The Sixth Street Bridge

The Sixth Street Bridge
At the tender age of 17, I walked across this bridge, alone, into Downtown Pittsburgh, with $300 in my pocket that my mother had given me to get an abortion. I went into the Fulton Building (in the picture) and did what I was told to do. I didn't have a choice - if I did, I wouldn't have chosen abortion.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cutting Emotional Ties on Facebook

I've spent the last couple of weeks in some mental gymnastics.  I've got a lot going on with just every day life.  Sometimes it feels as though my entire life is just zipping by and I barely have time to catch my breath.  Some days I collapse into bed at night and feel so empty, spent, I've got nothing left.  I've also been in a month or more long battle of wills with my Mom.  A long story short, I said some things to her, that although were 100% true and honest, did not make her happy and she seems hell bent on convincing me that I am wrong.  In her quest to get me to back down on my position she has sent me various emails and has called one time to try to remind me that I am wrong, she is right, and that's the end of it.  Typically, I let these things go and I even tried to let this one go, but she had to try again last week to get the proverbial last word in and then stop the conversation.  Having your Mom mad at you hurts.  Having her remind you repeatedly that she is mad at you hurts a lot more, then the drudging up of one's past mistakes is salt on the wound.

There is only so much I can do.  I believe that there is more going on with my Mom than what's on the surface.  I think her age is beginning or has been a factor for some time so hopefully in the next couple of weeks things will come to some resolution.  Neither of us will be happy about it.  Nothing will be resolved.  But that's how my family of origin works when it comes to untidy disagreements or events. When my Mom's mom died, she left my Mom a letter to read after she was gone.  My mom kept that letter in her Betty Crocker cook book for years.  I read it.  Remembering what it said - it was very similar to my relationship with my Mom now.  There were some good things my Nana had written to her, but the majority of the letter was my Nana getting the last, last word in, which of course left my Mom no rebuttal.  I'm sure when my Mom is gone, there will be a letter for me.  I can't control what my Mom does.  I can't control what anyone does.  I can control what I do.

This morning I logged on to the computer and started my usual visit to Facebook to check in and see what family and friends were up to.  The majority of my Facebook "friends" are actually extended family members, mostly all my 1st cousins.  Facebook is a great tool for keeping in touch.  Last summer we had all gotten together and it was great because we already all knew what was going on in everyone's life.  As I started perusing my news feed, one status update jumped out.  It was the status update of someone I went to high school with.  I think it was the first time I took a moment to really process what that person's name popping up at me after only half way in to my second cup of coffee had done.  It was jolt not from the caffeine, it was a jolt back to the past.  This person wreaked havoc on my emotions all through high school and beyond.  He was my friend, he wasn't my friend, we kind of dated, but no one could ever know about it... and on and on and on.  I started to think about why I'm Facebook friends him?  I moved down the news feed, there were lots of status updates from "friends."  I started by unfriending that first person in an angry huff at myself for being so stupid... then I decided, or rather was nudged, to go further.

I looked and saw that I had 224 Facebook friends! I know the term "friends" defies its own meaning on Facebook - but that didn't mean I had to buy into it.  Did I really care what 224 people had done in the 12 hours since I last checked Facebook?  I started to go down the list to get a feeling for how the other names made me feel initially upon seeing them.  There were more than several high school classmates, the majority of which I wasn't really friends with 20 years ago.  My class was small, only 88 students, so you definitely knew everyone and the classes above and below you - but friends?  No way.  One girl, well woman now of course, actually punched me on the school bus!  Why am I Facebook friends with her?  Unfriend.  Another two had spread rumors about me for years. Unfriend.  I started to notice a real pattern.  I hadn't "friended" the primary sources of most of my teenage angst, the people who really hurt me - but I had friended their friends.  Why?  Why would I want any ties to them at all?  Unfriend, unfriend, unfriend.  The memories were coming fast and furious now and I was stopping them with two mouse clicks!  One person whose name I see just about every day on Facebook actually trashed my locker on several occasions, stole my yearbook and wrote, slut, whore, etc., all over it.  I still have that yearbook on my shelf... why?  And this morning I am reading his stupid opinion on the election? Which, by the way, he is extremely inarticulate and rude.  Unfriend!

Some unfriending was easy - others were hard.  I found myself slowing down over my friends list and really thinking about each person.  Why were they on my list?  Did I care about them? Was I just being nosy? Were they tied to someone else who I wasn't friends with in the hopes that I may hear or see something about the person I never friended on Facebook?  Case in point, I was involved for about 4 years on and off  in a relationship that scarred me for life.  This person was emotionally and physically abusive, totally humiliating, reckless, and at times dangerous. He has sent me several friend requests over the years which I always ignore, but I am Facebook friends with some of his closest friends - what?  I think maybe I was just trying to make a statement that I was above all of that past mess, I was okay, just fine thank you, and did you see my fabulous life now?  These were ties that had to be broken for sure.

Every time one of those people's names popped up on Facebook, I would be right back there, a quick flash of a memory sometimes leading to more memories.  Unfriend, unfriend, unfriend.

The most difficult unfriending happened with friends of Grace's father.  I have never attempted to friend him on Facebook and he has never sent me a friend request either.  I do see his name sometimes if he comments on a status or something.  All of those facebook friends with ties to him had to go I realized.  I didn't need them.  Grace is watching over both of us I'm sure - that's all the tie we need.

When I reviewed my friend list again - I was down to 161 - 63 people gone off my Facebook feed.  That felt good.  63 people with either some negative tie to my past, some kind of tie to my heart, some kind of tie to my memories - gone.  I'm not claiming to be some innocent victim.  I'm sure my name elicits some negative reactions from other people from my past.  I was notorious for my pranks at band camp that I'm sure left some people scarred.  But, now my Facebook feed is filled with family and my real, present day friends.  I left a few people on from my past, but I did notice that the ones I kept were mostly all from my early childhood and my neighborhood and only two or three from my high school years, the ones who stuck by me for a long time and the ones who have known me all my life.  The rest are my college friends who just happen to also be mutual friends between hubby and me.  I even have three Priests!  Obviously, ties that should be kept and made stronger!

Over the last week I've been thinking a lot about my own self-hatred.  I even have a list of reasons why I hate myself.  The list of people I have just defriended on Facebook have a direct correlation to a lot of the reasons on that list.  Perhaps I have to purge that list.  

The tie to my Mom I can never break.  I can't defriend my Mom.  It wouldn't possibly hurt so much right now to have her upset with me if I didn't love her so much and crave her approval.  But maybe this early morning Facebook purge will free up some inner strength to fight the battles that really matter in my life presently.  I aim to pray today for the strength to recognize who in my life really matters - presently - and who is part of my past to be forgotten and put to rest along with all the ties between us.  I pray it has been good practice for some real life ties that need to be broken and for some purging that is long overdue.

1 comment:

  1. Initially my interest in reading this was because my own mother and I aren't getting along either. In fact, it'll be three weeks tomorrow that I've had any contact with her, and my father's been in the hospital off and on with heart problems the whole time and I have to get info from my sister who I don't really like. My mom got the last word in and I'm just going to let her, because it will never end if I rebut. I'm sure she's telling everyone a big sob story about how hurt she is I'm not relating to her.

    Then you mentioned Facebook! I'm actually on a "fast" from Facebook right now for 40 Days For Life, and it has totally made me think about what I've been doing on there. Seeing the names of most of the "friends" I have DOES bring up a bad memory, just like you said! But what I had been thinking is that it feels like most of my "friends" just friended me as if they were thinking "Oh, she's still alive," but then they never have ANYTHING to say to me, not once, no "likes" of my posts or pictures, no direct messages to me, nothing. It's really unsatisfying and I am determined to de-friend every one of them when my fast is over.