This is what I’m able to piece together so far…
I’m not sure how to best go about explaining my attachment therapy sessions to other people, but imagine, if you will, that you’re a child of about twelve. You don’t have much body weight, especially when compared to any one of the several adults who will be holding you down, much less their combined mass. The man in charge of all this is especially heavy–he’s very tall and fat.
First, you are made to lie on the floor, where you are wrapped in a sheet. After that, you’re wrapped in a heavy blanket (or in Candace Newmaker’s case, placed under cushions). You comply because you are told that you will be given up for adoption (again) or imprisoned, possibly both, if you do not do what you are told. There is a video camcorder on top of a tripod, pointing at you.
Once you are tightly bound and unable to move your limbs (they check to make sure), they tell you to struggle to get free. So you struggle, because you must do what you are told, but then they do everything in their power to stop you. They push down on you, piling on top of you. They press hard on your abdomen with the flat of their hand or their fingers or their fists or elbows. They put their hands over your nose and mouth, denying you air. They are big, grown men and you don’t know them but still they touch you all over. You are mocked and shouted at and made to say ludicrous things over and over. It seems that they want you to sound as crazy as possible, so sometimes you speak in tongues, which they seem satisfied to see and hear.
You sweat a lot because it’s extremely hot inside the blankets. Even without the blankets, you would be sweating from all the physical movements they are making you do–there’s the heat of the struggle and the heat of their strange, big bodies constantly touching you. You can’t understand why they are recording all of this.
You are denied water. You don’t get a bathroom break. There is often urine and vomit. You cough and spit and throw up frequently from the nausea of exertion and the nausea of aversion to the whole entire thing. Sometimes they smear the spit and vomit in your face.
This can last anywhere from half an hour to half a day. You cry and beg, but they never give you any indication of when it’s going to be over. You learn not to trust their promises. Sometimes they make as if they’re going to stop, then just when you think you’re free they begin all over again.
Sometimes your adoptive mother (the one who sent you here) is there in the room with you. Sometimes she isn’t. Whether she is or isn’t, you cry out for her, begging her to make them stop, but even when she is there, she does nothing to intervene. Instead, she helps them do whatever it is they want to do to you. She holds you down with them. She does what she is told.
Over time, part of you goes someplace else. It’s like one of your eyes is always shut, looking inward at things no one else can know or touch, while the other is unblinking and tracking everything that goes on outside and around you. You’d like to shut them both, the make-believe worlds inside your head are the only freedom you have left–but you need to see exactly what it is these people are after and you need to act accordingly, though not so willingly that they take your behavior as manipulation. They distrust you so much already. Behave too badly, they will punish you severely. Behave too well, they will accuse of you an agenda and punish you no less severely. You’re going to have to be very careful and vigilant from now on.
Personal comfort is not an issue, it doesn’t even enter your mind anymore. These people can kill you, they’ve come very close to doing so and they’ve made it abundantly clear that you have no power. They say that because you were an orphan, you are not like other kids and you are going to grow up to kill people.
The few true things about you that were closer to the surface dive that much deeper down in you, while the surface becomes something you plan entirely and construct with a detached coldness you don’t recognize, but which must be familiar because it comes so easily. They say that you are making progress.
Your adoptive mother comes to see you more frequently and you hug and kiss her and laugh with her and do everything she tells you to do with a smile on your face. You feel a vague sort of contempt for her that isn’t strong enough to be called hatred.
Your adoptive father never comes to see you, not that you care. He left for good when you were six, and it was good riddance as far as you’re concerned! He made your adoptive mother’s life a living hell, and you had loved her and hated him for hurting her. You can’t remember the details, just her screaming in pain a lot. Sometimes the police came to your house. Many times she would wake you up in the middle of the night and you would have to leave the house to go stay at motels, or with people you didn’t know.
Months go by. You do what you have to do and continue to submit yourself to the torture and humiliation.
The already scattered makings of you (because at your age, you are far from adulthood) burrow down deeper and further apart into darkness. Idly, you wonder if you can find them later. Mostly, you don’t care. The important thing is that you’ve fooled them all.
It’s funny, because now you’ve become closer to the monster they claimed you would become if they did not “heal” you themselves. The price of your freedom.
You don’t want to be a monster, but it’s no use regretting, you did what you had to do, and you will continue to do so to ensure that you never go back to that place again. You know they’ll be watching you for a while.
You recognize that something might have been broken, but also that something has kickstarted to life, and you allow yourself the insane luxury of hope.