Show Me A Smile Then

by Susan Pogorzelski on January 5, 2010 · 12 comments

It’s hard to take courage
in a world full of people
you can lose sight of it all…

Cyndi Lauper, “True Colors”

true colors shining through by rachel b (flickr)

I was afraid to leave the house today.

The positive, sunny attitude I woke up with quickly faded and the smile dissolved as the clock ticked by. I had a responsibility to my job, to others, to myself, I thought, and so I went about my routine and got ready for work. Yet the emotions kept building until they spilled over in a torrent of tears. In a matter of seconds, I found myself battling unwelcome thoughts and emotions that couldn’t be abated with “suck it up,” and “you can tough this out,” and “for god’s sake, Susan, you’re an adult.”

I’m tired. And I’m frustrated because I’m so tired and so emotional and I can’t even begin to express how not me this is.

I’m going to find that girl again. She’s there — that girl full of spunk and fire and light and life, that girl full of boundless energy and passion and heart. She’s there, though it’s so hard to find her, buried under uncontrollable emotion. And though I feel like I need to be in control of myself, of my emotions, of my body, though I feel weak and defeated and like this is somehow my fault and I should be able to control it, I know, too, that this isn’t my fault.

It’s a slow road to recovery, slower than I ever imagined as we try to find the right medications and I fight off tears and self-doubt. There are moments where I am strong and full of life, where I take joy in being around others and helping them, being there for them. But in my weakest moments, in these moments like today, I feel overwhelmed by inexplicable anger, sadness, and anxiety, only to be followed by a numbness with which I’ve never really been familiar.

I promised myself that I would quit hiding this year, that I would embrace the world and embrace myself, but that’s harder than it sounds when you see a stranger in the mirror. And it’s not anything that personal development or life changes or self-awareness and positive thinking can do, but, rather, has everything to do with the natural chemicals that run through you, that change everything.

I’m forcing myself to take a break.

I’m tired and I have no energy and the little energy I do have I spend trying to play catch up with the rest of my life. It’s hard to always wonder if you’re falling behind, feeling like you should be doing so much more. It’s hard to always wonder that if you’re not always there, you’ll be forgotten in a moment. It’s hard to know you have limits when you really know that you can go so much further.

It’s hard to have so many goals and dreams when you don’t have the energy or motivation to work towards them.

In a world where there is no later, in a world where it seems people can be just as easily replaced, in a world where someday always means right now, and in a world where dreams aren’t personal but rather competitive and something you’re supposed to accomplish right this second, it’s easy to get tired. Couple that with this chronic fatigue and persistent feelings of highly intense emotion and everyday feels like a personal struggle.

I don’t want to wonder if I’m always falling behind; I don’t want to look at my small successes and compare them to others. I don’t want to feel like I’m failing my family, my friends, and my colleagues. I don’t want to look at my life, at myself, and feel bad anymore.

I refuse to feel bad anymore.

Life comes minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day and sometimes that’s exactly what it takes to get where you want to go. Sometimes, it takes a lot of just getting through, just getting by. Sometimes, it takes more than words of inspiration.

Sometimes it takes all you have just to walk out the door in the morning.

I love this community. Everything I’ve ever said about it still rings true and on the days where I’m feeling emotionally strong and healthy (and awake), I’ll be here (and here). I’ll always be here for anyone who needs it, and I hope that you will do the same. But it looks like my “theme” from last year is still slipping into the new year. I have a lot of healing to do. But I’m getting there. And I’m very much looking forward to the day when I can really be well, really be strong, and really embrace the world again.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Akirah January 5, 2010

You are strong! And you can do this! I’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately as well. But we can get out of the slump and conquer the world. It will be much better off when we do.


bler January 6, 2010

I know your problems are a bit more than the banal and I don’t want to oversimplify or trivialize them. That said, I recommend a fantastic book called “59 seconds” ( It revolutionizes the “self-help” style books by suggesting simple advice that is scientifically shown to help improve happiness.

I have been reading through it (not that I totally NEEDED it) but the suggestions take only a few moments and I must say they work.

Thought perhaps you might be interested in it as well, since your entries are not so positive as of late.

– Rob


Positively Present January 6, 2010

Another great post, Susan. I really love the way you are able to put yourself out there on your blog. It’s amazing and inspiring!


Susan Pogorzelski - admin January 6, 2010

Akirah: Your words are just the fighting song I need to hear these past few days. And your words remind me of a phrase I try to repeat to myself — “conquer that.” When I put things into perspective, I realize just how much I’ve accomplished, how I’ve pushed through difficult times before. Granted, this is a bit different than that, but maybe it’s similar, too. When I look back at the times I’m most proud of — going away to college, graduating, traveling on my own, I think about how they were also the most difficult times, but that I “conquered that.” And we can conquer this. Right on, Akirah. Thanks for offering that piece of hope when I was feeling so discouraged and, really, so scared. Please know that if you ever need that returned, I’m only a tweet, DM, or email away.


Susan Pogorzelski - admin January 6, 2010

Rob: It’s great to connect with you again — I always did have fun with those Twitter debates. 🙂 Thanks, especially, for your suggestions. You’re right — I haven’t been positive lately, as that sunny-side-up part of me has been so clouded by everything else. Truthfully, I’ve really missed that. And I’m doing whatever it takes, whatever I can, to get that back.

Your book recommendation actually reminds me of one Dani (below) told me about — “What Happy Women Know” (a spin-off on the book “What Happy People Know”). I’m currently in the middle of it and am enjoying it, so I’m curious and looking forward to what yours has to say, especially if it’s highly recommended by you. More chances at happiness can never hurt, right?

Thanks for being here, Rob. Hope you’re well.


Susan Pogorzelski - admin January 6, 2010

Dani: Thanks to you for being so supportive, welcoming, and receptive. It’s people like you who make me feel like I can, who make me realize I’m really not so alone. And your positive energy? Can’t be matched. So grateful for that, and for you. Thanks.


Harl Delos January 8, 2010

for god’s sake, Susan, you’re an adult

Except you don’t have to be. It’s OK to be a kid when you need to be. You have my permission.

Also that of a therapist I had 30 years ago, who told me that it’s never too late to have a happy childhood. I’ve been striving for immaturity ever since.

When you gonna make up your mind?
When you gonna love you as much as I do?
— Tori Amos, “Winter”


Susan Pogorzelski January 15, 2010

Harl: Thank you for this comment. Thank you, especially, for the lyrics that you’ve included; I think that touched me more than anything because it’s so true. I know I’m capable of loving others from the very depths of my heart, but self-love has never been easy.

The problem I tend to have is that I had a happy childhood — an extraordinary one, actually, I was very lucky. And so it’s sometimes hard for me to let that go. I’ve learned that there isn’t some great divide between childhood and adulthood, and yet there are times when I still feel like I can only be one and not the other. I love that you say I don’t have to be. It actually feels like a huge relief.

Thanks so much for your comment, Harl, and, as always, for your friendship.


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