Fast-forward to today and those checklists. I run into my list every once in a while and suddenly I begin to realize that she is not only healing but that certain behaviors are totally and completely gone AND we have seen no signs of them in months or even years. For example, Corazon was obsessed with gore and fire and everything connected to fire (matches, lighters, candles, fire alarms, trucks, escape route maps (at age 4) AND she knew where all of them were in any building we entered.) She would stare at candles for hours and reach out as if to touch, she would ask for her own matches, lighter, etc. If we barbecued outside we couldn't keep her away from the coals. She talked about fire, asked questions about it, etc. She could hear a fire truck from the faintest sound and would declare "there's a fire." This obsession probably stopped about a year and a half ago. It wasn't sudden and I don't think I actually noticed it. I still hide any matches, lighters, etc. and we have a fireplace now so I watch her expressions and behaviors on the occasional times we light a fire. I look for glimpses of the old responses to fire. I am still vigilant (in more than a normal parent kind of way) even though her behavior seems more normal in this area. This is true for many of the other RAD symptoms she no longer exhibits.
A few months ago we were able to have a conversation about the attachment cycle and the symptoms of RAD and it really stuck with her. This week she asked me if she could look at the symptoms again because she wanted to see if she was getting better. She has always been an active participant in her healing but now she has the beginnings of an intellectual understanding. So we pulled out the list and she noted that she hadn't "lost" any of the symptoms she still has. (She probably still has between 1/4 or 1/3 of the more common ones.) I reminded her that healing takes time. She seemed pretty pensive that day and later declared she was going to "work" on the stealing (she does this oh so rarely) and the lying (more common). I supported her and pointed out she has made great progress in both areas but could afford to do more. She seemed sad although when I asked her she said she was fine. Later that day she came to me and said she was sad but she didn't know why she was sad. After a few questions from me it became clear that she was upset that it was sooooo hard to "fix" her behavior and she was sad because she was feeling the enormity of the task It struck me that she was sad and she was able to recognize it and begin to understand why she was feeling this way. Wow! How far we've come! When I think back to how long it was before I saw that emotion when we first started on this journey? It was probably a year or so and I vividly remember her being angry that she didn't know what was happening to her. Here we were feeling sad about the work to be done. And we were together. Of course, we have been together in this fight all along but now we are ON THE SAME SIDE. How awesome is that?!
As I reflect on this I am reminded that many times I didn't believe we would ever get here and HERE WE ARE! Many times when I was surrounded by the yelling, biting, peeing, lying, staying up all night for fear she would harm something or someone, stealing, running to school every day, talking to deaf ears (teachers, friends, and family) I could not begin to envision this moment. I didn't know to expect it and yet here we were talking about sadness and healing and working together. And it
I'm no fool. I know she won't always be so cooperative and receptive but I will take it when I can get it. As I sit here after another rough day with my son, I recognize that I have to find his list, go over, look for the healing and be ready to do what I have to do for him, each and every day. It is daunting but I have caught glimpses of the other side and today that is enough to keep me going.