"Let us not be ashamed to speak what we shame not to think."
-Michel de Montaigne

Monday, June 8, 2009

Poker Face

Poker Face--it's not just a song by Lady Gaga. It's a something we put on everyday. It was just a casual remark from a coworker, said in response to an observation that I had about the office. I ended my remark with, "Well, I won't complain," to which she answered, "Oh Christeene, it's okay, you never complain." I thought to myself, really? I never complain? Me? Could she please repeat that to my husband? (Literary term moment: this was actually ironic, because I actually was complaining in a back-handed sort of way)

I realize that in my office, I have a reputation for being a compliant hard-worker. A smiling, optimistic, "non-complainer" (apparently), who rolls with the punches, and keeps moving no matter what happens. It is a reputation that I am proud of, a reputation that I strive to maintain everyday, swallowing many a sarcastic remark, pointless whine, and caustic critique for the sake of maintaining office harmony.

I realized today, hovering over the copier, that my husband and family may not recognize that same Christeene that my coworker so earnestly praised today. Who is this "non-complainer?" they may ask. Because she surely doesn't live in our house. Why do I not bring the same gusto to my home life as I do to my job, for strangers? I have prided myself on my poker face, the veneer that I plaster on for the world ad nauseum, and saved the real ugliness beneath for the people I love the most.

Why is it so hard to bring our best home? Is it because there is no promotion, no raise, or no recommendation waiting for us at home that we allow ourselves, our tongues, our demeanor to be as primordial and ugly as possible? But when I die, I will not yearn for the faces of my coworkers. I will not remember the titles that were used to describe me when I am in need of a hand to hold from the hospital bed. Tonight I will ask my family for forgiveness for my acid tongue. Tonight I will vow to pour as much (if not more) into my family as I do into perfect strangers. Tonight I will no longer take pride that the world has not yet called my bluff and seen past this poker face.

1 comment:

  1. It is not that we do not want to bring our best gusto home. It is because at home, it is supposed to be our place we our truly ourselves, not the selves we wish we were at all times. It is the place where we are supposed to be the most relaxed and free to feel, think, wear, and do what we want, need, or wish, without the exhausting cognitive pinwheel in our heads reminding us we are in public or someone will hear us.

    The reality is your co-workers do no love you unconditionally. They are not required, obligated, nor expected to like or love you when you make nasty faces and coplain. That is the BEAUTY of family, not the curse. You are right, It is true we need to consider our loved ones more carefully. It is true we owe them respect, love, and sometimes, a shut mouth or poker face. It is a nice thought, to always bring that poker face home. But the reality is, that raw vulnerability, that freedom, is where you can find intimacy and REAL strength.