Tales from the Practice of Medicine: Sickness and Personality (Part III of III)

Yu Ling

PureInsight | February 28, 2005

[PureInsight.org] Martha continued, "My mother was only 19 when she gave birth to her first child. She was not even 21 when she gave birth to her second child, me. Instead of being a mother, she was more like a child herself, playing with my sister and me like dolls. While she fed us, she would eat our baby jar food herself. When she was in a good mood, she would dress us up like dolls in the display case. When she was in a foul mood, she gave my sister and me hell. My father was in the military, so we had to move whenever he got a new assignment. My childhood was a nightmare because I went to 20 to 30 different schools and lived in many dozen cities. My mother also liked to move a lot even when we lived in the same city. Sometimes when we had just moved into a new home in the morning, my mother would decide to move to another place in the afternoon. I never got to keep my friends. I often had to part from my friends as soon as I made them. I have always hated my mother…"

Martha wanted to find out the root cause of her cancer. She wanted to find out why she is very hard to please and why she has problems maintaining long-term friendships.

"My sister Anna is agreeable and not very opinionated. She was quite content with our wandering lifestyle. In fact, she kept all her belongings in only one small suitcase. Whenever my mother said it was time for us to pack and move again, Anna would be ready in two seconds. But I was exactly like those cancer patients in the psychological study who were compulsive collectors. I kept everything as souvenirs. I even still have the first ribbon bow I had made when I was a child. When I was old enough to put away my things, I started to organize my things in boxes and numbered each box. My mother kept moving from one place to another until I had collected several dozen numbered boxes. She became tired of moving because I had too many boxes."

"After I was diagnosed with cancer, I found an opportune moment to sit down and talk with my mother. Unlike before, I felt I was now the mother, and she had been the child in our relationship for many years. But before I even opened my mouth my mother said to me, 'Martha, do you know something? I am not surprised at all that you got cancer. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later…' My head started to spin and I would have forgotten where I was had she not been sitting right in front of me."

"'What did you say? You knew I was going to have cancer? Does our family have a history of cancer?' I asked anxiously. 'Ask Anna to get a mammogram right away,' I added."

"'No, our family does not have a history of cancer. You have brought it upon yourself.'"

"I watched my mother angrily. I thought, 'Since I was born I have never had a real mother! This woman is nothing but a babysitter!'"

"'You are too hard on yourself, and you don't have any tolerance for others. Your expectations are so high that they are at times no longer realistic. That is why you are unhappy…' my mother said."

"I told her angrily, 'I finished college and entered graduate school when I was only 21 years old, and you don't even know how to do the simplest math. I did not get married until I finished my Ph.D. degree because I wanted to be a responsible mother for my children.'"

"I gave my mother a condescending look, and she immediately felt it. Then she looked at me in a way that I have never seen before. She did not seem defeated and inferior because of my condescending look. Instead, she looked like a very kind and loving mother. Then she said, 'Martha, I will never be able to become the kind of mother you are, but I have always been proud of you. I have always tried to learn from you. When I saw you making wise and rational decisions for your children, I really envied you. I did not have much education because my mother did not have much education, either. But I have tried my best to give you the best educational environment. Each time we relocated to a new city, the first thing I did was to find a good school. Sometimes we moved around in the same city because I kept finding a better school or I kept finding a better teacher at another school in a different area in the city. That's why I insisted that we keep moving. I didn't mind driving an hour or two to a hair salon or a Laundromat, but I absolutely insisted on living close to your school for your convenience…'"

"I was absolutely stunned by what my mother said. I exclaimed, 'What? You put me in a different school each week for my benefit? Did you know what it felt like to never be able to sit in the same classroom for one full semester and feel stupid at test time? Did you know it is far more important for a child to have a good friend than to have a good school or a good teacher?' I could not help bursting into tears."

"My mother smothered her face and started crying too. All of sudden, I understood something you once told me. Doctor, did you remember what you said to me? You said, 'You should try to forgive others and put yourself in other people's shoes.'"

"I am much more mature at the same age my mother was twenty years ago. I have enough intelligence and a lot of life experiences. But my mother has a kind heart and she loves us more than I love my children. She was completely selfless and tried to provide us with a better future. I, on the other hand, have always lived my life making choices that work out best for me, not my family. It looked as though everything in my life was in place, but the truth is that my life was at the brink of collapse. I have never really forgiven my mother because I am selfish…"

Martha regretted that she did not have tolerance for her mother's lack of education and lack of life experiences. She regretted that she had hated her mother for decades. I personally believe that the bitter feelings that she had toward her mother contributed to her developing cancer today.

"Doctor, I did not understand until today why I must forgive others. I now realize that forgiving others is being kind to myself. It is such a simple truth, but I didn't realize it until now. I have a long journey ahead of me to correct my mistakes. I don't know whether I will be able to complete the journey. It is up to God's will…"

A few days later Martha brought a bouquet of flower and left it at her mother's door with a short note. The note said, "Thank you for teaching me how to be a good mother. Love, Martha."

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2004/2/9/25750.html

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