Apr 14, 2016

The Side of Me You Don't See

Tanya wrote an awesome post about not subscribing to the false veneer of perfection that so many of us coat our real lives with on the Internet and social media.  Now, I know some people get caught up in the race.  There's a need to present a perfect front, in order to keep up with everyone else's rose-tinted, perfect white background-ed snapshots of life.  But I think it also happens because a lot of the negative is so intensely personal.

I could tell you about my road rage, and we'd laugh it off.  But if I casually mentioned a lifelong pattern of anger that's taken years and a growing collection of self-help books to manage, how do we move on from there?  It's a downer, and it's also an invitation to pry into the areas of my life that I might get emotional about.  I don't necessarily want to do that publicly on the Internet, and I definitely don't want to do that in a 1 or 2 sentence post on Facebook or Twitter.

I feel like blogs are a much more inclusive look at each other's lives.  When there's no character limit, there's room to expand and explain.  Blogging seems to draw kindred spirits, and so instead of the awkward silence you might create on another social channel, you get comments like, "I know what you mean."  "Me too!"  "It really is the worst."  "Good job."  "Keep working at it."

And maybe that's why we should continue to share, and overshare, here.  Maybe blogging can combat the pseudo-perfection the other social media networks purport.  My favorite part of Tanya's post was her full assessment of her own personality, virtues, flaws, and all.  In the spirit of honesty, and living with integrity, here's the side of me I don't usually share on social media.

That anger thing?  Yeah, that wasn't just a convenient example.  My road rage is relatively mild, but anger tends to be my first response to a wide variety of stimuli and the best I can do is to not act on it or let it show to others.  I am quite honestly proud to be able to say I haven't slammed a door in 2+ years.

I am unkind.  Mostly to myself, but also others.  Every little mistake sparks the mental (and sometimes verbal) refrain, "Stupid, stupid, stupid."  My unkindness towards others exists, like my anger, mostly in my mind, but those poisonous, foul little thoughts add nothing positive to my life and I'd like to extinguish them altogether.

My way is the only way.  I'm far from a perfectionist.  I start every task intending to hit perfection, and then somewhere along my intended path I hit "good enough" and drop it.  But I'm far less proficient at accepting "good enough" from other people.  It's my way or it's wrong, and trying to accept help from others, knowing they won't do something "right" is a constant struggle.

I'm indecisive.  I agonize over life decisions and even after being forced by an impending deadline to choose one or the other, I don't fully commit until I've gotten comfortable with it.  I'm getting better, here, but it's not uncommon for me to daydream about an option long gone even after deciding to focus all my energies on the path I've taken.

Marriage is hard.  Here I am, 7 months in, newly moved into our first home, adopting our 2nd pup and full steam building our life together.  But there's no such thing as a perfect marriage, and I can write all the sweet messages, and "things I like about Ryan" posts in the world, but that doesn't negate the fact that there are times that all the power of my anger and negativity and indecisiveness has been directed at this one human being.  Times when I have daydreamed of other things, and times when I'm sure Ryan has felt the same.

I don't want to inspire pity or sympathy.  I know people who want what we have will look at statements like that and blow it off as a lack of appreciation for what I have.  But the truth is, I appreciate the crap out of Ryan and our relationship, and we work at it every day to make it even better and more fulfilling for both of us.  That doesn't change the fact that it's hard.  Not every day, not every week, not every month, but there are moments, and days, and weeks, that test us, that bring out every one of my negative qualities, that force me to choose between self improvement and self destruction.

And I guess I want to say this because marriage, more than anything, is portrayed as a state of perfection.  Social media, movies, books, even by our close friends and family.  Familial issues stay between spouses, and the rest of us look at that perfect exterior and think, "If I just had that, I'd be happy."  Or we think, "My marriage isn't like that.  I must have chosen the wrong person."

With the possible exception of Mr. and Mrs. Rogers (and my mom's parents, who were absurdly perfect), there isn't such a thing as a "perfect marriage."  Because we're not perfect, and we can't expect perfection of our partners or of a union formed by 2 imperfect beings.  Imperfection isn't bad or wrong.  It is hard sometimes, but it's just a fact of life, and continuing through the hard times means we're growing as people and, hopefully, as a couple as well.

And now, returning from my marriage tangent back to social media, I'd like to think we can break through the fakeness and embrace our imperfections.  I think I can say, "My negativity took over for part of today, but it's a work in progress, and I can forgive myself for it" with some certainty that you guys know what I mean, and can sympathize, because you're fighting battles of your own.  Most of you, in turn, don't subscribe to the pretense of perfection, and that's what keeps me interested.

What things do you find hard to talk about in a public medium?  Have you ever been caught up in the race to perfection?

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  1. I always struggle with how much to share. I don't want anyone to feel bad for me but sometimes I want to write things that aren't describing everything being 100% perfect. There have definitely been family events and things that I just don't talk about, because they are not completely mine to share, despite them interrupting our lives. Someone recently told me one of my posts was a "cry for help," and I think that was a misinterpretation on her part (she was the only one who seemed to take it that way) but I am cautious about describing things that are not as great. What I think is good is describing imperfections and like you said, saying its a work in progress and forgiving yourself.

  2. Sometimes I worry about just the opposite, that maybe I share to much of the yuck stuff.

    I agree marriage or living together forever or whatever you choose is hard work. I've recently been thinking that Tyson and I are in a down time and wondering if I should blog about it. It's not that things are bad they are just blah right now, not fun, lots of work, tension, etc. I know it will go back the other way eventually we've been doing this for 15 years but the down times are still hard work.

  3. Thank you for the shout-out, Jenn. I really appreciate it. I can relate to so much here. Anger is an emotion that I heavily compartmentalized for years and one day I realized how damn angry I was. There was so much of it bottled-up inside of me, waiting to go off. Because I'm non-confrontational and a people pleaser, I allowed myself to become a doormat. People stepped all over me, sometimes intentionally and other times in ignorance, but I just accepted. I'm learning to stand up for myself but it's not always easy. And thank you for being so honest about marriage. I believe in marriage and want to get married when I find the right guy, but I'm also so relieved that I haven't yet. Because for many years I had a very skewed understanding of marriage. I thought a happy marriage meant it was effortless, no arguing or bickering - i.e. the fairytale version. I realize now that a happy marriage does take much effort and it's also worth it.

  4. I'm with you about being indecisive, particularly with large, life-changing or costly things. And occasionally my indecisiveness leads to apathy, which isn't too great either. I also agree with not wanting or trying to inspire certain feelings from my readers, or thinking that I'm whining/complaining just for the sake of it. Just because everything isn't peachy all the damn time, and just because of COURSE there are bigger or worse problems, but it's not a competition and sometimes I want to share what's negative in MY life right now.

    I don't talk about my family life in general; my relationship with my mother and lack there of with my father. I actually have a few drafts discussing both, which will probably never see the light of day because while it helped to write them out, I don't care about what others think about it/them and don't want all that negativity on my blog. While I don't think I'm being fake or attempting to display a "perfect" me, there are just some things that I'd rather keep private, and I think that's okay too!

    1. Oh look, it appears you've struck a nerve in me. Sorry for writing a novel!

  5. yes to all of this. i love blogging and the sharing part of it, but i don't want to overshare, like you said, i get emotional about some things. also, i feel like i can start a conversation on a blog, but finish it in an email.. like if i talk about my issues with eating, some people might laugh it off and say yeah i want those doughnuts to lol but you know that it's more than that and it's not as easy as laughing it off. does that make sense? blogging has helped me, i think, come into my own and feel more comfortable about certain things because i have made friends who feel the same way or understand, and i love that. but then there are some things i don't want to talk about no matter what. marriage is a good example.. it's hard, and i hate how people pretend like it's perfect. no, KC drives me bonkers sometimes. A lot. but i still love him and we work really effing hard at our marriage and i am proud of that. i also don't ever want to come across like i am complaining, because then when i actually do legit want to complain, i want it to come across like that, rather than i am always complaining.. which probably doesn't make sense. sorry i am always rambling!

  6. I totally get the confusing line of wanting to share parts of your life to be transparent and not act like everything is all peachy all the time, but yet not wanting to even broach upon certain topics because they are very personal and private for you and your spouse or family that you don't even mention anything about it on the blog. Marriage is hard. I would never be one to come on my blog and discuss an argument that Chris and I have had or an issue that is going on in our family. They aren't my topics to share as they involve other people. I dont know, I feel like we all know that no one's life can be perfect even if they portray it as such on their blog. But sometimes it is nice to share something that is on your mind that is a little deeper than a book you read or your favorite recipe or funny story. Sometimes it is nice to get the opinions and support of like minded bloggers. Because as you said, we all seem to be drawn together.

    I can also relate to being indecisive. I drive my husband insane with my indecisiveness I think! I can't help it. I don't want to make the wrong choice, you know? There are a few moments in life that were no brainers, like marrying Chris, bring Gracie and Mac home, buying something amazing on super sale. But then other things like houses, cars, what service provider to go with, should I buy this expensive item when i am not sure I need it, where to eat dinner. Those things seem to require extra time and conversation for me. Haha!

  7. I have definitely over shared something that got me in trouble. You actually helped me through that one. I have more reserve now when I post but I still don't want the world to believe I lead a perfect life. That's boring. I'm meeting somewhere in the middle now and that makes me happy.

  8. I have definitely over shared something that got me in trouble. You actually helped me through that one. I have more reserve now when I post but I still don't want the world to believe I lead a perfect life. That's boring. I'm meeting somewhere in the middle now and that makes me happy.


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