I am a Facebook fan. I like to post positive thinking quotes to keep myself and my ‘friends’ engaged in forward thinking, and I love to post pictures of my teenagers, who I simply adore. But after divorcing the man I loved for nearly half of my life, and then finding the man I believed I had been searching for my entire life, I began revealing my love story Part II to the homes of my fb friends. I didn’t always know people were reading, or following. Sometimes they would respond, sometimes not. There were some likes, and some comments, and I presumed, some eye-rolling as well. But hey, can’t please everyone, right?
I wasn’t flaunting. Or was I? It didn’t feel that way when I posted each morning. It felt like ‘sharing’. I wanted the world, the universe, to know how happy I was. I wanted my friends to know I was going to be okay. I wanted them to see my smiles. I wanted those that were already happy, to feel relieved that I was now happy too. I wanted others to know that happy could be right around the corner, without even knowing it. I wanted the dreamers to not give up, but to keep digging. I wanted everyone to have his or her turn at happy.
Sometimes I was surprised by the words of friends I rarely saw. “I’ve been following your love story,” they’d say. “It’s so great to see you happy. “
I thought, really? But it gave me even more reason to keep posting. After all, it made me feel good and it seemed like others felt good seeing it too.
Until my relationship, the one I was sure was going to be the ‘last’ stop, actually ended. It was a great loss in my life, and a painful empty that would not be filled quickly. Yet even with the pain, and disappointment, I wanted to reach out to my fb ‘friends’. But what would I say after all that I had already told them? What could I possibly say without feeling like a fraud? Yet once I hit ‘status’, seeing that empty space for me to write, my inner voice knew just what to share.
Sometimes, where you were, was not at all where you were intended to be.
So began the unveiling of the breakup, the loss and the sadness and then, of course, the sympathetic inbox messages.
The one that continues to amaze me most is, ‘I can’t believe it, you guys looked so perfect on fb.’
Still makes me laugh now when those words fall from someone’s mouth. Yeah, well we tried to only post the good ones. I mean, come on…fb only shows half the picture, right? The best ones we can find. The retakes. The ones that didn’t get dumped in the trash. The ones after a great weekend, not after a really big fight.
It did make me wonder, though, about half-truths, about what we share with our fb friends and about what others are thinking as they scroll through your pictures that offer nothing to their life. What makes us care about pictures on a friend’s wall that we haven’t seen in some 30 years? Why does it make us smile and feel connected when we are hardly connected to it at all?
Well, I decided to do my own research to find out why and I began with a friend who was introduced to me about 2 years ago, who was fresh out of a painful marriage/divorce. I think we were introduced so that I could help her…give her some positive reinforcement about getting out there again, living her life, starting over and being excited about the endless possibilities. Though I’m not sure I fulfilled that purpose at all. In fact, I think I needed her, more than she needed me.
I listened carefully to her ‘story’. We all do have a good divorce story and divorcees are quick to be just the shoulder needed. Much of the story sounded the same as so many of us, except for the part my brain couldn’t let go of. It seemed that somehow, I do not know how, she was reconnected with her high school sweetheart. What? And as miserable as she was about her divorce, she was quite giddy about this reconnection with a man from about 30 years ago, who just happened to also be divorced. What?
I went right into my own therapeutic rationalization about how this could not work. I mean, that was a long time ago! Surely things, I mean, basically EVERYTHING, had changed since then and come on, this had to be a rebound or perfect transitional relationship to ease her back into the world of being single again. Right? Or was it perfect timing?
Those were just my thoughts though. I did not say anything even remotely close to that and instead listened in awe. I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason, so maybe reuniting with him was just what she needed to get the spring back in her step. In my head, though, I had a real loud story about it. Which stayed there. In my head, that is. From there, although we did not see each other or stay in touch, I followed her new ‘story’ religiously on fb.
I don’t actually know what I was looking for. Did I want to see if maybe I should stop checking in the dark unknown corners and head back into my old yearbooks? Or watch ever so carefully to find where this was going to go wrong? I still can’t tell you what I was looking for, but I can tell you that I kept looking. And what I saw over and over were many pictures that had red eyes, shadows, and some overexposure, but once past that scrutiny, I saw something completely different. I saw this beautiful blonde woman who was once sad and alone, and now smiling from ear to ear in each and every picture, with her arms snuggly wrapped around this man from her past. A man, I might add, who did not look like an ‘old’ anything. In fact, he was beautiful and I wondered if he had aged at all with his young looking face and athletic young body. It was astounding and I was not bothered with the half-story pictures on fb, but instead, breathed each one in as if whole-story memories. I found myself thinking of them often, for no real reason. Questioning, old and new and the power and beauty of starting over.
Once, I even saw him for real, right on the streets in Pennington. I wanted to wave, say, ‘hey, I love your story’, or ‘wow, you look just like your fb pics,’ but obviously said nothing, since my relationship with him was only through the screen on my computer.
You should know that I am one of the most optimistic people I know, with the ability to see sunshine in almost all situations, and that I followed this fb love story with the very same optimism. Even when the voice in my head had criticism, I fought back with more positives about love, happily ever afters, and second time arounds…I was diligent about following her pictures, her giggles that leaked from her eyes, her proposal in all of its’ romantic style, her new engagement ring, promising hope and more love and kept on following. In the back of my mind, way, way back, I did pray that I wasn’t seeing just half of the love story, but the only parts that mattered. I prayed there wasn’t another side to this new prince charming. That there wasn’t a dark side that was getting shoved under the rug due to his beautiful face. I prayed that if I watched long enough and with real care, I would be able to see for myself, which half of the story I was getting.
Then on a snowy day in March, the fb love story of pictures, transformed into 3D. It was one of those snow days that no one expected, but gave everyone the same idea, as they crammed into our favorite Starbucks. I was huddled in the corner with a friend talking, when I saw them come up to the counter. I quickly shushed my friend and explained, ‘I have to see this…I have been following this love story for months and now, it is here, right before my eyes.’
I watched him order their coffee and her go to save them a seat. I watched him wait patiently for their order to come up. I then watched as an elderly couple walked in the door and approached him. Secretly I prayed to hear his voice, putting a being behind that face. The poor couple, caught off guard by the storm, were looking for a nearby hotel. Clearly they did not know this fb character any more than I had, but for some reason were drawn to him in a crowded coffee joint.
Ok, so he had good karma. But then, as I am desperately trying to hear the conversation, he proceeds to give them directions, and I see his fb girl come to his side. I am frozen. In someone else’s life, someone’s fb love story…I am frozen. I then see all that I finally need to see as he tells them sweetly that they will leave and lead them to just where they need to go. “You’ll follow us,” I hear him say, pointing to where his car is. And at that, they end their own romantic coffee date on a snowy afternoon, to save the elderly couple from the icy roads. She is brimming from ear to ear, so happy that she has chosen him.
My research was done. I was now officially clear that some love stories, even on Facebook, were worth watching, worth ogling over, creating hope and inspiration and some were actually just as they seemed in pictures. And so I conclude, we should all keep posting, and keep watching, knowing that some are listening and yearning to hear more…about your fascinating fb love stories.