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My husband’s illnesses destroyed our savings. His wealthy family will not help us. How not to hate them? | Family




My husband and I are retired teachers. He is 81 years old. He had a devastating stroke four years ago, and I’ve been his 24/7 guardian ever since. (He also suffers from diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and pulmonary fibrosis.)

His illnesses have destroyed our savings and we are strapped for money. His two adult children, both very well off, abandoned him. Her sister has $ 60 million in the bank and won’t lift a finger to help her. My question, and it is serious: how not to hate them?

Eleanor says: You have a right to hate these people. It is a terrible abandonment.

People say hate is a destructive emotion, like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die. I know they’re right, sometimes I know that mentally making the same argument in the shower doesn’t convince anyone that attacking the same memory means it will never heal.

But I also know that there are ways to hate that don’t erode your character, there are forms of hate that insist on it, affirm it, defend it.

Hate can make us feel powerful when everything else makes us feel small. Contempt kindles a fire in us when we hold on to that fire, refusing to put it out, knowing what we might burn if we choose, it can make us feel like a decision maker again, instead of someone who gets shaken and has to say thank you.

Think about your situation: you have chosen to be merciful to those close to you. You didn’t have to. At any point you could have thrown your Molten Fury at them, but you didn’t.

The fact that you feel hatred towards them reveals the exceptional self-control it took to choose mercy instead; it would have been easy, if you had only felt love. Feeling the fire of hate and knowing that we can control it sometimes gives back a sense of power and dignity, while others would like us neither to feel.

Hatred can also be a way to build self-esteem. You might not be the perfect this or the best you can be, but anger can buy us a surging kind of self-confidence: at least you’re not them.

I think one way to be wrong is to think that the emotional pendulum of anger has only two places of rest: disgust (self-destructive, tiring, worrying) and forgiveness (beatific, peaceful, unloaded). As long as we think these are our only options, let’s deny ourselves these more productive types of hate. Bounce back well between two ways of being unhappy: feeling hatred but being consumed by it, or trying to repress it and feeling trampled.

There is a place to rest between these positions which I consider selfless dislike. In it, you don’t think of these people, but what you think of them is roughly speaking. You drive thoughts of them and their vices from your mind, the same way you manage to mute the television when a politician whose voice you don’t want in the living room goes on the air.

Aiming for a more detached dislike is a less Herculean emotional feat. You will allow yourself to preserve the parts of your emotion that just seem to be true; these people are not helping. You won’t ask yourself to change your mind about them, you will ask yourself to change the amount of your mind you give them.

I find the key here is to do something that fixes the proven issue, so that you can stop spending your energy on proving it again. Pronounce these despicable people so resolutely that you don’t have to think about them anymore; make it part of the historical record, a testimony that lives outside of you. Ceremonies really help, even if they seem silly at first. Write down everything they haven’t done and set that list on fire. Approach a tree and tell one of its nodes which you hate. Burn your loathing on a stone and leave it in a beautiful place. Outsource the recording, then walk away.

You don’t have to walk to a place free from hate. You just need to be sure that it is peripheral to your sight.

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