I only recently got on Facebook. I started my account this last summer. For a long, long time I have been leading a pretty reclusive life. It was necessary for me because my experience of the world had been a very scary and painful one. I needed sanctuary for rest and restoration. I found what I needed in a beautiful home that I share with the absolute love of my life, the object of my complete devotion. Someone who accepts me, loves me, supports me and honors all of what I am. We live together with our four poodles, who I must admit are taken better care of than many human beings. We have a close circle of amazing, kind, generous of heart and spirit, friends. I get to do work in the world that I love and that contributes to the well-being of others. My life is pretty amazing and more than I ever thought it could be.
In my sanctuary I found deep healing, transformation and ultimately great peace. The world has taken on a new hue for me. It no longer seems like something I need to fear. I have been encouraged and emboldened to step further and further back into a broader participation with it. One of those steps was to join Facebook. Now, of course, I knew about Facebook for many years and I really had no interest in it. It literally had no appeal to me. The reason that I joined was because I had been training students to do the work that I do and it was time to let the world know that this work existed, and I guess by extension, that I existed. Social networking was a necessary step.
I opened a personal account and two business accounts (one for my business and one dedicated to the work of Belief-Shifting). I began with the personal account and let Facebook reach out to my contact list to ask people to be my friend. To my utter shock, within two days, I had around fifty friends! That probably doesn’t sound like much to long time Facebook users, but remember, I have been a recluse. One of the people who accepted was my ex-husband. This didn’t surprise me because we had stayed friendly with one another for years after our divorce and then we lost touch. I was happy to re-make the connection.
Everything was pretty much fine on Facebook. I was learning how to navigate it. I was working on the business side and posting blogs. I was sharing funny posts and cat videos and inspirational quotes on my personal timeline. I was ‘liking’ what others shared. And then the election started to heat up. And things started to get ugly. I had been so surrounded by such gentle and loving souls that it was jarring when I started to see such judgmental, angry and hateful posts. A good portion of them from my ex. For me, it was not that his political views were very different from mine, it was that he was so condemning.
The first time, that he shared a condemnation of the other candidate post, I reacted. I don’t remember what I said exactly now, but I know it was a reaction. It wasn’t coming from the loving, accepting place within me, it was coming from something in me that wanted to keep this away from me. I knew that something in me wanted to make him wrong for being this way and I also knew that if I did that I would lose the loving and accepting place that I have found within me. I knew that I had to reach deeper inside of me to find acceptance for him and his condemnation. I realized that there was still some unhealed wounds in me from our past.
I figured out that I could unfollow him on Facebook and remain friends. I was glad that there was no way for him to know that I wasn’t seeing his posts. I didn’t want him to think I was rejecting him, I just needed some time to heal first. There was no need to further aggravate the wounds, I was now aware that they were there and I just needed to spend time with them and let them heal. I took that time and when I felt ready, I began to follow him again. The negative posts weren’t disturbing me anymore, the healing had happened. I could remain open, accepting, loving.
But then it occurred to me that maybe there was an opportunity here to be of service. In my work, I help people to see that shame, guilt, fear, desire and anger are the mind’s way of mis-directing the person away from Life’s flow. These feelings occur when there is judgment and condemnation in the mind. The way I work with clients is never to make them wrong for having these judgments, but to simply to help them see that these judgments don’t work and have consequences that cause the person who is holding them to suffer. It doesn’t work to make people feel that they are wrong or bad for judging or even condemning. It they accept the idea that judgment is bad then they just have one more judgment they are now holding. It adds to the problem and doesn’t heal anything.
I started to wonder if there was a way to point the same thing out to people on Facebook. Was there a way to help people see this truth that their judgment of others was hurting them? Could I help them to see that judgment in their mind was cutting them off from the awareness of Love’s Presence? I didn’t know if it was possible. It is sometimes very hard to help someone see this when they are a client sitting right in front of me and I can directly respond to the resistance that their mind presents. But I felt compelled to try anyway.
So I tried with my ex. It turned out that he assumed that my comments were political in nature. He thought I was trying to change his mind about the candidate he hated in order to change his vote. Mostly, he ignored me. But others would respond. So I would talk to them. Sometimes we would have a nice exchange. Sometimes people would get frustrated with me, because I wasn’t responding in the same ways that people have come to expect, since I really wasn’t trying to change their vote. I was trying to see if I could help them see that a change of mind (not perspective) would benefit them. In other words, I was trying to help them see that people can have a different point view without judging one another. To illustrate this idea, you can prefer chocolate ice cream without condemning vanilla. The only thing I was suggesting changing was the condemnation, not the choice.
Anyway, not surprisingly, I was just confusing people. They kept saying ‘I’m confused.’ They didn’t know what I was doing or why. It wasn’t helping. But I did learn a lot. It helped me to remember more clearly how the mind operates when there is a lot of judgment and condemnation going on. I hadn’t been doing that in such a long time, I had forgotten. But if I was going to helpful, I needed to remember.
By the time we got to election day, I had figured out that I needed to write longer posts that more clearly outlined what I wanted to say. And, of course, I needed to let people choose for themselves if they wanted these messages, if they saw a value to them. I started to see that the only exceptions were people that I could already clearly see wanted another answer and would be receptive to my message. I know in retro-spect that this seems obvious, but the journey was still incredibly valuable. So I wrote a note of appreciation to my ex for this service he provided and let him know that while my intentions were based in caring for him, I could see that they were not helpful and may have even back-fired. I let him know I would leave his posts alone from here on out.
Shortly after this my ex posted a short comment that, from my perspective, was saying that people on the other side of a particular issue were using language to change the meaning of that issue. The implication was that if those who were opposed the issue did not change the meaning they would see this issue correctly and then we would agree and be on the same side. I posted a comment that I thought was more in-line with typical Facebook banter that said that wasn’t true. That I, in particular, saw the meaning the same way and still disagreed on the issue.
To my surprise that really sparked something. It started with a couple of people in his circle reacting and ended up with a back and forth between me and him. I felt that each of my responses were simply stating my perspective. I refrained from any judgment or condemnation of the other position or the people that held it. I felt like all I was saying things that were metaphorically like, ‘I like chocolate’, ‘I think chocolate is a better choice.’, ‘Yes, I voted for the person who said she will make more chocolate available.’, ‘No, I am not happy that it looks like it is moving in the direction of a vanilla world.’ And most importantly, I was saying, ‘You can’t tell me that if I just saw it correctly that I would want vanilla. I see the issue the same way and I STILL LIKE CHOCOLATE.’
It was at the point that he invited me to get off that string because my comments were ‘out of the scope’ of his original post and he might block me if I continued, that I realized I had gotten caught up in something else that needed healing. He was feeling attacked. I was not in my heart. I was getting lost in my mind. I returned to my compassion. I let him know that I saw his frustration and wanted to know what it was that he needed. There was no reply.
I awoke the next morning and there was still no answer. What was going on? Why was he willing to cut out the only connection that we had? What had I done that he perceived as threatening? Why was he so upset that he was pushing me away? And, more importantly, why had I gotten so attached to him understanding my perspective? When I finally got to this last question, two things hit me. The first was that he did not want to hear my perspective. That was the threat. The second was that there was another wound that was still in me.
When he and I were married, I was full of judgment in my mind. My judgment manifested as great guilt and fear that made me feel very, very small and powerless. Back then I would hardly reveal anything about myself or my world. I didn’t share my perspective with anyone, least of all my husband. I kept it all hidden where I thought it would be safe.
I never shared my world with my ex and therefore, his world was the only one that existed. So in this Facebook exchange, it appeared to me that he did not want to know about my world and if I insisted on telling him about it, he would get rid of me completely. To me this meant that my world had no value to him and by extension, I had no value to him. Now as I say this you may think that he is wrong for sending me that message and you may be very tempted to judge and condemn him for doing that. I certainly was.
However, I know that would hurt my heart and make me turn away from the Light within me if I condemned him. So instead, I chose to let go of my insistence that he should be other than he is. I let go of my insistence that he listen to me or understand my perspective. He is welcome to push my world away. He is even welcome to push me away.
If he ever reads this, which I rather doubt, he may insist that was not what he was doing, but that really doesn’t matter because this was about my healing. To me his words felt like rejection and potential abandonment and I needed to release anything in me that was judging him for that. If I want my own freedom, I have to give him his. So I released him from my mind’s demands.
In this release, the joyful sense of peace and serenity returned and my heart opened even wider. But that was not the greatest gift I received. The greatest gift is that now I know that I can be more in the world without losing my sanctuary.
So I send you, my dear ex-husband, my undying gratitude!