December 5th, 2014
I am a pretender.
And I dare say a very good one at that.
As a child I was encouraged to think that the ability to pretend was a skill worth embracing. I remember forcing my little brother, Squirt as I call him much to his protest, to play along with my pretend Restaurant in the back shed; my pretend House among walls made of sheets hung from the old Hillshoist washing line; and my pretend Office where we would practically go through an entire ream of paper squiggling pretend signatures at the bottom of pretend business agreements. So yes, as the world of “play pretend” went, I was originally pretty good at it.
As I got older, the pretending became a little more restricted to the stage and school drama classes. By grade twelve, I found myself at the top of my drama class – an excelling pretender; or actor as it may have been dictated on my report card…in all honesty I feel like these words could be used interchangeably really.
Back then pretending was something fun, utilised to transform complacent blah into something worth watching, feeling, experiencing. Four years onwards, I feel like pretending has become a survival mechanism.
We have all been grieving for a little over a month now. Some days are better than others, but most days it’s excruciating to be in a constant state of almost-tears. It’s the little memories and reminders hidden and weaved into our lives that have become my downfall, and it’s not that i want to forget them – but it’s a silent plea that today, just for one day, I won’t have to be reminded of the void she once filled. Because it feels like someone is pinching my heart so violently when I hear her name mentioned and yet all I can do is breathe in, breathe out and wait for it dull.
My Mr. has been spending quite a bit of time with her Husband (Squirell as I nicknamed him one night – he hates it, but tolerates it because he knows I won’t abandon the sentiment), they are best friends after all and naturally I am glad he can be there for him. But I find myself curled up on the couch late at night, very aware that I am alone. And very aware that the ache is worse when no one is around.
And I hate that I have even written that sentence, because it feels so selfish to crave his time when I know that Squirell needs it so much more than I ever could. Ergo, the adoption of new sort of ‘Play Pretend’.
I pretend that I am stronger than I am. I pretend that I have learnt how to accept a new future without her in it. I pretend that it is okay if I have to fall asleep on the couch alone every night.
I pretend that I’m resilient enough to withstand the occasional ups and downs of my Mr’s own grieving. I pretend that there are no more tears. I pretend it doesn’t hurt as much as it does.
I pretend that I am fine at work, and have practiced the art of reiterating “I’m great thanks, how are you?” with an <insert smile here> response to polite greetings. I pretend that I can emotionally survive watching my own patients pass away. I pretend I am strong enough to console their loved ones.
And no, im not exactly sure that this is a healthy way of grieving – in fact, im entirely sure its not. But I am used to the pretending now, I even feel I have become really good at it. It’s like an instinct, something I think I have for much longer than ive realised. It allows me to be the rock that others can lean on, and quite frankly, it gives me some kind of purpose. So I will continue to pretend for the sake of the ones I love most.
I am a pretender. And for now, I am okay with that if it means I can carry others through it and be a small piece of twine that does its best to hold us together.