A Facebook Marriage (Keep the Smile On Or Else)
I didn’t join Facebook until after my divorce.
But if I did have a Facebook page during my first marriage, it would have revealed nothing of the upcoming marital tsunami. You would have seen pictures of us playing with the dogs and working on the house. You would be jealous of our new (and huge) deck with requisite hot tub overlooking a large wooded backyard. You would be subjected to pictures of public affection and cheery smiles. In other words, we would have looked happy and normal.
And that’s so often the case, isn’t it?
No matter what is occurring behind closed doors, the marriage we reveal to the world is Pinterest-perfect. We see endless streams of seemingly flawless families and we want to blend in. We feel awkward and vulnerable showing any cracks in the marital shell, so we hide them behind carefully selected and cropped photos. Maybe we want to pretend that our marriages are solid and intact and we play out that fantasy on our social threads.
We probably all play that game to some extent, methodically choosing to put our best faces forward while hiding our flaws in the shadows. Airing our successes and anniversaries while shielding our squabbles and struggles. And in most cases, it’s pretty harmless.
But what about when things behind closed doors really aren’t okay? What about when you’re at your breaking point and you need a lifeline?
What about when you just can’t maintain the facade any longer?
There’s a loneliness and an isolation that comes from having to pretend that things are always okay, especially when it seems that everyone else is living a Photoshopped dream.
While Facebook has increased our connections, it can also increase our feelings of shame and distress when our lives fail to meet the “should I post this” test. It’s as though we’re in some sort of marital dissolution quarantine where we have to say something nice or not say anything at all.
It makes me sad when people message me and tell me they would love to follow my Facebook page but they’re embarrassed that someone might see the name, “Lessons From the End of a Marriage” on their feed sandwiched between the silly cat picture and the smiling kids posing in their first-day-of-school-clothes shot.
Because the truth is that divorce is just as much a part of life as silly cats and the first day of school.
And it’s not something that we can edit out as though it doesn’t exist.
Because sometimes pain is hidden behind those Facebook smiles.
And maybe sometimes it’s okay to show it.
I’m not advocating badmouthing your ex in a public platform (especially if you have kids or if the legal process is still ongoing). I’m not promoting a blow-by-blow appropriate for the tabloids. And I’m not suggesting that you divulge thoughts better suited to the therapist’s couch.
But it is okay to show you’re hurting. It’s okay to reach out and ask for help. It’s okay to drop the facade and show some of your cracks.
And yes, some people will question you.
But others will support you.
And others will admire your courage and maybe that will encourage them to show their truth.
Connection is not found through the illusion of perfection.
It’s created when we take down our walls and discover that we have more in common than a fondness for silly cat pictures.
Don’t be afraid to be real.
After all, it’s what makes you awesome.