All smiles, I know what it takes to fool this town
I’ll do it ’til the sun goes down and all through the night time
Oh yeah, oh yeah, I’ll tell you what you wanna hear
Leave my sunglasses on while I shed a tear
I recently had an exchange with a loved one that went something like this:
Them: “You seem to be doing great! Do you even need therapy?”
Me: “I’m not doing OK. I’m just incredibly good at hiding it. And yes, I do need therapy because this is not a curable illness.”
I hear it a lot though.
“You seem like you’re doing well.”
“You’re so strong.”
“I don’t know how you do it. You seem so strong. I’d be a mess.”
Well, quite honestly, I am a mess. As I write this I know that those of you who know me are already piping up to say, “You are not a mess! You’re so strong.”
Every time you negate my feelings you don’t allow me to be honest with you. And that’s what I need. To be honest. Completely honest about how I’m feeling on a daily basis.
The truth – the real truth – is that over the years I have acquired (Liam Neesen forgive me) a certain set of skills.
I am a champion at crying silently. And I can hold it in until you’re gone.
I could win a gold medal in getting rid of eye puffiness. (For reference – warm washcloth, Garnier eye roller and two drops of Visine in each eye. You’re welcome.)
I know how to get rid of the crying headache that comes with deep-seated grief. I know exactly which painkiller will help and which ones won’t.
I can, and do, hide what’s really bothering me behind a breezy “Oh I’m just tired.” and I can make you believe it.
I wear a mask Every. Single. Day. You won’t see it, but I know it’s there.
I know to laugh on cue. I can smile through pain. My wicked, dark sense of humor? Defense mechanism. I approximate normal and I can sell it well.
I have a toolbox full of reasons that I look tired. Reasons I might be upset (just not the real reasons). “Oh this? It’s just allergies.” Reasons that I had to miss that thing you really wanted me to attend.
Where’s my Oscar?
No, I’m not OK. I haven’t been since my mid-teens and it’s very likely that I will never be “OK”.
I will go down with this ship. Just not today.
Today, I will put on my mask. I will smile and nod. I will tell you that I’m fine.
And you will believe me. I’m not “OK”. But I’m good at hiding it.