In the days leading up to Dad’s Cancer treatments, I admittedly turned into a crazy person. As I said before, I basically broke down and turned myself into a martyr. I guess perhaps I was trying to take his pain and make it my own, or at least share in it with him to ease the burden. I know now that things just don’t work that way. Unfortunately, you have to watch them suffer through it, watch them struggle with their own emotions, and be tormented by the fact there is absolutely nothing in the world you can do to make things right again.
There are still the odd ramblings and questions that stir my mind from time to time; when will this be over? will it ever really be over? why did this happen to him?
I’ll never have the answers to these questions; eventually, I had to face the facts and throw up a white flag.
On my end, I made things work by talking to my boss and getting each treatment day off work so that I could drive up the night before, take him to treatment, then drive back home for work the next day. It was non-negotiable. This was what I was going to do for him, since I had nothing else to offer but my sympathies. I didn’t question my motives at that time, but I have since. My Dad is a very independent person. Aside from the fact that he asked his spouse (who he is currently separated from) for help, he had not given any indication that my services were necessary.
When I started getting the “she can help with that” and “he’ll be around to take me“, I started to wonder why I was putting in all the effort. I started feeling avoidance from my Dad like a dark plague on my life. Now, as I was avoiding my friends and living in isolation from them, he was doing the same to me.
Around this time was when tiny arguments started. The bulldog in him met up with the dragon in me, and we went head-to-head on quite a few things. Until I smartened up and realized he is not a baby, and that he alone must live with the decisions he makes.
I got tired. I stopped feeling like I needed to be there each and every time something happened. This wasn’t the way I would have wanted it to come about, but the fact is – I came to accept that his life was his own, and so was mine. I did not only want to return to the life I’d made for myself, but I also needed to. And he didn’t need me pestering him and trying to solve his problems my way.
Do you know how long it took for all that to happen? Approximately two weeks before his treatments ended. Which is to say, six weeks from his first call about the diagnosis. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
It is great advice to help people out as much as you can. It is even greater advice to let them fall on their own and get up on their own. In my experience, wisdom comes from errors made. If you choose not to learn from them, that is your choice. I have had plenty of those moments in my life. And will more than likely have plenty more! But no one needs nor do they probably want another person to lecture them about their choices. They’ll find out soon enough whether their choices were accurate or not.
So I had to check myself. It’s not like that’s never happened before.