I had spent a lot of late night talking with men online.
I'd been at it for a few years. I was lonely and didn't know what I wanted except that vague, 'to be loved and understood', but couldn't put what were desires of my heart into practice, and words made it worse. I would flounder and end up feeling dissatisfied, hollow and sad.
More than anything, I wanted another human being in the middle of the night to talk to.
A lot of the men were looking too. No...all of them, all of us, were. Are. Why else would we be online if not to connect. Unless....we were doing research. I met a few of them too. They wouldn't admit to it but would slip up somehow...they were doing a paper, they were working on a film, they had a stand-up act, etc. I was to be their guinea pig or one of several, lucky me.
Thankfully, I caught on earlier so I fucked with them. As dishonest as they were to their motives, they were so superficially comical that I didn't take it personally. It was the friends and potential romantic interests that I felt hurt by the most. People who pretended to like 'my stuff' or worse, tell me they didn't have time or didn't get to it yet but made sure I received multiple notifications and tags of their own offerings. I began to delete with impunity the work of anyone who wouldn't be mutually respectful.
Many of them wanted to talk about sex but sexy talk is so intimate to me that I found it nearly always impossible to interact in this manner with strangers.
Some of them were content to message back and forth on assorted forums and social media. One or two wanted to see me so Skype was the viable option for those I fancied, if distance was a factor. I don't count the streams of men who didn't request but demanded we sex chat, sext, or cam-turbate because I never took them seriously and yes there were one or two I shared a little fantasy with, then logged off and cried, empty, lonely and longing for warm strong arms around me and a kiss.
How long and how many it took to make me realize the internet wasn't the place for me to find love or even meaningful friendship, not the right fit or medium and the last one in whom I'd seen much more than potential but the genuine admiration and appreciation of his 'now' and he wouldn't be bothered with talking to me without a game or documentary playing in the background or in another window and I felt ashamed and foolish.
I'd broken my own internet rule made after a very public humiliation and had only myself to blame. I cried myself to sleep. Angry that I felt disrespected and unappreciated and undesired by him but enraged at myself for caring what a relative stranger who hadn't even asked me for my phone number, thought.
A few days before, on my late sister's birthday, a holiday, I'd written a letter as a way of getting rid of the old in time for the new year. It was a list of people I needed to forgive, to release and be free myself. My own name was on there. For some reason this man's name strongly came to mind and I couldn't push it away although I reasoned that he hadn't really wronged me. Still, I wrote it down, thanked him for enriching my life and for being a catalyst in revealing further how I didn't want or deserve to be treated, and what I did want in a partner. I prayed and meditated, blessed him and everyone else, burnt it and threw the ashes in the icy lake.
Fast forward a few nights later and we're having our last conversation in which I try one last time to engage him and failed miserably. I finally told him goodnight, that I was uncomfortable and felt bad and I didn't like feeling that way so I'd see him around. He apologized but I knew it was the right thing for me to do. I realized then why his name was on the list. I freed both of us from resentment, guilt or expectation and I was filled with peace.
Two days later, I deactivated my Facebook account.
People will strongly protest that one can only be addicted to a substance that alters brain chemistry and they'd be accurate to a point. However, neuroscience tells us that even our thoughts create neural structures and have the potential to cause (thought into action) bad habits, infinite loops, negative thinking, depressive cycles, etc. Additionally, our minds have a built-in negative-bias which means we automatically assume or think the worst and for every negative thought, it must be balanced by five times as many positive thoughts.
Bearing that in mind, my participation on Facebook, was largely positive and I'd chosen over time to surround myself with more and more uplifting, encouraging, positive people and if they weren't as realized as they desired, they were at least trying very hard to evolve into the joyful people they deserved to be.
I admired their efforts to continue working to better themselves and to do as little harm as possible and they appreciated me. I wanted to attract the kind of person I wanted to be and met via internet, was blessed with, in fact, hundreds of friends and acquaintances, many of whom have touched me deeply with their love and trust, something I don't take for granted.
But I felt taken for granted and unappreciated. Ego aside, we do not live in a bubble of rarified air. We need each other. I felt unneeded, unwanted, unlovable. My friends said, but I need you, I want you, I love you, but they didn't understand that one can feel unbearably lonely in a crowded room.
Part of Zen Buddhism is to let thoughts, ideas and events pass through you, to live in the moment and not be resistant. To even deny a thought was to entertain it, so accept, let it roll and continue to breathe and live and let live.
However, whenever I logged in, I felt shackled to the memory of my mistakes, my flaws and my own hypocrisy. And there were plenty of people who would pounce to remind me of them. Who'd look for any crack in the new person I was becoming. To dissect the hypocrisy in my self-improvement, condemn me for what I'd said and done in the past, regardless of whether I'd renounced or repented.
Reviewing my own actions, I'd noted that every time I felt rejected, betrayed or heartbroken, I'd post sad song links, defiant quotes and inspirational statuses to sooth my wounded ego and I clearly saw the inauthenticity of my own actions and that I was investing too much energy into people or rather the internet persona of strangers who didn't know me any more than I knew them.
Whatever you read here or there (should I return) or in a number of forums, groups and boards, you only see a part of me. What you do see is honest, and funny and yes dramatic and it's all me but not all of me.
If you live with someone for a great length of time like a spouse, parent or child, you'd be surprised if you haven't discovered already by the whole world inside them that you don't know them. You can embrace this truth as something that frees you because it enables you to anticipate learning more, or it imprisons you because you'll never be quite sure and they can always change (or rather, unfold) and that would affect you in some way so imagine what you don't know about the people you interact with in social media and on the internet at large as opposed to people you interact with in the physical world and here I was crying over a stranger's rejection of me.
So I had to stop and reassess. I lessened participation in that which no longer served me. I removed a great deal of what I was able to from those places, like photographs and profile data. I wanted to start fresh regardless of what anyone thought. I couldn't live my life based on the approval of anyone, anymore and that included family, romantic interests, and yes, even friends.
I made lists. What I Love About Myself was a great one. It reminded me of how awesome I am all by myself. Then I made a list of what I wanted to do or at least begin in earnest this new year and then began to act on them. I chose to fill my schedule with as much as time and my energy would allow.
I joined a gym. What a comedy of errors. On the first day after noob class, I got on a treadmill for the first time ever and threw up after five minutes. To my shame I was only walking at 1 mph if my reading the the screen is accurate (very doubtful though). Then, as I was leaving the ladies room, I banged my head on a door and saw stars circling my head and felt the beginning of the lump it would impressively grow to. I left early, making a new appointment for machine training first because I'm driven to keep doing and living even if it kills me.
On the way home, my car overheated. Twice.
I stayed in bed the next day and watched the bruise change colors every time I walked past the mirror next to my bedroom door. I took down the mirror. I felt pitiful and miserable but alive. I'll keep doing because to paraphrase Yoda, '....there is no 'try''.
I miss my Facebook friends. I feel guilty that some have mistaken my account deactivation for unfriending them especially since those particular people who assume are the least likely I'd ever deliberately hurt and I care a great deal about.
There was no big announcement that I'd be leaving because I didn't want it to be perceived as some drama-seeking stunt. I told maybe five people who I knew would physically seek me out, to avoid alarm. It wasn't my intention for anyone to be hurt, to assume they'd done something wrong, because I know acutely what that feels like.
I have to reorganize and take care of myself. There can't be any more tears on Facebook, Yahoo IM, forums, boards and groups, at least, not for myself.
I've overcome a lot in the past two years, and survived a great deal in the past 11. It's no longer a matter of 'it's time' because I've been doing that for a while now. It's a matter of ...Phase II, perhaps. Last year was focusing on inner-health, spiritual, emotional and psychological. This year, that continues but I want to concentrate on fitness, stamina, flexibility, healthy living and participating physically in groups where I meet like-minded people, so I've joined Lightworker groups, meditation groups, am planning a trip to a Buddhist temple, a Universalist church, etc. I'm picking up guitar lessons and learning to knit and crochet. I want to learn how to drive a stick shift and properly horseback ride. I want to finish at least one book, publish and travel extensively.
I have list as long as my arm and keep finding new things to add. My life really began a year and a half ago. I have court in three weeks and it's going to be a big one and while anxious I also feel unbelievably empowered and it's not just the radiance on the outside. No matter what happens, I'll know that I'm true to myself and growing and changing. I probably will return to Facebook simply because I miss my friends although it's only been two weeks but I had to prove to myself that this is my life and I am what I make of it and not let addictions rule me. I've beaten every single addiction and bad habit I've embraced and won't be enslaved again.
I look at this less as a series of New Year's resolutions that wither when good intentions are forgotten than a period of getting to know me because I hadn't really, for so long.
This is my life and I'm going to live it.