Friday, June 27, 2014

Why Pretend At All?

I love to play games with my sons. I especially love playing with my 6 year old. He has a wonderful imagination. We spend hours sometimes just pretending to be someone else or somewhere else. I think as a child I loved to pretend too. I know I loved to write, especially when I was going through something. I would grab a pen and paper and start writing. I wrote about different people and places, an attempt to escape my reality on the hard days, the sad days, the lonely days and the days when I felt like I had to much on my mind.

I talk to many different types of people. Some with illnesses, some with depression, some going through a battle and some that are just lost and alone in a room full of people. The one thing that I have learned is that we all have something in common. We are good at pretending. I think when we are at a place in our lives, that we can not fully understand or deal with, we learn to put on a happy face in the hardest times. I spoke with a lady one day at the grocery store. We started talking about the price of milk. Somewhere in the conversation she told me that she was going through a divorce and it was a pretty nasty one. I caught myself looking closer at her. I was trying to see the divorce in her eyes, in her demeanor, her body language, anything at all. All I saw was a beautiful woman buying milk. I told her about some of my issues and encouraged her to stay positive and trust God. She looked at me the same way as I had looked a her. She was looking for the pain, the disability, the illness. She never saw it. When our conversation was over I thought about it all day. It hit me that she had done the same hing that I had done. She had gotten dressed and before leaving her house," she put on a happy face/"

We all have done that, right? No matter how bad we feel or what is going wrong in our lives, we manage to smile and pretend that all is well. I know for me, it really isn't about acting like nothing is wrong. It's more about not wanting to bother people with whatever I am dealing with. If I looked sad or looked like I was in pain or looked worried then people will ask "what's wrong?" That question opens up a floodgate. I have to first decide if the person really wants to know or are they just being nosy. Then I have to decide how much I feel comfortable sharing with them. So instead most of the time, I smile. I pretend that all is good with me. The people that really know me will say, "are you okay" and I will say "yes." I don't do it to be fake, I just do it because I feel like it's easier.

I watched my son one day as he pretended to be an entire family. He was the daddy, the mommy and the son. I was amazed. He looked at me and said, "am I a good pretender?" I said, "you sure are." Then I sat there and wondered was I a good pretender. I mean was I really good at the whole happy face thing? I felt like I was pulling it off but there was a chance that I wasn't fooling anyone at all. Then I asked myself, why do I do it anyway. I speak about being honest and sharing what you're going through but I still carry that smile around just in case.

We have to be honest with ourselves. We pretend to be okay because we want to be okay. We grin and bear it because we don't want anyone to ask us what's wrong. We feel like those moments no matter how untrue they could be the closest we will get to fitting in and feeling normal. However, if we pretend to be okay all the time, then people don't know how to treat us when we don't have on the happy face. There really is no good reason to pretend your alright if you're not. Your issues, circumstances, situations are real. You are really going through these things. No amount of pretending can change that. So I decided to give myself permission to be honest about what I feel. No more fake smiles and giggles. That doesn't mean that I am sad or sick all the time. It means that I am not going to hide it when I am. People will never truly know how to treat us if they don't see how we treat ourselves. Be honest with yourself, be real with your feelings, and don't hide your pain/ At the end of the day, we can't pretend forever. So why pretend at all?


#chronicpain #illness #coping #autoimmune #depression #loss

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