I often think I live two lives-- a public "I have everything together" life and then my private life with my secret pain. I put on a brave front. I smile and laugh, but little does anyone know the pain of the loss of my child that is always within me. I often feel my smile doesn't reach my eyes and heart. I wonder how people don't notice.
This phenomenon became clear just a few days ago. The 15th anniversary of my son, Chris', death was September 24th. I spent a quiet day at home since I did not feel the energy to go out. I wanted to crawl in bed and pull the covers over my head for the day. Instead, I prayed. I watched re-runs of old TV series, did laundry and packed for a weekend writing retreat at the Jersey shore. It seemed a good way to pass the day as I could distract myself without taxing myself.
I also sent out an email to my closest family and friends reminding them of the anniversary of Chris' passing. Clearly, I was reaching out for support and to validate my pain. It was gratifying to get responses back from almost everyone telling of their support, love, prayers and memories. Perhaps I should do this more often and bring my pain out of the shadows. But would this make friends and family uncomfortable and push them away? Or worse, would it prompt them to tell me not to dwell on the loss of my child and get interested in other activities to distract myself. How many times have you heard this?
This does bring up the issue of how to walk the fine line between being overly "needy" or overly "brave. This is hard. I often find when I tell someone how I am feeling they start going through a checklist of their own problems and needs. It's discouraging. I wind up listening to them rather than getting support for myself. A brave front again. I feel my head will burst like a damn and all this pain will come pouring out. Everyone will ask, "What happened?" as they see my life fracture before them.
I suppose the point is to not let my frustration build up to this. I may need to avoid those individuals too needy to be of any support if they have no other redeeming features. Sometimes I have to take a step back and consider their love and affection for me in the balance. Of course, I have others who are better listeners and are able to give support. They are the ones I should go to when I need to reveal the secret pain in my heart.