The Dad and I took an early flight to Chicago and were at the hotel before lunch. The Dad had signed us up for a pre-conference session run by Christine Moers from Welcome to My Brain. Christine is very knowledgeable about what it takes to parent kids of trauma. I don’t think she calls them RADishes or RADlets, but they are still the same kids, kids who have come from the hard places. Christine is always real and a natural in front of a group. She is entertaining and I expected to enjoy this part of the conference.
Christine caught me with the first group exercise and I pretty much stayed in that place all weekend. Christine pretended to give each of us a magic wand that would change one behavior of one child. After we introduced ourselves, we were expected to tell the group what we would use our wand for. I was so caught up in listening to everybody’s story that when my turn came, I had not thought about my answer. My first instinct was to use my wand to protect GB, but that wasn’t one behavior. The next thing that popped into my head was the smirk Hope always has right after she successfully triangulated one person against another (usually me). I.HATE.THAT.SMIRK! After everybody had introduced themselves and used their wand, Christine asked us to think about the behavior we used the wand on. That behavior was our biggest trigger.
She gave us a couple of minutes to try and figure out why Hope’s smirk was a trigger for me. I closed my eyes and imagined Hope with her smirk on. As I was doing this, Hope’s face turned into my youngest brother’s face, but the smirk stayed the same.
My youngest brother went through his short life manipulating people to get what he needed or wanted. He was really good at it. I resented him most of his life. He died at 27, driving drunk, trying to outrun a state trooper after he side swiped a car. I had never made the connection before, but that was the force behind Hope’s ability to make me climb walls with just one smirk. I spent the most of the weekend in my head, trying to sort things out.
The lesson I took away from this session is that not only do I, as a parent of children with RAD have to become familiar with their triggers, but I have to deal with my own triggers from my past. It wasn’t a lesson I was looking for.