Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Revealing Selfies

Thanks to Timehop and Facebook's "On This Day," I see a lot of my past Facebook posts and pictures.  There's obviously a lot less photos of me from years ago, because smart phones weren't around.  I didn't even have a iPhone of my own until about two years ago, so most of the photos I took before then have been lost to dead phones.

Therefore, when interesting old photos of me show up in my Timehop, I usually share them.  I've recently reshared a photo from my college graduation, from a year I worked at Show Me Burlesque Festival, and from my first adventure with Katie to see the BatTumbler.

Exhibit A.
Exhibit B
Mark and I were sitting at the table having dinner the other day when he said, "I was noticing how young you look in all those Timehop photos."  And he didn't mean that I didn't have the, ahem, smile lines that I do now.  He meant that I just looked so much younger even a few years ago than I do now, post-divorce.  Going through that half a year of hell aged me more than I might have expected, and the evidence is there in my selfies (and other photos).  I might dress the same and look the same (minus the occasional bangs), but there's a world of difference if you're looking for it.  I don't know if I'm actually older and wiser, but I at least look like I've lived far more now than I did before.

The other difference is how noticeably happier I look in my newer photos.  And it's not just one difference.  It's countless differences.  My smiles are bigger now, my eyes are wider and brighter, and my whole way of posing has changed, which is something I didn't even notice until Mark pointed it out.  Starting from right before I got married until shortly after my ex moved out, my chin started to drop in photos.  My head is tucked down in most posed photos.  I'm rarely looking directly into a camera, more peering at it almost suspiciously from under my eyebrows.  I frequently look vaguely uncomfortable.  I seem to be hiding.

Really, I was hiding.

I was hiding the fact that I was miserable, the fact that I'd made a very big mistake by insisting on marrying a person I just felt like I could tolerate.  I was hiding from the inevitable truth, from the lies, from the dodged questions about how I was doing and how great married life was.  I was hiding from the depression that thoroughly knocked me on my ass almost immediately after the wedding.  I was hiding from the near constant thought during the first two years of my marriage that I would come home to find my husband had killed himself.  I was hiding from a life that I was only half-living.

Looking over my Facebook photos today, I can pretty easily pick out the times when I was more genuinely happy, just by how I look in the photo.  Then I can place the picture to the event and realize that it was something that my ex wasn't at, or someplace where I had drank a lot.  Or both.  Usually both.

I thought I was doing a good job.  I thought I was happy.  I was smiling, wasn't I?  That meant I was having fun.  Everything was fine.  Now, looking back, I can see I wasn't hiding anything if I had cared to look for it.  In spite of my colorful vintage outfits and red hair, I didn't want people to really see me.  Because they might see the truth.  And that would have been terrible.

Now?  Obviously, I don't have much to hide anymore.  And I take a lot more selfies (both for work and for fun).  Now, as Mark said, even if I'm not grinning ear to ear in all of them, I look more confident in who I am and what my place in the world is.  I'm not hiding.

The past several years have taught me a lot about who I am and what actual happiness was.  Which is a good thing, since I think I had almost forgotten.

I'll be keeping an eye on my selfies, though, since they apparently reveal a lot more than I ever could have imagined.

So far, I think I'm still doing good.

Exhibit C, smile lines and all.

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