You moved in when I was very young, shoved me into your corner, made me cry and when I cried you caused the kids to laugh at me, taunt me saying “Don’t cry Joel.” Sister Annette told me to buck up, to learn to be a man and hold the tears back. Damn you and damn her. I couldn’t say it at the time. Two years of living under the threat of her ruler, but the taunts were worse, hurt worse. The more they called me names, you and my parents reasoned, the stronger I would become but this practice was flawed. I played alone or with other losers. My mother criticized my choice of friends, calling them slow, hinting that they were retarded. Even among them I lived in a shell and the kids continued to wear at my head, trying to produce the streams of salt water they loved so much to see. I don’t know what brought you to make a home in my head. I don’t know why you made me sensitive to the twist in their voices. Was it the arrival of my two cousins who stayed for a year? If it was, you stayed beyond a year, brought me suffering. I looked at Jesus and wondered what was worse: crucifixion or this hell I was going through? If I was on the cross with Him, it was an absurdity.
Not sure which is worse?
I think we’ve all done it. The smiling through our tears. Putting on a facade that we are happy even though we are miserable inside. I do that a lot. I don’t want people to worry. Sometimes, I can’t help it. It would frighten my children when I would cry for no reason so I got better at hiding my feelings.
But, other times, I tell people how I am feeling. But, I still have the smile. I can laugh at a joke after I told them I was contemplating suicide. They don’t take me seriously because my words don’t match my affect.
So, sometimes I am hiding and sometimes I am not believed because I am scared to show outside how I feel inside. It seems better to cry inside than to shed actual tears.