Life sans Facebook – Reflections on my Lenten Journey

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Today ends my 40 day journey of experiencing life without Facebook.  Like some other addictive behaviors I have, I was finding that time with Facebook was consuming more time than time alone, or time in meditation, or time with others, or time working on steps or reading recovery literature. I learned early in my recovery that addiction isn’t just about the dope, or the alcohol or the sex. It’s about any behavior that obscures my true self. It’s about anything I do compulsively or obsessively.  It’s about people, places or things that get in the way of my relationship with my Higher Power, other people or my self. I found myself sometimes defining my reality by Facebook — if it wasn’t posted on Facebook, it wasn’t significant.  I found myself consumed with a desire to update, to read, to surf.  I found myself more apt to post something on Facebook than to pick up the phone and call somebody.  So, in the spirit of my religious beliefs and as part of my spiritual life I gave up Facebook for Lent – and took on other behaviors in its stead.

I wanted to write more cards and letters during this period.   I removed as many barriers to this new behavior by purchasing a 50-pack of notecards and a book of stamps. So I wouldn’t have the excuse of not having something to write on, or not finding stamps. Sometimes after my morning meditation or before bed, when I found myself with an extra 5-10 minutes, I took the time to quickly jot a thank you or short note to say hello. As soon as they were written, I wrote out the envelope, placed the stamp and attached the card to my mailbox for the postal worker.  For all those times I “beat myself up” for not writing a thank you card, or for not reaching out to my 96-year old grandmother – I’m able to find peace and joy knowing that I’ve done so recently.

This morning, a family relationship which is strained greatly was on my mind.  The two parties involved are not speaking to one another – and they are first generation blood relatives. I’ve thought about the one party, with whom I’ve always shared a close bond over the years.  When I first came out of the closet, they were extremely supportive and asked questions, showed interest.  When I hit bottom and admitted my addiction to drugs, they didn’t dance around the topic and avoid the 500 pound elephant in the room.  They reached out and talked with me, once again demonstrating their unconditional love and lack of judgement.  I’ve thought of them often during the course of this family breakdown and wanted to reach out – but combination of pride, sadness and pain kept me from doing so.  This morning during my meditation and devotional time, the situation came to mind – and all of that melted away. I realized that in my selfish inaction, I was not demonstrating the unconditional love and freedom from judgement they had shared with me over the years.  The details of the family discord are really of no concern of mine.  I’m not responsible for mending the relationships or seeking reconciliation for the parties involved.  That’s my codependent nature peeking through — my self-centered delusions of grandeur and power, somehow believing that I’m god and possess the power to fix, manage or control others.

I’m powerless.

But I am able to show love and compassion.  I am able to be present and connected.

Without the weight of false responsibility on my shoulders, I found both a willingness and a freedom to write a simple note.  There was no hidden motive, no grand attempt to say something that would spur reconciliation, no pressure to find the right words. There was simply the desire to express my love for them – my desire to see and be with them – and my empathy for the sad and painful situation in which they find themselves.

Beyond that gem of self-awareness, I find myself calmly aware that I can choose to reconnect on Facebook…but not rushing to it with a compulsive need.  I want to continue my newly restored habit of writing and calling more.  But, even there I’ll simply take on today – showing gratitude for the gentle rain – thankful for the chance to be alive and share that aliveness with others.

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I see life as full of possibilities and the world full of beautiful people possessing unique and often untapped talents. I’m a learner and connector, seeking ways to leverage the abundance in this world through strong community.

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