think? It comes from all corners and we often feel bombarded by what other people think we should do. But really, how often does, "I think you should_____." feel good and true in our own bodies? There is sometimes an internal, "nope" feeling when we are given advice--it just doesn't fit. 


Every so often we end up at a place in life that is scary and uncertain. We feel desperate for answers and turn to friends and family to help us find them. That's when the "shoulds" start flying. Maybe we're desperate enough to try anything and we pick up a few shoulds, dust them off and try them on for size, "I don't know what else to do, maybe this will work." Even when desperate it can be difficult for us to implement the advice and have it make a positive difference in our lives--because it's not coming from within. 

Making assumptions that our stories are the same and that my way will work for you is a recipe for disaster and disconnection. 

So, what does all this mean? It means that I don't "fix" my clients. Instead, the horses, client, and I work together and find ways to tap into their internal wisdom (we all have it!) which is where we find the way through any situation or trauma we've endured. Through greater awareness, self-compassion, and Gestalt methodology we are able to find healing.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

8 Ways to Help Families Who Have Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder


There is a horrific facebook video that the Post Institute put out recently. This is what they said:

Trigger warning! A friend of mine who is a teacher shared this. She shared it to help remind her fellow teachers of the source of distrust and reactivity of some students. 
It’s heartbreaking when we see with our eyes. There is benefit in allowing it to break your heart a little.


The video is from a nanny cam that was set up, and caught the nanny aka "a primary caregiver," throwing, beating, kicking, and stepping on a toddler. It is horrifying and I was immediately sobbing. The sharing of it by Post was to remind teachers (or clergy, friends of families who have a child with RAD, etc) why some children might be acting the way they are. It is not meant for families who have kids with RAD. We know (or suspect) what happened to make our kids the way they are. But maybe those family's tribes need to be graphically reminded why so many abused kids go on to abuse others.

Their facebook community was up in arms, furious that they would post such a horrendous thing. People were in tears, not understanding why they would put that out into the world.

I understand why they posted it--because people don't get it. Teachers don't get it. Churches don't get it. Family members don't get it. Friends don't get it. Unless you are a parent of a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) you don't fully understand the severity of a) what kind of abuse these kids might go through (not all kids with RAD were abused) and b) what might happen after (not all kids who were abused have RAD.)

My heart breaks for this child in the video and what this will likely do to her as she grows. It's very possible that she will never feel safe again--and then...how will she cope? Will she shut down and never return to who she is in her soul? Or will she heal and go on to change the world? 

My dream for her and all the others out there is that someone will scoop her up and hug her tight and that she will learn to accept that love, even want it, and go on to heal the world in her own way. I wish that for my own daughter who was hurt by someone before she came to us.

As parents of children with RAD we try scooping, loving, and connecting but it turns out, "just loving them more" and "more connection" isn't always enough--it can make some of these severely traumatized children more afraid and they lash out in even scarier ways.

Someone recently told me this: Let's say you are a child who has lived all of your life in a loving family. Suddenly, you are yanked out and placed in a meth house. Everyone tells you this new life is okay, how lucky you are. Therapists tell you this life is "normal."

See where I'm going with this? Now, let's say you're a kid from an abusive home. You've only ever known abuse. Your mother was abused while she was pregnant with you. Literally, from conception, you have only known abuse. Suddenly, you are yanked out and placed in a loving home. Everyone tells you this new life is okay, how lucky you are. Therapists tell you this life is "normal." How can anyone expect that these kids can just put it all behind them and move on into their new lives, accepting love and safety as the norm?

If only loving them was all that they needed. What happened to these children is so horrific that "just" love isn't enough. They need so much more help. If you are like most people, you want children to succeed. Your heart cries out when you hear the stories of abuse and neglect.

Your empathy is your strength--you can help! Let your heart cry and then learn more. There are so many ways to help families who have children with RAD. Here are 8 simple ways to help:

1. Listen. The next time a parent complains about their kid, just listen. No advice is needed (unless asked for.) You don't know what's going on in that house, even if you live in that house. Many fathers have no clue what's happening in their own home because the abuse doesn't happen when he's there.

2. Support. Help brainstorm. If you're given permission, share their story, ask for help. Start a gofundme so they can get the therapy they need--the whole family needs it, not just the child with RAD.

3. Share what you're learning with others. Tell the stories you've heard (but don't use names or locations.) Stories change lives. The people who love and trust you, will believe you. That belief spreads and makes a big difference in the lives of RAD families.

4. Accept that mental health is an issue that touches every family tree.

5. Set aside judgement. Just for today, set aside judgement when out in the world. Watch this and have a giggle :-)

6. Offer to take the child/ren with RAD so the parents can be with their other children for a few hours. 

7. Have extra money? (Yep, believe it or not, many people do!) Help out a family who has a child with RAD. Find people who work with RAD families and donate to them. Here are a few:

-RAD Advocates. 3 RAD moms started a nonprofit to help RAD families find the services they need.

-Discovery Horse. Sara is an amazing coach who works with children with RAD and RAD families using the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method and Natural Lifemanship principles. You can donate to her work by clicking here. Make sure you put "Discovery Horse" in the description box.

-The Mother Ranch. A RAD mom (Is it tacky for me to add myself? I've decided no! :-)) who supports RAD moms and glass children in their quest for healing trauma, using the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method and art therapy principles.

-Know others who help support RAD families? Good! Give to them!

8. If you are falling back on the old, "Kids are resilient--they'll bounce back no matter what happens to them," check out this study done by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente--it's all about ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and it's eye opening.


Parents of kids with RAD: You have the right to know your children's background and feel horrified and sad and angry...

and

you have the right to feel safe in your own home. Your other children and pets have the right to feel safe. Just because you understand the abuse that happened to your child with RAD doesn't mean that you have to accept abuse from your child with RAD.

I wish someone had told me this when I was in the trenches.

You and your entire family deserve to be safe. How that looks may or may not be what you expected.


Are you a RAD parent looking for support? Join the facebook group the Underground World of RAD We are a group of RAD parents and caregivers who insist on safe and nonjudgemental support. In-person groups spring out of this larger group all the time (those are the best!)

Are you a RAD mom looking for in-person support? Join the facebook group RAD Mom Summer Camp! Wishing you could just get away from it all and relax? This summer there are two camps held at my Colorado ranch!


Hi, I'm Julia and I'm a trauma-informed certified Equine Gestalt Coach, artist of 30 years, and Reiki Master. I combine my skills to create an individualized care plan for each client. As an adoptive mother of two (one with Reactive Attachment Disorder and one "glass child"), I am intimately familiar with the trials and tribulations RAD moms and their glass children face as they navigate the muddy waters of life with a mentally ill child. While I see many types of people in my practice, my heart and my specialty is the health and healing of RAD moms and their glass children. 
Learn more at The Mother Ranch.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

RAD Mom Summer Camp is here!

My sweet husband, an engineer, says, "It's time to shoot the engineer and release the design." LOL I've been working on this for weeks!

Here's the flyer, feel free to share!:


Click flyer to see a larger version!
Scroll down for details.







































And here are the details:


"When can I register?"

Registration (through PayPal) will open on Friday, April 6 at 6pm Mountain Time. 


"How many moms per camp?"

10 moms per camp.


Facilities

The Mother Ranch is a 15 acre working ranch in Longmont, CO. Attached to the ranch house is a large apartment with my office, group room, fully stocked kitchen, dining room, large art room, and 2 full bathrooms. This is where we will be cooking, eating, and hanging out during free time (along with outside space of course!)


Discounted Private Coaching

I have set aside days on either side of each session for private coaching clients from the retreats. If you decide to come into town early or leave late, please schedule a private Equine Gestalt Coaching session with the horses and me. You won't regret it! 
My normal rates are $125/hr and $50 for each additional 30 minutes. 
Your discounted rate is $100/hr and $25 for each additional 30 minutes.
Private Coaching days:
Session 1: Thursday, May 10 and Monday, May 14
Session 2: Thursday, July 5 and Monday, July 9
Session 3: Wednesday, August 1 and Monday, August 6


Group time

Summer session groups will be held in the coaching barn with the horses nearby, fall and spring sessions could be inside or outside depending on weather.


Food

A fully stocked kitchen will be ready and waiting for you! 

Breakfast is on your own and simple: cereal, toast, yogurt, fresh eggs from our chickens. 

Lunch is on your own during free time in the afternoon: sandwich fixings, chips, fruit, cookies, etc. Think of the lunches your mom made for you, that's the kind of stuff we'll have on hand.

Snacks, yes! Snackie foods are a must! And chocolate! MUST HAVE CHOCOLATE.

Nearly all of the mothers in the RAD Mom Summer Camp Facebook group have expressed interest in cooking dinner together. Please inform me ahead of time if you have "food issues" as my mom would say :-) My "food issue" is gluten so I understand. I also tend to bring a lot of my own snacks to events so I'm always safe. I will work with each group via group email to preplan their 2-3 dinners so I know what to buy (2 dinners for 3-day camps, and 3 dinners for 4-day camps.)


Free time

During this time you can just relax, have lunch, get your included massage, read a book or nap in a hammock under the trees, or just hang out and talk. It's up to you!


Goat Yoga, Transformational Breathwork, Massage, Art--all included!

Goat yoga is just a gentle yoga class with goats in the barn with you. Some people are yogis and some aren't. You are welcome to bend and stretch or just sit and snuggle a goat. The choice is yours! Either way, at the end of the hour you'll have a smile on your face. I always get asked this so I will answer here: No, I've never been peed or pooped on or seen it happen to anyone (doesn't mean it won't!) It will probably happen to your mat (just flip them over if it does) but don't worry, I scrub them after camp!

Transformational breathwork is a gentle way to get back in touch with your body and enter that creative, in-touch-with-Spirit zone. Mary Kennedy is our facilitator.

Massage is included for each mom! They will be scheduled once you've registered.

Art--I've been an artist for 30 years. I'm happy to "play" with anyone who would like to :-) Whatever we create during free time, it will be fun and informal and anyone can join in! Maybe you'll learn how to needle felt, or create a vision board, or paint a mandala rock to remember your experience here on the ranch!


Will there be more camps this year?

When these fill, I have the ability to add a few in the fall. 


"Why so few? So many RAD moms need this!"

There aren't a ton (yet!) because I started planning 2018, last year and at that time, RAD Mom Summer Camp was still just a dream. I'm not holding out on you, I just filled up most of my summer with children's camps and art classes through the Longmont Rec Center. 
2019 will be a different story!

Airport & Transportation

Denver International Airport (DIA) is about 40 minutes away.

Car Rentals at DIA

Green Ride Shuttle 

Longmont Shuttle 


Lodging


2 minutes from the Mother Ranch:

Super 8 Longmont, Highway 287 and Highway 66, recently renovated and doesn't look like a Super 8, check out the pictures on their site!



5-10 minutes from the Mother Ranch:


Victoria Inn, 2400 17th Ave., Longmont



15 minutes from the Mother Ranch:

Ellen’s B & B, 700 Kimbark St., Longmont

Thompson House Inn, 537 Terry St, Longmont

Best Western, 1900 Ken Pratt Blvd., Longmont



20 minutes from the Mother Ranch:

Springhill Suites, 1470 Dry Creek Dr., Longmont

Holiday Inn Express & Suites, 1355 Dry Creek Dr., Longmont

Courtyard by Marriott, 1410 Dry Creek Dr., Longmont

Residence Inn, 1450 Dry Creek Dr., Longmont

Candlewood Suites, 1340 Dry Creek Dr., Longmont

Hampton Inn, 850 S. Main St., Longmont



About 25 minutes from the Mother Ranch

Niwot Inn, 342 2nd Ave., Niwot, CO. 


Other options:





Staying on site. 
As most of you know, my dream is to offer glamping (glamour+camping) someday. I can't wait! For now though, we offer two options for those that would like to stay on the ranch. There are two full bathrooms in the apartment that you are welcome to use for showers, etc. but you must supply your own towels.

No matter which option you choose, hotel, B & B, tent camping, or motor home, know that we will be together all day and into the evening--we have to have campfire time and s'mores! 

Camping:
If you are a camping kind of person, and would like to stay on site, you are welcome to bring your own gear: tent, bedding, sheets, blankets (50 degrees at night even in the winter), towels, etc. Whatever you'd bring on a normal camping trip and set up camp here on the ranch. The cost for that is $20 per person, per night. There are two full bathrooms in the apartment that you are welcome to use for showers, etc. (Air mattress tip, place a blanket on top of air mattress and under your bedding. The ground temp will be very cool and air mattresses suck the warmth right out of your body!)

Motor homes and camp trailers:
You are welcome to bring these, just know that there are no dumping facilities here. You can plug into 110 with your extension cord. The cost for that is $20 per person, per night. There are two full bathrooms in the apartment that you are welcome to use for showers, etc. 

There are places that you can rent motor homes in the area, do a google search. Remember you have to be able to drive them to get them here! Also, "sleeps 8" probably means 2 per mattress. Do some research. We found some rentals on craigslist too.

If you have other questions, let me know!

3 and 4 day camp schedule (subject to change of course since it's only April 3rd!)


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Who are the "Glass Children"

Click on infographic to see a larger version.




Hi, I'm Julia and I'm a trauma-informed certified Equine Gestalt Coach, artist of 30 years, and Reiki Master. I combine my skills to create an individualized care plan for each client. As an adoptive mother of two (one with Developmental Trauma Disorder aka Reactive Attachment Disorder and one "glass child"), I am intimately familiar with the trials and tribulations DTD/RAD moms and their glass children face as they navigate the muddy waters of life with a mentally ill child. While I see many types of people in my practice, my heart and my specialty is the health and healing of DTD/RAD moms and their glass children. 
Learn more at The Mother Ranch.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Oprah Winfrey and Developmental Trauma on 60 Minutes

There was a lot of hype, and the Underground World of RAD was excited about the 60 Minutes episode that aired last night 3/11/18. Oprah Winfrey was on board! She was presenting information about developmental trauma! We mothers of children with Developmental Trauma* had high hopes that our story would finally be heard! 

If only it were that simple. We know, better than anyone, that our stories are not simple. Life with a child with Developmental Trauma Disorder/DTD aka Reactive Attachment Disorder/RAD is anything but simple. Even the names aren't simple!

So, 60 Minutes and Oprah had to start somewhere. And where they started was at the beginning. What is Developmental Trauma? What creates it? Oprah brought in her own background of abuse to help tell the story. She hit important points:

• Introduced the public to the concept of Developmental Trauma. Didn't mention Reactive Attachment Disorder/RAD--which I believe is a huge step forward for everyone. RAD needs to be taken out of the DSM (manual used to diagnose mental health disorders). This disorder needs to be described in full and the DSM needs to be using DTD instead of RAD. Therapists using the DSM to diagnose would have a much clearer picture.
• Introduced Dr. Bruce Perry and his work.
• Brought Oprah's power and influence to the field.
• Touched on Trauma Informed Care and two of the places that are teaching it.

What the episode didn't (understandably) delve into, or even touch on:

• Loving parents (often adoptive but can also be bio, step, or foster) who are raising children with DTD/RAD and who no one believes because the behaviors of these children are confusing and triangulating.
• While the 2,000 children at Saint A are being given true "wrap around services" (everyone in contact with the children are on the same page and have been trained in trauma), the families who have children with DTD/RAD are not. We are still struggling with getting anyone to believe us, let alone help us, because there is a:
• Lack of Trauma Informed Care training within the community: schools, health professionals, churches, adoption agencies, family and friends.
• Yes! Relationships! But what about when the child with DTD/RAD is severe and is physically, psychologically, verbally, and sometimes even sexually abusive to his/her family? When living with these children, safety is above all else.
• Even if we had true wrap around services for our children with DTD/RAD--what about the rest of the family that has been hurt? DTD/RAD moms are targeted and siblings (aka Glass Children) as well--they need massive support too. (Take the Glass Child test here.)

It seems DTD/RAD moms feel a sense of...excitement that Oprah shed ANY light on it and a sense of resignation that it didn't go where we needed it to go. This just touched the tip of the iceberg. 

I'm choosing to focus on the incredible fact that Oprah started the conversation within the public realm! I hope she continues. I plan on sending her information myself! Also, I hope that all of the DTD/RAD moms who spoke out after the Florida shooting will continue to do so. I believe that together we can make a difference.

60 Minutes--watch Oprah's segment focused on Developmental Trauma here.  
It's 13 minutes long.

Oprah talks about the 60 Minutes episode on Developmental Trauma
 

Hi, I'm Julia and I'm a trauma-informed certified Equine Gestalt Coach, artist of 30 years, and Reiki Master. I combine my skills to create an individualized care plan for each client. As an adoptive mother of two (one healthy and one with DTD/RAD), I am intimately familiar with the trials and tribulations DTD/RAD moms and their glass children face as they navigate the muddy waters of life with a mentally ill child. While I see many types of people in my practice, my heart and my specialty is the health and healing of DTD/RAD moms and their glass children. 
Learn more at The Mother Ranch.




* Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD) aka Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)