Friday, April 14, 2017
Ode to Truth
Over the last several years of my life, I have been moving around with my son….from state to state and even out of the country. We have been on many adventures and have documented them on social media. My loved ones have been following and liking our multitude of photos and posts along the way. I used to post every thought that popped into my head on facebook, but my friends and family would sometimes take it the wrong way and get overly worried or say I was sharing too much drama, so I stopped. I started only posting positive statements and fun photos, during those rare moments when I was feeling “good”. I noticed that people responded to this much better and I stopped posting when I was feeling anything but ok.
This is the lie that is perpetuated online, and I believe, throughout Western society today. We are all expected to be happy, with our perfect white smiles and thin wastes. When I was going through a severely abusive relationship I lost a lot of weight. I was down to 109 lbs and I am 5’ 8”. This is considered a dangerously underweight BMI and is also the BMI of most supermodels. During this time I got so many compliments about how beautiful I was (with the exception of a few family members who called me skeletor!) and how lucky I was to be so thin after having a child. I was also suicidal and no one knew it. I only posted on social media when things were looking up, because when I did complain or reach out, people would just say “chin up” or “it’s not that bad” or “look at your beautiful son”. On a normal day, under normal circumstances this may be true, but under the extreme circumstances I was living in, this was not acceptable. What I needed to hear was some truth. Some real, genuine, helpful words. Like, “do you need help” or “you need to gain weight” or “can I come visit” or maybe just someone showing up on my doorstep and being there. I did get this from a few close friends and family, but most people just wanted to turn a blind eye and believe that everything will be ok. And honestly only 3 people came to visit me during that entire year and a half…2 of them being my teenage nieces.
Truth: everything will not always be ok. Life does not always turn out ok in the end! Life is full of ups and downs and every emotion and tragedy and surprise and joy and grief and depression and betrayal. It is varied and confusing and exciting. It is sometimes peaceful and happy, but my guess is this is not the norm most of the time for most people. Sure, we have a lot for which to be grateful, especially in a first world country…but we also have much for which to be deeply sad, angry, upset, frustrated, confused, crazy, and scared about. Let’s try and honor the entire spectrum instead of just one small part of the whole picture. Let’s be open and honest with one another and be compassionate and open with others. Let’s vow to not turn away when someone is reaching out and feeling alone and daring to admit it. Let’s not try and smooth things over or give them a pep talk. Let’s face those places within ourselves that are not ok and maybe never will be….and accept that. Be with that. Honor that. And let’s put all of it up on social media!
If we would only stop pretending our lives are perfect and dare to be brave, so much could be healed. We would discover that everyone is hiding behind their profile pictures and joyful facades. That no one really has it all figured out. That we are all deeply and imperfectly human. And, you know what, maybe we would all feel a little bit better about ourselves. Which is exactly what this world needs.