I often see people talking about how insanely annoying it is that others only share what they consider “the highlight reel,” meaning they only ever share the good stuff in their life, and that leads to others feeling down about their life not measuring up. I definitely do believe that we have a comparison problem, particularly with the generation I am a part of. What I’m not sure about is that asking others to not share their happy moments is the solution.
Here’s what is true, for me, at least.
I spent years and years not allowing myself to be content, and thus found myself not feeling true happiness. I would look around me and feel some envy, some sadness, and I found that it was hard for me to just be there in the moment of my own reality. When I first became a mom, I struggled greatly with letting go of who I thought I was, who I thought I wanted to become, and the fact that I felt lonely as hell in motherhood and adulthood. Being in a committed relationship, getting married, having kids, living a quiet mostly sober life… for me, started pretty early. Everyone around me was doing the complete opposite.
Truthfully, it wasn’t that I had no one to talk to, it’s just that explaining the loneliness of motherhood and the pressure of adulthood is only something that a person can understand when they do it. It’s like explaining the pain of childbirth. It hurts – but it’s awesome. That’s what motherhood and adulthood and all of the other growing up shit we all have to do is like. It is dual natured. And because it’s so confusing to put into words, especially if no one else can help you find them, it took me some time to realize that things were hard because they were hard, but also because I refused to stop making them so hard.
But one day, probably around the time our second babe was born, I realized how much I was letting the hardness of life cause me to become disillusioned and distant from who I ultimately wanted to be, rather than letting it help me grow. I found that somewhere along the way I had stopped believing that I really deserved my happiness. I can vividly remember writing in a journal how sometimes I felt like none of my life was actually supposed to be mine.
All of a sudden, in the blink of an eye I realized that I had everything to be happy and thankful for, and that my kids deserved for me to get my shit together and to stop pushing blame outside of myself. What they deserved was for me to start being right there with them. I realized that my sole job in life (for right now) was just that.
What I really wanted was to be happy in the small quiet moments. I wanted that happiness to come from within. I wanted to commit myself to contentment (which is something I know many people don’t want to feel- but I really just want to be happy with what I have and where I am no matter what) and I wanted to commit myself to finding and seeing the beauty that is freely given on this journey that is life. Bad things happen all the time, they will happen to me, and to you, but there are still beautiful things happening too. I wanted that to be my story.
I also knew I had to actively do something to change. This was big for me because it was during a time when I was parenting alone a lot, and knew I would need to be strong for the next year (when I would parent alone for an entire year straight). I knew I needed to learn to not let loneliness and sadness take me from my children.
So I started reframing. I started opening my heart and my throat. I started writing more, because I truly cannot let something go until I say it or write it (it’s just how I operate as a human). If something was objectively pretty, I made myself see it. I went back and made myself read up on childhood development (something I am still obsessed with) and stopped allowing myself to feel drained by the needs of my children, so that way when they were “out of control” I could stay in control and be what they needed; their mom. But I also did the work in confronting my true feelings, I started actually telling my husband when I was in a mood, when I needed a break, when I desperately needed quiet or for him to just do x,y,z for me. I stopped believing he could read my mind. (Dear everyone, NO ONE can read your mind.)
Does it shock you that I didn’t always do those things? The me I am now has been such a work in progress friends. I used to be the queen of walls, the queen of never crying or showing my emotion openly, the queen of never asking for help. Opening my mouth and saying what I wanted and needed in the moment I wanted or needed it started way more recently than I would care to admit, if I’m keeping it real. I was on this earth for years and years before I realized I was being too strong (stubborn, actually) for no reason.
None of this happened over night. All of it is STILL a work in progress.
I’m not perfect, and I’m still not *her* – the woman I want to be, quite yet. But I have learned to let go of those things that made it so hard for me to allow real life happiness to flourish. I have learned that guilt is a sign I need to do better or apologize, not constantly reprimand myself for something that makes me human like raising my voice with my children. I have learned that sadness is a sign that I need to be honest about how I really feel. I have learned that loneliness, for me, is often times very rooted in insecurity. The more I allow myself to see and feel those things, the happier I became. And so now, even if I do have a bad day or moment, they are no longer magnified or thought of as defining. Because I know they pass and and that ultimately they don’t matter, unless I make them. Instead, what I have decided to magnify are the things that pass but DO matter, regardless.
I’m not over here having only good moments, I’m just over here forcing myself to take note of the moments. The ones that will flash before me in my final moments; and I just know that not a single one of those quickly flashing moments will be: that one time I yelled at my kids for taking too long to get dressed. Or one of the times I was crying and panicked during my first post partum experience. Or the time I smacked my child’s hand as a reaction to them hitting me. It’ll more likely be that time that I peed on myself laughing at my tiny petite little daughter letting out a fart that would rival a mans. Or one of the many times I saw my children connect and comfort each other. Or the way their faces light up when they’ve been separated from one of their parents, even when it’s only been an hour.
I want others to know that I don’t share good or happy things because they are the only things I experience. I still struggle with anxious thoughts. I still go through life dealing with doubt and fear, and constantly attempting to re-wire my brain so that I’m not stuck in falsehoods. I definitely still struggle with feeling comfortable with allowing my voice to be a voice that is heard.
It’s just that now I have accepted these parts of myself, and have decided to share the happy stuff too, because I worked really hard to feel it, and because I want to spread those moments of happiness as far as I can, for anyone else who needs a little joy.
And because one day I won’t be here, and my kids won’t get to see what I see as it flashes, but they WILL be able to go back and hopefully look at this blog, or my social media accounts, and they’ll see me. The real me, who was truly happy with what she had.