October 2, 2010

The Facade: Things are Not as They Seem

Facade |fəˈsäd| (also façade) noun:
• figurative -- an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality : her flawless public facade masked private despair

Like a gawker at a bad accident, I've been a little bit overly curious (er, fascinated?) about the evolving story of a "perfect" suburban Chicago family whose facade was horribly sheared off this week.

It started Wednesday, when the dad arrived at a hospital emergency room with his wife's body wrapped in bedsheets. According to a friend, he "is a quality individual who I have a lot of respect for." Their very attractive children "were gifted" and became stars in their respective athletic pursuits and careers. But with a bullet through the mother's head and the dad now in Kankakee County Jail charged with first degree murder, well, the beautiful tale is unraveling fast.

Things were not as they seemed.

The next thing that flashes through the collective reader conscious goes something like, Was it money and /or sex? An affair, and whose? Gambling, financial fraud; maybe a drug habit lurking behind the beautiful facade?

The Chicago Tribune quotes a bystander to their lives, "They were like the perfect couple. They had a very happy marriage."
So let's take it on home, dear readers: Often things are not as they seem, inside the house, behind closed doors, in the bedrooms and hearts of people everywhere.

And my point is (similar to my recent rant about the problem of Eve, of wanting that which is not yours), we think we want what others have. But we only see a glimpse, a smidgen, a tip of the iceberg that lies beneath.

I mean to say, if you think you want your neighbor's husband because he looks like all that, showers her with the stuff she thinks she wants, has a big bucks job, well:

You could be mightily shocked to see the real picture behind the facade. She may be driving a Lexus, rolling up her Prada sleeves to show her [insert famous jewelry designer name here] bling while running out to pick up new lingerie for their 5th wedding anniversary luxury cruise to wherever. But what you don't know: how long it has been since he's touched her, the prescription meds that keep her going, the double- or triple-mortgage he may be forging and hiding from her... You do not know.

So wipe that greed, envy and self-pity off your face. Until you know the real story behind the facade, do not ever think you want to swap your life out for someone else's. Unemployed, divorced, struggling with alcoholism, debt, illness? Life is difficult, indeed. But the art of being satisfied with what you have is--well, just not cool, or normal, or the way things are. But it might help you to be less distressed with the difficulty that is yours, by understanding that facades rarely, in my opinion, represent what really is.*

A few minutes ago, in the middle of writing this blog (because I can't stay focused more than two paragraphs in a row), I broke to read the New York Times Vows column. It featured the East Hampton wedding of a beautiful, talented and socially-upward couple. Of course I hope the very best for them, and a happy 50th wedding anniversary some day.

Yet I shook my head in a little bit of dismay at the reporter's supposition, "...for the wedding of this couple, whose love story contains no gray areas, the whiteness of [the wedding decor] conveyed confidence." [Emphasis mine.]

Yeah. Well, this couple has been together three years already. And gray areas are there, believe you me. No human love story is otherwise.

And back to my point: Yes... Be happy with what you got.

And now, this former investment banker is off to cash the checks she earned babysitting--yes--babysitting this week! No five-figure bonus check this month, but life is ever as good as it was with more money, and I would not trade my life...

Points to ponder:
  1. What is the facade that you present to others?
  2. How true is it?
  3. If any disparity whatsoever, why might you feel the need to present it any differently than it actually is?

*And in other news of Facades Fronting Things Not As They Seem:
1) I discovered yesterday that the child of a family friend--who fashioned his family as being better than some, while freely criticizing another family--is now a Vegas stripper and porn model. Yeah, that made me sick to my stomach. In the intervening years, since this dad first held up his family as the healthier model, and his daughter's subsequent falling into the porn industry, he'd ditched his wife and family to pursue his own illicit lifestyle.
2) I had some more colorful instances, but I think I'll stop the ugly right here. I'll shut up for now and go tend to my own life! Got to go think about my facade.


  1. Wow! That Google ad thing isn't perfect, for sure, but it's kind of hilarious: I see my blog is now accompanied by ads for stone facade panels.

    IMO, that's kind of poor Google ad word strategy. Go with the phrases, I say! Single word usage is wasting your money, unless one of my three readers was actually looking to redo the exterior of their home.

  2. Hi, I live my authentic life now but during the years I worked as an RN I presented as cool calm and collected but underneath I was terrified I may harm someone. I liken it it to being a swan , serene and unflustered above the water but their little feet going like mad to move them along!!

  3. My ex divorced me and took my only child in the divorce because he had a better lawyer. He then went and married another woman who he had been "friends" with while we were together. I used to feel so hurt and jealous of their life. Then I realized that he was constantly trying to do things to be hurtful toward me and make me feel jealous. I now realize, after much therapy, that his need to "show" me how much better his life was with his new wife was just that---a show. He was feeling hurt because things didn't work with us and now he was with a woman he was only lukewarm about. AND to top it off, he had the added responsibility of full time child care. Not the easiest life. I am living out my life's dreams and he hates it. Don't believe what's on the outside...