A photo follows. Or an admission. Or an announcement.
This phrasing appears on a Facebook post with some regularity, announcing something big in a somewhat humble way. At least as humble as one can get on the Internet.
There have been so many things I’ve wanted to post lately that I haven’t. Because for as public a life we live these days, we must still be careful about what we put out there. Everyone is watching. Everyone is posing. It’s a show.
Illusions abound, like carnival funhouse mirrors, distorting our reflections. That’s not really the whole story. You’re not happy all the time, so in love, success upon success.
No one is. Life is a series of ups and downs, trials and rewards. What we don’t post about is the real story. We filter what we let the world see, building ourselves up in unrealistic ways so that in the end, even we cannot live with the reality of our lives.
There have been things I’ve wanted to post about this last difficult week, but I didn’t because truly, it’s not everyone’s business. In this tell-all world, we are limited in the number of real friends, true listeners, people who actually care about us into the depths of our souls.
A social media friendship is not a friendship. I look at some of the names of my “friends” and wonder how I know them. I try to remember how we connected, how we met, and I come up blank.
Sometimes, I am tempted to cleanse my friends list down to the ones I actually know in a real way, but it would take too much time, too much of an effort.
And so I leave it. I look at posts from unfamiliar people celebrating momentous times, sharing big announcements, smiling their big smiles with their loved ones and I have no idea who I’m looking at.
So, too, when I go to post something serious, or telling about my real life, I hesitate. I pull back. I don’t do it. Instead, I post a picture of my wonderful husband on the dock at the lake, waiting for our table to be called, and think genuinely how lucky I am that I get a second chance at love.
I post about the positive ideas and outcomes. A client’s media exposure. A fun moment with my kids. My overflowing love for the people in my house.
I don’t post about the bullying and the nagging and the moments when tears spill down my face because the realities of life sometimes are too much to bear.
And then I step back.
Last night, sitting at Maestro’s ice cream shop on a bowed picnic bench in the waning day, I said to Dan, “I’m not even sure why any of us are here on this Earth.”
And I meant it.
People just mess everything up. We ruin the environment, we fight with one another, we wage war endlessly.
As long as people have walked the face of the earth, we have been self-involved and rage-induced. We have done irreparable harm – to ourselves, to others, to the world around us.
Yes, there is good, too. There is deep love. There are moments of absolute wonder, sheer brilliance.
But last night, all I could see was the vindictiveness around me, the meanness, the people who intend to cause harm, the bullies. I hate bullies. I absolutely cannot fathom anyone who feels so small that they can only rise by making another person hurt.
I feel it in the depths of my soul. And so I asked the existential question, “What’s it all for?” Why? Why are we here?
There must be some greater meaning, some reason that all of the horribleness happens in the world, some ultimate positive outcome.
Lately, my wonder has been about ill-begotten relationships. Why they have to happen in the first place.
I think about a precious new baby, born into peace and innocence. Babies, children only want to love. To be loved. To snuggle up in the lap of someone they trust and be comforted that love will reign forever.
If, however, that baby is taught indifference, coldness, abandonment, they are thrust onto the trajectory of sadness and hatred and unhealthy relationships, possibly for the rest of their lives. Know anyone like that?
Those people are sad at the core and troubled, broken by what has happened to them. Sometimes it’s unknowing neglect or indifference by good people who just didn’t know any better. But the damage is done. And the recipient hobbles into life unprepared for success.
And then you have adults who can only love so much, who can only feel good by making others feel bad.
I see the innocent and humble beginnings of such bad behavior. I see how relationships run amok, how well-meaning people just don’t succeed together. I understand it from an intellectual stance.
But I don’t like it when I’m in it.
What I wanted to post on Facebook but didn’t was this: If I could give my children one piece of world-weary advice, it would be to marry someone they could never divorce. Find that deep and lasting love that will endure and from there, create a family built on love, and only love.
That’s what I wanted to post. I didn’t because my children might see it or my ex-husband might stumble upon it or someone might read it and think badly of me.
Why write it here, you ask? Because sometimes feelings just need a voice.
Because it is ok to admit that you wish you had written a different story for yourself. Because when I look back on my experience, if there are any details that can help someone else choose a different path, you can bet I want to offer them.
So many people my age are divorced or are getting divorced. Every day on Facebook I see a post about another couple coming together, one friend’s ex-husband with another friend’s ex-wife. Second chances at love.
Or another opportunity to screw it up.
Perhaps we need to heal ourselves first, before we ever venture into unions with other people. Perhaps we have to admit our own failings, our own displeasure, our own sadness. Perhaps we need to get real help that actually heals the demons of the past.
Good luck with that. And until then, smile away into your selfies and post the illusion of the life you’d like to live.