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June 28 • Selfie Insights

Day 720

I took a selfie last night that came out really well. It was a family selfie taken on our way to a birthday celebration, and everyone was in a good mood. The smiles were just perfect on every face, and all eyes were open.

Mine are the longest arms in the bunch, so it's usually my job to frame these shots. I have taken hundreds of similar photos, but this one hit me in a soft spot, and I'm not sure what to make of it.

The picture features me on the far left and perspectively larger than everyone else, which is typical for the person taking the selfie with their right hand. Behind me are my children, their spouses, and my wife. It's a seriously warm-fuzzy producer.

But there's my big fat mug dominating the pixels as if I'm the star and those minions in the back are my posse.

I was sharing the pic and my reaction to it with my wife this morning, and she loved it. She said that regardless of what I've done in my addiction, I am the patriarch of this particular group, and the photo is appropriate in every way.

There was a time when these sorts of family pics were emboldening to me. There I am as the leader of the pack surrounded by my charges on life's journey. Such a photograph would have complimented my well-crafted image as the center of attention with the world of my life in orbit around me.

I should mention that everyone in that photo from last night knows about my failures and my journey as a recovering sex addict. All of them. And they are still willing to allow me to share in their lives. Maybe that's why this picture hit me so differently. I don't recall these particular individuals sharing a selfie with me since my disclosure to them some twenty months ago.

I'm not sure what to make of all this, but here is what I hear in my head. I no longer see myself — rightly or wrongly — as the be-all-end-all Father-Knows-Best character. That part is clear. If that's from my shame, I'll need to work on it, but it feels more like an honest observation of my life with all of its warts on display. If that is the reality, then what I see in this photo is a man trying hard to be a better man, and behind me is a group of strong children and spouses that have my back. Like the song says,

"Every piece is a part of the whole".

That is a much more comfortable interpretation of this image than the guilt-infused voice telling me I do not deserve to be in that picture. It's humbling, not shaming.

I can live with that, at least for today.



It all fits together in a family picture

and every wall's got room for that

Every piece is a part of the whole

No one piece more important than the rest

So stand up, take a number

Every piece here's got someplace to go

It's a round ball

–Donna The Buffalo, “Family Picture”



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