Thursday, November 18, 2010

Setting Boundaries in Social Networking - My Facebook Fast

My sister and I have recently established our own girly ritual. Every week we drop everything we're doing and meet up for coffee. We sit for hours and just chat. It keeps us connected. I love it. A few weeks ago she brought me a set of Joyce Meyer CDs entitled "The Safety Zone: Establishing Boundaries that De-Stress Your Life" - YAY! Just my cup of tea... or organically grown coffee in this case, because that's what my sister and I sip during our chats. This morning I finally got around to listening to the discs and it dawned on me how seriously out of balance my life has been lately.

I've blogged before about setting healthy boundaries in my life and getting my priorities straight. The two go hand-in-hand for me. Well, it's time for me to set some boundaries again. I've been working like a crazy person, trying to juggle my social networking time with my blogging time with my God time with my family time with my friends time with my "me" time. Notice the order of those priorities? Yeah. Me too. SERIOUSLY out of order.

Something happened in October. My life went bonkers. My oldest son joined Scouting. My youngest son's neurological disorder started causing him some problems. My driver's license expired and we didn't have the money for renewal so I had to schedule everything around my poor husband's work hours and he had to do all of the errand-running. My kids both suddenly hit a growth spurt and outgrew their clothes so I was scrambling to try to make sure they had enough to get them through the month. Halloween drove me insane because this year's trick-or-treat was on my tenth wedding anniversary and we were scheduled to attend a fall Boy Scout camp that weekend. Some personal things happened in my extended family and some boundaries needed to be set but I just didn't do it. I tried to be Super-Woman. HELLO? Did I not learn ANYTHING over the last year of my journey? The joy's hard to find when you won't slow down enough to see it. Practice what you preach, Meggs!

Now, I have an immense network of people I consider friends - yes, actual friends - whom I've met online and communicate with solely through Facebook. But the truth is, I've allowed Facebook to become a time-sucking vampire in my daily life. If I'd have had the good sense to just drop my laptop for a break every now and then when all of this over-scheduling and drama-dodging started, I'd have never gotten burned out to the point that I had to slam on the brakes and totally walk away from Facebook. But nooooo. I had ZERO established boundaries on Facebook. I told everybody everything, and it was completely unnecessary. Here's the thing... I'm pretty sure that while some of my pals find it entertaining to know what I had for supper, who I got to visit with today, where I went shopping this morning or what I plan to do for date night, they're not going to die without that information. I have no idea how in the world I got so cocky that I believed the whole Facebook world would fall apart if I decided to leave it behind for a while. How self-centered and ridiculous is that? I mean, really! My Facebook friends were fine before they met me, and they'll be fine if I decide to take a break every now and then. My world does not need to revolve around disclosing every single detail of my daily life on a social networking site.

As Joyce Meyer says, it's time for me to let go of culturally imposed pressure and stress. She has a great point. These days in America it is almost fashionable to be stressed out. Well, I've never really been a 'fashionable' girl, so I'm ready to go against the grain here and tell you that I've had enough. I am not Super-Woman. I am absolutely unashamed to tell you that. As a matter of fact, I'm kind of proud of myself for being able to drop the "keeping up with the Facebookers" mentality. I am not the queen of Facebook. I'm sure my friends don't need - or WANT - to know every move I make.

Have you ever felt pressured to be on Facebook or Twitter or MySpace just because you felt it was 'expected' of you? Is your News Feed a constant contest between you and your friends to see who's got the most drama, the most difficult job, the most loaded schedule, the cutest kids, etc? I'm just wondering if I'm the only one who's allowed social networking to suck the life out of me? I'd love to know your take on social media and where it sits on your priority list.

I have no idea how long my Facebook 'fast' will last. I'm just gonna go with the flow. Thanks to Networked Blogs, new blog posts will automatically show up on my Wall so my friends and followers will still know when something new comes along. So...I'm gonna go do something productive for now... and I will not be updating my Facebook status to tell you what it is. Ha!.

Until next time... may you be blessed - and inspired to pass it on!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Thoughts: Oprah's "200 Men" Episode

"Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different. It's accepting the past for what it was and using this moment - using this moment - and this time to help yourself move forward."

Oprah Winfrey recently dedicated an entire episode of her show (November 4, 2010) to allowing 200 brave men to share their stories of childhood sexual abuse. (Click here to watch the full episode via Oprah's website.) I typed my thoughts as I watched because I wanted to open up a discussion thread about it on my support group's Facebook page. I've copied and pasted these thoughts here because I know some of you aren't members of the group... but I want to hear what you have to say in reaction to the show as well. Feel free to discuss things in the comment section, even if you disagree with something I've said. I think it's incredibly important to get some dialogue going about male survivors and how we can help them talk about their experiences. Please pardon the format. I wanted to break it down so you could sort of follow along if you haven't watched yet or if you want to pull the show up and see exactly what parts of the show I'm discussing here - time stamps for each item are in parentheses.

#1 (00:01) - The opening shot of all the men with their pictures got me all choked up. I know some of these guys through the online support group and through Facebook... and to see them with their pictures just brings home the point that for most of us this happened when we were so young and so vulnerable... heartbreaking.

#2 (04:20) - Watching Tyler Perry talk about how he feels lighter since he publicly disclosed the abuse... makes me happy. I hope more people (especially men) will learn that it's okay to talk about this. There are two men in my life who I know were victims of CSA and due to society's "man up" attitude, they both are suffering with a lot of shame. I realize female survivors have stereotypes to overcome as well. I'm not trying to discount that.

#3 (06:24) - The number of men abused by more than one person blew my mind. I had two perps, one as a child and one as an adult. Wonder how many women have been abused by more than one person?

#4 (08:25) - To hear them talk about grooming, it makes me wonder where my "grooming" began. Since I have no memory prior to the abuse... makes me feel icky to think about it. Just wondering if any of you remember your grooming, or was it such a way of life that you just don't know it even happened?

#5 (10:45) - There's a man on the show (one of the identical twins) who talks about his heart breaking when he sees his son because his son is the spitting image of him at that age. My son looks a lot like I did as a child and sometimes when I see him feeling free and happy and playing like he hasn't a care in the world, it makes me sad. I don't remember having that freedom... and quite frankly it angers me.

#6 (13:05) - I'm listening to these twins talk about the abuse they experienced at the hands of these priests. I want to break something. I am physically shaking as I type this. Outraged. People who perpetrate any kind of abuse - especially this kind - deserve the harshest kind of punishment.

#7 (14:54) - I love how Oprah talks about the fact that the shame/guilt is not ours to hold on to, and how the pain is huge no matter how when/what/who/why/where things happened to us. I get really upset sometimes when people turn their abuse stories into a competition. If it hurt, it hurt. Period. There's no reason for us to discount our own experience just because we think it wasn't "as bad" as someone else's.

#8 (19:39) - Speaking of how we were changed because of the abuse, how we never know who we would have been... how it changes who we think we are... I don't struggle with that anymore. I don't live in that anymore... but I know it was a huge hang-up for me on my healing journey early on. I know a lot of people who live in that bitterness of "damn you, you ruined me" and I totally get it.

#9 (21:04) - I like what Oprah and Tyler say about taking your power back from your abuser. That forgiveness doesn't mean saying, "That was okay what happened to me." It means "I am not gonna let you continue to hold the reigns over my life." "Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different. It's accepting the past for what it was and using this moment - using this moment - and this time to help yourself move forward." Love that.

#10 (25:00) - When Oprah speaks of never knowing what's going on inside the homes on your block - that hits me hard... there was a huge group of kids within a two block radius of my house and I have ZERO doubt in my mind that every SINGLE child in my circle of super-close childhood friends was being abused in some way. I realize a certain amount of curiosity is normal in kids, but this group of kids I played with knew WAY, way too much about sex and foreplay type stuff. Freakish to think about now as an adult, that normal play with my neighborhood friends was like "Let's play orgy." Disgusting. Thoroughly disgusting to think that we hardly ever played "normal" childhood games.

#11 (28:40) - Oprah says feeling shame is a natural process to have to go through when you are abused. Great point, and again, love what they said earlier about how it's healing to let go of that shame when you learn that it's not yours, that it belongs on the abuser.

#12 (I'm not sure at which point this one dawned on me, I must have zoned out and had a moment to myself here.) - Re: drug use... I tried drugs at 14. I think I was just curious about them at the time because it never went further until later in my life and I don't think I truly, consciously connected it to my abuse until just this past year, but I know I eventually started turning to my migraine headache medicine to put me to sleep when I was a teen. I don't think I knew why I wanted to do it. I just did. I just wanted to sleep all the time. ALL the time. I remember a point in my life, especially as a teenager, when the only things I thought about were sleeping, eating, and thinking of a way to die and make it look like an accident so my family wouldn't have to deal with me anymore.

#13 (31:46) - Regarding the mother who is still with the abusive father, I still have some anger toward people who enable my abuser and protect him from dealing with what he did to me and the way his own abuse affected him. I also feel a HUGE amount of guilt for not reporting the guy who raped me. I wish I could remember his name. I would go report it now if I could.

#14 (35:11) - Statistics: 1 in 6 boys. Oprah's question: Why don't we know this? The men say being a boy, the sense that they felt complicit because their bodies responded... the attention... kept them silent. Same things that keep a lot of women silent. I really hope someday the guys can see that they have a lot in common with us as female survivors... they keep describing some of the EXACT SAME THINGS that we go through as girls. A lot of girls get labeled as easy, stupid, complicit, seductors, etc. It breaks my heart that some men feel like they can't trust us to support them because we're women. Vice versa, a lot of women don't trust men to help them either. I get it, but we need to find some common ground to get this BREAKING THE SILENCE thing rolling.

#15 (Just some final thoughts.) - Can't wait for the next show, which will focus on the partners, wives, and parents/families of these men. (November 12, 2010. Check your local listings for show times.) I'll be doing the same commentary type blog soon after it airs. I am so grateful for these fellas who came together to talk about it all. ♥

What are your thoughts? Ladies? Gentlemen?
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