I am not who you think I am. We present ourselves to the world as we want to be seen, all our positive attributes on display as a freshly unfurled flag on the fourth of July. Privately, when absolutely no one is looking, I let all those ideals go by the wayside. There’s actually nothing I like better than to be on my own in my own house. It’s easy to want this because it’s a rare thing – I love my family dearly but I crave alone time.
What do I do on my own that I don’t want my family to know about? I am lazy. I spend an hour debating whether to just clean the house so I can relax without it hanging over me (because I do love a clean house) or just let it go until the last minute. Often times, I’ll clean up one small space where I plan to plant myself for the day, a book and tea and candy within easy reach. I don’t do the laundry because it’s impossible to ever be done with it, just as it’s impossible to keep a tidy house.
I eat things the family doesn’t like. Things that remind me of comfort and my younger years when I could eat anything without worrying about my weight. A plateful of spaghetti with butter. A batch of beef stew like my mom made. Hamburger Helper, the Lasagne edition. I let the dishes pile in the sink and return to my reading spot, phone in hand to check out the latest on Twitter and then the random information chase begins and when I look up it’s dark and hours have passed. The novel sits beside me unread.
Recently when I was sick and had the house to myself during the days, I watched bad Chrismas movies on Netflix. And when I say bad, I mean the blithering, formulaic storylines I love so much. Girl wants to fall in love. Girl meets annoying boy. Girl falls for an annoying boy who really isn’t so annoying. And they live happily ever after. I rarely watch TV when the family is around. I’m too busy being the wife and mom they need me to be. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing with the occasional reading break because face it, we all need time to unwind even with the family present.
I stumbled on an article in the December issue of O magazine by Glennon Doyle titled Going Unfiltered (I tried to find a link but it was a no go) and it talks about these very masks we present to the world and how to introduce the real, vulnerable you. A reader wanted to know how to do this with her family and I could almost picture Glennon doing an eye roll as she counseled them to start small. Start with strangers because that’s an easier way to introduce yourself since you are a blank slate to them anyway. Work your way up to school moms and friends and then maybe one day your family.
Here’s the thing about these masks, though. I think they are great motivation for trying to be our best selves. When I want to go to a corner with my book and let my son watch TV for hours on end to give myself time and space, I need to listen to that voice that says – go do something with him. He’s going to be gone before you know it! When I’d rather go home and eat junk food and burrow under a blanket, I need to listen to that voice that says EXERCISE! When I’d rather skip a get together with friends or family because let’s face it, I’m an introvert who prefers the quiet of my own home, I need to listen to the voice that tells me I need to get out more. I need to talk to my friends and family and hear what’s going on with them and they need to hear what’s going on with me.
I need to stop saying everything is great when it isn’t. I need to listen to my body when it’s sick and get myself to the doctor. I need to apply lotion to my dry skin. I need to tell you when you’ve hurt me and not brush it aside. I need to brush my teeth (and floss) more. I need to focus on progress instead of perfection. The masks we carry need to be set aside every now and again so we can become our more authentic selves together.
I think I’ve just set myself up for my 2018 New Year’s resolution. For now, I think I’ll just carry on with my less than perfect ways for another few days.
Daily prompt: confess