Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Reactive Attachment Disorder: The Colors Of Hurt

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”  ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Raising a child who has Reactive Attachment Disorder is an oxymoron.  In reality, she is raising you...forcing you down an unfamiliar path on life's journey.  

It is sort of like walking into a room that has been ransacked and pillaged.  You instinctively know the space was once perfectly splendid, because you can still spot obscure fragments of what the space surely looked like before the destruction took place. What causes you to gasp, is the gaping hole in the heart of the room.  That void is where there was once a brilliant stained glass window, poised to sparkle and shine.  But now there is only brokenness.  In fact, what is left of the shine and sparkle is heaped up on the floor.

You, as the parent, are charged with picking up the broken pieces of glass, one color at a time, using only a pair of cheap tweezers.... while yellow jackets swarm in through the open space.  The space was once protected from outside pests by the grand window, but not anymore.   

The bees buzz all around, threatening to sting you.  Well, actually, they are relentlessly stinging you, set on preventing you from picking up the glass.  The task is immense, fraught with aggravation.

The splendid room represents what was once a whole child.  Erected by the Creator, this one was crafted to stand as a sanctuary, welcoming others to bask in all that makes it unique and special.  Yes, the stained glass window was a one of a kind design.  A rare, priceless treasure.  At one time, light poured through it, allowing the owner's true beauty to be revealed to all who entered.

The broken window, once signifying strength, now personifies the many colors of hurt brought on by neglect, abuse, and abandonment.  Though it's edges are sharp and ugly, you can still see a glint of light on the broken glass if you are willing to look for it.  

The tweezers?  A parent's feeble attempt to protect herself from being wounded by the countless colors of hurt.  

And the bees, of course, are bee-havior.  The ups and downs....highs and lows....the manipulation, the control, and the acting game.  Lies, rage, stealing, sneakiness, hoarding, destruction of property, etc.  Those dreadful, horrible bees!

As a parent, you take your tweezers in hand and prepare to focus.  Even though the job appears to be terribly hopeless, you are determined.  You have met with the Master Builder and have been told He can re-build the window as long as you, first, methodically separate each color for Him.  He instructs you to see and touch each and every broken piece.  

"Can you make the window look exactly as it once did?" you ask The Builder one day when He stops in to check on the progress.

"No," he replies with a sigh, "this will be a brand new design."

You don't like that answer very much.  After all, when this child entered your life, you had plans for her.  Big plans.  Wasn't she going to soar on the wings of eagles and achieve all the dreams you'd dare to dream for her?  No, a new design will not work for you.  Gathering courage, you sheepishly inform the original Builder that while He may have been the right Man for the job the first time around, this time, you think you'll look for someone else.  

Sweeping up the glass and pouring it into a deep bucket, you take it to one who advertises himself to be a window fixer.  This person brags how he has restored even the most difficult of cases.  Degrees line his wall, so you are immediately impressed.  And he tries to put the pieces back together.  But he fails.

So you find another, and another, and another.  All of them tout past successes.  Most guarantee a favorable outcome.  Yet they all fail.

Eventually, you throw the colors of hurt into a garbage can and try to pretend it never existed.  There never was a completely perfect stained glass window in the room in the first place, was there?  And those pesky choose to ignore them.  Every once in a while, you give in and swat at one or two or three or four.  And eventually, that plan fails too.  

As long as the gaping hole is in the room, bees continue to proliferate.  Becoming more and more agitated, they are determined to force you to leave the room once and for all.  At times, seeking relief, you do leave.  But you always return.  Parents never give up. 

Filled with sheer frustration and exhaustion, you stand and look at the expanse of the room.  There has to be a way to tackle the problem while dealing with the ever mounting problem of bees.  At last, you bring the broken pieces back into the room, pour them out onto the open floor, pick up your tweezers, and start examining each piece as you sort the colors into different piles.  You once stood tall, now you spend most days on your knees in the floor.  Where pride once stood, humility bends. 

The bees show no mercy.  Their stings harm and injure.  Sometimes you get mad and scream, other times you cry.  But at all times, you'd rather throw up your hands and give up.

You hate yourself for that.

This job is meant for a warrior, which you are not.  You are just a mom or a dad who had a divine calling to pluck a child from life's rubble to bring a whisper of hope.  Now, you are in the rubble too.

One day, you glance up to see the original Builder standing by.  

"So, I see you've decided to do this My way," He gloats.

Part of you resents Him.  That part of you wants to pick up the shards of glass and throw them at Him.  The other part of you, though, wants to cling tightly to His neck, trusting Him to fix it all. He is fully aware of your inner battle.

"You know," He smiles, "while this new window won't look like the first, it will still be beautiful.  We are working together, you and I.  For this to be successful, it will require both of us."

His Words stab you with fury.  Is it not enough that you are having to settle for a new version of the window?  But now, He is spouting off something about how He is doing this task WITH you?  Is it not YOU who are on the floor cleaning up the mess, day after day, while He is not around?  So you slam the floor with the balls of your fists and shout:  "What do you mean we are doing this together?  I don't see you on the floor picking up the pieces every day!  Where are you when I'm being stung by the bees?  Where are you when I'm so tired I can no longer hold my head up?"

"If you'd put down the tweezers, the task would go much faster," he laughs.  Your outburst hasn't troubled Him at all.  What kind of Builder is this?    

So now you decide to give Him the silent treatment.  Yes, that will make you feel better and will probably get His attention.  Put the tweezers down? Who is He kidding?  You know without the tweezers, you will get cut.  You'll bleed, for crying out loud.  So you hold even tighter to the tweezers, set your jaw, and continue on, pretending The Builder is non-existent.

After a few moments, the Builder commands the bees to leave the room.  His voice booms, filling the room.  At once, the pests fly out of the space where the window used to be.  Poof!  They are gone.  

That gets your attention.  If this Builder can command the bees to leave so easily, can He not also restore this window to it's original beauty?  The dawn of that realization makes your blood boil even more.  

Hearing His feet rustling through the glass, you don't dare look His way, but you know He is moving toward you.  The Builder kneels down in front of you.  His knees are now touching yours. Taking your chin in His hands, He gently pulls your face up to meet His:

"You are so stubborn,"  he chuckles to Himself, shaking His head.  "That is why I chose you for this task."

He chose me?

Looking around the damaged room, a tear escapes from one of His eyes.  He turns back toward you and grins the sort of grin that melts your heart.  Sincerity floods from The Creator's eyes as more tears meander down the lines on His face.  His tone is hushed, and His voice breaks:

"If I can repair the window, I can also repair your wounds.  So put down the tweezers and allow yourself to feel the colors of hurt. In bleeding, you'll find empathy, and from that, compassion will become your constant companion.  You're going to need a lot of that to survive this mess." 

Reaching down to pick up a handful of glass, He allows it to slowly run through His fingers.  You are captivated by His every word and every move.  He really does care, doesn't He?  The bees are gone, the space is quiet, and you no longer feel alone.  He continues:

"Even though it might not look like it on most days, we are in this task together.  Nothing in this world happens without My fingerprint upon it.  There are no mistakes and no accidents.  Every action is joined with intent.  This window was broken so an eternal lesson could be learned.  While your plan was to love the colors of hurt out of this room, restoring it to what it once was..... Mine was that you simply love." 

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."