On occasion, I have had some of my close family members, friends and fellow work colleagues ask me how I always mange to appear very calm and composed. At times, I tell them it’s because most things are not devasting enough to give them that much importance or merit. Which in reality is true in many situations. Other times, I may joke and say that it’s because I know how to keep it together and be cool as a cucumber. But, if I am really being honest, I have learned how to compose myself in a way that I show the world a poker face. Why would I do such a thing, am I not being authentic and real with people in my life. Do I hide behind a facet to not reveal my true self to others? Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple because I see it as a yes and no response.
The reason for my poker face is because I am in pain every day. My pain is not from a physical injury that you can see on the outside, it is internal. I endured an aggressive chemo and radiation treatment due to my fast-growing, aggressive cancer that I had growing inside of me. Therefore, my body continues to endure some side effects and pain is a major constant in my daily life as I may have mentioned before. Many people may not understand the concept of how I am in pain every day because it is internal feeling for me and they cannot see anything physically, or visibly “wrong” with me. To everyone I may look “normal” as I have been told. Prior to me developing my poker face to mask the pain I am feeling people would tell me that I looked sad or mad. This caused them to start to create stories or rumors about me. The more I would try to explain to them about the pain that I was feeling, the more they would not understand it. I would just further add to their confusion and boggle their mind even more so, to say the least. All my efforts to try to make them understand were unsuccessful. In all honesty, it is a foreign concept to some people who have not or don’t know anyone who has gone through cancer and is living as a cancer survivor. As I have shared before performing several massage methods, exercise, yoga and meditation therapies, my pain has reduced to a certain extent. Because of this I was able to teach myself how to keep a poker face. In my line of work, I need my concentration to be on the people we provide a service to instead of my pain and by having a poker face I found a way to do that.
At work, I have a poker face regardless of the intensity of my pain and at home I show my true self, meaning my close family members will see a sad or mad face, especially when my pain levels are extremely high. If you come across someone in your life who may look mad, sad or have a poker face, remember that it may not have anything to do with you. It could be that they are in physical or emotional pain or perhaps some other reason that we are not aware of. Everyone has a story and we might not always know what lies beneath.