My ex and I had been happily separated for a few months when I opened my Facebook page one morning while making a smoothie. It was a Monday just before school was about to start and I was trying to get into work mode while my kids were still asleep.
Facebook is always my go-to when I need to get my brain flowing with ideas, or just want to feel connected and see what my friends and family are up to. It usually works as a jumpstart for my day, but on this morning it backfired. I sat at the kitchen table blankly staring at my stove for an hour.
This had never happened to me before. I’m not one to stare at my screen and feel jealous or inadequate. Facebook and Instagram never affected me in that way. Until they did.
On that morning, as soon as I hit the little blue square on my phone, I saw five pictures of my ex-husband standing next to his new girlfriend. They were at concerts. They were hiking. They were drinking foamy beer from plastic cups. They were wearing scarves that floated in the breeze and looked like they’d both received the best news of their lives.
And my ex….well, he was smiling in a way I’d never seen him smile before. It took my breath away.
His caption talked about how he was about to turn 40, but this woman was making him feel like a teenager again.
Had he ever said that to me during our almost twenty years together? I didn’t think so.
His new love, the one he told me about as soon as he fell for her — the one I had met and kind of fell in love with too — was obviously doing great things for him. Things I didn’t do for him any longer. Things he didn’t do for me any longer.
The realization twisted in my stomach up to my heart. I felt it rise in my throat and hit me between the eyes. I tried to understand what it was I was feeling. I wanted to put a label on it, move on and get the same satisfaction I get when cleaning out and organizing our junk drawer. I wasn’t in the mood for a road block or junk in my mind. No, not today.
But I couldn’t put a label on my feelings and simply move on. My ex-husband and my divorce are not a junk drawer that I can swoop in, clean up, and stand back with my arms crossed across my chest feeling proud of myself.
The only thing I knew how to do in that moment (and I had to do something in that moment) was unfriend him. Which felt weird because he was still my friend.
My ex-husband and I like each other. We will always hold space for one another. He is the father of my children and wants what’s best for them. I respect him. I value his opinion. And it wasn’t about his girlfriend either. She is wonderful and treats my kids as if they were her own, which I’m aware is no small task. She’s always been up for the challenge. I consider her my friend, too. I am thankful for her. I trust her.
But I am aware of my limits, and they’d been reached that Monday morning. I wanted to unsee those pictures of the two of them. It was a reminder of what we used to have. It was a reminder of what was gone. It hurt me in a way I didn’t know I could be hurt.
We weren’t in love any longer, we were both in agreement to separate and divorce. We blessed each other in our quest to date and possibly fall in love with someone else, and we both meant it.
But those pictures made me feel so replaceable, so disposable, so thrown off guard that I knew I didn’t want to see anything like that again. I can be happy for him and choose not to see their new profile pictures. I can be glad my kids see their father happy and in love, but I don’t need to have it staring me in the face while I’m scrolling through social media.
At first, I felt a little silly unfriending a friend, someone I was on great terms with, but I had to do some mental health hygiene and clean up my Facebook feed.
It doesn’t matter what your situation is— if you are seeing something or someone that triggers you, and you can stop it, you should. You don’t need to see things or people that make you feel shitty, period.
If you don’t think you can because you are afraid of hurting their feelings, take a moment to realize you are putting their feelings before your own. If you aren’t taking control of your life and what affects you, no one else will.
The feeling was freeing, and I longer have to worry about being triggered while trying to find my footing on a Monday morning again.
If you don’t think you can do it, give me your phone. I’ll block and unfriend away for you. You can blame it on me. And I dare you to tell me you don’t feel better.