Folded up between duvets this morning, sweltering and unwilling to budge, I suddenly wondered if everyone understands how much effort it takes to stay this positive? I was crying a bit, thinking, how am I meant to smile, and say how OK everything is, when it’s not. I was being a bit dramatic and overstating; at the moment, things really are quite OK.
But what about those times when it’s not? The times when, averagely-low, emotionally drained, I wriggle into my smile and stretch it out to please? When I hide inside it, trying desperately to please everybody else? People comment on my smile, they think it’s nice. What about the times it’s a real effort? I bet it doesn’t look as nice then, all faded like that.
At Citizens’ Advice, being given really disheartening advice about benefits, I was so chirpy it was actually commented on. Until I crumbled and cried. The same happened in hospital- being told I needed anti-biotics for a cut, I quipped and grinned my way through it, then sobbed behind the scenes when they were finished. I find it easy to smile because it’s what I do. It makes people think I’m not that unwell or, worse, that I don’t care that much, that my flippancy is a sign that I’m not bothered by certain things. I am bothered, I do care, sometimes I am unwell. But I’m also too polite to get angry, or upset.
I think from time to time everybody has the feeling that they’re “putting a face on things”. Everybody. Not just people who are unwell, not just people who are having a rough time, even. I know.
But this morning, creased, unwilling to fake, I just didn’t want to.