Covering Up Grief and Pain
I bought some make-up yesterday.
On the surface that seems like a trivial statement. But the surface never gives us the full picture. Even in a shallow pond, there is a lot more underneath than meets the eyes, there is a whole universe that the natural eyes are unable to glimpse.
I bought some make-up yesterday because I got a new job.
That seems like a fair enough statement. But we tend to take fair enough statements and accept them at face value. We scratch the surface and are satisfied with a little peek at the thin layer just bellow. But the first layer is simply that, the firstlayer.
I bought some make-up yesterday because I got a new job, and I’m really scared.
Somehow we can make sense of the whole statement, but there is a dissonance within it. We understand the first part and the second part, but not together. Together they take us a little deeper and now we may have questions, we may make assumptions, we may impose judgements. Scared of what? Why? There is nothing to be scared… And we gloss over with justifiable and rational statements of our own, uncomfortable to explore what really is going on underneath - because deep down, we know it may be a pandora’s box that once opened will reveal to us depths that will require an engagement from us - and engagement that we may not be willing, nor equiped to face.
I bought some make-up yesterday because I got a new job, and I am really scared that people will see on my face the signs of my grief and my pain. I want to cover up them up. I want to protect myself and look normal, even if the deeper layers of my soul are anything but normal.
What on the surface seems normal conceals the truth that my heart is shattered, my mind is confused and so lost, my soul is overwhelmed. All my crying and hauling, all my anxious thoughts and sleeplessness, all the anguish I carry within my soul are reflected on my face, on the bags and dark circles under my eyes, on my cracked and dehydrated lips, on my sunken cheeks and the much deeper frown lines on display.
I want to cover up my grief and my pain because deep down I feel ashamed that I am still grieving so profoundly, and deep down I judge myself for wanting to hold on to my grief. And because I don’t want people to judge me or to condemn me for grieving.
So I bought some make up yesterday to cover up my grief and my pain, but instead I found my grief and my pain stirred up and mixed with frustration and anger because the covering up of my dark circles and the moisturising lipstick and the shimmering bronzer made me look indeed healthy and normal, and looking healthy and normal caused people to comment on how well I look and how strong I am and how good it is to see that I am getting better and how good it is that I am finally moving on. I’m making Jason proud, and I should be proud because he is happy for me...
And so I found myself, wearing much more than make-up to cover up my grief and my pain. I found myself nodding in agreement, and smiling my new no-braces-since-three-pm-today smile, and thinking that my husband, who was the one person that new me better than anyone else, didn’t get to see my new no-braces-since-three-pm-today smile, and that he would most definitely not be proud of me for covering it up. He would remind me that one of the things he always lobed about me, even though it also drove him nuts, is my honesty and my authenticity. He would in fact ask me, why am I doing it and who am I doing it for? He would also tell me that I need to be true to myself.
So I will use the make-up I bought yesterday, because I always wanted to look good for my husband, and because I want to take pride in my appearance, and because I am and always have been a little bit vain. Therefore covering pimples and dark circles have been and will continue to be part of my life.
But covering up my grief hasn’t been part of my journey, and it will not be part of my journey. I am not moving on, I am struggling moving forward. I am not getting better, I am learning to honour myself and becoming more real. I am not strong, I am doing it scared and picking my own pieces up every single day. I am not ok, but I am accepting to be ok with not being ok.
Now, I know that that, would make Jason proud.