There is a false sense of being able to vent when you are on facebook and other social media. When you are just feeling down, it can kind of feel like you are throwing words into the void, and getting things off your chest, and there is this idea of taking comfort in thinking that maybe you can actually say what is bothering you, and you aren’t burdening anyone. If friends want to opt-in to listening to you, that it’s their choice, and if not then you know who your “close” friends are. The truth is that with social media, that algorithms decide who sees your words, and your cries for help, so you never can know really.
Many times, its hard to want to post anything on facebook, I’ll write out a paragraph only to delete it before ever posting it. A long time ago I remember sitting in my childhood bedroom and just thinking about how much negative there is in the world, and telling myself that I didn’t want to add to it. I wanted to help, not hinder, and so I have tried really hard to limit any negative energy or thoughts I’ve added to the world in what I say or express.
The thing is when that has been your prime directive for so long, you get to the point that you realize you really don’t feel like you can ever share anything you are really struggling. It doesn’t take much to look around and see how busy everyone is trying to keep up with their own lives, and before you get to feeling like they don’t need the knowledge of your frustrations on top of that.
Occasionally you slip up and share something weighing on you, and you just feel more guilty than anything, especially when it feels like it becomes apparent that its absolutely true that people just don’t have time, or that it makes them too uncomfortable to continue to listen, because their “How are you today” was just conversational, not where they were really that interested. It was just the standard greeting you are supposed to say.
If I’m honest, I don’t hardly ever answer that question honestly, because I generally realize that its just small talk and not the genuine question. Sometimes when I’m extra down or feeling extra vulnerable, I falter, and can’t keep my composure when even asked, and I have to quickly find a way to hide, or recover and opt-out of sharing too much… people don’t really want to hear it, and sharing frustrations goes against the idea of not putting more negatives out there in a place where there is already far too much.
The truth is I don’t even know how to share them anymore. The words don’t come out right when I try to speak them, while tears just come on their own uninvited. Plus the reality is that there is so much involved in explaining yourself in a manner that someone else can understand. Then, because you don’t share often, it feels like you won’t be understood anyway…. its like asking someone to skip ahead and start reading chapter 26 where the scenes and characters are there but can’t begin to have the correct context needing to be conveyed without knowing the previous 25. You don’t know who they are, or how they got there, and it feels the same about being able to know what brought someone to the thoughts and feelings they have right now.
The other issue you run up against, is that while sometimes people are great, but they maybe aren’t great to confide in when they are too sensitive themselves. The desired rational conversations that actually make headway, the ones that actually help you process what you are thinking and feeling can’t be reached when the person you are confiding in doesn’t have the personal stability themselves to not make it about them somehow.
Their imaginations are often better than mine, and they will either decide I am blaming them in some manner, or will become angry about one of my statements and take it out of context and infer some other unrelated meaning out of it, or may decide that because I confided in them in the first place, it must mean something totally else.
Even when you tend to be good at carefully choosing words in regard to the audience you have, sometimes all the work that goes into that just so you don’t get misunderstood, is more energy than you have or more than you are able to deal with at the time because to be honest you aren’t in the best shape at that point. It can quickly feel like its not worth it to share, because at least if you keep it all inside, its not picking some unintended fight that you don’t have the energy to patch up on top of everything else you are mulling through.
But its lonely, and it can hurt to not feel understood, and to at times feel stunted because you need to process things, but you can’t. While this is the way I feel, I can’t help but think that its not unique, especially in this day and age.
Connections are really hard to maintain, and people spend so much of their time just doing what they can to stay afloat themselves. It’s hard to expect others to be in a place where they are comfortable, or able to help each other sometimes. I want nothing more than to be a good friend, good parent, good family member, and expect that others share that sentiment. I think most mean well, Yet it feels really difficult to ask for their time, or energy, or even understanding.
…. and so the guilt of asking to be listened to is slightly relieved – since no request was formally made. An ounce of the stress is displaced by actually posting something, anything, and writing it out may help things get partially processed internally for now… but posting on any format like this… its really not a good enough solution. We need our friendships more than we like to admit, and we need to figure out how to relate. I need to figure out how to relate.
Most people are hurt, and most just need those short times of feeling that their struggle is “seen” and that they are at least partially understood as a person.
Update: 10/24/19 – I was a bit discouraged as I posted this and pretty immediately received a comment from a family member that basically told me that “flowery words” don’t make up for past actions, but that “As Christians” they are willing to “overlook it”
This post wasn’t asking for forgiveness, and now I’m a little frustrated it could be taken that way. It was more meant to give an inkling to those who maybe have friends or family that are struggling as to things that people feel that make it hard for them to reach out, or to let those who struggle with the same things realize they aren’t actually alone.
Sadly my family member’s words just reinforced what I had said. That #1 sometimes when I do share, its just simply not understood correctly, or a different meaning gets made up for it. #2 it adds support to the thought that some people have to make things about themselves instead of finding a way to be a supportive friend to the person needing one.
This particular individual, I have come to terms and peacefully accept that I owe absolutely nothing to. My only purpose to them when I was in their daily life was to be a tool to make their life easier, with no thought of how I felt, what I needed and what I wanted out of life. I as a person wasn’t important. My only value to them was as a tool for their own gain.