Help! I’m Halting Treatment for My Cancer, but My Family Thinks I’m Giving Up Too Soon.

Advice on manners and morals.
May 31 2012 6:00 AM

A Separate Peace

I’m losing my battle with cancer and want to stop treatment, but my family thinks I’m giving up too soon.

(Continued from Page 1)

Dear Shrinking,
When I recommend that a letter writer see a therapist, I sometimes feel I should add, “Preferably one who isn’t crazy.” Yours is crazy and also behind the times. Fabricating memories of childhood sexual abuse is so 1990s. You’re right that therapy can be challenging. You want someone who will make you look at your assumptions and help guide you out of ruts in your thinking and behavior. But this process should not make you squirm as a result of being manipulated by a loon. You have no obligation to this jerk. Cancel your appointments and say you won’t be coming back. You have a specific goal: to stay off drugs. If you went into a rehab clinic, start your search for a new therapist by asking there for recommendations for those specializing in addiction issues. Look at the resources on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website, and here are some additional guidelines for conducting your search. Then call a few of the people on your list and ask if they will talk with you on the phone, or have a short meeting, to discuss your potentially becoming a patient. Explain your issues and say you’d like to know what approach the therapist takes, how many sessions are likely needed, and the kinds of “homework,” if any, that might be assigned. You should feel that you are making a connection and are in a safe place. As for your now-former therapist, consider reporting him to the local licensing board. Trying to falsely convince a vulnerable person that she was abused is itself a form of abuse.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
My girlfriend and I have been together for almost three years, love each other dearly, and are marrying soon. She is Christian, and I was raised in a conservative Jewish home. I was never very religious but always enjoyed the Jewish holidays and traditions with my family, with whom I am very close. Early into our relationship I started going to church with my fiancée and found meaning in the words of Christ. Recently, I was baptized. The pastor and I are friends, and he will marry us. My dilemma is that while I think he'll agree to have elements of both religions in the ceremony, I don’t want to “come out” to my family. They would never understand and it would alienate me from them. If I ask to have a non-Christian ceremony, I risk hurting my fiancée and her family and looking like a hypocrite. Any suggestions?

—Oy Vey

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Dear Oy,
I assume you don’t plan to secretly baptize your children on Yom Kippur because you know your family will be tied up elsewhere. Your current approach doesn’t honor either the religion in which you were raised or the one you now embrace. It’s going to be very painful for your family to learn that you have converted. But your family knows other Jews who have abandoned the religion either through conviction or convenience, and, given your Christian fiancée, it’s hardly going to be beyond their imagining that you have joined this exodus. You should have a talk with your pastor about how he can acknowledge your origins during the wedding ceremony. He can find a lot of material in what he calls the Old Testament. And for guidance about being honest, John 8:32 has an observation in your new book, the New Testament: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

—Prudie

More Dear Prudence Columns
"A View to a Thrill: Neighbor boys peep at my scantily clad daughters. Should I have them cover up?” Posted June 30, 2011.
Loving Thy Neighbor: I have sex with the couple next door. Should I tell my kids about it?” Posted June 23, 2011.
Fatherly Advice: Dear Prudence advises a dad whose wife fears he'll abandon the family in favor of his long-lost daughter—and other Father's Day advice seekers.” Posted June 16, 2011.
Businessman on the Road to Ruin: My wife doesn't know I visit strip bars and porn theaters while away on business. But that's not cheating, right?” Posted June 9, 2011.

More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts

All Dogs Go to Heaven: Dear Prudence advises a dying husband on whether to confess his infidelity—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted June 27, 2011.
Sloppy Stay-at-Home Mom: Prudie advises a man whose wife is great at everything except keeping the house neat—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted June 13, 2011.
The 40-Year-Old Mean Girl: Prudie advises a former bully whose kids are being mistreated by her victim's children—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted June 6, 2011.
The Accused: A young neighbor's unfounded claims put my family in danger. Should we allow the girl back into our lives?” Posted June 2, 2011.

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column. 

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