Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Have I cracked the code?

I've been at my wit's end when it comes to my dear friend, Henry. How can we continue to be close if lashes out at me all the time? How do I communicate with someone whose traumatic brain injury has left him by turns frightened, paranoid and aggressive?

I experimented this week with making this about me, not him. By talking to him about my problems, I reasoned, I was taking the focus off his. At least this week, it worked!

It began with an email. He invited me to watch a video of him singing a solo at church last Sunday. I told him it made me happy to see him go from nervous to confident and happy as the music moved him. (This was a diplomatic answer, as the video was clumsy and for some reason the microphone didn't really pick up his voice.) He thanked me with an over-the-top message about how much he loves me. So I get it. I know he's sorry we haven't been getting along and he understands he hurt me.

But now what?

I sent Henry an email about my prospective prison pen pal, Darius. I told Henry the truth -- that I'm feeling more than a little ambivalent about corresponding with a man found guilty of murder. I asked Henry for his thoughts.

Voila! He called me Monday night and told me I'm good and strong and he's sure my heart will lead me to the right thing. It was a very sweet message.

I'm glad I wasn't home Monday night to mess it up. Our give-and-take can't get overheated if there's no real time give-and-take.

And I think my asking him for advice not only distracted him from his own problems, it helped even the power differential between us, at least for a moment.

1 comment:

  1. I'm absolutely fascinated by your correspondence with Darius. And what a breath of fresh air with Henry.


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