“She wears a smile on her face and torment in her heart.”
It was this quote that I used to take pride in. Like it was some kind of badge of honor to wear a smile on my face and completely hide the torment in my heart.
You know, the kind of pain and grief that runs so deep that you can’t even think about it, or bring it to awareness. So you continue to push it down and build up these really beautiful walls around it (maybe even throw a roof on there).
My Pain & Grief
We had been married for five years, and trying for a baby for two of them. I was young, “in shape,” and healthy. I had thyroid issues that were being maintained. There really wasn’t a whole lot getting in our way — other than the fact that I’d only seen negative pregnancy tests.
And it’s important to note, that I am an achiever. I succeed at things. If I want something, I work my behind off to get it.
That wasn’t the case here. Getting pregnant wasn’t really a “work your butt off” to get what you want type of deal. So I looked at myself as a failure. I thought I wasn’t good enough, because I couldn’t get pregnant.
It had become a part of my identity: I am not good enough.
This carried over to my relationships, my job, my life. I became obsessed with getting pregnant, but I didn’t want to show the torment in my heart. To be successful, I couldn’t show pain and grief, or so I thought.
I hid it all.
I kept the upbeat positive attitude around others. When I would talk to my doctor, I would shine with positivity and humor. I would tell others that God had it all under control.
Until I couldn’t fake it or hide it anymore.
There is a day I remember perfectly. I came back into the office one morning after finding out, yet again, that I wasn’t pregnant. My co-worker dropped what she was doing and came and hugged me. It was that kind of tight hug where she had her head down and she wasn’t letting go.
It was that kind of love, and pressure (the sensory input kind of pressure) that I needed to let go.
And I just cried while she held me.
It felt so good to finally release some of the pain that I had been feeling. That I hid with such pride, and for so long.
The realization that this wasn’t healthy didn’t come quickly. I didn’t have an immediate “aha moment” when I was wrapped in her arms and crying. It took time, therapy, and life coaching to realize that wearing a smile on my face and torment in my heart wasn’t the way I wanted to live anymore.
Now, I maybe don’t tell the entire world what I am experiencing, but I do tell people. I call my mom — yes, in my mid-thirties — I call my mom crying.
I actually open up to my husband about my thoughts and hurts. This might sound crazy, but I was so ashamed of my experiences and feelings that I even thought my husband viewed me as a failure.
In a not so shocking turn of events, he doesn’t.
This has even allowed me to talk to my friends about the not so perfect things and feelings. And you know what, they listen and don’t judge.
I think fear is what held me back from sharing the hard things in the past. I was afraid they would judge me, or that I wouldn’t be good enough if someone saw the hurt I was experiencing. Or maybe I would be portrayed as weak, and therefore not worthy or not good enough.
Here is my encouragement to you: if you are that woman who identifies with wearing a smile on her face, and torment in her heart — I see you.
I’ve been there and as brave as it may seem to carry this load alone, you don’t have to. You don’t have to take this all on by yourself. I challenge you to tell someone of the torment in your heart, because, girlfriend, I’m telling you from the other side, you can have a smile on your face AND share the torment in your heart.
Talk to one trusted person. You might cry. Crying is ok, its actually encouraged. It feels great. Talk to one person that things are hard, and you are struggling. See what happens. Who knows, it might even make the smile on your face real, because you aren’t faking it anymore.
As always, rooting for you.