Sometimes I Pretend
Sometimes, I pretend.
I pretend to be okay. It feels like it’s easier for everyone else when I do. Grief is awkward and upsetting and ugly, so I understand why it makes people uncomfortable. I really do. So, when you ask if I’m okay, I’d rather lie because I want to spare your feelings. It’s nicer for both of us if I don’t open that nasty can of worms and you don’t have to sit there uncomfortably while I share how broken it’s made me.
I pretend that I don’t need help. I’m stubborn, and I will keep trying until I’m able to do it myself. The last thing that I would want to do is bother someone else because I can’t do it on my own. It takes time for me to realize that I was wrong, so be patient with me. I might say I don’t need help, but the truth is that I just might.
I pretend to be strong. Since April of 2016, that’s one of the compliments I have heard too many times: “You’re so strong;” “I wish I was as strong as you are.” I wish I could feel as strong as everyone claims I am. That’s why I pretend that I am. I feel like I can really be as strong as I need to be if I fake it one more day.
I pretend that my feelings aren’t hurt. You won’t ever see that you’ve hurt me because I don’t want to give you the satisfaction. I will get up, dry my eyes, and move on with my life because you will not hold me back. I’ve been knocked down too many times for me to let you think that you’ve beaten me. I guess I’m petty like that.
I pretend to be confident, but it’s hard to look in the mirror sometimes. Where you see dark brown eyes, I see purple bags from lack of sleep. Where you see a cute top, I see the stomach underneath it. It takes a long time for me to realize that I’m okay with my own skin and even longer to call myself beautiful. I’m getting better, though, and I may not have to keep pretending for long.
I pretend that I don’t have nightmares. I’ve been through a lot in life, and the people who know me best know this too. It’s hard to fall asleep at night and relive some of those things, over and over and over again. I’m glad I have them sometimes, though. It reminds me that I’m still me, even though I’ve been broken. That doesn’t make sleeping any easier.
I pretend to believe that other people have it worse. Sometimes I feel so whiny about how my grief is affecting my life, and I believe the age-old lie that I shouldn’t feel bad because someone has it worse. However, I’m starting to learn that it doesn’t matter. Yes, some people have it worse than I do. That doesn’t mean that my pain and sadness is any less valid.
Everyone pretends sometimes because it’s easier than facing the truth of what our lives have become. The next time you look at me, try to remember that my pain doesn’t end because I smile. My laughter doesn’t mean that I’m not broken inside. I might be pretending to be happy or fine or whatever word I use to describe myself when you ask because it’s easier. It’s easier to wake up in the morning and say “I’ll pretend to be okay” than it is to show how not okay I really am.