Sunday, January 8, 2012

Not Allowed to Smile (I am)

It started sometime around the Spring 2010.

I was with my mom, apparently in a good mood, and smiling. That's when she asked the question, "Who is he?" I shook my head, gave her one of my unique "what the hell are you talking about" looks, and returned the question with a question of my own . . .

"Why do you think there is someone?"I said.

"Because the only time you smile is when there is a guy," she said.

"That's not true!" I exclaimed with conviction and began to go a tangent that I don't need a guy to make me happy, or be the cause of there being a smile on my face. Of course this was all an effort to cause her to forget the original question (or make her regret asking and in turn decide to drop the subject).

Success! After I finished she dropped the subject and I walked away from her as quickly as I could.

Though I was reveling in my victory, my heart was beating fast, and hard. I was scared by the fact how transparent it was that there was in fact someone in my life. I wasn't ready to share that with her, or a lot of the people in my life quite yet, so I did my best to keep it under wraps despite wanting to tell the world. Maybe this made me a bad person, but I was treading with caution this time because I REALLY LIKED this person and didn't want to tempt fate.

Last April she asked me again, "Who is he?" By this time, mom knew about my previous relationship... she also knew that we were no longer together.

"There is no one. I swear, there is no one," I said.

"Are you sure?" she said

"I promised you, there is no one," I said.

Again, I went into a conversation about why it had to be someone making me happy rather than just being happy with life. The truth of the matter is that there was in fact no one and that I was just feeling good about life. (Hard to believe, I know!) I went on to explain about the personal statement I had written and how good it had made me feel -- amongst other things. Though she accepted my explanation, mom still was suspect. I guess she had a right to be... I mean I did lead her astray a bit the last time she said something so who was to really say I wasn't doing it again and I had just gotten more persuasive?

The whole conversation had left me with one lesson -- do not smile anymore. If I didn't smile a majority of the time then no one, including mom, would question me and I could go about my life with less hassle. This was hard to do. During this time I had a perspective shift and it had an effect on my overall contentment with life despite how imperfect it may have been at the time.

That's when I learned that one could smile on the inside and at the same time not on the outside. At one time I had questioned how this worked, and now I knew. I learned you don't have to be "happy" all the time, but you could still be happy overall. This was a crazy concept to me. Don't get me wrong, I've been happy before -- just not like this. I can't put it into words, but I keep coming back a scene in the first "Sex and the City" movie where Charlotte says that she is happy everyday, just not all day. Regardless of all that, I was still dead-set on allowing myself to smile. I felt like if I did I would just have to justify myself I didn't want to have to keep doing that.

It wasn't until recently that I let my smile, and optimism, run amuck. It's freaking a few of my close friends out. Bostonian recently told me he feels like I need to go see a doctor when I display this part of me and that the Froggie everyone knows and loves is only cynical. At first D just looked at me funny, but he no longer does that. He sees the person he knew when we first met. BFF... since we don't live in the same area she's only really experienced it via e-mail. She doesn't call me out on it (I'm sure she's happy to have "me" back), but sometimes I think she wonders if it's really me on the other end of our messages. Others, I sometimes think, are just waiting for this to end and for the "real me" to come back. This bothers me. I feel as though I'm constantly having to prove that this is who I am, and not some circumstantial version of me.

As for my mom . . . She no longer questions me. Instead, she just enjoys it. It's made the time we spend together more enjoyable and special.

As for me . . . I've learned many lessons from all this ... It's ok to smile. It's ok to smile on the inside even when things on the outside suck and may not produce a smile on my face. It's also made me more aware how various factors contribute to the way I view and react to things that happen on any given day. Not that I didn't know these things before, but now I can pinpoint point them much better.

Hopefully, one day I will smile because of a guy. (It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, would it?) Until then, I will continue to smile for the things I do have.

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