Messages from the Universe

It was a high anxiety week for me, an emotional one filled with real and imagined slights and struggles.

I was cropped out of a family photo.  I announced my decision to leave Facebook.  I felt less alone and more connected than I had in years when I got requests for real addresses and contact information from people who didn’t want to lose touch. Thank you to all who did so.

Still, the anxiety increased, my decision to leave the platform of modern communication convinced my insecure inner demon that I would lose everyone the moment I hit the delete button.

Then messages starting coming.

Ann Patchett’s “The Sacrament of Divorce” gave me a heartbreaking peek into her own divorce, into the power of the loss of that relationship, the sorrow of the ending of a promise, the sense of loneliness, separation, and distance that comes into the life of a divorced person.  This unexpected gift poured from my Audible account as I felt the power of her words sink into my soul.  Tears dripped onto the Christmas gifts I was making, tears of release long repressed. The story ended and I felt lighter.

I found “A Simple Act of Gratitude” when looking for something new to read on my Kindle.  This story is one of a lawyer, recently divorced from his second marriage, estranged from his children, losing his practice, who decides to write a thank you note each day for one year.  The story is one of growth and progression as he learns to let go of his long held onto grievances and open himself up to the good things he has in his life.  He sends a thank you note to the barrista at the Starbucks who always remembers his name, he sends a note to his ex-wife, thanking her for being a good mother.  He doesn’t change overnight, he isn’t magically transformed like Scrooge in a Christmas story.  He still struggles to overcome his own sense of failure, sorrow, desertion.

I wrote a thank you note this morning.  I doubt I will try to match his daily note sending, but I am going to try to be grateful for something in my life every day, counting my blessings, playing Pollyanna’s “Glad Game”, until I feel the fullness of my life as surely as I feel the losses.

Then Carole, a friend of a friend of a friend I met on Facebook sent me the following video.  Just as I was beginning to seriously doubt my commitment to a life lived with less constant technological interaction, just when I was thinking I would keep my account and simply try to be more disciplined in using it, just when I needed this message the most.  Thank you Carole.  I cannot express how my anxiety and stress lifted away when I saw this.

My decision stands. It’s time to connect more intimately with those I love.

Will I miss it? Will it miss me?

Breaking up with Facebook feels like ending a long term relationship.  I didn’t expect the emotional response that has grown since I decided to delete my account.

I have had good advice from people;

Keep it open so you can get invites, just don’t post there. 

Block the people whose posts are upsetting you. 

Visit it less often, limit yourself, etc. 

All good ideas. All good advice. However, Facebook has a cloying appeal, with one push of a mouse button I can waste hours of my time reading articles on the top ten worst drunk texts of 2014.

Am I disciplined enough to have an account and yet not push the mouse button? Is there a real risk I will miss important announcements, invitations, etc. if I do delete the account?

Will I miss friends who are far away? Will they miss me? Is there a value to Facebook that goes beyond what I am currently seeing?

Right now, Facebook is allowing me to be lazy in my relationships.  My caller ID on my phone puts the numbers I call most often in my SpeedDial. I have two family members, two friends, work, and clients on my speed dial. I don’t have the friends I live close to, for the most part, because I don’t call them. I don’t talk to them. Instead I follow their posts on Facebook and feel as though I have put in the work necessary to maintain a relationship. I haven’t, and neither have they.  We are coasting on a glossy surface of paragraph updates with a picture or two.  Where once we would sit over a cup of coffee and talk for hours about whatever came to mind we are now reduced to “like” buttons and one or two sentence comments. I find myself seeking likes in the same way I used to seek approval from high school peers.  It took years of self discipline to decide not to care about the people who didn’t care about me and to invest my time, instead, in those who did.  Facebook undermines that diligence, and worse most likely because of its own algorithms and not through the choices of those friends.  Facebook decides who sees what with a constantly changes series of equations.

In short, I need to get out more.

If I stay on Facebook, will my behaviors change? If I leave will my behaviors change or will these tenuous ties grow weaker, further reduced by not even following the small updates in my feed?

When did social media replace social interaction? Is this a necessary part of growing up? Are the distances there because they are natural? Am I blaming a social media platform for something that is a natural progression in life?

So many questions, so much obsession. All over a website.

Contentment in coffee and my very own space…

It’s morning.

Yesterday they delivered my new bookshelf and I assembled it using an unreliable and irritating phillips head screwdriver I found in the evidence room.  I need to bring my own tool box into the office.

Anyhoo, I got the thing assembled.  It took less than half an hour and I happily placed it next to my filing cabinet and underneath the 67″ monitor I have hanging on the wall.

Today, I filled it partially with books. (Law books, as all law students know, are magically printed on super-thin delicate pages that somehow manage to weigh 47 tons each, resulting in hunchbacked lawyers across the nation.)  I carried in nearly a shelf full and happily arranged them.

Then I settled in with my cup of hot coffee and looked around my office.

Mine.

My space, with my door, that I can shut.

My chair.

My desk.

My books.

The high corner office hidden away from everyone else was hated by every other person it was given to. My boss had it, our ex-partner had it. Every single person despised being so far away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the office.

I revel in the ability to shut a door and work in silence.  I read contracts and develop websites and research with no one walking past me, asking me questions, breaking my flow.  I sit in my isolation chamber with my hot coffee surrounded by pictures of prairie dogs, my kids, Dan, and me snuggling tigers. I relax, I sink in, I smile.

I am at home.

Thankful for a quieter life.

When I was small I believed I was destined to be a very important person.  Like those who go to fortune tellers and are unsurprised to discover they were Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in a former life, I was certain I would be someone whose presence danced across the international stage.

This disillusion lasted for an embarrassingly long period of time, well into my thirties in fact.  First I was going to be a great actress, then a world renowned writer, and finally, a Supreme Court Justice.  It wasn’t until I developed debilitating ovarian cysts and spent nearly a year and a half in ridiculous amounts of pain that my understanding of what my life was to be changed.

This year I am thankful for a quieter life.  I am thankful beyond measure to be free of the pain that rendered me a poor mother, partner, wife, and friend.  I am thankful to have moved on to the point where I can work a nearly full time job and participate in my children’s lives.

While I once dreamed of days spent imparting my wisdom to the masses or walking the red carpet with throngs of followers, now I am happy to read with my boyfriend in front of a fire and enjoy a nice glass of wine.  I am happy to stay home most nights, read to my children, snuggly my cat, and go to bed at a decent hour.

I find joy in walking places, now that I am once again able to meander for miles without needing to sit down and recover from a bout of excruciating pain.  I am happy to bicycle and do push ups, to dance and sing, to clean the house.

Having pain enter my life is not something I can be happy for.  I’ve tried, but even I am not that self-effacing.  Learning to build my life back into something fulfilling, enjoyable, and truly lovely is something I treasure with all my heart.

So thank you to all of you who helped me find my way back from the dark recesses of illness, the precipice of suicide, and the resulting wreckage of my former life.  You lent strength to someone who didn’t have her own and helped lead me to a happier, quieter, life.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Adventures in General Counseling

I have moved into the role of General Counsel for a small company.  As you can imagine, the number of legal issues that arise, even for a computer forensics company, are few.  My first week I wrote contracts, by the second week I was handling all of our HR paperwork, by the third week I was responsible for our social media presence.  Week four, they added web design.

So today, I sit in my boyfriend’s cozy downstairs office in front of a fire attempting to ferret out the necessary HTML/CSS coding required to double space a block quote in a content manager plug-in.

I find it humorous that law school taught me the one thing I needed to join the world of business as a valuable and fully flexible team member, the ability to research.  My tens of thousands of hours spent researching various legal issues has given me a nearly preternatural ability to find information and tutorials pertaining to any task I am handed.

So I am building our website, piece by piece.  It was initially fully designed (in my mind) two weeks ago.  Then, at the website review one simple question was asked. “Can we add different colored boxes with information to the site?”

“hmmm…. I don’t know. Let me check”

The answer, no. The theme I had chosen didn’t allow for that.  So off I went on a two day research trip across the vast landscape of the interwebs to see what resources would work with the theme to enable that capability. I found many, but most were pretty crappy looking.  Then I stumbled across one that would allow us to make as many changes as we wished to the site.  I bought it and happily began the tedious process of moving the content into the content manager and arranging our boxes and information in a pleasing and eye-catching manner.

Then I hit a wall.

Paragraph spacing.  I have no idea how to accomplish paragraph spacing within this theme.

So weeks of work are stalled while I spend more time seeking out the appropriate way to code for paragraph spacing than I did on writing the content for the site.

Despair

I’m so very tired. The only time I don’t have a headache is when I have had too much to drink. Even my sleep is invaded by the invisible drum chorus in my head, pounding endlessly like waves upon the shore, eroding my strength and forebearance.

There is no where to share my despair. All the compassion has been spent, I have exceeded my allowance.

This is never going to end.

This is never going to end and I am trapped inside it, alone.

I want to give up, to give in. To tell the pain it has won and just slide into its throbbing darkness. I want to sleep and never again battle the waking hour, never again force myself to rise and walk when each breath, each step, resonates in my head in an unending rhythm.

I want to wave the white flag and let my consciousness succumb to the overwhelming clashing of blood and vessel in my brain. I want to blithely sleep while the vessels constrict and gorge, over and over, the rhythm of my foolish heart playing it’s swan song for an audience of one.

I want to release it, vent it, let it go.

I want this to end.

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