Connection, Gratitude, and Trolls
I decided that in 2022, I want to be very intentional about my social interaction online. I've had a really uneasy relationship with social media for a while now, fueled by how much distress I see about it in my younger clients. It's so good at giving the illusion of connection but true connection doesn't happen when we're exchanging photoshopped versions of ourselves, apparently living our best lives. Connection happens when we genuinely engage with each other without artifice, face-to-face, attuning to the energy between us. Laughing together. Crying together.
I think the way we use social media right now looks a lot like middle school popularity politics. How many of us still carry the scars on our psyche from things that happened during those years in our lives? I don't have a single client who remembers those years fondly. I certainly don't. But back in middle school, I didn't have the adult perspective to know how rare it is to find deep connection, and I tended to think of friendship as an infinite resource.
I know not everyone is like that. I see people who have had friends since grade school. Part of what fed my own social interactions at the time was the legacy of being an Army brat --get in, make friends fast, leave. Back in those days, we had to pay for long distance calls and I could never keep up with my pen pals. I still wonder what happened to the friends I made back then.
So, it's weird (hypocritical?) to be so grateful for the connections I've made here on my blog, and still so wary of the way social media is narrowing our interactions to sound bytes and flattering images. Maybe they are really just shades of the same thing. Since the omicron variant has been active, I've been seeing more of my clients via teletherapy and I notice that it's twice as hard to do the work that way, but it's still effective. Maybe the answer, as in every other issue, is a balance of the two.
That said, I'm still getting off of anything run by Facebook/Meta. I don't want to participate in that empire any longer.
Daily gratitude 7/365: coffee, walks, showers
Daily gratitude 8/365: movies, family, in-home Covid tests
Daily gratitude 9/365: our new King-sized bed, sunshine, optimism
Yesterday, I felt the unmistakable beginnings of a pain flare, and sure enough, this morning, my pain was pretty loud. My joints feel like there are little trolls in them, pushing the bones apart with all their might.
I was telling my partner that I could feel it coming and that it was really hard not to go into a dark spiral preemptively. Things have been getting better lately --I've had more good days than bad. Not one of the meds I have tried has proven effective but some of the lifestyle changes seem to be paying off, particularly not drinking alcohol. But it's always a work in progress to head off the catastrophic thinking and depression that are borne out of my experiences with chronic pain.
I try not to go there because that just takes me out of the actual suffering and borrows extra suffering from a different time. The brain has a bias for the negative. If you think about it, it was the human who ran away from the bear whose genes survived. The one who thought, "aw, how cute" got eaten.
So, today has been a struggle, and I am resisting the urge to get all, "but it's not as bad as it could be! I'm fine!" Chronic illness is soul-sucking and I don't want toxic positivity to rob people of sharing their lived experiences in this space. There's way too much of that in our world right now, and it's really painful for people who are struggling with any sort of chronic condition, be it mental or physical. It's enough to have to deal with the actual illness and pain, without also having to deal with some shame, as if being sick was a moral failing.
We are complicated beings. We can accept the reality of our illnesses and experience the grief around them while at the same time holding onto hope for some relief. One does not cancel out the other. Naming pain for what it is is not the same as admitting defeat.
Daily Gratitude 10/365: warmth, being heard, rest