I have never been one to show my emotions freely or openly share my feelings. I just don’t do that. I come from a family that doesn’t really do that. I have always been very aware of that fact, but I didn’t know how strong my poker face really was until I started this blog. I just assume people can see when I am struggling. I always assumed people realized I was falling away from God but just never said or did anything. I even held some anger and frustration toward people because no one ever stepped in and offered to help.
But how can people see something that isn’t there? How could anyone know that I was struggling when I hid that struggle deep down within myself. One of my favorite songs has a lyric that says, “you may not believe that I’m broken, for all you can see if my smile.” That is me. I smile when I am uncomfortable. I laugh when things get awkward. I make jokes when stuff gets too real. I hide behind this jolly personality so well that no one ever gets the chance to see the real me and what I am truly thinking or feeling.
There is a specific moment I believe started me down the path of concealing my emotions and putting on a brave face. I remember sitting at my dad’s funeral. I remember looking around at all the people who were there. I remember feeling the sheer sadness that was in that room. My mom was sobbing. My sister was clinging to me. My brother was a wreck. A little voice inside said, “I have to be strong for them. I have to be the brave one now.” I grew up a lot that day, whether I wanted to or not. As a twelve-year-old sitting in my father’s funeral, I made it my mission to become the strong one that my family could lean and rely on.
Fulfilling that mission took on different aspects throughout the years. I made sure to get good grades and do what was expected of me in school. I kept going to church every time the doors were open, as we had always done. I was always there to help out when someone asked me to. I tried my hardest to follow all the rules and not cause any trouble for anyone. I never let on that I was struggling to deal with the loss of my dad. I never told anyone that I was losing my faith in God. I never showed signs that my mustard seed was busted. I just kept it all in. Thanks to Frozen, I now know my motto has always been to conceal, don’t feel. Don’t let them know.
This trait also comes up when I try to meet new people. It takes me a long time to warm up to people. It takes me even longer to open up to them. I have never been comfortable sharing my personal life with others until I have known them for a long time. Though my past shaped the person I am today, I am not defined by those events in my life. I never wanted to be the girl whose dad died. I never wanted people to judge me because my brother has had too many run-ins with law enforcement. I never wanted to be treated differently because my family didn’t have a lot of money. I want you to know me as the person I am today. Then maybe, in time, I might let you in on how I came to be this person.
My sophomore year of college my sister was visiting my apartment and my roommate had some of our friends over. I introduced my sister and one of the girls, in complete shock, said, “I thought you were an only child!” This was a girl I had known for nearly a year and a half. She was my sorority sister and we had hung out many times. Yet, I never said a word about my personal life.
Part of that comes from never wanting to be pitied. Even though I have been through a lot, I have never felt like my life was all that bad. I have always been aware that it could be worse. I have always known that many people have lives and struggles that are harder than mine. I also would never want someone to be nice to me or give me something because they feel bad for me. I don’t need pity, because I have a lot of pride. I am proud of who I am today. I am proud of the family that I come from. I am proud of the struggles that I have overcome. So don’t belittle those victories by feeling sorry for me.
It’s a daily struggle for me to share my true thoughts and feelings with others. My poker face comes so naturally that I don’t even know I have it on sometimes. I snap into a smile so fast I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I can be crying alone in my car, but the tears will automatically dry up as I arrive at my destination and have to face people. If it weren’t so frustrating at times I would almost call it a talent.
Thankfully, I have a few people in my life that can see past my mask. There are a couple of people who can almost read my thoughts with a simple glance in my direction. Yet, even they don’t know everything. There is one person who I trust more than anyone in the world. I know that I can literally tell her anything and she would never judge me. I tell her things I have never and would never tell another soul. I could never lie to her because she knows me too well. I say all of that to say, there are still things I don’t even tell her.
There are thoughts, feelings, and emotions that I just can’t put a voice to. The next line of that song I mentioned earlier is, “but He hears the heart that’s unspoken and He gives me strength through each trial.” All this time I thought no one truly knew the “real” me and the thoughts in my head, but He has always known. He has always known the feelings of loss, fear, and anger I had when my dad died. He knows when I am jealous of others or wishing my life had turned out differently. He knows it all. Whether I want Him to or not. Luckily, as the song goes on to explain, when words get in the way He still hears and understands.
He understands when all I do is cry
He feels the hurt that no one can see down inside
And when the words get in the way I know He still hears
For He understands my tears.
-He Understands My Tears, the Isaacs
This blog has given me the opportunity to let it all go. I’ve decided to not hold it back anymore. I don’t care what they’re going to say. Let the storm… Oops, got a little too caught up in the Frozen reference. (Perfect example of how I crack jokes when things get too real.) In all seriousness, this blog has become a way to share not only my story and my journey back to faith, but also it’s become an outlet for the feelings I don’t know how to put a voice to. Face to face I would never be able to sit down and say everything I did in this post. I feel like God has led me to share my story and through this blog He provided a way that feels safe. I am so thankful to have this open door.