One of the toughest parts of walking through the valley of mold exposure is explaining it to loved ones. Relationships can be strained, and friendships fractured. Those of us in the middle of the journey are vulnerable. Those who long to help are scratching their heads. I wrote the following to the second group who sincerely and deeply desire to help. I wrote it to myself as a reminder that everyone is running a race.
Help for the Onlooker:
Given the cloud of mystery and confusion that surrounds mold exposure, it must be tough to be in the support role. I can imagine your thoughts. Is mold really that bad? This has to be in their heads. Surely, there’s a better way to fix all of this.
I understand. I would have the same thoughts if I were in your shoes. In fact, our family of 11 lost our house and health to mold, and I have said those same things to myself! But the reality of toxic mold and the resulting chronic illness is simply this: It is that bad.
This is what makes it so hard for you as an onlooker. You’re powerless to fix it. While this is difficult to accept, it also takes the pressure off. It’s way bigger than you. You don’t have to be the one to “pour bleach” on the problem. Bleach doesn’t kill the toxins anyway. So where does that leave you as your loved one struggles with direction and decisions?
If you have a heart to help, and you must if you’re reading this, let me offer this word picture.
The person who is on a mold journey has unwillingly and with no prior training entered a 300 mile super-triathalon event. The race is not just swimming, running, and biking. It’s mountain climbing as well. The added challenge? The race goes through the night. The participants rest during the day and race when it’s darkest.
How would you cheer them on at mile 35?
Or mile 285?
My guess is you would not say things like:
“Just get that left knee a little higher.”
“I don’t understand why you’re in this race.”
“Why don’t you try lengthening your stride?”
You wouldn’t be on the sidelines at 2:00 in the morning to offer suggestions. You’d be cheering them on. I know you would because you took the time to come to the race.
You’d be yelling, “Keep going! You’re doing great!”
And if they made a mistake? Or fell down? I know what you’d say.
“Way to get back up!”
“Hang in there!”
We all need coaches. People who know the sport and understand the race. But when the competitor rounds that corner or stares at that next mountain, there’s nothing like the cheers of the crowd.
Help for the Participant
If you’re running the “toxic mold race” and feeling alone and misunderstood – keep running. Don’t wait for onlookers to say the right thing or to understand. Your job is to take the next step and remind yourself that you’re doing the very best you can.