happy face

Mary arrives home from school, scatters her belongings in the hallway and grumbles all the way to my arms, “Bad day at school?” I ask.

“It was fine,” she scowled, “I’m just tired of wearing my happy face.”

And that’s how I feel today– I’ve worn out my happy face.

For a Mormon woman to admit that she’s feeling ungrateful is something akin to robbing a 7-11. But today I am hurting.

Last year, someone whose role it was to protect me, “threw me under a bus” “used me as a scapegoat” (in his own words) and abandoned me. In the past months I’ve used every tool I can summon– prayer, fasting, long hours of talking, creative projects– to help myself heal. I’ve been doing well, moving on, congratulating myself on my improvement. And so I’m frustrated on days like this when gratitude and joy slip through my fingers. But those wounds, even figurative ones, take time to mend. Some days I just have to walk straight through the pain.

I’ll be better by this afternoon, on time to supervise practicing and take photos in the orchard. And the rest of this week I hope to post happy things– cheerful distractions that ease my heart. Blogland is generally a happy place and so I hesitate to say much– but remember if you are hurting, you are not alone. And those shiny happy blogs are usually people simply working through their own pain.

May 17, 2011



  1. Alyson (New England Living)

    May 16, 2011

    I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL! And I am with you, I think we all need to admit we are hurt sometimes and be in the pain.

    One aspect of Mormon culture that has always bothered me is that when we complain about going through something and talk about how hurt or how down we are, other Mormons tend to bring up an example of someone (usually in church history) who has gone through way more than you and tell you you should feel grateful that your problems aren’t as bad and look at what a great attitude so-and-so had when they were enduring. I HATE THAT SO MUCH! I think we are all entitled to feel our feelings and to work through healing, without being made to feel guilty and unrighteous because of it.

    Thank you for posting this! I love it and you are awesome! I’m sorry someone hurt you so bad. I know the feeling and it can hurt to the core.

  2. jenjamin

    May 16, 2011

    Oh so true. We all have our own forests we are tending too. Thankfully we are all part of a bigger picture and not all of us are down the same day. That is one of the marvelous blessings I have found in my part time attempts to blog, there are people out there.. “real” kind of special people that experience “real” things, working through them in “real” ways because life is that way. Those are hard and sometimes painful phases in life but they choose not to “wear their experiences” rather work through them with graciousness. That is the crux of why we are here, right. Those special people, despite their burdens still transcend above the trials and manage to inspire and uplift others in honest and pure ways. You are one of those people. Always honest always inspiring.

    Thanks for your post.

  3. Azúcar

    May 16, 2011

    I like you.

  4. Claudia

    May 16, 2011

    You been heavy on my thoughts lately. I was going to call you when I drove by and saw the youth of the ward packing up your trailer. I figured you’ve been busy but I should have followed the prompting. Walk tomorrow morning? I’ve missed you and we have so much to catch up on. You are loved sweetie. So much!

  5. Kerri

    May 16, 2011

    Michelle, I’ve been thinking about you the last few days, and this morning in particular. I intended to email you and see how you were doing. Love your way. Keep on moving through. There are beautiful things on the other side of the pain, right? (At least that’s what we tell ourselves to keep going, and usually there really are.)

  6. Shelah

    May 16, 2011

    I love that last line. You’re absolutely right, you know.

  7. La Yen

    May 16, 2011

    What Carina said.

  8. jen

    May 17, 2011

    Read the Psalms, m’dear. They’re not happy-clappy. In fact, about 1/3 of them are not pulling any punches about how irritated the psalmist is. We’re allowed to have days when our happy faces are a chore to pull out, regardless of whether we’re Lutheran or Mormon.

  9. Linn

    May 17, 2011

    I adore you Michelle. Thank you for sharing this–it means so much to so many.

  10. Tracy

    May 17, 2011

    It was so nice to hear your voice on Saturday. You know you can call me anytime you want to rant or cry. Since I am not Mormon, I can share my eff-ups openly and can also string along some amazing swear words to make myself feel better. I love you dear friend, through good times and bad. I am so glad you posted this. xoxo

  11. Glazier5

    May 17, 2011

    Sending hugs your way!

  12. Cath

    May 17, 2011

    “those shiny happy blogs are usually people simply working through their own pain.” So insightful and true. It’s good to be honest here. I love you M. Hoping to see you Weds. Sorry I missed you this morning. You are “walking through it” with unbelievable grace. xoxo

  13. Selwyn

    May 17, 2011

    You are allowed to have as many faces as you want!

    Hugs and luvies xx

  14. Mormon Women: Who We Are

    May 17, 2011

    You are not alone, my friend. I’m grateful you will use your blog as a place to be real. Pain is real. Life can be really hard.

    It’s ok to say it’s hard.

    Hugs. Lots of them.

  15. cristie

    May 17, 2011

    truly you are a woman warrior. you show up and do for your dear ones.
    may you always be sustained. xox

  16. Jeanelle

    May 17, 2011

    I’m happy you are getting phone calls today that will help find you find your happy self again. But my friend, we are completely entitled to feel badly, to feel sad, to feel ungrateful…we are not perfect and no matter the pressure, we are not expected to be. Have those feelings and when you can move on and smile, you do so. Beating yourself up about it only makes the pain and unhappiness last longer. I love you and hope you are having wonderful conversations with your darling boy today (subscribed to his mission blog yesterday – love his letters!)

  17. Mitchell Family

    May 17, 2011

    I thought of you yesterday when I read this lyric from Ingrid Michaelson. “Happy is the heart that still feels pain.”

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