Raising kids can be a lonely world, no doubt about it. When you have kids before all of your friends, you become isolated on an island where no one can hang out during your waking hours and everything they want to do requires a babysitter. When you have kids at the same time as your friends, you’re both to busy to coordinate anything.
But, guys, raising a kid who requires behavior modification 100% of the time is completely and utterly ISOLATING.
If you’ve never done it, you really can’t understand it. It requires vigilance during every moment of every day, no matter who’s watching. It requires an emotionless but gentle voice and a face that reveals nothing. It requires being guarded with how you’re feeling, even as your child is spitting in your face, screaming about how much they hate you.
It’s saying, “Okay. Are you ready to work now?” at least fifty times a day, knowing full and well that your child hates you for saying it.
It’s asking your child to clean up their own feces, which they smeared all over the bathroom wall, even though everyone thinks you’re a child abuser for making them do so.
It’s knowing that your child has screamed at you for the past 24 hours without stopping, and then seeing the way they transform into a perfect angel as soon as another person is around. And then seeing the way those people look at you with disgust when you won’t let the bad behavior go.
It’s being in survival mode every minute of the day, but never being able to vent to anyone for fear of being judged ruthlessly.
It’s wondering how long you’ll be able to keep your child in your home because their incidents of aggression rise and grow with each year that goes by.
It’s following the orders of a therapist, maintaining boundaries that seem impossible to “normal” parents, and then being accused of child abuse by your family.
It’s hearing, “Well, he’s always fine when he’s with me,” by everyone you know and love because they genuinely believe that your behavior is the cause for your child’s behavior.
It’s being watched and analyzed during every move you make because people are trying to find holes in your stories about your child’s behavior.
It’s seeing the school’s number pop up on your phone every day and wishing you didn’t have to answer.
It’s taking vacations with some of your children but not all of them because they wouldn’t be safe and wouldn’t enjoy it anyway.
It’s enduring scathing remarks from your family about not taking your child with you on vacation.
It’s being called a bitch by everyone walking past you in public and wondering if they meant to say it loudly enough for you to hear.
It’s never posting anything on social media about one of your children because there’s hardly ever anything positive to say.
It’s posting a picture of your child on social media for the first time in a month because she’s finally not screaming on the floor, and then having your family comment things like, “Wow, it’s nice to finally see his/her face instead of just the kids you like.”
It’s hearing your phone ring and begging the universe to not let it be the school.
It’s signing waiver after waiver about bruises and bite marks your child has put on themselves while trying to self-destruct at school.
It’s hearing the door open after school and letting out a sigh of defeat because you know the chaos is about to start.
It’s watching your typical children hide in their rooms with headphones on because they can’t handle hearing anymore of the screaming and punching by your non-typical child.
It’s not putting up any decorations that are precious to you because you know they’ll end up shattered on the floor.
It’s being accused of hating your adopted child and loving your biological children.
It’s seeing a counselor for PTSD that was caused by your own child.
It’s bawling while your typical children go through therapy for PTSD of their own because of a life you subjected them to by raising a child with a behavior disorder.
It’s bawling on the floor while your non-typical child sleeps because you can’t imagine the pain they went through to end up where they are.
It’s envying your friends who can put their children on iPads when they’re tired when you can’t even let your child go pee alone for fear that they’ll hurt someone or something.
It’s putting alarms on your child’s bedroom door because you’re afraid they’ll hurt someone in the middle of the night.
It’s leaping out of bed the moment you hear that alarm chime each morning because you have to get to your other children before they do.
It’s being scared to ever have another baby because it wouldn’t be safe in your home.
This list could go on and on forever. The number of ways a behavioral disorder or mental illness affects a parent’s life is astronomical. The disorder itself is like this living, breathing organism that fills up every corner of your life, but no one can see it besides you.
It hangs around your shoulders like a heavy scarf, changing the way you walk and carry yourself. It stands behind you like a lion with hungry eyes, changing the way you react and what your instincts feel like. It slithers through your home like a diseased snake, biting the heels of everyone it can find.
It’s miserable, guys.
Even if you have a community of people around you who live the same life, it’s still miserable. No one can really understand your family’s brand of pain because each RAD/ODD/Schizo/DID child is unique.
But without any community at all? It feels like being trapped underwater where everyone is staring at you, refusing to reach out and help you because they think you’re a fool for trying to swim.
It’s a pain that cuts you to your core and sticks with you for the rest of your life.