Who’s the sickest of us all? What a family. When others might be obsessing over their personal successes, flaunting wealth, bragging about their children’s achievements, most of the women in my family are in a life-and-death battle over who is the worst off, medically speaking. What a thing to compare ourselves on!
You might wonder if it’s because my relatives are getting older, hence obsessed with ailments, but sadly I must report it has ever been so in our family. It’s one-up-man-ship in reverse—one-down-man-ship. I wish I could laugh about it, but there is nothing funny about it.
It’s not just who was diagnosed first with a specific disease, but who takes the most meds, who can’t walk without help, who needs the next surgery. I have to fight the urge to fall into line and take pleasure in my demise so that others might envy me.
I wish I could even say this fatalistic flaw only affects the older generation, but many of our children are being raised engulfed in the ailment issues of their parents, aunts and uncles. It’s as much second nature as it is for healthy families to pass on the expectation of good health.
What power we have to determine the path of our children for success or failure. If we strive for wellness, they typically do too.
The tendency of our impaired loved ones is to verbally, incessantly defend their disease. They seem intent on being the sickest, the most needy, the most worthy of our pity. But, perhaps that is exactly what they do need. What could bless that sick sibling? To not have to defend herself, ad nauseum, continually confessing her sickness to convince us. We have to remember that she truly believes herself to be the victim, trapped, and so she is. She sees no way out, but rather a continual down-spiraling to more diseases. She needs a lifeline, not a lecture.
So, actually it seems to me that the way to cut the apparent whining of my siblings is to pour on the empathy. Coddle them, baby them. Help them, save them. I have a notion they wouldn’t have to cry so loud and long if they thought we acknowledged their helplessness, regardless of how much we might consider it to be self-defeating. Perhaps if they can be drawn out of their corners by our love and acceptance, then God can speak healing into their hearts. Well, at least it’s worth a try. It’s apparent that talking them to death is doing exactly that.
I pray there will come the day when we can peer into that looking glass and accept what we see regardless of our condition or that of our sisters. It is hard enough to deal with illness and push toward wellness without being held back by competitive emotions.
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