I don’t have a white picket fence. I am quite sure no one does and that’s a true story.
A couple of weekends ago at my 35th class reunion I had an interesting conversation with a classmate. She had been sitting on the fence about coming to the reunion and my, shall we say, persuasive enthusiasm swayed her into coming. She thanked me for that and I questioned her about why she was hesitate. I did this with my planners hat on and was seriously interested in why she would or would not attend. Her answer was open and honest. She was recently divorced and as she had already changed her name a couple of times in 35 years it made her feel like a failure. My reply was that no one cared what her last name was and that the scars on her soul were much more important. She replied that was easy for others to say when they had lived a white picket fence life and my response was that perhaps it appeared others had that but that appearances can be deceiving. Which brought us around to what the “mask” hides when we smile and say that everything is fine. Even when the wounds lurk behind the smiles and the eyes are haunted by scars so deep they burn the soul. It was an honest exchange yet it left me thinking about the polite answers.
Everyone has those stock lines ready to go when asked how we are but what would happen if we open up. Perhaps a dialogue would ensue but perhaps there would be a pregnant silence in which one person tries to end the conversation. It takes a lot of courage to open up about issues and it does have to occur at the right time and place but making assumptions that because we smile and say life is good that we have a white picket fence goes places that our polite responses don’t necessarily imply.
As I was pondering all of this I read a great share on Facebook and she was much more eloquent that I was about the very thing I had been pondering. It has taken me a couple of days to find my way back to read it again and bring it over here to share it. She has had so many shares and likes on Facebook that she has created a brand new page when the Facebook powers froze her account. I believe that people connected because she was real and honest about pain and suffering while smiling to the barista. Read and enjoy her story and then come back to see what I shared.
If you read my blog regularly you will know a lot of what I am going to write now but it’s all honest and open.
- I have been called aggressive and offensive – more than once. This was not on the soccer field, as you might suspect, but in every day life. I was even called something along those lines today. It hurts — I prefer to call it assertive and committed to what I take on but maybe I can’t see when I step over the line.
- I truly struggle with my weight and hate that “fat” feeling. People tell me I look fine but I don’t feel fine. Once I get heavy I have to mentally beat myself up to make changes. Everytime I make those changes I fall off the wagon and go through the whole thing again and end up really mad at myself.
- I feel like a country bumpkin about 95% of the time. True story. I have no sense of style and would be happy to live in scrubs or gym shorts and a t-shirt. Shopping isn’t fun if you have no idea what to buy or what to put it with. Clothes are like a necessary evil and I just reuse the same ones over and over and over again. Seriously, I was looking at the photos from our 25th wedding anniversary trip and I’m still wearing two of those shirts.
- I tried my best but there were many times when I failed our children; some with serious flaws and consequences. There were some really dark days. I’m happy, really happy, that we have worked through all that. I could seriously micromanage their lives now but I have to work hard daily to let go. I remember that my parents sent me out at 18 into a big wide world and I survived. I often wonder how but I did.
- I have private writings that date back to the 70’s. I have letters to my “man” written when we lived apart. I’m not a pack rat and I have no idea what one would ever do with them but I can’t part with them. One of my best friends gave me back my letters to her from 1980 to 2005 — what a look back at my life.
- My house is quite neat and tidy but if you look close you will see that it is not always clean. Surface clean but not deep clean. Oh crap — that reminded me of a big spider web on the wall sconce in the hallway.
- Sometimes I get tired and want to quit but something in me isn’t smart enough to just walk away. I always want to finish it — whatever it is.
- I don’t understand people and their coffee. But then I am addicted to chocolate and people always think I am joking but I’m not. Yes, if desperate, I will eat chocolate chips and I eat way too many frozen chocolate chip cookies but don’t tell my other half!
- I don’t think I am a good sister with my sisters. Contact is sporadic and we don’t always seem to be on the same wave length. On the other hand I am super close with a lot of friends.
- I hate debt and think Lines of Credit were invented by the devil. I have always been a penny pincher – so much so that in 1978 I informed my friend that she still owed me a nickel from the change. I had forgotten about it until it was revealed in a funny way recently. Our house project and the subsequent debt have not been good for my mental health. I am working hard to get it paid off by once again living fairly frugally where we can because who needs new clothes or coffee?
- When I get out of balance I need a hug. Like a long hug and no words. Just a hug. I firmly believe people do not hug enough.
I’m certainly not as witty as Genevieve nor as tall but we both share the same concepts that our smile can hide our pain and we can be brave enough to go on while others think we have it made. Be honest, open and make a real connection with the world around.