It is really hard to cut a person out of your life. Even when it’s the right thing to do. Even when it’s necessary. Even when you believe with all of your heart that it’s the best thing for that person in that moment.
And especially when that action of walking away from a single human being severs your connection with others.
Once I went through a breakup and watched his family unfriend me on social media sites one by one by one. Something about that still stings although nearly a year has passed—being so intentionally unloved by people I love to this day.
But I think that’s the problem. The way I keep people. The way I want to cradle the whole world close to my heart. It’s a question I’ve been asking for years. Long after I was too old for the asking. With every stranger I make the briefest connection with: “Mommy, can I keep him?”
Sometimes I can’t. In fact, more often than not, I cannot hold people the way I want to hold them. So I love the whole world from a distance, all the while wishing for a deeper connection than the tenuous thread reality has to offer.
More, I think. We were made for more than these meaningless motions we go through. We were made to keep people for real.
So I tried. And I failed in the most monumental of ways.
I’m going through somewhat of a breakup. It feels strange to call it that when there has truly been nothing there, at least in my mind. Working in a restaurant, especially one that has a bar, puts you in a position to invest in the lives of people who frequent that place on a daily basis. Apparently it also puts you in a position to become something toxic to a marriage that has been struggling for years.
I didn’t think it would be this hard. To step back. To create some much needed distance between myself and the man I’ve been casually chatting with at least three days a week for the last couple of months.
It’s hard when habit leads my feet in the direction of his table. When he comes in with his friend I haven’t seen in sometime and it hits me like a sucker punch to the gut when I realize I can’t stop by to say hello. It’s amazing how the disappointment crumples me.
Yes, it is hard to cut people out of your life, but sometimes it’s all too easy to let them go.
That’s what I think about as I attempt to distract myself with another dirty table, another stack of dishes, another drink that may not actually need refilled.
It is all too easy to drift in and out of someone’s life without actually taking the time to make a connection. Oh, we fool ourselves into thinking we are connected. What with Facebook and Instragram and Twitter. We push “friend” and “follow” and convince ourselves that, through these shallow glimpses into another person’s life, we somehow know them. As if we don’t realize how misleading social media can be.
Last night, a complete stranger said to me, “Do you dance? You have the body of a dancer.”
And I laughed because this lady does not know how truly uncoordinated this body can be. While I may be slender as a ballerina, you will never find me in a pair of Pointe shoes. Because my body lies.
And so does my newsfeed.
Nowhere amidst the Fearless quotes and the pictures of babies and the endless raving about extraordinary books does social media say, “I’m struggling here. I’m fighting an uphill battle and I’m losing so hard.”
Social media never provided anyone with the opportunity to say, “But how are you really doing?”
I find myself missing those days in which I sat in my co-worker’s office as he asked me what I was doing there and how long I was planning to stay and what did I actually want out of life. I always found myself unmasked in that office. There is something so freeing about letting the pretenses fall away.
These days I find myself believing the lies social media offers. It’s easier that way.
Sometimes I comfort myself with the knowledge that the nearest person is only a phone call, a text message, an email away, but I can’t remember the last time I capitalized on the opportunity to actually grab the phone and pull them a little closer for the day.
I have the phone number of an old friend. It has been sitting on my bookshelf for three months. I’d say she is waiting for me to call her, but she has probably forgotten she gave it to me by now. Life probably keeps her so distracted she hardly cares either way.
I entitled this post “Breaking Up with Social Media,” but I’m not declaring an internet fast. I’ll still be on there just as much, sharing the pretty pieces of my life. But I hope to be more intentional outside of the internet. I hope to ask the hard questions. I hope to finally make that phone call. I hope to be strong and keep avoiding that table, but never stop trying to keep people. Just keep them.
Close to my heart. Close to my mind. Closer than the internet allows them.
Yes, I’m breaking up with social media, looking past the lies, and scavenging for something real today.