Growing up, I truly believed that my ‘happy face’ had the power to ‘save’ the people I was ‘responsible’ for.
When I smiled my gap-toothed grin, my biological mother pinched my cheeks and said: “Always so cute!” If I smiled large enough until my cheeks puffed out then maybe I could save my mother from her anguished antics of arguing with my father and sister. If my face hurt enough from my happy face then I could save my parents’ miserable marriage. It took me a long time and even now to fully realize and remind myself that I could not save my mother or their marriage. More than that, I was not responsible for two grown and consenting adults.
Nonetheless, I still believe in the power of a positive attitude and my ‘happy face’ when the world is cold and the bombardment of problems line up in life. Here’s the thing: “Life is embedded with problems. All people have problems. Life is not for the weak.”
For every problem or health challenge that has come my way, I have stayed steady in my bedrock of positivity and gratitude. I have spent my days and life with my happy face and the reverberating sounds of laughter to focus on all that I do have rather than what I do not and to always surround myself with positive people and steer clear of miserable and negative people. I am convinced that the roles I fulfilled as a child with my ‘happy face’ and my life saved from two anonymous organ donors and their families who said “Yes” to organ donation/transplantation has made me feel a great need to be there for others in the best of ways when they are at their worst, to make a positive difference, and to always ‘pay forward.’
I’ve been the 'Happy Face' listener, the observer, and the person who takes on other people’s problems so deeply that it has impacted the insides of me. I literally get ‘sinking’ and ‘worried’ sensations in the center of my core where I can feel the wounds and the off-energy of my loved ones who are going through so much. I have felt the chaotic pangs of being ‘responsible’ for others in their time of need, even when I know logistically that I am not responsible for anyone. No one is ever responsible or can ever save anyone, and the best we can give to someone in pain is to let them just be them in their absolute worst and darkest moments.
I’ve come to sadly realize that not a lot of people REALLY and truly take the time and have the energy to listen to other people’s problems. Rather than really listening, they try to suppress by saying unhelpful and even harsh statements as ‘Don’t cry’ or ‘Just smile/Smile for me’ or say nothing at all. I've also come to realize that there is another share of people who actually LOVE to talk about themselves OR other people. People become accustomed to fulfilled roles, and so, for instance, I’m more accustomed to my ‘happy face’ demeanor and brushing off my problems than revealing them. In turn, people are taken aback when I show the down side to me that they do not know how to respond or respond by brushing everything off. Sometimes, the happiest people on the surface are the ones who suffer silently the most and need reminders that they are allowed to put down their guard of smiles and puffed cheeks.
I have been blessed with a very small circle of friends and family who I can show my depths of despair or chaotic feelings to. Although I am the ongoing optimist and am a naturally happy and grateful for person, I do have more than my fair share of anguish that I only reveal to the select few. I’m learning to love and nurture myself and everyone needs to love and nurture themselves to reveal the real without fear of losing anything or anyone. Loving and nurturing the self is not about selfishness, but it is a matter of setting boundaries and being and revealing you to those who will love you, let you be who you really are, and be there for you during the worst in life.
Here is the breakdown written food for thought to the two types of ‘happy facers’:
Now, I am realizing that the 'Happy Face' possesses much ongoing power, and that is the power of us all being a work in progress.
Until we meet again,