Painted Smiles

My body language rarely reflects my mood – unless I’m alone. The smile feels fixed -painted on – but smiling is what normal people do. It’s how I’m supposed to interact with others. Fake, but necessary. Babies get upset if you stop smiling. People don’t like straight faces,  either. I always make sure I smile with my eyes, too. Otherwise people might guess it’s not genuine.

Nowhere is this pretence kept up more determinedly than at church. There’s always a bit of acting involved when you work with children.  They find it more difficult to read emotional subtleties for a start, and lavish praise, and mock disappointment help check their behaviour, so it doesn’t get out of hand. Children’s talks are about capturing attention and imagination which require being “larger than life” to a degree.

When I do children’s talks, I bounce. I love doing them; It’s when I feel most free, and easy, and engaged. Something was different about yesterday’s talk. Or my awareness was different. I felt flat. With the energy gone, I still bounced, but it was all put-on,  all acting. I heard myself laughing and encouraging the children “Are you ready? Go!” – but it wasn’t me speaking. The the noise, the children’s response, filled the void inside me – temporarily. Then it was finished, and I sit again, and am empty. The feeling, the energy was fake – there is nothing there, not really.

And I feel like I’m lying to the children, and I’m lying to myself, but I don’t know how to be real with them, or with me, or with anyone, without upsetting them. I am a hypocrite. I want to cut.

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One Response to Painted Smiles

  1. Pingback: Bitter Lemon | Discovering Faith (and Doubt and Hope) in Christ

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