So I have a fatal flaw – I am the Queen of Denial, particularly when it comes to emotionally charged situations. You see, I’m a thinker, not a feeler. I approach every situation with logic and I make decisions based on a cost-benefit analysis. I lead with my head and not my heart. In fact, it annoys the crap out of me that 97% of all songs are about love and relationships and blah, blah, blah. I think you get the point.
As a result, I don’t consider myself the best person to go to for emotional support because I will almost always try to fix things instead of just hearing you out. Here’s the problem though…there are some things that you just can’t fix and this is where my denial issue comes in. I just try my best to stay as busy as possible and avoid the situation. I didn’t say it was functional or rational, but unfortunately, it’s my default defense mechanism. There’s just one big problem about denial. It will fail you at the most inopportune time.
My best friend’s mom fought and lost a battle with cancer over 4 years ago. From the time of the diagnosis, I was moving at warp speed trying to be helpful. I cleaned my friend’s house and walked her dogs. I did research and tried to be available whenever possible. At the memorial service, I wrote checks for the priest and helped get everyone seated. I thought I was doing pretty well and I was…right up until the moment when I walked onto the altar to read a passage from the bible.
It was at that exact moment that everything caught up with me. The reality of the situation and the size of our loss just hit me like a two by four. And I lost it. I started sobbing like I’ve never sobbed before. Standing behind the podium with a microphone amplifying my sorrow, I simply could not keep it together. Looking out at all of my friends and their families, I did my best to get through the reading, but it wasn’t pretty. In fact, I’m sure it was as painful to watch as it was to experience.
Now, I’m not a crier. And I’m certainly not prone to shedding tears in public, but that day, I completely fell apart. In hindsight, I know exactly where I went wrong. I didn’t allow myself to grieve. I didn’t say goodbye in my heart because in my mind, I felt like if I didn’t acknowledge it then it wasn’t really happening. Brilliant, I know.
Now, I still don’t do goodbyes at all (but that’s a whole other post in and of itself), but I felt like I got better at acknowledging loss. Apparently, I overestimated myself. You see, the Irishman’s beloved aunt is losing her battle with cancer and I feel like I’m in a really bad flashback. We’re driving down there this weekend. I’m almost frantic with trying to keep my mind busy because this just can’t be happening again. It’s so sad and so frustrating and there isn’t a damn thing that I can do about it. So, I’ll make coffee for everyone and handle whatever needs handling at the moment…anything to not have to feel. I already know that I’m heading for disaster, but I don’t seem to be able to change my trajectory. The only good news is that pregnancy loosened my tear ducts, so maybe I can manage to shed all of my tears in private instead of making a big ‘ol scene. In a phrase, cancer bites the big one.