Two new e-mails from people – formerly strangers but now BBHV readers – surprise me with their stories.
One comes forwarded by my audiobook publisher Spoken Word Inc — “Thank you so much for posting about the book, Ben Behind His Voices.My brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia last year and my whole family doesn’t really know how to help. I ordered it for my nook last night and finished it this morning. Absolutely heart wrenching but extremely informative. I am buying a copy for my mom today and think it will help. Thank you again!”
Another comes directly to me: “I want to thank you for changing my life. I read Ben Behind His Voices in a day and a half on my Kindle. My child was diagnosed with schizophrenia four years ago. Our lives were turned upside down. You put my thoughts feelings and words on the pages of your book. You have given me so much hope and insight into my situation. You understand.”
My hopes for our story – that it will touch others – are starting to become real. That makes all the hard work feel worthwhile already.
And we’ve only just begun. Official book launch party tonight, and here I sit in my overalls writing blog
posts. So glamorous! In a few minutes I leave to pick Ben up from work – and, after that, he has homework to do. This all sounds so wonderfully normal. After this summer’s “symptom reoccurance”, I remain especially grate for these ordinary miracles.
And there’s another surprise: Ben has decided he wants to go tonight to the Book Launch Party. Really? I never expected this. “I want to support you, Mom,” he says – and I am heartwarmed by this as well as – I admit – a little nervous about it. One week ago, in an interview with Katrina Daniel of Womenetrics, I said :
Womenetics: What’s your relationship with Ben like now? And, what is Ben’s reaction to this book about his life?
Kaye: In recovery for eight years now, Ben continues to rebuild his life. He has had a few setbacks, described in the book and in my blogs (here and at Healthy Place) but that is often part of the recovery. Right now Ben has a job, is making the dean’s list consistently in college as a part-time student, participates in family activities, and never forgets anyone’s birthday. We love each other a lot, and he loves his sister, new brother-in-law, stepdad, and the rest of our family, and we all get along very well. One of the best signs that Ben’s treatment was working was the fact that we stopped arguing.
(As for his reaction) I’d say “guarded.” Ben gave me permission to write the book, he gave me permission to use his poetry, as long as I changed his name in the book. I also think there is part of him that is proud that his story might help someone else, but right now, like many in his young age group with schizophrenia, he lacks insight into the reality of the illness. In other words, he doesn’t think he is “sick.” But he is really proud of how far he has come, and he credits the fact that he has not used any marijuana for years.
So – how do we handle all this tonight, with Ben’s need to stay rather anonymous as well as to support me? Also – which passages do I read out loud? He has only heard some of the book so far. I have let him totally call the shots as to how much he wants to be involved, and that’s as it absolutely should be. But – will the evening go well for Ben? Will he balk at some of the honesty in my passages?
We’ll see. Our family is not unfamiliar with uncertainly. And, of course, it would have been hard to not have Ben there. I admit I hope that, someday, Ben will share his perspective too – but not one second before he feels he is entirely ready to. That is his call, his journey. So connected to ours.