It happened late last night.
One minute I was doing an innocent scroll down newborn babies first smiles and numerous amazing boiled eggs people make for dinner pics and the next minutethe little devil inside my head had involuntarily moved my cursor on my Facebook page to HIS page.
When I say HIS I mean that ex that I’ve defriended, am pretty much over and have no intention of ever seeing again. And bang there it is in all its glory the words I never wanted to see, with a sickening “deliriously happy” photo just to twist the knife in further: ENGAGED.
Immediately negative thoughts steamrolled through my head. I questioned (again) what was wrong with me, I got angry (again) about my single status and I grieved (again) for the life we were supposed to share and the kids we supposed to have.
The last year of progress I had made getting over my short lived marriage to a man who supposedly couldn’t commit, suddenly felt like no progress at all.
As that one simple word burned into my brain, I felt like I was back at square one with the pain. The difference being of course, this was totally self-inflicted pain. If I had simply just closed my computer after that last inane status update from a so called “friend” I’d met on a train ten years ago, I would be living in blissful ignorance of his pending nuptials.
After the brief image of karate kicking him clean in the face subsided, it got me thinking about the torment Facebook causes during and after a break up.
I’m not denying that Facebook is a fantastic social media construct that keeps us in touch with old friends, allows us to share photos and keep updated with what’s going on in the world but in terms of heart protection, is it just another tool to keep us stuck in our pain and unable to move on from heartbreak?
Before Facebook, if we broke up with someone,that was it. It was done. Bumping into our ex in the street was all we really had to worry about. We didn’t have to see them again if we didn’t want to.
We stayed away from places they’d be. We had more control over how we got over them. But today, we can be inundated with reminders of them and unavoidably seeing every move they make through “check ins” new “friends” they accept and photos that are posted.
I remember when I first broke up with this particular ex, the anxiety caused by wondering how, what and when I changed my relationship status was another hurdle I had to jump in the whole break up process.
Should I change it before he did to spare myself that added twist of the knife? Should I change it from married to separated or single? And what about the comments I’d be flooded with when it was done?
People asking what happened or how I was? The whole process was stressful, painful and triggered so many feelings of shame, embarrassment and ultimate sadness.
Now a year on, although I feel I’m through the worst of it, apart from this latest hiccup, it really brings home to me the perils of our Facebook fascination and the damage it can do to our self-esteem and sense of worth.
Here are some ideas I’ve come up with that could help with a clean and healthy Facebook break up.
1) Don’t air your dirty laundry online. Have respect for yourself and the relationship you had. Discuss with your ex how to proceed to lessen the pain for both of you.
2) There’s nothing worse than seeing someone continuously move from “in a relationship” to “single” every week. Question why you are doing this, is it for sympathy from friends, or a dig at your on again off again ex? Either way it’s probably not a healthy relationship if you are using this technique to make a point.
3) There is no healthy outcome to stalking. You WILL see something you wish you hadn’t at some point. Stalking will keep you caught up in the drama, obsession and anger and perhaps drive you to do things that you wouldn’t usually do. Try to hold yourself back. If you need to block him to get on with your life, do it.
4) If you are using Facebook as a tool to get back at him, through posting amazing pictures of you doing amazing things, pictures of you with models draped all over you or checking in at a million places in one hour, you should possibly think about a Facebook time out.
5) And finally ladies, remember, peopledon’t usually post unflattering or sad pictures of themselves for all to see. Facebook is a glamourized reality, you don’t really know what’s going on behind those Colgate smiles, so don’t make up stories of the perfect life your ex is having with someone else: concentrate on perfecting your own.
Katy Moore is a professional writer for popular magazines such as Cosmo, Women’s Weekly and Womans Day and is currently writing a book and starting her own blog.