Crazy Soup Emotions:
Love, Anger, and Frustration
When Ellen first became sick, I was overcome with worry, but I felt an ache of love that energized me to keep trying every possible approach to get her to eat. At the same time, I was frustrated by her blatant disregard for her health and upset over her apparent willingness to put her entire family through so much suffering on her behalf. I was reluctant to let her know how I felt, though, worried that any negative emotion from me would lead her to stop eating again. It was a very tense time.
As the years passed and her condition worsened, it was harder to continue being patient. My sons commented on the amount of time and attention I gave Ellen, and Paul and I often squabbled about what to do next for her. More and more, I felt angry with our situation—and with her.
One night I woke to discover her crying with leg cramps and knew instantly her blood potassium level was probably too low due to repeated purging. A trip to the doctor's revealed I was right, but instead of feeling relieved, I was distressed. How could Ellen place herself in danger again and again?
"Righteous indignation is a far healthier response than depression," one of her counselors advised me. Certainly, it's easier in some ways when I can distance myself from Ellen by being angry, but at