I’ve been doing a lot of pretending lately. Many of you probably think I’m doing better; I’ve gone to the beach and out to bars and I’ve smiled for pictures like it’s any other summer, but I think I’ve actually gotten worse. More…Detached. Removed. Numb. Not at all myself. The more life goes on around me and the more things go “back to normal,” the more exhausted I become from keeping up this facade. I can go days without crying or thinking about it much, sometimes it’s like nothing happened, and then something triggers me—someone mentions Thanksgiving or Christmas, there’s a father/daughter wedding scene on a TV show or in a movie, I hear a story about someone else’s dad—and I can’t even breathe.
Some of you probably know I’m just faking it, all day every day, and that I’m really in a lot of pain, but you don’t want to make me any more sad or angry so you choose to make me laugh and take me out. I know how hard some of you are trying and I know how scared you are of doing or saying the wrong thing, and I want you to know I recognize and appreciate all of it. I’m not always capable of showing that. Most of the time I just feel like there is no one I can talk to about how horrible I feel. I can’t talk to my mom or my sister because they are very sad too and I’ll make them more upset. I can’t talk to my friends because they (well, most) have no idea what I’m going through and I don’t want to become some basket case they have to “deal with.” This blog helps, but even here I’m not totally letting it all out. Maybe this is where therapy comes in?
I know everyone wants to help. They want me to let them know if there’s anything they can do—if I had $1 for every time someone has said that to me since May 30, I could afford these cute new booties I’ve had my eye on—but really, what can be done for me now? It’s too late for comfort and hope because he’s already gone. All of this concern was really and truly needed when I first found out he was sick. At that point in time, certain people and activities and places and ice cream flavors would have in fact made me feel better, given me hope, taken my mind off things. At that point in time, all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and cry because I was so goddamn terrified. I needed someone to hold my hand and tell me everything would be all right, for someone to know just by looking at me that I was so far from okay. And above all things, I needed those closest to me to say “Hey Kate, how’s your dad doing?”
Perhaps some of it is my own fault. I was/am pretty good at pretending I was/am okay. A lot of people at school knew I had to run home one day because my dad was in the hospital and they were genuinely concerned, but I couldn’t very well say to everyone I passed on the Quad “Oh I’m fine, my dad was just diagnosed with cancer. See you at Craigs tonight!?” The truth is, I did not tell people who really would have listened. I told people who never listened, and I didn’t made it clear just how bad it was. There are people who should have been there for me then who simply were not.
The moral of the story here is this: I think I needed more from people then than I do now. What I needed then—affection, attention, hugs, hope—is not what I need now—compassion, empathy, space, time. Time has not yet begun to heal, and I am so very tired of pretending to be okay.