They only see what I allow them to see, not the pain, the frustration, the anguish, the dread, the fear, and the anger, which are hidden inside.
They don’t know that the smile is practiced, that the training to keep it there took a long time to perfect. They only see the drive it takes to be present in that moment and never know of the pain that is continuous, eating away at my soul from the inside, like the wearing away of a rock by centuries of constant drops of water.
They only witness a can-do attitude and never see the frustration over the destruction, again, of plans so painstakingly made when my body fails me. They hear my hopes and desires for the future and think they’re set in stone. So they smile, placated, and move on. They never notice evidence of the sick dread, raging like a cancer inside, caused by the realization that my dreams may never be fulfilled.
They only see me ‘moving forward’ and never recognize that fear, which is a prerequisite to living with multiple invisible, chronic, debilitating, incurable illnesses, is often the only thing moving me forward. Like a shark, cessation of movement is death. Even when movement hurts, moving forward is the only option.