Depending on the context, it can sound like forever or go by in the blink of an eye. Usually the latter is truer in hindsight.
I took an eight-week hiatus from Facebook. Sounds like nothing. Sounds like I’m looking for an ego-driven pat on the back. “Why are you telling us this? We don’t care. We didn’t even notice.” (You should probably ask yourself why you’re reading this if that is your reaction, but I digress…) But I learned some important things that I want to share. And no matter their impact or lack thereof on others, they will live here for me to go back and read over to remind myself of this time and why I did what I did, and how it served me and others in my life.
You guys, I love Facebook. I love it sooooo much. I’m on it all the time. I check it constantly. I love knowing what people are up to; I love being introduced to new ideas and concepts; I love cruising pictures and creating an idea of how people are living their lives. It is really the number one way I know what is going on as far as “news”. It is my favorite distraction. My favorite way to pass time. It is me and I am it, and we are in a very committed relationship.
So committed that I live vicariously (and sometimes jealously) through the lives of my friends who travel to exotic locations. So committed that I regularly snap at my children for interrupting me scrolling my news feed. So committed that I wish I lived the life I presented to everyone and could completely avoid my reality.
The past 12 months have sucked. Bad. Exactly a year ago today, my mom was admitted to the hospital the first time. In the time since then, she would be hospitalized again, removed from her home, put in a nursing home; several friends and loved ones would leave this Earth: dearest Paul, the lovely Genna, Uncle Manual and Uncle Richard and many others would die; my mom would die. My marriage would become the most precious, breakable thing needing the utmost and gentlest care. And there was Facebook. My constant, allowing me to ignore all the hurt and pain and grief and anger and anxiety and depression, disappointment, unworthiness…all the terrible feelings I avoid at all costs.
I had to shut it down. To save myself from completely shutting down.
The first three days were a withdrawal I would never have expected. I wasn’t sure I could do it. If I hadn’t deleted the apps off my phone, I certainly would have jumped right back on. It was a serious test of my willpower.
But slowly, I realized everything I need is right in front of me. My children, my husband, my family. My reality, my pain, my sadness, my love, my heart, my joy. All right there.
Instead of rolling over in the morning and grabbing my phone to frantically scroll through what I missed, I rolled the other way and snuggled my puppies and kitty. Noticing how grey they are getting being over a decade each, thankful for their soft fur, stinky breath, and unconditional love. Appreciating.
Instead of feeling like my phone was a leash I continuously was pulled by to check, it became an actual phone. Like, I would call people and they would call me and we would speak to each other. I would hear their voices and tones and tremors; hearing the truth of what they were saying instead of inferring whatever I could through texts. Connecting.
Instead of distractedly nodding and “mmhmm”-ing my children, I made eye contact with them, listening to them, being completely present with their needs, excitement or sadness. Painfully realizing these little boys lost their beloved grandmother and maybe I was too focused on my own pain to notice theirs. Being.
There are things to be missed by leaving Facebook. I had no idea what was going on in the world (ignorance is bliss?). I didn’t know a beloved former teacher passed away (Thank you, Elisa and Molly, for telling me), and I missed his memorial service. I lost the only way I had to get in touch with family far-flung around the planet. There is a different, but no less real, connection happening there, too.
So today, on my 36th birthday, I return. Mindful of the dangers that lie ahead, but grateful for what gifts it does supply.
I missed you fools so hard. It’s good to be back.