Relationships, Part 54: When Illness Take Over: Discerning the Person from the Illness


In my last post, I talked about how an illness can take over a relationship; just as if it moved into the house, kicked the couple out of their bed, ate up all the food in the refrigerator, and didn’t let them leave.

The illness usually starts by taking over the sick person. You think it’s your agoraphobic wife speaking when she says she can’t leave the house, but it’s not. It’s her fears. The paraplegic who won’t go to physical therapy has been taken over by his disability. Someone who won’t drink fluids because she’s been throwing up with the flu, has had the flu take charge. It’s his depression, not your boyfriend, that stays in bed all day. It’s the alcoholism talking when he says he needs a drink.

In advanced cases, the original person is gone and all that’s left is this imposter. The illness has taken over your loved one. The person you loved has mostly fled and left this shell behind. Now that evil is coming for you.

The first step in defending yourself and defeating this monster is to be able to discern the difference between your darling and the demon. It’s tricky at first, but even twins can be distinguished by those who know them.

Go through each and every one of your partner’s behaviors. Is this the man you know and love, with all his foibles, or is this the disease? Does the behavior serve health or sickness? Decency or despair? Be sure that you can keep them straight.

If you’re angry with your partner for succumbing to the illness, your anger is justified, but misdirected. It’s the illness you should be angry with.

Now look at yourself and the things you are doing. Do they support your partner or the illness? Be honest. If you’re going to lick this thing, you’re going to need to know what you are doing to promote it.

Don’t blame yourself. You didn’t start the illness, you just reacted to it by doing the natural thing, taking tender care of your partner and accommodating his or her natural needs. It was only later on that those needs became all consuming. It tricked you, until now. You’ve caught on.

Finally, get connected with the portions of your partner that remain illness-free. Look into his eyes and find his soul if you have to. Listen for that still small voice of vitality. Feel around for his strength. Once you’ve got a hold, don’t let go.

The next step is to take action against the illness and support your partner. This is why you need to be able to tell the difference. Everything else you do is going to be based on knowing friend from foe.


Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

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