Behind the cover
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Behind the cover

Jun 19, 2023

By Jennifer Browning

Blessed Mess

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but what isn’t always evident by someone’s cover is what is actually going on underneath that cover. We all have lives that are seen by the outside world and then we have lives that a lot may not see which includes the good, the bad, and the ugly.

That means when we walk by someone and say hello or nod our head, we don’t know if that person is having their best or worst week ever, nor is it necessarily any of our business, but maybe it should be a little more.

In the bustling world, we live in, where everyone seems to be in constant motion and communication is at our fingertips, it's paradoxical how often we find ourselves feeling isolated and struggling with hidden emotions. The need to talk to someone about our feelings, fears, and concerns is a fundamental human experience. Yet, many of us fall into the trap of concealing our emotions, putting on a brave face, and suffering in silence. (I’m not saying we should all walk around like walking emojis either crying, screaming, or excited all the time - that would be a little weird.)

But, last week I swear I was on a roller coaster of emotions that, unfortunately, I didn’t hold back on letting others know about. Good or bad, I wear my heart on my sleeve a lot, but other times I can be a great disguiser of the pain I’m feeling.

After having a random lady pray over me at the hospital during the afternoon of my mother’s brain surgery last week, I knew I’d held in some pain for too long when it all came pouring out in a sobbing ugly cry. That ugly cry then seeped into my personal and professional afternoon and I was a bumbling mess when I should have been strongest for my mom.

It’s not like I didn’t know all of that was stirring inside. A lot of you know my story and how I’ve overcome a lot and talk about mental health and my recovery, but it doesn't mean I’m impervious to the emotions that come along with life and sometimes I forget to apply the tools I know that work.

One of those tools that I know works is talking about how I’m feeling. Apparently, I needed to do that more than I was letting out and some newer friends, random people at the hospital, and even co-workers got to feel it with me and I am more thankful for them than they may ever know.

We (and I mean that including myself) all need to slow down and have a real conversation once in a while and maybe the pain people have building inside and whatever reason is causing it, doesn’t have to stay there. I know of at least ten people going through some major stuff in their lives, but by seeing them around town, you’d never know. What if we all cared and asked a few deeper questions when we interact with others and didn’t talk negatively instead? What would the world look like, especially locally?

I’m still emotional this week, but I come to the table with a clearer head and direction knowing that always holding it in doesn’t make things better. In fact, holding in all my emotions just makes my grenade launcher more ready to go when I pull the plug (metaphor).

I try to be there for others, but in that, I sometimes forget myself and my mental health, even though it’s such a forefront of my life. In that, I forget I’m not alone and that by shedding the mask and embracing vulnerability, I can create a more compassionate and supportive environment for myself and those around me, which for sure includes my amazing, supportive family.

To the friends and co-workers who said kind words, sent sincere texts, and gave genuine hugs, those little gestures mean a lot, and even more when I know some of you are going through similar struggles.

Remember, you are never truly alone in your journey, and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Hopefully, this will help us all to be a better headspace and encourage one another too.

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