Behind Her Smile

…he was almost everything I yearned for, but none of them at all. 

Arrested in my soul by this list I’d written so fluidly, effortlessly and without hesitation, I sighed with relief—it almost felt like freedom. Freedom from thoughts I kept captive in my heart and entrapped in my mind. These thoughts that have left my mouth and have been written on paper now have life.

I get out of the car and my sons greet me at the door, “Mommy! Where were you?” they said, in what seemed like perfect unison. I smile at both of their excited and concerned expressions as if this inward self-talk, writing and exhaling breath of relief never occurred. The mommy hat was shaken out, put on and adjusted firmly. I said, “Mommy went for a walk with her friend, but I’m back buddies.” We embraced each other right at the door. I continued and asked, “Where’s Daddy?” I smiled again. It was that smile I seem to muster up when I can’t find a better mask to wear. It was that smile rooted in shame and even guilt. I had a list and it felt like another secret.

That night, I continued to press through with the evening routine—dinner, baths, laughs, bed time stories, the entertaining of inquisitive young minds and kisses—a true happily ever after, huh?

The night grows closer to an end. He and I begin to reflect on our day; but today my mind isn’t here. I’m experiencing discomfort in my chest. “What’s wrong Simone?” he says—one of very few who calls me by my middle name. I’m silent. In deep thought about what I’ll say back tonight. Should I tell him my truest thought? I begin feeling guilty about my list. No, no, no! Don’t you dare tell him that Whitney, just WAIT. I look at him with a smile and say, “nothing, I think I’m just tired. I’m going to take a bath.” Man, oh man, I would’ve done anything to step away—away from what felt like pressure, disconnection, and sadness. If only he could read my mind.

I stretched out and laid back in the bath. I allowed the water from my eyes to just flow—I hadn’t cried in what felt like years. That night I prayed until my skin shriveled. I remember saying, “…above all God I want everything I do to honor you, to please you; if it is not pleasing to you Lord, I don’t want it.”

That night I understood that I’d allowed my idea of “happily ever after” to interfere with what God has for me. I realized that my decision to say nothing, smiling in spite of the hurt I felt so deeply, presenting daily with my infamous mantra, “be in this moment Whitney” had been rooted in shame.

That night, I ended with the words and quiet tears, “I am so tired God, show me a better way.”


to be continued…