by Sue De La Bruere
I have watched with as much interest as the average person the progressing collapse of the Gosselin marriage (aka, “Jon & Kate + 8). It is with a sick curiosity that we collectively watch this, waiting with gross anticipation the next gory detail. Did he have an affair? Is she really that controlling? What do the kids know? The web is filled with bloggers who are attached to solely this story, watching and waiting. This child laden couple always looked so happy, very settled into their lot in life, very at peace with whatever dynamic existed in their family. Alas, that was deceiving.
What interests me most in cases like this is the public face that we all choose to reveal to people and the alarm of your audience should the real you show up. Imagine this scene at your local supermarket:
“Welcome to Colossal Food Mart, Ma’am. How are you today?”
“Gee, thanks for asking. I wouldn’t normally talk to someone like you - I mean you look like you aren’t even old enough to hold a job, much less hold a conversation. But since you asked, I am a little irritated that I left all my coupons at home and have to pay full price for this junk my family insists they can’t live without. $3.00 for a box of Super Sugary Mighty Crunch-O’s? Money that I could be spending on a massage. Oh, and I am pretty well convinced that my husband has been eyeing that tube-top wearing blonde, Katherine, down the street. Help her start her mower? Yeah, right! Have I mentioned my menstrual cramps yet?”
While you would feel great at having gotten a few gems off your chest, poor 17 year old Jason-the-Cashier would be left shaking in his boots and stumbling for a response.
“Errr….uh…. Okay…. Have a nice day.”
So you keep the real you under wraps and simply make nice-nice talk. We do this because it is what kind society does. You select only a few forgiving souls to unleash the real you on. Even then, they may not get your 100%.
It is a secret life that all of us live. We worry that if we are completely authentic then people will run for the hills. Even within the walls of our very own homes, our deepest fears and secret addictions and odd habits are blanketed from our loved ones. Does your husband know you chew your toenails? Does your wife know you pluck your unibrow? Do your kids know you still need to sleep with a light on? Of course not.
My husband, two kids, and I were at the amazing Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. We were nearing the gorilla exhibit, and I saw a mid-20’s mother crouched over a stroller dealing with her blue eyed toddler daughter. It was about three in the afternoon, and the sun was blazing hot. This mother could be heard berating her cutie pie…
“Stop your d*** crying. I mean it! Stop that immediately! What is your d*** problem? Why are you always such a b***h?”
I was stunned. I mean, I was at a loss for words. I simply stared, hoping that she would feel the burn of my eyes upon her, and she would step back in shame. It was not to be. I wanted so desperately to march over there and tell her to back off. I yearned to tell her that she is scaring and scarring her baby; tell her she is a bad mother. Words, however, evaporated before they even left my lips.
The thought that kept screaming at me in my head the rest of that afternoon was, “If she behaves this way in public, what is in store for that baby when she gets home?” I was also certain that this little angel would pattern her own behavior after that of her mother, and in a few short days was sure to be smacked or whooped for using the same foul language. Sad ~ sickening ~ wrong ~ ironic.
The real me, the one that wanted to lash out at this grown bully, remained silent. The most I could eke out was a passive glare and a chip on my shoulder the rest of the afternoon. So as you watch the J+K+8 disaster unfold on cable television, telling yourself what a smiling phony Kate is, remember that you are not so different from her. Your public face and private face are as different as hers…only in your case, no one is peering through your windows and dissecting your life. Consider yourself lucky.
About the Author:
Sue De La Bruere is a freelance writer who shares her suburban Chicago home with endlessly supportive husband, Scott, and moderately brilliant kids, Bradley and Paige. Sue received her Psychology degree from Northern Illinois University and prior to becoming a full-time freelance writer was a repressed worker bee in the corporate medical management field.