Pausing My Life, Part One

Do you ever feel like you need to take a break from your life?

Just press the pause button, sit back with your coffee or tea cup and turn everything off for an hour?

No phones, internet, television or other “urgencies.”

Last year, I took on a high stress position. My boss, whom I got on with really well, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she had decided that she wouldn’t take life-extending treatment, as those treatments would interfere with her life quality. She just wanted to keep going to work and living her regular life as long as she could.

I was her number one, the “safety” person who could temporarily take over and run things when she wasn’t feeling up to it.

As time went on, I did more and more of her job as well as my own. It became almost hellishly stressful, especially when my boss suddenly decided that her cancer was cured.

When that happened, I knew that the efficient, I-am-taking-this-in-stride-it’s-part-of-life portrait she was presenting to the world was a big pile of … something.

Day-by-day as I watched her deteriorate, she explained how certain things happening to her – such as the swelling lymph nodes that began to bother her – were signs that her body was expelling the cancer.

She was so invested that I just went along with her.

But when she started convincing other colleagues that she was getting better, and they started believing it, I wasn’t so sure. But still, I said nothing. And besides, it wasn’t my place to say anything anyway.

Then it became worse. Her decisions started to become questionable, and when I tried to offer alternatives and/or cautions, I was met with an incredible wall of stubbornness that I hadn’t encountered before.

I suspected that the cancer either had metastasised to her brain or the stress of presenting a picture of recovering health was just too much.

Maybe it was both.

But the fact was that she was acting out of character and I began worrying about the fallout. Her behaviour was beginning to have a negative impact on our workplace. At that time, the impact was small, but I knew it would become larger.

I saw what she was doing; that she was attempting to think positively in order to remain hopeful of a remission. But her version of that had turned into a very serious case of denial, and that denial was affecting everyone around her.

So, taking a break from my life? Pressing pause and just taking a breath? Right then, I probably would have given an arm for that.

Have you ever felt that way?

Should we say anything to those who are in denial?

What do you think?

Stay tuned for part two …