I remember as a young person never really feeling good enough. I remember being uncomfortable with how I looked and what I wore. I remember desperately trying to fit in, sometimes at the cost of my own beliefs and values. When I think back to my teenage years this is what I remember. I also remember going from crowd to crowd trying what they tried, wearing what they wore and even doing what they would do just to fit in. Internally I knew that it didn’t feel good, it felt like a pair of jeans that weren’t quite right, it was uncomfortable and probably unflattering. Sometimes I would even be anxious at the situations I would find myself in, but would never speak up, because i just wanted to be like everyone else. I just wanted everyone to like me and accept me.
As well as desperately trying to fit in, I was prone to worry and very prone to fear. Irrational fear. Fear that felt very real. Fear that would have me sleeping with my lights on, walking around checking that every door was locked and every window was shut tight. Fear that would have me not wanting to be left in the school library by myself and fear that would tell me I was dying if I had a headache. It may seem ridiculous, but to me it was so very real.
I remember walking home from a party one night, a party that I didn’t really want to be at, a party that had found me in a very compromising situation. Somehow I found the courage to run from that particular situation and make a mad dash for my house. It was late, and it was dark. I ran so fast that night, all the while feeling immense fear that someone was going to snatch me on the way home. I remember the beating of my heart, it was so loud that it hurt my ears. I remember running while watching my back, due to the fact that I was convinced someone was following me and I wasn’t going to make it home alive. And then I remember the other loud thoughts telling me I was weak, stupid, and that I should have just stayed. But I didn’t stay, I made a choice, and for me that choice was a point that turned a corner for me.
When I got home my feet were red from running so fast. My chest tight from breathing so heavy and my head pounded from the overthinking and self warfare. I was greeted by my foster mum who just stood and hugged me. I remember her words “you aren’t ok lets deal with this”. I burst into tears, it was like a tidal wave of tears. There isn’t enough space in this story to fill in every detail of what landed me here, desperate to fit in, scared of the dark and scared to be alone. That’s for another day, but in this moment with my foster mum came the tidal wave of tears and came the beginning of restoration, hope and freedom.
I went to therapy and learnt to deal with the thoughts that would hold me captive with fear. I learnt strategies to deal with the anxiety that would creep in all hours of the day and night, and I started a journey of learning to be ok with me. If I am honest it took me 15 years to learn to be ok with me, with who I was, with how loud I was and with the colour I liked to wear. To be honest I still have moments where the pang of feeling like I don’t fit in gets me, but then I remind myself I DO FIT. The whole world is a puzzle and I am a unique, colourful and beautiful piece of that puzzle. Most of the time I can voice my fear to dear friends and trusted confidants, and they can speak truth and disarm the anxiety that surrounds the particular situation.
A few months ago I found myself becoming a wee bit to friendly and familiar with some of those old feelings, the ones of comparison, the ones of ‘I will never be good enough’ and the ones that were telling me I don’t fit in. I found myself becoming less motivated and I even caught myself in the middle of a conversation with my husband, questioning some of the beliefs and values I held as a mum and and wife. I felt the return of the heavy black cloud, and I knew this wasn’t ok and something had to change. I needed to make some choices.
So using the tips and tricks that I had learnt in therapy, I stared to look at my day. I started to look at what could be triggering these old emotions. I started to look at where I spent a large portion of my mental space, what was I thinking about, what was I watching, what was going in, and then I realised that a large portion of that space was being occupied by our faithful friend facebook. Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that facebook can be, and is, an amazing tool and forum for so many things, but for me, as a stay at home mum in the season I was in, it was a rabbit hole of destructive comparison, isolation and loneliness.
My mental health was suffering by the day. I found myself becoming more lethargic, more agitated and less thankful for the world around me and the life I had in front of me. So after a few conversations and a wee bit of self reflection, I made a brave and bold choice. After all, I had learnt that I could be responsible for how my day could look. I could actually choose myself, where I spent my emotional and mental energy, so I deactivated facebook. I removed myself from the cyber world that had become my best friend. I made a choice that instead of sitting in the lazyboy that had become my comfort zone and staring at an emotionless screen, I would go outside and sit in the sun and write what I was thankful for. I decided that instead of getting home from kindy drop offs and going back to bed and scrolling facebook I would get up, get dressed, do my hair and makeup, go for a walk and breathe in the fresh air. I decided that instead of sitting in a living room full of people checking how popular my latest post was I would put my phone down and engage with the relationships the stood infront of me. I decided that instead of rolling over in the morning and feeling deflated that my likes hadn’t increased over night, I would roll over and hug my husband reminding myself I’m enough for him.
You see I made a choice, for me I made a very good choice. I am not going to lie. There have been times I have found myself with idle hands wondering what is happening in the cyber world and thinking maybe just maybe I could reactivate my good old friend Facebook for just one moment. But instead I make a choice to breathe in, to look up and to realise there is a whole life to be lived beyond ( for me ) the toxic screen called Facebook. There is a life to be enjoyed beyond the world of ‘comparisons and worth’ being found in likes and shares. There is a life for me to be enjoyed and to be lived. So as I say goodbye to Facebook and thank it for its service, I say hello to a wide open space that is life filled with relationships, laughter, adventure and acceptance.