Deliberate taking off the cape and mask

I have started this blog and held back because of many reasons. However, Christmas became the point when I realized pretending is no longer an option. It is not for sympathy or worry, but to let someone else know they are not alone.

I have a friend at work that I have never physically met and honestly do not even know what she looks like, but I can be 100% honest with her.   We have had many conversations lately and she asked how I was and I told her “My cape is worn and dirty and the mask is quickly melting!”, that is how I would describe my current state. The cape is the super woman I pull out every day to be all things to all people. The mask is the one that covers my bags under my eyes yet shows my mouth as I always say I am fine and smile.

It has been a hard year medically. Jim had 2 hospitalizations for cardiac issues, Mary had a month-long stomach illness (part of which was on our vacation), and then I had a spiral downfall of my diabetes landing me in the hospital. They have taken a toll. I could do Jim’s and Mary’s illness because I am a nurse and I can remove myself as their “family” to be a nurse. I held it together and was strong.   I advocate for them, get in a battle when necessary, and tighten the cape and keep on going.

This year has been a closure of a season. My dad sold the house where I grew up in. While I am so happy he remains somewhat close in distance and I can call on the phone. He is close to so much and can enjoy no projects and maintenance. I stayed strong and cried behind closed doors. It was yet another season of my life that closed forever.

Mary graduated from High School. We have never gone the “normal” path in her life, yet criticism has often followed because of choosing what was best for HER and not being like everyone else. Her Senior year and even worse after graduation, she was pressured to have all these answers in life.  When there wasn’t an answer to the questions (job, college, license), or when the answer didn’t “fit” the expectation, people (even friends and family and strangers) had things to say and it gnawed away on her. We listened as family and friends give their wisdom about how she needed to socialize with people, go to a University with “real” people, how “homeschool” made her odd and unsociable, etc. I listened as they disapproved and withdrew support. All the while, I put on the cape – stayed strong in front of her – tried to protect her from the hurtful words. I assured her and rebuilt her confidence as it was questioned and tore it down. I cursed people in my head, cried behind closed doors, but wore the “I’m fine” mask.  Despite the criticism, she pressed forward and is headed in a great direction without their support. She has an amazing full-time job (where she socializes with people all day for those who worry), starts a college of her choice, etc.

Sam has hit a growth spurt and is growing emotionally, socially, and mentally.  I knew he was growing as I slowly watched his height creep above mine. We went to the shoe store for Mary and came out with also a Men’s Size 11 shoe for Sam! When did that happen!?!? He is in 8th grade, and rarely does a day go by that I don’t wonder if things will ever be okay for him.  I watch shows like The Good Doctor and only made it through one episode. It scares me to think that even as an adult, he will have to prove himself more than others because of a diagnosis. His body is surpassing his playful heart, and people just don’t understand because believe he should be past playing. He has no concept of age when friendship is involved. I watch him come to life when people submerge themselves in his life and sword fight, play with him, or talk with him about his favorite toys or movies. However, I watch as people criticize the very things that make him come to like, but never try to understand why they do. I always wear my cape ready to protect him (and so does Mary), but grateful when it can get a little break when we are in safe environments.

When I got the diagnosis of the decline of my diabetes, it saddened and honestly angered me. How could it be happening!?!? Honestly even had me angry at God. Didn’t He see how much I was doing, how I was serving my family and friends, etc. I started a new medication to put a bandage on the bigger issue. A band-aid which is always my solution. The new medication (the bandage) didn’t work. I became so sick that I lost all control. But for days, I kept downplaying the illness. I had so much to get done, or so I thought. I hung up my cape and took off the mask – I was not fine! However, I sadly didn’t even disclose the severity to those “closest” to me. It was easier… I didn’t want the attention… but honestly, I didn’t want to show my weakness.

Every day, as a wife, a mom, a nurse, a friend…. I wear the cape… I put on the mask. As I have had conversation with a co-worker, I realize I am not alone. Her life mirrors mine in many ways. I can have open conversations with her because I don’t feel like I will disappoint her. I am also a participant in an online Bible Study that began as a study on improving ourselves as wives. Over the weeks, we talked about so many personal things, and took off our capes and masks. We then resolved to continue to meet because the bond was so strong. They too had similar stories. Why can I be honest with people I have never physically met, but not the ones I can reach out and touch?

The irony is that I don’t always feel safe enough and/or brave enough and/or strong enough to be the woman not wearing my cape and/or my mask. It is so much easier to pretend in person that I am fine. I find that women/friends are so busy putting on their own capes and masks and running through life there is only time for a quick text to check in. When people ask, “how are you” the expected answer is “fine or okay or good or great”.   All the while, I hide in the comfort of our home and cry after the day’s tasks are done and all the family is tucked away (or maybe that is just me). I have set some unrealistic expectations for life. Believing I can do it all.

I wanted to finish 2017 Strong… and now I feel like I am just going to barely cross the finish line. The biggest wake up for me is that my daughter now often puts on the same cape and mask to face the world. She has learned from me to be silent and push forward, because that is what is “appropriate” and respectful. We don’t confront people when they back on promises or say things to hurt us, but cower under the cape and tighten the mask. Though 2017 didn’t go entirely as planned, I have learned that some things must change. Time to rely on my Grandma’s favorite verse Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, and stop relying on my own strength and the wearing of a cape and a mask.

 

I have started this blog and held back because of many reasons. However, Christmas became the point when I realized pretending is no longer an option. It is not for sympathy or worry, but to let someone else know they are not alone.

I have a friend at work that I have never physically met and honestly do not even know what she looks like, but I can be 100% honest with her.   We have had many conversations lately and she asked how I was and I told her “My cape is worn and dirty and the mask is quickly melting!”, that is how I would describe my current state. The cape is the super woman I pull out every day to be all things to all people. The mask is the one that covers my bags under my eyes yet shows my mouth as I always say I am fine and smile.

It has been a hard year medically. Jim had 2 hospitalizations for cardiac issues, Mary had a month-long stomach illness (part of which was on our vacation), and then I had a spiral downfall of my diabetes landing me in the hospital. They have taken a toll. I could do Jim’s and Mary’s illness because I am a nurse and I can remove myself as their “family” to be a nurse. I held it together and was strong.   I advocate for them, get in a battle when necessary, and tighten the cape and keep on going.

This year has been a closure of a season. My dad sold the house where I grew up in. While I am so happy he remains somewhat close in distance and I can call on the phone. He is close to so much and can enjoy no projects and maintenance. I stayed strong and cried behind closed doors. It was yet another season of my life that closed forever.

Mary graduated from High School. We have never gone the “normal” path in her life, yet criticism has often followed because of choosing what was best for HER and not being like everyone else. Her Senior year and even worse after graduation, she was pressured to have all these answers in life.  When there wasn’t an answer to the questions (job, college, license), or when the answer didn’t “fit” the expectation, people (even friends and family and strangers) had things to say and it gnawed away on her. We listened as family and friends give their wisdom about how she needed to socialize with people, go to a University with “real” people, how “homeschool” made her odd and unsociable, etc. I listened as they disapproved and withdrew support. All the while, I put on the cape – stayed strong in front of her – tried to protect her from the hurtful words. I assured her and rebuilt her confidence as it was questioned and tore it down. I cursed people in my head, cried behind closed doors, but wore the “I’m fine” mask.  Despite the criticism, she pressed forward and is headed in a great direction without their support. She has an amazing full-time job (where she socializes with people all day for those who worry), starts a college of her choice, etc.

Sam has hit a growth spurt and is growing emotionally, socially, and mentally.  I knew he was growing as I slowly watched his height creep above mine. We went to the shoe store for Mary and came out with also a Men’s Size 11 shoe for Sam! When did that happen!?!? He is in 8th grade, and rarely does a day go by that I don’t wonder if things will ever be okay for him.  I watch shows like The Good Doctor and only made it through one episode. It scares me to think that even as an adult, he will have to prove himself more than others because of a diagnosis. His body is surpassing his playful heart, and people just don’t understand because believe he should be past playing. He has no concept of age when friendship is involved. I watch him come to life when people submerge themselves in his life and sword fight, play with him, or talk with him about his favorite toys or movies. However, I watch as people criticize the very things that make him come to like, but never try to understand why they do. I always wear my cape ready to protect him (and so does Mary), but grateful when it can get a little break when we are in safe environments.

When I got the diagnosis of the decline of my diabetes, it saddened and honestly angered me. How could it be happening!?!? Honestly even had me angry at God. Didn’t He see how much I was doing, how I was serving my family and friends, etc. I started a new medication to put a bandage on the bigger issue. A Band-Aid which is always my solution. The new medication (the bandage) didn’t work. I became so sick that I lost all control. But for days, I kept downplaying the illness. I had so much to get done, or so I thought. I hung up my cape and took off the mask – I was not fine! However, I sadly didn’t even disclose the severity to those “closest” to me. It was easier… I didn’t want the attention… but honestly, I didn’t want to show my weakness.

Every day, as a wife, a mom, a nurse, a friend…. I wear the cape… I put on the mask. As I have had conversation with a co-worker, I realize I am not alone. Her life mirrors mine in many ways. I can have open conversations with her because I don’t feel like I will disappoint her. I am also a participant in an online Bible Study that began as a study on improving ourselves as wives. Over the weeks, we talked about so many personal things, and took off our capes and masks. We then resolved to continue to meet because the bond was so strong. They too had similar stories. Why can I be honest with people I have never physically met, but not the ones I can reach out and touch?

The irony is that I don’t always feel safe enough and/or brave enough and/or strong enough to be the woman not wearing my cape and/or my mask. It is so much easier to pretend in person that I am fine. I find that women/friends are so busy putting on their own capes and masks and running through life there is only time for a quick text to check in. When people ask, “how are you” the expected answer is “fine or okay or good or great”.   All the while, I hide in the comfort of our home and cry after the day’s tasks are done and all the family is tucked away (or maybe that is just me). I have set some unrealistic expectations for life. Believing I can do it all.

I wanted to finish 2017 strong… and now I feel like I am just going to barely cross the finish line.  I have unfortunately relied on my own strength (and hiding behind a cape and mask).  The biggest wake up for me is that my daughter now often puts on the same cape and mask to face the world. She has learned from me to be silent and push forward, because that is what is “appropriate” and respectful.  We are not honest when people ask how we are, when people back out on promises,  or when people say things that hurt us, but cower under the cape and tighten the mask.   Though 2017 didn’t go entirely as planned, I have learned that some things must change. Time to rely on my Grandma’s favorite verse Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, and stop relying on my own strength and the wearing of a cape and a mask.

p.s. as I think on Words for 2018 Brave may have to go in the running.

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