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Bloody Facebook Makes Moving On After A Break Up So Damn Difficult

What? He's ENGAGED?!

23/03/2017 2:26 PM AEDT | Updated 23/03/2017 2:26 PM AEDT
Don Bayley
"It's exhausting to keep your heart protected in this environment."

It happened late one night, just a few months after our divorce was finalised.

One minute I was scrolling through tedious pics of sonograms and #smashedavocado, and the next minute I'm involuntarily typing HIS name into my Facebook page. There was honestly no rhyme nor reason to it, other than boredom and desperately trying to resist raiding the bikkie jar.

After months of systematically eradicating every memory of my ex, defriending him and making sure there was no visible trace of him to be found online or in reality, I'd managed to unravel all my hard work in a second. Well done me. The result of this pointless decision to look him up crushed me like I was the bottom brick of a Jenga tower.

There were the words: ENGAGED.

Sorry, what? ENGAGED?!

Hadn't he ended our marriage because he wasn't the marrying type?! Didn't he give up because he was a selfish arse and wanted to take his newfound career round the world living the dream -- without a wife?

Before Facebook, if we broke up with someone, that was it. Done. Bumping into our ex in the street or hearing about them through mutual friends was all we really had to worry about.

After my eyeballs fuzzed up by staring at that sickening word, I slowly found myself glaring at the picture to accompany the status. All smiles and sapphires. That bloody ring! I was outraged. Why did she need to point at it like that? It was the size of her head! I'm pretty sure her audience didn't need any help with playing "find the engagement ring in this pic!"

I'd needed a microscope to see any hint of stone action with my 2 for 1 wedding band and engagement ring deal. I hated him in that moment. All over again.

Once the jealousy floodgates opened, there was no stopping the negativity steam train. In it came, bulldozing its way over all the positive affirmations I'd tried so hard to implement and believe since the break-up.

I questioned (again) what was wrong with me. I got angry (again) about my single status and I grieved (again) for the life we were supposed to share and the kids we were supposed to have. The last year of progress I'd made getting over my marriage to a self-proclaimed commitment-phobe, suddenly felt like no progress at all.

With the word ENGAGED burning a hole in my recently glued heart, I felt like I was back at square one with the pain. The difference being, this was totally self-inflicted pain.

If I had simply closed my computer after that last inane status update about the increasing price of bananas ruining a friend's supermarket experience, I would be living in blissful ignorance of his pending nuptials.

I was beyond angry and hurt, and after the image of karate kicking him clean in the face subsided, it got me thinking about the torment Facebook causes after a break up. It may be a fabulous tool in terms of keeping up and keeping in touch, but not so fabulous at keeping us sane and pain-free after a break up.

Before Facebook (yes, this time existed) if we broke up with someone, that was it. Done. Bumping into our ex in the street or hearing about them through mutual friends was all we really had to worry about.

We didn't have to see them again if we didn't want to. We stayed away from places they'd be. We had far more control over how we got over them. But today, we are inundated with reminders of them and unavoidably see every move they make through 'check ins', new 'friends' and photos posted by anyone and everyone in his social circles.

It's exhausting to keep your heart protected in this environment.

When I broke up with my ex, I remember the high anxiety levels caused by wondering how and when I changed my relationship status. It seems so ridiculous now, but then it was literally one of the most terrifying issues within the break up process. And believe me, I'm not some chick that lives and dies by social media and spends hours constructing hilarious statuses, but suddenly I'd reverted back to being a paranoid vulnerable teenager in seconds.

The whole process was stressful, painful and triggered so many feelings of shame, embarrassment and ultimate sadness.

Should I change it before he did to spare myself that added pain and gain control back? Should I change it from 'married' to 'separated' or 'single'? And what about the comments I'd be flooded with when I made that choice? I really didn't want to air my dirty laundry to everyone and everyone's friends but any change I made to that one tiny bit of marital information would be making a statement and be out there for all to see.

The whole process was stressful, painful and triggered so many feelings of shame, embarrassment and ultimate sadness.

Now, years on from the divorce and happily partnered up with my new beau, (that's a whole other story), I still wonder about our Facebook fascination and the damage it can do to our self-esteem and sense of worth. It can't be ignored as a real third-party player in the game of love and heartbreak.

With that in mind, I've come up with a few tips to help retain your dignity and, importantly, moral compass, when dealing with a relationship breakdown in the Facebook era.

1) Don't air your dirty laundry online.

Have respect for yourself and the relationship you had. You are grownups, not children slinging mud in the playground. If you can without chasing him down the street with a kitchen utensil, discuss with your ex how to proceed to lessen the pain for both of you.

2) Think before you update. (But not until you are hyperventilating and rocking on the floor like a deranged person like I did.)

There's nothing worse than seeing someone continuously move from 'in a relationship' to 'single' every week. Question why you are doing this. Is it for sympathy from friends, or a dig at your on-again, off-again ex? Either way it's probably not a healthy relationship if you are using this technique to make a point.

3) There is no healthy outcome to stalking.

You WILL see something you wish you hadn't at some point. Stalking will keep you caught up in the drama, obsession and anger, and perhaps drive you to do things that you wouldn't usually do. Try to hold yourself back. If you need to block him to get on with your life, do it.

4) Use Facebook with integrity. (Well, as much as you can, none of us are saints.)

Ask yourself if you are using Facebook as a revenge tool. Are you posting amazing pictures of you doing amazing things with amazing half-naked models? Are you frantically checking in at a million places in one hour? If the answer is yes, a Facebook time out might be the key until you can process your real emotions.

5) Finally, remember, people don't usually post unflattering or sad pictures of themselves for all to see.

Facebook is a glamourized reality, you don't really know what's going on behind those Colgate smiles, so don't make up stories of the perfect life your ex is having with someone else: concentrate on perfecting your own.


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