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Welcome to my blog. I hope we can help each other endure the pain of the addiction of a daughter or son.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Question: Can We Help or Hurt Another's Illness? A: Sort of

A long time ago I had an active two year old daughter and a one year old son. I was 7 months pregnant with the third child when I got deathly ill. They think it was pneumonia. After seven days, I was worse instead of better and started to get dramatic. I had high fevers and chills so bad they made my whole body ache which scared me. I started to fear for my life. I did not have the strength to walk around. I stayed in bed except for going to the bathroom.

The doctor gave me antibiotics but did not want to send me to the hospital for fear of more infections. My husband said that we would take all measures to save me over the baby. He loved the baby but had no qualms about putting my life first. ( I was not very clear about that at the time. I was afraid I would have to make a decision and told him so.) I asked my mother to stay with me while my husband worked during the day as he was a sole practitioner and had to work or not make payroll. She said that she had to go with my father on a trip to Washington because she had to keep an eye on him so he would not philander . My father said that I was a married woman and a grown up. I had a husband to take care of me and the option to go to the hospital. He told my Mom to come with him that I was no longer a child. ( My parents were natural alanoners. They believed  in extreme self-reliance for their kids, although they have mellowed some with age.) My mother left me. I was sicker than I have ever been. I had two toddlers and was 7 months pregnant. I feared for my life and she knew it but told me to not be so dramatic.

My mother in law Elsie was 70 at that time. She came to my house and took over. She made me take cold baths when my fever got over 103. She said that would protect the baby. She made me drink juice and brought me food on trays. She had me on a schedule...... liquids every hour and some kind of snack or food every three hours. She took care of the toddlers. She fed them and my husband. She used all of her nursing skills on me and I was grateful.

One day, she came into talk to me and she said that she thought I was worrying and it was interfering with my getting better.

She said tell me what is bothering you honey. I told her that my mother abandoned me while I was sick. I said that it hurt me and that it made me mad. She hugged me and said I know, I know honey. My mom wasn't any prize either. She never cared much about me. By the time I came around she was tired. But, Anna, you have to think about who does love and care for you. You have to let this go so that you can get better. I will take care of you and my son loves you. These children need you so think about that. Have a good cry and then let it go.

I did what she told me and I started getting better. Did Elsie make me better? Sort of.  Did my mother make me worse? I think that Elsie supported my health while my mother did not.

For many years, I did not forgive my mother. Now, I do. In fact, I now see that she wanted to stay but my father wanted her to go. Why do we hold our mother's more responsible than our fathers? Well, that is a post for another day.

I think I will go and see Elsie now. I have been neglecting her lately in favor of Beth.


  1. What a sweet and loving woman Elsie sounds like! You are very fortunate to have such a wonderful mother in law. She's the kind of woman that has a true servants heart...I wish there were more people like that in this world!

  2. You and Elsie are both very strong women. I admire you both.

    I am also very respectful of your ability to forgive. I struggle with forgiveness.

  3. Sometimes just a smile from a stranger can make my day. I do think our psyches are influenced by other people. If our parents don't think we are strong, then we don't think we can accomplish things that we should be able to. That is why I said in a earlier comment that you have given Beth untold gifts by just believing in her. (Not stepping in and taking over.)
    Maybe your mom was trying to give you this message? Maybe not. I think it was dictated more by society's belief that a woman stands by her man. You were so lucky to have a wonderful woman like Elsie in your life at that time. And now. I hope your visit was good.
    xx kris

  4. what a beautiful woman Elsie is and what a beautiful story of love and grace extended to you. that was indeed a gift. i'm glad it helped to pull you though. and i appreciate her advice, i will take it and try to remember.

  5. It sounds as if your mother had her own sickness--obsession with your father. I have learned that my parents were dysfunctional. I didn't learn very good coping skills for relationships from them. But I can forgive them that today. They most likely didn't have very good skills either.