Don’t feel guilty.
At least once a month I’ll denounce Facebook. The reasons vary – sometimes I’m just fed up of the oversharers, other times I realise just how much time I’m wasting looking at cat videos or pointless but highly amusing Poke or George Takei posts. I also regularly get the shits over learning important news via a status update – entirely my own fault for not picking up the phone and catching up with friends or family – but having a sneaky glance at friends’ photos or walls somehow unconsciously takes the edge off the need to connect and I can somehow trick myself that I’m still in the loop.
No one to blame but myself!
But every now and then something hits deeper and causes more anxiety and sadness than should be experienced browsing through a newsfeed in a spare 5 minutes – and I’m not even talking about the awful child cruelty or animal atrocities that are shared on a regular basis in a seemingly futile attempt to spread the word about issues without actually taking any affirmative action whatsoever. No – the post that got me this week was shared on a parenting group I’m a member of and was one of the saddest things I’ve read – it was a mother’s detailed and harrowing account of her stillborn child and how it had left her feeling. I have no issue with the content – although hard to read there is most definitely a healing quality to sharing and writing and the post seemed originally intended for the writer’s friends and family – maybe to explain in one go their sad ordeal and save having to relive it each time – but reaching the end of the post the message intended was delivered. There will be times when you are frustrated – sleepless nights and constant crying – and rather than feeling sad, frustrated or angry you should remember her story as she would give anything to have what you have. The only problem I can see is that next time a new mum is crying from exhaustion and frustration as her baby cries and cries and she is helpless to help she will remember this story and have guilt to add to her already sad and confused brain. Not only will she be crying for her baby but also for this poor woman’s story and the pain she now feels that she is not coping and not appreciating everything she has. Unfortunately the mind doesn’t work that way. Hearing a super sad story does not somehow make you happier with what you have – if you are already feeling vulnerable and sad – thinking of someone worse off than you is not going to help you feel better. This is not an isolated post – it happens all the time – people share sad stories to make you hug your kids longer or dust yourself off and stop complaining about your broken toe when someone has lost their leg but the wrong message is getting out there.
Let’s send prayers and hugs and love and hope for healing to this family but please don’t think you are unworthy of what you have when you feel sad, angry or frustrated or need to whinge and whine and drink lots of alcohol by the end of the day.
Hug your kids a bit longer every day – smile at your neighbour – buy your partner chocolates and flowers and sexy undies – but not because something horrible could happen. Do it for the joy of it. And you know what – yell at your kids too when they need it. Give that same neighbour the finger if they mow their lawn at 7am on a Sunday. Throw a glass of wine at your significant other and go to sleep on an argument without punishing yourself for it. And do this because nobody is perfect. We are all human – for the good and the bad and the tragic. Just do your best and expect nothing more from anyone else.