It was quite the psychological and emotional hit when Facebook started sending me notifications that only I could see my posts because I had “Violated Community Standards”… and then they removed them from my page. Those little messages brought up all sorts of questions for me… questions about my blog and it’s content. Did I infringe on some Trademark? Did I offend someone?… (Which I don’t really care if I do. I just don’t wanna say something and have someone think I’m trying to be mean or malicious. I know I can be a jerk… but I’m really trying not to be!) Questions about technology! Did I not set something up correctly? Why do these sites/apps/corporations work together, but these other ones don’t? Where do I go for help?
I’ve never really been a tech guy. I can check my email on my phone, post pictures on Instagram and have them show up of Facebook. I’ve only seen Twitter because of this blog. When I was setting it up, it asked if I wanted to link it to my twitter account… or create one or something. I thought, “Why not?! That might be useful somehow, right? I can tweet!”. So, I’ve now got the app. I know I set up an account. I know I have one Jamaican follower… pretty sure… but I haven’t done anything more than that! Haven’t even seen it for months! (You kids with your dancing and your Rock n Roll!) Kateri and I were just doing other things. “Screen Time” (besides the boob tube) was pretty darn minimal… compared to a majority of the country. But things change… and the loss of Kateri has had a profound affect on me and my life. There are things I want to do… and there are things that I need to do. If dipping my toe into the modern digital world will help me overcome some challenges and obtain some goals… well… I’m not afraid to download the app! (Until I delete it because my phone keeps harassing me that the storage is full with the gray bar… not the blue, yellow, or red bars… and I don’t know what “other” means… so I just start deleting shit)
Now back to Facebook, Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning, and the thoughts and emotions that an algorithm forced me to face. Initially, I thought I had done something wrong like mention a card company… or boobs. Then I thought maybe I had said something or mentioned someone that someone was offended by. Or maybe something was taken as a threat… like me mentioning I hope I don’t see certain doctors outside of certain walls… which I don’t. I had no idea how I had “Violated Community Standards” and it was frustrating trying to find answers. No, I don’t want to ask “The Community” how they had to deal with this same issue… I want to talk to the person/company who took down my links! I just wanted someone to tell me… specifically… what the violation was so that I could fix it! (Sorry, I’m getting all worked up!) It was frustrating, but my lack of computer skills, my limited social media/blog/internet skills, and Facebook’s limited communication skills gave me the opportunity to overcome a challenge. It also gave me the opportunity to see that people care about me and are there to help, to give guidance when I am faced with those challenges. That part was awesome.
It was one of those friends who mentioned to me that after they had done a little research… read some blogs… that maybe Facebook thought I was Spam. Me?… SPAM?!… but it made sense. The social media world is all just algorithms… and I knew I had recently posted a ton of links to my page. Plus, I remembered seeing a little “This is not spam” or something button, so I was just gonna go with it… and it made me feel better about the situation. When I saw that the same thing had happened to a blog I follow (From Cave Walls… I dig it) I decided that I just wasn’t gonna worry about if I had done something wrong or what not.
I feel the need to share a bit of my thought process on Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning, the timeline, and some of my intentions with sharing the experience of losing Kateri. At first, at the very beginning, it was as simple as “I don’t wanna forget”. So on that first night, after I crawled into our bed for the first time in months… for the first time alone… I wrote shit down. Now comes a little insight into the mind of a widower… well, I guess into my widower mind. When I first lost Kateri, right after watching cancer cause her physical pain and force her to live with an unexpected outlook on life… after seeing it create the worry in her eyes… and me trying everything I could to hold on to the last experiences I was going to have with my wife… I was confused, lost, scared, and felt absolutely alone. I freaked out. My brain was going 8 million miles a minute… but through the dense fog that cancer creates when it comes into your life. And when it took Kateri away, for me it blocked out all those other good memories that were on the other side. Writing things down helped me cope with some of the ugly emotional stuff. It helped me be reflective on this experience. It helped me remember. And I hoped it would help make room for some of the other twenty years of good memories.
As I was trying to maneuver the gauntlet of grief that life had slapped me with, it also reminded me that I live in the real world and there are other challenges besides just the emotional and psychological ones. I was worried about my future (even though the future was a hard thing to think about right after losing Kateri). Through the thoughtfulness and graciousness of friends, family, and strangers I didn’t have to worry about the immediate future of my finances, but it occurred to me that I needed to figure out some way to make up for going from a two income household to one… so I thought about what is was that I wanted to do… and started flinging shit against the wall hoping something would stick. Hence, Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning. All I felt like I had was this experience… so maybe I could take it and turn it into something positive for my life. Maybe there would be people out there who were interested in what I had to say. Maybe those people would get something out of me sharing what it was that I was going through. Whether it be entertainment, inspiration, reflections on their own their own lives, or just a check-in from a friend. I felt Kateri’s and my life was a good story… a very sad story… but a good one. Why not share it? I also wanted people facing adversity to see that they’re not alone. So I started the process with a blog. (well, I started by emailing Ellen DeGeneres asking for help, but she didn’t respond… so I went with the next logical thought of, “maybe I’ll write a book?!”… which also hasn’t happened)
Creating this blog has been a learning experience. It has been therapeutic. With each blog post I learn a little bit more about who I am, who I want to be, what it is I want to do, and how I am going to do it. Every time someone visits Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning… I feel good. Every time someone likes a blog post or leaves a comment… I feel good. When someone I have never met emails me saying that they can totally relate to my words because they just lost their husband or wife and it has helped them… I feel good. This blog has led me to Widower/Widow forums and support groups which have been fulfilling, insightful, and have provided perspective… which has made me feel good. So when Facebook’s algorithm decided I was spam and I thought I wasn’t gonna be able to share my story on the one social media platform I know… it was kind of a personal and emotional hit. Although I don’t really know where this blog or experience is gonna take me or what doors it may open or how long it will keep going… I do know that it feels better when 47 people check out a blog post than when 3 do! (That whole positive affirmation thing)
The lesson I learned through Facebook blocking my posts (for whatever reason) was that I still have hopes and dreams. They may change here and there or may be tweaked because of this experience or that, but I still have them… even on days I don’t wanna get out of bed or mingle with society. I have been given a new life and I am in the process of relearning what those hopes and dreams are. I have goals… and there will be challenges I face as I try to attain those goals, but I’m not going to give up on those goals until they just aren’t a possibility anymore. Some of my ideas may just be pipe dreams. Some might be straight up irrational. But my life… this new life… was unwanted and unexpected. So what do I have to lose?! I don’t exactly know what I’m doing with this new life or how I’m going to do it, so I’m just gonna keep flinging shit against the wall… and see what sticks.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
- Have goals. Have Hopes and Dreams. They don’t all have to be big ones. Hell, feeding yourself as a widower is a good goal… and pipe dreams are just always fun to think about! (That’s why we all talk about what we would do if we won the lottery!)
- You’ve read enough… and I’ve gotta water plants… so I hope you have a good day!