I have become an expert at faking my emotions, okay maybe not an expert because my face I have been told tends to give my feelings away more than I would like, but I have certainly become adept at faking what I am feeling. I know it is a learned skill because my children do not have a false emotional bone in their bodies. When they are happy we all know it, when they are angry we all, and our neighbors, know it. When they are hurt or scared or frustrated, they say it, their faces express it, their cries let it be known.
And part of my job as a mom, is helping my children control their emotions. Giving them words to use instead of their hands. Telling them to take their tantrum to their room and to come back when they are able to talk in a reasonable tone of voice. Encouraging them to let go of the frustration or hurt and just move on. I teach my kids this because it is what I have been taught.
It is also, for the most part, probably the healthiest way to deal with emotions. We certainly don't want our emotions to control our lives. I don't want my day to be at the whim of my feelings. Part of the faking it is because I know that my feelings can be fleeting. They can be hormone or sleep deprivation induced. I know that I may have misunderstood or overreacted. And I know that grace is the place where I want all my relationships to start and end.
But I also think some of us, me, take this too far. We fake feelings hoping to make them real, or at least to avoid being a horrible person. For example, as a mom I have been told that I need to cherish these precious children I have been given because they grow up so fast. And I do cherish them, but I also get highly irritated by them. I get angry and frustrated and sad and depressed and deflated. But I can't admit that can I because it would make me a bad mom. And so I fake it until I make it as the saying goes. I put on a happy, or at least not disgruntled face, and I go about parenting, even when I don't want to, even when I wonder why I ever had kids and will they ever leave me alone. Because I don't want to damage my kids with my feelings.
I don't want to damage my friendships with how I really feel about something. I don't want to hurt the people I love by telling them something that might hurt them. I don't want to open myself to being even more vulnerable.
Mostly I don't want to actually talk about my feelings because it hurts. It hurts me. It hurts other people. Also, feelings feel out of my control. They come and go. I can't explain them and I certainly don't want to be judged or defined by them.
But what happens when you spend your life putting on a good front? When you become so good at putting away your feelings you forget they are there? Can you experience the good feelings without the bad? Can you have joy without pain? Happiness without sadness? A sense of accomplishment without the possibility of disappointment?