Ask any actor what it’s like to be “on” for hours at a stretch and they will tell you it’s hard work. Some days you just don’t want to be all sunshine and rainbows with smiles all around. Those are the days that are really hard because you still have to be sunshine and rainbows and smile like it is the most natural thing to do for hours.
I know this because I too am an actor. No you’ve never seen me on he big screen, I’ve never even slide across your television screen. The last time I was on stage it was to deliver a speech about possibilities and opportunities not a soliloquy from Shakespeare. Never the less I, and countless others, am an actor.
I didn’t even audition for the part, it just fell into my lap, sort of. Knee pain, lap, let’s not quibble over such a small thing. You see when lupus decided to share my life, I decided to become an actor mostly so loved ones and friends wouldn’t worry about me.
My acting skills have advanced from faking a smile and saying I’m fine while I’m in a horrible flare to hiding limps, stiff joints and rashes. I decided I needed those skills so coworker’s and bosses wouldn’t decide I was unable to be in the workplace.
I’ve acted as if I haven’t a care in the world as it felt like every bone in my body was crumbling. I’ve walked up flights of stairs without people ever becoming wise to my swollen, aching knees. And I have danced dear readers when all I really wanted to do was to curl up in a corner and make the pain stop.
Lupus also helped me develop my slapstick side, unintentionally. These days I’m more prone to slip into a bit of slapstick simply because there is no stopping a fall when it starts, nor can a girl defy the laws of gravity while she is on earth (at least not this girl).
I’ve come to realize that all this acting is not doing what I had hoped. It is in fact a disservice to others struggling with invisible illnesses such as lupus. A friend who also has lupus used to marvel at how I carried on throughout a full day. She called me strong and brave for working despite feeling like hell. The truth is, that’s not strong, that’s fear. What this acting does it makes it harder for healthy people to understand what lupus is really like.
So im retiring from acting, but I can’t promise that I won’t slip into it now and then. But I’m tired of acting one way when things really are another way so I’m taking a final bow of sorts, wiping off the makeup wnd allowing myself and lupus to be what we will.