by Sheila White
(Cambridge, Ontario, Canada)
I wrote this two months ago just for my own satisfaction, but recent experience made me want to share it. I hope you all enjoy!
Christmas is over once again, and how did you enjoy it? Most folks will say it was fine, they had a good time, ate lots of turkey and drank a little too much. Got lots of gifts and so on and so on.
But really. Aren’t you all happy it’s over? Aren’t you tired of all the fuss and rush and the expense of it all? Aren’t you happy now to relax and let the winter take over, the early nights and late mornings when the snow keeps you indoors and no one expects you to be on top of the world all the time?
Obviously, I’m not expecting all readers to agree with me. I’m old and tired and can stay home and be grumpy no matter what the day, but some of you have to be up and out there, going to work and acting as though everything’s fine when it really isn’t. In fact, everything’s far from fine.
Just watch the news, any day and any time. It’s enough to make you wish that you were old and tired, too, and looking forward to the day when your personal calendar comes to an end. Admit it. You’ve thought of it but you wouldn’t let it be known.
That’s the problem with us all these days. We don’t let others know how we feel. We are obliged to put on a smiling face, no matter what is happening in our lives.
But wait, you say. Are you suggesting we all go around with our thoughts – our real deep thoughts – showing to all just what a misery we can be when no one’s looking?
Well, why not!
If everyone did it we would know when to show real sympathy instead of that fake stuff when someone comes up with a sad story but manages a weak smile because everyone expects it of them. Oh, well, we think, if she can smile then it’s not too bad, so we pat her or him on the back and go off to deal with our particular pain by hiding it under some genial grin.
What I’m recommending will not go over with many readers. No. We are conditioned to hide what hurts because that’s “the thing to do”. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if…
Let’s start gently. Start by telling someone exactly how you feel when asked. Let’s not pretend but say that our backs are giving us hell and we’re depressed because of what someone said.
Pretty soon, that meaningless question: “How are you?” will be forgotten and replaced with a single, “Hi!” as we pass by. And then if someone we meet looks really miserable, we can offer help, if we’re so inclined.
Okay, Christmas is over, but what gifts did you get, the ones that really meant something to you? Think about it. If your answer is “none of them”, then shake. Me too. But how many did you greet with a grin and the lie that “This is just what I wanted!” Again, me too. And if you’re thinking of passing those gifts on to someone else some other time, be sure to remember who they came from, or else…
My hair is sparse, so when I go out I wear something, a wig or a hat. Someone who has seen me always with sparse hair recently saw me in a wig and told me straight out that they preferred me without it. I was a little shocked, then relieved that I didn’t have to wear anything at all if even one person preferred me au naturel.
It’s nice to buy something new to wear, and if, when I first appear in it, someone mentions it with a compliment, I feel good, even though they are just being polite. It’s unreal to imagine that everything I buy looks good to others. But if they instead told the truth – that doesn’t look good, it’s the wrong colour for you – at least you know where you stand. Sure, it’s only one person’s opinion, but it will stop you feeling smug about something so trivial.
On the other hand, if you have a wonderful family who treats you like a Queen, be happy. But don’t tell the world about it because the world isn’t interested. Not everyone has a wonderful family who do the most amazing things for you to keep you happy. Enjoy it in silence – unless someone asks, then tell, but with modesty, please!
At one time I spoke my mind and hurt a family member’s feelings. They weren’t supposed to hear it, but they did. That was over three years ago, but they haven’t spoken to me since. A similar thing happened just recently. I was made to feel bad by all concerned, and all because I spoke my mind.
Usually I’m more careful what I say, but at my age I should feel able to speak out and be listened to because I’ve lived a lot longer and struggled with many more problems than younger folk can imagine.
So, let’s talk, but never say something you don’t mean. If someone asks your opinion, don’t hesitate. Give it. Loud and clear. And if your opinion is rejected, don’t sulk. Just shrug your shoulders, put it all behind you and carry on as before. Friends. Good friends.
Friends that can be relied upon to tell the truth. Invaluable friends.