I’m taking a hiatus from social media. It doesn’t seem likely to stick for very long, because in this world, social media is what creates the village. Instead of having an actual physical village, these days, we have online networks of people with similar likes and dislikes, groups with which we share common bonds, support networks. Often these are people that we’ve never even met in person. Or if we have met them, it’s only been once or twice.
Like many things, social media is a mixed bag. I’ve made some amazing friends and found wonderful support through James’s birth, life, and death. People have reached out to me from literally around the world and helped to soften the blow of his death, if only a tiny bit. There are days that I would not have made it through without these friends. On the other spectrum is the distraction it creates in my life (from the people physically around me), as well as the added stress of watching others struggle and being powerless to help.
Further, in creating these huge social networks and groups, in sharing our lives through pictures and witty commentary, and through the days of darkness and anxiety, as well as joy, we create a public image of ourselves – whether inadvertently or deliberately. That persona – is that who we are? Or is it a carefully curated version?
On this blog, I have striven for honesty at (almost) all costs. I have exposed the raw nerve of my grief with the knowledge that some will not understand and that some will chastise me for it. Yet, there are still parts of myself that I do not share here; these parts are mine alone.
In an effort to extend the online village into real life, I’ve been working hard to build a local village for myself. In the 4 years since we’ve been here, I’ve slowly gotten to know other mothers around me and started a couple of small groups (a book club and a dinner club). The real-life village is growing.
I’ve decided to take a step back from social media for an uncertain length of time. It could be 24 hours…it could be a week…it’s hard to say. I’ve realized lately that Facebook in particular has occupied a lot of my mind. While the diversion can be much needed at times, and the support given by other veterinarians and mothers is amazing, I think that I need some quiet space in which to think, to rebuild. I need to silence all of the voices outside of me for a bit and listen to my heart. I need to listen to James’s little voice inside of me and let him direct me.
I quit my job recently. There were far too many stressors as an emergency veterinarian. I’d hear the Masimo pulse oximeter alarm, and my heart would start to race, as I automatically looked for James. I had to counsel distraught, grieving owners about quality of life decisions for their pets. My last case before quitting was an older couple with a dog with end-stage pulmonary hypertension. They knew we had done everything that we could medication-wise, and they knew it was just a matter of time. We had a long talk about quality of life. When I was finished, I broke down at work.
That was my last day.
Since I have stopped working on April 25, a huge weight has been lifted off of my spirit. I feel like I can breathe just a little bit more easily. I have no plan right now other than spending time with my family, learning to be still with myself and my thoughts, writing, and working at the radio station.
In 6 months, who knows where I will be? The thought doesn’t frighten me, despite never being without employment as a veterinarian.
I’ll be okay because I have my family and friends around me.