Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Say it to my Face...book

I tried to quit Facebook a couple months ago. After using a little app that monitored how much time you spend on your phone, I realized that I was spending a whole lot of valuable time scrolling through other people's lives when I could be living my own. Additionally, my mom was really sick, I was juggling a LOT and I needed to focus.

So I deleted my account.

However, I quickly realized that the easiest way to get in touch with some people I needed to contact was ... you guessed it: Facebook.

So I reactivated my account.

Messages, explanations, blah blah blah, there you have it straight from the horse's mouth as they say. My mom says that, "straight from the horse's mouth." I don't know what it means or if anyone else says it, so maybe as she says would be more accurate.

Moving on.

In the past few years, I have had more arguments, fights, drama and hurt feelings with real life friends and family over stuff that took place on Facebook than over anything that happened in our actual flesh and blood lives. That is a fact.

A few months back, a friend and I decided to write a book about it. Facebook. We had had a few fights. I know it might sound trite and silly that grown up women--mothers, for heaven's sake--would get upset about social media, but it happened. I suspect we aren't the only ones. Anyway, I really value my friends and know that stewing on hurt feelings leads to bitterness, resentment and lost relationships.

So, being the grown ups we are, we hashed it out in true therapeutic fashion. "It hurts my feelings when you like her pictures and not mine." It's true. "It makes me feel left out when you all post pictures and didn't invite me." Still working those Agreements and trying not to take things personally. Anyway, by the end of it we were laughing instead of crying, but we came up with some good common sense guidelines.

If you never get your feelings hurt by social media stuff, you can stop reading now. Scroll to the bottom though and tell me your thoughts on that. But if sometimes...maybe...a little...well... here's:

The Girlfriend's Guide to Not Being An Asshole on Facebook
  1. Don't post vague attention-seeking statuses. Text your friends. Talk about your issues. Scream. Write in your journal. See a counselor.
  2. Don't post passive-aggressive digs at your friends. If you have friends, and they piss you off, tell them. Talk about it. With THEM. Don't call your other friends and tell them what this friend did. That's 8th grade baloney.
  3. LIKE every picture you see your friends post. Even if it's terribly unflattering. Even if it's the 87th time hop they posted today. Like. It. Anyway. Not because you like the picture but because you love your friend.
  4. Don't play favorites. If you like your brother's pictures of his kid, like your sister's pictures of hers too. If you like every picture one friend posts and never like another friend's, that's mean. And whether your friends admit it or not, most of them notice. And the people who notice will get their feelings hurts. Do you want to hurt someone's feelings? Yikes.
  5. If you scroll through Facebook constantly when you're with your friends and then claim, "Oh, no, I didn't see that..." your friends all know you are lying.
  6. Just. Be. Nice. If you don't have anything nice to say then keep your mouth shut. Don't post a passive aggressive comment.
  7. Finally, don't flirt with your friend's husband on Facebook. For real. That's not cool. I am a kinder, gentler version of the crazy girl I once was, but come at my man, and I will cut you. I'm not the only one. Join match.com or something.
These suggestions are based on actual experiences we had with our friends (and I mean honest-to-goodness ride-or-die friends, not other dance moms, or your kids' friends' moms with whom you occasionally have coffee, I mean the girls you'd take a bullet for) and each other. Come on now. If you see yourself in here, it's cool. Me too. I'm trying to do better.

But...I'm also trying to spend less time scrolling and more time living, so I promise you: If you're my friend, and I see something you posted: I will like it. Unless it is racist, anti-gay or mean. Then, I'll either unfriend or unfollow you. Just clarifying.

Honestly, social media is just another way we seek love and acceptance and connection. Isn't posting pictures of our adorable kids and stuff we made for dinner just a different form of, "Watch me!"? And don't we all just really want people to like us? I'm not advocating for seeking approval from social media friends and followers; good LORD, I've spent the last two decades trying NOT to give others the power to determine my worth. I'm just saying that the main thing I learned out of this whole endeavor was: People want to be liked. I can do that. We can all do that.

Also, in delving into the issues this brought up for me, I uncovered a big trigger in feeling left out. As the youngest of 7 children, I was often left behind while my siblings did things I was "too little" to do. A lot of the shit we deal with as adults is some modified form of the stuff we never dealt with properly when we were kids. Maybe because our parents, who were busy not dealing with their own shit, addressed our fears and concerns with, "Well, that is the stupidest thing I ever heard. Why would you let that bother you?" Right? No, just me? That's cool.

Recently every argument in our house turns into a therapy session because I don't want my adult kids dealing with an issue we monumentally bungled the handling of when they were young. AND I surely don't want to foist the issues I never dealt with as a kid onto my kids. I'm still working on it. I'll tell you more later.

In the meantime, I'm gonna post this on Facebook. I hope you like it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I sometimes still let S%*T bother me.

Sometimes, I try to put people into molds. Sometimes, I hold people to very high standards. Sometimes, I get very disappointed when people don't meet my expectations. Sometimes=All. The. Time. Occasionally, in moments of clarity, I recognize the messed-up-ness of this flawed process and reset. I return to working on myself and accepting other people as they are. Wherever they are and whatever they're doing.

Chloe told me about one of her friends who would comment on a person's behavior as, "Oh, that's just Sam. Doing Sam stuff." This made me laugh every single time I heard it. Lately, however, I've been thinking about what a simple but profound lesson there is in adopting that viewpoint.

Once I was really upset with Brad about some perceived slight or shortcoming, and when I was telling my little mermaid fairy guru about it, she said, "Mama, you're kinda just mad at Daddy for being Daddy. That's not really fair." RIGHT?!

Of course it's not fair. And this admission is selfish and arrogant and unfathomably egotistical, but sometimes I get pissed at people just for being who they are instead of who I want them to be. Bleck.

I've written about this repeatedly. Obviously, I'm still working on it. I still let some s&*t bother me.

I keep praying about and meditating on accepting people as they are with no expectations, judgment or labels.

The last few times I did yoga, I set this as my intention. Every morning, in my journal, I pray that my every interaction with people might shine love and light into them. I pray to make people feel encouraged, heard and understood. I fail. A lot. But I keep trying.

Lately, I got hung up on gossip and being "two-faced." People saying unkind things behind each other's backs and then being sweet to each other's faces. Honestly, if you are a woman (between the ages of 3 and infinity) you've encountered this. Maybe you haven't. You get Wi-Fi under a rock? That's pretty awesome. Anyway, I have been both guilty of gossiping and hurt by people gossiping about me. So in the last few months, I've been trying incredibly hard to be impeccable with my word. You know, I drone on and on about The Four Agreements, but seriously, it's so simple: Don't say anything unkind. About anyone. Ever. It really is a simple concept, but in our critical culture, it's so hard. Really, really hard. I encourage you to become aware of the power of your word--and others' words.

So, the more I started to focus on being understanding and accepting and kind, the more I realized that in order to reflect that, I had to feel it myself. I couldn't wake up and criticize myself for all my shortcomings and then expect to be encouraging to others. That's not exactly true. I could do that. I have been doing that for years. Here's how that story ends: I feel slighted, wishing someone loved and understood me. Wishing someone made me feel special in all the ways I try to make other people feel special.

I know this sounds disgustingly self-indulgent and whiney, and I rarely spend time consciously feeling sorry for myself. I want to be completely transparent so that I can share this revelation: The gossip, the criticism, the nasty, shrewish, two-faced behavior that I so despised was how I treated myself. I have to stop being mean to myself.

When I set my intention in yoga to seek to understand and accept everyone who crossed my path, that needed to include me. I had to stop punishing myself for all the ways I haven't lived up to my own ridiculous expectations--because if they're high for other people, they are astronomically out-of-this-world unreachable for me. I had to start this little kindness revolution right in my own heart.

Last night, I went to yoga convinced that I would probably spend most of the practice in child's pose. My knees hurt. My hair was dirty. I had tried on a bathing suit earlier which sent my self-esteem in a downward spiral. I almost didn't go, but I realized that I was withholding yoga as some sort of punishment for not looking good enough in that bathing suit. Or something else ...  I'm not sure. Anyway, I put it aside. And I got on my mat and let my breath carry all that negativity away.

Today, my intention remains to be compassionate, to understand, listen and encourage people. To say only kind things. And most of all: To accept all of us exactly where we are.