Saturday, August 27, 2016

Facebook: Reality Soap Opera

Growing up, many of you and your mothers watched soap operas. I and several college dorm mates even scheduled classes around All my Children so we never missed it.  Most soap operas are a thing of the past, with only one or two still on daytime TV. Others faded into their serial sunset or went 21st Century tech with web broadcasts. Wonder why?

My theory is because of Facebook. Where can you get better real life drama? We watched the relationship dramas of Erica Kane, the vengeful wrath of the Cassadines, and the mental troubles of Vicki/Nicki daily, because it made us feel better about our own lives! We felt better knowing there were worse love relationship issues, greater dysfunction within families, and more serious health and mental problems than our own.

Today, Facebook has become reality’s soap opera. We post daily, myself included (*) about whatever is going on in our lives, good or bad. This social media connects us to each other with people we haven’t seen in forever, but wondered about often. Instead of the drama and celebrations of Landview or Pine Valley, we have the good, the bad and the ugly posted all over Facebook.

How has Facebook replaced the good old days of daily soaps?

General Hospital. You know where I’m going here – the daily postings of loved ones and friends who are sick, who are in the hospital, asking for prayers.* Some Facebook extremists post god-awful photos of their loved ones right out of surgery, swollen with tubes coming out of every orifice while unconscious! We “check in” to Urgent Care, the ER, or the doctor’s office, alerting others all is not well. We post when we are under the weather, taken a fall*, or been in an accident. We share news of loved ones struggling with long-term illness, and/or the loss of loved ones who pass unexpectedly. We seek empathy, sympathy, and prayers. Facebook is often where I learn about this news for people I care about, and in need of prayer and support. I’ve opened it up countless times to learn a friend has passed or struggling with health issues. Facebook keeps us informed, and this is how it’s become General Hospital.

All My Children. Baby pics. First day of school pics. Prom pics. Graduation pics. We share our pride and joy, our sorrows and heartbreaks, our worries about our kids on Facebook.. Those of us who don’t have two-legged children share news about our four-legged children* with pet photos, news of their transition, health concerns, and their antics too.  On the flip side, we also see the ugly side of parenting: the ungrateful and disrespectful kiddos by parents who struggle with their relationships, or the choices of their offspring. Facebook brings us news of All our Children.

 One Life to Live. These Facebook posts share our successes, our feats, and accomplishments that make us most proud of. Vacation adventures*, Iron Man or 3K finishes, or goals achieved such as new jobs* and weight loss. Posts also include selfies with celebrities,* or experiences of hob-nobbing. While these posts are upbeat and fun to see, sometimes many interpret these crossing that fine line of bragging, depending on the interpretation of the reader. Regardless, these Facebook posts share how people seize the One Life they Live.

The Bold and the Beautiful. Selfies of varying kinds.* Family portraits. Dress up pics. The selfies we do for profile photos, but most take this practice to a whole new level of mirror shots, car shots,* and modeled shots. There is the lips-puckered selfie,* the reflective selfie, the new doo selfie,* and the mug shot selfie. And don’t forget the group selfies* comprised of two or more people (or pets*) out on the town, having a good time or hanging out. Family portraits portray perfection of unity, and don’t forget the self-esteem selfies when we are feeling good about looking good.  These are the lives of the Bold and the Beautiful.

Days of our Lives. Check-ins at restaurants. Mood reports. Work outs at the gym. Doctor appointments. Spiritual/Religious pats on the back. School pick-up of kids. Work updates. We post highlights of the day, pics of our meals,* and commutes to work. We keep people informed about how our day is going or has gone, what’s great or not great about our day and week.* Facebook helps us connect socially with people, and provides us a venue to vent about what is going well or not so well in the Days of our Lives.

Facebook is the social media stage in which life and all its dramas and joys unfolds. I didn’t address the political posts, videos shares, memes and other such things we see daily on this social forum. Facebook has blazed a new type of reality soap opera, and despite it’s good, bad and ugly, it keeps us connected with people we haven’t seen in forever, barely know, and people who know who we know.

For all its annoyances, Facebook is equally good. It is a drama zone but we as Facebookers own responsibility in how much drama we create, not only on social media, but in our own lives. 

Let’s make the most of the days of our lives in the one life that we live, live boldly and beautiful, unconditionally raise all our children, and stay healthy and out of the general hospital.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Last Stop: Reconciliation Station

I walked away from a three year relationship a year ago this weekend. I felt peace around the decision, though my heart felt great pain. The love I felt for this man was one I’d not ever felt for any other man. But in my heart of hearts, emotional intelligence knew the relationship wasn’t what it needed to be, nor what I deserved.

Knowing that truth didn’t ease the intense heartache I felt, or the emotions of grief from the loss.

The relationship was a good one – we enjoyed each other’s company and I laughed more often than I ever cried. I was treated well, as the man I love was generous in many ways, supportive and caring. Other than a few times when he felt (I realize in hindsight) cornered into an emotionally uncomfortable situation, he was kind, gentle and respectful towards me with his words. His relationship management choices were not always so respectful toward me and my feelings, but again, with 20/20 hindsight vision, I recognize how some behaviors and actions supported his goal of compartmentalizing v. integrating me and our relationship in his life.

My feelings for him were like none I had ever felt for a man. I loved him unconditionally, despite his unproductive choices and actions in our relationship. The decision to end our three years together was hard given the fact that I love the man. It was a good decision, regardless of my heartache.

For a year leading up to that decision, I struggled with how things were between us, and that we were not heading in the direction I had been repeatedly reassured we were going. Add to that the pink elephant in the relationship: his non-expression of love for me. Year Three opened the blinds to shine the Light of Truth on the situation. Initially, I chose to hide in the shadows for a while, not wanting to see the reality of our relationship. The Light continued to expand and reveal the truth of “what is”, and still, I chose to turn my eyes away, blinding myself, and others with excuses I made for him on his behalf. I argued with myself, claiming that I needed to be more patient. I was just fooling myself and making a fool out of myself. Deep down in my heart of hearts, I knew the truth. Once I chose to face the Light, look more closely at our relationship and the man I love, doubts created the stepping stones I needed to walk toward the hard reality: this man wasn’t that into me, and worse, he and I didn’t really have a future together as he’d led me to believe.

For several months, I questioned him about our future, seeking relief from the glaring light of clarity. There were temporary moments of shade, but the heat of truth burned upon me over and over again. In the month leading up to the perpetual Moment of Truth, I eventually realized I had two choices: miserably continue in a relationship that was real to only one of us, or live in greater self-respect and peace without the man I love.

A year later, I made that difficult choice, and its heartache remains an emotionally wise scar in my memory and heart. Fortunately, the grief and pain are not as intense, and my thoughts are less consumed by the loss, though I think fondly everyday of the man I love. I miss him and his friendship. I’m realizing I can still love him, but just not be in a relationship with him. I’m learning I can share my heart brimming of love with others – my beagles, my family, friends, the children I serve at work, strangers, and most importantly, myself. I’m learning that there are many people in my life who value and appreciate me, my heart and the love it offers. Today, I close in on freedom from any of resentment around this experience. I realize I must find forgiveness for him; and self-forgiveness for allowing myself to love and believe him more than I loved and believed in myself. This I can accomplish through unconditional love for us both.

I recently heard a speaker discuss the difference between reconciliation and resolution. Resolution involves rehashing everything, which I am absolutely uninterested in doing, since I’ve spent an exhausting year doing that. Reconciliation is reconnecting and moving forward without any emotional barriers between two people, leaving the past in the past. I don’t know that I have arrived at Reconciliation Station just yet; but it’s the final stop on the itinerary of this relationship’s journey. Full and unconditional forgiveness is my ticket to this destination. They say time heals all things, but I also know I must willingly dig a little deeper in my heart’s pocket to find that ticket. I know it’s there; I just need a little more travel time to find it.

And for the first time in a year, I’m actually feeling excited about arriving at this next stop, and completing the final leg of this relationship’s journey.