the MIRREN LEE

The 2012 Act Three Journey of an Actress/Coach/Writer.

Day 12 Appearances

Posted by themirrenlee on 12/01/2012

Appearances.

Looking back at yesterday’s post, I started thinking about how it seems to be human nature to judge each other purely on appearances alone.  I don’t believe it’s very common for people to look at each other and think, “Now, that person looks perfectly fine, but I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Maybe they’re depressed or ill or feeling insecure/unhappy/desperate/needy, etc.” Whatever.

Maybe they need an ear to listen and let them vent. Maybe just a hug. I’ve found, for instance, that so often when people seem to be angry they’re really just upset in some way – usually in a way that involves fear. Of illness, financial problems, how they look, anything else that might be going on in their lives. I’ve had the experience many times of gently asking someone who seemed angry if they were okay, after which they burst into tears and poured out their issues! The value of being a good listener and hug giver can’t be overestimated. How hard it seems to be for people to give each other a soothing hug. And how sad that it’s so hard.

How many times have you heard about a person committing suicide and everyone around him/her saying they had no idea anything was wrong?! We’re good at hiding our problems, and others are good at not delving too deeply to see if there are any problems that actually need addressing before they get to a critical stage.

I posted a picture yesterday of me on a freighter docking in Ensenada Harbor. The post was about my chronic illness, fibromyalgia, so I’m sure many readers looked at the photo and thought I don’t look like there’s anything at all wrong with me. And yet every single day of my life I battle with the twin devils of chronic pain and fatigue. I’m proud that only the people within my close circle have known about my condition over the 25 years I’ve been fighting it, because I hide it so well. But it’s a double edged sword – I then get little understanding of what I go through and why I have to say no so frequently to doing anything that might make me hit my wall. Once that happens it can take days to recuperate. It’s also almost impossible to make plans in advance because I don’t know how I’ll be feeling and that can also bewilder people. I have learned to handle my condition incredibly well and listen to what my body needs, which is of utmost importance to anyone with a chronic condition of any kind. People may tend to take your “No’s” personally, but you can’t let that worry you. Your own functioning must come first if you are to be of use to anyone else. It’s the same principle as the stewards on  a plane telling you to use the oxygen mask yourself first before sharing with your child.

If what you feel inside doesn’t match what we see on the outside, then you have to make the decision whether or not to share what’s really going on, and with whom. I think most people hide – their feelings, their problems, their fears. Sometimes there are valid reasons for hiding something; not wanting your employer to know you’re pregnant, for instance. But you can’t keep everything hidden all the time, never sharing it with anyone, which a lot of people do. The pressure of maintaining a “public face” will build up until something snaps. It’s human nature. It’s the reason a lot of celebrities implode. You’ll often hear of high profile people saying their face hurts from trying to smile all the time!

I’m sharing my chronic condition in these posts because it’s part of my commitment to the big changes in my life I’m making this year. I’ve decided to stop trying to act like I’m perfectly fine all the time, and simply educate people as I go along about what I have, and what I need in order to function as normally as I can. Who knows, I might be doing something that helps others deal with their own conditions at the same time.

So maybe looking a bit better deeper at each other would be a good start to healing a hurting world. There is an incredible amount of depression and unhappiness out there, and I wonder how much is partially due to the fact that we have become so isolated from each other – in our nuclear families, our online distractions, our withdrawal from the daily doses of fear mongering all around us, our compassion fatigue – that the relating that does happen is so superficial I am reminded of the joke in “Seinfeld”: “Just when I thought you couldn’t get any shallower, you let a little more water out of the pool.”!

Don’t judge a book by its cover, the saying goes. Don’t judge a person by their “cover”, either. It may be the only thing holding them together. Scratching the surface, achieving some real insight into what they need, and then giving what you can to help fulfil that need, is a pretty good way to relate to each other, don’t you think? Better than “relating” to three thousand of your closest “friends” on Facebook! (As the joke goes, how many of them will lend you money or help you move?!)

So that’s my story. I look fine, but very often need an ear and a hug. And probably a cup of tea! If you need the same, let someone know. Don’t just make your face hurt trying to smile through the pain. Maybe then we can retrain each other to look past the outside and go a bit deeper.

I’m just sayin’ …

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