"Eight on Yellow" by Caro's Lines via Flikr Creative Commons
The imaginary "Life without Facebook" counter has now reached Day 8. Notes are still trickling in from friends who have come across my message about leaving and contacted me with their info (if you haven't sent yours yet, please do!). It's really delightful to hear from everyone. Especially the friends who I haven't heard from personally in quite a while. Their voices ring through in personal emails so much more clearly than in the random scraps that make it up online. The sad thing is that I was really lonely for personal contact last year and it took this long to figure out that the very thing I thought was keeping me in contact with people was also keeping me out of direct contact with them.
Also: pretty sure I was being melodramatic when I feared that people might hate me forever for leaving a little bit of a tangle behind. Those who care have asked for the missing hyperlinks. Most people know how to leave a message conversation if others are posting. Many people know not to reply to a mass message. We are all adults here. We can handle it.
There are a few things that seem to me to have improved in the past week. First, Lucy is sleeping better. The truth is that I would always get sucked into Facebook after we all ate dinner, and before her bedtime. Those afternoon/early evening hours are just the dregs of my day--I'm tired, my blood sugar is still recovering from the pre-dinner slump, Lucy wants to hang out and I just want to put my feet up after the circus of making dinner and serving everybody. So I would log on, lose track of time, and end up with either Clint's and/or Lucy's heads popping up in front of the computer screen as if to say "Me! Me! Pick me!" Bedtime was always in "just a minute." I was cranky and demanding if interrupted. I'm ashamed to admit it, but it's true. And things are going much, much better now.
My mood and energy are also benefiting from the change. I've spend some of the time away from the screen with my nose in a book, instead. Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers, to be exact. Reading is so good for my soul. Reading books, that is. I was technically reading quite a lot on and through Facebook--blog posts, news articles, status updates. It gave me the illusion of reading. But there is nothing like reading a good story. It cleanses the soul. I first heard this idea from Aristotle, who argues that the best tragedies and comedies in Greek drama produce a feeling of catharsis--cleansing, purification, detoxification--in those who watch them. I don't know about you, but I have a lot of residual emotion in life. Reading helps me to have an outlet for all that. When I was cranky in grade school, my mom sent me to my room to read. I'd go in gnashing my teeth and pulling my hair out and come out smiling sweetly. I haven't been doing enough of this.
I've received some encouragement that leaving Facebook is a bold, brave move. Let me pull back the curtain for you, though. I don't feel brave. I feel like a mess. As I mentioned in a comment here on the blog recently, I feel like a child who is being disciplined because she couldn't keep her hand out of the cookie jar. It stings more because I know I deserve it. I've known that the time I was spending on Facebook was interfering with a healthy lifestyle for a long time, but I wasn't willing to admit that the only way out was to pull the plug, because I'm a perfectionist. Life is about succeeding, about handling whatever comes my way with excellence, about doing things the "right" way, i.e. by myself, without any help from other people who interfere with my groove. When things get tough, I get tougher.
However, as the stresses of parenting, housewifery, illnesses, relationships, and serving in my church mounted lately, I couldn't handle it all anymore. To my credit, there has been a lot of transition in my life in the past few years. But I was not coping with any of it well. I was doing a sham job to keep up appearances, but on the inside I was panicking. I didn't want anyone to see my mess. Besides, Facebook is the highlights reel of everyone's life, so logging in each day I fell prey to constant comparison. The blurry pics I put up of Lucy being cute could never compare to the fancypants digital SLR photos. The tiny, messy, non-interior-decorated apartment in the background could never be the lovely houses I kept seeing in pictures. And forget pictures of myself, because I just didn't feel worth looking at most days--wiry, dried out hair sticking out everywhere, toddler meals stuck to my jeans, soft mama belly, circles under my eyes. Anyway, the list could go on.
The truth is, I've never been so humbled by a need to confess my sin, in writing, to hundreds of people. And it was sin. I wasn't doing my jobs. I was wasting hours upon hours of this one wild and precious life, wishing them away, even. And that is just out and out sin against God. I wasn't living in love to myself and my neighbors, I was living in anger, covetousness, competition, and frustration.
Admitting my problem to Clint was miserable. I'm so glad he didn't laugh at me, but I would have deserved it. I felt like Lucy when she goes limp as a noodle because she can't get something she wants (but ought not have). I laid on the bed stiff as a stick in the mud, with my covers pulled up to my chin and I admitted it quick "IneedtogooffFacebook" and I cried and cried and cried. The tears started out hot and angry and tantrum-y, but eventually my body curled into the fetal position and they cooled and cleared. Tears are a gift, you know, they cleanse us too. Someone once told me that tears of genuine sadness release toxins from the body. I knew that I had hit on a root issue, because after we sat there and talked about a few details of what leaving would entail, my soul felt a little cleaner.
But it's been almost a month since then, but I still carry with me the sadness. I failed. Of course I know that *theoretically* I fail a lot, but this was a biggie. I couldn't handle Facebook. I couldn't admit to myself that I needed out. I was too proud, too selfish, too concerned to save face, too worried that people would be hurt, or judge me, or feel judged. Yuck.
There's a prayer I have memorized that goes: "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls into Heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy." There are a lot of days when my innermost soul spontaneously cries out "O my Jesus!" My most honest days are the days when I can't think of anyone else more in need of Christ's mercy than my miserable old self.
Brave? I don't know. But I suppose it does take a certain kind of bravery to give up, admit failure and fall back into God's grace.