Hello, my old friend.
It’s been a while since I blogged. Almost nine months, to be exact. There have been many times my fingers have itched to type out a story on the keyboard. Many times where I’ve longed to put my thoughts into words. However, I stopped myself.
Why, you ask?
I am a perfectionist at heart. When I was a little girl, I would have to get dressed, clean my room, and make my bed before sitting down to spend my quiet time with Jesus. If my life wasn’t in order, how could I spend time with God? I had to get my affairs together first. I’ve struggled with that (very wrong) mentality my entire life. How can I share what I’m thinking, feeling, experiencing if I don’t understand and make sense of it first?
The last few months have been an insane adventure. And I’ve so wanted to share my adventures, but aside from the beautiful and the wonderful, my life has also been chaotic, messy, confusing, and at times, a disaster. How can I share anything that’s less than picture perfect? There are some things that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to share every detail about. And at that point…what IS the point, right? We all know how annoying those vague memes about “strength” can be when they’re posted over and over without really talking about the real issue… and let’s be honest here, we all roll our eyes at the Facebook statuses that say “So upset” and when someone comments, “what’s wrong” that person responds with “I don’t want to talk about it.” Attention seeking, am I right? I don’t want to be that.
And then there are the all too detailed posts about imperfection and flaws that are just looking for someone to say, “No! You’re perfect just the way you are!”
We all want that affirmation and reassurance. But I don’t want to share my story for those reasons, either.
Recently, a friend shared with me a podcast about authenticity, and it really got my mind working. What is authenticity? What is the difference between being authentic and over sharing on social media? How do we get past the need to present our picture perfect lives, and get real? When is being real too much? Or is it ever too much? Do we need more of it?
In January, Gabriel deployed, leaving me and a three-month-old Dresden and a whole lot of post-partum anxiety and slight depression. I’ve always been prone to feelings of depression, but with the battle of Dresden’s colic, and faced with being a single mom short term, I really struggled with feelings of inadequacy. I was exhausted mentally, and the feelings of guilt wouldn’t subside.
I went to Seattle to visit a girlfriend, and had an absolute blast, but my emotional distress followed me there to Texas, where we visited next. While it was wonderful to be around family, some experiences and interactions in Texas left me feeling less than worthy. It was an emotional trip, and it ended with a bang, as my poor puppy Stella escaped her kennel on the plane, and pooped. Complete with an entire plane of strangers staring at us, and a flight attendant yelling, we landed in San Diego emotionally exhausted.
I started work again at the Financial Center, however it was a short-lived experience, as USAA had already announced they would be shutting down our physical locations. My team and I would be going to Phoenix for six weeks to train for our new positions that would allow us to work from home in San Diego.
Phoenix itself was a wonderful trip. I felt normal again, being around other adults my age. It was amazing to have four other sets of hands to help me with the baby, and we spent our evenings eating great food (thanks USAA!) and spending our weekends by the pool at the hotel. However, that trip wasn’t without its thorns either. Gabriel and I faced some tough times in our marriage. Issues that had been lying under the rug somehow surfaced, and we were forced to face them with an entire ocean between us.
When he got home, we continued to battle those issues. We started going to counseling, and our counselor told us, “In order for this to work, you have to commit to forever. Do you commit to forever?” It was a wake-up call for us. Were we going to allow these issues drive us apart? We went home and promised each other that we were going to give it our all.
Has our life been perfect since? No.
Do we fight? Yes.
Do I still struggle with anxiety? Big time.
Do I still have feelings of inadequacy and low self worth? Absolutely.
But I think about all the good there is. We have a home, we live in a beautiful city, and we have a handsome baby boy. I am married to a man who loves me, despite all of my faults. I’m messy and chaotic; he’s organized and clean. We are committed to forever, whatever that looks like.
So what is authenticity? It’s being real. It’s being genuine. Maybe that means I might sometimes over share. Maybe that means I might fall into the trap of trying to achieve social media perfection. But being real and genuine means that as a human, my flaws and faults will eventually come out, because guess what? They’re there. But I shouldn’t let that stop me from sharing my stories, and sharing what I’m passionate about.
Welcome to my not-so-picture-perfect life.