My daughter, Maddie, was supposed to come home on Tuesday night and visit for the summer and perhaps stay through the end of December, and then return to her dad’s home in Pennsylvania for the 2nd semester of her senior year in high school. Well that didn’t happen.  Instead she ended up in the hospital, with a lung infection and her diabetes out of control, just like last September.  She’s not a happy camper
as she is being told she has to give up her gummy bears and have a more restrictive diet.

Maddie (17) is in a state of confusion.  Part of her wants to come home, and part of her doesn’t want to come home.  She doesn’t feel happy either place.  According to her, it’s easier to express herself there.  She says she can yell and act out and no one will think anything of it. I told her she could do that here too.  We bought her a punching bag about a year ago, but she has rarely used it.  I did set a boundary with her, and apparently it hurt her feelings, which I can understand.  I told her it wasn’t okay to come
back and be full of judgment and criticism toward me, Steve (my husband) and Chelsea.

I told her that we would need to honestly communicate and work things out. She said she doesn’t like how we resolve conflict, through talking.  It makes her feel stupid. So my first reaction was to be hurt by all of this.  Maddie’s family in PA has very different belief systems around health and healing than my family.  They are more traditional, Western medicine, and my family is more Eastern tradition/holistic.

Having said what I favor, I actually believe there is a place for both modalities of thought. Since Maddie has cystic fibrosis and CF-induced diabetes, I think it’s smart to do everything her doctors tell her PLUS supplement with good nutrition, good supplements and exercise and, of course, work on her mental and emotional mindset. I cried a lot this week, when I was feeling bad about her not wanting to come here.

I felt guilty, like I just am not a good enough mom for Maddie.  I prayed about it and surrendered her to God and asked for the strength to be my best and continue to love her to the best of my ability. I made a decision to NOT take her reactions personally, her self-sabotaging behaviors of not taking care of herself, her decisions about how to deal with her life.  At the same time, I made a decision to tell a different story about Maddie.

I think all of us have been guilty of thinking that Maddie is immature and just wants to be sick on some level, based on her past behavior.  I will remind myself that she simply needs LOVE.  I told her that when she feels critical and judgmental of others when she comes back home, I’d just give her a hug.  Love dissolves all fear. Maddie is a frightened little girl who needs to feel loved and accepted….like we all do.

She is afraid to change…like we all are. Maybe you can relate to some of my experience.  Ask yourself if there is any area of your life in which you are taking someone’s behavior personally.  How can you think about him/her differently to bring YOU relief? I’d love to teach you more about mental and emotional boundary setting.

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Angie Monko