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A collage of photos with a man helping out a woman in a separate frame.

The Burden 2.0

A while ago, I posted an entry about feeling like a burden to other people. I also mentioned that my ex, who has moved on with his life, still helps me and we fight about it. He may get upset with me, but I know there isn’t a thing in this world he wouldn’t do for our daughter and in that respect, me. I don’t enjoy where I live that much. The quality of medical care is sub-par to put it nicely. Therefore, I drive to and from Atlanta for scans and to see my oncologist.

Traveling this much is exhausting at times, but I do it because I want to survive. During the post a few weeks ago, someone commented that they really felt for me, but certainly wouldn’t depend on “the ex who has moved on” for anything. I know she meant well but I do want to explain the reason I have to do this.

Navigating a devastating diagnosis together

Being diagnosed at the age of 33 with a terminal illness like lung cancer is devastating. At this point, we were in other relationships. Our daughter was only 7. He insisted I move in with him so he could take care of me. I didn’t want that because stress and cancer don’t mix well. We stress each other out. Before diagnosis, I wanted to move back to my hometown of Atlanta, where my family and friends reside.

Well, I didn’t know on November 27, 2012, my world would turn upside down. We had to give our daughter the information we received. So, after the New Year, we sat her down together and broke the news to her. We have never lied to her about anything, so we felt we should begin preparing her for the worst since I was only given 12-18 months to live. She cried briefly, but I promised her that I would never stop fighting for her.

Pushing my loved ones away

For some reason, I began to feel as if I needed to push away my loved ones, including my own daughter. It was my way of dealing with the disease. I didn’t want to hurt anyone and if no one loved me, everyone would be alright. I began taking my daughter to a therapist. The therapist advised me that my daughter (who is exactly like her father) wasn’t very good at opening up. So, I decided to ask for advice on her behalf.

I scheduled my own session with this therapist. When I explained my reasoning for pushing her away, I cried uncontrollably. I explained I wanted to give up full custody and move back to Atlanta and maybe my death wouldn’t be so hard on her. She informed me that, not only was I doing myself harm, I was also harming my daughter. My daughter needed to know I loved her.

Making it work for my daughter

At this point, my ex and I devised a plan based off of the therapist recommendation. I wasn’t to uproot her life her and we would share custody. I get 4 days and he gets 3. Additionally, since I wouldn’t be taking her to Atlanta, he would help me anytime I needed it. His girlfriends would have to understand as would anyone I dated. Just because we aren’t married, he is a part of me through our daughter. He feels the same. Our daughter will always come first, and if that means depending on and taking care of each other, we will do it.

I know that I have burdened him some and he may have had a few relationships flounder because of our arrangement, but they were warned. Now that our daughter is older, she is able to help more. We will always continue to bicker, but what friend or family member doesn’t? I have no family here. He is all I have. When she is off to college, I will move closer to family and he will be okay. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to explain my reasoning for depending on my ex.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.