A few nights ago, after a rough day, I asked George to pass me my Nikon N5100. I asked him to look at me for a test shot. He had no time to pose or to think. He was tired. Here is the shot.
Then I told him to take group of photos of me with the same framing as the test shot. I did not pose for the photo, but looked into the lens just as I was.
I know I still look don't look 100% with the puffy eyes, but the change is significant from the first shot of me even though they were a minute apart. Out of the several photos, he took, I asked George to pick the photo of me that he felt he sees the majority of the time. He picked the one of me above this one...without the glasses. In the second photo, you see my mask.
Yes, those of us with chronic illnesses put masks on all the time. We are pros. I put one on for my wedding day because I wanted to enjoy my day and not talk about how bad I felt the whole time even though I had cried in the bridal suite just before entering my reception. I think sometimes we don't even realize we have put on a mask because often that mask is for our protection.
I realized that I have unintentionally had a mask for a couple months online with everyone I keep in touch with online including my chronically ill friends (which is rare) as exemplified when I candidly discussed My Journey With OCD . In general, I have a lot of challenges with my illnesses and I share those; I also choose to focus on the joys in my life. I feel my Facebook statuses and blog posts reflect both. But, I don't tell the absolute nasty truth every day to every person.
There are so many reasons why, but the first one is that generally people don't and can't handle the truth. I learned to measure what someone really means whey they say "how are you?" because often times it is a question they don't want the real answer to. There have been times when I've shared my reality nad I've seen people pull away.
I am not sorry you cannot handle to hear about my life. I have no choice.
Second, when I do share how much I am suffering, people think it is an opportunity to share with me what they think I should do about it. I think I speak on behalf of everyone who has chronic illness that in this specific scenario, we hate this and find it incredibly hurtful. When a chronically ill--let me say that again slowly chron-i-cal-ly ill person shares about their suffering, what they need is encouragement/love/support, not an "idea" you heard about somewhere. As Ecclesiastes in the Bible says there is a time for everything; when someone reveals how deeply they are suffering, that point is NOT the time to be the umpteenth person to say "Have you tried/heard about XYZ?"
Daniel Hurley, MD wrote a phenomenal book called Facing Pain, Finding Hope: A Physician Examines Pain, Faith And the Healing Stories of Jesus. He wrote,
Even as we acknowledge the power of positive thinking and the presence of true grace, our human spirit can endure only so much before it is beaten down from its long-suffering.
This excerpt explains why lately, I have had a mask on to most everyone in my life except for George. I am beaten down. I am fragile and quite vulnerable: my body's betrayal & abuse, my situation, my jail cell, the nature of my illnesses. I am in survival mode. "Kelly Protection Mode." Lately almost daily, I ask God if today might be the day he would free me from this body and every time He says "No, I have plans for you." With His grace, I respond with "Okay. I trust you. I am listening." (Please note: I am not suicidal. I love my life. I'm just really weary. And I know God understands and can handle my weariness.)
Did you see George? Did you see his face? When I look at his face, it breaks my heart.
Beaten down. Long suffering. Need love. Need encouragement.