People often tell me to smile, sometimes in response to the photos I post on Facebook, where my face is doing anything but smiling. But life isn’t always full of smiles and today’s entry is about why I’m finding it hard to smile anymore.
At my deepest core, I’m not in a good place and haven’t been for a long while. My faith in God has waned so much now that I often find myself struggling to keep believing. I still try my best though to do so and often put a false smile on my face “faking it till I make it”, something I learned through my 12 Step recovery long ago to do when life hits you hard. But life has been hitting me hard for many years now, with countless days in a row battling constantly changing chronic pain and varying health issues that remain unexplained, no matter how much effort I put into either trying to change my circumstances or accept them.
There are some who think I choose to live in misery and are even right now probably judging me because of these very words I write. Some have gone so far as to say that all my pain and suffering is because I’m living in sin with being in a same sex relationship. Some say it’s my thorn or cross to bear in God’s glory. And some say I simply haven’t tried hard enough, done enough, or put myself out there enough for it to ever get better. Everyone seems to have an opinion about my long pain and suffering, all of which makes it even harder to smile.
I feel very lonely now on most days, even in crowded places, even in groups of people I know, and even in meetings I regularly attend. I cry on most mornings when I awake and no, they aren’t tears from serotonin imbalances or clinical depressions, they are tears from living in the chronic pain and suffering I have, for as long as I have, and for the incessant loneliness that comes along with it. Loneliness that gets even stronger each time people tell me to just suck it up, to just get over it, or remind me of all the people in the world who are suffering far worse than I am. Look, it’s hard to smile anymore when what I hear on most days are judgements of why people think I’m suffering as much as I am, instead of receiving the thing I need the most to smile, that being acts of compassion, understanding, or loving human touch.
Seeing so many wonderful souls die abruptly in recent years due to COVID, overdoses, and plenty of other diseases and tragedies, I often find myself questioning why the Universe has kept me alive and took them away. I frequently find myself wishing I could have changed places with them as they smiled far more in their lives than I have for years and from what I saw in their lives made far more of a positive impact on this planet than I ever have. So yes, I’m finding it hard to smile anymore.
Until you deal with health issues that bring you chronic pain every, single, day, for years and years and years, having done the very best you can to seek out answers and getting none, all while exhausting yourself in the process, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, and avoiding ALL mind-altering substances and medications along the way due to former addictive behaviors, feeling every bit of the pain without anything to numb yourself from it, you will never, ever, understand why it becomes so hard to smile.
So, the next time you see someone not smiling and feel that urge to tell them they should do so, will you please try offering them an act of compassion, understanding, or loving human touch instead? Because maybe, just maybe in doing so, that smile you wish to see may very well emerge on their face in the process, arising solely from their heart and soul as it receives your token of unconditional love, something that no amount of advice, suggestions, opinions, or simply telling someone to smile, can or ever will bring forth genuinely…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson