If I smile, will anyone know how much I am hurting inside?
Sometimes you have to smile, when you are about to cry. Laugh to hide the pain. Look up to the heavens and pray something good is on it’s way.
We all at times feel isolated in our own pain, set apart from the “healthy” crowd, as sure as the nerd at school feels when shunned from the popular clique in the school’s cafeteria.
I recently spoke to one woman who related an incident that when she was in a crowded supermarket ,she caught sight of a young couple in love laughing together as if nothing was wrong in the world. As she fought off the vertigo which threatened to leave her flat on her back beside her shopping cart, she wondered “Why don’t they understand that I am suffering?”
You are not alone if you have felt this way. You may think that the young couple laughing lives in a perfect world full of candy canes and rainbows—but you don’t know. You can not be sure that underneath their smile, hides a pain of living in a house of violence, or a fear of not being good enough.
The point is, everyone no matter who they are, has their own invisible pain, whether it be fleeting and shallow or chronic and deep.
Try not to let your hardships leave you feeling like no one understands or that no one really cares what you are going through. Someone else is feeling the same as you—it could even be the person standing next to you in line at the post office.
There is also the old saying “fake it until you make it.” Putting on a smile when you feel like crying doesn’t always have to be a bad thing—it doesn’t mean you are living a lie or denying to feel your true feelings. It can simply be a method of changing the way you choose to deal with your emotions which are vying for attention.
Do not assume because someone is laughing as they pass you by on the busy street that they are not struggling, for to judge that they are living a life of ease could be an utter falsehood.
When I was first diagnosed with a chronic illness, I felt like I was alone in my hell.
I wondered why did everyone else around me got a free pass—it wasn’t fair that my young adult life should have been suddenly thrown off course.
My inner panic crept higher as I retreated further into depths of “Why me?”
My husband lying in bed next to me could not see my panic as my eyes tried to make out images in the dark. My son climbing onto the yellow school bus with his Inspector Gadget backpack did not know that my throat ached with pain of suppressed sobs.
In the end, dealing with my pain alone was how I came out the other side a better version of myself. I was still me—but a me that now had the ability to face whatever life had to throw at me.
This might not be the way for everyone—if I had been able to speak aloud all that I was feeling, maybe that would have worked.
How you choose to deal with hardships is as individual as you are.
Stop worrying about whether others understand or see your pain. Getting through your trials and heartbreaks are inevitably about what are going to make you a stronger, more indestructible you.
If you don’t feel like smiling today, then don’t—if you feel lousy but want to laugh in the face of adversity, go for it!
The next time you are in a crowd of people and the feeling of isolation threatens to send you running, remember that not all things are what they appear.
The woman at the next table laughing as she talks on the phone might be laughing to cover up the pain of a recent divorce.
The good looking couple in the corner holding hands might be offering comfort and strength to each other to face an ongoing health challenge.
In the end, all that really matters is how you deal with your pain—it’s not a contest of who has the greater amount.
Pain is normal. Pain is life. Pain is growth!
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
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