For years and years, I spent Monday nights watching The Bachelor with a few close girlfriends. We took the show seriously for about 3 minutes, then used it as the perfect excuse to get together over wine and hummus. We’d choose our favorite contestants, noting which ones were “in it for the right reasons” and which ones would forgo their individual rooms in exchange for a key to the Fantasy Suite.
The 2008 Season of The Bachelor gave us Jason Mesnick, a single dad from Seattle who tugged at our heartstrings simply by being a single dad and crying on cue while our host Chris Harrison told us this was the most dramatic episode of the Bachelor ever.
At the end of the season in the most dramatic finale ever, Jason picked a cheerleader named Melissa over Molly, a retail buyer with a lackluster personality and an unfortunate mustache. Nobody was particularly surprised at this decision. However, in a shocking plot twist, Jason changed his mind! He tossed the cheerleader to the curb and went back to Melissa, who welcomed him back with open arms (and mustache). Molly married Jason in a 2-hour ABC special, and before we knew it, she made him a dad all over again. When they told Jason’s first kid that they were having a baby, they announced it over a game of Hangman. Hangman!
We ate it up. We particularly enjoyed the scenes were Jason was hunkered over a balcony in sheer agony after he picked the cheerleader, sent Molly packing, then suddenly regretted it. Seeing this average Joe splattering his emotions all over the craft services table while the film crew captured every moment from the ground floor really resonated with us. Mesnick was the real deal!
For years, I’ve thought of that image of Jason, hunkered down in agony, crying on the bridge. This image was so popular it became known as “The Mesnick.”
I’ve always thought of it as a Balcony Cry.
This week, I’ve had several Balcony Cries. Sorry for the pity party, but life has given me plenty of reasons to have a Balcony Cry, so I’m just choosing to tell you about it instead of keeping in as a deep dark secret.
The love of my life is battling cancer. Seeing him recovering from major surgery isn’t easy. Trying to navigate next steps there is scary and overwhelming. I fluctuate between reading Mayo clinic blogs and becoming an amateur physician to putting the covers over my head and pretending this is all a big bad dream. I’d like a magic wand and I’m realizing that doesn’t exist, so I’m going back and forth from yelling at God to asking God to please just help us get through this day without losing our ever-loving minds.
Then there’s work. Though I’m fortunate to have a really great job at a really great company with a lot of support, it happens to be one of the craziest times, and I’m struggling to keep up. I’ve been late to meetings, followed up later than I normally do, and I find myself apologizing to clients who have been extremely understanding and kind for the most part. I’m trying to learn how to take some of the pressure off while still doing a good job. If not for a handful of truly amazing colleagues who have been there to help when I needed it most, I might have just turned it all in to work at the drive-thru at Jack in the Box. I actually think I’d be good at that job.
This is all going on while I’m doing my part to raise a 14 year-old girl. While I’m pushing dishes off of the counter to make room for a Balcony Cry, she’s completely oblivious to my drama, singing “Despacito” on repeat while practicing pirouettes. I keep reminding myself that we have a 14 year-old who is navigating what it looks like for her dad to have cancer and for her mom to be a few steps away from crouching in a corner, singing “Despacito” on repeat for all the wrong reasons.
I realize that it’s all perspective, and that I’m engaged in a pretty massive pity party at the moment and in many ways I need to buck the heck up. The past week has brought out the worst in me, but the best in everyone else around us. Friends have delivered warm meals, wine, gifts, cards, and several smart friends have picked me up and taken me out of the house for drinks and great conversation. Each day, Tim is stronger, feeling better, and in better spirits. One day this week, our 14 year-old emptied the dishwasher and cleaned the kitchen without prodding. Huge!
So for now, it’s day by day, and a focus on little wins, like earlier this week when I signed up for my exercise class and nearly canceled in favor of binge eating brownie bites. I forced myself to go to class, and once I got there, I cried nearly the entire way through to the point where I’m sure the women around me thought I was more than a little mentally unstable. Because let’s face it: there’s nothing like listening to super loud techno and lifting arm weights while sobbing. Who needs Burning Man when you have that?
At the end of class, the woman next to me said, “Sweaty hug?” I took it, cried some more, then got in my car and instead of having a Balcony Cry, turned the music up loud, rolled down the windows, and enjoyed the hot breeze on my wiggly arms.
One day at a time…..