Airbrushing One’s Heart

(From my “A2W Aging to Wisdom” series, explorations of the joyful ways to go through life.)

If you saw on social media a photo that included you and someone you were once in love with, that had airbrushed away any indication of the major significance you once were in that union, how would you feel?

This was on my mind after unexpectedly seeing a photo, one that had been taken a number of years ago. I wasn’t in the picture but there was a man in the photo I recognized. I could not understand what I was seeing, as the caption offered no mention, no context, for the passion that was going on with him during the time that the photo was taken. On some level we carry those from our past with us wherever we go, and even long after we have created a happy new life with someone else. But that is not what the photo caption conveyed to me.

We all get to create the narrative we want to believe and share with the world. From the looks of many of my Facebook friend’s postings — and even from my own — it’s now easier than ever to convey a carefully edited dance that spotlights more of our happy moves than the sad ones. And why not dwell in the happiest dance? I don’t think it’s particularly wrong to choose to minimize a past situation or relationship, especially one that no longer serves us well. It can actually be good sometimes, as I think being too tethered to the past may keep us from missing out on the glories of the present moment.

Social media is great that way, giving us tools to selectively edit out of our life any person we know, whether past or present, that is harmful to our life or sense of well-being or who repeatedly creates a disturbance to our peace of mind as is what can happen with some people who go off on political rants. Should you choose to use Facebook or other social media for tirades, if that makes you happy, well cheers to you for showing us who you are in those uploads, so we can opt to airbrush you away with the click of the unfollow, unlike, or even the harsher unfriend option.

But if we are committed to growing spiritually, and not necessarily just to heal from our past mistakes or painful experiences, we might do well to consider/reconsider the women and men that were once the most “significant other” in our lives and provide the appropriate recognition and respect for what once was, and still is, our story. And tell it with unconditional love and gratitude even in something as tiny as photo captions.

Knowing you were the cherished love of someone for a string of months or years and then be unexpectedly airbrushed might not seem like a heartless thing to the person who posts such a picture, but it sure doesn’t flatter him and it’s definitely not changing the past.

— Giselle M. Massi copyright January 8, 2016; Published in Edge Magazine Feb. 2016