What is it about our culture that allows the white picket fence dream to seep into one’s consciousness? You know the dream, of course: the happy marriage filled with incredible emotional connection, good sex, and uber-mature boundaries; the dog who doesn’t shed or pee on the carpets; the kids who are compliant in all moments; the jobs that produce money without inducing too much stress; the comfortable house with that perfect, white fence. And even though that dream does not, cannot, exist, many of us work hard to present it to the world.
Last spring, I witnessed a friend tell another friend in an admittedly tense moment: “You know what your problem is? You want the white picket fence. And that fence doesn’t exist.” She was right. And in nailing this friend, she unwittingly nailed me. I worked for years to cover up the dysfunction and disappointment in my marriage, to replant the proverbial pickets of our happy life each time they fell down. Because facing the loss and the pain felt harder than perpetuating the myth of that damn fence. Because admitting you are at a total loss, desperate and scared and wounded, is terrifying. Because to tear down the fence means to show your heart – in all its longing and beauty. And that is some scary shit.
As I move into my next chapter, I am still scared. I am scared of being hurt and missed and disappointed. But I am done with the fence. I don’t want it. I don’t want it for anyone, really. Because life and love is most real in the hurt and the missing and the disappointment. And I. Want. Real.