Hello, Me

Today, I made the momentous decision (well, momentous to me, anyway) to deactivate my Facebook account. Now this may not seem like a big deal to some people. I know people who have never had or desired to have a Facebook account. But it is a big deal to me.

It is a big deal because I am an expat who lives far away from my home country and my family. Who has made and left friends behind in many different parts of the world. Who is parent to a special needs child, where my only source of support and information is the group I am connected to via Facebook. All these are, and were my reasons for relying so much on this social media tool since I created my account nearly ten years ago.

Over the past few years, through the constant moving and being a first-time parent and finding out that our child will have mental and physical challenges for the rest of his life, Facebook was where I turned to first. Because that's where I could connect with most of my family and friends all at once. I would post a picture of my children and immediately receive over 50 likes and dozens of comments, and for one minute of my day, I feel less alone. I would write a message about how hard my day was going, and within minutes, receive comments of support from people who care about me and my family from all over the world.

It was great. It's been great. It's been my source of support and friendship and entertainment for the best part of ten years. BUT. It is also virtual. The feeling of happiness whenever I receive a positive comment or a virtual hug, never lasts. The companionship that exists online, doesn't fill the real and very present hole in my heart whenever the homesickness hits the hardest.

And lately, rather than feeling the warmth and support and friendship, I've been feeling something more insidious. I've been feeling jealous. Envy. My heart aches when I see pictures and posts of friends and family back home in Malaysia or in New Zealand. It makes me want to be anywhere but here.

I find myself 'liking' posts of friends who are accomplishing things, yet not really feeling happy for them. I see posts of my friends traveling, achieving success in their career, bringing up independent, normal children, and wishing deep down that it was happening to me instead. Resenting the fact that I'm 'only' a SAHM. Missing the days when I got to put on a nice outfit, go out into the world, talk to adults and accomplish things that have nothing to do with successfully getting my child to eat his meal. Resenting the fact that all I have for company everyday is two little children that I struggle some days to parent. Resenting the fact that my five-year-old is still in nappies and I have no idea how to help him develop further in that area, while other children are going to school, learning, having adventures.

There is so much envy, of those with more money. Those who own their own homes. Those who have normal children. Those who DON'T have children. Those who go to work. Those who are a SAHM and yet have so much help and support from families nearby or maids/au-pairs. And as the list gets longer and the less-than-positive feelings get stronger, I sink more and more deeply into depression and self-pity.

And so, even though there is still so much that I get from being a part of the Facebook community, I need to cut it out of my life for awhile. I need to start being 'present' and not living my life and making connections only in the virtual world. Because my life is here. My everyday, is this. And no amount of longing or wishing or regret or envy will bring me anything but what I have now. And I need to find a way to be at peace with my present, rather than constantly having something else pulling my heart, my mind, my soul, in a different direction.

I don't know how I will feel a week from now, a month from now. The loneliness might be even harder to bear than the feelings of jealousy or envy. Without Facebook, I will have even less of a social life than I do now.

BUT. Maybe this will force me to look deeply inside and be present within myself and my surroundings. Maybe it will force me to examine everything that's wrong or that feels wrong with my life, without the constant pressure of having to live up to a certain image, even if it's only in my head, or the constant comparison with other women, other mums, other families.

Maybe I'll write more, the way I used to, with truth, honesty and openness. Maybe I'll write again for myself and not for anyone else, without caring about who 'likes' it or comments on it, without being afraid of showing the world the part of me that's ugly, that's struggling, that's not strong or brave.

And maybe, in the process, I'll learn to love myself again.


Comments

  1. Hola chica. I'm thinking about picking my blog back up, too. :)

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    1. I hope you do! I've missed reading you. =)

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  2. Powerful and important post, thanks for writing it. I think you've summed up what a lot of people are feeling about missing that organic connection.

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    1. Thank you for reading and I'm glad there are people out there who identify with my words too. Hopefully by being a little more honest, we'll all built a better connection with each other even in the virtual world.

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  3. Good for you - recognising the source of our discontent is often easier that actually doing something about it! It's so easy to get lost in comparison on social media, and I'm not sure that it's healthy at all. While that online community can be a fantastic tool, it can also be harmful.

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  4. Hi there
    I was worried to see you had gone...but today something made me think of you and I found your blog. I think you will be better for not having FB for a while. The social media thing is important but as you say is virtual. I have been hit hard from time to time too and you know what, there is more to life than stressing about what is or is not on FB!! Take care and enjoy your family and new adventures ahead of you...summer soon right? Sun is good for the sole! Clare x

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  5. Blimey, I really felt for you after reading this post. I am also an expat living in the Rein Valley (Karlsruhe). FB contact is still essential for keeping me sane.... but I totally get the jealousy thing. I remind myself that Australia (or Malaysia or NZ) will still be there, right? We can go back and it will all still be chugging along doing the same thing over there. The only thing is we will have changed.

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