Sunday was a huge deal for Broncos fans, the Super Bowl, a national holiday. Grocery stores flooded, parties planned, alcohol consumed.
Our house invested little into the affair. We held no party, a dedicated grocery store visit was not initiated. Orange does not hold honor in our home, with the exception of an occasional shirt stripe. Licensed gear is nonexistent – not even a sock or hat. I admit, we are not exemplary fans, we are along for the ride, enjoying the hoopla and excuse for a lazy Sunday evening.
Throughout the game I perused social media. I meandered the halls of Facebook, observing friends and their celebrations, the jersey-adorned gatherings, orange in abundance. Snapshots of chips and dips, beers in hands, bodies piled together on sofas. My feed littered with celebration, with sunsets, with gatherings. It could have been us, but we chose different, we chose quiet.
Something commonplace happened, something I am reluctant to see but ready to admit. Social media has the power (given by me) to steal my joy. Our decision to have a quiet evening became not enough. Our situation turned sorry, sad, wrong. Eric and I alone, on the couch, while the children dispersed themselves throughout the house and neighborhood. The absence of Bronco spirit, the lackluster food display, the empty house an exhibit of our less-than. I became concerned, competition, jealousy rising – kindness, gratitude, grace plummeting. These feelings bore down upon me without warning, coloring the moment, calling into question our value, making our experience not enough.
My under-preparation surged, spectacled under a floodlight. Our simple, low-key, relaxing celebration wrong. Disappointment tinged with “wish I had”, for I believed the Facebook feed, I believed the lie, that we were alone, and everyone else was having more fun than us, the extrapolation, the perpetuation of the false – on and on and on.
How much power do we give social media? How often do I set out on my day and check the feed, only to discover my lack – body, house, children, purpose. What happens? In a hot instant, my life, my choices, my decor, my self is not enough.
I have a choice at this moment, to continue crazy making or to step away. Some days, it’s all I can do to get through, to manage my own issues, my own head, my own people. To look at a cropped picture of perceived perfection might send me on a long, twisting spiral, into a dank pit, where light ceases to shine. Where, according to my reality, I now need to be, to do, to have more.
I confess, I do it too. I put stuff out there, while on one hand wanting you to celebrate with me, I also want to appear together, and better, and awesome. I want you to see the fun I’m having. It’s a double edged sword. I want to see the beautiful things in your day, the people who love you well, the ways you are living and contributing and honoring. I want to know when you suffer. I want to be there, with a “like” or a “praying”. I want you to feel my love, my support, my encouragement, appropriate for the tenor of our relationship. Sometimes I’m jealous and I have to pretend, but I know it’s the right thing. And when I’m celebrating or given awful news or experiencing a quirky moment – I want you there with me, too.
But, I think it’s often better if I have these realizations in person, with a few trusted people. I want to truly know my people, not know them from a flat screen. I want you to truly know me. Yet, I do know this is an impossibility. We hypothesize, we assume. We function out of our insecurity, out of our story, our mess. Maybe this is why I need to spend real time with you, for, in the beautiful snapshot of one child, I cannot see the meltdown of another. In the pristine and decorated holiday table, I cannot see the destruction of the kitchen. In the picture postcard scene of your latest outdoor adventure, I cannot see the armpit stains and hear you complain of your frozen toes or the whining of your inner voice. Maybe, just maybe if we were together, I would see more of you, your process and your mess. And you would see mine. You would see how I stress and get all moody, how I snap at my loved ones, how I experience the blows of disappointment. You will see me real, I will see you real.
These are the stories I need, and those I hope I tell, for no one gets out of this world alive. We are all in this together, taking care of one another. We belong together, dishing the sordid details to safe people, normalizing the postcard view, reminding each other that no one has a corner on the market of perfection. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, something always has to give.