Just over a week ago my husband and I separated. It was my decision (hence my previous posts about making changes in my life) and it was a long time coming, but this didn’t make it any less upsetting. And following the day our marriage ended I had the difficult task of telling my immediate family and closest friends what had happened. I dreaded these conversations, which were heavy with emotion … but little did I know this was the easy part.
Over the next few days it occurred to me that I needed to start telling people beyond my close circle. But I had no idea how to bring it up. It’s one hell of a conversation-stopper. And that’s when I started considering the possibility of announcing my separation on Facebook.
I have read and heard a lot of negative opinions about people who live their lives through Facebook – those who document their lives in photos and status updates. But for me Facebook has always been a lifeline. I love sharing the hilarious things my children do and say. I love that I have a whole community of friends who can pool their knowledge and wisdom on any problem I have, from what to do when my children are ill, to how to fix my laptop keyboard. I love seeing photos of my friends’ families. I love enjoying reading about the good things that happen in my friends’ lives. Mostly I love the fact that, no matter how lonely I might feel, or no matter how difficult it is to get a babysitter so I can go out, real friends are only a click away.
So in a way it felt natural to let my Facebook friends know that I had ended my marriage. It felt almost deceitful to continue chatting with them online and posting comments to their status updates whilst pretending everything in my world was normal. I agonised over my decision for a couple of days. Announcing the end of a marriage on Facebook was not something to rush into. But I knew what I wanted to do. It was important to me that my wider circle of friends knew how dramatically my world had changed, and this was the easiest way to do it. My final decision came one evening when I was feeling tearful and low, and feeling the need to talk about what I was going through.
In the end I chose an indirect way of telling people. A status saying “I’ve ended my marriage” seemed too callous. So instead I wrote a status update saying “Think it’s just hit me how much harder life is going to become”. Usually I am irritated by people who write statuses clearly designed to make others respond with “What’s wrong? What’s happened?” but in this case I felt it was justified. The friends who cared enough to ask were the friends I wanted to tell. The inevitable questions came quickly, and so I replied with the truth. And it was done. I had announced the end of my marriage on Facebook.
And how pleased I am that I did. The messages of support and love were completely overwhelming. Each time someone sent me an encouraging message I felt a bit stronger and a bit more able to cope with my new reality. I’m sure not many of these people knew the true impact of the few minutes they had spent sending me their good wishes, but the cumulative effect was tremendous. Maybe you’ll see what I mean if I show you just a selection of the comments I received:
We are all here for you.
You’re such a strong person.
I’m here if you need any advice.
You know where to find me.
You are such an amazing person.
I have found it easier on my own.
It does get easier.
You’re stronger than you think.
Let me know if you need to talk.
Really praying life gives you a break.
Your two beautiful children will keep you strong.
You deserve to be happy.
I think you are incredibly courageous.
I’m always on the end of a phone.
The hardest part is over.
I hope you’re OK.
Sending lots of love.
Been thinking of you.
You are amazing.
You will be the best Momma there ever was.
Sweetie, always here for you.
You’ve kicked the arse of adversity in the past.
The comments above are all genuine quotes from messages I have received on Facebook in the last few days, and each of these comments was sent by a different person. Some are from friends I speak to daily, some from people I haven’t seen for 15 years. Alone, each message is kind and gives me a boost. Cumulatively they make me feel I can take on the world. If this many people have faith in me and my ability to cope; if this many people think I’ve got what it takes to be a great Mum; if this many people are only a click away when I’m feeling low – how can I possibly fail?
So. To Status Or Not To Status? My answer to this question is clear. As another wise friend also commented on Facebook: “Week One is the hardest”. Well if that’s the case, I’m laughing. Because I have survived Week One in tact, thanks to the love, kindness and support I received after one little status update. Thank G-d for Facebook.