Our beloved four-year-old granddaughter has cancer. She finished surgery and is in radiation-chemotherapy mode. They say there’s a good chance she’ll live long and prosper. We grasp that life preserver and try not to cry all the time while we go about fulfilling other responsibilities. Thank you for that gasp and intake of breath.
All the staff at Children’s Hospital were wonderful. All the families we met there were also kind, considerate, caring and thoughtful. Disease and death are great levelers – we’re all there because were attached to a kid in trouble.
Almost all our family and friends are also wonderful. We show up with food, holiday presents for all the kids, baby sitting, prayers, gasps, tears and arms-around sharing of pain and hope.
And then there are the very few know-it-all bullies and the vicious self-bullying that I want to talk about.
A few of the bullying categories are:
- The religious missionaries. Their theme was that this happened to us because we didn’t belong to the right church or pray to the right God. Or we carried some hidden sin that we’re being punished for or past-life karma is finally being manifest or bad genes are carried in the family. And our granddaughter will be saved only if we convert to their correct way.
- The health missionaries. Their theme is exactly the same in form, but different in content, as the religious missionaries. This happened because we weren’t pure enough – bad water, not completely organic produce, not pure enough vegetarian or vegan, not enough cleansing of toxins, not pure enough affirmations or thought. We all know there are some cancers and diseases that are made worse by bad living – smoking, drugs, alcohol, living next door to a leaky nuclear plant – but this is not one of those cases.
- The political missionaries. Their theme is that the cause of her cancer is global, warming or cooling or environmental pollution, acid rain, fluoride in the water, America as a greedy, decadent, selfish, bad country.
- The narcissistic, demanding, pushy, abusive, advice-giving missionaries. They give advice as if they know the absolute truth and no one else does. They’re self-appointed critics who know what we should have done and what treatment we should select. Often, they once knew someone who had a different cancer but they can predict, on the basis of their wisdom, what will happen in our granddaughter’s case. They’re righteous in working out their issues and therapy on our bodies. As if they’re important, not our granddaughter. Or they’re intrusive strangers focused on their issues, causes and cures. They think their feelings are important and we must do what they want or else their feelings will be hurt. They’re throwing more temper tantrums than a four year-old. As if I should care about their feelings during this time.
- The emotionless professional bullies. They think emotion is a sign of weakness and maybe they’re upset by public displays. Especially at work, they’ll look down on you if you cry or they’ll find a reason to get you transferred or fired. They think robots are better than people.
All these missionaries sound alike, except the fault they focus on is a little different. Whether their God is out there or their God is in their logic and reasoning, they’re convinced they’re right and they’re fervent and righteous about it. Because they’re right and righteous, they think they can ignore or trample your feelings. They think they know what’s best.
Of course, I can see that all these people have reasons, excuses, justifications – they want to help, they’re scared, in our diverse society they don’t know what’s proper, they’re simply awkward in how they try to comfort us, etc.
Never argue with missionaries and self-appointed critics. It’s a waste of your time and energy. You’ll never change their minds. They’re only trying to convert you –they know what’s right.
Some of us might say, “Stop it!” or “C’mon man!” Others will try to teach politely and graciously. Still others will never talk to them again.
In all cases, we’re not waiting for them to become enlightened and nice. We’re weeding through all these people and deciding who we’ll keep on our Isle of Song and who’ll be voted off or who must be kept for a while because they’re our workplace bosses.
- Should we have observed something wrong sooner? Could we have been more perfect? What bad parents they were. What bad grandparents we are. It’s our fault.
- We should have cared more and been more careful.
- Do we carry a bad genetic seed?
- What if we’re wrong about the treatment we choose? We can’t be sure.
None of this is useful. Sure, there will be genetic testing, but all the rest of those thoughts are simply us making ourselves ride an emotional roller coaster; sometimes at the heights, sometimes in the pits, always being flung around and bruised. Obsession, self-flagellation, negativity, depression, and loss of confidence and self-esteem don’t help.
What really matters is carrying on the best we can. And ignoring the bullies or throwing them off our Isle.
You’ll find many examples of these types of bullies in “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks,” available fastest from this web site.