It’s like a fragile mask
Glued to skin that’s taut with fear
But still it does the ugly job
And tricks the world,
Its tacky, brightly painted tint
Makes them think it’s all OK.
I have a problem with a nervous smile or laugh. It appears whenever I am starting to feel quite distressed and I didn’t realise I did it until a few years ago. I realise no, just how confusing it must have been for the people around me, but it also caused me so much pain.
I went to counselling and it was only when I started to trust the therapist and tell her some of the really hard stuff that she asked why I was smiling. It scared me because it was exactly what bosses said to me when I was getting pulled into an office for doing something bad. There was that same look of confusion on her face.
I then went to hospital once, when I had fallen over and really hurt myself. I was smiling and laughing because I was so scared and in so much pain. However, the nurse seemed to think that meant that I wasn’t in pain and started moving my arm around with no care at all. She even shouted at me when I yelped in pain.
It turned out that the arm was broken and dislocated, but because I was smiling I got shouted at by the nurse.
I’m not blaming the nurse, because my weird behaviour was the reason that she treated me the way she did. And it’s the reason why I was misunderstood by so many bosses who thought I was rude.
At least I now know exactly what I was doing wrong, but I still feel my mouth twisting into that ugly smile whenever I’m under pressure. One day I will get it under control….I hope.
3 thoughts on “the nervous smile”
I think a lot of people cover up awkwardness. In fact, in Japan, the culture is that you smile, even if something bad is happening. The goal is not to spread your sorrow to others. So, when children are being scolded, they smile You’re not alone.
Thank you for sharing your experience. It is easy to hide behind a smile when you are on pain if you learned to use ot as a coping mechanism.
I think nervous laughter is a common, human thing. I’m trying to learn how to say ouch when something hurts.