You see this picture? It’s a lie.
You see that happy, care-free grin on my vacation-tanned face? It’s fake. I was unhappy, distraught, and lost. I was in my mid-twenties battling unexpected infertlity. You see how the photo is precisely cropped mid-bicep? That’s to hide my bloated, distended, pained abdomen occupied by two large ovarian cysts. You see my hair windblown and seemingly naturally volumized by the sea breeze? I had spent mournful time styling it to camouflage the hairloss from my previous bout of ovarian cysts. But all you see — all I allowed you to see — was a sunny seaside picture.
This photo of me on an over-sized chair? A farce.
I’m bronzed and cheerfully grinning from my perch. It doesn’t show that, mid-vacation, I had an intravaginal and pelvic ultrasound for the umpteenth time due to Clomid-induced ovarian cysts. It doesn’t show that — yet again — I was prescribed birth control to irradicate the fertility-thieving, painful, hormone-razing growths despite me desperately wanting to become pregnant. It doesn’t show how painful it was to walk or stand. It doesn’t show that the reason I’m wearing a dress is because it hurt too much to wear anything with a waistband. All you see — all I allow you to see — is a cheesy posed photo.
You see this photo of a young, happy married couple? A red-herring.
Yes, we were young. Yes, we were married. But, no, we were not entirely happy. We were struggling to conceive; struggling to hide our infertility battle from the outside world. It was becoming increasingly challenging to camouflage, to duck the questions, to artfully present ourselves as content in our family-of-two existence when what we really wanted was for our bodies to work, to provide us with a baby.
Don’t believe social media. Don’t get caught up in the filtered Instagram shots, toothy Facebook posts, and cartoony Snapchat images. You’re seeing facades, not reality.
You’re not alone in your struggles, we’re all battling something. You’re not lesser or lacking, no one is perfect despite what their photos may show. Your kids aren’t the only ones who meltdown in epic rages at the end of the day. Your dog isn’t the only one that uses your entry rug as toilet paper. Your family isn’t the only one with reality TV-level drama. Your job isn’t the only one that sucks, demands too much, goes nowhere, or pays too little. Your home isn’t the only one filled with more than one junk drawer or clutter heaps or dustbunnies or laundry or all of the above. And that’s ok.
You’re only seeing what others are allowing you to see.