She is snuggled under a warm blanket, sipping hot coffee from her favorite mug, and gleefully admiring the festivities of Christmas happening in her cozy, comfortable home. The other is sitting alone with no warm blanket to wrap around her, no hot coffee to drink and no one to admire.
Your home is beautifully decorated with brightly shining lights and Christmas music playing, I stop and look. Through the window I can see your family laughing, children feverishly unwrapping their gifts, stories being told and then I see you. What a picturesque view! Something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. You are dressed in your festive best, you are the woman wrapped in the warm blanket. This sight is anything but joyful. I let my eyes wander around your family room and begin to feel the warmth you must be feeling as well. My eyes come back to you. I see someone different. That blanket isn’t warming your cold toes, the coffee in your mug is no longer hot, and your distant eyes are not admiring anything. Though I am on the outside looking in, I am able to see this woman and who she really is; what everyone sees on the outside and what no one sees on the inside. She is truly alone even with family and friends around. She suffers from loss, abandonment, childhood induced trauma, mental abuse, verbal abuse and yet she continues to smile. She appears to be enjoying her coffee while watching her children tear through each gift. She’s hearing the conversations and nodding in agreement. She even lets out a little chuckle here and there. She looks so peaceful. She is not any of these things.
No one wants a Debbie Downer around especially for the holidays. She wakes up and looks in the mirror telling herself today will be a better day. She uses positive affirmations. She gets herself together. She plays the part well. She works, takes care of her children and home. She makes sure no one wants for anything. She’s a shell of a human being yet she continuously gives to all around her. “What a generous and kind-hearted person,” they say. She walks with her head high, most days. She greets everyone with a smile and a whisper of a hello.
She is dying on the inside. Slowly losing the battle of holding on to what was left of herself.
No one will ever know this. The smile is too big and bright to see anything more.
Someone once said, “perception is reality.” So know that what you see may not always be what is. Sit closer to the one who smiles most, speak more deeply to the one who remains silent, pay attention more closely to the ones you love. The loneliest one is there, I assure you. She is the one people will talk about because the shock will be too great for her friends and family to bear.