Why That Perfect Social Media Post Might Not Be Such A Lie Afterall, or How I Resigned My Job As Judgy McJudgerson

Haven’t we all seen those posts on social media where the mom and dad with the perfectly coiffed hair posing with their perfectly behaved children, all sporting million watt smiles standing on some perfect beach, or at the top of some mountain they’ve just climbed and have wanted to wretch? I mean “COME. ON. PEOPLE. Stop being so phony! Show me some real photos of your dirty dishes in the sink that you haven’t wanted to face for five days, or the sixteen loads of laundry that have completely overtaken the laundry room!” I’ve wanted to call people out in a big way.

So ya, I was getting super fed up with seeing everyone’s perfectly staged and perfectly lighted at just the right time of day with dew on the flowers, blah, blah, blah lives that were on display via social media until the unthinkable happened. My whole world came to a screeching halted, was turned upside down and inside out, and put in a blender at turbo speed all at once when my dad left this earth.

Since then though, and I’ve just recently realized this, if you were to look at my social media accounts (except here, where I haven’t been able to write a word) my life has probably looked pretty normal.  My Instagram will NEVER looked staged, because ain’t nobody got time for that, but by and large you probably can’t tell by my photos how furious I’ve been paddling underneath.

But now my motivation is different, so I feel completely justified in the scores of photos I post where most of us are looking at the camera and our clothes are mostly on right side out. I’ve also completely let go of my judgy and stabby attitude toward many other social media accounts I see where everyone looks like everything is just hunky-spunky and they’re all very shiny and pretty (we’ll never be shiny and pretty, and that’s okay with me). I know better now. I know that after a devasting loss (as was my case) or a series of life events that turn you upside down on your ear (which pretty much describes our family’s first six months of 2018) those photos where you’re smiling aren’t so much photo opportunities as they are declarations that you’re not going under. Yet. Not today anyway.

I can tell you that every single thing we’ve done as a family since September 8, 2015 has been a declaration not to die, at least not that day.

Especially at the beginning, or at least the first two years, every smile I’ve sported, every event we’ve gone to, has been a battle cry that I’m fighting self pity and unspeakable grief with every ounce of energy I have. I want to create good memories. I want my kids to remember good family times, even though we’ve been hurting. And I think I’ve wanted to see if the impossible could be done; could creating happy and positive memories fill the Howitzer-size holes in each of our hearts? Could we possibly heal while learning how to enjoy life again?

Maybe you’re there now; going through a crisis with a child, going through a gut-wrenching divorce, experiencing the death of a best friend, a serious health issue for you or a loved one, or some other horrific and crushing loss. If smiling feels good, then keep on keepin’ on, continue the journey of healing.  Smiling for the camera or going out with our friends doesn’t mean we’re in denial about the pain we’re in, it’s a statement that says, “despite the pain, I’m going to aim for some normalcy”, if only for a few minutes.

 

We can never choose our circumstances, we can only choose our responses. And maybe smiling for the camera while hugging our kids (who are mortified at our lameness) is a way to beat back the pain and declare ourselves as the fighters we are.

I’m glad I get to look at your fun photos doing really crazy and funny and spontaneous things with your friends and family (and your dogs. Always with the dogs). You give me hope and strength to fight on and to continue to believe in the healing process, no matter where it takes me.

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