A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wanting To Help

Richard is a good friend to me and my brother, but I have not been spending nearly any time with him for months now.   I gave him my heated garage space this year so that he can have a space to do his wood work.  Amongst many other things he is a carpenter.  Recently he made several bookcases and remodeled a room at my brother's house so that my brother Rob can use it as his office space.  Now the work on my brother's house is finished and Richard doesn't often stop by and when he does I don't like to disturb his work time.  Making things is how he unwinds after working as a nurse at the VA hospital.  He sees so much illness and dying each week, he needs to pull into himself and be creative without anyone hassling him.  I understand that from dealing with my own illness.  

The last time I saw Richard, after Thanksgiving, he told me he was taking these pills for some condition he has and that they made him feel ill.  He said that he had to take them for the next 6 months.  When I asked what was wrong with him physically, he wouldn't tell me.  I then asked him to please tell me if he ever did wind up being seriously ill because I would want to be there for him.  Later I thought that that was a silly statement; I should be there for him now before he falls into any serious condition.  Something stops me from getting close to him.  He had an affair for over four years until his lover called it quits.  While I know he had an affair because he was very miserable in his marriage, I still feel as if he may have done the wrong thing.  The affair is over now and he is back with his wife.  He stays with his wife because they have a grown daughter with something similar to Down's Syndrome.  She can't speak and  she isn't toilet trained and so she needs a lot of attention.  He loves his daughter so much and can't see not being around her in the mornings and evenings and on the week-ends.  

A year or two ago Richard had an operation done on one of his shoulders.  He asked me one evening if I would be willing to rub his back.  He was in pain and the massage seemed to really help him to feel better. I asked his why his wife wasn't massaging his back.  He had no easy answer to that.  His wife is not a physically demonstrative person...she's not affectionate and this has deeply bothered Richard from very early in their marriage.  This is why he went looking elsewhere for affection and fun.  I don't think the sex was the main focus for him.  The main  focus was companionship.  And this is what I felt with Richard too, a sense of companionship.  And so I started to rub his back from time to time.  

That lasted only several months; I haven't touched him, except for hugging, for over a year and in that  time his mistress left him and he returned to his wife and now he may have some serious illness.  So, once again, I have to get over my tendency to pull away from people.  I have to reach out to Richard. But I have a dilemma:  Each year at Christmas I give him $500 from my father to help out with his son's expenses.  His son is 20 years old, healthy, bright and "normal".  He's in college right now and it is very expensive.  Our contribution is mere pittance, but it must ease some of the financial pressure of the holiday season.  Well, I was thinking that Sam could use that $500 much more than Richard can use it.  Sam doesn't have running water, might not have enough wood for the winter season, her truck is on its last legs and she can't afford internet access.  Richard has all of that and much more.  Of course, he's also in a lot of debt, but for now he's holding his own.  My dilemma is should I ask Richard if he is willing to give this holiday money to Sam?  My feeling as of now is that I should at least give him the opportunity to be generous to Sam.  I would turn it over to Richard and if he decided to keep the money for himself and his family, I would abide by that.  

I'm thinking of inviting him over for a small meal and a little wine.  I rarely do this with Richard, which is a shame.  My thought is that I may not be able to help him financially, but I can certainly give him some of my time once every week or two.  Be a good friend that way.  My recent experience and success with Sam has given me some confidence that I can extend myself out ever further.  I can be responsible to others.  I can keep my focus for part of every week on my brother, Sam and Richard and their needs.  This makes me think of Tibetan Buddhism where the goal is increase compassionate thought and action towards others thereby reducing the effects of egotism.  It might be a good thing that we're going into the hardest season of the year.  Winter means struggle for most people around here, but where there's struggle there is also the opportunity to help others.  Maybe this winter I will be a lot less isolated than my previous winters.  Maybe this winter I'll take comfort in and give comfort to my friends and family.  
Post a Comment