Masking Pain for Others…..

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had difficulty expressing my pain, discomfort or allowing people to see me cry…..I am not ashamed to cry in front of others, it’s just I’ve always felt it was best not to cry in front of others for the sake of not making them feel uncomfortable…..I remember being as young as two or three years old, feeling tension in the atmosphere around me, looking up at my mother, not knowing exactly what was going on, yet still understanding that things were not “right” and trying not to cry…..I have asked my twin sister if she remembers being a toddler, and feeling that way as well, and she confirmed that she did too. That’s how I know for a fact,  it was a habit I developed at a tender age. I adapted to whatever was going on around me, and did my best to stay as quiet as possible, not allowing my feelings or fears to show…..but why did I do this…..wasn’t I too young to “think” about my feelings?…..

The natural ability to mask my feelings and not cry was done innocently, but as I grew older, I was becoming more aware of what I was doing. I fell down the stairs when I was five years old, and when my mother came to my rescue,  the crying I was almost doing, ceased…..I stopped and immediately put on a brave face as she explained calmly that I was going to be okay, she’ll get a band-aid for my elbow and clean up the wound.

I fell off the top bunk of my bunk bed when I was eight years old, I remember waking up on the ground feeling pain, and being in shock from the fall. The fall had woke me up. You can imagine how weird that would feel…..I felt a tingly type of sensation at the tip of my chin, so I touched it, realizing that there was a hole there! The hole was a result of hitting a chair on the way down, so I began to panic, but still I did NOT cry…..On the way to the hospital, my mother gave me her full attention, I still was not crying, but worried about the hole in the bottom of my chin. The band-aid was not helping, and the streetcar ride felt loooong. Yes, we had to take the streetcar, we lived deep in the city of downtown Toronto, and my mother being a single mom of six, couldn’t afford a taxi at the time. I was okay with the travel, and I told my mom I was fine, as I wore my bravest face possible. Once we arrived at the hospital, the doctor explained the procedure of “stitches” and I braced myself for the pain, still not crying though. The procedure felt strange, but it wasn’t that bad, and I was happy it was over, and still maintained a brave face. I felt bad that my mom was worried and had to leave the house just for me, I felt as though I was a burden on her. I’ll never forget the words she said to me after the doctor left the room, “Thank you for not crying, this would’ve been way harder if you did.” I responded with a nod. She then told me she’d buy me something special, and I thought that was great! Yet I was more happy that I made this experience easy on her, I always felt my mom had a lot to deal with, hence why I made sure I did NOT cry through the ordeal.

My habit of trying not to show emotion to save another, came from not wanting to burden my mother…..This revelation came to me as a teenager….It was a habit I couldn’t unlearn. Back in 2011 when my mother passed away, that habit carried me through the grieving and mourning period, as I’ve explained in a previous blog…..

I was looking through old photos the other night, I remembered taking this selfie after mom died, after a long time of feeling “un-photogenic”…..My friend had made me some beautiful earrings, and the earrings inspired me to take photos. I felt emotionally spent  but I tried to mask my feelings and take a “nice” photo, finally. Even after I took the  photos, I noticed the pain in my eyes and face, I didn’t like the pictures for that  reason. They  couldn’t  mask the way I was feeling…..This photo brings back sad memories, but I chose to share it, to remind me that it’s okay to show pain…..Even to the world.

2016-03-28 14.48.07


~Dawn Lovely

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