Today I’m going to change things up a little bit, and welcome author and counselor Judith Hansen. Judith focuses on stresses on family life, and she shares an excerpt from her latest book.
“Matt, hon, what happened? This is so not like you!”
Matt was silent for a while, looking out the window. “Mom, I don’t know . . .” His voice trailed off. “I guess I’ve just had enough of Will’s crap. You know, he’s the jock who always thinks he’s so awesome because he’s the star of the football team. During practice, my mind wasn’t all on the game and I was kinda distracted. That seemed to really irritate him, that I didn’t have the same passion and focus as he does about the game. All through the game, he kept poking at me, pushing me around, kept making me mad. Of course, the coaches sided with him—he’s their star and can do no wrong.” Matt blinked two fingers on each hand. “I guess the final straw was when Will heard that I had written a poem. I don’t know how, but suddenly it was all over social media, and I don’t mean in a nice way! That’s when I went over to Will and punched him. He had it coming, Mom. He’s such a bully!”
“Matt, wow. Well, I totally empathize with that, and as you were telling me the story, I wanted to punch him myself. But what’s different this time? I mean, how come this time he was able to push your buttons so much that you actually punched him?”
Matt sat there for a minute, grateful that his mom hadn’t blown up at him and grounded him for life.
“Mom, I am not entirely sure. I just know that in the moment, it sure felt good.” With a small grin, he said, “I know, I know… not the best answer… you know, maybe I just thought I could get away with it this time because I wouldn’t have to put up with the jerk for too much longer. I guess football isn’t so important to me anymore, now that we’re leaving. I guess that’s the best I can come up with.”
Thinking about it for a moment, Mona replied, “So what you’re saying, Matt, is that since you don’t have to deal with Will’s temper and control issues next year, you felt more free to just go for it and punch him. Sorta, ‘what do I have to lose?’ thinking, is that it?”
“Well, Mom, you make me sound like an out-of-control jerk now.”
“No, Matt. I think I actually get it. You know, when I was leaving Portugal as a kid, I remember feeling so many emotions. Anger. Fear. Excitement. Anxiety. Depression. I just wanted them all to stop, I didn’t know what to do with them or how to handle them. My way of dealing with it was to shut down and go kinda numb. Not a really good option either, but it did keep me out of trouble.” She chuckled.
Character back-story: Mona is dealing with her teenage Matt’s outburst at school. He punched another kid and is suspended. Their family will soon be moving to Portugal, and the kids are struggling with the change but don’t really know what to do with their emotions. Mona empathizes with her son, and later strategizes ways for him to process what is happening in a healthier manner.
I grew up overseas as a missionary kid and experienced many confusing emotions related to the frequent moves. After receiving a masters in counseling at Denver Seminary, I wanted to write a fictional book telling the story of two families: one that makes the transitions well and another that does not, but how God worked through it all.
The purpose of the book is to show through narrative how different families are affected by frequent moves. Some rise to the occasion and find the help they need while others spiral downward. In the appendix, there will be tips and suggestions for making a transition well, taken from my personal experience as well as my training as a therapist.
Question: Who do you know would benefit from this style of book?