Have you ever attempted to take a photo of someone or something with your smartphone and the camera is unexpectedly set to “selfie-mode?” This happens to me quite often. It catches me off-guard, and I usually mutter something like, “Oy,” or “Oh no!” Then I quickly make the camera face away from me because the angle is generally terrible, the lighting isn’t just right, and I’m not photo-ready.
For the past six years and eleven months, I have arrived each Sunday with my metaphorically photo-ready self. Whether on crutches or with only 2 hours of sleep, I had a smile on face, a black coffee in my hand, and made sure that Sunday mornings “happened.” But behind my smile, calm demeanor, and sarcasm (I am from New Jersey after all), I have been coping with many personal crises.
Since working at UUCC, I experienced the unexpected deaths of too many loved ones; my mother’s appendix cancer diagnosis and surgery; my boyfriend’s spinal surgery, melanoma cancer diagnosis and treatment; my younger brother’s alcoholism and sobriety; and most recently, the birth and three-week hospitalization of my substance-exposed nephew. I have cried and screamed in the car on the way to/from work on Sundays and sometimes in the bathroom at OBIC during services. Needless to say, it’s been a rough, rough couple of years, but no one knew. And that was a conscious choice.
When you are thrown off balance, physically or emotionally, you reach for something, anything, to provide stability, to prevent a fall. UUCC has been my stability. It has been the most reliable, dependable part of my life since Super Bowl Sunday 2013. I have been able to hide from reality each week, and pretend that everything was normal for a few hours without anyone asking too many questions. I neatly tucked my emotions away and focused on the tasks at hand to survive.
But this compartmentalization prevented me from developing deeper, more authentic relationships with many of you. I wish that I had let you all get to know me better, to see not only my joys, but my sorrows. I am grateful for the personal moments and interactions you allowed me to participate in including introducing me to your tiny humans, celebrating many of life’s milestones, and grieving losses. You allowed me to see your true selves on both good and bad days. And I thank you for that. In that vein, I commit to being more open and vulnerable as I wander through this life.
The next time I’m caught off-guard by selfie-mode, I’m just going to go ahead and take the picture. I encourage you to do the same.
Until we meet again,