My Happy Mask Is Broken

I’ve had a rough few weeks. From a distance I look happy and ok. Then as those close to me get closer they see there is scotch tape holding my happy mask together. My happy mask is broken and I’m tired. So very tired and drained.

Just when we think we have it pieced together, and can create a fiscally sound financial budget for our family, life throws us curve balls. Just when we think we have Em’s needs figured out and how to best move forward, life throws some fast balls. I think one hit my happy mask. Because I’ve had to piece myself back together more times in the last 10 days than I’d like to think about.

I’ve had my sewer back up into the basement with Mr. Plumber taking 4 hours to fix it. I’ve had a thing on my van break and have to pay for towing and part of the repairs. Have to get another part fixed on the van soon. Have to pay for Em’s school camp within the next 2 weeks. Have bill collectors calling wanting their money and wanting it now, mostly for medical bills. As if that wasn’t enough to break me, as I watch my budget freak out leaving me less than nothing, even though I knew the likelihood of this, Em received an additional diagnosis.

I’ve gotten really good at catching the happy mask pieces as they crack and fall from the facade and taping them back in place. This though, this broke me. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. First things first, Em’s going to be fine. She just received a confirmed diagnosis of mild scoliosis and has a vitamin D deficiency. I’ll address this in a different blog. Just know that she’s going to be fine.

It was just everything was hitting me like a wet fish in the face and it stunk like so. I try so hard to hold it together for Em and my family. We have enough stress and they don’t need mom falling apart. I don’t want to feel like I’m a burden to my family or friends so I bury it as much as I can. But the reality is, I know I’m not alone. There are many families just like mine out there dealing with this same stuff too.

I just felt like I wanted to meltdown. I had the plastic Barbie smile and mask on because when I’m dealing with customers at work, they don’t need a sad bank teller. So you fake it to make it and they go about their day. Never knowing that the mask is broken because from a distance it seems like our life is just fine and put together.

However, those that know me best can see the cracks. They know to look deep into the eyes. The slightest sign of wavering and flickering and I’m fighting back the tears. Stress has anxiety on high alert. I put myself on high alert so I don’t lose it. Especially, when I’m not in a position to deal with it, I’m quick to paste the bogus smiles and fake tones.

This was too much for me this time though. The mask is broken beyond taping repairs. Then I remembered something. I remembered reading about Kintsukuroi. Kintsukuroi is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy it speaks to breakage and repair becoming part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

I’ve always promised never to sugarcoat our lives to anyone. If they truly want to understand our journey they need to know the ups and downs, ins and outs, good and bad. I think that means allowing the cracks in my facade to show. I don’t know how strong I am. But I do think that the cracks can be a beautiful thing. It shows what we fight to overcome.

We learn to overcome self-doubt and build confidence of some sort. We learn to love. Hopefully that includes us. We learn to fight battles that matter and attempt to let the little things go. And try as we might, some of us will learn that there are battles just not worth the effort or energy but they never involve our children or their needs. We always will fight for them.

We learn to prioritize and surround ourselves with people who will talk us through the hard times and we can return the favor when they encounter tough times. When we have rough patches together, we will cry and hold each other up. When we feel alone, they push past the defenses and remind us, we aren’t.

So, I’ve taken the last few days to regroup and remind myself somehow it will all be ok. I may not understand it or know how but I know it will be. That and unless I’m at work, I need to show those cracks. So why not embrace them. They aren’t necessarily flaws but rather beauty of soul.

So we shall move forward. Will you the next time your world is falling apart?

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One thought on “My Happy Mask Is Broken

  1. Alaine Gentner

    Oh Jenn…you had me tearing up at the first paragraph, the emotion you unburdened here was very raw to me. I actually had to leave my computer after reading this and come back later. You truly also have a gift for writing. Your one line there” I don’t want to feel like I’m a burden to my or friends, so I bury it as much as I can”..true words. No matter what our lot in this life, we feel this way. I’m feeling this way now myself and if the dam burst, well, it’s no turning back. I wish I could be there with you, to hug you, just cry with you and pray. Lots of prayer. I’ll be praying for you. Thanks for opening your heart. God bless you all.

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