I have been having a very hard time managing my feelings about what happened to Nat in July. I think about whether he is happy or okay very often. I have nightmares. I talk about it too much. It’s because I feel that I didn’t protect him well enough and I don’t know how to move forward. But even more, I am so worried about how Nat has internalized all that happened to him. How does someone who has a communication challenge like his talk through and make sense of trauma?
So I went to see my old therapist. She had the idea that I make a Nat book for him, just like I did when he was a really little guy and needed help going to Thanksgiving at Aunt Rhoda’s. Give him a framework, the words, the images, to put the story right into perspective for him. About 15 Nat books later, and 25 years later, here is Nat Is Okay. I will try it out on him this weekend.
Nat Is Okay
Last summer Mommy saw that Nat had a big bruise on his chest. Nat did not tell Mommy what happened. But something had happened to Nat, either at ASA, Shaws, the van, or at Thornton Road.
They went to the hospital and the doctor said that Nat had broken ribs inside his chest. These are ribs inside the chest:
Mommy said that Nat could not go back to ASA or Thornton road because she wanted to keep him safe. Whatever had hurt Nat would never hurt him again.
It was not Nat’s fault that he got hurt. Nat is such a good person.
No one should ever hurt Nat. No one should hit Nat. People need to take care of Nat and keep him safe.
So Nat came home. He packed up his room at Thornton Road and he did not go back to ASA.
Nat went to Extreme Sports Camp in Colorado because Mommy wanted Nat to feel happy while his bruises healed. In Colorado, Nat rode a horse named Benji. He had a good time.
Sometimes Nat went with Drew and his social group to do fun things. Sometimes Nat went to Cape Cod. Sometimes Nat went out with Shannon.
In the summer Nat and Mommy visited Charles River Program to see if Nat felt happy there. At Charles River Nat could do Meals on Wheels, go bowling, go to the track, shop for cooking and other good activities. So Nat started going to Charles River on the van with Jackie and Carmen and JP.
Mommy and Daddy loved having Nat at the house. But Nat is grown up and grown ups have their own houses. So Mommy and Daddy looked around and found a nice home nearby.
Nat got ready to live in the new house. He moved his bed and dresser into the new room. He got a new van to take him to Charles River.
But sometimes Nat still feels sad about the time he was hurt, when his ribs were broken. Sometimes Nat feels angry about it, too.
It is okay to feel sad or angry about the time Nat was hurt. It is also hard to move to a new house. The new house is different from home. and Nat does not like when things are different. Nat likes the new house and Charles River, but sometimes people are late or things don’t happen and Nat gets angry.
Once at Buddy Dogs Nat was so angry that the police came and took him to the hospital to keep him safe. Nat did not like being angry or being taken away from Buddy Dogs.
One time Patrick bought Nat a Sprite at Dunkin Donuts and Nat liked the Sprite. But he didn’t like Patrick buying coffee, too. Nat got angry again. Nat hit Patrick but then Nat was sorry he did that.
Patrick is okay. Patrick still likes Nat.
It is okay for Nat to feel angry sometimes. Sometimes every person feels angry. But we have to try to stay calm.
It is okay for Nat to feel sad sometimes. Or scared or worried. But Nat, you should remember that everything will soon be okay. Mommy, Daddy, Makayla, Patrick, Shawna, Shilene, and Shahera want to make Nat happy. Nat should try to remember that we will all try hard to make Nat happy.
But if Nat is not happy, it is okay. Soon the sadness or anger or worry or scared feelings will go away. The sadness, anger, or scared feelings will go away.
When it starts to be spring and summer, Nat will start to feel better about the new house. Nat will start to feel better about the things that are different.
Nat will remember sometimes that he once got hurt but that he is okay now. He will not get hurt anymore. Nat will feel more and more happy. Nat is a good person and many people like him.