ELIZA'S CROSS CANADA LOVE TOUR
Face The Truth
On November 12th, 2018, I sat down on the bed and cried.
I was in the guest bedroom of my Grandpa’s condo in Brandon, Manitoba, the same bedroom my mom had been living in before she was diagnosed with cancer only a few months before.
Sitting and crying on what still felt like her bed, I couldn’t understand what was happening and I didn’t want to. Instead I started down the familiar path of painful questions. How had this become my life? How can my mom be sick? Why did this happen? What could we have done differently? What had any of us done to deserve this? How is this possible? Then for the first time, I said to myself “It’s not fair.”
“It’s not fair.”
I chanted it again and again to myself until eventually the tears started to slow, and, to my surprise, I began to feel more and more calm. I took one deep breath after another and on the exhale, I would say it again “It’s not fair.”
In my journal that day I wrote about the clarity that came from that simple statement:
Is it strange that eventually that idea felt comforting? Just... that it isn't fair?
I can't explain it.
I guess it’s because it really isn't fair and at least I know that is true.
Amidst all the uncertainty I know one thing for sure-
It's not fair.
Months later the grounding effect of these words does not seem strange to me at all. I didn’t know it at the time but through acknowledging that the situation I was in wasn’t fair, I was also acknowledging that it was happening, that it was real. I had spent months up until that point in disbelief being unable and unwilling to believe what was happening. I knew in my mind that it was true, but it was too painful to go there.
Denial is like a hallucinatory drug that tricks us into believing we are safe in our beds when in reality we are wandering around a cliff’s edge late at night about to fall to our deaths, plunging head first into the icy waters below. If we were to become sober to the reality we would at first be disoriented and terrified, the illusion would feel safer, but it is only with our sober minds that we have any power to save ourselves from the danger at hand.
When you cut yourself you have to acknowledge you are bleeding before you can stop it. Acceptance heals, plain and simple.
Once I accepted what was happening to my mom was “not fair” the first question inevitably became “okay…so now what?”. My mom is sick, she may die, this is the reality, what do I need to do to move forward? For me the answer to that question was “pretty much exactly what I have already been doing” (be with her, make sure she knows I love her, say what I need to say and really hear everything she has to tell me). Finally I had an answer.
While I was in Manitoba, I began watching a lot of horror movies. I found them suddenly relatable for obvious reasons. One common thread present in almost all the horror that I watched was the moment in the film where the protagonist stops doubting themselves or thinking they are “crazy” and instead accepts that the terrifyingly insane situation are experiencing is real. In other words, the moment they stopped screaming and running away and turned to face the monster head on. This is a perfect example of the power of acceptance; You can’t overcome anything you refuse to acknowledge.
Even now, the days I spend most lost in grief, most distraught and heartsick, are the ones when I can’t seem to accept the reality. Days after nights spent dreaming of her, where her alive self feels as real as it ever did. Days like that are the most painful because they confuse the truth and make acceptance much more difficult. On the other hand, I feel strongest and most clear on the days I’m able to know for sure what has happened, to remind myself she has died right away. Knowing she is gone helps me stay present. Do I still wish things were different? of course, but wanting things to be different won’t change reality. As much as it’s not the reality I would have chosen it is still my life, and sure life isn’t fair but it can still be beautiful. For me, there is great freedom to be found in the truth, in the times am brave enough to face it.