Everyone is going through something.
I learned this little life lesson quite a long time ago, as I clumsily moved through life carrying my four very tall and thick walls all around me like a refrigerator with legs. Nobody knew what I was going through, and for some reason I reminded myself of that every chance I got. It was an odd sort of crutch, for it excused a lot of behaviors that came from other people, and it also excused a lot of my own.
Having been on stage for much of my life, and having grown up as I did, I learned very early in life how to flick the switch and be instantly "on." It was great camouflage and it also helped create a diversion from my own reality, benefitting not only those in my "audience" but also helping me to see ways I could survive. How handy.
Sometimes, however, that blasted switch gets tough to flick.
When people who are so accustomed to my entertaining methods of survival suddenly realize that I've experienced some sort of glitch, they get genuinely disappointed. Where's the clown? Where's my show? You're not being yourself (my personal favorite). It never seems to occur to anyone that its really pretty tough to be "on" all the time.
Over the years I've come to realize that every single one of us is going through something. Not everybody has a switch they can flick to help hide this fact, and those who walk around without the aid of a large protective appliance don't often realize that this method of self preservation even exists. But oddly enough, having this switch can make life easier while simultaneously making everything more difficult. The issue that prompted its implementation often gets lost, quickly replaced by the pressure to perform. So which burden is heavier?
The trick to a life easier to bear undoubtedly lies in the ability to face our own reality every day without shame, and to reach out for what we need without fear. There are those of us who don't feel they deserve to be happy, and those of us who are living a lie every day. There are people who glean some sort of satisfaction from seeing someone drowning and hiding a life preserver behind their backs, perhaps feeling that this makes their own burdens somehow more important. Although we grow older, some of us never really grow up, reaching back for childish games that never got us anywhere when we played them the first time. Maybe that's one reason its so hard to reveal our burdens to those who appear well-meaning and concerned. Its difficult to trust, and I suppose after a time, we can start to believe our own hype and fool ourselves into thinking we're fine.
Its important to take the risk and ask for what we need, whether that's help, a hug, or just someone to listen. And its equally important to recognize how difficult it is for someone else to reach out to us. Once we all realize that there are going to be times when we're not "fine," we'll be in a better position to not only ask for help, but also offer it in an authentic and genuine way.
A life lived with honesty is a life filled with freedom and possibility, not to mention less weight.
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