Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #60: Belief
This week, let’s think about the beliefs – personally, socially, culturally – that define our realities.
The most profound disappointment in life is when your truth is not believed.
When reality becomes distorted. By people who matter. And even by people who don’t matter.
But those close to you…that’s when the knife cuts the deepest. Because the hope hangs on. And on. And on. Maybe if this, maybe if that….then they’ll believe me.
Wait, I know that’s what happened. I was there. I heard it. I saw it.
But what if we are programmed from an early age to tell the world – or, more specifically, our world – family, friends – no everything is just fine.
My father would stare into the sad face of one of his children and chant over and over: Don’t Smile! Don’t Smile! Don’t Smile! Laughing…as he repeated his mantra. He’d crouch down and get right in front of a small unhappy face, his mouth stretched tight in a wide grin. His brown eyes, behind thick glasses, betrayed the frivolity. They were mocking. Perhaps fearful.
As if we presented the impossible possibility that one so small and helpless could struggle with an emotion so complicated, so fraught with need.
Need for compassion, understanding, some measure of support. Validation. That we mattered.
I understand now why. He had no idea how to respond. Maybe he was overwhelmed. As it reflected his own dark emotional beliefs. The message: Don’t Be Sad. Deny the Sad. It’s not okay.
Of course, it didn’t take long for our smiles to take shape. If for nothing else, to make the laughing father stop. Smiles did not match up with the eyes or heart. And especially they did not reflect our truth.
My mother, on the other hand, would ask us what we did wrong to cause this emotion that made her so uncomfortable.
I didn’t know what to believe.
Now I do.