I should be stronger.
I should be smarter.
I should be slimmer.
I should be healthier.
I should be better.
I should do more.
How many times have you asked yourselves these questions? How many times have you forced out a smile and said, “I’m alright” when someone asked how you are? I bet that the answer is “All the time.” You probably feel that you can’t speak up when you have a bad day, or a bad year, that people will think you’re complaining, that your friends and family have their own issues and you don’t want to burden them with yours.
I know. I’ve been there. Hell, I live there! And you know what? I’ve come to realize that it’s okay to not be okay. That sometimes “How are you?” is an honest inquiry about your well-being, and someone actually cares about the answer.
I rarely open up about my life. I feel that if people know about my problems that’s a sign of weakness and vulnerability. And yes, there have been times when I regretted my candor. But there have been many more times when talking to a loved one or even to a stranger saved my sanity—or at least, it put a band-aid on it.
I’m having the hardest year of my life. In November 2021 my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. It’s a cliché, but I never thought something like that could happen to him. He used to say this kind of illness would never get close to him, but it did. All the doctors I talked to said he probably had a few months left to live. I didn’t tell my father that, and I didn’t believe it. He was the strongest man I knew, I was sure he was going to beat this illness. Although the odds were grim, I kept hoping and fighting with every weapon I had. How weak each of them were…
What followed were six months of an emotional rollercoaster. He did so well when he first started chemotherapy that I began believing he would be okay. I did my best to take care of him, spend time with him, pushed myself to limits I didn’t know I had. But fate tricked us. Each step we took, even before his diagnosis, was always a step behind the illness. The healthcare system moved too slowly, the tests took too long, the doctors didn’t monitor him properly. So in the final month I watched my father go through a terrible agony, before he passed away in May this year. It was like watching Zeus fall.
If hell exists, it cannot possibly be worse than dying like that, or than watching someone you love die. It’s something that changes you forever. There is no going back to the person you were before after watching a loved one die under your helpless eyes.
Needless to say, this was the biggest trauma in my life, and the pain is far from being over. It took a toll on everything, including my writing career. I was already having trouble with writer’s block, and my dad’s diagnosis completely killed my creativity. I only wrote a few pages here and there since November 2021. And all this time, day after day, I have been beating myself up for not being able to write. I’m still beating myself up for feeling down, for being depressed, for being tired, for not meeting my own (unrealistic) expectations, and so much more.
I deleted this article many times before I decided to publish it. I have no idea who will read it, and bearing your soul in front of strangers is damn hard and uncomfortable. But you know what? I think it’s brave too. And sometimes it can bring you relief and peace such as you never knew. Because we are all humans, we all suffer, and we should comfort each other. There is too much hate and pain around us, and the world seems a pretty bad place right now.
So give yourself a break when you feel overwhelmed. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Talk to people. Cultivate friendships. Help others. Because a better world starts with you and me. And so does a happier life.
If you’ve come this far, I would like to thank you for reading and to ask How are you? Tell me in the comments, and who knows? You might find a new friend today.
Until next time, sending you love and strength.
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Melinda De Ross is the first Romanian to become a USA Today bestselling author. A prolific writer, she weaves humorous romance and tension-filled thrillers with the same enthusiasm. Her books combine the elegance of European literature with the modern appeal of American culture. While she’s a law graduate and professional target shooter, she prefers to spend her days spinning tales for her readers. In her downtime, she’d rather read or watch a classic movie than go to a noisy club. She loves to hear from readers, so if you have a question or want to learn more about her books, visit her website: MelindaDeRoss.com
Anca I’m so sorry! Heart wrenching. I hope you feel stronger each day. Your dad is probably so proud of you.
Thank you so much for your words, Suzanne. I hope he is proud, and I’m doing my best to honor his memory. Still taking things one day at a time. ❤️
Honey, know that you are adored and loved by many. And the thing is, the real guts of the matter is that you don’t even need many: just one. You are well blessed in that you have far more than just one. But all the love and admiration in the world doesn’t always address how you feel when you’re feeling wretched. You don’t have to be a super star! They have their own problems, I’m sure. Just be the best you you can be, and know that no one is asking you to be more. Just be you.
Thank you so much, my dear Susan. I am indeed so very blessed. And always here to offer support in return. ❤️
My heart goes out to you, my friend. How am I? Tired, but I’m getting better every day. Take care of you!
Thank you, my friend. I know you had a rough time and I am privileged to be by your side as much as I can. Keep resting every chance you get! ❤️
Thank you so much for sharing. I don’t know if you have siblings, but your talent and nerve to let others know that it’s okay not to be perfect are two of your father’s greatest legacies. He did not die in vain. Now others know, too.
Stay strong and loud. I know I’m proud of you.
Your support is priceless, my friend, and I can’t thank you enough for reaching out to me. I have no siblings, but I have a wonderful husband and an amazing family right here. Infinite love for you ❤️
I can totally empathize and relate. Sending you gentle hugs from across the pond
Thank you so much, darling Sue. I know you’ve been through such hard times, and my heart goes out you. You are a fierce fighter and an amazing role model. Sending you hugs and strength, my friend. ❤️
When I lost my dad (also from cancer), I felt inconsolable. I asked my aunt if this grief would ever go away. She said, “I’m sorry, honey, but no, it won’t. But you will learn to live with it.”
I am so sorry for your tragic loss and I am sending you lots of love, hon. Losing your dad is so darned hard.
Donna, thank you for sharing your aunt’s wisdom. I’m afraid it’s true, we just learn to live with the grief. Sometimes it helps to share the burden though. I’m so sorry for your loss too, my friend. Your dad must be so proud of the amazing woman you are! ❤️
My dear Anca – I read this post tonight, and it made me so sad about the pain you’re going through. Memories flooded of how I felt when my sweet Dad was slowly fading in front of me. I remember trying to make the best of every minute we had together and I realize how much those talks and special moments help me now. I’m glad you had the same. After Poppa John passed, I wrote Special Agent Charli, made him a secondary character, and dedicated the book to him. It was the only way I could continue writing. All my thoughts centered on that wonderful man and so I shared him with the world. xoxo
My dear Mimi,
I’m so sorry that you’ve been through this kind of pain. Making your dad a character in your book and sharing him with the world is a precious gesture to honor his memory and help you heal. My dad will be in one of my books too. I hope that will help.
Thank you so much for your kind words, and know that I’m sending you my love. I wish you peace of mind and happiness! ❤️