A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

That fake smile I pasted on

I tried to fake it ’til I made it. I really did. I was looking through old pictures trying to find something. In all the pictures with X I look like there’s a thumbtack in my shoe. I have such a grimace of a smile. I still remember the sick feeling in my stomach that came with being around him and having to be hyper-vigilant to manage his environment and try to keep him happy. Ugh. Makes me sick just thinking about it. And I thought it was flippin normal! It’s not. I am so happy to be myself and not have to worry that somebody somewhere is going to do something to upset his apple-cart and then I’m going to have to try to fix it. What an absolute relief.

He texted me something cute DS did tonight. I know he misses having me in his life and sharing moments like that with me. I know he’s not evil personified. But I also KNOW he is desperately unhealthy and I can’t even respond to his attempts to engage me in the “aren’t the kids adorable” moments of life.

Glad to have a real smile, a real laugh, a real me and pics that don’t look like there’s a tack embedded in my left big toe.

Fake it til you make it doesn’t work within abuse situations. You never make it. Ever. You just get so fake that you don’t even know who you are anymore.


  1. speakingtruthinlove
  2. MeganC

    Ellie . . . I know exactly what you mean. Shortly after leaving my first husband, a friend of mine told me this story about how his mother and father knew this woman in a cult. She was beaten, was one of many wives, and would have babies only to see them taken away from her right after birth. My friend said they would get pictures from her of her smiling this empty, hollow fake smile. (Later, they rescued her but that is another story) After telling me this, my friend said, “Your photos were starting to look like her photos.” My fake smile was not fooling anyone. The emptiness of the death that was seemingly taking over my soul was showing to SOMEONE.

    When I got remarried and posted my photos on FB, said friend said, “Now THERE is a smile!” 🙂

  3. aaa

    Wow, that is so me. Except I still have to fake it until I figure out how to get free.

    • Dear aaa
      I love your screen name, it’s cool!
      Welcome to the blog, and thanks for sharing. We are with you in spirit. 🙂

  4. Brenda R

    I second that Ellie. I recently looked at a couple of vacation photos that he had to get from a cave tour we had taken. I had a “please help me find a way out of here” look on my face. Well at least a “get me away from this psycho” look. I still have am having to deal with him to a certain extent, so I don’t completely have the tack gone, but have days where I almost feel like it will come out soon.

  5. His Child

    I remember a well-meaning Christian girlfriend suggesting that his abuse could have been my fault because I seemed so emotionally numb. At that time, I didn’t know what to say, but now I know I should have asked her why she thought I had to keep up the fake exterior. Its a tell tale sign that should have rattled her antenna. They don’t ask “WHY”, they just blame the victim!!

  6. fiftyandfree

    I may be in the very weird minority, but I never faked it. At least I don’t remember faking it. I know he wanted me to be the Stepford Wife and he was livid that I refused, but I was persistent, and sometimes even loud and clear, since day one that I was miserable. I stayed out of fear, because he threatened to take my children if I left him, but I refused to pretend that I was happy. Maybe I would have endured less of his abusive wrath if I had pretended, but I just couldn’t.

    One thing that made it possible for me to not pretend is that he had the uncanny ability to create his own reality, so he just pretended for me!

    • One thing that made it possible for me to not pretend is that he had the uncanny ability to create his own reality, so he just pretended for me!


  7. nowfree

    Ellie, I know exactly what you mean by that fake smile. After leaving the marriage, I was sorting out photos and came across ones taken many years ago. I was struck by the fact that virtually all my photos showed a pretend smile. I hadn’t noticed those fake smiles all those many years, when denying my husband’s abuse. My eyes were so very sad, even with lips curved. My husband had enjoyed abusing me, and it showed, as his smiles were genuine!

    About a year ago, I went to renew my driver’s license and health card. Two different photos were required. I was told not to smile for identification purposes, but I found it hard not to!

    Upon receiving the two new photos on my driver’s license and health card, I compared them with the old ones. What a difference! I looked calm, confident, and yes, smiling (although I tried hard not to, as per instructions). The only smiles I have now are genuine!

  8. jritterbrunson

    Freedom is a wonderful thing. I am so glad you embraced it – for you and for your children.

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: