SMILE

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Several years ago while I walked a mall, an old man implored me to, “Smile.”

My ever-behaving inner child responded at his command, making the corners of my mouth turn up. At that moment I realized my sad pathetic life was in plain sight for all to see.

Though I took great steps to conceal the pain, mistakes and horrendous abuses that made up my existence, all anyone needed to do was peer at my face, gaze into my eyes. This gentleman couldn’t comprehend the actual web of horrors that entangled me.

Unwanted, neglected, and abandoned by my mother and father. At 16, as my parents divorced and married people whom I had never before met, my newly introduced stepfather’s actions cast me to the winds. Forced to find a place to live, a friend’s family took me in, but the father happened to be a pedophile. Oh, not so lucky me.

Yet, a roof covered my head, and I didn’t need to resort to life on the streets. The lack of love, support, and care combined to create one insecure, lonely girl whose self-esteem lingered on the bottom of a toilet bowl.

Before residing with the child molester at age 16, at 13, a boy, also 13 asked me to kiss him. Well wow, and thus began our 17-year relationship.

We married at 19, and were blessed first with a handsome son then 4 ½ years later a gorgeous daughter. From all appearances, this young family appeared ideal, but we were not.

My husband, the consummate workaholic, was unreachable. Every few months, I begged, cried, and attempted to reason with him, explained his kids and me, his wife, needed him. Alas, his work took priority.

Dissatisfied, disgruntled and stricken with abandonment once more, I fell into a severe depression. A new problem surfaced, insomnia and middle of the night pacing throughout the house.

The idea the situation would remain out of my control, and no matter how hard I tried to make him understand, nothing would change, sent me hurling into an abyss of isolation.

Then, a stranger appeared at precisely the wrong moment. In my confusion and bewilderment, I believed him to be my knight in eye-squinting armor.

The one person who adored and needed me like no other. Call me blind and crazy, as this was no brilliant crusader coming to my rescue.  The man saw and conquered with such swiftness, all who thought they understood me felt confident the sorcerer had hypnotized me.

In reality, I was desperate, lost, and ripe for the picking. My need to be loved, needed, desired, and validated, became his direct entrance to my heart. Several devastating choices later, I found myself drowning in a 20-year long nightmare of domestic violence.

The fact I’m alive is itself amazing. That my person retained goodness, positivity, and humor, is nothing short of a miracle.

Smile? Though I fashioned myself into an expert concealer of hideous truths, the cloak of sadness and defeat was visible to anyone who took note.

I suspect the man who dared ask me to grin possessed a kind soul. In one brief moment, he recognized a person in need.

After escaping my personal hell, life turned for the better. A sense of self, peace, and happiness grew as surely as nurtured seeds become seedlings.

Now, I wear a happy face, and I don’t believe anyone would view me as someone who needs to be prompted to “Smile.”

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47 comments

    • I agree with Val Boyko about your story. Kenzie, here’s a sophisticated and very moving version of Charlie Chaplin’s song sung by Barbra Streisand:

      Smile, though your heart is aching.
      Smile, even though it’s breaking.
      When there are clouds in the sky, you get by if you smile.
      Through your fears and sorrow, smile.
      And maybe tomorrow you’ll see the sun come shining through for you.
      Light up your face with gladness.
      Hide every trace of sadness, although a tear may be ever so near.
      That’s the time you must keep trying.
      Smile, what’s the use of crying
      You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.
      That’s the time you must keep on trying.
      Smile, what’s the use of crying.
      You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.
      Smile.
      Just smile

      Liked by 2 people

  1. One should never “command” someone to smile. Such a falseness, a lie. Like putting on a mask, like “never telling” for those with dark secrets at home.
    Truly caring is to ask someone why they cannot smile.
    Then sit patiently and listen to the reasons why.
    The former, a one-way command of spontaneous falseness.
    The latter, connectedness.
    Your story is another account of the triumph of human spirit.
    No matter what happens to us in the now, we must always focus on the next.
    May good fortune shine upon you.

    Seek peace,

    Paz

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Michele. However, this blog is only a small part of the big picture. Unfortunately, life’s circumstances sent me to the abyss of a CPTSD survivor. As such, I’m plagued by my over-thinking brain. Yes, life is much improved, but the demons return on a regular basis.
      All the best to you too, and thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for the consciousness-raising. Forcing a smile is just that: forcing. Although, feeling down tends to attract more negative, or so they say. It’s an unfortunate fact of psychology that “there is a limit to human sympathy.” From a textbook. Well, the orange sunshine is creeping through my front window. At least the sun doesn’t discriminate. Nor does the rain. When there seems to be no hope, there’s always the wilderness for you and me to go into and regroup. No, we can’t force a smile. But we have time on our side — usually. In any given day, if you let three hours pass, then the emotion passes as well. You might try this. Just the words of a schizophrenic/alcoholic. Loved the way you skewered us on Ellie’s site.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Skewered” who on Ellie’s site? Sorry, but I’m not sure what you are referring to. Anyway, the man’s prompt for me to smile wasn’t out of meanness, and I simply took it as a reminder to focus on more pleasant things.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Understood! It’s my fault, tho. I “jumped to conclusions.” According to Cognitive Therapy, something to be avoided. In this case, I assumed too much. It’s difficult to ascertain others’ attitudes online without these 🙂 Just don’t take the blame yourself, and let’s start afresh. I’m very sorry, having read your story. I was sexually abused at the age of three. I still don’t recall how many times it happened. Got a lot of anger stored up about that.

      Liked by 1 person

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