There is an old saying in our family that goes "Jus' 'cause you pour syrup on shit don't mean it's Pancakes." It is one of many handed down through the generations and is one of my favorites. The notion of pouring something sweet over a hot stinking pile resonates with me NOW more than it ever has.
Many of us go through life like we have something to prove and "someone" to impress. We decide that is better to hide the shit in our lives from others rather than admit that it is going on or asking for help. We are ashamed of our mistakes, our problems, the fact that we are not superhuman or perfect. We ask ourselves what others would think of our shit, and decide that it is better to just label it pancakes and hobble around in pain. The least case scenario, it could be a person who has fallen behind on a bill and faces a shut off . Worst case scenario, it could be someone hiding an abusive relationship that ends in the loss of their own life. I have had friends experience both ends of the spectrum and all that is in between during this year. Unfortunately, a young innocent woman lost her life last month and her family is STILL confounded and hurt from the results of her labeling her abuser Pancakes. Pancakes don't kill. Shit kills.
I have made the mistake of labeling my shit Pancakes on many occasion. It is a choice made out of pride and pride alone. I developed the habit early on.
I was born with Sickle Cell disease. It has no cure. As small child, I did not realise what that entailed. As I became a teenager, I began to notice that I was different from other children. It is sooo very important to most teenagers to fit in; to be a carbon copy of the "in crowd." I was no different. So, I found clever ways to hide what I was going through. Most of my friends never realised that I had the disease until I was an adult. When I finally decided it was okay to throw away the syrup and show them my shit. Only when I was comfortable enough to not give a damn what other folks thought, was I able to reveal my condition.
However, as an adult, I am still guilty of bringing back good ol' Pancakes. I still get embarassed to ask for help. It kills me to no end to admit to my husband that I need help when I come home from a hospital stay. I smile through my horrible pain and chirp "I'm okay." We have been together since I was 16, he is a toughened military man, he sees right through my syrup and calls it what it is...shit. I always feel so guilty when he stares THROUGH me and says "why are you lying?" Why? Because I am prideful. I am impatient. I want to go outside and pretend to have fun with everyone else when I know damn well I should be in bed. I WANT PANCAKES!
Well, too damn bad. I can't have pancakes. I have Cancer and Sickle Cell disease, I am weak in body, I have some SHIT to deal with. And, guess what else? It is okay for me to admit it and ask for help. Sometimes there ain't much flavor to it, but there is beauty to be had in a big ol stinky pile of life's poo. For example, because we are a military family, we know that there is a certain "gold standard" that military members just naturally expect from themselves. No one wants to be what my husband would refer to as a "Soup Sandwich." Our yards must be neat and tidy at all times, the kids must be well behaved, an no one should EVER look like they are having a problem. We are a reflection of the soldier, and if HOME ain't right, then NOTHING is. This past August, we finally had to admit that the family was not flipping flapjacks. We were barely holding on as a unit due to my illness and the pressures of my husband's job. We were wallowing in poop. We had to ask for help. We applied for a compassionate reasignment from the post that we so dearly loved and asked to be moved closer to family that could come and help "scoop up."
We felt ashamed, needy even. We felt we had gone back to ground zero after reaching the pinacle. We had to downgrade where we lived to save money since I was no longer practicing, stop driving one of the vehicles to save on gas, and even ask for money from relatives to help pay a few bills. It was really hard to do so, but after we had stop pretending to have nice round fluffy goodness.....it was a RELIEF! We were surrounded by understanding folks that loved and cared for us and did without asking. Friends came by for no reason at all but to check on us and deliver groceries. While I was on life support and in the hospital for a month, my oldest son celebrated a birthday. Our family drove from Miles around to sit by my bedside and hold vigil (my husband was told I would not pull through). However, in between shifts of shit, they MADE US PANCAKES and held a birthday party for my son. My husbad and children only had to show up. When I finally awoke from my coma, and saw the pictures, I was moved to tears by the outpouring. And the breakfast just kept coming!
When I could finally get up and walk with help from nurses, and was finally able to eat a full meal, a full month had passed and it was Thanksgiving. I was so dispondent that I had missed my sons birthday and was now not traveling to my childhood home to help make the meal (it has become so HUGE that we must rent out a hall for the family. We invite friends also and usually have around 1oo folks give or take a few) that I was laying in bed crying like a baby. However, as I wept, my Husband came through the door with my Mother in Law who had driven to be with him and the kids. She surprised him, and made me taste syrup for the umpteenth time in as many months. Not only had she come to help prepare a meal, but my husbands unit had a whole turkey and all of the fixings delivered to our house. I not only had Pancakes, the first solid food that I had in a month was the best cranberry sauce and stuffing EVER!!! My husband brought it to my bedside and fed me. There is truly beauty when you expose your problems for what they really are, and reach out to those around you who don't mind cleaning up a lil shit and making it into Pancakes.