I’ve had great bosses. One of them had her life fall apart while she was my boss. Her mother had died, sending her into clinical depression, her father was succumbing to dementia, and her husband lost his job in the economic collapse. Things went to shit for her. And I know this because she didn’t try to hide it. She didn’t sit there crying at her desk or anything, but she took calls from her paranoid father and then his facility, she set up frantic health care for her husband in the vacuum of his job’s lost health care, she warned everyone she’d be sad on the anniversary of her mother’s death.
She had two options. She could bury everything and pretend everything was fine, or she could not. She chose not, and she stayed sane. Maybe there were some people who felt she was oversharing? Who resented the intrusion of her grief upon their lives? Well, fuck them. You’re fooling yourself if you think closing your eyes to decline and sorrow is going to save you from it. You can shut your eyes or learn from it, in the hope of helping the person going through it — and maybe yourself, later. Your pick.
I did the latter. And what I learned from her is that, contrary to most of the literature I consumed prior, there is no great honor in burying all that so no one can tell it’s there. It eats at you. Do you really want to be the This Is Fine dog? Do you? Have you seen the other four panels of that comic, which is usually shared with just the two? Spoilers, his face melts off. It melts. Off.
So maybe think about how noble it is to hide stuff like that. I’m not saying scream it from the rooftops (not if you don’t want to anyway) and demand no one ever forget your frustration and despair. No. But when ads come on showing happy older mothers becoming grandmothers, and someone notices your face harden at the casual ease of the surety of that, the grandmother’s cognizance and capability and love, just admit to it. Doesn’t have to be a big deal. But creating some other reason, and then the next and the next, piles up. It’s not a good idea. You think you’re sparing the people around you a glimpse of something dark, but it doesn’t go away. It just burrows into you, a lurking sequel no one signed up for, to debut at some unintentional and grossly mistimed moment in the future.
So, you know. Try not to do that.