I was talking with my friend Lara at a baby shower a few weeks ago. It was great to see her and catch up. “I just love all the pictures of your girls that you post,” she said. “They’re adorable!”
“Thanks! I’m sure I’m a little overkill, but I can’t help myself. I take a million pictures because I just can’t believe how good my life is.”
“Yeah? What do you mean? Did you have a rough childhood? Was something bad before?”
I was stunned by her questions. This conversation quickly went from small talk to something heartfelt and real, and I wasn’t really prepared. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Lara is both hilarious and insightful, fun and wise. She has always moved gracefully from the silly stories of life to the heartbreaking realities of pain. Everyone should have a friend like her. Still, I wasn’t quite sure how to answer her.
“You know, I think it would take at least a two-hour counseling session to really get into it. Let’s just say: there’s no reason my life should be so good, and I don’t want to forget it.”
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever taken a look around and been in awe of all that you have?
I cracked the screen on my phone a few days ago. I can’t even talk about it. It. Is. The. WORST! I keep wanting to take pictures of what I see because that’s the habit I’m in, and I just can’t. I miss documenting so much that I went back to look at the pictures I’ve posted recently and felt nostalgic for the moments I have been able to capture.
If you follow my Instagram feed, you’ll see that the pictures I post lack variety. They are always of my kids, my husband, my simple everyday life. I’m not traveling on grand adventures. I don’t cook and photograph amazing food. I’m not super crafty so you won’t see many pictures of home decorating ideas or Pinterest tutorials. My size and style are pretty average, so no “Outfit of the Day” posts or tips on where to find the best accessories. I follow feeds like those, and I’ll admit that mine is quite boring by comparison. But, that’s just it– I have chosen not to compare my life against the lives of others. As we’ve said before, “comparison is the thief of joy,” and I don’t want my joy stolen away from me.
I am in awe of all of this goodness because I know how my own life began. (You can catch a glimpse of my baggage in this post.) The long and short of it is that I was raised by a single mother with limited resources. I was sexually abused by a relative for a significant portion of my childhood. I went on to make terrible decisions with my sexuality and substance abuse during my teens and college years. I made the kinds of decisions good parents warn their kids about because the consequences follow you far into adulthood. I haven’t exactly escaped those consequences myself. No, I’d say I’ve been rescued from most of them.
Statistically speaking, I should not be a happily married woman, a mother of three, living an average life in the suburbs. A lot of women come through a childhood like mine and head straight for abusive relationships. It’s common for women like me to find themselves trading sex for money, addicted to drugs as a means of coping with a harsh reality, depressed and lonely. By the grace of God, that is not my story.
My story, instead, is wonderfully bland. I wake up to a baby crying to be fed each morning. I fret over whether or not it’s worth the trouble to get three littles out the door for a few things at the grocery store. I’m always behind on the laundry, and unless someone else makes it, dinner is never ready when my kind, funny, and crazy-talented husband comes home from work.
The only real trace of the effects of my not-so-ideal childhood is that I do battle depression. In fact, it was just about a year ago that I suffered one of the worst breakdowns I’ve ever had. During that time, I could see the beauty of my family, but I saw it as if I was looking through a window at something I couldn’t really have. I thought my part in this life was completely worthless and even a burden to those around me. Anger and sadness consumed me and it only seemed to be getting worse day by day. Tony, seeing how drastically things had changed, bravely called and made a doctor’s appointment for me. When our family doctor asked me if I felt suicidal, I struggled to answer.
“It’s not that I’m making plans or think I would actually kill myself, but I think of death all the time,” I told him. “It’s as if I’m sure I’m going to get in a terrible car accident every time I drive my car or that I might come down with a terminal illness and die very quickly.”
“And how do those thoughts make you feel? Are you afraid to die?”
“Not at all. I think it would be a relief.”
I heard the words come out of my mouth, and though my husband looked shocked and the doctor’s eyes filled with compassion, the words did not sound strange to me. I left the appointment with a prescription for an anti-depressant. That tiny pill that I now take daily, along with sessions with a wonderful counselor have changed my life.
Now, I no longer see my life as if from the outside, but I feel fully immersed in the wonder of it. I am drowning in joy and laughter. I wish I could have said this when Lara asked. I wish I’d had the words. Taking pictures and videos seem the most appropriate response to the glory of it all. After living so much of my life swaying between darkness and a numbing fog, this is my way of doing all I can to make these memories last as long as possible.
I want to live a life worthy of this blessed ordinariness. I want to be the most present mother possible. I want to be the selfless, kind, and generous wife my husband deserves. Don’t get me wrong, our life is not without toddler tantrums and sleepless nights. Still, I document in pictures the same simple life over and over again because I am so grateful for it and so looking forward to a future with the people in my home because Tony and I have chosen to break through the darkness and #staymarried.
You are reading The Reason I Take a Million Pictures, a #staymarried blog. If you liked this post, you may also like to read Comparison is a Trap, Living with My Partner’s Baggage, or How to Find a Great Therapist. If you think these could benefit someone else’s marriage, please consider sharing.
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