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The Truth Behind the ‘Perfect’ Family Photo I Posted on Social Media

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I posted a new profile picture on my Facebook page. It was of my wife, my son, my daughter, our new boxer puppy and myself. We were squatting down, my daughter between my legs, my son sitting on my wife’s knee and the puppy in front of us. Behind us was a beautiful shot of the New England foliage. The colors were so beautiful as a backdrop to our beautiful family picture. The four of us were smiling, our four month old puppy actually looking at the photographer as well!

Notifications were popping up one after the other. So many likes and loves, comment after comment. The picture was a hit. People I haven’t interacted with in a while were even liking and commenting on the photo.

“Your family is gorgeous!”

“You guys are legit perfect!”

“The Perfect Family.”

“Your family is goals!”

“Love you guys!”

“Be more perfect!”

The truth was, it was freezing cold that morning when we went to take the photos. The kids were absolutely miserable. Getting dressed was a nightmare for our almost two year old. The puppy pooped in the house. I hadn’t slept in days. My wife and I hadn’t spoken in two days over some bullshit fight that had taken place days before. I had spent two hours at the store picking out new clothes to cover the five pounds I had gained since the summer and I can’t stop obsessing over. I spent another half an hour trying to get my hair to look somewhat presentable, since I am overly sensitive to the fact my hair is starting to thin in my early 30’s.

On top of all that, I hit my absolute breaking point as a husband, father and person on that day. The puppy got away for a few seconds while we were at the park taking the pictures, prompting my wife to have our son chase after him, which absolutely infuriated me. My daughter became beyond upset at the whole concept of taking pictures, being out in the cold and not being able to have her binky. So I picked her up gently and started walking back to the car.

Throughout the entire quarter mile walk back to the car, she was screaming in my ear, kicking, screaming and flailing her arms. Each step was raising my blood pressure and making me more frustrated at everything that was around me. I was pissed that my wife was so careless to let the puppy get loose. I was even more mad that she made our six year old son chase after him.

I felt like an absolute failure as a father for not being able to console my 20 month old. I was mentally and physically exhausted from fighting with the woman I love. I just couldn’t handle it all anymore. I couldn’t keep it together. I waited for my wife and son to get to the car and drove home in silence. I was convinced this was the worst day of my entire life. I wanted to be so far away from everything and anyone.

I sat and looked at my phone, glancing at all the notifications still pouring in and just thought to myself, “How the hell does no one see how miserable I am?”

How have I done such a great enough job that people actually believe my life is perfect?

One of my closest friends told me, “You have it all. Beautiful wife, beautiful kids, awesome house, you run a business, you have everything anyone could ever want.”

I looked back at that picture I had posted. It would certainly seem like it, wouldn’t it?

The only thing my friend didn’t realize is that there’s a feeling that consumes my life that if I allow myself to be 100% happy, I feel I will be punished in a horrible way for it. I sincerely believe if I am happy and I’m feeling things are going well, I will be faced with a tragedy. It’s crippled me. It has made me such a miserable person in private. It’s made me find myself so unworthy of everything. No matter how much money I make, no matter how big my house is, no matter what possessions I have, I will always feel I have to be miserable to protect my family.

No one can see that in my new profile photo. Everyone who liked my photo doesn’t realize I don’t feel I deserve any of the things that are featured in that picture. I don’t deserve a gorgeous woman who loves me. I don’t deserve the two kids who call me “daddy.” I don’t deserve any of it.

I wish I could tell everyone who liked, loved and commented on that picture of my family that everything they can see in it means the absolute world to me and I don’t feel I deserve any of it. The truth behind that family picture is I feel that beautiful woman and two beautiful kids deserve so much more in their world than I can ever give them. The truth behind that picture is that everything you can see is everything I’ve ever dreamed of having and I still don’t feel like I have it — because I don’t deserve it.

Getty Images: virojt

Originally published: December 4, 2019
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