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My brother Tom, once gave me some great advice (well, he has given me great advice many times but this is ONE example).  He told me to be prepared during the birth of my first child.  He said that it one of the most helpless things you will ever go through.  He went on to say that when most people go visit after the birth of a child that everyone wants to “see the baby.”  Thoughtful people make sure to check in on mom.  No one ever asks the dad, “How are you?”  He went on to say that most men are used to being the fixer, the solution, and they have just witnessed their wife go through the worst pain in their life and there was very little he was able to do about it at all.  That, he said,  is why he always goes straight to the  dad and asks him how HE is.

While I never really felt that way after our kids were born I could see his point.  Sadly, I did completely identify with it this past weekend.

Rachel and Trey left last Wednesday to go to Philadelphia for a massive radiation treatment.  I stayed behind to give Rachel peace that Joe and Bella would be fine.  Shortly after they left I knew that this treatment was going to be different than any other we’d gone through yet.  Before, through chemo, surgeries, treatments, emergency visits, etc. I knew that I was 20 minutes away and that I would be spending time at the hospital relieving Rachel for periods of time.  This time they would be over 5 hours away.  My job was to balance the lack of normalcy Joe and Bella would be facing with Mommy and Trey away with opportunities to spend time with cousins, aunts, uncles and, of course, Grandma.  Cake job but a very necessary one.  I felt useless.

What could I do?  Aha!  I would refinish the hardwood floor in the living room.  With those two gone it was the perfect time.  I had done it 12 or 13 years ago and it was way over due to be done again.  Whereas I had no clue what I was doing the first time I knew how this time.  It was easy last time.  This time, knowing what I was doing????? Notsomuch!

Moving the furniture was easy and the last thing I did right.  Due to some bad advice from some professionals at a local national chain hardware and more store I didn’t sand it enough.  Fearing this to be true but not certain I was looking online for confirmation that what I done was ok (frantically looking for any picture of any floor that looked like mine, to no avail) Rachel texted me.  All the text said was, “Starting radiation now…”  It brought me to tears.

I was helpless.  I couldn’t do a thing.  I replied (using all of my emotional needs training, wisdom, and experience) “Scary, tears flowing, I love you guys.”  I knew that Rachel was in bunker mode and had no room for this response.  I knew that even then it wouldn’t/couldn’t fix anything.  I was impotent to help her.  Yes, by making sure that the kids were ok was exactly what she wanted and in that I was helping.  However, to me, it wasn’t much.

Even now, God is teaching me through this experience.  I would like to tell you that “The Floor Debacle of 2014” ended up being ok.  It did not.  I sanded too little, stained too much, wiped too little, sealed too soon and too much (and shouldn’t have at all) and well, it was a mess.  Therein lies the lesson though.  I, the “expert” on emotional needs fell victim to the most common mistake people make when having a hurt or need emotionally.  I tried to fix it on my own through other means. 

I couldn’t be there for Rachel so I did something here.  How I WAS helping her wasn’t measurable or definable and didn’t seem like a big deal (at least to me) so I did something that would be measurable and definable.  Rather than being open, honest, and vulnerable with my need TO support (the actual need inwardly is probably a combination of approval/blessing, respect, and appreciation) I tried to fix it and thus started the project.  I tried to get the need met on my own rather than just seek comfort.

That is exactly what most people do when having an emotional need.  They try to take it.  If, and this is very rare, if they get it met it never satiates that need.  It feels hollow, thus deepening the void that the need has created.  You need attention?  You dominate every conversation.  You need affection?  You hug everyone (at the very least).  You need approval?  You join every group and try to please everyone you deal with.  It is an endless cycle and it takes over your world.

The irony is, God used my failure(s) to bless Rachel.  She ended up being able to comfort me as I related to her the cluster crap of epic proportions that the floor was becoming each step of the way.  While she was helpful to Trey in many many ways all she was getting from him was, “Mommy, why can’t you lay and be cozy with me?” (due to his super high radiation levels she had to wear a special gown when around him and was forbidden from contact).  Imagine THAT helplessness.  At least she was able to talk her neurotic husband off of the home improvement ledge of depression and disaster time and again through the weekend.

Home safe and sound, Trey is doing quite well.  He is skin and bones and needs to step up his eating game which he is.  He needs less pain meds than before he left and is sleeping much better.  Rachel got to shower and sleep in her own bed.  Joe and Bella got to have mommy back.  What about me you were wondering (you weren’t wondering…we both know that)?  I solved the floor problem with two very small words.


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