We went to church this past Easter Sunday. It was really lovely, the cherry blossoms were blooming, the girls looked like they just stumbled right out of a Janie & Jack ad, P & I sat in service & held hands. If I had seen our family when I was a teenager I would’ve had to change shirts from all the envious drool. This was exactly what I always fantasized about. The part I didn’t envision was where later that night P & I would get into yet another argument & end up sleeping in separate bedrooms.
No one tells you that part.
Later that night as I was sitting on the couch in the dark, wiping my nose on my sleeve because really, at this point, who the heck cares, my mind started to get overwhelmed with the confusion as to why is this happening to me. How can my family seem so utterly perfect in the morning & not even 24 hrs later be this horrible dysfunctional unit. Am I the only person living such a double life?
The next day I was chatting with a friend & thank goodness she was willing to be completely honest & admit that her life isn’t as it seems either. She & her husband aren’t necessarily ‘in love’ right now & it sucks. That’s when I started to go through all of the different couples I know who have young children & I swear to you I could not come up with a single one I knew who had a great, stable marriage. In fact, I know plenty who look like the epitome of the American family unit but behind closed doors are constantly teetering on the edge of divorce. Either that or they just keep going through the motions of day to day life while they’re actually wasting away in a loveless marriage because they’ve resolved to stop trying.
I have this fantasy in my head about going to back to that church service & looking around at all the beautiful people in their Sunday best however this time they would each have a sign around their neck that tells what their true reality is.
“Cries most nights”
“Starts drinking at 4pm”
“Never has sex”
“Hasn’t really spoken to spouse in months”
I wouldn’t want to see all of these people’s truths so that I can judge them. Quite the opposite. If only we weren’t so ashamed of admitting what our lives are really like than maybe we could actually define a new sense of what’s normal. Maybe if I can admit that right now is one of the hardest times in my life then perhaps someone else wouldn’t think that they their marriage must be doomed because they’re going through some dark days, months, maybe even years of a ‘rough patch’ with their partner. Or maybe just a rough patch with themselves.
We’ve created a culture where we so dwell on portraying ourselves as being these perfect in love people who inevitably shoot themselves in the foot because it’s a standard that’s not realistic. Your spouse will not always laugh off your bad traits like Ryan Gosling does in The Notebook. He will get annoyed with you & possibly even bitter & resentful. Because that’s what happens when you live with someone day in & day out. That’s what happens when your small children who you love dearly suck the life out of you & you have nothing left to offer each other. Often we treat those closest to us with the least amount of caring & respect because we assume that they’ll always be there & unfortunately it comes at a cost.
Now I’m not saying that we should justify treating each other badly or giving up on “trying” because it’s hard for everyone, I’m saying that if we could just be more honest with one another then maybe that support could give us the strength to keep going. Maybe if Julie down the street admits that yes, every Friday night you see her & her little family drive their minivan out for pizza together but also after everyone goes to bed Jim stays up looking at ‘hot lesbian hispanic porn’ then you won’t judge your life so hard for not being quite perfect either.
To be an actual doer of what I’m suggesting I’m going to start with myself.
I live a very public life that could easily be something others perceive of as ideal. My husband has a glamorous job & often talks about the antics of his lovingly crazy family. You then see my blog & how my daughter & I make crafts together & I serve healthy, homemade meals around our warm selvaged wood vintage dining table. How freaking lovely. No my friend, not at all. I love my husband with all my heart, he is a good, no great, man. HOWEVER, we’ve been through the ringer.
We have 2 small children & are living life in day to day survival mode. It is hard, monotonous, exhausting & often very lonely in my house. My point however, & this is the part I really want to get across so listen up, is that IT IS OK that things are less than great at times. It is a part of life that is to be expected. Things will go up & then back down, we will fall in & out of love, we will be great parents & crappy ones, lovers & fighters…this is what I’m going to resolve to believe because this is my life. But I have a hunch it’s yours too. So what do you say we stop beating ourselves up for our current situations being less than ideal & instead help pull one another through it by being transparent.
Your turn, what’s your reality?