When my husband became ill, it seemed Facebook and Twitter became my friend. Not a real friend, but I am friends with people on them and during wait times if my husband were having tests. surgery, etc. or on a night I could not sleep I would communicate with my friends through social media. Sometimes when I came home after a few nights slept in the hospital I would turn on the computer and spend hours catching up with my friends. They were my support group, cheering me on to remain strong, that they were there for me if I needed them. I do not know what changed. But social media no longer seems to be my friend.
After my husband died, I initially continued on with social media. One day I did not want to bother with it. One day turned into two, two turned into three and so on. When I finally decided to check Facebook, I had too many messages and notifications to catch up with in one sitting. I was overwhelmed. I probably should have immediately replied to as many as I could then I would not have gotten so far behind. The task of trying to catch up is daunting. I have tried several times, trying to go back to the oldest photo tag or comment posted on my wall as well as messages. Each time I do not accomplish much. Mostly because as I try to catch up with what everyone sees, I keep getting private messages. The messages are from friends I do not want to ignore, but by chatting with them I get further behind. So each time that I have tried, I also have failed. But that is not the only reason I no longer feel social media is not the friend it once was.
At Christmas time everyone was posting photos of their trees and houses decorated, new cars, happy families. Everything was beautiful. I looked around at what I once considered to be beautiful in my home but it did not seem beautiful. My husband was not here. One of my widow friends told me she somehow felt envious of her friends on Facebook, that they were living normal, happy lives while her’s seemed to stop. I knew the feeling. I too felt envious of my friends happy lives, beautiful houses, the exotic locations they were going to, most everything made me feel a twinge of envy that I probably would no longer have the life I had. I was not truly envious, as I was happy for my friends, it is just hard to look at things you are not sure you will ever have again in your own life.
Two weeks ago I decided to bite the bullet and go back on Facebook and attempt to catch up. This time was worse. Some of my friends are religious and tag me in inspirational pictures or quotes. Those are okay as they do not say “just get over it”, rather they are trying to show compassion. It was other friends that posted on their own walls. They had pictures and quotes that all basically said “Just move on with your life, it is not hard”. Those were not the exact words but it seemed many of my friends were posting these type of things. I know they were not meant for me, but for themselves. But I felt as though they were for me. It felt as though everyone were trying to tell me how to live. As I said, I know this was not meant for me but it hit close to home, making me think less of myself.
For a while, I just went on Twitter as only a few know who I am, the others that follow me do not know me. Soon, those who know me started to direct message non-stop. This was not what I wanted either. I know they were all trying to be nice, they care. The problem is I am trying to hide in social media, not be seen. Much like looking in a mirror, I do not want to look but I also do not want to be seen. So I stopped using Twitter too.
So what once was my friend no longer seems to be. If I had to guess it will be again. I need to catch up with my friends on Facebook, even if I do it in a mass message to my closest friends, as not everyone knows what has happened in my life or with my husband’s illness. I do need to spend less time on Twitter when I return, as I go there to look at something for a moment and when I look at the clock hours have passed by. I know it will probably take several attempts with Facebook to become comfortable with it again. But I owe it to the friends who were there for me in the darkest times, who I have not been in touch with since my husband died. I need to let them know I am trying to get on with my life. I need to apologize for what seems like turning my back on them.
For today I answered one private message. It was not from a good friend so it was easy. I will try a little each day or if I am up to it. I need to push myself. Maybe social media is not my friend now. Maybe I will still feel some type of envy or anger with the inspirational “get over it” quotes. But as I get stronger, maybe these things will no longer bother me. They never did before. I am trying to learn to live again, get back to what was my normal but it will be a different normal. There is no way around that, I am not the person I was 7 months ago. I have to start somewhere in every part of my life not just social media or friends.