"So how did you two meet?" a new friend asked me recently, about my husband and me.
My stomach clenched.
Of course I have my "Story of Us". Most of us do. It's the one we tell new friends. The one our kids love to hear, at least until they become teenagers at which point they'd prefer us not to speak at all. It's our time-worn, agreed-upon version of how two strangers came together...
Until one steps outside the marriage...and that story suddenly seems more like fiction. How can all that be true? we wonder. And this betrayal be true also? One truth seems to cancel the other out. In our versions of "us", most of us never considered a chapter where one partner violated trust in the worst possible way.
So, when asked, it can be tempting to leave out the painful bits. To give the world the Hollywood version, where even complications are simple and everyone pretty much lives happily ever after, the lighting is never bad and even women who've had three kids have abdomens you could bounce a quarter off.
And, frankly, that's pretty much the version I offer up...though it's clear to anyone looking at me that the abdomen bit is pure fantasy.
But there's a real danger is censoring the story we tell ourselves. In editing out the grief and shame and fear and agony because it just doesn't fit with the version we want.
We just want to get on with it, for goodness' sake. We don't want to keep tripping over the mess and it's so much easier to shove it aside.
Yet it's that mess that often is the soul of our lives.
Honesty can be a balm and a blessing. It can also be painful as hell. But the price we pay for not being honest with ourselves is a sort of half-life. A publicly acceptable life that belies a private hell.
Tell friends and strangers whatever you want and whatever feels safe and right.
But make sure you tell yourself the whole story. Your "Story of Us", especially if "Us" survives intact, just got a whole lot richer and grittier...and real.