Monday, May 24, 2010

Letting Go of Those I Love

It's not easy to be serene about something as serious as a needle biopsy, but I'm trying, since someone I love is refusing to have one, even though three different doctors--not to mention her family--have told her she should.

Believe me, it isn't as if I haven't tried in the past to guilt, scare, humiliate or nag people into doing what they didn't want or weren't ready to do, all because I thought it was best for them. And, of course, they got testy with me for trying to control them, so I got testy back--and more anxious and emotional, as did they.

In the case of my friend, I know I have to accept her choice. People have a right to treat their bodies as they wish, even if what they choose does appear on the surface to be harmful. I can't deny how helpless and afraid and sad I feel, but all I can do is trust in the value and rightness of her journey--get quiet and centered inside myself, so I'm ready and open to receive the peace and guidance I need.

Otherwise, I'll just make a mess of things.

Like I did two years ago, when I witnessed a turtle attempting to cross a 45-mph, six-lane road and then get hit by a car. The way the poor thing tossed and rolled, he looked like a hubcap flung loose from a wheel, so I was stunned when I stopped and discovered he was still alive and didn't even look harmed.

I carried him to a nearby, undeveloped property, and just before I set him down, I didn't pay attention to his tiny head on that giraffe neck as it snaked out and snapped hold of my finger. His bite was so excruciating that I let him go, but he clung to my finger and dangled in the air. When he finally dropped to the grass, I was still in a frantic haze, but I picked him up and put him further away from the road.

Looking back, I made a lot of mistakes that were harmful to that turtle and myself. I didn't protect my hands from his mouth--or put him on the ground while he was still attached to my finger--so I may have added to injuries that I couldn't see, when I let him drop. I also didn't have the sense to take him to The Conservancy's wildlife clinic--or even to a vet. Either would have been more sane than putting him in that field.

I made these mistakes because I charged in on impulse, instead of first pausing, calming down and asking for guidance.

But the other day, after the third doctor told my friend why she needed a needle biopsy, that a formation in her breast looked suspicious and could be cancer--and yet she still said she didn't want it tested--I didn't charge in on impulse. When we were alone, I looked her in the eye and repeated what the doctor had said, to make sure she truly understood. I told her I had the name of another surgeon she could see, if she wanted another opinion--and that I only wanted her to have the biopsy for the same reason she would want me to have one, if I were in her shoes.

My friend said she did understand, didn't need another opinion, and preferred not to talk about it anymore.  But instead of doing what I have often done, which is to shift up to convince-her-now-or-else gear, something inside me understood I had done all I could; I had to let it go.

Even as I write this I am shaking my head and sighing. It's my physical way of surrendering my friend--to God and to herself and to her own dignity to do with her life as she wishes.

This is between the two of them now, and I have no right to interfere with that. All I can do is to try to have some serenity and faith that this is what's best for my friend, whatever the outcome.

After all, it's what I would want her to do for me.

QUESTION: How do you respond when those you love don't do what you think is best for them?

(Not sure how to leave your name or pseudonym with your question?  See above left.)