It’s been an interesting week.
Knowing that our lives are public affairs, I’ve been trying to send tactful, subtle, but continual ‘signals’ via my Facebook postings that I’ve been solidly in the divorce process for months. Prior to that, friends (maybe) should have been noticing the periods of insomnia referenced, general malaise; undertones of worry and sadness. I peppered those with plenty of silly posts to invite others to laugh and comment and, in turn, brighten my own days. Maybe the Happy Sara image was the stronger of the two.
To my credit or detriment, I’ve never been the best at bucking up and showing all smiles when I’m miserable and distracted. I’ve believed it to be more honest to share, more honest to answer “How are you today?” with some level of truth…
Except, for the better part of the last couple of years, the answer to that question hasn’t been a happy one. It’s not fair to drag everyone down for such a long time, and I’ve had life to function through. I got tired of the sound of my own problems. Besides, what’s the balance between burdening people and genuinely connecting with them? What is the appropriate amount of sharing so they, too are free to share and be “real?” I don’t know the magic answer, and social media, where everything from tacky pop up ads to purchase transactions to ridiculous humor to world news cross our screens, makes it all the trickier.
A few weeks ago, I “unhid” my relationship status on Facebook. “Single” for all my friends to see, should they actually click on my profile and notice, which isn’t likely. I changed my name, dropping the last name and going with first and middle. It sparked conversation, but many still didn’t realize why, were puzzled but afraid, perhaps, to ask.
The trigger point was switching from “Single” to “In a Relationship” – to strongly signal changed circumstance and entrance into a new phase of life. I anticipated some surprised reactions. However, given the flurry of activity, most of my friends that I enjoy sharing with on Facebook have been completely oblivious to the realities of my life. It’s amazing to me primarily, I think, to realize that Facebook really isn’t much of a connector for “real” relationship-building with friends and family.
I’ve expected the court of public opinion to present many inquiries, many of the the questions are, I’m certain, too impolite to ask. Modern decorum exists, though the playing field of life has changed.
It’s not proper to spill the private details of the long, painful death of a marriage. I kind of wish it was, if it would help friends who are struggling in their marriages feel less lonely. I wish there were some broad-brush answer I could give so everyone would know how to “feel” about this, or whose side to take, or how to allay their own fears about relationships. It’s more in my small-town-girl, loving nature to pour it all out there, for friends to pick what portions are meaningful to them – but I’ve learned that’s not really how life works. Loving and/or morbid curiosity can probably never be satiated. This is not a 30-minute sitcom episode of a caricature of my life.
So, friends: feel free to reach out. I want to know you and be known; I want us to be good, old-fashioned friends. If there are others in your life signaling a rough time or facing major change – please reach out to them, too. Our great internet-connectedness tells us little about the reality of each other. Small town, big city… let’s all try to know each other a little better. Broadly disseminated social media is no substitute.