Hope takes on many different forms.
It looks like waking up at 3am and staring up at the pre-dawn sky, waiting for just one shooting star to make its way into view.
It looks like hard day after hard day, but continuing to get up and show up because one day it will all work out.
It looks like days full of tantrums, running on empty, only to be saved in the nick of time by the biggest hugs from your littlest loves.
Hope can look like laughter and tears, spring buds and fallen leaves, new faces and old friends.
Hope looks like whatever it is that gives you enough strength to do it all over again, when just the night before it may have seemed to dark to find your way.
Hands are for helping and holding.
We use them to touch, and they allow us to feel.
You learn a lot from a person’s hands. Are they calloused, or manicured? Is there a ring, or a tan line or indent where one used to be? Do they tremble or are they steady and still? Is there an energy emanating from them drawing you in?
It’s funny how sometimes too many hands in the pot can muddle.
Yet, too few can feel empty, alone and overwhelming.
As a self-confessed control freak I often feel that there is a surplus of hands. But lately, I’d have to admit there are never enough. Something is always missing these days. I just can’t seem to juggle it all. And on those hard days, which are more frequent as of late, there is no hand to hold or reach for to help me up.
Not in the way there once was.
Is my smile convincing?
I have worked extraordinarily hard on this grin. I’ve straightened it, polished it, plucked it, and whitened it. I’ve learned how to use it, too. I’ve figured out that as long as you see it, you will not poke and prod me. You won’t look too far past it for anything deeper. If I’m being truly honest, it’s not even that I’m faking. It is more of a survival skill. It keeps me from falling apart just as much as it appeases you.
Does this outfit look okay?
I’m much too careful how I dress. I put a lot of time into this over the years. If my clothes are ironed and modest you won’t look too long. You won’t think I’m stuck-up, or sloppy. You won’t call me a prude or a slut behind my back. If I look good you will think I am doing well and feeling fine. You won’t know I spend days in the same clothes without showering when I’m depressed. As long as I am well put together on the outside, noone bats an eye. These garments, these simple pieces of fabric, are armor to me. They protect me from you. Your eyes, your thoughts and your judgments.
Is the pinterest-worthy organized home doing what its supposed to?
It is supposed to look like I’ve got this. I don’t. I really don’t. But does it look like I do? God I hope so. I wouldn’t want you to think I actually live here alone with a three and five year old. I don’t want anyone to know that I struggle to stay on top of it these days. In the extremely rare event someone comes here I spend hours stashing toys, scrubbing toilets, washing dishes and generally, hiding all evidence of life. You won’t get to see that this is hard for me. I’ll do everything I can to prove I’m just as good at this today as I was a year ago with an extra set of hands.
Does my voice sound right?
If I’m talking to you, I assure you I am working harder at controlling my thoughts and response tone than I am at listening. I don’t want you to hear that today my mind is racing, or maybe that I just finished crying. If I talk too fast, you’ll know. If my voice shakes, you’ll know. If I don’t respond fast enough you might know it’s hard for me to focus. You could figure out that I already forgot part of what you said because some anxiety slipped in and distracted me for just long enough to deafen me.
The effort it takes to project this shield to the outside world is exhausting. I’ve recognized it over the last year. Recently I’ve begun lowering it to some extent. At least with a few close friends.
Most the time, there is something, however small or large, that I do not want you to see. For my own comfort and safety I keep my insides in, and my outsides poised.