Finger Peeper = It’s what I look like when I’m watching the Walking Dead. You hear the music change to a minor key and watch with trepidation as long as possible until you can’t take it anymore and you cover your eyes but then get brave and extremely curious and spread a finger, or two, and take a peek to see if anyone survived. (spoken really quickly followed by a big dramatic breath)
Facebook Creeper = People who never post anything on Facebook but emerge randomly from the shadows. You know, those people who will never like or comment on your posts, but will approach you with input about something you wrote weeks ago. What about that odd co-worker (or family member) that you were guilted into adding as a “friend” but you’re pretty sure they stalk you. Oooooorrrrr how about those folks that don’t feel like they have anything clever to say but will share their story or experience and blow your mind.
After I settled into my 750 sq ft apartment from my two-story home, the adjustment really started. The shock of separation and pending divorce had passed by that time and the work to heal was well under way. I chose to disengage from the internet all together. Watching social media was torture. My relocation meant new friends, new community, new history. This was a giant blessing in my mind because that meant that I didn’t have to explain anything. I didn’t have to hurt when someone asked me what happened to us. It meant that I didn’t have to cry as much. In my mind, it was less painful that way. You see, my life as I had always known it, as I had planned it, came to an end. In a matter of weeks, what had carried on for ten years as normal, dissolved into a lifeless shell. As I browsed my news feed and saw life went on for everyone else, it made me feel completely alone. Pictures of landscape projects completed, birthday parties, family vacations and date nights seemed to show me that what “they” had, was no longer mine. It got too painful, so I unplugged.
It was this same kind of pain that kept me from attending church. Seeing families walking together, dining together, holding hands and being together, hurt. I noticed how couples interacted. What they did and didn’t do. I was searching for clues as to what went wrong in my own marriage. I listened as women described their relationships and watched as men accompanied their wives. I tuned in to the language, both spoken and unspoken.
As I healed and life continued one day at a time, something began to happen. Instead of being hurt by the normalcy of the pace of life, I began to miss it. I logged back on after several months to learn of new births, new relationships, new jobs….and new separations. I smiled at the good news of the lives represented that continued to plunge forward in their normalcy. I also hurt with a new empathy at the news of broken hearts. The shadow of obscurity seemed less of a protection, and more of an excuse. I began to hope. I began to understand the beauty of community and the joy of sharing my experience. I could feel the life returning to me.
You know someone in your life who is doing what I did. They have disappeared into the shadows and withdrawn. Some people do it for a season, but others do it permanently. Know that your life is unique. Your story matters. Your experiences help others. But it is up to you to give them a voice. Don’t ever underestimate the power of sharing your hurt. You have no idea what your survival could mean to someone in the midst of a raging battle. There will always be haters, but know this, haters have been hurt too.