On Being Unfriended

I was unfriended on Facebook.  Anyone who has ever been unfriended knows how it feels.  I think I noticed fairly soon afterward and I asked myself, “How could such kind, thoughtful, mature folks commit such a rash act of hostility?”  I ran into them (it is a married couple I’m talking about) shortly afterward and there was no talk of it.  I pretended nothing had happened, as did they.  We have had no in-person contact since, in fact, there has been no contact whatsoever.  We simply haven’t run into each other.  What next?

The first thing that happened was that I fell into a state of mental shock.  Was this for real?  But, yeah, looked that way.  I couldn’t “like” anything and nothing showed up. It was like I was invisible all of a sudden in their eyes.  I couldn’t ask “why” and no tactic to undo all the mistakes I’d made seemed tactful enough.  Right then and there, “I’m sorry,” seemed about the dopiest thing I could say.

So I got off Facebook.  I couldn’t stand the thought of it any longer.  Their absence was like a huge hole.  Oh yeah, I have a fair amount of “friends” now, folks from my graduate school, mostly people I haven’t met but know of by acquaintance or have met once or twice.  Facebook asked me if I was sure I wanted to get off.  I told Facebook it was “temporary,” that I’d be back, and I clicked myself off.

It felt halfway decent, I must say, to be away from it all.  It wasn’t the pettiness that bothered me so much, but what Facebook is lacking so dearly.  Sure, we all get tired of the repeated political messages, pleas from homeless kittens, daily messages from God, and so on, but Facebook reminded me nonstop of the loneliness in life, of our separateness.  We don’t pick up the phone anymore.  Never mind write letters or even e-mail each other.  Is anyone even talking?

I was off for a few weeks.  It felt decent.  Life was pulling itself together in many ways.  A lot of it was just plain good luck, being at the right place at the right time.  I’ve been very happy lately, in fact, I’ve been happy for a long time.  Just grateful to be alive and on the planet.  I’ve been active, going out so much that I had to purchase a monthly transit pass instead of paying per ride as I usually do.  I find that I feel quite at home conversing with complete strangers.  They admire my service dog, saying she is cute and funny.  Well, by golly, I, too, can be cute and funny when I want to be.  Finding myself can be fun.

Then, it looked like the Kindle version of my recently published memoir was all set and available.  I needed to get back onto Facebook and publicize this.  What to do? I decided to reinstate my Facebook membership.  Facebook was very happy about this, apparently.  Welcome back to Facebook.

So I publicized.  I said nothing publicly about having been gone.  A bunch of folks from my school “liked” that my book was out and “liked” a bunch of other stuff.

Suddenly, something came to my attention.  Someone I knew needed my help.  A young person, someone not from my graduate school.  Yes, I found out through Facebook.  The person reached out in the quickest and most efficient way she knew how, at the last minute.  Thankfully, I got the message, though it wasn’t intended specifically for me, but for her “friends.”  Or maybe for the world.  I took action.  I reached out.  I feel proud of myself.

Over the past few days, a bunch of life-affirming things have happened and few people have reached out to me in very subtle and not-so-subtle ways that mean a whole lot to me.   I sent e-mails.  I made phone calls.  I even talked to my brother and my sister-in-law.

My own body has sent signals to me.  First of all, I was sick this weekend, some freak occurrence,  and passed out in the bathroom.  Hours before this happened, a revelation came to me.  I was sitting at my desk writing.  Funny how these things happen when we are at a state of medical extremes.  I figured out how I recovered from my eating disorder.  It’s a good thing I wrote it down.  I don’t even remember writing it:

“HOW I RECOVERED FROM MY EATING DISORDER

The body wants to survive even when the mind is ready to give up.”

That was all I wrote.  That was about all I had the chance to write or wanted to write or needed to write.  Then, I guess I fell asleep, or ran to the bathroom and passed out.

Somehow, I pieced it together and made it to church.  I picked up the mess I made in the bathroom when I went crashing to the floor.  I dressed up and looked halfway decent for church.  I struggled to walk there.  It seemed to take twice as long because I felt weak.  I reminded myself to remain seated during the hymns instead of standing, because a sudden change in position could cause me to pass out again.  I sure wouldn’t want that kind of embarrassment in church.

But I eat now, and my eating disorder is only a remnant, having left me a while back.  Just a freak occurrence.  Things like this might happen now and then.  It’ll take a while for the body to catch up.

I stepped inside the building.  All of a sudden, warmth.  I was taken back to a year ago, when I first entered the church and was welcomed, a person off the streets, a complete stranger.  I was still just as welcome.  Folks still said hello to me just like before.  People asked how I was doing.  I asked how they were doing.  Only now, we knew each other by name, and I have joined the church.

I hadn’t been there long when someone came up to me and congratulated me about my book.  It felt so, so good.

Everything about church is always so awesome.  It felt okay to cry in church, too.  We blessed the teachers today during the service and we spoke of how important the teachers were in our community.  Our minister spoke about anxiety and worry during the sermon, and I wondered how much this related to my own pettiness.  After church, social hour.  I met someone new and welcomed her and we walked back to my home together and she walked onward.  I gave her my card.  Then, I slept for the rest of the day and slept well last night.

Fine, but I was still unfriended, and being unfriended still sucked just as much.  I obsessed over this far, far too much, and I hated that I obsessed so much.  Beat myself up for making a mountain over social media, because I hardly spend any time at all on Facebook.  I stood in the kitchen.  What am I going to do about this?  How can I handle this maturely and directly?  Would I confront them?  Surely, they had made an active, perhaps hostile statement toward me, and it had been done for a reason.

I told myself I’d have to do something.  I couldn’t ignore the situation.  Feelings were feelings.  I couldn’t say, “You made me feel such and such,” because this wasn’t true, all these folks did was a few mouse clicks and that was that.  No, the feelings were mine, and I needed to own these feelings.

I would be direct.  I would be polite.  I would not beat around the bush.  I would not be sarcastic.  Oh please, anything but that.  But what was it that I really wanted?  Did I want an apology?  What good would that do?

Perhaps, on the other hand, I should thank my friends for unfriending me, thank them from the bottom of my heart.  See, they are still my dear friends, and I know they love me, and they care about me still.  They didn’t unlove me.  Nor was what they did an act of “tough love.”  No, I don’t know why they did what they did.  Maybe they did it because they were reacting to some kind of feeling they had that I gave them, an energy.

They made a decision.  Maybe their reasons were private.  Their decision had an impact on me.  You could say a big impact.  It got me off Facebook. It got me appreciating Life Without Bullshit for a few weeks.

Then, had I not been off Facebook, and then gotten back on when I did, at that moment, I would not have noticed my friend’s cry for help when I did.

Being unfriended makes me realize that while right now I do not have close friends, I have a greater appreciation for the greater community than I ever did before.

I am not lonely. I am not depressed.  I am not unhappy.  I am not bored.  I am full of love and life.

I get out every day.  I speak to people.  I have fun.  I enjoy myself.  I am cute and funny.

Before they unfriended me, none of the above was true, and if getting unfriended is the one medicine for unfriendliness, well then, so be it.

So I must say, I feel rather blessed, and extend my arms out in thankfulness to my dear friends.

2 thoughts on “On Being Unfriended”

  1. You know, Julie, it’s entirely possible that the unfriending was unintentional. Its a fact that sometimes when you upgrade Facebook, like to the timeline, people inadvertently get unfriended. It happened to me. And sometimes Facebook glitches and unfriends people. It’s entirely possible that these folks don’t even know it happened. So you may want to find out before you beat yourself and them up over it. Send them another friend request. If they deny or ignore it, then you will know and can decide what to do and how you feel about it. If they reaccept… Well there you go. Just saying.

    1. Yeah, Matilda, I have seen Facebook glitches before, some very funny ones in fact. One friend had to close her account and then re-open it due to being spammed by diet ads. Naw, I knew it wasn’t that. I feel totally decent about what happened, actually. Everything is right and okay. I really feel good. No need to beat anything but an egg or two, and that’s a pretty cracked situation if you ask me.

Feedback and comments welcome!