That day when you realize you are in an abusive relationship with Facebook. Again. Again, meaning you realize, again. And also that you are, yet again, in this relationship. You keep coming back.
I firmly, with great conviction, left Facebook a couple years ago. I had to. I realized two things. One, I was not reading any more. Instead, I was scrolling through my newsfeed, as compulsively as I used to read. And what was generally available was just– novocaine. Where books once used to fill me, inspire me, lift me up– this poisonous, moment by moment account of many lives, of many thoughts, of many many disparate, usually vapid or at least surface level THINGS– this was dragging me down. Numbing me. Killing me. Killing that sense of hope and creativity and inspiration that is me. Like being slowly slapped to death by the banality of thousands of hours of well-meaning, empty small talk, peppered with just enough substance to keep me hooked. Ingeniously presented by a cast of people I love and mostly know. Or maybe know and mostly love. Social media is so smart in doing what it does. Roping you in with targeted precision. And it is not healthy for me. I recognized that, two years ago. I shut it down.
And then I started ATAO.
In creating this endeavor, I enabled myself. I said: I need social media. Because social media is how people who are able to support their kennels are doing it. Social media is how you reach the masses who want to care. So I need Facebook. I need to go back.
Oh, I’m back. I’ve been back. I’m fully back in the world of reading that newsfeed more hours per day than I do anything productive, constructive, self-nurturing.
In the words of a friend, long ago, something needs to change.
This is supposed to be a detailing of my coping against depression and anxiety.
I am lucky and blessed and fortunate to spend time with my dogs– my own pack. I am mushing. I am doing it, running this kennel. Working at a job which I love. And yet, I am still struggling. That’s no big revelation.
So, why? What is missing?
(And don’t get me wrong: the Bastard Depression doesn’t need anything to be missing. It sits and waits and lives and exists always. And, at the same time, I know I have done better and coped more easily and part of that I can recognize is that there are some essential, vital things missing in my life. So– aside aside… what are they?)
A few things.
Exercise. When I went through an extraordinarily tough time a year and change ago, it was running that got me through. I saw and realized that running, feet on the ground, pounding away at miles upon miles, saved my ass from spiraling. I mean, I kind of spiraled anyway. But it was like I could spiral out in those miles, unfurl that twisted feeling across a distance, and not be so held down by the tight coil of darkness. Boxing sustained me for years before that: something I could work on, practice, and something that pushed me.
Now? I’m not exercising at all. Instead I’ve reverted to a different coping mechanism, which is eating a lot. I think this can also be a winter thing, and it’s definitely “I’m trapped in this cabin where I live and work and the only friends I have are these chocolate chips” thing. But it’s not helping me: I’m not snacking with healthy intent (see previous sentence).
Reading. I’m not reading at all. I’m trying. I’m eeking out paragraphs at a time. But when I think about the sheer number of hours I gave in my childhood and in the happier periods of my adulthood to books, I see that I’m missing that in my life and that it’s a gaping hole for me.
Cleaning my space and performing self care. Let me bring this down to the real basics here. When your partner suggests, gently, that you may want to consider showering or brushing your teeth every once in a while, you have probably arrived at a location related to self care that is… Distant. Sure, yes, I’m a dirty musher. But I know a lot of mushers who look forward to showers, teeth brushing, or general self-grooming. I am not one of those. I have to force myself to do these tasks.
Okay, so that’s a real truth-swallowing look at some of what is going on for me, and what I can work on.
And, on that note, how can I do better at these things? Well, for sure, one thing I need is time and energy.
A good thing in my life is my dogs. Yay, dogs! Oh yeah that’s what this blog is supposed to be about. Well, I pour a lot of care and love via time and energy to the dogs, but at the moment the rest of my available time and energy is being diverted from myself. As I will surely need to reiterate often (for my own benefit), I cannot take the best care of my dogs without taking good care of myself. Obviously I have no desire or intention to remove any care from my dogs. I have made a deep commitment to them.
So from where can I get time and energy?
I’ll tell you where: I can get it from Facebook. Namely, I can get it from getting the hell off Facebook.
Two years ago, when I started ATAO, I argued in my self-enabling way that I absolutely had to stay on there to market my kennel.
You know what, if I can’t care for myself and if I subsequently get to a place where I’m not doing my absolute best for the dogs, what’s the point of being on Facebook at all to promote this sadsack of a kennel? (I’m not saying it’s a sadsack right now, but I sure am, and eventually that’s gonna bleed over.)
So with much ado again:
I need to get out of the cycle of waking up to read Facebook, looking at it whenever my brain needs a break. It’s not a break. It is frustrating and unfulfilling. It is both empty and draining. It is hurting me more than it is helping me. It takes up time where I could be exercising, reading, or heck, brushing my teeth. When I go to the well of social media, I let the empty validations fill up the spaces that ought to be filled with actual self-care, nurturing, real nutrients. It’s gotta change. I’m failing here.
Also? This is the age of technology. My excuse about needing to be personally ON Facebook to share All the Things is a pretty empty suit of an excuse. I can easily send my technological minions to do the work of promoting ATAO on the stupid book of faces. This blog has a “Publish to Facebook” feature. Sure, it’s not beautiful, and I think sometimes it gets eaten by FB algorithms, but it does function. I can link Instagram pictures right to the page. The only real reason I personally want to be on Facebook, let’s face it, is to interact with all those endorphin-releasing, ultimately worthless notifications. The beautiful red numbers which say: You exist! You have been seen! You are even LIKED!
Nope. Nope. Nope.
It’s empty water.
I gotta give it a rest.
So maybe I won’t raise a million dollars to make running races easier. There are plenty of amazing mushers who did fine before social media existed. Maybe even better in some ways. Anyway, I don’t think I’m going to get rich from my posts. And do I really want that? The people who follow the progress of this kennel, I have a feeling, will follow whether that’s seeing posts on FB, or receiving nifty emails now and then, or subscribing to the blog (you can do that!).
Cuz that’s the thing. I’m not falling off the earth entirely. I’m going to keep posting here– In fact hopefully I’ll write more. Writing should be on my list of things I need, things that are missing. But I can’t even get there without some of those other things first. My posts here will even be robotically posted to FB.
I opened the comment section here so if you do want to interact with what I’m writing, feel free, and welcome. I want to hear to voices of the people who have stuck with me, who have supported me so far. I am not closing my ears to you at all. I just need to like– Go into another room.
I’ll keep posting pictures which do end up on the big ole Book.
And, in the interest of self-preservation and getting away from that addictive newsfeed: that’s what’s going to happen now.
ATAO Kennel will continue to exist on the book of faces. Will Troshynski is going to take a break.
Cuz you know what? I have four baby puppies and four growing up puppies and two old puppies who are yearlings, and two grown dogs, and two old dogs, and all of those doggos need a lot more love and attention than this dumb Facebook page does. And for that matter, so do I.
So I’m going outside now, and I’m dumping all of my bottles of desire to look at that newsfeed down the drain.
I’ll see you here, and next time I promise I’ll talk about our last great run– the one where I saw a meteor shower– and how impressed I am with all of the dogs– they are so amazing– and also I’m going to take a hot second to just *read a book* and go for a run and look at the ceiling and wonder about life.
Oh yeah, also I’m going to brush my teeth now.
Love to all of you who continue to follow along with this adventure no matter how difficult I make it for you. I’ll be here. Come find me.