For a long time now, I’ve been in a place where viewing the lives of friends through the window of Facebook is incredibly painful. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just enjoy the happy happenings of others instead of being overcome by my own piercing grief, frustration, and regret?
I checked my page today and saw a lot of posts from folks, many of whom I have not seen since I got sick. They’re experiencing all kinds of major life events. Meanwhile I’m facing major limitations.
An old friend posted a family photo from the college graduation of his firstborn, a young woman I have known since she arrived in the world the same summer as my daughter. I feel nostalgic for those faraway days of new parenthood when my whole life was ahead of me. And I feel saddened by how much Lyme held me back from planning for and fully enjoying my own daughter’s recent graduation 21 years later.
Then there was the photo of an a new baby I haven’t met because I wasn’t at work when his mom returned from maternity leave. And there was news that a colleague married his college sweetheart; I’m not at work to congratulate him in person, though I think of him fondly.
Here’s a question that comes to mind looking at Facebook today: When you are out on disability, are these people still your colleagues? Are they former colleagues? I definitely feel like I am in limbo here.
Everyday posts hurt, too: A friend who comments she’s ecstatic to run three miles, when I haven’t been able to work out in two-plus years. A cute photo of the gals from the neighborhood who went to the pool over the holiday weekend while I was at home collapsed, too sick to move.
I’m embarrassed to admit that these posts about others having fun and enjoying life bother me so much. I know I’m having a pity fest. But I hate not being able to 99 percent of the things I used to do.
I’m tired of pushing through Lyme symptoms to do a few things, then spending the rest of my time lying down and feeling worse from the effort. I’m supremely frustrated that even writing short blog posts is difficult for me, while others I know are packing in tons of productive things every single day.
Consequently, I don’t check my Facebook page much any more. And I’ve withdrawn from asking friends to stop by and visit. But I have to say, that doesn’t feel like me, protecting myself by withdrawing.
On the worst days, thinking about life before Lyme, I completely lose my sense of self. Or, of the self I used to be. I was always the person in the midst of everything.
Sadly, over these past three years I haven’t gotten much better at handling these negative feelings, even though I know they are dragging me down, even though I know the stress is likely harming my immune system and actually impeding my recovery.
So today I’m renewing my promise to myself to take joy in the lives of others instead of focusing on my own losses and limitations. I’m turning off my computer and making some calls to request in-person visits. Virtual friends have their place, but right now I don’t want Facebook. I need face time.
If you can relate, please share.