Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tough love isn't easy. I don't remember when I first learned the concept. I know it was when Benji was a teenager. Holding irresponsible people accountable, not enabling their disability, refusing to do for them what they could/should do for themselves is not easy for a fixer like me. I'm trying my best to practice tough love with Mike. He would be further along in his recovery if I could do it consistently. Most of the time, I give in and do whatever needs to be done for him. Watching a stroke victim struggle to do with one hand what is so easy for me to do with two is painful. But I've got to do it.

Today I was strong and stood my ground through one of his tantrums. He was getting undressed for a bath and forgot to take off his left shoe and brace while he still had his right shoe on to assist. He insisted I come take off his left shoe. I refused. You can do this, I insisted. He cursed, he threw towels in the floor, he beat the wall and the door with his fist, he threatened to tear up everything in the bathroom if I didn't do it for him. I let him go as far as his anger would take him. When he finally quietened down I told him there was more than one way to do everything. "Take hold of the top of your sock with your right hand and pull your foot out of your shoe," I said. He did and his foot slipped out instantly with no trouble. I smiled and walked away.

When he finished his shower, he asked for help again. I asked if his conscience had kicked in yet. He apologized for losing control. Then I told him how hard it is for me to stand by and watch him struggle, but between now and the time I leave for Ireland, we will have more occasions when I refuse to do things for him. "Just get ready," I said, "because you are going to be doing more for yourself than you're used to. Your initial reaction will be anger, but that interferes with your ability to think things through, so the sooner you learn to control that, the sooner you can solve whatever problem you're facing."

Very meekly he thanked me for helping him like I do.

The nursing home just called to say they're taking Mother to St. Dominic's Hospital. Dr. Kroos will be the admitting physician. They weren't sure what time I should meet them there, the ambulance had still not been called, so she's calling me back when they know. Guess I better get dressed.

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