Monday, February 21, 2011

Free Your Mind

And the rest will follow.

Sometimes when I’m driving at night on a dark highway in the pouring rain I can’t see a thing save the lights of the car ahead of me. In those times I always have the same thought which is “if this guy in front of me drives off the road I’m going right off the road with him”. Because the only thing keeping me on the road between the lines is the tail-lights of his car. In the driving rain and darkness I have no peripheral vision. To the left, to the right and above me is blackness and I am concentrating too intently on that which is in front of me, which amounts to nothing much more than his lights.

That’s a perfectly fine way to get home safely on a dark, rainy night. It is however a hell of a constricting way to live a life.

Tunnel vision would best describe my manner of living for all these years.


There was a dream, and one day I could see it. Like a bird in a cage I demanded that somebody free it.

I have to admit that I’m not a big one for listening too closely to song lyrics. I generally prefer instrumental music and even those tunes that I have liked over the years it’s always been more about the music underneath the lyrics.

But every now and then…


Let us say that you have a child, a boy but really it doesn’t matter. The key is that you have a child and this child is over eighteen years-old making him legally an adult. For arguments sake we’ll say that this child, this boy is twenty-three. Legally an adult, too young to have matured fully. In fact very far from having matured fully (as anyone with a 23 year-old son knows). Anyway…

The 23 year-old son has cancer that requires chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is not a pleasant experience as we all know. Nausea, vomiting, hair loss, energy loss, etc. Unpleasant. To the max.

But he does it because he has to and he experiences all there is to experience with a round of chemotherapy. Sick as dog and bald to boot.

And just as he is starting to feel better, getting his strength back, getting his hair back, getting his 23 year old life back the doctor tells him he needs to undergo another round of chemo.

And your son, your child, that walking, talking, living and breathing PIECE of you says thanks, but no thanks.

Ah, you say, nobody would do that. No rational, intelligent, reasonable human being would make such a decision when his life is on the line.

Clearly you have never, ever encountered a 23 year old boy.

Some might say I should be using the term ‘man’ when referring to a 23 year old male person. I would refer you to my previous sentence.

What would you do? Well here is what (at least most of) you would do. You would tie him up, in chains if you had to and you would physically drag him to the hospital if you had to. There would be no question of letting him make his own decision. He’ll die without the treatment, you are his parent, there is but one option and you will not stop until you see him sitting in that chair, hooked up to that I.V. drip. And you will do it again, and again and yet again if you have to. And nobody but nobody would question you for your guerilla tactics.

But what if that sickness that your child carries around is a sickness of the soul? No less potentially lethal and manifesting itself in a hundred different ways simultaneously.

You know that the only potential “cure” is going to be with a healthy and continuous dose of psychotherapy (and medication if necessary).

What does a parent do in this situation?

And at what point does it become ok for the parent to ask the child to sacrifice themselves in the interest of saving the parent?

Because as any parent knows the loss of the child takes the parent also.


  1. Oh JSS.
    I have no idea what has inspired this post but it resonated with me because of my poor parents and the suffering I know they are enduring and have endured.

    Sickness of the soul is a terrible, insidious thing which, just like a physical cancer, has the power to wipe people out from the inside.

    I can't imagine the agony of a parent.

    If you are in that place, please know that my thoughts are with you... and yes, my prayers too, for what they are worth.


  2. Hi WS, glad to see you come by. It is to be sure most difficult to be a parent when your child is sick.

    It's funny. Nobody would question my dragging him to the hospital if he had a physical illness but when it comes to seeing a therapist everyone says "oh it's his decision whether or not he wants to be here, you can't force him to come".

    I am coming into a place where I strongly disagree. When his illness so drastically effects those around him I think he has a responsibility - now that he's an adult - not only to himself but to those who have loved him and cared for him and turned themselves inside out trying to help him. And that responsibility goes no further than to try to help himself with the tools that are available to him, namely therapy.

  3. Such a tough one. I can't imagine. Except maybe, thinking of my parents and their untreated alcoholism... but even that is different. Love and prayers.

  4. Hi Michelle. A parent is different. I have thought long and hard about my father and I have a much different perspective regarding his alcoholism now then I had for many, many years. But it isn't the same as a child and I think at least a major part of the difference is that the child isn't responsible for the parent. Ultimately a child knows that. But the parent... The parent will always and forever feel responsible for the child.

  5. I do come by JSS... I just don't always have words.
    I'm so sorry for what you're going through.
    Sounds terrible.
    I think you are right about the fact that he has a responsibility... although, it's such a tough one because he might be too ill to acknowledge that properly?

    Thinking of you