The text came at night, around 7:30pm our time, without any lead up or previous conversations. I read it like I was reading a foreign language. I had to read it at least twice to understand what it meant.
“More Facebook? Is that really the best avenue to communicate such a message. A little advance warning would have been appreciated.”
I had no idea what he was talking about at first, more Facebook? What did I do before? We had just recently agreed to get a divorce, we were getting along in a surprisingly platonic, friendly manner.
He’s not even on Facebook! What could he possibly be annoyed by this time? And how?? I felt scared, as usual. I’ve been living most of my life with him trying not to make him angry, and dreading his reactions.
It wasn’t something I posted, after all. It was a message sent to his family that I was “friends” with on Facebook. A private message, not a fully public post. I told them about our decision to divorce. I told them because I needed them to know so they wouldn’t be surprised, or angry, or offended when I cut them loose from my friend list. I told them that I needed space. I needed privacy. Yes, privacy on social media, as ironic as that sounds. I needed to have a place in my universe that I was still allowed to be me, not his wife, or soon to be ex-wife, watching my behavior so he doesn’t look bad. Always aware and protecting his image, at the cost of my self worth and self esteem.
After months of trying to keep smiling, watching my online behavior and pushing forward with my ‘normal’ life following our official, consensual separation, it felt too heavy and too difficult to continue. I felt stuck, silenced, anxious about anything I said, posted or wanted to post. Can I tell people? What can I say? How do I tell them? When?
And while I admit that Facebook and other social media are frivolous, time wasting activities, they are a social and mental outlet for many people – myself included.
I responded that I was sorry for not giving him ‘advance warning’, but I was not going to discuss it by text. Things get misconstrued and misunderstood in text.
Once we spoke on the phone, his tone softened, he actually seemed to understand where I was coming from and why. He had heard about it from a cousin who isn’t even on Facebook, but his cousin had heard it from his sister who is.
Then he told me about ‘the other time’ my social media behavior was embarrassing to him. Each of his brothers called him to ask if we were getting divorced, because of something I had posted about divorce. I searched my memory, even scrolled through my profile, and had no clue what they were seeing or talking about that would lead them to that conclusion. Nothing on FB that I could tell. I explained that I do have friends getting divorced – or who already have – so maybe I “liked” something?
Later that night, I looked at Pinterest to unwind…and it clicked. I had pinned one pin with a divorce reference. One. Out of my 88 boards, with over one thousand pins. And one of his relatives (a sister in law?) saw it, because she ‘follows’ me, and instead of reaching out to me to ask about it, she told her husband. She is still ‘following’ me. Pinterest doesn’t have a way to delete a follower, that I can figure out, which feels oddly uncomfortable now.