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Breaking Up on Social Media

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They say that breaking up is hard to do, but I'm pretty sure social media has made it 100 times harder. You've given someone so many years of your life, promised to love them forever, and possibly had their children. When it all ends, you're left hurting and feeling alone, and you just need someone to talk to. You want some feedback, you want to problem solve and dissect every every detail, and, let's be honest, you want some sympathy, too. And it's so easy to turn to that "smart phone" that has become an extension of ourselves and clue the whole world into what is going on.

I'm no expert in relationships (just ask anyone who knows me), but I am a survivor of divorce. I've experienced all the feelings of hurt and anger and regret. At times, I was tempted to put it all out there for everyone to read. Everyone is entitled to know the truth, I thought. Makes sense, right? Wrong. Your story, your life, and your problems are YOURS, no one else's. Inviting other people into your life by sharing intimate details will only make things messier and more hurtful. It might also lengthen the time it takes you to meet your goal (whether that's separation, divorce, or reconciliation).

Like Gwenyth Paltrow stated earlier this year, "I really don't come from a culture of divorce." Both sets of my grandparents remained married, my parents are still married, and both my sisters are in their fifth year of marriage. And I'm so happy for them all--that's they way it should be; marriage is a lifetime commitment. At the same time, I've had no one I could turn to who could offer me any insight to enduring a divorce and continuing life as a single mother. This was uncharted territory that I had to learn to navigate for myself. In case you are in the same position that I was a couple of years ago, I want to share with you the considerations I made regarding social media and my divorce.

Consider your audience: Who are you friends with on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.? For me, it is a combination of close friends, family, colleagues, former students, and people from high school (some of whom weren't even my friends back then, if we're being totally honest). Now think about whether you want these people to know every dirty detail of your breakup. I understand reaching that breaking point where you just can't hold it in anymore, and I would suggest picking up your phone. Instead of posting it all to social media, though, call or text your best friend or members of your family who already know what is going on and can comfort you without adding to the drama you're already dealing with.

Consider talking to a professional: I agree that getting everything that's going on out in the open can really help the healing process. Having all those thoughts and memories and fears bouncing around in your head all the time can be exhausting and even debilitating. When it's just not enough to talk to your close friends and family members, there is NO shame in talking to a therapist or counselor. My children and I saw a family counselor for several months during the early stages of the divorce, and it was very beneficial. It was nice to vent and cry to a person who could view my situation objectively, assure me that I wasn't crazy and that things would get better, and offer me advice on how to deal with each stage. I also never had to worry about her sharing my story with itching ears and running mouths.

Consider the longevity of your words: Once you put something out on the internet, it's out there. Even if you delete it, even if you think no one saw it. It's somewhere out there floating in cyberspace. It really makes me wonder how anyone from the millennial generation will run for public office (but I digress). Whenever I post something that I think might be borderline personal, I ask myself, "Will I be ashamed of this in twenty years?" Or, even better, "Would I want my kids to Google my name in ten years and read this?" You'll find that, most of the time, the answer is a resounding NO. If you've been through a bad breakup or a divorce, you know that something said in the heat of the moment can have a long lasting effect--the same is true for social media.

Finally, consider unfriending your ex and his/her friends and family (if you haven't already): If you're the kind of person who can remain friends with your ex during and after the breakup process, I applaud and admire you. You're a better person than I. While my ex and I get along fine now, that wasn't always the case, and I learned that remaining friends with him on social media only caused more pain and kept the feelings of anger and bitterness fresh. And let's be real, Facebook stalking is a rabbit hole that leads nowhere good and eats away at hours of our lives. Just as a doctor would say, a clean break is the best break. Unfriend that ex and focus your energy on living your best life instead of what he/she is doing.

While my ex and I get along now, we are still not friends on social media, and I don't see that ever changing. We still have a few mutual friends, as will happen when you have been with someone for several years (I didn't divorce them, and neither did he). Funnily enough, one of our mutual friends shared my blog a few weeks ago, and I received a text from my ex saying he enjoyed the piece and was glad to finally see my writing being published. While his words were kind and unexpected, it did not prompt me to follow or friend him. His life and mine are separated by court order, so why meddle with that on social media?

At its best, a divorce signifies new beginnings, and the best way to pursue those new beginnings is by cutting the ties to the past. So if you want to follow me on social media, know that you won't see rants about my ex or even juicy details about my dating life. Those matters are private, and I intend to keep them that way. Oh, I'll share them, but when I want, how I want, and with whom I want. And the audience will never be all my "friends" on social media. I am, however, the girl to follow if you want to hear funny parenting stories or be bombarded by hilarious memes or want to see a gazillion pictures of my beautiful children, like this one:


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