I was stunned when I read someone's Facebook post chastising her friend's divorce announcement. She was offended that her news feed contained other people's dirty laundry. She wanted to only read about happy things as sad news should be saved for private messages between friends.
I understand that posting hateful comments should never be done. But what about a positive message about a painful life event? Isn't a post without any hate okay? I strongly believe people should share any milestone in their lives on social media - joyful or painful. In fact, I had posted a carefully worded announcement about my separation and divorce. I had thought a lot about it. And here are the five reasons why I decided to share my dirty laundry on social media:
1. Being honest makes you feel braver.
When I first posted an announcement on Facebook about my separation, I had immediately deleted it because I felt embarrassed. I was so shy about sharing something emotionally painful. But a friend had already read my post in those few minutes before deletion. She encouraged me to re-post it because she thought I was brave. She believed I was opening up to others. And so, I put on my big girl panties and tried again. My second post felt like I was shouting to the world, "Look at me! I am getting divorced. Look! Look!" It was freakin' scary!
2. Not as many people will read your social media message as you think.
Later, I was shocked to discover I am not as popular as Gwyneth Paltrow. Ha ha. Maybe 25 people had read my Facebook post? The reality was many friends did not even see it. For example, I had run into my ex-husband's friends at a party a few months later. They did not know that we had separated. He had not told them! Their faces had a moment of shock and sickening awkwardness as I explained why he was not with me. Also, during the holidays, I sent my Christmas cards to my relatives with my new mailing address. Many of them did not know either. Apparently, I am not hot gossip in the ol' grapevine.
3. Sharing allows your friends to understand you.
To me, my separation was like running a marathon and I was crossing a finish line. I was hurting and exhausted, but also very proud of myself. I had struggled privately for months and only confided in others when appropriate. But guess what? Sometimes there are no appropriate moments. I realized I just needed to blurt out my news so everyone could understand my "random" moodiness. The moment I publicly declared my separation was the moment I truly let go of my marriage and let others come in to help me.
4. You get help for those moments you don't anticipate.
When I started opening up to everyone, I felt more love and support. See, here's the thing about life: you can't anticipate everything. Oh, I thought I had everything planned. I read every article about divorce on The Huffington Post. I had regular counseling appointments, hired a lawyer, and even talked with my boss. But there were moments I did not expect. For example, I was stuck in a snowstorm during Thanksgiving. It was my first major holiday and I suddenly felt alone. Really alone. Like I did not belong anywhere. I am usually very independent, so this emotion was a shock for me... And then there it was: a private message on social media inviting me to a friend's house for Thanksgiving. She knew I was alone and guessed what I was feeling. She reached out to me. It was exactly what I needed. It ended up being a great holiday.
5. "Facebook" is not "Happybook".
I am not a member of Happybook. (Disclaimer: I have no idea if there is a Happybook website and I'm not googling it because what if it is a porn site? Hmm. Actually... never mind.) Anyway, my account is with Facebook, which is a passive communication website. I can post on it and feel like someone is listening. It does not actually mean anyone is reading my messages. But it fills my need to be heard. The process of divorce is going from being a "we" to an "I". I am really okay with being alone... for most of the day. But at 9 p.m., I like to believe someone is hearing me, even if that is not reality. That is the beauty of social media. It has been my Band-Aid for my transition to becoming a singular unit again.
So, for that lady who only wants happy posts on social media, she can ignore this in her news feed. I am totally okay with that. And I love her anyway. Smooches!