Have you ever wondered why people hide their face with their hands? Is it to hide an expression? An expression of shame, fear, guilt or sadness? Are you wondering why there’s a smile behind these hands?
At one point in my life, these hands hid all the expressions mentioned above (fear, shame, sadness, and guilt). Let me tell you about one of them for now. There was a time when I felt fear. Fear of not being able to have kids, fear of being alone, fear of what could be, and just recently, fear of getting older (getting weak and losing my independence).
When I was younger, I thought “what if I can’t have kids?” I was a skinny young woman. Many would say I didn’t have child-bearing hips. What if I didn’t have enough fat to get pregnant? I’d get married and my husband would leave me because I’m barren. That fear was proven wrong. I got married early in life because I got pregnant in my first year of college. Fear allayed, but the marriage ended anyway. After the first marriage, I feared being alone.
I think this is one reason I remarried a second time. We didn’t know each other well before we took off to Vegas. It was a night of drinking and debauchery. We woke up the next day married. Both sides made mistakes. It wasn’t a healthy marriage. During that time, I figured it’s better to be alone than be miserable with someone. After the second marriage ended, came the fear of “what if.”
What if the problem has always been me and not them? What If I have too much “baggage” and the next man in my life can’t handle it? What if my next relationship turns out to be just like the last one? What if…what if… what if! I finally got to the point where I realized I was wasting a lot of time and energy thinking about things that might not even happen. I thought my obsession with “what if’s” was getting out of control. “What if the sky were to fall on your head you big dummy!” That’s what I told myself and it made me laugh. I realized how silly I was being. So I broke it down and tried to make sense of my “what if’s.”
First, what if it’s me and not them that caused the breakup. It takes two people to make a relationship work. So, it’s not one person alone who destroys it (okay it’s not 50/50 either. I may have more than half of my share on one of them). Now I’m getting my head on straight. I’m thinking clearer. What about the “baggage?” Like I said in a previous blog, my husband knew about my “baggage” when he met me. He helped me carry them until I was ready to leave them behind (I had more than one and they were heavy). What if this marriage ends up like the previous ones? The answer is NO, this marriage is not ending anytime soon. This one’s a keeper!
Ever since I met my husband, I changed the way I deal with problems. He taught me to control what I can and to stop worrying about what I can’t. I did just that. What do I have control over…let’s see… I make sure to remain open and honest (with him and myself). I remind myself to clearly communicate, and to put in the work (a relationship is always a work in progress) to make it last. Thus, avoiding pitfalls learned from previous marriages.
I stopped worrying about things I can’t control. Like problems with money. Whaaaaat? Hold up, wait a minute, back it up, and put it in gear again. You must be thinking “but people can control and avoid money problems.” Sure, other people except me. It was too late by the time I realized I had control over this problem. By that time, I was thousands of dollars in debt.
After my second marriage broke up, I was a hot mess. I was walking around with a chip (several chips actually) on my shoulder and a big hole in my heart. I filled the void (the pain and sadness) by going on shopping sprees. I bought stuff I didn’t need with money I didn’t really have. I maxed out my credit cards (by this time I had debts of my own and debts from my previous marriage. So it’s not all mine. Anyway, it’s a long story and there should be no more excuses!). Point is, I became an addict. I was addicted to shopping. It felt good to get the quick high right after the purchase. Then I felt worse by the time I got home. I always regretted buying whatever I bought. Then I’d do it again. It seemed like a never ending cycle. I finally stopped after getting some counseling from a friend. But the damage was done. I was drowning in debt. My credit score was destroyed, demolished, kaput (didn’t even know 520 was possible). I stressed day and night yet it didn’t make a difference. My worries did not lessen the amount of money I owed. I couldn’t get another job before the next payments were due. I had crappy credit so I couldn’t get a loan. The situation seemed hopeless.
What did I do to solve my problem? Instead of needlessly worrying, I used the extra time and energy to come up with solutions. I stopped using credit cards. I borrowed money from family and my husband (he was my boyfriend back then) to pay the credit cards. I thought this would do it. This would end the relationship with this man. He didn’t leave. He helped me out. I decided to attend a specialty school offered by the military for my job (it comes with a pretty hefty bonus after graduation). It took a year but I was able to pay them back. Problem solved! No more problems right? Sure… until I hit my forties.
Okay, so I’m in a stable, healthy, loving relationship, “baggage” and debt free. What’s the problem now? Well, with age comes many new problems. My hair started greying (more), drying, falling, and thinning out. I also got aches all over. I have problems with my joints. My knees, my shoulder, my hips, my fingers, my feet are all degenerating and stiffening. I’m proud to have served my country but my military career has taken a big toll on my body. I had to stop teaching Zumba (at least temporarily) because of these aches and pains.
“For every problem, there has to be a solution.”
What is the problem? What can I control? What can I change? I decided to take charge of my situation. Head: color hair, use better hair products or just buy a wig. Joints: take some joint pills (it probably won’t work but it’s worth a try), start physical therapy, and take Motrin if needed (good old “vitamin M” the military solution to all pains). Solutions in progress!
Age is out of my control so I learned to accept it. I figured I can’t stop it so I’ll just have to grow old gracefully. I’ll have to exercise a little more, eat healthier, cut down on sugar and salt and laugh a lot more. That’s all. It’s not so bad.
It takes time to heal and to be able to face our fears. Fears that we buried deep inside where no one can ever find them. Talking about them through sharing (stories/tales) helps bring them to the surface. When it’s out in the open and in our face, we have no choice but to deal with it. When we deal with it, it becomes easier and faster to get rid of them. Once we’re rid of them, we get closure and an ending. At this point, healing can occur. The more we heal, the happier we become.
Now back to the PPOD. Remember when I said these hands hid shame and sadness? It’s getting better. I’m getting braver. I’m healing faster. Although I’m only halfway near closure, I’m getting there. Right now, there’s a smile that continues to emerge from behind these hands.
Today, I celebrate that smile. It’s getting bigger and brighter. I continue to encourage and empower the person who owns that smile. I look forward to the day that these hands won’t have to hide that smile anymore.
About the PPOD:
Are you familiar with Diana Ross’ song “I’m coming out?” This song has been in my head all day. Thank you Ms. Ross for inspiring this blog! She sure got it right 🎼 🎶 “I’m coming out… 🎶 🎵.
In case you’re not familiar with the song, here’s part of the lyrics. Go ahead! Let that inner smile out!