During my last year of university, I was an RA and dating a dude who wasn’t good for me. We had a fight two days after my grandmother died, and I retreated to my music and my laptop to write a paper rather than continue to duke it out. I don’t like to fight, never have, so grieving and writing about The Monk was the best choice for me. He called me later that night, so drunk that he could barely say my name, and mumbled that he needed me. Tired of fighting, tired of crying, (and, let’s be honest, wanting some cuddles) I walked over to his place in my boots and fuzzy shorts (ah, university) and found him in the bathtub with an empty bottle of gin, a note, a knife, and arms full of slashes.
Even though I’d been trained in suicide counselling, I had no idea what to do. I got my BF out of the tub and cleaned his wounds, checking for depth (thank God, none of them were anything but flesh wounds). I sat next to my guy as he slept that night and listened to him breathe, too afraid to sleep. I called the RA on duty, who called our boss, who showed up at 8 a.m. to escort both my boyfriend and I to the campus counselling office.
To put it mildly, I was fucking furious. And heartbroken. And afraid.
I am a late bloomer, in the emotional sense of the word. I suppose, reflecting back, I have been learning this lesson for the last ten years, but I’m really learning it all now.
A few years ago, I realized that I, through a mess of my own damn making, am in emotional shambles. In times where joy isn’t an option, I default to anger – I always have – because being angry hurts less than being sad or lonely or afraid. I find it infinitely easier to be pissed rather than allowing myself to feel the pain. And, if being angry isn’t an option, I will bury the feelings that I don’t want to feel. This is a battle that I am open about, a battle I am constantly fighting, and one that I want to end. It doesn’t serve me, it makes for hellish yoga sessions (because I’m constantly at war with myself), and I think it makes me more awkward than ever.
And then, a book found me. I read an excerpt from a book called Emotional Agility, and it resonated in a big way. So, thanks to Amazon, a bunch of weeks later, my new book in hand, I dig in. The things I’ve noticed so far:
- I love/hate books that are so right that you can’t argue it.
- It references A Course in Miracles, because of course it bloody well does. That literally makes every single self help book that I’ve picked up over the last 3 years
- It’s already a game changer for me.
So, now, is the part I’ve been batting around.
I have an active presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. And, as much as I like keeping up with my friends and family, social media is one of those mediums where you are constantly up close and personal in people’s best lives. I especially have a hard time because I want to be married and be a mother so so badly. And I am of the age that most of my friends are either one or both of these things. So I have to struggle with envy as I’m overwhelmed with my friend’s joyous celebrations. And I don’t like that. I am happy for you, dammit, let me be just bliss. I have started this work – I started during the GYGC Challenge, and now it’s time to use all the tools available to heal this hurt.
Social media can be used to look into the lives of anyone – former lovers, employers, former classmates who made your life hell, strangers that you will never meet. In full disclosure, I have blocked the people I’m afraid to see – and the harder my life is, the easier it is to slip behind a screen and disappear into a world where I feel more confident. I’ve always felt like it was easier to make friends behind a screen – my best friend through my teenage years was the result of a random ICQ search, and our friendship lasted a long time. And yes, we ended up meeting IRL almost 10 years after we connected. At the same time, I disappear into a world where I am boring, and alone, and a geek – a world full of “best selves” at a time where I’m trying to unearth my best self. Social media makes me lonelier than ever, and also makes me wonder if the Beatles didn’t have a clue when they asked where do all the lonely people come from.
Here is what I know.
My biggest source of anxiety is that I’m never going to be good enough. That I’ll never be normal enough for a big true love, that I am going to be alone forever and die with 8 cats. And this book is really helping me dig into that, to feel it as I ought to, to help me deal with the pain and sadness in a healthy way. The author also suggests writing every day, and being mindful with social media, to really remember whose journey it is that you are on. “We’ve been taught this idea since grade school – keep your eyes on your own work!” Pretty much as soon as I read that chapter, I looked at my online presence – really looked. I’ve maintained a constant stream of jokes for over 3 years – a timeline that started when my heart was broken. My feed is something that I’ve crafted to make people around me – and, by extension, myself -feel better. I love doing it – but is it something that makes me better?
So today I’m challenging myself. Throwing the gauntlet. Drawing the line in the sand. Steeling my nerves. Screwing my courage to the sticking place. Running out of bad metaphors.
I’m taking a week away from social media – something I’ve literally never done while on Canadian soil. As of 12 p.m., November 1, I will be away from it for a week (maybe 2, depending on how it goes) – and really, really away from it. The only caveat – because I maintain social media presence for both of my jobs, I will be signing in because it’s part of my employment. Email is also not covered in this challenge – because it’s the sole communication tool for my second job, and my Board commitments, etc. So. No personal social media. No online dating. Email. Only employment-based social media.
So, if you and I maintain our friendship on Facebook Messenger. If we send each other funny pictures. Keep messaging, keep sending. I promise I’ll get back to you. If it’s an emergency – maybe try texting (or calling) me. Until then… I’m planning on being buried in books.