Waves of Grief

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a month and a half since my world was shaken. Since then it has been a rough journey, mostly feeling numb to everything around me. I don’t think I have been numbing the pain, I was in shock and the reality of the situation hadn’t hit me yet. But because of that feeling of numbness I know I wasn’t able to experience joy as I had been.
Then the waves of pain started to come. A song plays or I’m driving in my car and memories — fond memories — of her pop into my head. I embrace them, those moments have been gifts to me. While it’s difficult for me to experience these emotions, at least I am able to feel again and enjoy what I do have.

Here’s a portion of the book Praying Our Goodbyes by Joyce Rupp that helped me experience some of deep aching within me:

If you have ever said a deeply significant goodbye, you know what it is like to have life pelt you with sorrow, to be overwhelmed with emptiness, loneliness, confusion and sadness. At these times we are bent over, crushed. The pain is overwhelming, often too deep for tears.

The pain is overwhelming, often too deep for tears. How difficult yet comforting to hear.

Kaitlyn Unplugged: What does it truly mean to “sign out”?

This week I decided to unplug from all of my social media outlets for a bit.

What stirred this inside me was my response to a church service during the week. Right when I walked through the doors of the church something inside me changed. I no longer felt safe, which felt weird because it is the safest place I could possibly be. After the service I was upset and angry about various things going on in my life. Eventually, after word vomiting all over a friend, I jetted out. I felt like my feelings were beginning to spiral out of my control and I knew I needed to go to a private place to process. Once in my car, I called an old college friend who I knew would tell me the truth in the situation.

As we dug into my feelings we discovered my need for approval from others was becoming a prominent struggle in my life. The reason I felt so unsafe in my community was because I was so insecure with myself. The lies had broken through all of my defenses  and culminated in a big chaotic mess that night. My friend informed me that if this was effecting the way I felt within my community it was worth digging into with God and trusted mentors.

As I thought more about it I recognized one of my primary sources of security is social media. “How many likes can I get from this status post?” “How many people will respond to this tweet?” “Why did those people get tagged in that post and not me? I like volleyball….” I was using social media as my primary source of communication while disengaging in individual relationships. 

When I unplugged this week I honestly had no idea where I was going with this. I set not time limit and decided to allow God to lead me in the direction I needed to go. First, I signed out of EVERYTHING and I mean everything. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. When you have several devices signed into these things it’s a bit of a hassle to sign out. For example, my iPad refused to sign out of my twitter account and I spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out how stop the insanity. The reason why I signed out was because I wanted the dust to settle for me. The many emotions I was feeling needed to be identified and I needed to sit in silence with God.

Later, I received an e-mail stating that someone had mentioned me in a tweet. It was then that I recognized something about unplugging. When people “unplug” they tend to sign out of all social media outlets for a week or two expecting whatever their struggle may be to go away. They aren’t addressing the behavior, the feelings, or the insecurities and are avoiding the problem.  When they come back they aren’t prepared for the problems they were experiencing and tend to revert back to whatever caused them to do the unplugging in the first place.

I saw this a lot when I worked in inpatient treatment for substance abuse. When my clients would leave, they were leaving a safe place where they didn’t have to deal with their outside stressors. Often they would think they could go back to their hometown and just continue life the way it was without preparing themselves for the battle. What they hadn’t thought about was how those situations at home were probably the reasons why they were drinking or using in the first place. Many would often relapse because they weren’t prepared for social pressures or for whatever triggers that may occur.

After seeing the email, I sat there staring at it for a while struggling with what to do. Do I read the e-mail even though “I promised” God that I wouldn’t engage in social media or do I not read the email because of that promise? It was then that it hit me. This is a friend I care about. I am not disengaging from social media because of them, I am disengaging because of my own insecurities. I decided to read the email and found that my friend was sharing an article they thought I might like.

After reading the article, the next question was, do I respond? If I were to ignore this tweet I would not be addressing the insecurity I had been feeling. So I evaluated the motivations behind me tweeting. Was I tweeting because I expected him to respond and needed affirmation from him or was I tweeting because I was engaging in my relationship with him and wanted to share a piece of myself with a friend?

When unplugging it is important to be self aware and know what is going on inside of you. There will be triggers and those same insecurities are going to crop up every once in a while. It is all in how you respond to them. Jonalyn Fincher puts it nicely in her weekly Vlog on Rubby Slippers.

And just so you know I did tweet my friend back.Social-media-for-public-relations1

Right now, I am signed back in on all of my social media accounts. I’ve been liking, favoriting, and sometimes responding to others posts but I haven’t posted anything. In fact, posting this blog will be a first. As I begin to work my way back into social media I am going to be aware of my motivations and my insecurities as I engage in relationship with my friends and my God. 

“Unplugging” really differs among people. Some people unplug because they need some silence to allow the dust to settle within the chaos. Some unplug because they are using social media as a way of increasing self worth. While others unplug because they feel it’s an addiction that they need to stop. Each of these reasons are valid, but unplugging looks different for each one. How someone unplugs depends on the individual and where they are in their life.

The thing about social media is that it doesn’t have to take away from your relationship with God or with your friends. It can actually enhance these relationships.
It all depends on
1) your motivations
2) where you are in your life
3) where you are seeking your value
4) how appropriate your behaviors are
Social media is a fantastic tool to use within community and it’s actually one way I have been able to connect with some of my friends and with God on a different level.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are thinking about unplugging:

What is going on within my soul? Why do I feel an urge to take this action?
What practices will I use to replace my time spent with social media (i.e. praying, walking, cooking, reading, writing)?
Am I willing to go to God and trusted friends with this struggle?
Am I trying to avoid something by disengaging from social media?

I would love to hear thoughts and ways I can better improve this.

photo credits: writingindustries.com, trueslant.com

Happiness

“The emphasis on happiness sometimes feels hollow because of its inherent temporal nature. As good as it feels to fall in love, get a new job, hold your newborn son, or meet a dear friend for coffee, those moments are simply that, moments. Life is not static, and those moments pass. Henri Nouwen wrote that life is filled with such moments in which sadness and joy kiss. Happiness feels good, but it is temporary. And you and I were made for eternity.”

A quote that I have been thinking about throughout today from an article I read this morning.

The Psychology of Happiness

Trail Runs, Injuries, and Bathtubs.

Throughout this year I have had several of my friends encourage me to start a blog.  Sharing my thoughts in a public forum. As someone who gets tongue tied in groups of more than two, this is a way I can share my thoughts in a comprehendible way. Writing also encourages me to observe my surroundings more: the shapes the clouds are forming, the books and blogs I’m reading, the people I encounter, my emotions I am experiencing. Taking in all that is being offered to me in this life and finding joy in those moments.

Recently, I went on a 4 mile trail run with a group of people. Having only reached 2 miles on my run the day before I was feeling doubtful about being able to survive the rocks, bends, curves, and sudden drops.
Good news: I loved the experience and ran the entire course without stopping.
Bad news: I rolled my ankle at the beginning, scraping my right knee in the process.

Once I tell myself I’m going to run something, I tend to get a little stubborn. It reminds me  of a particular 2 mile race in high school. It was snowing and all I had on were my tights and my track uniform.  My feet, hands, ears, and face were numb. We were about halfway through the run when I overheard a coach yell to one of his runners, who was right behind me, that I was losing steam. He was right, I was feeling fatigued. In that moment I decided I was going to beat this girl. I let her pass me and I followed her closely, pushing her to the last 100m. Once we reached that point I somehow found the willpower within myself to pass her.  One of my fastest two mile times that season.

The reason why I share this is because when I’ve decided I’m going to run something, I do it. Don’t care if there is rain, excessive heat, or if it is dark outside; especially when I’m running with others. I decided that fateful day I was going to run the entire 4 mile course and I wasn’t going to let a little blood stop me.  As a result, I caused a series of off-putting events, starting with my ankle sprain and scraped knee.

That night I drew a hot bath to soak my knee and clean the remainder of the dirt out. I got into the tub and as I stuck my knee into the water I felt the pain flood through my body and my clenched fists immediately went into the water. It was then that I realized I had my phone in my hand the entire time.

I did what I could for the phone but found out today that it will not charge. I dug out my old Blackberry and had AT&T dude reactivate it to use until Apple announces their new phone on Tuesday. Apparently AT&T dude did not know what he was doing because my Blackberry did not get reactivated and my iPhone is still going with the little battery it has left. Now, I have no phone and possibly no contacts since AT&T dude replaced my SIM card in my Blackberry.

Needless to say, the past few days have not gone according to plan and I have had to adjust my schedule quite a bit. Not something I’m too fond of.
Strangely, I haven’t missed my phone much. I have no problem with no one being able to reach me and have realized just how much I do not need my phone. My injury has forced me to stop and take it easy for the weekend (again), although not running is driving me up the wall right now.  And finally, this all has resulted in me sitting down and actually getting this blog up and running.

Perhaps my series of off-putting events have been a blessing… A frustrating blessing.