As I sat down in her chair, something inside me said this was going to be a bumpy ride. This wasn’t going to be relaxing or restful.
I was about to fight another demon. She wasn’t the demon herself, but she sure as heck was about to trigger the demon inside of me.
The last half a year has been unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. It was about seven months ago that my mom received a cancer diagnosis. My world stopped. Completely. This journal that I have kept so lovingly for the last 3 years went by the wayside almost immediately. There simply wasn’t space in my brain for anything that wasn’t directly related to supporting my mom or going to work (I still have to pay rent, after all). I disappeared so quickly and completely that most of my friends didn’t know what was going on or why I had vanished.
Suddenly my priorities were crystal clear. The only thing that mattered to me was being the best possible support to my mom that I could.
Now we are on the other side of treatment. Mom is doing great. I am completely in awe of the dignity and grace that she has handled this whole experience with.
When people ask me how we’re doing, the most honest answer I can give most days is, “Mom is doing better than I am.”
And I’m okay with that. As much as Mom is in recovery from treatment, so am I. I wasn’t the one who had the chemicals running through my body, but I was on constant alert. I was keeping track of everything in my mind – every pill, every meal, every mood swing. I was there to catch her when she fell (both literally and figuratively.) And after six months, the exhaustion is profound enough that it will take me time to get back to full strength.
So when I sat down in the hairdresser’s chair, all I wanted to do was close my eyes and have my hair played with for a half hour. But that wasn’t to be.
She knows that my mom has been dealing with “the C word,” so I guess seeing me puts that word front and center in her mind. She opened with, “Do you remember ____? She just died from cancer.”
Then she launched into an explanation of how it had been just six or eight weeks from diagnosis to her passing, it was so fast moving, it started in her lungs and then………
That’s when I put my hand up and said, “I can’t have this conversation.”
It went against every “good girl” bone in my body. It violated everything I’ve ever learned about being “nice” so people will like me. It was a total rejection of wanting to “go along to get along.”
And for a moment, she was miffed. She said, “But I thought your Mom was okay?” But it was more important for me to take care of myself in that moment than it was for me to take care of her feelings.
Because having that cancer conversation running through my head leads nowhere good. And right now I have to guard what is in my head VERY carefully.
I am responsible for what I allow inside my brain. This conversation about dying simply can’t be part of it. Not now. Not when my grasp on “normal” is already tenuous.
No one gets to rent space in my head without my permission and I am revoking a lot of those permissions right now. I am putting up eviction notices for the tenants in my head that are doing harm rather than good.
This shit about needing to be “nice” and a “good girl” so people will like me is a demon.
I. Am. Responsible.
So while I wouldn’t ever have chosen this cancer experience for my mom, there is good out of it. And while I didn’t ever fully relax into her chair, I have to thank her because standing up for myself and saying what I needed was a big victory that day.
The demon may not yet be exorcised for good, but he has been warned.
To all of you, dear readers: The Miracle Journal has not gone away, but it is taking longer for me to bounce back than I had anticipated. As much as I love writing, it takes a lot of energy to reach inside and dig these posts out of myself…and right now I don’t have that kind of energy or inspiration as often as I’d like. I will be back periodically, but I don’t know when I’ll be here regularly again. In the meantime, I appreciate your support and love more than you know.