One time, someone told me that I was so lucky to “have life all figured out and put together.” And I laughed out loud because I knew how far from the truth that statement was. For a moment, I was taken aback and surprised that anyone would ever even think that. But why? How could anyone ever think that? I wondered. Couldn’t they see me crumbling behind the smiles I hide behind? Or see the bags under my eyes from all the stress I carried? I pondered over these questions for so long and settled on “Well, they must be blind to not see what a mess I really am” as an excuse to dismiss my own part in creating that facade. How could they have known when I was pretending all along?
You see, all anyone ever saw were pictures of the perfect moments in my life. I tried really hard to show off what I thought a perfect marriage looked like. There were times that arguments between my partner and I were extremely volatile, and yet we would pull ourselves together and rush out the door that same day, only to post captions like “Beautiful day with my favs” just hours later. There were moments when I would reveal the truth of the status of my relationship to close friends and even they were shocked. “We just saw you the other day. Y’all looked so happy,” they would say with a look of confusion planted on their faces.
The truth is, one of the truths is that I have let this go on for so long because I wanted to live up to all of the model families that I saw when I scrolled through Instagram. You know the ones. The PERFECT looking family who were high school sweethearts and who have the most beautiful children and who are considered life goals. I wanted to be that family. And it’s not that I am blind to the fact that we all have problems—I know they do too. I know sometimes that’s all an act. I mean HELLO, I am admitting my guilt in taking part in the same sort of deception myself. There’s no real way of knowing what’s really going on behind closed doors. But deep down, I also know that’s real for some couples. And I desperately wanted that family, that love story, the “perfect” appearance for myself.
But I wanted it so much that I sacrificed my own peace. I let someone cross lines that should’ve been hard no’s for me. All of that just to obtain that image. And because I didn’t want everyone to see my family as a failure.
Here’s what I am working towards embracing today: the ACTUAL truth. Relationships are complicated for everyone. Societal standards for the most part are outdated. Parental structures can be both nontraditional and still healthy. I do not have to have a partner to be an amazing mother. And I have monumentally changed as a person since the divorce process has started. What I am now acknowledging is my tendency to be an actual human. One who has many moments of uncertainty and an endless list of imperfections. One who has patterns with bad relationships that need to be healed. And I’m learning that I haven’t failed this time around either. I have seen it through the best way I knew how. I have given it my all. I have upheld my vows. At the end of the day, I have been willing to see that change and growth and some sense of perfection is possible. But I can’t be the only one willing to put in the effort or initiate positive changes in a relationship just to maintain an image. And for those reasons, I’ve realized that it’s okay to move on for the sake of my own peace.
So, I have another category I am dipping my toe in. I’m not sure what the ideal Instagram aesthetic is for the imperfect, traumatized, unpolished feed is, but I’m embracing it nonetheless. That’s the shadow work. That’s where the healing is. I’m meeting myself where I’m at, and hey, maybe I’ll have a few of you that walk with me in this too.