Is the grass really greener on the other side?
by Kristi Corley
About 8 years ago, I entered the imaginary world called the Internet. I could sit in my living room in my pajamas, with my 2 year old playing by my feet, sign into the online gaming world, and then whoosh, my real world disappeared. It started out harmless. A game of Hearts or Backgammon, and then I discovered my favorite, Texas Hold’em. Hours would whiz by, and my daily chores were forgotten. My toddler was entertained in 30 minute increments of Dora the Explorer and The Backyardagains. Occasionally I would dart into the kitchen to refill my coffee mug and grab some Cheerios and a sippy of milk for my forgiving little girl. This became my new reality.
Months floated by and my harmless internet daytime hobby soon crept into the evening hours. I pretended that it wasn’t that big of a deal. I convinced my husband that I was present in our family life, but in the back of my mind, I had already orchestrated the evening play-by-play. I would step away to make dinner, quickly do bedtime routines … a rapid dip in the tub for our three children, a half-hearted-effort at a bedtime story, a song or two, then whoosh, back to the computer.
I soon discovered you could search for online gamers by their user names, and through harmless chat, I got to know players and their “life story.” We would exchange pleasantries, and day by day, this group of gamers became my “friends.” FRIENDS. Soon these friendships took priority over my REAL relationships. You know … the REAL people in my life. People like my husband – what husband??
The life that I took on became like artificial turf. It looked good, but it wasn’t real. I didn’t want my real life anymore. My real life was messy. My real life required daily maintenance that I really didn’t like doing. I definitely didn’t want to get muddy. I preferred the imaginary, easy-to-care-for artificial turf.
The people in my imaginary world were WAY more interesting than my real world. It’s amazing the kind of life you can pretend you have when you don’t have to be accountable to anyone. You can hide behind a keyboard. You can fib about your age, fib about your weight, fib about your income. You know, become a person that looks amazing online.
But eventually, the mud hit me in the face. I couldn’t pretend anymore that this Astroturf lifestyle was my real life. However, two years of playing on artificial turf had taken its toll on my body. I didn’t know how to play on a grass field anymore. I didn’t know how to be real.
The next year I had a decision to make. Would I walk off the field? Was it worth the effort to learn how to play on this grass field? I could quit. People quit all the time.
I decided to give it a try. I decided to meet with a “coach” (aka counselor). I was cold. I was broken. But there was this tiny part inside me that knew I couldn’t continue on in this lonely internet world anymore.
The next year was full of eye-opening revelations about me, and surprisingly not full of finger-pointing at how I’m a bad wife and mom. I learned how I tick. I learned why I react the way I do to circumstances. I was beginning to understand the real me.
Now don’t get me wrong. It was hard. I was faced with the fact that I had abandoned my real friends and family for my internet friends, and now, those real friends weren’t there with open arms to accept me back.
I can’t tell you how thankful I am that my husband was still there. He could have walked off the field a LONG time ago. But he didn’t. He had the patience to see that this thing called marriage is never perfect. We all have issues. And he learned that he had some issues too. Now we are now entering the 2nd half. A second half on a real grass field. And we’ve learned a key play called Love and Respect (you definitely want to read about this next… this link takes you there.) It’s one of the vital strategies to our winning game.
In closing, I could try to convince you that I’ve got it together. That I’m now the perfect role model and my problems are a thing of the past. I could tell you that I’m a perfect wife with a perfect life. Not even. Greener grass will always be tempting. We live in a real world with real people. Social media will have us pretend that our lives are picture-perfect. But then we realize that we don’t have to be perfect.
We just need to be real.
Originally posted 10/13/2014