I think I’ve graduated with a mastery in poker face. Wearing this face is something that is not uncommon in my life of late, in fact it has become a daily occurrence.
Poker face – definition = an impassive expression that hides ones true feelings (and scenarios in my case)
Scenario 1 – Time frame – six months ago = gall bladder removal surgery; home a day and received a call on my son’s birthday with all his mates over for a sleepover that my father had passed away unexpectedly; they say it comes in threes – I was made redundant from the ‘dream job’. The world as we knew it was crumbling and feelings of continuous aggressive slaps perpetrated across my face with the occasional stabs to the gut – hypothetically speaking.
Obviously quite shattering news and time was needed for recovery which never came, however, to the outside world a reflection of a strong resilient generally positive woman/mother was shown = poker face!
Scenario 2 – Time frame – last five months = I have applied for over 100 jobs. I have attended over two dozen interviews and have been shortlisted to multiple roles, a few have provided constructive feedback, some haven’t even bothered to call on outcome. Approximately 75% respond saying I’m too experienced with a handful indicating I would be bored (one would think that is my decision), the other 25% I have “just missed” out on. I feel I have applied to each job with the right attitude. For the interviews, I have arrived on time and conducted myself with enthusiasm, prepared, researched, shown assertiveness and have always given my all. Waiting on feedback has tested my patience and nerves, I try not to be too hopeful but with an essence of positivity.
To the outside world I reflect a confident (well that’s my aim), resourceful specialists in my field with the aim of proving I’d be an asset to any company and they’d be crazy not to have me and to my circle, I’m managing just fine. The constant knock back, rejection as I see it, is incredibly damaging, deflating, exhausting, and in parts humiliating = poker face!
Scenario 3 – Time frame – two weeks ago. I’m in the shower when I realise I have spent my son’s deposit for his school’s rugby and soccer Canadian tour next year that my mother very kindly provided. I used it to pay bills and buy groceries. The problem was once I had paid back the money using the last of my savings, it left us with a couple of hundred dollars – that’s it – nothing left once spent – zip, nada, zilch. I start to panic (aftermath read scenario 4).
The reality is, I get help from the government which I’m grateful for, however, it only helps me to pay the rent. There is nothing left over. I don’t have any other income to help pay for groceries, bills, my son’s keep, our health, prescriptions and medication, sporting activities, outings – living. This kind of scenario has happened before, when we’ve been down to our last pennies but this time, it felt different. Funny how the universe works. I eventually fall asleep that night, but god, it would have only been for a couple of hours. I wake to an email from the government advising they have reimbursed me money they owed as my actual salary was less than the estimation (due to the redundancy and not working a full year). I was also paid at the same time my tax return. I had to work hard the for tax return and pledge my case as they wanted to take whatever I had to go towards my Hecs payment (my first payment for the degree I graduated with three years ago), luckily they understood and granted it.
We are currently breathing and can afford to live for now. My son hasn’t missed out on anything as yet, I have but he hasn’t and this is how I hope to continue. The reality is, the money will run out, the panic will probably set in again but for now we are ok.
To the outside world, they would have no clue of how close we can to literally having nothing – no money for anything except we would have a roof over our heads = poker face!
Scenario 4 – Time frame – two weeks ago = my son witnesses me experiencing a panic attack. I’m short of breath and have been sick all over myself while in the shower. He hears me and asks ‘are you ok Mum” in which I reply sobbing and trying to breathe “yes”. He is no fool. Throughout that particular evening once out of the shower and cleaned up, he keeps checking on me to see how I am, hugging me, making me a cuppa, loving me. The following day he continues to over compensate his love and care (I’m not complaining), with text messages from school checking on me. He gets home from school, wanting to hug me (which I never knock back) and expressing his concern if not via words, through his caring and worried eyes.
Reality is my son should not see his mother vulnerable like I was and he should not be experiencing such concerns at his age and be feeling responsible for me. I do believe it is good for children to see emotions such as sadness, heartache and so on – this is life and it helps guide them and build them to cope themselves and understand others who suffer at times too. I am, however, responsible for my boy and feel terribly guilty that he has been subjected to my weakness if that is what it was (and it wasn’t the first time) nor should he see me in my lower points of life. To the outside world, we are a beautifully loving family, we’re close – unusually close and all this is true. They also see us as happy, full of life – they see us as managing = poker face!
Scenario 5 – Time frame – one week ago = This week I had been having thoughts, the darkest thoughts you can have and it scared the shit out of me. I have my own feelings on suicide and now is not the time or place to express them, however, the past week or two I have had an understanding of why some people would make that choice. I would never do it – I don’t believe I would. I have my son and he needs me. On one frightful day last week in between my panic attacks and reaching the bottom, I did for one second think that my darling boy would be better off without me – someone with more money and stability could provide better for him….right….as I said, it was only for a second. I cry now as I write this at the thought of how dark I was. Silly yes for thinking it but at the same time I can rationalise it. Until you are on your own, responsible for another soul and yourself, you’re the main income earner, the main carer, the main person to do it all and when you basically have nothing then well, your thoughts wonder. Thankfully, I was able to pull myself out this time. I changed my thoughts around. I have opened up to my family and a few friends (how lucky am I to be able to do this) who I think were shocked, worried and possibly it scared the crap out of them too – if only for a second. Next week, or the one after that, I don’t know if the feelings and thoughts will come back. I was scared, really scared.
To the outside world, I portray I think a generally bubbly, outgoing, friendly, ambitious (which I am), person who is doing fine = poker face!
I am writing this with the knowledge my son could possibly read it. I am not wanting to cause him any further concern, nor for my family and friends who may also read this. I am writing it as this is my reality. It is the reality of many families I am guessing and it’s not a pleasant one to have. What has been great and where I feel tremendously grateful and lucky is that my family are incredibly supportive in many forms including emotionally. My family are my rock, my power source. I have a few friends who have known the depth of my circumstance and of what we may call ‘the black dog’. One darling soul calls me every day to check in, another two call once a week and a couple more beautiful souls offer me little bits of ‘breathe’ time (which comes in various ways) and with this I have got by. I have gained strength from them and mainly my son. I was for this week, able to gather my strength, courage maybe to think in a different path. I have refocused my thoughts on my own brand ‘Solotalk’ to see how I can generate engagement and help others that may be suffering and experiencing something similar, or if not similar, they get what I’m saying and through this, they know they are not alone.
I continue to apply for jobs, looks for jobs, seek different opportunities (if anyone knows of anything or thinks I would be perfect for something – please let me know 🙂 ).
I continue to portray a woman who is strong, resilient, patient, optimistic, loving, bubbly (although not as much as I would like), cheeky, naughty at times, fun-loving, mother of the year (pfft – jury is out on that), daughter, sister, granddaughter, neice, cousin and friend to the best of my capabilities.
I continue to reach out to the universe to look after my son, myself and those that I love and trust that we will continue to manage and be ok. I will continue to wear my poker face!
Love, peace and snuggles to you all and thank you to my family and my darling special friends (you know who you are)…
“If someone you know seems to be struggling, reach out and connect with them. Showing that you care could make a huge difference in their life.”
If you are suffering and need someone to talk to, for those living in Australia please see below:
Life Line or call 13 11 14
Beyond Blue – or call 1300 22 4636
Black Dog Institute
Salvo Youth Line – or call (02) 8736 3293