Monday, May 9, 2011

Of what use is my opinion?

I’ve messed up twice, recently.

A man who did repairs on my house happily told me that he was marrying a woman and getting an instant family because she already had a daughter.  A voice in my head told me to say, “She’s lucky to find a man who won’t molest her daughter.”  But I didn’t say it.  

Not long afterwards, he told me that his wife’s daughter was accusing him of molesting her. This time I followed that voice in my head. I asked, “Did you do something that she might interpret as molesting her?”  The man didn’t answer.

Next thing I knew, he was staying the night in my spare bedroom because his wife had kicked him out. He didn’t stay long.  My grown daughters, who no longer live with me, were furious that I’d even put him up for a night.  But he’s a human and he’s been kind to me.  I don’t feel the need to redress every grievance on the planet, and shun a man who has been accused but not convicted.  Soon there after, he was convicted. And he no longer wanted me in his life.  

I keep wondering – if I’d told him my thoughts when he announced his marriage – could I have prevented all this?


Then there was my friend with breast cancer. Her mother died of breast cancer, so she had a test called Lavage, where salt water is put into the milk ducts through the nipple and then squeezed out again and the water is tested for cancer cells.  The test came back positive for cancer.  Neither a mammogram nor a sonogram showed any lumps.  Her doctor suggested mastectomy because the location of the cancer was unknown.  My friend did not want to lose her breasts.  Another doctor told her it was probably safe to wait until a lump formed.  She decided to wait.  

She asked my opinion.  I told her I would need to do more research before I could decide.
I didn’t do the research.  I thought she would do it – after all it was her breasts.

When the lump formed, her cancer was already stage 3.   She is now dead.  Should I have told her that I’m basically chicken about cancer and I would have had the mastectomy?  

I’ve never been proud of my breasts. They were adequate to make milk for my babies, but I’m not having any more babies.  My friend had breasts that rivaled Mae West’s.  Mine haven’t required a bra since I quit nursing.  I can’t identify with loving breasts more than life itself. 

 Could I have said anything that mattered?  Does my opinion matter? Are these people happier with the choices the made instead of the lives I would have chosen for them?


  1. As a cancer survivor I am asked often for advice by people facing testing for possible cancers. First, I wish they would not ask me simply because I have my own issues dealing with my health. Second, and I do tell them this, everyone has their own situation and must assess their situation as rationally as they can.

    The second point is really the only one that matters. Every health, and personal life choice, issue is different and needs to be assessed separately and rationally. They can ask you for input. They can ask you for opinion. But they cannot ask you to make their decision. Nor can they ask you to bare their guilt for making the wrong choice or lack of a choice.

    We all have enough issues of our own to handle without having to be solely responsible for those of others.

    Is Still Here

  2. Dear Is Still Here. What you say makes sense. I'd just like to have my opinion matter more often than it does. It's the old line about playing to enjoy the game, knowing that you can't win every time -- you can always find something to enjoy. Gotta get more philosophical in my old age!

  3. If you had said "She's lucky to find a non-molester," he probably would have heartily agreed with you. I mean I doubt seriously he would have said (even to himself), "No she wasn't. I AM a molester." Nor would he have taken thoughtful pause because most molesters tend to do a huge compartmentalizing thing where 1)what they do doesn't hurt anybody 2)she wanted it 3)she liked it 4)she is way overreacting 5)it never happened anyway 6)it was a long time ago. If he indeed molested children, you were safe in hour home with him however. And I agree you are not a moral arbiter for everybody. Re: the sad story of your friend, who knows. She probably consulted with a lot of people, family, friends, medical. She took some medical advice. Breast cancer is a plague in our country. I couldn't even count the number of women I know who have had it, including two of my own sisters. I am sorry you lost your friend, and also sorry you would feel in any way culpable. (((Hugs)))