To Status or Not To Status?

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.

Big hugs.

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.

6 thoughts on “To Status or Not To Status?

  1. I too cringe occasionally at the windows made accessible for Facebook users to become voyuers in others lives through status updates and I certainly agree that we are all guilty of posting a leading status, begging the response of, “why? Or what’s up?” I leap from one argument to the other as to whether I think it right or not. However, lets not forget that Facebook is a social network. Regardless of the degree of socializing, you are simply asking for help amongst friends. Its no different to asking for support in a crowded room of your nearest and dearest.

    As your brother, I have no right to feel the devastation that I did when we found out, but through your friends and family and through the smiles of your beautiful and loving children, I pray that you find happiness regardless of the method used.

    Love you xxx

  2. Not sure how I missed this post. I for one have found that facebook and blogging have been important mediums for explaining everything that has gone on without having to be too direct. I remember being overwhelmed by the response when I posted a blog post about what really went wrong in my marriage. People you would never have thought gave a shit were sending me messages of support and comfort and yes, it made me feel alot better about everything.

    Week One IS the hardest but there will be various firsts that you have to get through alone. I think by the sounds of things you have already been through one of the hardest firsts- the first time you and your child/children are sick and you have cope alone. So really, you are laughing as you have been through the worst in a matter of weeks! 😉 Sorry, I don’t mean to be tongue in cheek, you know that I know how hard all of this is.

    I think you and I use facebook in the same way and I am often criticised/teased for it but you know what, I don’t give a shit because it has been important to me over the past few years and until those people have walked a mile in my shoes they can f-off! 🙂

  3. a bit tearful in my bathtub here in Japan. Remembering how great FB was when my parents died and I wasn’t coping. FB is my worst enemy and my greatest friend. So much better than dealing with things alone. God, I just read that back to myself. How feeble. Crying over FB. But I so know where you’re coming from. The kindness of friends. In many forms. Rocks.

    1. Nothing feeble about leaning on your friends when you’re going through tough times. The way we choose to communicate with those friends isn’t important – the support they give us, is!

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