Monday, November 07, 2011

URL or IRL (In Real Life)

There is some discussion in my little blog world about the value of on-line friends vs. real life friends. One of my bereaved mom friends wrote about it here.  I admit I have spent an enormous amount of time online in the past three years. Beyond the pale. My husband and children have probably shaken their heads more than once to find me propped up in my favorite chair with a cup of tea and my computer open on my lap. Perhaps it's not been the best use of time, but I am incredibly thankful for the technology that has gotten me through countless sleepless nights and restless days. It became my drug of choice when trying to deal with a weight on my chest that felt like a boulder and couldn't be moved. Some use alcohol, some use sleeping pills or painkillers. I use the internet.

In that cyberworld, I found friends who had "been there",  and friends who were at that very moment exactly where I was. They expressed words for which I had no vocabulary. They gave companionship and comfort in the cold and harsh landscape to which I had been sentenced. I had some friends in real life that did the same, and most of that comfort also came via the internet--text messages and email and facebook. In moving to be near our living children, it necessitated that we move away from our support system.  At some point in the past three years,  most of my friends and family actually became online friends.

That is slowly changing now. I am gradually regaining a real life, with real moving people in it, but it's not good enough.  My real life is often about activities, checklists, getting things done. My online world is more interior. It's about thoughts, feelings and exploring deeper meanings. I get to reflect with others who are figuring out how to live in a strange new land. I would prefer that they all lived near me and that I could meet with them each day, but that won't ever be.  So my URL world must do the job. It is essential now for balance. It cannot be replicated in real life, and it doesn't fit into the perfunctory and superficial routines of a typical day. The urgings to "have a good day", when I am out and about, don't meet the needs of my searching heart. And though I nonetheless smile and nod my head, I can do it knowing I have another place where I am known.

I have been on a journey that I didn't choose and for which I was unprepared. My own resources,  which had been fairly adequate up to that point in my life, were quickly tapped and emptied. I needed more. I found it online with people who bothered to care. Their daily encouragements, their letters, their shared sorrow, the conversations about the harrowing, yet spiritual places of grief...all so precious. I owe them a great deal and cherish the friendship of many whom I have never or barely met. I bless their presence in my life, and the  internet that gave them to me. I believe now that I have been sitting at God's big table of love.

Ps.42:7,8 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.  By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me-- a prayer to the God of my life.


Robin said...

What you write about RL and activities in contrast to online and interior is so on target.

I think that my rl friends would do just about anything at all for my family and me -- but it's my OL friends who read what I have to say when I'm in bed at 2am and can't sleep, or who take the time to reflect and respond to the interior life. Since we can't go and do something together, we stay and listen to one another.

And I been thinking the past few days: not one of my group of close friends has lost a child, so I am the odd one out 100% of the time -- but online I am one of many, part of a vast community. How would we ever make it without one another?

karen gerstenberger said...

I agree with everything you said, Karen. And though I have friends IRL whose children have died, we still do not always connect well. It's been online where I've found a true spiritual grief community. Camp Goodtimes has been another great resource, as most everyone there has been touched by cancer, but here is where much of the deep spiritual work is being done. I am so very thankful for your presence here, as well as Chris & Robin's!

Anonymous said...

Karen you have an unbelievable way to express your thoughts and your intense personal journey. You have shared such an intimate part of your life with other mothers who share a loss. You have given us so much as we shared this grief journey. I often feel so isolated but know that there are others who can relate. You have been such a gift to me these last few years. I wish I could be the strength to you that you have given me. I hope you continue to get comfort from our sharing on line. A new friend Joy

Jenny said...


Beautifully written, as always. Robin's comment hit home for me because none of my close friends have lost a child either, yet here in the blog world, I have many companions on this journey.

Adrianne said...

Wonderful post and I couldn't agree more. I have met some amazing people through the internet who have helped me and encouraged me. I lost my daughter to SUDEP at the age of 3. I have found blogging about my personal journey has not only helped me but others who have gone through the tragic loss of a child.

I love reading your blog. Thank you!

Kay said...

What a beautiful post..the ending was perfect. I too have found solace in my URL friends..they don't need to know or care about the load of laundry that isn't folded or if my hair isn't fixed quite right. Sharing in the URL world is more about the heart than all the other 'stuff' and I have found I know my URL friends in a deeper way than many of my IRL friends. I am on a new journey now, so the beat goes on... Hugs to you, my friend! : )

Anna said...

We are all grieving something in this dying world--you just happen to have one of the heaviest of them all. You've been a source of comfort to me also as I'm constantly amazed at the fact you keep on keeping on. I also love how you express yourself. I appreciate you whole heaps--and heaps--and heaps.