September 21, 2010

A Changing Set of Needs

Many people have been asking us what our needs are and what they can do to help. Overall, in terms of our needs, we are doing very well. Nonetheless, I understand the desire to help. So here I will list what our/my needs are, even just so that you, our support network can feel at ease that we are not lacking anything.

1) Time to zone out and have nothing needed from me (this happens whether or not I am given that time)
2) Time to live in a normal environment with a fairly predictable schedule with James, the boys and the others members of our household. This includes plenty of considerably quiet evenings.
3) Time to be quiet so that things that need to come out (be it in me, in James, in our marriage or with the boys) come out naturally and not in forcible explosions.
4) Time to express myself creatively in ways of my choosing (eg, reading, playing piano, or continuing to help on some MCC work).

Now that we've been back for awhile and life is starting to take form, our needs have become much more inwardly turned. However, our schedule has for some reason simultaneously become more outwardly turned. You'll notice that the common denominator in all of these needs is time. This is one area where I have noticed debilitation on my part. I used to be good at playing the mental day planner, where I could see what would happen, what was needed and at what time. This is how James and I managed to simultaneously get university degrees and have two children. I can't do this anymore. When I look at the things around me in my day, I can't see how they fit together anymore. It is like my ability to think in terms of time and space has diminished, and my mind just shuts down. I just see them around me and what they require of me and promptly feel overwhelmed by them. Frankly, it makes me feel like a bit of an idiot.

If the things that I know are going to happen have this effect on me, then I am sure you can imagine how much I get thrown off when unexpected things happen. Unfortunately, I have noticed that I have utterly lost my ability to handle unexpected events. I find myself utterly frazzled if people (however good or well meaning), just stop by the house and sometimes even planned interactions can do this. Please don't feel bad if you have been part of our social schedule, it is not my intention to make anyone feel bad. Additionally, it is not any one person or event that can be draining, in fact singular interactions can be quite good. However, we are finding that the sum total of these other interactions has the ability to take away from the things close to home that really need our attention.

Obviously, we need human interaction and the support of our friends and family, but right now I think that the most important thing that needs to happen is a "getting in order" of our household, and an inward turning of our energies to our little family. In the last few weeks there have been so many events on a daily basis (expected and unexpected), that I find myself not knowing where I am. There is no time for things to be processed slowly and naturally, so they come out in small bursts late at night when James and I find that we have time to ourselves.

One reason I'm really finding the need to conserve my energies, is because I want to prioritize time with the boys. Anyone around the boys knows that interactions with them require twice the energy requirement that most human interactions do, and this is not the time for them to get less.

So in case you were wondering if there is a hidden message here, the answer is no. What I am doing is honestly expressing our needs so that you can understand them and not feel like there is more that could be done. We are realizing from our end that we need to be a little more stingy with our social calendar. This is not because of the people we could or could not see, but because our little family has needs that have been put on the back burner for long enough. I think everyone can understand that, and I assure you that there is no hidden message for any one person or group of people

In terms of our daily needs my sister Rachel, whom I've been affectionately referring to as my nursemaid (not the "wet" kind!) has been graciously running the affairs of our house. She has been cooking, cleaning, child caring and much much more. I am so thankful to God for putting us into a situation where we mutually needed each other. She feels blessed to be able to raise her two year old daughter (my niece, Naomi) in a community environment. I have someone who watches me closely and sees what I need before I do (a serious benefit when you feel as scattered as I do right now). Our other room mate has also recently returned from MCC service and as such we have many similar experiences and emotions to share in terms of reverse culture shock.

It feels like we have formed a bit of a hodge podge alliance in this house. All four adults are going through times of serious transition in our lives but we are held together by a need for each other and belief in God's faithfulness. It is also a good thing for the boys to have a "little sister" and to learn how to be gentle with her.

Quick update on my treatments. Last week, I was taken off of my chemotherapy. My blood work revealed that my platelets had dropped to critical levels. As such, I have been off of the chemo for a week now. At this point in time the platelets situation seems to be correcting itself, but we won't really know until more time has passed. Radiation continues, four more treatments including today. My right ear is having some problems. I am definitely losing some hearing but I simultaneously experience ringing and rumbling (as if a train were going by).

Thats all for now!


derrydown said...

"Frankly, it makes me feel like a bit of an idiot." Your description sounds like me all the time! I am praying for a barrier of protection around you and your home, so you have a calm, manageable environment inside. Know we all love you and want to do all we can for you.
Love, Mom B

Cindy said...

Thank you for letting us know how things are going. We think of all of you often. If there is a way we can help out, just say the word.