Recently I wrote a “birthday tribute” on Facebook to my forever love of 34 years. My husband and I started dating when we were 17, high school sweethearts. I was feeling sentimental and wanted to thank him for the ways in word and deed that he loves myself and my family. He is a good, good man. I am blessed and I am grateful.
However, I began to ponder as the days passed, how our social media posts are never an accurate representation of a life, a relationship, an accomplishment, etc. Mine included.
What we see in visual or written form in the cyber world, only ever shows the best versions of ourselves. The happy moments, the sand filled, sunshine laden vacation photos, the children photos of awards and accomplishments, etc.
The result of this can foster a sense of “I am less than.”, “My relationships (marriages, partnerships, children, coworkers) are less than.”, “My life is less than.”
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE seeing my friends’ and family’s special moments! It makes my distant dear ones feel closer to my heart.
What comes to mind are some of the precious posts from loved ones living afar sharing the pure joy of their wee daughter riding a scooter for the first time or making basketball shots from their couch. These make me smile, warm my heart, and remind me to live life through the eyes of a child, with a pureness of wonder and delight.
But the flip side of that coin however, if left unchecked is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with our own life. If we spend too much time on social media, we can fall prey to the deceptiveness of one “social media worldview”.
I will use myself as an example.
If one were to judge my relationship with my husband based on the post I mentioned above, one might be left with the illusion of a perfect marriage. Or foster thoughts such as, “I wish….” You get the train of thought.
I have looked at social media posts and caught myself in that mental trap.
However, what you don’t get to see are examples of the days that we are crabby with each other, times that we take a bad day out on the other, times when I am PMS’ing and my family looks at each other and says, “Ohhhh, she must be close to her time of the month.”
Forgive me if you feel that was TMI (too much information). The truth of the matter is, I KNOW I am not alone in these moments. I am not sharing this to disprove or disavow my birthday tribute. I am allowing myself to be vulnerable and share for a purpose.
As with anything worthwhile in life, my husband and I have to work a process to have a healthy marriage. In fact, a marriage without the ups and downs of life and the human frailty that we all display at times in dealing with them is not reality. That, is a Disney movie.
To further my vulnerability, I will share a specific example of what I mean.
A few years back, my husband and I had a DOOZY of a fight. It even has a name that we chuckle over now.
“The Big Flea Fiasco”
Our dog Chester got fleas. My husband and I were both so upset about it, blamed each other, took it out on each other to such an extent that we literally did not talk for 48 hours.
It took that long for us both to calm down enough to talk, to say “I’m sorry”, to deal with the problem, and to examine how best to avoid this in the future.
We had to work past the anger and the “I don’t like you so much right now” to genuinely resolve our conflict through understanding, thinking of the other’s feelings and perspective, and genuinely communicate in order to return to a place of love.
That is healthy. That is real. Not the absence of real life moments.
To foster healthy relationships, I have learned:
* I must be honest with myself. This requires looking in the mirror and acknowledging my part in a conflict or relationship status.
* When I am honest with myself, it always requires an action that may not be the most fun. Example being, “I am sorry.” But it must be spoken from a heart and mind that has calmed down from anger in order to be a pure and genuine apology when we know we have done wrong.
* I push my internal pause button and reflect on where the other is coming from. Looking at a situation or conflict in this manner allows compassion and understanding to soften our hearts.
* I work on leaving defensiveness at the door when difficult conversations take place. This is especially hard for me at times but I am a work in progress as we all are.
* I work to increase awareness of my body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions, for these can inhibit or enhance conflict resolution and healthy communication.
* And lastly, I try to use “I statements” to claim and own the thoughts and feelings I am expressing.
By pondering, writing, and sharing my own vulnerabilities from this post, it is my hope that you will remember that behind every post, is the real, the raw, the human in us all.
It is also my wish, that my vulnerability with you dear reader, will create a greater communal connection in the knowledge that we are not alone in this journey we call life.
Blessings and love dear ones,