This picture is everyone’s favorite of the ones I had taken at the hospital. (By the way, Angela Demsick did an amazing job!) It’s a precious picture of my little family: my son sleeping peacefully, my daughter looking so happy, and of course, I’m the epitome of motherhood bliss ( whatever that is).
That’s what you see. But that’s not the whole picture.
What you don’t see is that I hadn’t had more than 2 hours of sleep that night. I had thrown up everything I ate in the past 12 hours. In fact, I threw up 15 minutes before the photographer arrived, (hence the wet hair of a hurried shower) and again just after she left. I felt awful; shaky, disgusting, and exhausted. When my daughter arrived she would have nothing to do with me or her new brother. It was my sister who had the genius idea of playing videos on her phone as close as she could to Nathan without being in the shot. Jocelyn isn’t smiling at Nathan, she’s smiling at a video of herself playing with her uncle.
Why am I telling you this story? Because my blog is like that picture. Through my writing, I have given you all a snapshot view of my life. But there is still much that you do not see. I have always been very honest, but there are many things that I have decided not to share. The problem is, based off of the snapshots I’ve chosen to reveal, I feel like some people are beginning to build this image of a heroic, golden statue that looks like me but isn’t real.
I’ve been placed on a pedestal once before. Back in high school, I was the good example, the teacher’s pet, the youth pastor’s dream. From every direction, in every social circle, people looked at me like I was the “Chosen One”.
It was a burden too heavy to carry for long. The pedestal was so high. Eventually, I got to the point where I would have preferred to hang from it than to stand on it any longer. I managed to work my way through that season of secret depression and suicidal thoughts. I climbed off the pedestal and found a place out of sight where I could be me without expectations.
I am finding myself on a rising pedestal once again. There have been a couple times that I have come across an acquaintance who has freaked out a bit upon seeing me. One was someone I didn’t even know. “You’re Erica Roman,” one said with tears in her eyes. “I read your blogs..” I have joked many times that at this point my life has enough drama for my own reality tv show, but it was very unnerving to be treated like something of a celebrity.
(Although, I don’t think I’d complain if TLC gave me a call. “Young Widow Diaries” anyone?)
I get the feeling that I am beginning to be viewed as some sort of tragic heroine who has overcome all obstacles with grace and ease. There is some truth in that. I have overcome much, I want to be strong and I have chosen the identity of a victor. But it has not been easy for me, I have been anything but graceful about it at times and I am not out of this war yet. There are battles that I have lost, things that I have done, and struggles that I’ve faced, that would shatter the image you have of me were I to share them with you.
While I am not ready to share some of the heavy things publicly yet, I do want to take some time to paint a fuller picture of my reality.
I relate to this comic on so many levels. Sometimes I’m saying “This is fine” to myself. But more often than not, it’s how I present myself to other people. I have come far in my process and for the most part, I’m doing ok, but I’m still standing in the ashes of what my life was supposed to be. Most days I’m alright, in fact, I’ve been quite happy lately. But if I’m to be completely transparent I also have days where I curl up in the corner of my sectional because it kinda feels like I’m being held.
Being a widow is incredibly isolating. No matter how much support you have around you, you’re still missing the person you relied on the most for love, affection, and comfort. I recently got my eyebrows waxed. When the lady rested her hand on my forehead I thought to myself, “Wow. Human contact. This is nice.” She was literally ripping hairs out of my face and I was thinking I had better enjoy it while it lasted.
Caring for a toddler and an infant is exhausting even in the best circumstances, but not having someone to curl up with at the end of the day has left me without the emotional support that moms need in this season. I’ve been doing what I can to press through it but some days I run out of strength.
In the months after Nathan was born I struggled with Postpartum depression. My doctors gave me medication for it that I opted not to use because of the effects it would have on Nathan from getting into the breast milk. Thankfully I’ve overcome it this past month, but it was a hard fight for me.
This blog isn’t meant to be a pity party. I never want to be that person. I guess I just want to remind everyone that I’m human. I’m not perfect. I spend too much time on Facebook, sometimes I use the TV as a babysitter and I order pizza more than I should. There are many nights where all I really want is a strong drink or a long kiss (not that I have the opportunity for either).
I’ll finish off this blog by saying this. This past year I have felt like I’ve been living my life in a fishbowl. Maybe it’s all in my head but I feel like I have so many eyes on me. I know that people discuss my life when I am not present. I’ve heard so much from others. Not that the discussion is necessarily negative, but the fact that I am a subject of conversation scares me. At some point, I will make a mistake or do something that my “audience” disapproves of. I’m afraid that the support and interest others have in me could turn against me. I don’t want to let anyone down, but at the same time, I need to live my life without worrying about what other people think of me.
I guess what I am asking for here is your permission to be human.
If you’ve been touched by my writing or would simply like to support me in this journey you can do so by clicking here.
2 Corinthians 12:9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Thank you for your post.
I think pedestals are pointless things to put imperfect people (all of us) on but people don’t want to learn to break that bad habit.
Even born-again Christians shouldn’t be put on pedestals or put others on pedestals because we’re still imperfect humans struggling against sin, wrong, the world and the flesh and the devil, prone to err, fail and fall, and though we find our strength in Christ to keep going, living, fighting, we’ll still face obstacles, challenges, trouble, problems, like others.
For people to expect any of us to be perfect in our thoughts and actions is frankly absurd since we’re not perfect and neither are those who have such a perfect picture of us or expect us to do everything right all the time.
I’d say you don’t need anyone’s permission to be human, to make mistakes, to err and mess up, to learn from mistakes. You are already human and so are all who read your blog posts and all the people you know and don’t 🙂
Keep living, fighting, learning, by God’s grace and in His strength. Don’t be concerned with what people think about you if you’re sincerely doing all you can to serve God daily.
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Thank you so much for your encouragement!
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You’re welcome. I’d like to share a link to something I wrote almost a month ago and shared in my second wordpress site that’s about pedestals. If you have time to read it I hope it will also encourage you 🙂
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You are very wise. As a widower I appreciate your honesty, as a Christian I appreciate your need for grace. We all need grace but so many find it hard to give. My prayers for you on this journey. By the way, I cannot imagine having two that young, my 8 year old ( he was 7 when my wife went to heaven) is a handful. May God bless you and comfort you.
I lost my husband of 20+ years in January 2016. Because I did not scream, wail and cry all the time, (I have 3 teens to take care of) I too ended up on some sort of pedestal. However, I dropped off in a hurry when I started dating earlier this year. My comment – You do you!
Just went through this today regarding a Facebook friend stating she was in awe of my strength. Those comments are well-meaning but seem to downplay the chaos that is what remains of my life following the sudden death of my wife.
One glance at my unkempt house and yard would indicate otherwise, as would witnessing me walking away from my desk at least once daily when the stream of tears becomes too torrential to continue to even see the computer screen.
I have also endured complications in the form of conflicts with in-laws and former friends.
Death and grief will really mess you up.
Thank you so much for sharing your journey. Your words have helped me immensely as I have walked my own health battle this past year. I was wondering if you could write a blog post on how to hear God. I think hearing his words Can help everyone in their journey to recovery. I wish you and your children all the best on your next adventure.
Always refhnsrieg to hear a rational answer.
Human contact…so very true.
When a person helps someone who is in a desperate situation, they become a hero to them. Even if they have puke in their hair. You are in a bit of a fishbowl, no doubt. But by putting yourself out there, flaws and all, you have helped others, myself included. We all screw up multiple times a day, I am one hundred percent certain you do too. Please keep screwing up on a daily basis, it makes you no less a hero. A human hero. I hope like hell you get that strong drink and long kiss you so deserve.
Thank you very much fro sharing this. I refuse to be placed on a pedestal too. I love you very much and you’re allowed to make mistakes, even if it’s daily, it’s still your life. I hope you and your family doing well. Love you once again
thank you for the article