Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fled Facebook For a Fortnight

I decided 2 weeks ago to deactivate my Facebook account and did so rather abruptly. Over the past 2 weeks various friends have looked me up via email, or sms, and a couple found me on a very old Twitter account. Perhaps some visited this blog, wondering why I'd fallen off the face of the planet, or rather severed that umbilical cord to the weirdly wired world...Facebook.

I woke up a fortnight ago and I just felt that I was exhausted. I'm exhausted every day... but on that day it was a deeper, different kind of exhaustion, an exhaustion of the soul. What does it feel like to have a tired soul? I can't put it in words, but I can say that being physically and emotionally tired is a truly weary place to be. Life itself seemed pointless because of the effort it seemed to require.

My bones hurt so badly and I was just recovering from antibiotics that ravaged me, and life seemed so bleak to me. I couldn't speak of it to anyone. There was no one to speak of it to anyway. My dear husband is in a very busy season in his work life with 15 hour work days and is exhausted himself. My children are too young to fully bear my sorrows, and I don't think it's best to burden them too heavily with my own despair. I spent time retreating in my room, emerging when I was able to manage a smile, and curling up in my corner when no one needed me. On days like these I am so glad I don't homeschool any more and the kids go to school for several hours. At least the insanity of school life is to be preferred to Mum's brand of temporary loss of marbles :) And yes, God exists... because my kids are so lovely, He simply must exist. Yes, logic isn't my forte. I know.

I went on to Facebook that last day, and there were my many friends from my school days, from Uni, from my youth days in Malaysia, from my life since I moved to Singapore... but I couldn't say a word to any of them. These are the people I have been communicating with daily for the past 5 years but suddenly even the closest of them seemed distant to me. Even my own family members seemed out of reach though I knew they were right there. I just couldn't speak to another soul except to my husband, and even then it seemed we argued more than we communicated. I read all the usual postings by friends, and looked at photos and cartoons and clever captions, and quotes and reposts of news from around the world, and suddenly it all seemed so superficial to me. I felt no joy at all, as I usually did, connecting with my friends, living for their witty repartee and the verbal sparring and jokes and virtual hugs and love that made me smile on most days. I didn't want any of that any more. I recoiled for some reason, from the milieu of many voices vying for my attention, all trying to say something, and yet saying so little. And I felt that whatever I was to post would be the same. A lot about so little. Nothing of real consequence. Surely I could live without it all. And so I deacitvated my Facebook account. No big drama, just a quiet but quick fleeing from Facebook.

Several people contacted me to say they missed me and to ask if all was well, and suddenly there was a tiny resurgence in my Twitter following... and I hadn't tweeted in over 2 years. It was nice to be missed but I had nothing to say to folks except that all was well with me. But was all well? It wasn't at all. Deep down I felt broken and sorrowful. Morose and melancholy maybe. Can people understand those feelings? I really don't know if many of my friends can. In the past people have told me I must not give in to my melancholy side as if I was in some Jekyll and Hyde battle for my wits. Some might think but not say that it was some kind of spiritual battle in which my soul was up for grabs... my reply is "Can God please try to feed the starving millions on this planet before saving me?"... Not a cynic, just saying that in the larger picture I am of so little consequence, and that's actually okay with me.

But what was happening to me? What precipitated all this emotional turmoil? I'm turning 46 in a few months... is this a mid life crisis? I know I'm perimenopausal... am I psycho too? Have the side effects of my meds finally gone to my brain? In addition to sadness, tears began to flow, perhaps as a natural reaction. I imagined life without me, rather than with me, I felt old and ugly and useless... I think I was depressed. Well and truly depressed. What could I do about my feelings? When could I pin down my husband so we could talk deeply about them? Did I feel this way because I spent hours and hours essentially alone at home and while I once treasured the quiet, I now felt excruciating loneliness?

If I was lonely why didn't I talk to my friends, if not on Facebook, at least on the phone? I just couldn't bring myself to speak to them. I didn't want visitors, I just knew I was bad company. I couldn't bear to hear their stories, their sadness, their pain, their seemingly trivial pursuits, when all I wanted to do was scream, "Shut up! Go away! Leave me alone!". A friend hounded me for lunch, I kept saying next month when I feel better, but she kept insisting. Then she called me and with great reluctance I answered the call. We talked and I tried to explain how I felt but she dismissed my feelings hoping to make me feel better. We ended the call knowing it was the wrong time to talk to me. I dread her next call. Is this a real friendship? I don't know any more. I feel like I'm acting in a B grade movie and I'm so good at playing the nasty grouchy villain of the piece that pretty soon I'll be accepting an Oscar for A grade baddiness. Not.

My friend's dismissal of my feelings made me feel angry and hurt... for years I have dismissed my own feelings. For years others have too. I ask so little of anyone because I don't want to be a burden. I don't want to be demanding. I don't want to avoided because I seem to have my own agenda. So I've lived as if the agendas of every other person I come into contact with has been the most important thing. But that's not been fair to myself. That's shortchanged me. And yes, I count. My feelings actually count. Others have to sit up and listen when I tell them how I feel. I deserve that little bit of respect, surely. And I have to learn to express myself better, not with tears and great emotion and feeling but with the sane voice of someone in control of themselves. Sigh.

At times when the Crohn's overwhelmed me and my guts raged and I had fevers and joint pain and nausea I knew that I was depressed and unable to cope, and for some period of time I did seek help and go on anti-depressants to get me through a really tough patch. I've come to a place now where I won't take them any more. They affect me with their own side effects, but more importantly they rob me of the ability to deal with life as a fully engaged person, even if that involves deep pain, tears and more tears and suffering of the soul. I have to endure all that so I can look myself in the mirror with some measure of intellectual honesty and say I still love myself despite everything I am, I have become, and hope to change...

So I have been wrestling with all my inner demons, as the phrase goes, for the past 2 weeks. Is the wrestling match over? Have I been declared the winner? Am I still vaguely sane, and perhaps a little happier? What is happiness? Do we ever attain it in this life? I'm still wrestling, but with fewer tears. I am telling myself this isn't a war. It's the evolution of me. I cannot remain in the same place in terms of my own personal growth... that's being stunted at the very least and death on the inside at the very worst. I want to grow as a person. I want to embrace change with courage. Happiness is elusive, like that gorgeous butterfly that just flew past my window. There, but only briefly, and the harder you try to catch it the further it seems to fly away. Perhaps happiness is simply "less sadness", I feel happier today then I did last week... perhaps I will feel less sadness next week too...

Today a dear friend emailed to ask me if she'd offended me and why I had apparently blocked her and vanished on Facebook, so I explained that she hadn't offended me and I hadn't blocked anyone and I thought to myself that I really should let my friends know how I am and why I've vanished. And so these are my thoughts. I'm a lot more willing to talk today, and glad to be connecting with friends again, but I think I'll stay off Facebook for awhile longer once I've posted a link to this blog post and left it accessible for a couple of days... Staying "far from the madding crowd" is really a detox of sorts, for the soul. If only because I actually listened to myself for a change. I still love my friends, I hope they'll still love me.

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Three Years Since Surgery!

I just realised that today is the 3rd anniversary of my big surgery in 2010, after 50 days of starvation on a liquid diet and immense pain. A resection of 40cm of my small intestine and terminal ileum and removal of gall bladder and appendix in the hope that I would go into permanent remission... The Crohn's came back but hey, I'm doing okay. Life is good. I can eat. I lack for nothing. So I'm aging faster than I ought to, so I'm always tired. So I'll never run a marathon and my bones are getting frail. But the kids are getting bigger and sweeter, my hubby still loves me, and I am surrounded by beauty and nature everyday... Life is good. Aims in life 3 years post surgery include 1.Stay on powerful meds to try and avoid surgery again now that I know it hurts like hell when I wake up. 2. Finish my PhD which was almost derailed by pain, hunger, surgery and more pain. 3. Relax and don't take life so seriously. 4. Worry a lot less about the kids, since worrying does nothing except upset me, and that upsets everyone else. 5. Keep calm and carry on, it's not all about me. ♥