Monday, January 5, 2009

Venting

I am putting this out here because I wanted to know if other people find this same phenomenon in their wards...

I basically live on Wisteria Lane- everybody is perfect, there are never any problems, and bad hair days simply don't exist. But, as I have thought about this, I have realized that it hasn't seemed to be just my ward that has this problem. In my old ward, every mom would say how wonderful their baby was- easily slept through the night, never cried, was always happy. My baby, on the other hand, was literally a monster. She had colic, drove both her dad and I crazy, and left us wondering if we would ever have children again (we have made a deal with Heavenly Father that this new baby we are pregnant with must be a perfect angel or we are done). However, if I ever tried to mention this at a mom's group, everyone looked at me as if I had a third eye- it was as if I had to pretend like she was this perfect baby and that I wasn't completely falling apart inside.

Then, I recently found out a friend of mine is leaving her husband after 10 years of being in an emotionally, and eventually physically, abusive relationship. Come to find out, she felt that she could never talk to anybody about her problems because everybody has "perfect" lives and would judge her if she would have the audacity to complain about her horrible husband. (I get the impression this was not just her feeling that others looked down on her, but would say things and act in certain ways to truly make her feel like a bad person if she ever tried to talk to anyone about this). Since she finally left him, however, she has had several people come forward and say they are experiencing the same thing, but feel like they have nowhere to turn. Keep in mind, these are women who were sealed in the temple- but their husbands, obviously, were not keeping those covenants.

Last week at church on Wisteria Lane, we had a lesson on being positive in your life. Of course, because nobody ever has bad days in Suburbia, every comment was, "whatever happens, you just need to smile and trust in the Lord and everything will be OK."

I wanted to scream from the mountain tops: NOT EVERYTHING IS A LAUGHING MATTER!!!! I had thoughts of hurting my baby, not because I didn't love her, but because I was SOOOO frustrated- and putting a smile on my face and pretending like everything was OK, was NOT the solution! I needed support, I needed to know that other people understood what I was going through, and people who were willing to help- I didn't need everyone telling me how perfect their lives were! People need to know that there are situations that are not laughing matters, that they have people they can turn to and talk to, and that they won't be judged because their life isn't perfect (or at least that they shouldn't be)!!!

So, my question is this: Why do we feel this need to be perfect all the time? It can't happen, why can't we allow ourselves a bad day once in awhile? Why can't we allow ourselves to talk to each other about problems, so that we don't have to feel alone? That only perpetuates the problem. I absolutely agree with trusting in the Lord that He will take care of us, but why not be able to confide in friends, visiting teachers, other moms, without being looked down upon??? It would have been really nice to have somebody say, "you know, my baby was rough, too- here are some things that I tried that maybe will work for you, too."

I guess my complaint is that we are putting undue stress on all women when we only say how perfect everything is, instead of being willing at times to admit that sometimes things don't always go great- and that's ok. But, we are all in this together and we can help each other out!

Have I ranted long enough????

15 comments:

okbushmans said...

I too have my fair share of "Wisteria Residents" in my ward. But honestly, I feel like there are more Debby Downers. My husband doesn't do enough, my kids drive me crazy, I don't like my calling, my house isn't big enough, my calling is too demanding, my calling doesn't get enough recognition, blah blah blah. I don't know what's worse, those who put on the fake face or those who are constantly whining about their glasses half empty.

You brought up a good point, why aren't we more open about trials? Why do we put on a 'brave face'? Why do we think if we share our concerns or fears or issues with someone else it is showing a lack of faith? I know I am so afraid of sounding like those who are complainers, because it is a pet peeve of mine, that I hesitate sharing my own trials. It seems there is a line between being open with problems (in search of solutions or support) and always talking about how big your problems are (to the point it consumes you, and you can't be there for others). And at what point do you cross over?

Lula O said...

Good post on something I think alot of people agree with.

Nothing is ever as it seems. Even that perfect family that sits on the front row with the perfect kids has problems. Even the families that write those STTRB (straight to the recycle bin) letters that we get every year for Christmas. You know what I mean, the "Our twelve-year old Katie just finished documenting the North American Pica for her paper for the Lady Bug's Home Journal. Youngest ever to publish!"

*Barf*

I too, shutter when I hear that statement, "Trust and it will be ok." I tend to be more of a realist. It feels like a cop-out to me. It's ok to not be ok. EVERYBODY has problems.

The perfect pretense is common in not just the church but where we live in general. And as you know the contest to 'keep up with the Jones' is now backfiring.

Over the years I've learned to steer clear of any postings on the bulletin boards for those 'Mommie Dates' as it does usually turn out as you say. Which category do I fall into I wonder? The bragger, the whiner, the super mom, the spiritual giant, the chatty kathy, the outsider. I can rarely find a friend or confidant in these kinds of forced situations.

Instead I've learned that when I move to a new place(or even if I've lived there for years), if I keep the door open just enough, kindred spirits will gravitate towards it. These are the ones that are my support group, my shoulders to cry on, the ones I can trust to tell the truth about my life, without being judged.

Danielle and Jason said...

Well, you already know my story Christina, but I wanted you to know this is an excellent post - and I love the Wysteria Lane comparison. I am fond of the saying "trust in God but tie your camel." I like the concept that trust only goes so far - and I believe that. We are in charge of our own destiny. That being said, it sure is a lot less lonely to go about this journey with friends along who know what it's like. I hate how we as women do not talk about things. For example, when I lost a second pregnancy in November. I honestly believe if more of us women talked about these things, they wouldn't feel QUITE as tragic because we'd know they are common and lots of us have gone through them. I'm not into the kind of whining like "My house isn't big enough, etc." as was mentioned above, and I hate husband-bashing, but I think if we were just more candid about our day-to-day, we might forge closer friendships and better help each other through the rough-spots.

Ben and Christina said...

Yeah, Danielle!!!! I am so glad you came and visited!!! I hope you come back often- and, of course, I agree with you 100%!!!

Everyone has made great points- I think there is a difference between complaining (I wholeheartedly admit that more people should laugh about spilt milk then cry), but sometimes people truly need support in difficult situations. Great points, though- I hadn't thought about it from the "whiny" side, so thank you for that perspective!

Gale said...

I have a family member who has a very difficult marriage, struggled with post partum depression and has had many trials. She has no one to talk to and she says to me many times, "no one in my ward or any of my friends have any idea what I am going through". That is so sad. Isn't the best part of life connecting with other people and sharing our humanity.
My second daughter had colic and cried day and night. We got no sleep, I was extremely impatient with my oldest and we resorted to turning on the vacuum to lul her to sleep...the vacuum ignited, burnt our house down and life sucked. These are the realities of life.
I will say this though, I am an inately positive person so I will usually find a sunny side to everything, but I love to know that I am not alone in my sadness and trials.

Jen said...

You should have moved out to my neighborhood when you had the chance, everyone has issues :) My 4 closest friends ALL have/had major issues (past drug addiction/fear of divorce, widow, cheating husband, inactive husband...) but they are the most amazing women. They have been champions at dealing with their issues and I think it would be very sad for them if they felt like they couldn't open up and find love and support from others. They are all selective as to whom and how they open up, but they are so much better for it and have come so much farther than they would have otherwise. I think the problem in the church, in general, is we all know the standards and expectations and when we don't live up to the image we feel judged. Certainly there are those who judge, but WHO CARES. I just write them off. My thoughs are that we all have different paths in life and just because they are differnt than someone elses or just because we handle them different, doesn't make us less than someone else. I find it sad when people feel fearful to share. I am an open book, maybe that's why people are open with me also. I find if we can put ourselvs out there then we can put others at ease. I completely agree with Lula, we all have kindred spirits and we do make our way into each other's lives. My 4 best friends are priceless and I can honestly say that purchasing my home was a spiritual experience and I know it's because of the friends that I have made out here. I luckily haven't had to go through much, but I have been there for them. I know that we my big trials come, they will be there for me also. I think that the key is just finding those people you are connected with. Even if there isn't much going on, other than the typical obnoxious instances of the day, when the big things hit, they are there. I also think that being a good friend first is key.

There is no Wisteria Lane in Murphy Creek or the Buckley ward for that matter :) Maybe your job is to break down the walls in your ward or on your street. I actually have a good friend who doesn't want to move back to Highlands Ranch because she is fearful of being judged herself....

Ben and Christina said...

I know trials aren't competitions, but Gale- you win, hands down! All I can say is- WOW. Wow. Wow. That sucks- and I hope you did get a ton of support through that, which I am sure you did, because I will say that when a financial crisis like that happens, people in the church are amazing at stepping up and being very generous- I guess maybe it is more the emotional crisis' that are more difficult for people to help with...nevertheless- wow. You win- big time.

And Jen, I don't think it's just HR- I was in Littleton when everything with Audra happened. I actually loved that ward, and I really love my ward now- but I think you definitely got it right that I guess as women we all need our own little support group- not the whole ward or every mother in the moms groups, but a couple of women who you can really rely on when things get tough who won't judge you and who can really lift you up. I guess that is maybe the hard part- getting that close with others to get to that level. I do envy you that you have that- every woman needs that, I guess. Maybe that is what I am missing (and Danielle, you are one of my best friends who I can confide in, but it's hard because there is so much distance between us...). So, Jen, if this baby is colicky- I'm giving you a call:)

Jen said...

Don't give me a call, just go pick up 2 books--Happiest Baby on the Block and Babywise. If they don't work, I can't help :) Those 2 books have been magic to me. I guess I was my mom's only colicky baby so it would only be fair if I got one too. If you need a break and a moment of sanity, do call me and I'll come over hold the baby for you.

Ben and Christina said...

We did use Happiest Baby and LOVED it, but it wasn't the cure...

Gale said...

Ok, I don't want to get into feeling sorry for myself but when our house burned down we had been living there only 1 month and no one knew us and NO one offered any help....no one!! Our bishop said nothing, no relief society, silence from all fronts. I immediately flew home to Canada with our kids but my husband stayed and lived in an apartment, the first week he went to church and sat in the back and no one said a word to him. He called me that night and broke down. Ok, I have had enough wallowing. We all go through it at one time or another. I just hope I can be a listening ear, kind and helpful to others when they are struggling. BTW that was a long time ago. I am over it!

Jen said...

Gale, it's funny (but not so funny) that you say that. My really good friend Jamie lost her husband 1 week after moving into the ward. She had a 6 mo. old and a 2 year old. My first Sunday is the day that they announced his death. I went over to her house a few weeks later and learned that the ward did NOTHING for her. It was sooooo sad. Luckily she has family nearby but she was so upset.

I do have to redeem the ward a bit because we really are in a great ward and there are sooo many great and wonderful people who are so gracious and service minded, unfortunately I think that Jamie just slipped through the cracks.

Lula O said...

Gale, that is terribly sad. I hope none of you were injured. About your ward, we'll, what can I say? There's no excuse, and it happens all the time. We get so involved in our own lives we forget to expand the circle. Like you said, all we can do is try not to let it happen to anyone else. Thanks for sharing your story.

The Bradfords said...

Man, oh man, am I going to quit complaining about the time I moved into a ward, gave birth two months later and felt like no one cared two bits about me. I feel like a total crybaby. Any one of us who has read the comments on this post should make a Herculean effort to not let this happen in any ward we are in. The benefit of sharing our trials with others is that it helps us see that we can deal with our own trials better than we think. However, sometimes I just don't want to know other people's trials. TMI. I like Lula's policy of leaving her door open ever-so-slightly. If I keep bringing you chocolates will you consider me a kindred spirit, Lula?

okbushmans said...

Another benefit of sharing our personal sob stories is realizing, someone always has it worse off than you. There is always someone who is more of a Job than you. Hearing other's trials makes you almost appreciate your own.

Lula O said...

It's true Lady Bradford! I tell you my sweet tooth attracts me to the best chocolate makers in every ward. I sniff em' out like a hound looking for a soup bone, pretending I like to read and go to movies, stuff like that.
If that doesn't work I dazzle them with the secret language of the Fonz. Happy Days is the ultimate litmus test.