My Social Media Retreat

Topics: HRExaminer, by Heather Bussing

bunker tunnel hr-001

The winter solstice is an important time for me. It’s the longest, darkest night of the year. The I Ching calls it the Turning Point.

Fu / Return- The Turning Point

After a time of decay, comes the turning point.

The winter solstice has always been celebrated . . . as the resting time of year.

Movement is just at its beginning; therefore it must be strengthened by rest, so that it will not be dissipated by being used prematurely. … (E)verything must be treated tenderly and with care at the beginning, so that the return may lead to a flowering.

 I Ching (Wilhem/Baynes translation.)

As I was posting these words on Facebook, I decided to take a social media retreat. No plan, no real forethought. Just time to rest.

2014 was a rough year. My beloved had some serious health problems. For the first few months, we weren’t sure if he would walk again. My stepdaughter was also going through a really tough time with work, health issues, and a car accident. My ex decided he needed more time with the kids and filed court papers starting an exhausting custody battle that didn’t end until December. (Everyone’s fine now—long story. So grateful.)

I had my own stuff going on too. I gave up a case I felt strongly about because I just did not have the energy and resources to do what needed to be done. It was the right decision, but I felt like a total failure. Then there was work, the weasels, menopause, not knowing what to do about my grey hair, and an overwhelming sense that there was no safe place to rest. And there wasn’t because it was the stupid holidays with a million extra things to do and people who need things right away because they are going on vacation and want it done by the end of the year.

So on the darkest night of the year, I decided to just stop, and breathe, and feel my fucking feelings.

I was using people, places, and things to distract me from hurting. I’m really good at it. I have a black belt in emotional denial. I can manage a crisis, stay calm, handle the situation, move forward, and make it all look easy.

It comes from a lifetime of stuffing emotion in every nook and cranny in my body and my life until it starts leaking out. I’m not very pleasant to be around. Think angry, drunken troll. But since I gave up booze almost 20 years ago, I was using Facebook and Twitter instead. I could focus on my friends, write, and think up witty things to say so I didn’t have to look at myself. It works. I love it.

But I was falling apart. So I called timeout and removed the distractions.

Then I cried. Huge, blubbering, rivers of snot, swollen eyes, red nosed, racking sobs. When I cry a lot right before going to sleep, my eyelids puff up and I wake up looking like a bullfrog. Not pretty.

Because everything was actually mostly okay, I started to wonder if I was going crazy because I was crying so much. Then I freaked out about whether or not I was sane, even though the whole idea was to avoid going insane.


It lasted about two weeks. I’m not really done yet. I am feeling better. So much better.

Besides the crying, here’s what people have asked me and what it was like.

How long was the break?  Nineteen days. The initial plan was to be on retreat from December 21- January 15, but I didn’t go that long. I posted some HR Examiner links on twitter the first week of January. I came back to Facebook on January 9. I just decided to. I missed my friends.

Did you peek?  Nope. I took the apps off my phone and just didn’t look. It was a lot easier than I expected. I’m good at all or nothing. I’m still learning the whole moderation thing.

Did you miss it?  Sort of. It was a lot quieter in my head without all those voices, images, and people. But after about two weeks, I started to feel cut off from the world and people I care about. Here are the things I missed and the things I didn’t.



Has it changed the way you use social media?  Not really. Going back, there were lots of notices, and messages, and stuff to try to make sense of. I responded to direct messages, then relaxed about the rest of it. I also completely binged the first day back.

I’m thinking about designating a time each day to check in and to leave it alone the rest of the time. Mostly though, I need to make sure to give myself some peaceful time on a regular basis to move through feelings as they come instead of saving up an entire year’s worth to deal with.

Going sane is so much harder.

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