I decided I needed to reach out. Nathan's health was a roller coaster, so the only way I could see to find some stability was to find something else to care about. Not something to care about instead of Nathan, something in addition. I needed to have some other source of validation and comfort and relief.
Of course, finding a way to reach out that did not add to my stress and that would work around my unpredictable schedule was not easy. I started very, very small. In our church the ladies have a friendshipping program. Each lady in a congregation is paired with a companion and assigned 2 or 3 other ladies within the congregation to visit every month to strengthen friendships, to offer comfort, and to bring spiritual uplift. Unfortunately, the companion I had before Nathan was born moved away right after he was born, and I had been unable to connect with my new companion once I started spending all my time in the hospital. And without the support of a companion I just had not been able to motivate myself to visit other ladies since. So, in my newly found desire to serve, that was what I decided to start with; I would visit the ladies I was assigned to visit, with or without a companion. It was a little tough at first and I felt a little awkward, but it gave me a chance to get to know a few new people, and it was very uplifting to my spirits. I was glad I was trying again.
This brings us to the time when Thomas was starting to get really frustrated, and he began to feel the anger he has talked about. This was a hard time at home. Thomas was so frustrated and angry and I really wanted to help him, but I just did not know how. So when we talked about how we were doing and Thomas would talk about his frustration I tried to just be supportive. I listened and agreed that things were hard, agreed that I wished things were different, and on occasion I tried to suggest things to help the situation. When Thomas complained that he did not have friends, I suggested that he try to make some friends, or that we have someone over for dinner, or for games or something. This was not the kind of thing he wanted to hear, and I was not about to press the issue. I wanted to be supportive and loving and calm, hoping to diffuse some of the anger and the tension that came with it. I never felt particularly helpful or effective, but I knew that he knew that I loved him, and that would have to be enough.
It was interesting that all the things that bothered him did not bother me as much. When he talked about what bothered him I could see what he was talking about, and I agreed that things could be better, but somehow I was not frustrated like he was. As I have looked back and thought about it in retrospect I think there are two main reasons for this. One reason I think, is that I was feeling more of that compassion for which Thomas was wishing. If we were at church and someone was going to come over to ask us how things were going, it was likely to be a woman, and therefore she was likely to come speak to me. And if someone came to me at church and asked me how Nathan was and Thomas did not happen to be by me, I might not remember by the end of church to tell him that it had happened. So I probably saw more of our congregation's love and concern than Thomas did, and so I think I wasn't as frustrated. The other reason I touched on a little already. I think I felt a need to try to keep as much peace in our home and in our lives as possible, and I knew that if I were to join in the frustration, it would escalate. I already had so much stress and tension on my own, I did not want to add more. But not sharing Thomas' anger did not keep me from being very worried for him.
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