The day I lost my smile + how I’m going to get it back

I may have mentioned this before, but when I was at school, I was known as ‘Smiler’.  Despite my chaotic, alcoholic home life, I loved being at school and because of that I smiled.  All the time.

It occurred to me recently that I have lost my smile.  I rarely laugh, I hardly relax.  I have, in fact, become a very intense person.  I struggle to see the joy in life.  I live in a permanently heightened state of anxiety and fear.

I have no idea how I lost my smile.

When I was at school, my home life was terrible.  Dad was at his worst with his drinking, the yelling, the aggression – I spent much of my life in my bedroom, praying the chaos wouldn’t tumble past the door.  And yet each day I went to school.  Smiling.

And it wasn’t a facade.  I genuinely felt happy.  I would laugh, and play, and learn – I loved learning.  Well, I loved English, and writing the very most.

Now, my life is so much better.  A wonderful husband, 2 beautiful children, a father that has been sober since I was 16, my own sobriety of nearly 5 years.  Yet, my heart is so heavy.

So why is it that I have stopped smiling?  Where does all this anxiety come from?

I can probably pinpoint it to the day my first husband died.  I have written about this before, but that day, all confidence in myself was lost.

Previous to his death I never used to worry what people would think.  Sure, I would know that some people judged me based on my lack of fashion sense, or my very opinionated views on the world, or that I wasn’t pretty enough for the most sporty person in school, or that as a young mother I forgot important things like nappies when I went to friends’  houses, but somehow that all just washed over me.  I was happy in my own existence.  I wasn’t confident, but I was kind of happy.

That fateful day, though, a shift happened.  It was like a massive rift opened up inside my soul.  A rift that let every mean, horrible comment, every judgement of me make its way inside of me, where it could sledge away at me, change me.

Over the past 20 years I have been unable to control it.  I have been unable to sew up the rift, to let my soul heal.  That rift drove my depression and ultimately my alcoholism.  I had to numb the open, festering wound, and the only way I knew how, that seemed acceptable to me, was to drink.

I prided myself on that fact – that I never smoked, or took drugs, that I only drank when the children went to bed.  My own judgement of my sorry life enabled my drinking.

Being sober, I have had to face the fact that the rift in my heart is gaping.  For five years I have tried to ignore it.  For five years I have blamed an unkind, unjust world for the ache that permanently resides inside of me.

I can’t blame that any longer.  The smile is gone because my soul is sick.  Not because of the world outside {though that is sick too}.

Where to begin to heal.  That is the question.  For me, it will lie in my writing, my honesty and also in my creativity, which I have ignored for so very long.  I need to get in touch with my soul again.  I need to gain the strength to leave the house, to go for walks.  I need to plan my day, conquer fears, achieve goals.  I need to salve my pain, and continue to move forward.

And I need to start that journey now.  One terrifying step at a time.

I hope that if you are reading this and feeling that you too are lost, you will join me on my journey.  And I hope you know that you are not alone, you are so not alone.

Much love,

SHW Signature

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4 thoughts on “The day I lost my smile + how I’m going to get it back

  1. Honest, so searingly honest Sarah. That you have come to this place is momentous – I am cheering you on, to a sense of repair, healing, restoration, even to what perhaps seems impossible – wholeness. Not perfection, where past pain vanishes, but to a place where when you look yourself in the eye in the mirror, you smile from a place of accepting love.

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