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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Genuine Smile

Towards the end of last year I decided to challenge myself to become a better me and to push myself to get through my emotional struggles and unhealthy relationships so I can move that dark cloud that has been over my head since birth, the darkness of addiction. I've learned that healing doesn't always feel good in the moment. Sometimes you have to scrap the wounds to clean them out so they can heal properly and I am allowing myself to feel the pain because I truly believe that with the help of Al Anon and the 12 steps I will become the person I was born to be. Not everyone understands my decision to "go public", the idea of "I share, you share, we heal" is not something everyone in my life agrees with. Some prefer to suppress their pain while others feel that talking about it prevents you for moving forward. I, on the other hand, believe that sharing my past, present, and hopes for the future is a healthy way to live. As a child and really all through my early 20's I didn't share my pain. I lived by my grandma's philosophy which was smile through it because eventually that smile will become a genuine smile but until that time comes just fake it. So I smiled! Every once in a while a teacher, a coach, or a friend's parent would attempt to reach out to me because they could see the pain in eyes but I found it difficult to let anyone know my truth. It was no secret that my dad wasn't around but my mom being an addict was something I worked extremely hard to smile through and cover up. Living that way is very isolating! I was too afraid to tell anyone, as a child you think you'll be made fun of and as a young adult I thought I didn't want pity or judgment. I didn't want to be treated differently. Not to mention if I say it out loud it makes it real and I preferred to stay in the fantasy I had created so I smiled through it. It wasn't until the pain was so consuming that I felt like I was suffocating and I had to talk. In talking I have found peace in knowing I am not alone, that my feelings are normal, and I realized that smiling through the pain was more harmful to my soul than accepting the pain and facing it head on. Now that I am open about my mother's addiction and all of my issues surrounding it I am able to lean on my friends instead of keeping them at arms length as I did for so long. I'm connecting with people and I am seeing how they have overcome their hardships. I am learning more than I could have ever imagined.  I see my Grandmother now, in her late 80's, sitting in her pain. She was once a mover and a shaker, never sitting in one place too long, always smiling. The amount of pain this woman has endured is enough to kill anyone's spirit but not her, she was the life of the party. As long as you keep moving you never have to face the reality of what is your life. I love and respect my grandmother and I know that she has always done her best which is why it is so devastating to watch her age. Her body is slowly giving up on her, not able to move and shake quit like she used to. She can no longer run away from the reality that she has outlived 3 of her children,  that her daughter is an addiction, that her marriage failed despite her best efforts, all the pain throughout her entire life. She can no longer ignore, push aside, or smile through it. I call her twice a day and visit her often because she has always been there for me so it's now my turn to be there for her.  I find myself watching my grandma just sit, I can see her mind racing, and the tears in her eyes. In those moments I am reminded that I am doing the right thing by talking and feeling because the reality is that in the end if you neglect yourself emotionally your smile will never, truly, become genuine.