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Divorcing in a Facebook World (Part 3): 5 Simple Steps Forward

Facebook

As I stated before in my previous posts, living in today’s Facebook world means that there are new challenges to any person who is going through a relationship struggle. It is especially difficult if you find yourself in a separation and/or divorce. Stresses are magnified and a complicated process can get even bumpier.

My previous posts about divorcing in a Facebook world:

  • Part 1 – My Facebook Divorce
  • Part 2 – Is it harder than dealing with the death of a loved one?

5 Simple Steps Forward

I want to offer simple steps that you can take in order to navigate this time in your life successfully and keep the collateral damage to a minimum.

#1: Take a Facebook Time Out

The best thing you can do early on in a relationship crisis is to take a deep breath and step away from the Facebook flood. Taking a bit of time and going offline is freeing. Go for more walks, more coffee visits, connect with people around you who aren’t just behind another screen.

It may save you from prematurely de-friending all of your in-laws or posting hate-filled/cryptic messages to your common connections.

#2 – Set a Facebook Curfew

Once you are ready to engage on Facebook again, be sure to set some boundaries about your online activity. Consider abandoning any late-night browsing. It can be costly.

Not only do you risk reacting to others and posting careless emotional comments, but you’ve probably ruined a good night’s sleep by not turning off your brain. Pick a reasonable hour and challenge yourself to go offline a good hour before laying your head on a pillow. A fresh mind and body are necessary to successfully walk this leg of life’s race.

#3 – Vent Elsewhere – There’s an App for that

Choose to talk through your emotions somewhere else other than your Facebook timeline. You may have a friend who is walking the journey with you, but they probably have their own lives and can’t be there every moment to hear the latest updates and daily frustrations.

I recommend downloading a journaling iPhone app like Momento. It let’s you easily record short thoughts/moments. You may not realize it at the time, but taking this simple step can keep your thoughts from circling.

From experience I can also tell you that looking back on those messages feels encouraging now because I can see how far I’ve come and I can thank God for very specific moments of provision & strength. It’s sometimes easy to forget the little things that God did in the middle of the storm.

#4: Find a Trusted Texting Companion

Another great solution to help with the daily unexpected emotions is to find a friend who is willing to carry some of that burden by simply texting you and receiving texts. Someone who doesn’t mind getting random rants, outbursts and awkward play-by-play announcements. Tell this friend that they don’t have to solve your problems. They just need to listen (so to speak) and be a support.

It’s really important, however, that they are a trusted, mature person. A pastor, mentor or even a fellow church-member. Definitely not an immediate family member who is too close to the situation. You don’t want to cause unnecessary resentment and anger.

#5: Play the movie

Finally, Dr. Henry Cloud, in his book 9 Things you simply must do to be successful in love and life, has a memorable way of explaining that successful people make decisions based on subsequent consequences. They “Play the movie,” meaning that they think about how today’s actions and words will play out tomorrow, next month, and in the years to come. Thinking about the effects of a decision help you prepare, and maybe avoid future challenges.

Think about how your angry post about or at your spouse/ex-spouse hinders any healthy steps toward healing or hurts your attempts at reconciliation. Think about how your children will view your character, or the emotional burden that you’ve put on them by dumping on their parent. What are you teaching them?

Remember: Think twice. Post once.

See also ‘Five Facebook no-no’s for Divorcing Couples’ by Time Magazine.

A last word: You can choose

One challenge I didn’t anticipate, while writing these posts is that I may be quickly judging those of you who have already made false starts on your journey. It’s obviously hard to take back words that have been posted on Facebook. So for you, I would say that today is a new day.

You can choose to forgive yourself for yesterday’s mistakes. You can choose to seek forgiveness from anyone you may have hurt. You can also choose to start fresh today.

A hidden blessing in life is that you always have a choice to live today better than yesterday. You can’t control other people and their reactions, but you can choose to be proactive and make your own steps forward. Today can be filled with fresh opportunities to change for the better or you can live defeated and reactionary to the negative world around you. It’s your choice.

My hope is that you will choose to take control of the one thing you are responsible for, yourself. So if you are walking through relationship challenges today or find yourself in a separation and or a divorce, then please consider taking right steps so that you can navigate this storm in your life.

The real last word comes from the ancient book of Philippians, found in the New Testament of the Bible.

Phil. 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Thanks,

Dwayne

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Divorcing in a Facebook World (Part 2)

My First Post called Divorcing in a Facebook World (Part 1) can be found here.

This post today is solely aimed at trying to create some understanding and solicit some empathy for those who travel through the separation/divorce journey.

Everybody’s doing it

Divorces are all too common in our world. So the temptation can be to expect too much, too soon. After all, doesn’t divorce happen to half of those who marry? Many of those people seem to be doing just fine.

But that is like telling a pregnant mother not to complain or talk about the pain, just hurry up so we can see the baby. There are some things that a soon-to-be mother can do to help stay healthy and many things she can control about her behaviour, but there are going to be pains and there will be some unexpected emotions. A new life can happen once this is over,¬†but the pains are real and the process can’t be rushed.

Divorce really is like a Death

Those who walk through a separation/divorce feel various degrees of the stages of grieving. It’s true. Divorce is like experiencing the death of a loved one. With the experience comes denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I had a few mentors and friends tell me that I needed to be prepared for these stages. As much as I tried to deny it, they were right. Of course this previous sentence just proves which stage I was in while I was arguing my point. But they were giving good counsel to me. All of theses stages had recurring roles on this new life journey that I was on, and usually without warning.

What I also learned was that no one can be pushed through the stages. It’s important to let yourself be honest and feel everything that’s happening.¬†This blog post about forgiveness by Donald Miller¬†was actually very helpful for me when I was struggling with anger. It’s easy to just bury your emotions, but let yourself feel.

Worse than a death, perhaps?

So, what makes a Facebook divorce harder than dealing with the death of a loved one?

1. No Funeral

When someone dies, the typical support systems and rituals kick in and most people know how to respond. The funeral service and subsequent ceremonies bring people together. Friends and loved ones give flowers and cards, we all eat someone’s leftovers, laugh, cry, and just enjoy sharing physical space with others.

This doesn’t happen with any divorce that I’m aware of. People don’t gather together¬†to re-live the ups and downs of the now deceased marriage. They don’t read a eulogy, and nobody puts anything in the ground.¬†Rather, people become a little more distant.

Now with Facebook, people find it hard to share in the emotions of the moment. There is a disconnect usually because of distance, and as great as it is to get a personal message, not many are willing to travel to you to just be with you.

So Divorcing in today’s world means that you’ll never have the “I’ve been to the funeral, the ceremony is over, I witnessed the final goodbye and now it’s time to start my new life.” There is no ritual that sufficiently replaces this.

2. No Finality

So to go along with my first point, there never really is finality with a divorce. Even if the papers are signed and your spouse (ex-spouse) has moved away, they are never really gone. They haven’t left the planet.

On Facebook, this is just magnified. Common social connections exists and attempts at closure constantly hit speed bumps every time a new friend finds out about your life change. New emotions emerge when unexpected posts appear on your wall.

I didn’t personally have the online social challenges that some others have had, but I’ve witnessed cruel online interactions between couples and heard many stories. It’s heartbreaking. Thankfully that didn’t happen in my situation.

But my emotions were very fragile at times. Progress towards feeling ‘normal’ again¬†would get halted occasionally with even the most innocent of moments.¬†It would feel like someone was pressing a rewind button on my life again and again, and I couldn’t find the remote to make it stop.

3. No ‘Friends’

Ok, this may be an extreme statement, but there are many people who have hundreds of Facebook friends and hardly any are true friends. It is always my hope that there is at least one person who will reach beyond the screen to be a real support.

Unlike the masses of people who flock to you when a loved one dies, many friends react differently when you get separated or divorced. ¬†They are more distant. Some quickly judge your new status and don’t bother seeking to understand, only thinking the worst, while others just don’t know what to say. Maybe you chose to be silent.

Either way, this leaves you with less of a support than what you really need.

Now I’m not saying that you need all 600 of your closest friends trying to comfort you, but you do need to reach out to a few trustworthy friends. Otherwise, you will¬†very quickly fall into a trap of struggling to face daily expectations alone. Ordinary tasks become extraordinary climbs as your exhausting emotions result in a tired body and mind.

No hope?

So what can you do to overcome some of these challenges?

Let’s talk about that in the next post. There are some things that you can do if you are going through this. There are also actions that you can take if you are a family member or a friend of someone going through a separation or divorce.

Thanks for reading!

Dwayne

d:)

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Divorcing in a Facebook World (Part 1)

My Facebook Divorce

Facebook: A world where deeper holes can be dug, more people can get hurt, and unfair judgements can be formed quicker than ever before in history. In a split second, one button can be pressed and you can and have anything you want to say, displayed on hundreds of screens worldwide. The technology is remarkable, but the result sometimes can be devastating, if you’re not careful.

My name is Dwayne, and I am on the other side of a divorce in an age when Facebook rules as the most common method of communication between family, friends, acquaintances as well as other people whom you vaguely recall being connected to.

I love technology, but facing life’s storms in our Facebook culture is hard and in a sense we have all become mini-celebrities. We each have our own audiences and ‘fans’ who watch us air our dirty laundry. The only difference between us and real celebrities is that most of us don’t have publicists to help us prep our words.

So I’ve decided to create a conversation and write a few posts about divorce and Facebook. Probably as a bit of self-therapy, but also because I’ve noticed an influx of separations and divorces among some of the most unexpected people in my life. Good people, who for various reasons, find themselves in territory that I remember being in. Some of these people are doing their best to navigate their difficult situations but with every post and photo, I can sense that so much more is happening behind the screen. Others have disappeared completely and my prayer is that they are not trying to fight this battle alone.

From experience I can say that hope, love, and joy are all possible once this season in your life is over. But when you’re in the middle of it on Facebook, it’s way too easy to cause unnecessary pain that can have lasting implications. So my heart goes out to those who are presently struggling through this while trying to live a normal Facebook life. I know that it’s hard.

Divorce was never something that I anticipating happening in my life, of course, and while I was in the middle of this personal storm I exhibited various emotions. I would spend a lot of emotional energy seeking counsel and working through difficult decisions for my family, while at the same time, trying to keep myself physically and mentally healthy in order to stay focused at work.

Think twice. Post once.

My Facebook ‘strategy’ (for lack of a better term) at this time in my life was to mostly be silent with my Facebook activity. I really had to trust that people who really knew me, would be thinking the best and praying for me when they found out about my separation. So I only really opened up with a few people who I trusted and felt that I could lean on. If I did write something on my wall, I was careful to use a rule that my father would be proud of me for: measure twice, cut once, or in my case, think twice, post once.

My hope, as you read this series of posts, is that you simply resonate with some of the emotions and feelings that I express. You may be a person who is going through a separation yourself, or you may just be a friend of someone who is, but I hope that something in this will help bring about change for the better.

Divorce is like a death?

You may have heard this phrase before and I agree. Divorce is like a death. Life as you know it changes forever. But I would go further than this and argue that it’s worse than a death, and in our Facebook era, every challenge is exponentially greater. Today, it’s more difficult than ever to get through this stage in your life while staying sane.

So if you are interested, I would like to take time during my next post, to explain why I believe the Facebook age divorce is worse than a death. But until then . . . stay sane.

~ to be continued

d:)