For Smiley

 
 Why is it so hard for us to lay our souls bare—-to expose our deepest griefs and yearnings?  What are we afraid of? Why do I feel something close to shame when I talk about my sadness? I wrote this several days ago, but have been unable to hit that “Publish” button.  But if I don’t, then it would seem that I don’t believe the words I write.  So if you’re reading this right now, it means I finally had the courage to click “Publish.”  It will also mean that I’m sick to my stomach, as I always am when I put myself out there like this.  But I guess it’s better to risk your heart than to close it…
 
When I first started blogging, it was a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing. I didn’t give a lot of thought to what my objectives were other than a desire to revive my dormant writing muse. As time went on and I began to post on a regular basis, I was genuinely surprised to realize that people out there were actually reading my stuff. And every so often, someone would tell me that something I’d written had moved them or changed their thinking or, best of all, given them hope.
 
Of course, it thrilled me to think that, with my words, I could encourage or maybe even enlighten someone. Or make them laugh. But I’ve realized over time that it is most important to me that my blog be completely true to who I am, whether I am feeling happy and hopeful or sad and lonely.
 
Now that I think about it, I think maybe THAT’S what I really want, more than anything. To help people feel less alone. I know how it feels to feel alone. When I was small, I felt alone when my oldest brother abused me—physically and otherwise. Thank God he stole a car when he was fourteen and was sent to reform school, giving me two years of peace. Well, not complete peace. My sister was prone to inexplicable rages and almost killed me twice. Daddy had a real hard time pulling her off the second time, and I passed out before he could pry her fingers from my neck. He said later that had he not been there, she would have surely killed me.  I think my parents did the best they could, but they were overwhelmed. Mama always said I practically raised myself.
 
But had you seen the girl I was back then, you never would have known all this. I had plenty of friends because I was always smiling or laughing or trying to make others laugh. My uncle called me “Smiley.” But I remember that sometimes I’d be in the middle of a group of my friends and suddenly be seized with the most overwhelming feeling of loneliness. But I never told anyone. Because I was Smiley—the girl who was always happy. And the world loves a happy girl.
 
I can’t help but notice that I get the most comments when I write a happy or cheerful post. And who can blame you? Lord knows, we need all the positive we can get these days. I myself am drawn to positive people because I think there’s always something to hope for and I believe that almost always, joy follows sorrow.  And it’s a lot more fun to write a happy post.  But sometimes I do feel sad. Or angry. Or lonely. So I reach out with my words, knowing that it’s not always just the positive posts that help the lonely feel less alone. Sometimes it’s good to know that others feel sad or angry or lonely, too—that you’re not the only one. So maybe sometimes even my less cheery posts might help someone out there to feel less alone; to know that it’s okay to feel that way and that there are those that love you whether you’re feeling happy or sad.
 
Please know that I don’t mean this at all as a rebuke to those that don’t comment on my angry or melancholy posts. I’m sure you have good reasons why you don’t, and that’s okay, too. Perhaps it’s because YOU are feeling sad. But I do want to thank those that do. I think you understood that my last post wasn’t just about poor customer service, but about how awful it feels when another human being treats you unkindly. So thank you. For accepting me as I am and for helping ME to feel less alone. I am grateful.
 
But really, I’m writing this to that little girl named Beth from so long ago. The one with the stubby hair and wide crooked smile that never stopped. For Smiley. I’m writing this to tell her that I love her whether there’s a big smile on her  eager freckled face or big tears flowing down it. I’m writing this to tell her that it’s okay to feel sad. But that she should never feel lonely. Because even though sometimes people will turn from you when you’re sad, there are always those who love and embrace you for who you are—no matter how scarred or broken. There are always those who will extend a hand of kindness—whether virtual or real—to let you know that you are not alone. You are not alone.
 
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21 Responses to “For Smiley”

  1. Betsy from Tennessee Says:

    Oh Beth, I so admire you for posting this.. You really need to get it out. Where there’s so much hurt inside that you obviously never dealt with, you need to do whatever you can to deal with it. You are SO brave. And we are the best people to talk with now.

    But–let me tell you something Little Friend of mine. ALL of us have hurts inside of us. You think that I am a positive person.. Well–I am, but I wasn’t always and I did have to make some deliberate changes within myself in order to find that ‘positive’ gal I am now.

    So—you really are NOT alone. Every single one of us has some kind of baggage in our lives. We all live with it and deal with it in our own way. I am so sorry for what you went through as a child. BUT—I am very proud of you for the woman you have become despite that.

    The people I struggle with are those who go through some kind of grief or trauma —and their whole entire life is about that situation and how sad and bitter they are. I used to go to a blog site of a woman who had had some grief to deal with. WELL—after going to her blog for about 5-6 months, I realized that that woman (and her followers) were people who wanted to stay IN that moment and continue to grieve and grieve and are not willing to even try to move on. I finally had to stop going to that blog… I just don’t have alot of sympathy toward people like that —who just won’t move on. Life does go on and you and I are good examples of those who have made the best we can with our lives. I am so proud of you…

    I will email you with a thought that I want to remain private.
    Love you bunches,
    Betsy

  2. Bonnie Jacobs Says:

    You are not alone. Because you pushed the “publish” button, you are making it easier for me to continue writing the book I’m working on, a book about women (and not solely about me). I have wondered how much to include about myself — or whether it would be better to write about others and leave myself out. I’m sure I’ll embarrass my daughter, maybe both daughters, if I include things they consider private matters, even though the private stuff is about me, not either of them.

  3. wesleys Says:

    Ah sweet, dear, kind friend. You are not alone, indeed. And you know what? Your friendship has made me feel not alone many many times over the last few years. Some of those you’re not even aware of.
    Remember that I love you–and others do too–even when your down and sad and angry and bitter and feeling all of those negative things that we ALL experience. We love you even through those times because of this shining sparkling diamond of a person you are inside. And those who can’t see that have something wrong with their (in)sight.

    I’ve quoted this before and it still stands: “Ring the bells that still can ring / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in”–or out in some cases!

    Hugs multiplied!

  4. wesleys Says:

    ugh, I meant *you’re* not *your*–I hate such typos.

  5. Jayne Says:

    ((((Beth))))… how brave you are. So many times, I’ve wanted to compose something this honest and raw, and yet… I don’t. Like Betsy said, we all have hurts and issues that might have defined who we, and where we are in huge ways. I am not always “up” either, and lately, truly, it’s more like I am in a contemplative sort of state of mind. But, I don’t share it, as too many people I “know” IRL read my blog. So, you are much stronger and much braver than I could ever be my friend. Thank you for this post. Just thank you… along with big hugs for everything you have overcome, and the beautiful person who emerged.

  6. Sharon Says:

    Many years ago, I went to a weekend writing workshop. One of the few times in my life back then that I gave myself a great big treat for no “good” reason. At one point, we were paired up with someone else to write something that reflected both of us. We only had about 30 minutes. My writing partner and I, who couldn’t possibly have been more different from each other superficially, wrote a dialogue called “I thought I was the only one.” It reflected experiences and attitudes and emotions (fear and loneliness for example) that we had both had. When we read it out loud to the group of about a dozen others, it resonated with every single person in the room. They knew, too. It was a profound moment for me, particularly since I had felt very isolated and “different” when the workshop began–the same way I had felt a great deal of the time in my life, even while smiling and seeming to fit in.

    Of course it’s always safer and thus easier to comment about beautiful photography, charming storytelling, or humorous incidents. And there are so many people who never comment at all–I “stalk” quite a few blogs on a daily basis myself, and never make a comment. I honestly can’t say why, and I’m going to do something about changing that! But I think you can trust that whether or not people have shared your specific experiences of hurt and fear and loneliness, they know those and other equally intense feelings well.

    I am so grateful for our friendship, which began because we reached out in exactly the way you have described. Being honest. Taking the risk. Thank you.

  7. Missy Says:

    Your blog is one of my very favorites, and this post is beautifully written. I’m so glad you hit the publish button! All of the comments so far are beautifully written too, much better than I can do. But I wanted to say thank you for posting this! There’s a line in the movie “Shadowlands” that says, “We read to know we’re not alone.” If no one wrote, there would be nothing to read, so thanks to all of the writers out there who share their deepest thoughts and feelings!

  8. southernlady64 Says:

    Hi Beth, I am so proud of you for publishing your post. I think I am a lot like you deep down inside. I write about a lot of things but there are things I don’t write about as you well know. You have been a true friend and I cherish your friendship so much. Sometimes, the death of someone close to me upsets me so much and I miss that person so much that I can’t bring myself to write about it. I admire you for being able to put yourself out there. I did not have a perfect childhood either but I feel I have come to grips with that part of my life. Thank you so much for sharing your feelings. I think you are a beautiful person. I am so priviledged to know you.

  9. Sweetflutterbys3 Says:

    Beth,

    You took a risk so very few of us are willing to. I can’t help but admire you with tears in my eyes. You touched a place in me and made me feel less different.

    I think that you get less comments on sad posts because so many people don’t know what to say. I know I feel nervous putting my thoughts down in case I say something wrong. It’s just human nature I think. But I hope you continue expressing those sad and angry feelings because even though you don’t get much of a response, I think you touch more people than you know.

    It also made me feel less alone to learn that you are a survivor of childhood abuse, like I am. My parents were the perpetradors, but I think having any kind of abuse imposed on a child changes that child forever.

    Thank you so much for sharing your feelings and thoughts and for taking the chance to show everyone this side of you. I wish I could see you in person because I have a big hug I’d like to give you!

  10. Benjamin Says:

    I know Smiley’s still there–thank you for being honest about everything. I’m on the road to there right now. I love you!

  11. Jes Says:

    Your honesty and openness is so refreshing and welcoming–the blogging world definitely helps us all feel not alone. Thank you for this beautiful post and the reminder that we all need to reach out a little sometimes.

  12. Martha Says:

    Beth, this post was beautiful! It must have been hard to write about difficult moments in your life. I really appreciate you sharing this. Your blog has become one of my very favourite places to visit. Whenever I see that you have added a new post, I save it until I can sit down without being disturbed to savour it.

    I am sorry that you experienced difficulties in your life, but I do admire your courage and your strong will. You are a remarkable woman. You endured abuse, and instead of becoming an abuser yourself, or spending your life being bitter, you have risen above it to become this wonderful, warm and loving person. You are truly an inspiration to all who know you.

  13. Ginger Says:

    Maybe most of the world loves a happy girl or happy boy, but it is good to know that there are some folks out there, some wonderful folks, who prefer a REAL girl, woman, boy, man. Thanks for keeping it real.

  14. NCMountainwoman Says:

    What a powerful and moving post. I’m so glad you did push the “publish” button. Who knows how many people will know they are not alone when they read about Smiley?

  15. Jeff Says:

    “…it’s better to risk your heart than to close it.” Oh ………….. You are so brave, Beth, to write a post like this. I wrote a long letter to Maggie yesterday that took me all day to compose. I imagine that the process was something similar to what you went through in composing this post. I wrote some, thought about it, reflected on it, changed it, wrote some more, went back and reflected on what I had written … it was a long, agonizing process, but I finally sent it last night and I wonder if I will get a response. I ended my letter with the poem Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann. What a wonderfully wise poem! I laid myself open, like you, and I think it will be a measure of her humanity if and how she responds. Folks have responded to your post and their responses are a measure of their humanity. Yes, it is risky to feel … We’ve all been terribly hurt in our lives because that is the price we pay for still being alive. But we have to overcome our hurts and you have been such a wonderful friend in helping me get over my hurt. Bless you, my friend!!

  16. Ariel Says:

    I love that you take the worst things that happen to you and make them the best things about you, in that you have been scarred and broken and alone, but through it, you became a person that others can turn to when they feel the same way. I love Smiley, and I love you.

  17. clara Melvin Says:

    I’m glad you hit the “Publish” button….and I am glad you are my friend.

  18. CountryDew Says:

    Your words are always special and I’m glad that you have found an outlet with blogging. Keep writing, regardless of topic, because you never know who you will touch.

  19. colleen Says:

    I get the most comments on my blog when I write from the heart about myself, when I share my inner process, which I think is a universal struggle even though the details may be different for each person. I appreciate the humor and light more when the shadow is also shared. I think as writers we can’t ignore it. We have to go where the energy is.

    I agree that when I talk about my struggles I feel uncomfortable and maybe embarrassed. Why is that? We tend not to like to draw attention to ourselves.

  20. Ruth Says:

    Blessings to you and much peace,
    Swirling gently around and above you,
    With comfort and quietness.
    Light coming through the shadows
    to brighten the way–
    That leads forward, always forward…
    Like a beacon, to hold us by our hand,
    stumbling at times,
    while choking back the tears
    KNOWING
    that understanding and clarity will come
    in time
    and that the “peace which passes all understanding”
    will preserve and keep our soul. And, so, it has.

  21. Shannon Says:

    I hope you get gobs and gobs and gobs of comments, even through the next year and not just right after you post. You know, I think I had an easier time writing about gut wrenching things before people I “knew” actually read it. I think I can be real with strangers, but I get tied into worrying that somebody that works for me, or somebody that I want to think I’m doing really well when I’m writing about life struggles.

    Sigh.

    So just keep writing what you write, and write what is important to you. Virtual love, and yes, we are listening. You are not alone. Shan

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