Facade: The Pain of Pretending

Hey, hey, Followers –  Guess what day it is?

It’s TK’s birthday! Can I say I’m in my mid-twenties if I’m 24?

Little TK must have known about today when she wrote the poem I have to share. You see, as I turn the page of my old poetry book, I find a happy poem.

Unfortunately, this poem comes across as forced and that’s because it is. I looked back on all I had written and saw a lot of darkness. So, I decided to force out some light. Certainly there was some amount of happiness within me I could write about

2014-04-09 07.16.29

This was written on April 19th, 2004. I was 14-years-old and in eighth grade. This poem was given no title when I first wrote it, so I have decided to give it a name which best describes its purpose.


The gleam of the day shines upon me.

light that brightens all

the rivers and hills

The joy it brings me

To see such a sight

The beauty around me

the strength!

the might!

The power of our Lord’s creation!

The gleam and the light

A new day is near

Let all see and hear

the beauty and magnificence

That nature holds here.


I can’t believe I just typed that. My face might be a little red right now. Damn, that’s a bad poem.

There’s a reason, though. In fact, all the commentary I provide with my poems has a reason. My poems came from a place of intense emotion. For better or worse, the emotions churning inside of me were dark. That isn’t to say there weren’t moments where I brushed against something like happiness. The fact is that I simply didn’t feel happiness intensely enough to create a good poem.

These poems made my emotions real. They were the only way I could find to understand what I was feeling. At the time I wrote most of these, the poems were like a strange artifact. Now that I had given them existence, I could hold them and examine them. Understanding developed over many years and it’s that understanding I try to express in my commentary.

I went through a lot during my childhood. There was a lot of fear and many tears. By far, the most painful aspect of this period was fake happiness. I had this habit of smiling when I was sad. When peers made fun of me, I would laugh with them. The theory was that they wanted to make me feel bad. If they saw their words caused me joy, they would stop. The plan failed because all they did was try harder.

My smile had become a facade. I hid behind it, hoping it would prevent anyone from seeing my emotional scars. I build up this mask and began to hide everything I was. Behind the mask, I hid my nerdy ideas, my wild aspirations and any desire that conflicted with what my adults wanted from me.  I became so good at hiding who I was, that even I lost myself.

There is no pain like feeling so ashamed of who you are that you must pretend to be someone else. Nothing can compare to the lies and the fake smiles. Everyone buys it. I know people like to think they can tell when someone is faking it, but that’s a lie. No one knew. No one said anything. In fact, if I would have revealed the parts of myself I hid, I’m sure I would have been asked to return them to hiding.

Maybe the reason no one noticed is because no one expects a child to feel such sadness.

Regardless, that pain has come to serve a purpose in my adult life. Not only do I hate pretending to be something I’m not, I hate the idea that anyone else would feel they need to hide. I know that my experiences pale in comparison to many people, but that pain was enough. Whatever a person’s sexuality, religion or culture, they should never feel like they have to hide in order to be accepted by society. I know a fraction of that pain and it nearly destroyed me.

These childhood moments were the genesis of my support of human rights. The right to be who you are is a precious one.


69 thoughts on “Facade: The Pain of Pretending”

  1. keep smiling!;) and from one writer to another- NEVER throw anything away;there are always times for feeling/reading/revising/introspection…a writers life is a full life. 🙂

    1. Yeah… there are a few things I’ve lost through the years that are very disappointing. I’m happy I at least held on to these poems. I still have my old diary too. Who knows when that will be needed.

      1. “The right to be who you are is a precious one.” – I like this line of yours: from my life, there is absolutely nothing worse than someone who is living a life of someone else’s dream, someone else’s desires or wishes. very tragic

  2. Happy Birthday beautiful adult child. lol I’d love to be 24 again. Hell, I’d like to be 40 again. Even 50 wasn’t that bad. Nevermind all that, you may have had a picture of me as a young bronze athlete or something. So sorry if I spoiled your fantasies…. lol. Seriously, Happy Birdy TK !!!

    1. Thank you for the birthday wishes. Also, how dare you spoil my fantasies. And here I had you pictured like a Disney-fied Hercules. ^_^ Though, you know, they say you’re only as old as you act.

  3. Happy birthday huggers and kisses and me singing like a crow 😛 Happy birthday. okay sure you do not want to hear me sing.
    The poem is lovely and you probably wrote it not really believing it LOL or was trying to believe in it.. still incredible at age 14. makes me think where i was at that age. .To be able to write down what you feel is not always easy. it made me smile.
    Keep on smiling you have a beautiful soul. and smart on top of that

    1. Thank you. I guess the poem isn’t that bad. Maybe I just hate it because I know it’s fake. When I read it, I can only remember faking happiness. If I could go back in time, that is one think I would tell little TK. Please stop faking. You are not doing anyone any favors, yourself included.

      of course, these days I smile a lot, and none of those smiles are fake.

  4. Hi TK, Happy birthday!
    “Not only do I hate pretending to be something I’m not, I hate the idea that anyone else would feel they need to hide.” I like this line and totally agree with it and feel the same too!

  5. Happy birthday! I’m sorry you are revisiting these difficult feelings, but you are very fortunate to have the insight and wisdom at the age of twenty four to understand and grow from your pain. That is a gift. Thank you for making us all think about our fake smiles.

    1. Thank you for the birthday wishes. I’m actually quite happy the poem for today ended up being a positive one, even if it was forced. I love sharing these with people, so it’s really nothing more than a positive experience for me now.

  6. Happy b-day! Mine was yesterday! Except i’m the big 30!! and i had 6 teeth pulled! Darn age! Anyways i hope it turns out to be an awesome day for you

    1. oh man. That does not sound like fun (the teeth thing, not the birthday thing). Happy birthday nonetheless. Eat lots of ice cream ^_^

  7. OMG TK I can’t believe you’re an April baby too! I’m turning 26 on the 22nd! Hope you have a super awesome birthday and eat lots of delicious food! Also, I love that you found strength in your sadness and that it helped you to rise above the world you knew and become the amazing writer and person you are today =^_^=

    1. Yay April birthdays! There were so many in my class growing up. We actually had a few kids who had birthdays on the same day. Out of 25 kids, 10 having birthdays in April was quiet a lot.

      I am also happy I found my strength. It would have been far to easy for things to have gone badly. I count myself lucky.

  8. Happy Birthday TK!
    Your point is well taken that it was a tactic we learned in the hope that those who tormented would eventually give up. Sadly, it does not always work as you, I and many others know only too well through our experiences. What matters is that you have decided to be you, express yourself and your emotions. More power to you. The sooner we all get rid of our fake smiles the better. Thanks for your poem and explanation. Have a Happy Birthday and keep on rocking!

    1. Thank you. My own experiences with bullying is why I will never tell my children “ignore them and they’ll leave you alone.” They will NOT leave you alone. They will just keep trying until they find the thing that breaks your control. It is far better to stand up for yourself. I’m convinced that the potential physical and emotional pain of standing up for yourself is not nearly as bad as the anguish that comes from hiding and ignoring the insults.

  9. Happy Birthday!!
    You are so right about facades and how people completely buy into them. it is amazing how people can take others at face value and have no clue as to what is truly lurking within. From time to time, I think that most people fake it. Some though, such as you and I, spent years doing it. There is a part of my life currently that is a facade. It shouldn’t have to be that way, but unfortunately for a time that is what it must be. It’s frustrating. Thankfully, there is blogging – where a person can be themselves. Ah – to breathe. It’s wonderful isn’t it?

    1. Every once in a while, I will encounter a person who thinks most people ‘just know’ when a person is faking. I don’t think it’s that easy. In fact, I know it’s not that easy because, having spent years crafting a facade that no one noticed, I know people can be fooled. I know how to sob silently and I know how to instantly transition my voice into a happy tone if anyone knocks on the door (Imagine me sitting in a room sobbing and my mom knocks to say dinner is ready). It becomes quiet easy after a while. You even know how long it takes for the red to leave your eyes, so you can walk out without anyone knowing the despair within.

      But yes, blogging is nice. Living a good distance away from those people is nice. I’ve been slowly chipping away the mask for my family. Little by little, I’ll let them see.

      And thank you for the birthday wishes ^_^

      1. I was trying to be funny, I guess that isn’t my gift. The song ends with”I can’t always be high, sometimes I wish they’d only say, thank you and goodbye”. I hope you had a Happy Birthday TK. 🙂

        1. It’s okay… I don’t get most jokes. And I’m being very serious. At work, they like to tell a lot of jokes (the dirtier the better) and I never ever get the point. So, please forgive me. It’s really my fault. Thank you for the birthday wishes ^^

          1. Your welcome. I fail to understand jokes more than I’d like to also, and I’ve been trying to understand what makes humor, so I can laugh more. The song was “I don’t want to have a nice day”, By Greg Brown, and somehow the link failed to load into the comment. Your article made me think about it because people say things like, “put a smile on your face, you’ll feel better”, when really I would have appreciated empathy. Misery is funny, awkward is too, and taboo works intermittently for me. I’ll let you know if you ever hurt my feelings because your writing rocks, and I want to continue to enjoy it! While I was walking my dog last night I stopped to take a leak on a tree, and thought it was endearing when he marked the tree immediately afterwards. As we continued down the street and I began to really get comfortable with the idea that, “a pack that pees together sticks together”, I noticed that my pant leg felt damp. 🙂

  10. I relate to this a lot. I was very similar as a child, nerdy but introverted about it because I was teased a lot. I was never like the other kids. I had a few friends, but none really understood who I really was and I didn’t even understand it until I got out of high school and started to find myself.
    I am still trying to find myself. It’s been a long, difficult process…and it’s far from over.
    I also find that sometimes I still put on a facade, especially when I’m hurting. I try to act like everything is fine when inside it’s not. All I want to do is reach out to people and talk to them about this and feel some sort of comfort.
    I’m still working on this, too.
    Thanks for writing this. It helped me a bit. 🙂
    Also, Happy Birthday 🙂

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed it. I don’t think we ever really reach a destination on the journey of self-discovery. It just keeps going. Relish the journey and don’t worry about coming to any conclusions about yourself.

      I find I will put the facade back on when I am upset as well. There have been very few people that I have tested acting otherwise with. You have to find those people you trust with everything. They won’t let you down.

    1. So far, no difference. But then, age hasn’t really made me feel that much different for the past decade or so. It’s just another day, another year. I don’t mean that to sound sad… it’s just that I don’t feel like a different person. I guess the only thing that stands out to me today is that I’m rather content with life. It’s a happy place to be.

  11. Bad poems are like bad people it depends upon who looks at them. Happy Birthday and knowing if we celebrate them we are still young; it is when we stop they become nightmares. Life hurts, I think it does so for several reasons it reminds us we are alive for one. To be able to know and enjoy the good days; to find the rainy days and snow days are equal; for they show how they can be sunny and the ones that are not so funny. To know that when we compare parts of our life it is not with whom we strife that makes them unique but it is how we make them speak afterwards. So celebrate loudly! Age is never in season until we make a reason for it to be the one we want it to be forever!

    1. Maybe this means nothing because I’m only 24, but I don’t see what the big deal is about getting older. Each new year brings new experiences. Each brings something unattainable in earlier years. I don’t expect to ever hate my age or my birthday. I’m excited for every new thing life has to throw at me. Sure, it can’t be all sunshine and rainbows, but that’s okay. That’s life.

  12. I guess I’m a bit late.. but anyway, Happy birthday! Time goes so fast sometimes.. I can’t believe Ill be 30 in July..i feel like I’m still 24..
    That was profound writing right there..
    Me too i went trough a lot in my childhood..instead of hiding or pretending behind a mask, a facade, i was hiding myself for real and stayed alone most of the times…i had became “anti-social” even good or bad days..in fear of being laugh at.. because of personal beliefs..
    It’s funny how society rejects the minority because the diverge of the masses or common beliefs.. “Look at this guy, he must be crazy he believe is UFO’s and ET’s” (Face palm).
    Anyway time comes when you turn the page on the past and start a new chapter.. (Double face palm).

  13. Happpyyy birrrrthday to ya if late. It’s hard to imagine that ya took so much grief in school. Usually nice lookin girls don’t get treated in that manner. Remember though I have a few decades on ya so things change I suppose. When ya say hide who ya are. For me its been the other way around. In my adult life as of late is that those at work don’t want to hear about writing. They want ya to talk about how many eggs and pancakes they had for breakfast. They want ya to be like them so ya can still a nobody. After 33 years on a forklift working in freezers do ya really think I wanna just talk lame duck talk? So here I am the only writer there and it makes them feel all powerful like they got something on me. It doesn’t take much not to talk. Bullies don’t stop once they get out of school. It’s a cruel form of abuse. Ya struck a live wire nerve in me. Can ya tell?

  14. Real tok right here. Too many of us wear masks to protect a side of us that we think or know won’t be readily accepted. Sometimes we do it 4 so long it bcomes second nature, although inside it drains us. Change is hard coz it involves takin off tha mask n revealin a different face, exposin tha fake, tha twisted games, cleanin up tha mess made, tha trick cards played, big lies told. but its worth it. Ain’t nothin in this world more fulfilin than being urself…
    Keep writin. Gud stuff!!

    1. Hopefully we’d have a happy earth. I’m sure some people, at their core, would still be terrible people. A peaceful world is not a world in which law enforcement is unnecessary. It’s more like one where everyone can be themselves and law enforcement is just, equal and efficient.

  15. I can definitely relate to this. I think suffering as a child can either go two ways – they become really hard and callous and assume the world is that way, or they can become overly sensitive, and find themselves being able to relate to strangers in completely unknown situations. I think you and I fall into the latter category.

    Also, happy (super belated) birthday!!

    1. Thank you! ^_^. It’s odd. I wonder if it’s because of how I was bullied… but I just got good at observing people in my youth. Maybe I am in that latter category.

      1. Yeah, especially if you’re bullied, I feel like most kids either turn the experience into anger and become hard, or turn it into sadness and become soft. Maybe it’s just because from what I’ve read we have a lot in common, but I think with your interest in human rights points to that. I don’t know if you’ve come across it, but personally there have been a lot of people who don’t understand why I’d be interested in that if it doesn’t affect me. I think part of that interest and empathy was developed through some of the worse parts of my childhood too, which I also turned to sadness rather than anger.

        1. Yeah, I definetly find my roots there. I spent a large part of my childhood thinking that no one deserved to feel as bad as I felt. As I got older and realized there were people out there experiences far more pain than I ever did, my heart just broke. It still breaks. That opinion stays with me to this day. No one deserves to feel like I felt back then and so many people out there experience so much worse.

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