This blog is a continuation in a series I am writing about my husband’s brain injury. If you wish to read the story in order, go back in my archives and find Begin at the Beginning…all the ones in the category brain injury tell my story. Some are longer than others…they come in chunks of time…sometimes quickly and others much slower. Thanks for taking the time to read and being patient as I walk through the one of the toughest parts of my life again with new eyes to see how God used the broken pieces to create something beautiful.
Waking up to the sweet smell of a freshly cut pasture and the sounds of the song birds did wonders for my soul. On our tiny back porch, coffee in hand I sat and soaked in the picturesque scene. It was a beautiful place. Our little cottage had been built as a mother-in-law cabin next to a bigger house, only mother-in-law ended up not liking Tennessee. She high-tailed it back to Florida in only a few weeks, which left the family with an empty cottage. Her loss was our gain. We were situated at the end of a dirt road which transversed a pasture that was surrounded by forest on all sides. When we arrived the grass was tall along the fence, and the trees were getting ready for fall. We had a sweet family for neighbors who pretty much left us to ourselves. We liked it that way. In the evenings, Bill and I would stroll down the drive way. We explored the surrounding forest and became familiar with area while trying to rebuild our relationship.
Communication was the first hurtle to overcome. I knew that head injury had stages…they had told me that much. But when I started to pair that knowledge with what I knew about child development I found things much easier to grasp in my head…and that is what I needed at this point. Understanding. Truly Bill was gradually progressing. It was very slow. So slow you couldn’t really SEE the progress, unless you looked back to what he had been. Similar to how you wake up one day and realize your baby is no longer a baby, but a toddler…and then a little child, and then a college graduate. Only time helps those transitions to happen. He started off in this fight or flight stage, progressed to violent outbursts like tantrums, then onto self-absorption. He fixated there for a long while. Learning to deal with him, and be respectful of him as my husband was tricky. I operated much like a mother, and trying to switch into wife mode was difficult. Talking through it was the key. He was so unaware of how he was acting, and how it affected me that I found I had to tell him. He had finally gotten to the point he could listen and somewhat hear what I was saying. He tried to adjust as best he could. But just as asking a 6 year old to become an adult overnight will not work no matter how hard he tries, asking a brain injured person to change their behavior quickly is asking the impossible. Still, he made an attempt to at least talk through issues, his reasoning, though still immature, was returning.
On the job front things weren’t working so well. I took a full time job waiting tables at a new restaurant that had just opened in the area. The pastor’s retreat center was only in the talking stages, and didn’t progress past that. And though Bill could drive and be left alone, he wasn’t really ready for a job. He attempted some temp services which had him doing data entry. It was slow and tedious and his accuracy wasn’t what it needed to be, so the job didn’t last. He ended up mainly watching TV or walking circles around the mall during the days when I worked. Reality was that most companies do not want a 6 year old working for them, and he couldn’t really help his mental age. This lack of employment produced more financial stress rather than reduce it. Our house hadn’t sold in Alpharetta, and now we had a second set of expenses in Tennessee. I worked every double shift I could pick up trying to make it all work on my own. My feet had blisters on top of blisters, and late at night, after my second shift, I would soak them for hours trying to get them ready to go again. If it had not been for support from family we would have never made it.
With me working all the time we didn’t really make any friends. We attended a church in downtown Nashville occasionally, but mixed in with the crowd and tried to stay invisible. Still stinging from our previous church untimely termination, we were not anxious to get involved. Honestly, I didn’t know how Bill would be received by anyone, and I was not in a place that I could explain it all. It was too tender and too close. I was still too broken. I didn’t want to talk to anyone…not even God. I was hiding.