I don’t normally need the push – fyi!
If you met me at my best you’d probably say I was confident, intelligent, funny/silly/ridiculous, thoughtful and opinionated. I hope I am more than those things (and all too often fall short of them) but they are things that I’m fairly sure I am, at my best.
Sometimes all of what makes me me gets crushed at the bottom of a deep, dark pit. My ability to reason and rationalise, to see the positive even when all seems hopeless, to be faithful and ask for help…all of that gets washed away and I find myself ranting a plethora of hopeless chastisements at myself that I am useless, hopeless and worthless.
I know this happens and I also know it usually doesn’t last long. I am particularly susceptible during the winter months when the loss of sunlight creates various chemical imbalances and I join thousands of others in the battle with S.A.D.
(Each year I vow I’ll get a lamp to combat the lack of sunlight hours and each year I drag my feet, not believing, during the suffering, that I’m worth the fight. By the time I eventually get round to it the daffodils are brightening the verges and the sun’s slapped me round the face and told me to stop being so foolish. So I leave it for another year and surf the occasional bouts of the blues, allowing myself to have a few chocolates and a cry.)
This year I don’t have time to feel worthless!! I have an essay to do, beautiful children to raise to be confident, happy and whole and a ministry to pursue (even though I don’t have a clue what it’s going to be).
Where do you go when your self-belief is so low you can’t pick yourself up off the floor? When your ability to pray has crumpled into such a state of worthlessness that no words come out and the darkness surrounds you?
I ask Facebook.
- When I wanted babies – I joined IVillage’s TTFAB board and we celebrated and commiserated with each other alike as mum’s conceived and moved to a Mum’sDue board or despaired as they got another visit from AF and shared the cycle of hope, fear and despair again.
- When mini-E was born 12 weeks early the Mum’sDue group and Facebook were their to despair alongside us and share their own stories of grief. Photos were instantly available for friends and family who felt useless, though their concern and love was invaluable.
- When isolated in the Cheshire countryside with a premmie baby on oxygen, too vulnerable to illness to go to baby groups, Facebook offered me a community to coo and rejoice in her, to see pictures and for our distant friends (the joy for so many itinerant ministers and their families) to adore her, watch videos of her and to get to ‘know’ her…
- When Richard turned the car over and broke himself, the week before Christmas 2006, our Facebook family were there to give comfort, distraction, company and hope…(and to mock him just a little bit, once the danger had past, with the suggestions of how else he might have avoided his Christmas services and, the phrase that stuck, “four wheels down, one roof up!”)
- When I was too heavy with our 2-weeks-late second daughter to go anywhere, or face anyone, Facebook (and, if I’m honest, Farmville) helped me hold on to my sanity.
- Every time we’ve moved house and I’ve felt that moment of loss and mourning for a home that was never meant to be permanent, Facebook and Ivillage offered sanctuary and reassurance that I can make friends and I do have friends and, in the words of St Julian, “all shall be well” for they all moved with me.
- Last year, a friend unexpectedly died at 29. With the family’s permission, I was able to start to grieve by creating a FB page dedicated to Jon Ashby: Legend. Another friend’s mum, he also died at 29, was able to do a similar thing and found countless of her son’s friends offer their condolences and memories of her son that she would never have known, she said they were of endless help through the most difficult months after his death.
- For the baptism of IttyJo, two of her godparents were able to make their promises from Massachusetts, USA via webcam, they even got dressed for the occasion (though I suspect Sally was still wearing pyjama bottoms out of shot!)
- Facebook got me back in touch with old school friends which in turn lead to a number of wedding invitations. I like weddings.
- At teatime today, I was able to distract and entertain my 9 month old niece via FaceTime on her mummy’s iPad. My sister was then able to put her down long enough to stir the rice…sometimes, just having someone else ‘there’, is the difference between crying as moistly as your frustrated baby and feeling like you ‘can’ succeed at motherhood.
I have blogged, emailed, webcammed, Twittered and/or Facebooked about the majority of my life’s events for the past six years and before that I emailed and texted. In turn I have shared in the lives, hopes and despairs of over 600 hundred friends, acquaintances and family.
Today, and, after one Facebook status plea for help, the realisation flooded over me how I have a community that I have constantly longed for and whinge that I don’t have and the pure me, un-messed up by chemical imbalances and the knocks of life, resonates with how like home it is.
I wouldn’t be without my community, who I love.