That smile

The chronic pain facade is always an interesting topic for me because it is instinctual. We all rapidly develop it to some degree and generally for the same reasons.

Partly to get through the workday if we work in a situation where we have to mask our pain with a smile… for the sake of customers or for appearances.

We often mask our pain from loved ones to a degree, because we don’t want them to worry. However, this is only moderately effective because they are the most likely to notice our pain and be affected by it in some way.

We mask out pain because we ourselves do not want to feel the intensity of it and by hiding it we do not have to communicate how difficult it is to handle.

We mask it because people do not understand it and we tire of explaining it.

And we mask it because our pain makes people distinctly uncomfortable and we realize this, so we try to minimize it to make Others comfortable. So they believe we are not having a problem coping.

We mask it because we do not want to be seen as complaining. As exaggerating the level of our pain. As being hypochondriacs.

And in the end… people understand our pain less. So very much can be hidden behind a smile. My favorite facade is a smile, a joke, and a laugh. I am well known for it. And they are stunned when they discover I cannot, in fact, cope with my pain because I ‘present’ so very well. It is, in fact, a very easy skill to develop. And we all have our reasons for developing it. I just believe that sometimes we just do it too well. We stop communicating the pain well to the people that count. When we really are having a problem coping we fail to mention a thing. We internalize far too much. Not everyone I assume. It could be a specific fault of mine. I have been told I am very stoic about my pain. That I minimize it even to doctors, especially to them in fact. I lie very well and I want to believe the lie. I tell it so often I want it to be true. But you can’t lie to yourself.

Should we be lying to make others comfortable anyway? I wonder about that. I get there are things people just do not feel comfortable about. But that is reality. The fact I suffer every day is a fact I have to deal with every day. And if I am having a bad day, I am simply not able to function well at all. I should be able to explain that in simple terms. Hell on a moderate day I should be able to say I have my defined limits. I should be able to excuse myself when the pain is too much without an excuse. And I, in fact, can with certain people. My family and close friends. This is because I understand the reality of my life and I know to not hide around these people.

I still smile through the pain. I still joke my way through it. Laugh it off. Minimize it. Try to make people at ease around me because it makes things easier. I have seen others do it as well with chronic illness. I hear that easy version and see that smile and hear they laugh it off… and see through it. So I think it is a very common thing to do. Because it is common that people are so very uncomfortable with suffering and illness. We feel it and we adapt to it. It is a damn good thing when we have people in our lives that we don’t have to do that with. Find them and cherish them.


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