Confessions of a Single Mom With Cancer Entry #21

I’m going to get right to this one.

#21. I don’t want your pity.

One thing I noticed during cancer is that people genuinely felt bad for me. This was something really new for me because I had spent my entire life making sure people never felt bad for me. I’ve recently started giving talks about personal branding and one thing I say all the time is that I have been in branding all my life. As one of the only black people in my school and one of very few black families in our neighborhood, I understood the importance of how people perceived me and what they believed about me and how it impacted not only me, but my family and very possibly my entire race. Some may say that’s a lot to carry as a young child, but I never saw it that way. It gave me a mission and a purpose greater than myself. But instead of becoming someone who was apologetic for being different, I became someone who wanted it to be clear- don’t feel bad for me because I’m black or because I’m different. As a matter of fact, don’t ever feel bad for me!

Then cancer came. And I realized, I needed people to stand in the gap for me, to help me. I recognized I needed that. I appreciated the fact that people felt sorry for what me and my girls were going through, and I started questioning my lifetime approach and perspective of NO pity please.

It felt good for people to help. Sometimes I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support. I was so grateful.

So, I started reflecting on my life. As a single mom, I wondered if I had allowed people to pity me when I got pregnant with my oldest without being married if I would have been supported differently in the beginning or even through the years. I know I make being a single mom look pretty easy most days. It’s not, but I don’t want people to pity me, so I charge through and we make it work. When I was miserable in my marriage I hid from my friends and family – the same people who helped me off the bathroom floor during chemotherapy or who took my kids to and from school and camp these past 2 years. Should I have let them pity me and carry me through that? Now don’t get me wrong, they were always right there, caring for me as much as I would let them. But I wasn’t as vulnerable as I was through cancer. I wasn’t as open and honest about how much I was hurting because I still wanted to be seen as strong.

Through this experience, I’ve questioned my no pity rule. But on Friday, the question was answered and believe it or not…through another bunny!!

So if you don’t know about the bunnies in my back yard, read this first.

So we started school last week, and right before we’re hustling out the door, I take our crazy maltipoo Sophie Joe outside. She runs under the deck and out flies another bunny! This time it runs to the back door and finds its escape route under the pool gate. If it had just stayed on the side walk, but no, into the pool!

This time, I didn’t panic. It’s the first week of school. My priority is the girls and I said, oh well. Hopefully it will get out. No pole helping, no make shift ramp, no pity….and you know what happened? That bunny found its way into the drain, popped the skimmer basket lid up, jumped out and ran away.

I didn’t pity it. I didn’t help it and it found its own way out of a situation that had taken the life of probably one of his siblings. And that’s what happens. When no one is feeling sorry for you, you make a way, unless you’re someone who wallows in self-pity, which of course I am not. That’s what I’d been doing all these years, using a lack of pity to encourage myself. To push myself and find a way. To jump in and get things done, instead of waiting for someone else to do it for me. And it’s worked out for me.

But what I also realized is that my friends and family didn’t pity me during cancer either. All they did for me, all their prayers and thoughts, cards and words were acts of love – NOT pity. The beauty of this is that I’ve learned how to distinguish between the two. So to everyone who has been by my side through the years, when I was strong and when I wasn’t,  I’m grateful for your love and that you’ve never pitied me!

Now, back to my old ways, cause I’ve got a skimmer basket to pop open and jump out of! Who’s with me?