I've been doing a lot of soul-searching lately. A Lot of self-reflection.
My birthday is coming up, so maybe that's the reason for this reflective streak. Or maybe it's because two weeks after I turn 35, my husband and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. Or maybe it's because my daughter looks so grown up in pictures. I don't know.
All I do know is that I feel like I am in an inflatable raft floating down a river. The river is moving at a steady, quick pace. Stu and the kids are still in my raft. And right now we are enjoying a peaceful ride. I guess my issue is that this river is not a lazy one.
I should not complain. Stu and I have been navigating white water rapids for many years now. As we come up on 10 years, I would not say our marriage has been all roses - anyone who says that is probably full of poo. I would not even be comfortable classifying the years as "more good than bad." I think it's more accurate to say we have had a hard decade together.
The river has beat us up. The river has not been kind to us. We have made some terrible navigational decisions. We have had issues with outsiders and other rafts. We've had to deal with other people trying to pop our raft. We've had to push other rafts away for the sake of our own. We have been banged around on the rocks. We have nearly fallen overboard. I have come close to pushing Stu out of the raft. I know there have been times Stu has wanted me to fall out and float away. We both have to take credit for poking holes in our raft - some are large gashes, others are tiny pokes. We have taken on so much water, it seems sometimes we are going to sink. There have been times when we thought about cutting losses and jumping ship.
I think we have both gone in and out of states of despair over the last decade. Sometimes it has felt like life was so bleak and gray - I've felt so alone, even when surrounded by people. I feel like I have been living a secret life. The happy, photo-wonderful Facebook and Instagram life is not real. Real life is hard. Real life is lonely. Real life has felt crushingly heavy.
When I started writing this last week, I wasn't sure I was going to post it. I wasn't sure I wanted to be this naked for the world. This is difficult to share.
Then, on Sunday night, our preacher did a sermon on despair. In it, he said that all people, at some point in the course of their lives, will feel utter despair or depression. The sermon was about God's presence in despair - how He is with us, even on our dark days. I believe God sent an excellent counselor to help my marriage. As I look back on my bleakest times, I know I had people to reach out to - I used my counselor, my closest friends and sometimes Stu to save me from drowning.
Our preacher said that we should tell our stories, be there for people when the days are dark, for we might be the only light and hope. It was then that I made up my mind to post this, and write a series of honest, raw, sometimes unflattering series on our marriage.
I talked it over with Stu, to make sure he'd be cool with me laying our marriage out for all to see and possibly share. I wanted to make certain that by sharing this truth for you, I wasn't directing our raft toward a fatal waterfall.
I think the world we live in is making it harder and harder to be genuinely happy. That old adage "keeping up with the Joneses" has been magnified infinitely by social media. We are constantly one-oping each other with pictures and posts. We are counting our self-worth by the number of "likes" a post or photo gets. We are putting more and more stress on our pocketbooks because we want the same thing our friends have, we want their seemingly perfect lives/homes/vacations/marriages/children. But you know what? No one is perfect. I came across this saying somewhere, and I absolutely love it -
The other side is only greener because it's fertilized with bullshit.
It's time to get real.