May 29, 2013

Perceived Expectations

There is a big issue stuck in my head.

It is the perceived expectations of me as pertains to how I handle my husband's health problems.

How I carry myself through being the wife of a chronically ill man.

That I must always be strong. I cannot crack under the pressure. That I must just slap a smile on my face, stay positive and upbeat all the time. And that I will be judged if I don't.

But no one, not one single person, has ever said to me, "Jennifer, if you ever lose your shit, I won't respect you anymore."

On the contrary, all I've ever been told are things like "I admire you", "I don't know how you do it", "you're so strong" and even "you're amazing".

Further, I am told that I am allowed to feel whatever I feel, that I'm allowed to cry and scream if I need to. My friends tell me to "let your freak flag fly!"

Yet I remain reserved. I worry that if I do any of that, it will scare the hell out of everyone. I feel this responsibility to hold it together, for the most part, for others, because I perceive that they look to me for their own strength.

I am well aware that I am not the only person affected by Mark's health problems. It hurts his parents very much. It hurts my mother to see me dealing with such difficult things and it hurts my father because he and Mark have become real friends. Our friends are affected. Mark's co-workers worry about him. Mark is a very charismatic guy and he is well-liked by all. It hurts everyone that he and I have to go through so much.

And my kids! My son hates it when I cry; he gets very concerned. Whenever Camryn hears there might be something amiss with her dad, she frantically asks WHY? and "does he have to go to the hospital" and "will his heart stop again?"

Oh MY heart. I think for my babies, I do have to maintain my composure as best I can.

But for everyone else? I feel that I have to let go of this responsibility I feel for THEIR feelings.

How can I possibly have the energy to babysit other people's feelings? I don't have it.

I work every day at holding this family up, staying positive, finding joy, having fun. Appreciating what we have and relishing in it.

But I get weary. I get negative. And sometimes I need to cry.

That has to be OK. I need to feel like it's allowed.

Don't expect anything of me other than that I will always push on. If you see me down, know I will get back up. I'm stubborn like that.

And all I will expect hope of you is a hug. A smile. A prayer. A joke. A tissue. Leeway.

Linked with Pour Your Heart Out.

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