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 into 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 teachers pet, the youth pastor’s dream. From every direction, in every social circle, people looked to 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. Once 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, 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 who 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 in infant is exhausting even in the best circumstances, but not having some one 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 breastmilk. 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 baby sitter 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 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 fish bowl. 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 for 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.
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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.