Life has been good. Not "Oh my god, I'm on top of the world and life is so exciting and spectacular that I need a vacation from my vacation lifestyle" great, but good. And good is beyond the best one can hope for considering I was having suicidal ideations just a month ago. Yes, you read that correctly. The girl with the confidence was so depressed she thought about killing herself. And luckily, I did not do it and sought help because I've been on this crazy ride with depression before and knew I needed help. NO, I am not ashamed of that. I am not ashamed my hormones or my brain are a bit defunct either. Depression happens. It happens to some of the best people I know and some of the greatest minds the world has ever seen. But I digress, back to my good life.
I'm not climbing mountains or vacationing. I am not even working right now and haven't sold a single piece of art in the new year or since before Christmas for that matter. Hubby didn't get a raise. My kids still have their occasional meltdowns over the little things that baffle my brain as being fight worthy. I haven't moved away from my small town to a more hip or open minded neighborhood. In fact there have been no remarkable things that have changed my mood beyond hormones and self care. BUT -my, oh my, what hormones and self care can accomplish.
At the end of last year I gave up Facebook. Not like "I'm deleting you all. You all suck. OMG Politics" got rid of my Facebook. More like "hey I need a break and I'll check in occasionally" got rid of my Facebook. And it has been amazing. Honestly. It's been the best thing I've ever done, which is both great and incredibly sad (but I'm not dwelling on that, so Sally Forth we go into how my life has become so good).
When I was in the midst of my depression, down deep in it, I believed I wasn't holding my life against the candle of everyone else's life. I believed I could spend hours a day looking at people's posts and pictures and be totally unaffected. This was naive. Without a constant reminder (Facebook) that there are other things I "should" be obsessing over (my new year resolutions, my diet, my success as a business person, etc.) I've been relatively happy. Why? Because I realize that Facebook sets collective standards that we all feel obligated to meet to be a relatively "normal" human. I mean, in real life we all set standards. You should hold doors for people to be a decent person, or dress appropriate for the weather to be sensible, or kiss your mom goodbye to be a good relative, or whatever it is you were taught to hold near and dear to your own heart by means of the people that raised you (your parents, your neighbors, your tribe, etc.). The problem becomes when we get online and we are so inundated with everyone else's standards as well as mountains of articles plastered 12 inches from our face, glowing up at us from our pocket sized computer, that tell us our standards are so very right, or insanely wrong, or right/ wrong for the wrong reasons, we then get onto this forum with all of these other people and feel the demand of society to defend ourselves and our standards or to challenge the standards of others. Hidden behind the glowing box we start wars and say brazen things in an instant online that would take a little more time to articulate politely in person. And while discussion and debate are totally how the world works (we wouldn't be anywhere folks,truly, if we didn't challenge the status quo) we are doing it on a massive level that, instead of endearing us to other people and the crazy and amazing way the human mind works and reworks information, it insights segregation, humiliation, and frustration. Constant input into our actual hardware (see brains) sets us up to constantly feed on information or to feel starved if we don't. We want to find the people and the things that further our own agenda and keep us surrounded with "the best" people and things and ideals. And in finding all the "best people" who share so many of our attributes and ideals we forget that they are different people with different bank budgets, social capital, and abilities. We begin to, in a conscious or subconscious way, compare our lives with theirs, because heck, we're so similar right? Wrong.
Any given day of the week of last year I could tell you what all of my people of Facebook land were doing. How adorable their kids were, where they vacationed, and how successful their diet/ business/ parenting was going. Or so I believed. Whatever they put out there wall became their life. I would see a vacation post followed by a picture of their family sitting at a beautiful dinner with a caption about how they were eating all organic on their travels and think "Wow. How does she do that? When we traveled I could barely manage our needed dietary restrictions. I wish I could be that well organized." I would see a post for a local business featured in a local shop, liked by all the makers I admire plus a few hundred more, and feel completely and totally inadequate. I would think "If only I could get my shit together and work harder" or "If only I had smiled more at the last show" or "If only I had the time to drive from boutique to boutique with my stuff." And the major problem with this wasn't that I was feeling this way so much as I was ignoring feeling this way. I was brushing this off as a normal feeling. "Everyone has feelings of inadequacy" I'd say to myself, as if seeing a friends vacation pictures SHOULD make you realize it's been a month since you've gone anywhere "fun" or "important." And again, I was assigning labels to things in life that were handed to me, rather than chosen by me. This was a big one that I had no clue I was doing. Vacation to Florida = fun. Vacation to Cincinnati Ohio = sad. Guess which one I took. This was something already decided. Something I hadn't chosen and never would have thought about my ability to change until I left Facebook.
So once I realized that budgeting for my family as if I were dead was seriously messed up and got some help, I turned off Facebook. The hunger pangs were strong at first. I really wanted to know what everyone was up to. I was worried I'd stop having friends. "How will they get a hold of me?" I thought. "When it's not so easy to send a message my way, will I still have friends?!" Ah, dear one, you are now showing why you need to leave. I decided friendships had to be based on more than constant interaction and that those who truly wanted to stay in contact would find a way. And then came the worry pangs. "What if someone needs me?" I'd wonder. "What if the world is just so nuts and someone feels alone because they have no one to talk to about it?" But the more I thought about this the more I realized I was giving so little to so many that the empathetic ear I had, was more than half deaf. It would be better, I figured, to give more to less people than to spread myself so thin and not be certain I was giving my best to anyone. With my fears and anxieties and worries quelled (well enough) I started to let more time span between checking in. As it is, it's been a whole week between my last check in of 10 minutes and today's check in of 5. It's a wonder to think that removing something from your life can be self care. Often we think of adding a nap or carving out time to write in a journal, which ironically, I now have time for, is self care. This all brings me to how life has changed.
Yesterday after running to Aldi for our weekly groceries I was driving past the local football field and I took in the clouds dotted across the sky as the sun shimmered over the stadium lights and I realized so much of my life has been about being something "other." It struck me that in all the time I was on Facebook I was denying this one fact that I wanted to be something other than what I already am. I would claim I wanted things and places that made me feel whole or fulfilled but really I wanted to let those things and places change me into something other than an "insignificant, small town girl." But the truth is, I am those things and those things are wonderful. I'm insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and thank goodness. I don't pull the tides or set the sun and that's wonderful because, knowing me, I'd totally forget to do it and we'd all die of floods or sunburn. I'm insignificant in that my mind and willpower alone cannot stop the evils of the world, and again, thank goodness, because it means that I will need help and that I will be part of a community that wants only the best for people. I am a small town girl, from a, sometimes backwards, sometimes rude, and yet sometimes amazingly beautiful small town. The clouds here are just as pretty as the clouds I've seen in LA or Shenandoah. The grass and plants and creatures and bugs equally as fascinating. The conversations can also be life altering. What's wrong with loving your family and wanting them to be nearby. There is joy in running to your grandmother's when snow falls to shovel her walk and then sitting and talking with her over hot chocolate when she insists you come inside to get warm. There is peace in knowing you can comfort the woman who raised you by driving a half a mile away to check on her mother when the phone lines are acting up. There is beauty in seeing your mother and father-in-law go to the local (not fancy) Chinese Buffet on lunch for their 30-something anniversary because they are happy just to spend an afternoon together. Why, as I turned the bend I wondered, had I been avoiding this realization?
All my early life I was bullied. And in being bullied I struggled. I found escapes out of my pain, trails I could follow to soothe myself. When girls with expensive clothing made fun of my cheap backpack I told myself I'd be the one laughing one day. I was going to get out of this place and make something of myself. Over and over like a prayer I would say how I was going to make it. I was going to be successful. I was going to be better. I was going to be "other." But I was wrong. No matter how far you run, you will always be unsuccessful if you use another person's version of success. When those that hurt you hold the dream in their hand, they will never let you attain it and if you've been hurt enough, it's not long before the person holding the dream is some other version of you. So I have decided to stop being fed what success is. I have chosen to stop "drinking the water" so they say. I won't debate why success if having enough money to live or being happy or vacationing because I don't even think my own goals are so rigid. Someday's being successful is having enough money to live and someday's is having the willpower to persevere when you don't. Sometimes success is being indescribably happy and other days it's knowing that happiness is a choice you can't always make and that content will suit you just fine. I am stepping away from the idea that I need to be "other" and instead getting comfortable with the idea that I need to be me. I am ever changing. I am a minefield of emotions. I burn white hot and sometimes I fizzle cold. I am successful and unsuccessful. I am here and here is the best place to being having a good life.