Being me is exhausting some days, even before breast cancer. Today, I’m fighting nausea and knowing I must try to eat in the face of understanding that when I do, I’ll feel worse. The feeling will pass in a few more days, just not soon enough for me or those around me. So, I’ll pretend better.
I first read of pretending better in a repost on Mundane Faithfulness. If you’re not familiar, Kara, the author, a young mom, took us on her breast cancer journey and has since died from the disease. I read her words and see so much of my truth in them, including pretending better. While she wanted to promise her son that she would pretend better for his sake, because he was having trouble with her diminished capacity, she knew that would be a lie.
She couldn’t do it, but I have.
Garry is a champ. He’s been to all my appointments. He advocates for me. He does whatever needs to be done in any arena that is typically my domain. He is ever-present and available. And he is tired. He doesn’t say it; I can see it. So, on some days, I’ll pretend better in order to offer him a small break.
I’ll pretend better when I’m having a rough day. I’ll pretend better when my muscles want to jump from my skin. I’ll pretend better that my weirdo and ever-changing side effects are amusing, instead of horrifying. I’ll pretend better when eating is difficult. I’ll pretend better when I’m scared out of my wits after researching more about my specific cancer. I’ll pretend better that I’m not broken and pissed at my limitations. I’ll pretend better, on some days.
When I’m having a hard day, I’ll pretend better when we Skype with Boy, Girl and Sweet E. I’ll pretend better when I talk to my family. I’ll pretend better when I respond to your emails. I’ll pretend better on social media. It’s never my go-to, but if I am worn out, if I am a cry-baby mess, if I can not bring myself to my own truth, I’ll pretend better.
Why? Why all the pretending when I have laid bare some of the worst of this disease?
Sometimes I’ll pretend better because I can’t bear to see your pain, or inflict any more pain than I already have. Sometimes I’ll pretend better so I can stop crying and grab a little slice of normal amidst the pretending. See? It’s like it always was! Sometimes I’ll pretend better because I need to assure you that I am fighting through this (I. AM.) and that I’m going to beat this disease (I. PRAY. I. WILL.). Most times, I do not pretend, but sometimes, I’ll pretend better, too. Just like Kara thought she’d like to do, but couldn’t.
It’s a selfish act and I ask your forgiveness. After all, growth comes to all of us in the hard bits of life and who am I to deny anyone anything that benefits gaining wisdom? Selfish cancer girl, that’s me.
The other side of my pretending better, is that if you ever ask me a direct question, I will answer honestly. It’s only in the gray murkiness of generalities that I’ll sometimes pretend better. The rest is a glaring stripped-down soul-shredding truth of cancer heinousness.
Yikes. Maybe I should have pretended better on that last sentence…