I never thought clicking ‘unfriend’ could be so liberating. Until I understood why.
Sometimes, when there isn’t much else to do, I will scroll through Facebook, as many of us do. Over the past little while, I began to notice how many unfamiliar faces were popping up, and eventually, I began to recognize an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. Seeing faces of people along my journey, I could feel a ball of negative energy building up inside of me. For a long time I never understood it, nor did I give enough spotlight to deal with it. I had had a few casual conversations about the amount of “friends” I had accumulated on Facebook, and how I wished it wasn’t such an arduous task to whittle it down a little bit.
Nevertheless, one night I took to my Facebook page, and began scrolling through this 900+ list of people that I shared my internet self with. What I thought was going to be a quick clearing of old acquaintances, turned into something remarkably liberating.
As I began scrolling through images of familiar faces, I started to feel that familiar gut energy bursting with negativity. A face from high school, a face from camp, a face from an old job, a face matching a friend of a friend that I met at a party one time. Seeing all these faces at once made me feel one thing: bitterness. But how could I feel bitter toward so many people? What if they knew I felt this way about them? Had they really done anything to harm me, or create this ugly sensation in my mind?
Once I started the train of questions there was no turning back. What was happening?
I was matching faces to my own life experience. When I was in a period of doubt, confusion, and anxiety, anyone with a shred of certainty around me earned the privilege of deserving my emotional weight, all the stuff I never said out loud. When I was insecure, the people I was surrounded by became confident, and I hated them for that. Now hate is a strong word, and often we don’t want to admit to ourselves that we hate someone or something. So I would justify that bitter feeling by putting an easier term to it. Thinking to myself “I hate them for being so certain, they’re so full of it” or “They only THINK they’re happy”. As much as I don’t wish to admit it, the amount of bitterness I could simultaneously hold for various people was astonishing. Even worse, these may be people who see me positively, yet I would never be able to believe that behind my thick wall of blame.
Think about how you can listen to a song that reminds you of a certain time, and before you know it you are met with the same emotions you had once felt. the same thing happens with people, but we fail to label it as the feeling and instead we label the people as the source for our hurt.
I saw pictures of different people, I also saw pictures of my life where I was lost. Finally, I stopped ignoring the truth that was staring me right in the face.
First, I began to feel an immense amount of guilt. How could I blame all of these people, as if they are the source of my problems? I desperately hoped that my internal resentment had not reached the surface and made its way into anyone else’s consciousness. But I couldn’t be sure. Though I feared the thought of someone feeling rejected by my ‘unfriending’ I put aside my own pride, and took to unfriending like it was the last thing I would ever do.
I will not deny the reality of betrayal, lies, abuse, all of the things that do occur. The times where we need supernatural strength to forgive.
Yet, there is a kind of bitterness we (I) hold on to. It’s the one that makes people raise an eyebrow as we vent about all the ways the world is against us. Its the gossiping and the insulting and the anger that we attribute to all of the people who, as we believe, are causing us pain. It’s the blame we place on authority, institution, religion, systems and people. Not because what they are doing is wrong (though it happens), but because we are convinced that they are hurting us intentionally, and we want them to feel the pain that we feel.
We just don’t want to feel how we do, and so we try to project it onto other people, hoping that they can bear the weight of it. Most of the time we don’t intend to actually communicate this, or else we fail to recognize the problem, and allow a face to bring up all these emotions. Instead of seeing the pain we see a criminal, someone who played a part in life being difficult.
You see, I realized that there are a lot of people who have been in scenes of my life. The good and the bad. And it just so happens that some were there when I needed a hand but couldn’t ask for it. Eventually, it took a Facebook friend purge to help me realize that there was no one to blame for it all. And the more I held onto that blame, the more I would cause old wounds to resurface.
Healing has begun to take root and change the way I see my relationships. The more I can see someone as their own person, trying to find their way through life, the less I need to place on them the extra burden of all the ways that my life hasn’t exceeded my expectations.
Are you holding on to bitterness? Does it surface when you see your old high school friend, your old teammate, your uncle, classmate or co-worker? Do you let yourself shrink back into safety mode every time you see someone who was a bystander in the chaos of your life?
There are enough things in life that we cannot control. There are times when we will get angry, when we will feel betrayed. But if we let our skewed perspective of other people build a mountain of bitterness inside of us, something needs to go.
I get it, we don’t want to carry that weight ourselves, we want it to go away. But it’s not an effective strategy, and you will pay the price that you think someone else is supposed to.
Let go of bitterness, because it’s not doing you any favours.
To anyone that I may have blamed for my own battles, whether you could see it or not, I am sorry. And if you got unfriended, all clichés aside, it truly is not you, it’s me.