The Detoxing Man is Loving (in the open and in private)
I have always struggled to be one person within our home and another person outside of it. It feels wrong to put on a brave face for the world when I’m in conflict with the most important people in my life. It chafes at me, every time I say “I’m fine” or “living the dream” when people ask how things are going. These are the lies that continue to keep me further from knowing myself and what I need. I know many others expect this dual-self. The public and private persona, the home and away teams that we play for. Others expect it because it is easier to make small talk before a meeting with someone who is “doing fine” than someone who is running into “serious issues trying to get gender-affirming care for their oldest son.”
And for the moments we are in private with the family that we continue to choose each day, are we choosing to be “fine” there too? Do we reveal the problems facing us at work or the lack of confidence that we feel as we navigate difficult financial or emotional waters? While I might be more myself with my partner or my children, I still cannot muster the whole truth, the one that is too tired to listen as closely as I want to or too raw to be a great shoulder to cry upon.
It is hard to show the world (or even those closest to us) the love they deserve when we only show them part of ourselves. It is hard to invest in relationships or take on important challenges when we are too busy trying to cover up our shortcomings or paint a false veneer of happiness for others. I know that I am at my weakest when I pretend that everything is “okay,” when I make believe that my life is simple or that I have everything figured out.
Courage comes from complexity just as love comes from living the whole truth. When I bring my worries and my open and hurting heart home, it is embraced and I can better carry it into the world. When I let the complications of a twenty year marriage and three children out, others do not reject or ridicule me for letting the mask drop. Instead, they share some of their complex lives too.
And this is the love I want, the messy, meaningful, sore-filled love that only comes when I drop the pretense. When I let myself, my whole self, be present in the moments of my life. It is true that some people will not like me, let alone love me. It is true that some people will not agree with my choice to be vulnerable or to let the ugliness show. But, my love doesn’t care. My love is better when people know that I burned the chicken on the grill last night. My love is better when my family knows that I am worried about the change in leadership at my job. And the world is better when I can show and share my love in the open and in private.