I Need My Public Face

We all know that face. The one we put on when we're not at home. The smiling happy face that portrays someone who is doing great.

  • She has it all together. 
  • She's coping well with her loss and grief and disappointment. 
  • She's handling things with such dignity. 
  • She's going to be ok. 

Some days that face fits comfortably. Other days it just feels like one big lie.
On those days I wish I could just rip it off and scream at the top of my lungs.

  • "I'm not ok today!" 
  • "I feel like crying and I know that when I start I won't be able to stop." 
  • "I wish you would ask me how I'm doing and not be shocked and horrified if I start to cry." 
  • "I wish I didn't have to keep pretending to you all that I'm doing ok." 
  • "I'm tired of hurting all the time, I just wish it would stop."

But I don't say any of these things out loud. Because for reasons I can't explain I need my public face.

Image: meddygarnet via Flickr

I am compelled to show strength. It's the only way I feel comfortable when I'm out in public. As much as I'd love to go around town a crying mess all the time (and I have, examples here and here), it's not an experience I'm comfortable with.

I've never been comfortable being that person who cries and everyone in the room hugs her until she feels better. I've never been one of those people who needed lots of advice and help getting through her day. I'm just not that person.

I need my public face. I wear it like armor. Not just to convince others that I'm ok, but to convince me that I'm ok. If I can manage even a few hours of "normal" each day then maybe I can actually get there someday??

Fake it until you make it??

Who knows? Perhaps it's something I can explore if I ever decide to go back to therapy.

How about you? Do you have a public face? Does it work for you or leave you feeling exhausted?


*Originally posted at my blog Finding My New Normal.

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