The world is filled with people that have no understanding what it is like to live with chronic pain. There are also some that sympathize, even though they can’t imagine what people like me are going through. I consider that small group to be angels, coming to us when we most need them. While chatting and laughing with someone the other day, she asked if I was really as upbeat and cheerful as I seemed or was I just a good actress. Please note that she was not being rude. She even clarified that what she was asking was how much of my cheerfulness was actually a cover for my physical pain. I have to admit that I was shocked. Not by the question, but that someone actually saw through me. I replied that it was a mix. I am generally a happy person. I find that laughter makes dealing with my pain easier. But acting happy when my pain is escalating is my way of protecting those around me from me. What I mean by that is that as my pain level rises I lose control of my emotions. I can be extremely rude, bitchy, and nasty. Pretending to be happy is better for everyone involved. Pretending doesn’t give me control over my emotions, instead it is just the image I am portraying. Inside I am crying……
I was surprised me that she saw through me. Suddenly I felt very vulnerable, like my mask had been ripped off of my face…. Then with no warning the flood gates opened and I began crying like a baby….
During this moment of being totally out of control led me to confess that I am a good actress. That making the best out of every situation no matter what my pain level was is my attempt to make things easier on those around me. I thanked her for seeing through my mask, because most don’t. I also thanked her for her kind heart and sympathy.
Living in pain is tough…. no matter how easy those of us living in it make it seem….
Later as I continued to fight tears I told my husband that I hate losing emotional control and that I probably shouldn’t have left the house that day. But later I realized how wrong I was. No one was hurt. I didn’t say anything inappropriate. Nor did I get defensive. Instead my pain was made visible. Had I chose to stay home, safe in my cave, this person would have never seen my pain, she would have never known just how much my heart was aching.
Days later and my mask is back in place. Why I find my mask so comfortable is a post for another day. But for the sake of this post, I have to wonder if taking it off now and again isn’t such a bad thing.
How do you react when someone sees through your mask?
Till next time,