Since Chris was released from his third hospitalization in May, 2009, Ian and I have been keeping a low profile around Chris. We made a conscious effort to practice low Expressed Emotion. This means for us, not asking Chris how his day was, not asking him about his night course or whether he thought he might be ready to tackle something big. We don’t ask, he doesn’t tell. In the past, our showing “friendly interest” can also be interpreted as “concern,” and this is high Expressed Emotion. We don’t ask his psychiatrist for meetings and we have given up trying to figure out if Chris is in his right mind. Ian and I don’t discuss Chris between us. We don’t comment to each other about whether Chris seems happy or sad, and we never discuss our future hopes and plans for Chris.
The result is that things are going along swimmingly. Chris has always had a tendency to be too honest and would tell you, if asked, all about his self-doubt and would share subtle things that made one despair he would ever pass his course. We don’t want to hear this (too nerve-wracking), and now we don’t.
Last night I was just about to turn in when Chris knocked at the bedroom door. He popped in to tell me how much he was enjoying his computer technician night course, and that it was a bit challenging because of the language difference, but all in all, he thought it was going well.
In the past, I might have gotten all enthused and interested and probed him a bit more and then launched into some ideas about where he could go with this course. Instead, all I said was, “that’s great. See you in the morning.”
This is something little that is also something big.