Pink & Blue Mummyland

Pink and blue parenting through pink and blue moods….

Identity #2 – Will the Real Me Please Stand Up?

happy birthday facebook!

This week sees eleven years since Facebook graced our screens (happy birthday Facebook!). I’ve found myself wondering how we portray ourselves on Facebook, and what it means when we call people our ‘friends’. I have 383 friends on Facebook. I couldn’t tell you much about most of them, and what I can tell you is only the good stuff. Facebook gives us a chance to show the best of ourselves and hide the worst of ourselves, putting out a completely false impression of who we really are.

Now, I don’t mind this. I don’t think it’s healthy to share every little struggle with 383 people. But it begs an answer to the question: Who are we really? And is it ok to edit what we share with people about who we really are? Do the selves we portray on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, or whatever the in thing is, actually help us build good relationships?

In our small Bible study group last night we were talking about relationships and struggles. One of the quotes interested me; it encouraged us to “create a safe place where others feel valued enough to remove their own masks …truly seeing each other and loving each other anyway.”

Now I’m not claiming that we should air every private thing we deal with on Facebook, but I’m aware that there are many people who are much younger than me, who don’t remember life without Facebook and online relationships. I worry that if this is the example we are setting, we risk having a whole generation of people who don’t know how to relate on a real level, have no place they feel valued enough to remove their masks, and therefore don’t learn to love and be loved, warts and all.

I am blessed to have people with whom I share my deep struggles, and trusted enough have relationships where others share their struggles with me. Some of these are the same people, some aren’t, but all these relationships are based on honesty and valuing the other. And none of these relationships are Facebook based.

So, through Facebook, are we just creating an atmosphere where people feel the need to be fake? And am I exacerbating that by never sharing any of the things I find hard in life? More importantly, does that online habit seep into my real life, taking from my friendships the authenticity of being who we are?

It worries me that we might be encouraging a cycle of only sharing the good stuff, thus making the other people on our news feeds feel they need to do the same. Our real identity becomes our secret identity as we pretend to be something other than we are.

So my question is, how real am I being in different places and with different people? And to what extent am I claiming that the information I choose to share with others is all there is to me?

Which is my secret identity?

Know any of the answers? Please share below. Click here to read Identity #1.

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Identity #1: No One Like Me

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity recently. The question ‘who am I?’ has come up repeatedly over the years, and every time it comes round again I find something I’ve not known before. So, in the spirit of honest blogging, I decided to write down the things I’ve been discovering about who I am and what that means. The first leg of the journey looks at opposites: reminding myself who I’m not.

People have always said to me ‘you’re so like your dad’. I’ve been hearing it for years, from the people who know my family well to those who have only seen the outer picture we present. I find this hard because Dad is an alcoholic, and has behaved very badly towards a lot of people, many many times.

I have now learnt to see that when people compared us, they probably meant ‘like’ him in a good way – my gifts have always been similar to his, even when I’ve been really poorly and unable to use them. In other people’s minds they were probably saying I was good at performing like him, or my sense of humour meant I was funny like him. I probably get my ability to speak in public from him, and I certainly can’t deny that I look like him.

But, in my screwed up little brain, I took it to mean that I was like him on a deeper level, in that secret place we all have and never let anyone see. My hidden dread was that there was some flaw in me, just like the one I saw in him, and that some day I’d lose control and all the things I hated would spew out. Somewhere, there’s a crack in my soul, just like my father, and one of these days, no matter how fast I run, it’ll catch up with me.

Listen closely now, because here’s the lesson it’s taken me fifteen odd years to learn: no one is like anyone else. None of us! When the Bible says God knitted us together in our mothers’ wombs, it’s not suggesting he used a pattern. It shows intricacy, care, a pride in His work. I have finally learnt that just because half of my DNA comes from my father, I don’t have to inherit the damage done to him. I don’t have to fear being broken just because that’s what I see in him.

And you know what? Now I’ve given up the fear of what might leak out, it turns out that I am a bit like my dad. I can see in myself some of the positive things I get from him – my passion and drive and creativity come from God, but are passed down through a generation that I’ve tried to ignore.

Here’s the other thing I’ve learnt: as much as there is no one like me, there is also no-one like him. There is no one in the world with his set of gifts and shortcomings, flair and foibles.

So here’s the message. Comparing ourselves to someone – anyone – in our lives, whether it’s someone close by or someone we admire purely by reputation, not only doesn’t get us anywhere, but also stops us becoming who we were designed to be. If God has a plan and a purpose for my life that is different from anyone else’s, it makes sense that I am uniquely the person who can fulfil that plan.

And, as much as I sometimes berate myself for who I am, and nurse disdain for my fallen ways, I can’t escape the fact that I am who I am supposed to be. I am Me.

Who are you?

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Friends

Sometimes it takes a true friend to know what it needed in a situation. I think I got it right today.

I brought my friend these:

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and these:

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She is one of the most fabulous people I know, and she has given me permission to play a part  in so much of her life. She has helped me get out of my pyjamas on my very worst days and I was there when she gave birth to her daughter, so there isn’t much that’s sacred or too much information.

She is suffering from depression, and every day seems like hard work for her. She needs to talk sometimes, but actually there don’t always need to be words. Sometimes talking is too much, especially when the only thing that’s different is that nothing’s changed. Today didn’t feel like a talking day. Today seemed like a flowers and salty snacks day.

Sometimes all it takes is someone to let you know they’re thinking of you, standing ready to remind you that there is hope.

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Let’s talk about health, baby…

I have something to say, and it isn’t easy. It’s about my health, and although I know that being unwell just happens sometimes, I feel so guilty and self-conscious about it. It’s hard for me to say, but I trust you, and I think it would be better for our friendship if you know. But please, keep it to yourself if you can. I’m not sure I’m ready for everyone to know yet.

The thing is, I have high cholesterol. Don’t overreact – I know it’s a bit of a shock, but I’ll explain it all…

My hyperlipidaemia (high blood fats) is a hereditary condition, and requires me to take two different medications to keep it under control: statins to reduce the bad fats, and high dose fish oils to increase the good fats. I will probably have to be on meds for life.

It was discovered quite by accident in a routine set of blood tests. I don’t tell many people about it because I’m worried about being judged. I don’t want people to look at me and only see the high cholesterol and forget about the person I am despite that. I’ve had people telling me that everyone has cholesterol issues sometimes, and I should just think more positively or pull myself together. People have also told me I need to think about what effect my cholesterol is having on my children – won’t they end up damaged?

Funnily enough, it can be especially hard with church friends, because some of them think I should be able to manage my cholesterol without medication, that I should just have more faith and more prayer support – maybe even exorcise my cholesterol. My doctor says that’s not the case, but I still worry about sharing my cholesterol levels and treatment with people I don’t know well. Although I’ve got used to the idea that this is an illness I will probably suffer from for the rest of my life, I worry a lot that other people won’t see it the same way, so I keep it to myself most of the time.

Sounds bonkers, doesn’t it?

Take out the ‘high cholesterol’ and place it with ‘bipolar’.

I wonder how ridiculous it sounds now…..

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