Monday, March 3, 2008

Circular spiral arguments that go nowhere, or the intro to Annie

Well we had our emotional reserves sapped this weekend with one of those circular, spiral emotional outbursts that our adopted 18 yo (almost 19) daughter is so good at. I resisted for so long the possible diagnosis of her having Borderline Personality Disorder, mostly because it was such a depressing diagnosis. But each day it is becoming more clear that that is what we are working with. I really think Borderline Personality is just adult Reactive Attachment disorder. That is at least my lay person's understanding as it looks exactly like all the reactive attachment behaviors we have struggled with for so many years.

Anyway, Annie is living away from home, in another state, at a rehab facility for people with brain injury. She moved there from the psych hospital and was in and out of the psych hospital several times before that. This facility offers an amazing array of services for rehab, speech, occupational and physical therapy, job training, social skills, anger management, independent living skills, drug and alcohol counseling, etc. IT was such a miracle that Annie was accepted and that Medicare paid for it. (Annie was shaken as a baby and has brain injury related to that). But Annie has refused to take advantage of the programs offered, instead presenting such a danger to herself that she has been moved to the most restrictive setting, but it is not a lock down facility. Whenever she can she goes AWOL and engages in drug activity and other unsafe stuff with strangers she meets on the streets. Then when she gets tired of being on the lam, she hangs out in public view where the cops can pick her up and return her to the facility.

This cycle of behaviors was not what our exhausting circular argument was about, at least this weekend. Annie will be 19 in April, in all likelihood Medicare will no longer pay for such a high level of treatment, whether she needs it or not (especially since she has not been progressing under the program for almost 2 years). She will be transitioning to a group home level of care in April. We made it clear she could no longer live at home since her behaviors were such a danger to the younger children in the home and since she developed a wonderful tool to argue with, if we said no to her druggie boyfriends coming to the house or to her staying out all night, she accused my husband or older sons of raping her. We have no interest in being the subject of THAT witch hunt again.

Anyway we have been working hard with the case manager to try to find her a suitable placement. Funny, but none of the programs want her. Annie has been busy sabotaging all efforts, refusing to sign release of information forms, having major outbursts of negative behavior whenever an interview was planned, etc. But she also is on the warpath to get out of the rehab program, and is quite adamant that she is just going to sign herself out of the program and go live on her own.

One of the pieces of major discontent she has expressed is that we won't let her live with this young man that she has been talking with on the phone, who lives in our city. We have gone back and forth on this for several months. She has never met him in person but she assures us that they love each other and even though he is older (26 or 28, we don't get a straight answer) we shouldn't worry about him because he is a good guy. Of course, he won't let her live with him for free so we would have to agree to pay her rent and stuff, but she is sure this is the best option.

Well after much pressure on her part, my husband finally agreed to talk with this man on the phone. My husband talked with Annie for a long time and told her that he would have a lot of questions for this man and that he would tell this man the whole truth about Annie to make sure that he was comfortable keeping Annie safe. Well, at that, Annie got all defensive and started yelling that she didn't want us to talk to him and we just didn't want her to be happy, we were mean, we didn't love her, we didn't know what she needed, and why couldn't we just trust her, etc. And she hung up on my husband. So we didn't know if the young man was going to call on Sunday or not, we didn't know if Annie was going to go AWOL or not. He didn't and neither did Annie (which was a relief)

But this Monday morning, at 6:23, I get a call on my cell phone from an unfamiliar out of state # which I missed. Then the voice mail buzzed in and it was Annie leaving me an angry message in which she announced she wasn't coming back to our city and she was going to talk to her case manager about finding an apartment in the city where she is (4.5 hours away). And that she was going to be her own guardian, etc, etc. But not a word about this young man and the plans to move back here to live with him. Oh, and we are not her parents any more and I need to stop hiding the information about her birth mom because she is going to find her and she knows that she is just waiting to hug her and welcome her home.

If only it were truly what is going to happen!! I wouldn't mind at this point being thrown out of Annie's life for a while. That sounds so harsh but the amount of turmoil associated with just phone contact with her is so exhausting. When she was in the home she was a physical danger to the other children and the animals, and she manipulated our lives so that the household was in constant chaos with her at the focal point. If I had any hope for improvement I don't think I would feel so drained, but all of her cyclical, spiraling behavior just seems to be heading downwards, with no end in sight.

I still remember the beaten, bitten, cigarette burned child who came to my home and when released from the social workers hand, scurried to hide under the desk, her face screaming with huge tears rolling down it but not a single noise coming out of her. All the times we tried to hold her and cuddle her and she would stiffen and throw her body away from ours. The way she watched with such hungry eyes as the other children sat next to us for story time or were carried or hugged, but how she refused to let herself be touched, kissed, hugged, patted, carried, you name it. The numerous times the therapists, psychiatrist, social workers, etc. suggested that she would be better off in the psych hospital, we resisted with all our might, hoping that keeping her in our home would make her feel safe and stable, we only gave in when at 15 it was a choice between the psych hospital or criminal charges and we accepted the suggestion that the hospital would be better for her than the jail.

I still wonder if there was something more we could have done, another strategy we could have tried, another of the many therapies we somehow missed trying? If there was really anyway that we could have broken through her wall of pain and let her know that she truly is a person worth loving, and that despite the fire setting, the sexual aggression towards other children, the attacks on each and every one of us, the destruction of her room, the running away, etc. we still love her very much and wish with all of our hearts that she could be a part of our family. I used to tell her all the time as a child, when her response to my statement "I love you Annie" was a screamed "I hate you and I want to get away from you", that it didn't matter she was stuck like glue to this family and there was no getting out. Now I know she really is hoping(on one level, anyway) that she can get that glue unstuck, and I need to find the strength and resolve to refuse to let her go.

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