Dealing badly with the man-flu

When I started writing this blog (oh, you know, 9 days ago), I wanted to write in the spirit of radical honesty. Regarding myself, my motivations, strengths and weaknesses.

He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened – Lao Tzu

Well, that’s the idea, anyway.

So. I don’t like illness or injury. So what? Who does? Maybe it’s weirder in my family of origin than in other families. My Mother and Grandmother are both Naturopaths/Homeopaths, my Great-Grandfather was a doctor, my uncle is a Chiropractor/Osteopath, and my Grandfather and Aunt are (or in the case of my Grandfather, was) Massage Therapists. My family likes to help people to get well. They are motivated by the knowledge that good health is everything, and they help people to achieve it. They are also compassionate and empathise with their patients. Not me. Sympathy? As my brother-in-law says, “look in the dictionary between shit and syphilis if you want sympathy.”

Oh, I’m not that bad. Or am I?

If I don’t know you very well, I can be very compassionate. But woe betide you if I love you! The closer you are to me, the more likely it is that I am going to deal with your illness badly. Spare a thought for my partner.

Alex (aka the Bear) has the man-flu this week. I won’t go into how annoying men are when they are sick; we already know that (picture a silent, sullen bear-man lying on the lounge for DAYS, occasionally rousing himself to yell at the kids before lapsing back into his sullen silence). Oops. I went into it. Nevermind 🙂

The children and I were roused early this morning by a hacking, chesty cough. A good wife, nay person, would perhaps have gone and gotten the herbal cough medicine, or made a lemon, ginger and honey drink. But, unfortunately, I am not a good wife. I glare at him and say, “why don’t you have another cigarette? Sounds like you need one.” Can you feel the love?

But inside, what’s going on? What am I thinking feeling? I am feeling… afraid, insecure, unsupported.

What? All because of the man-flu? Well, don’t look for logic in all this. When I crossed out ‘thinking’ and wrote ‘feeling’ reason went out the window. 

The Bear’s smoking, and his inability to kick the habit frightens me. By looking after his health (strength, virility, reliability) he is looking after us, his family. By not looking after his health (sickness, weakness, early death), it then follows, in my heart , he is not looking after us. I beg your pardon, I appear to be excavating my insides. Understanding myself and my motivations is good, right?

In my family of origin, we think good health is your best asset. One of the ways that my mother showed us love was by looking after our health, making sure that we had the best possible start to life. I also do this for my children, in the process teaching them a skill for life. Looking after your health is a skill equal to being able to feed yourself well and the ability to earn a living.

I don’t understand why the Bear doesn’t look after his health, and he doesn’t understand why I don’t look after it for him. It’s because I see that as something a mother does, and I am not his mother. I am his partner, lover, the mother of his children – and I am rather busy looking after my own health and that of my children. Can you see why I have pursued writing and communication as a career instead of Nutrition and Homeopathy which I studied first?

Well now, I have learnt things I didn’t know about myself today. What to do? Well, go home and use my skills that my upbringing and genetics have given me to help the bear get better quicker, then apologise for being so hateful when he’s sick and can’t defend himself. Then I might get him to read this post to see if we can come to a better understanding of each other…which will lead to loving each other better too. I’m sure of it.

Also, there is hope. In my house there is a little healing sprite who steps in where I drop out: The Fairy Queen (my 4 year old daughter) is a born healer, already giving treatments (crystal therapy, massage and some kind of fairy reiki) as well as freely dispensed love and affection whilst sick. Thank God!


  1. I deal badly with other people’s illnesses too….. except that instead of confronting it, I just run away. Go in denial. Pretend it’s not there. I’m terrified that when my future kids get sick, I’m going to be warding them off with wooden crosses and garlic. (oops, those are for vampires!)


    • it’s different with your kids. Scary at first, my mum got a real work out for the first 5 years :). Your children need you, and there’s no one else, and you do what you can to stop their suffering. It’s amazing how you just step up.


  2. LOVely post and analysis of what makes us tick! You hit everything just right and made me laugh! Lucky you that you have a resident fairy princess to assist with dispensing magic when needed most…;)


    • Thank you Rufina. It’s been really reassuring to see how people have been resonating with this here and on facebook. And here I was thinking it was just me!


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