She walks into the restaurant, smile on her face, whiskey on her breath, cuts on her wrists, and fear in her eyes. He walks into the restaurant behind her, a smile on his face, dirt on his hands, busted knuckles, and a sadness in his eyes. Anyone can put a smile on their face. It’s one of the most common coping mechanisms there are today. What happens though when the lights fade and the smile ceases to exist? When all the fear, depression, anxiety, and self-doubt overcome the smile you once had. You’re left with an empty shell of who you were trying so hard to be in front of everyone else. Then you’re alone in your bedroom crying yourself to sleep not knowing that you were slowly killing your soul with each and every scar you were trying to hide behind that smile. Your life was becoming something you never intended it to be. Only because you couldn’t put the smile down for just one minute and show the world how badly you were suffering inside. You had to be tough; you had to be courageous.
You’re a man, you are supposed to be the protector, you can’t reveal that under all your rough skin you are weak and tired from the strain of life. You have to keep pushing through for everyone around you. You can’t cry, you can’t show weakness, and you can’t break down because if you do everyone around you will as well. You’re a woman, you have to be strong for your family, you can’t show your kids that you are weak and hurting, you can’t show your spouse, your friends, your family; you have to hide your pain so others won’t see it. You have to be an example for everyone around you. All lies men and women. Everyone can put on a smile, just like everyone can put on pain. Who are you behind that smile though? Are you abused, are you a drunk, a drug addict, suicidal, depressed, lonely? Are you struggling with bills, a failing marriage, a rebellious child, a bad job, life in general?
That smile can only hide so much. Eventually, it will no longer work to solve all of these problems. I know I’ve been there; I’ve tried that. I’ve tried to hide all of my pain behind a smile. Just so I would look tough; just so that I could be the Godly women that everyone expected me to be. In this process, though nobody realized that I was crying myself to sleep most nights. Nobody realized I was dealing with anxiety, depression, and self-doubt. Nobody saw it because my smile covered up every fear I ever had of being found out. I was good at it too; smiling. Laughing things off like they were no big deal. This mentality killed me though. I lost parts of my heart that I wish to this day that I could get back. I wish I wouldn’t have hidden all of it behind that smile because it contributed to the loss of some of the best people in my life. I wanted to be strong, I wanted to be the tough one, but in all reality, I ended up being the weakest of them all.
Today I say no to putting on a fake smile and going about my day like I am just fine. Today I stand up for all the women and men who do the same thing. It’s not healthy for your heart, mind, or soul. It’s also not good for the people around you. So today I challenge you to put down the smile and pick up the baggage that you have been trying for so long to hide. Wear it like a cape and let it out. Let someone know what you are going through. Let them know that you are not as tough as you perceive to be. It’s not going to be the end of the world if your not superwoman or superman. Honestly, it could be the beginning of finally being free without fear. So, put down the smile, pick up the weight, and go on with your life as the woman or man God made you to be.
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