Sunday, September 13, 2009

Andrew taught us about respect...

I love to read people’s response to my blog about Andrew. People all around me have dealt with the most horrific and amazing stuff and are willing to share it with me. Somehow, perhaps selfishly, it is comforting to know others have suffered yet survived. It gives me hope that I can too, and so can my family. This has definitely brought us all closer together. I am so glad the respect is back amongst us: my ex and my daughters and my nephews. During certain times respect was absent in my closest relationships and I deeply regret not maintaining it.

It took some of the dealings with Andrew to realize that we all need to respect one another. Andrew was the most respectful kid. I was always proud of him and how he showed courtesy to others. Several of his friends have written to me recently and expressed the kindness and courtesy Andrew showed them.

When he first started to have episodes, sort of manic days when he would rant about something he had read in the newspaper or something that had happened that didn’t sit right with him, he would withdraw from us. I was trying to figure out what was happening, but it was a confusing time. I was still grieving the loss of my marriage and trying to figure out my path. I was really feeling sorry for myself.

But Bill and I had to be in more frequent contact because something serious was going on with Andrew. He lived at Bill’s house, but sometimes they would argue and he would come over to my apartment. One weekend he moved in. Before dusk on Sunday evening, he moved back out, upset by something I had told him as I tried to counsel him.

Then one day Andrew was locked into a real weird mood where he exhibited a state of paranoia. I can’t remember if Rebecca was there, but Jayne was there with Bill and I. As usual, we started to argue as we tried to discuss Andrew’s problem and I must have said something about how Bill had hurt me or threw some blame at him. The next thing I knew we were yelling at each other. I don’t remember what I was saying, but I do remember Jayne getting right in my face and telling me, “It’s not about YOU! We need to help Andrew!”

She stopped me dead in my tracks with that outburst. Oh my God, how self-centered I was. Oh course, it’s not about me. I am going to be fine. Something is seriously going haywire with Andrew and we need to pull together and figure it out. I needed Bill’s help and support, and he needed mine. This was something we were all going to have to deal with together. Thank you, Jaynie! From that day on, anytime I started feeling sorry for me, I would chastise myself: “It’s not about YOU!” That message was a Godsend, I tell you, and a turning point for me.

The worst realization for me was that, as Bill and I had hurt each other and had separated, all the anger we had expressed toward each other and about other people involved had been internalized by Andrew to the point that he was nervous whenever we were together. “You hate them,” Andrew would tell me later, “so why are you trying to be nice now?”

Words spoken in anger can never be taken back. Not so much the words, actually, but the feelings they produce. Those feelings created a conflict in Andrew that he would never fully resolve. His family had been ripped apart, his safety net cut away. Somehow we had to find a way to mend that net and help him feel safe.