I was out to dinner with a couple of friends the other night. One of the girls was talking through the details of a recent breakup that left her heart bruised and her mind stunned. She thought things had been going so well. And then, what felt like out of nowhere to her, the man who had her heart texted (yes, texted), “I just can’t do this anymore.” To which she replied, “Do what?” He wrote, “This relationship.” And just like that, her dating status went from “in a relationship” to “single.” I’m sure there was more to it than a quick text exchange, but regardless, the end result was still: DUMPED! She wasn’t crying or moping (though she admitted she’d done plenty of that during her private moments). But it was clear that this breakup took a shot at her self-esteem and she needed dose of positive affirmation to heal her wounds. And that’s when good friends come in handy. First, they caution you that a breakup shouldn’t put your self-worth on a fast track to nowhere. And while you’re feeling down on yourself, your friends work to build up your confidence by reminding you of your greatest strengths. And then comes the tough part... Your friends tell you everything that you need to hear, even if it’s not what you want to hear. And so, as we were enjoying our final bites of a flourless chocolate torte with fresh whipped cream, we gave this woman all of the usual advice you give to someone who starts acting weak because of a crushed heart: stop begging, don’t rifle call, don’t drunk dial, don’t cyber-stalk, don’t do drive-by’s or visit the places you know he’ll be, and stop using Facebook therapy as your shrink!
You can’t log onto Facebook nowadays without seeing “therapy” posts laced throughout your feed. And I’ll admit, I can get sucked into reading many of them. We all have definite reasons as to WHY we use Facebook. For many of us, it’s an awesome way to see our family and friend’s virtual photo albums and stay up to date on our loved one’s celebratory affairs. For others, it’s a way to voice their thoughts on current events, or play games like “What Disney Princess would you be?” (In the spirit of full disclosure, I would be Mulan.) For some, it’s a self-esteem booster when likes and comments flood in after a filtered and perfected “selfie” is posted. And for the hurt or broken-hearted, Facebook is a way to say, “Look at me! I’m having THE BEST time of my life and totally moving on without you!” Or, “I’m going to post a meaningful quote to let you know how I’m feeling since you’re not calling me anymore, all the while, I’m hoping that you’ll reach out to me while I broadcast my private emotions all over social media for friends, strangers, and acquaintances to read.” I know, I’m exhausted reading that last fabricated quote too! But it all sounds familiar, doesn’t it? If you haven’t done it yourself, then you probably have a friend who is using Facebook as therapy. I’m not talking about the people who post inspirational quotes to trigger your imagination; or even your friends who share motivational stories or blogs (wink, wink) when they think it might have impact on you as a reader. I’m specifically talking about the people who expose their private matters in order to send a cryptic message to their offenders. This is the very thing that the young lady at my dinner table was confessing. And my advice was to stop!
I know the feeling of be dumped and broken-hearted. I remember the times when my self-worth was called into question and I asked myself, “Why doesn’t he want me anymore?” And I also recall acting out in a way that compromised my integrity and my pride. When you’re feeling weak, it’s not easy to be strong. But having learned from my mistakes of the past (and believe me, it’s an ongoing lesson), I like to see the weak empower themselves. While I’ve never experienced true therapy myself (although I’ve been vocal about counting four-hour lunches with my psychologist friend as “free therapy”), I do believe in the process. I think therapy is an act of strength taken to heal oneself. We should all have an outlet to express and sort through the painful experiences we bottle up inside. But I’m not sure that Facebook therapy is an effective way to heal the core of your pain. I’m afraid that it often exposes a person’s private matters that are best kept contained within their inner circle (which should be a very small circle). Showing your vulnerability is not a bad thing - just be careful WHO you show it to. And there’s certainly no reason to continue showing your fragile state to a person who caused you pain. I’m not a therapist, but if you need a shrink, go for it! Just think twice about using Facebook as therapy before you hit “update” on your next post.