I can’t remember exactly when it started, but whenever I cried, I only ever cried from one side of my face. My right eye would get puffy, my right nostril would be running. If I cried especially hard, then my right eye would begin to get sore.

Then the next morning, I would have a lop-sided face, like Two-Face. My right eyelid would be a lot thicker than my left eyelid until the swelling subsides.

I have never tried to understand exactly why this is until I recently remembered a portrait of my grandmother that I always thought was odd. According to my mother’s family, I look like grandma. This was brought up during every large family gathering. This provoked me to to scrutinized every photo of my grandmother every chance I had as a child.

In most of the photos I saw of her, she looks fine. However there is one portrait my grandfather had always hung up where ever he lived. In this portrait, my grandmother has one eyelid (her left) larger than the other. I didn’t make the connection until last night during an especially contemplative moment–it hit me that the portrait was taken of a woman who may have been crying the night before.

And this is intriguing.

Growing up in my family, I saw so much fighting between my parents that I escaped heavily into the fantasy world of happily ever afters. For that reason, I always assumed that couples who have stayed with each other until one of them died must have had perfect relationships. It didn’t occur to me that there would have been any horrific pain if the two people have stayed with each other until the end.

The photograph is a sudden reminder that a woman in a perfect marriage with six gorgeous children could possibly be sad. It’s a reminder that even when a person could have as much happiness as you think any person could have, there are always going to be moments when pain seeps through.

What’s shocking is that I’m only realising this at 28 years old. It’s helped me realise that not every little annoyance is a reason to run.

So this is how I say goodbye to the delusion of happily ever afters.

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