Life is life. And every day can’t be a ‘happy happy day’. That’s just the way it goes. As much as we try to avoid it or navigate around it…misfortune and loss will come knocking at our door eventually. And life is all about how we deal with those tough times when they get tossed at us like a live grenade.
The question is…when we’re going through struggles or moments of heartbreak, frustration, or sadness…do you ever find yourself putting on a mask for the benefit of the people around you? Do you ‘pretend’ to be ok? Or do you ask for help? Or maybe you just need to tell someone that things are all screwed up so you can blow off some steam? When times get hard, do you work to hide it from the people around you? Or do you search for those closest to you so they can help you carry the load?
There’s an upside and a downside to both options. Which one do you gravitate towards most often?
“I think I close myself off, when I’m going through a difficult period. I don’t want to be around other people, sometimes it’s just too exhausting, and they just end up making me feel worse.
It’s easier, I guess, if it’s something the whole family’s going through. I find it easier to put on a brave face and be strong and supportive for everyone else.
But if it’s something I’m personally dealing with, I’d rather just be left alone. That’s how I deal with it, and despite their good intentions, they can make me feel worse if they keep trying to cheer me up, or crowd around me in some other way.” – Mike
“I guess I just pretend to be okay to make them go away. I prefer to be left alone most of the time because I find dealing with other people to be exhausting, and when I go through tough times the last thing I need is to add the stress of having a bunch of concerned people hovering over me on top of the bad stuff I’m already dealing with.” – Shadow086
“I think that growing up the way I did made me a very private person in a lot of ways. I’m used to dealing with things on my own, and I doubt that’s ever going to change. But I don’t mind it though. The older I get, the more I realize that there’s a lot of stuff that used to really get to me that just…doesn’t anymore. There were things a few years ago that used to easily trigger me that simply don’t matter these days. And it’s a really liberating feeling, let me tell you. 🙂
That being said, I’m usually in a pretty good mood around other people. More times than not, I’m the nice guy with a smile and a few jokes. I’m usually the one who helps other people out when they’re feeling down, and I open the door to be the shoulder they need to lean on. However, that doesn’t mean that my life is perfect or a nonstop parade. So…when it comes to those days when I’m hurting, or feeling down, or I’m just downright angry about something…the contrast is so ‘visible’ that the people around me tend to panic. Because ‘If Comsie is feeling bad…then it must be really REALLY bad! Jesus Christ!!!’ It’s like, I’m not allowed to just have a bad day every now and then like everybody else. And when people start to crowd around and ask me what’s wrong…I do find myself putting the mask on. Otherwise, they get all flustered and worried and whatever energy that I had to sort of heal and soothe myself, I end up using it all to make them feel better instead. Which is so counterproductive. Hehehe!
Now, I do have a few close friends, in real life and online, that have the unpleasant honor of having me ‘vent’ to them from time to time when things really get bad. But I try not to burden them with it too much. I blow off some steam, and then they give me hugs, and I try to get myself back in working order again. I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed with other people’s problems, emotions, loneliness, anger, insecurities, etc. But I willingly make myself a part of it, and that’s not going to change either. I may never ask anyone to shoulder my problems in the same way, and I’d rather handle a lot of those issues on my own…but those same people would be wasting their time wearing a mask around me. I can usually tell. Call it a sixth sense. Hehehe! And after two or three minutes of ‘small talk’, I’m probably going to ask you, “So…are we gonna talk about what’s wrong with you or not?” I think people forget that I pay attention to these things. So spill the beans. I always give more than I ask for in return. Promise.” – Comicality
“That can get personal and says much about a person.
For me that is one of the topics where I fluctuate between both extremes. When I’m comfortable I can be very talkative. I like to discuss things with others. Before important decision I often have tried to get a second opinion of others before I actually decide anything. And when something is occupying me a lot, when something is important to me, then a part of me definitely likes to share that with people close to me.
However, I am clearly more the private person. Usually, I won’t show if anything is bothering me. While I have no real problem with sharing thoughts or parts of me in itself, it always is a conscious process. And there need to be the right conditions. That left me pretty closed down. And there is also that part in me that likes that. It’s easy and safe to go through and solve things yourself. While getting a second opinion can be good, they can be much more misleading than a little bit of smart thinking and analyzing for yourself.
Talking about that here is a little bit tricky, because there really are those two different sides in me fighting and my actions can vary day by day, but I would say that the private, closed down side is clearly dominating.
And I do feel sometimes like I would like to open up a little bit more, have more persons to share personal topics and talk with.
But as I said there need to be the right conditions. I can’t just tell anybody everything about myself. I can’t just dump my problems or other deep thoughts on someone just because. Or well, theoretically I could, but that’s just not me.
There needs to be some kind of personal relationship. I need to feel like that person deserves to know. But that doesn’t mean the high standards “deserve” could imply. It’s not difficult to reach that point with me. But I think the most important thing is interest. There are a few exceptions, but in general I just can’t tell somebody something if he isn’t interested. Or rather, I really don’t want to. If I think a person is not interested in what I have to say, then I will stop saying anything meaningful. That person doesn’t deserve to hear it then.
On the other hand I answer every question that I am asked, really few things are for me of limits there, and if you show me you are interested,.then I gladly share my thoughts, knowledge or whatever topic it is about with you.
Right now there are many things I never really shared or shared relatively late. I think I’m settled in in being pretty private. That also has its perks. And with a few secrets you also are able to surprise people. I definitely know how to wear a mask.
I think that’s enough for now.
(Oh, and I often am interested in other persons and try to always be a shoulder you can lean on if you want.)
But on another note it’s interesting that some similarities in the posted answers to this question are showing so far.” – Who4M1
” You know my opinion on this…
The type of family background I had meant that I grew up believing that we always had a image or presence that had to be maintained.
I’m also not a very emotional person (maybe in part because of that) but I very very rarely let anyone know whats going on. It’s my control mechanism.” – Dom
I grew up in a household where bad days were more of a norm than they should have been. My father was an alcoholic who didn’t want to be a father and resented having to share his drinking money with the grocery list. When he had been drinking, he was mean and angry and if you were unlucky enough to catch his eye when he was bad off, you caught it. I took more beatings for stuff he imagined I did, or for stuff he would have taken out on my younger siblings but I was able to intervene. He didn’t seem to care as long as someone felt his anger. Then when I was 10, his own self-abuse bit him back and took his speech and use of his right hand away from him. It took away his drinking habit but made him mean in other ways because now he was disabled and stuck at home with us. He never hit me again but, he would try to bully my younger brother and sister. I spent the rest of his life bullying him back and my only regret was that he couldn’t have been the guy he was when he was actually sober before the stroke. Those days were pretty okay, even though I spent most of those waiting for the other shoe to drop.
But, outside of the home, I pretended everything was fine. Visiting friends’ homes only on my way to or from school unless the old man was at work. Teachers questioning why homework was rarely done, and giving ridiculous excuses. I remember being asked multiple times if everything was alright at home, to which I always answered yes. It was the mask I wore because I was scared of what would happen if we were to be separated. He always told me that without him we’d end out in an orphanage, where we belonged. And it always kept me from saying anything to anyone.
Now, that Mask is still here and I still wear it. Granted, if it’s bad enough I will tell people I’m close to if I’m having a down day, and there are plenty of them to tell about but, to the world, my act is still able to make people smile, which gets me to a place where I can allow myself to smile. So, if I pretend to be okay and I can help you get through a bad day, then what do I have to be down about. Problem solved, right? Well, sometimes it does work. Sometimes I just don’t want to further burden people so, I do what I always did, take a deep breath, force a smile, and pretend I’m fine. Most of the time, no one knows and I can just not think about it for a while. – JeffsFort
If you guys ever want to add your two cents to any one of the ‘Q & A’ sessions for future issues of Imagine Magazine, we’d LOVE to hear your input and your personal stories on the forum! Feel free to attach your screen name, or do so anonymously! Drop by “The Shack Out Back” forum on the 1st of every month for a brand new topic of conversation! We look forward to hearing more from you! 🙂