Monday, September 30, 2013

When Caring Goes Bad

It's time for a Facebook and overall social media cleanse, my denial is over...

More than once this past week I have heard different people who care about me point out, (in person), that I have a habit of caring too much about what other people think. Now this has always been an issue with me having been raised to believe that everyone pays attention and everyone will notice if you screw up and no one cares when you're doing things right. I grew up in quite a paranoid environment and then I married into one and the cycle continued.

As I have been stripped of everything I once used to identify or label myself all of my old ideas and beliefs have been challenged and/or stripped away as well. I have suffered a lot of grief over this past summer as I grieved the person I once knew, a person formed by the opinions, threats, and guilt trips of others, and realized that I had to be all alone with myself which was quite frankly, a very horrifying thought mainly because I didn't know who that was... Actually, that's not true, I always have known but I have never EVER been given the opportunity to express it. Ok, that's a cop-out, I have never taken the opportunity to express it, not completely; not until 2009 when I left my marriage did I really begin to explore who I was apart from other people's ideas, beliefs, and expectations of me and force myself to live accordingly and subsequently I lost everything I could possibly use to form my identity including time with my child.

This week I saw my brother for the first time in a long while and was able to feel connected to my roots again, my original tribe, and it felt so good. It felt good to hear him speak about his passions and to have him listen to me about my frustrations with where I'm at in my process and how badly I want to be there for people going through similar challenges I have faced and as I poured my heart out he simply responded, (as though he was a Life Coach too), "It sounds to me that everything you're saying is what you need right now. You need to give yourself permission to grieve everything you've lost and every painful discovery you have made. You have permission from the people who matter but you need to give yourself permission." In that moment I felt as though a heavy and dark cloak was lifted from me and it was so simple I had over-thought it. I shared this story with my partner the next morning and he smiled and said, "You do have permission, honey... go ahead and cry now." Naturally he had to be a little smug about how supportive he is capable of being. But you know what? My mind finally slowed down.

Only over the past couple of days of just sitting with my grief, acknowledging it for what it is and giving myself permission to do so did I also realize that I have been in denial over how strongly I have held on to things that I shouldn't be hanging on to anymore. Most likely this has been out of fear of losing more in my life after being so angry for what has already been taken from me, (and yes, I realize things can always be worse but that doesn't make my or anyone else's emotions any less valid), so I have clung to things, people, experiences, etc. This fear has kept me distracted and avoidant, consumed with things that really don't have to matter that much.

I refuse to say that I'm letting go of what no longer "serves me" because I believe it is the height of arrogance to say any person, thing, or experience should ever SERVE ME; I literally feel pain in my gut when I hear that expression. I will say this however, there are things I have hung on to, activities, experiences and people that make me feel drained, the reasons are moot and I couldn't explain it completely if I tried but I don't have to. There are things, people, and activities that enhance our life or help us sustain it but we all have a choice as to what we choose to participate in and if something drains us, mind, body, or spirit, or we know there are people out there that don't really care for us, then why hang on to any of those things? Why fight and try to continue to matter or find meaning to a person, a job, or an experience that isn't willing to offer the same opportunity in return? Not that we are owed anything but there comes a point where we just keep spinning our wheels over something and for what?

I racked up quite the friend count on Facebook. I had two profiles for a while because I was paid to help people network online and build their social media presence. I don't do that anymore and the very thought of it makes me cringe. Now I have a Facebook account full of people I met only once and even a few people I don't know at all and I don't really know why anymore; isn't this what Fan Pages are for or LinkedIn? I have a Facebook Fan Page and if anyone was really interested in where my business is going to go or what I have to offer they would follow it, right? Other than that, I see no reason to hang on to online "friendships" that amount only to me "Liking" or commenting someone's posts or shares out of sincere appreciation or interest only to feel like crap that so many people don't seem to offer the same not only to me but to anyone else. And if this is making me feel as though I have to keep some kind of mental tally then how healthy can that possibly be for me?! I'm sure they don't think about it that hard... But the fact is, I do. I am not on Facebook as much as I used to be and I keep missing really meaningful things shared by people I talk to regularly, people who care about me as much as I care about them online or off. So for me, it's time to clean my online house. I'm heading in a completely different direction and I plan on walking my talk by staying connected to the people who make me feel connected and vice-versa. My "friend" collection that I selfishly accumulated will take a serious hit but it's time to be selfish in a much healthier way. I'm quite sure no one will really notice anyway. And yes, this is that big of a deal to me.