I’d reached my breaking point. I managed to keep my composure when Chris was in the psychiatric unit. And then held it together when he got treatment in the partial-care facility. He was on the road to recovery. But, my emotional stress built as he transitioned back into school.
Chris started going to some band rehearsals after school. When it came time for a performance, I was concerned.
Will he be able to handle the pressure? Will he act normally in front of everyone? Will his peers ask him why he wasn’t in school?
I sat in the auditorium waiting for the program to begin. Not relaxed, but uneasy. Days leading up to the performance, we had Chris practice what he’d say if curious students asked him why he wasn’t in school. He would simply reply, “I was sick and now I’m feeling better.”
Where is Chris now? What’s he doing back stage? I hope he doesn’t do or say anything to embarrass himself or his brother. I hope he remembers what to say if anyone asks him why he was absent.
My thoughts were interrupted by a parent I didn’t know well. She bluntly asked, “What did you think of Chris’s partial-care facility?”
How does she know where Chris was? Does everyone know? What a rude and insensitive question!
I mustered up the strength to respond. As casually as I could I answered, “How did you know Chris was receiving treatment in a partial-care facility?”
“A friend of mine had a daughter there when Chris was there?”
Great! Just perfect! I guess everyone knows our business. I suppose it’s impossible to keep Chris’s friends from finding out.
I responded without looking at her, “It was okay.”
Maybe she’ll get the message I don’t want to talk about it. Just leave!!!
I couldn’t believe I actually answered her intrusive question. Instead of politely telling her she shouldn’t have asked me.
People just don’t understand how upsetting it can be to have a loved one who is mentally ill.
It wasn’t possible for me to simply enjoy the band performance without someone reminding me Chris was recovering from his illness.
Several days later, Chris and I were in the car. He brought up the partial-care therapy. For the millionth time! Chris needed to process the experiences. I wanted to just forget it. Our needs collided that day.
“When I was in the partial-care unit, they didn’t care about the patients. It was horrible. The counselor was mean to me. We had to sit there all day and talk about drug abuse. Even though that wasn’t my problem.”
In sheer frustration, I lost my temper. I yelled, “I got it, Chris! I know it was a nightmare for you! I’m sorry you had to go there! I’m tired of hearing about it.”
The three months of stress had taken its toll on me. I spoke harshly to Chris. Afterwards, I felt tremendous guilt.
I’m such a failure. How could I speak to Chris so meanly? He’s still so vulnerable. But, I just can’t take it anymore.
I couldn’t allow myself to wallow in self-pity.
I need help. Maybe, I’m not the worst parent in the world. I’ll talk to Chris’s out-patient psychologist. He’ll give me his honest opinion on how I’ve handled our crisis.
The psychologist assured me, “You’ve been handling things amazingly well considering the circumstances. You’ve persevered for a long time. You need to take time out for yourself. Get some rest and relaxation. Find some time for entertainment for yourself.”
Soon after, God provided some needed encouragement.
Chris and I spent some time walking by a creek. As we strolled along, I reminisced.
“When I was younger, I used to sit for hours on a rock in a creek near our house. I marveled at God’s creation. When surrounded by God’s creation instead of the world (man-made thing and earthly troubles), I found peace. It was comforting to see God’s power and love demonstrated in His beautiful creation.”
We walked closer to the water.
“Look at that water before the boulders. See how calm it is. As long as it’s perfectly still, it can reflect the sunlight. Now look at the rippling water falling from the boulders. See how the light sparkles in that water? Listen to the soothing sound of that gurgling water. It’s so soothing.”
I went on to relate it to our lives.
“The creek is a picture of our lives. There are calm times, followed by turbulent times. During calm times, if we can remain perfectly still, we can reflect the Son’s love. Even during turbulent times, we can reflect His love. But, in a more vibrant way. God can be found in our difficulties. And glorified the most through our trials. See farther down the creek? The water is still again. Your life will be calmer again, too. God is helping you pass through this turbulent time.”
I’ll always cherish that day with Chris. The analogy I shared with him, reassured my heart as well.
Did you ever feel like you blew it?
Decades ago, Simon & Garfunkel sang “Bridge over Troubled Water.” Listen to the words to the song and imagine God singing them to you.