Monday, November 8, 2010

Confessions of a FaceBook Addict

When I first went on FaceBook, I was a skeptic. Why on earth would anyone be on this thing for hours at a time, telling people about clipping their toenails, and other trivial things? Why let us know about your most recent fight with a loved one, or posting pics of your cat licking himself? And what was with all the games?

Then I played Farmville, and I was hooked.

I spent my days not blessing my family be cleaning the house, baking or doing all that mom and wifey-type stuff, but playing facebook games. The lowest point in my life came when I was online more than with my kids, and I was playing thirteen games simultaneously. Yes- thirteen games. All at the same time.

It became an obsession.

The house wasn't being cleaned, the dishes remained in the sink, and even making dinner was put on hold because my farm needed tending, or I had to dig just one more hole to find the treasure. I was bowing willingly to the idol that was facebook, as well as my computer screen. Even when I managed to get offline, I was still playing games I bought off of a game site. And my family suffered for it.

It took me almost a year to wean myself off of these games, by cutting down until I was playing three. Not bad, but it still could take almost three hours for me to 'get satisfied' enough that I could shut down the computer. The funny thing is, since I'm a freelance writer at home, I couldn't just shut the computer off all the time- most of the business of writing was done online too!

That was when my husband got me a laptop. I don't play games on it, and have no connection to the Internet. It would just be too tempting! I use a flash drive to transfer my writing to the main computer now, but even with this great technological advance in my home, I was still playing too many computer games.

Then something in my life changed. Sorry, I can't tell you what it is just yet- and please don't ask. Let's just say what happens next could be life changing, and not for the better. And no, my hubby and kids are fine- it's just me who's changing. The changes I've already seen in myself are amazingly good despite what's happening. People blossom in adversity.

I've deleted all the time consuming games. I admit I still play one, but I can play it within ten minutes, and I don't need a bazillion facebook friends to play it. No one will die, and I don't need to worry about time constraints. Canceling those games was a big step for me- like an elephant attempting a jump. (Elephants can't jump, but don't tell them that.)

My morning ritual consisted of being on the computer and telling the kids to do their chores. It usually wound up with me yelling, and them feeling harried and unappreciated. It was hard for me to keep my temper, all because I was playing a game that took precedence over my kids. And I never even realized I was doing it until this weekend! I knew I yelled too much at the kids, but I could never seem to stop myself.

This morning was different.

I awoke with a sense of purpose- that I would simply refuse to do anything today that wasted a lot of my time, I was going to spend time with the kids, and I would do my best not to yell. Please note I never promised I wouldn't yell at all- that would be a harder task than an elephant jumping!

I folded four loads of laundry, got more laundry into baskets for washing, and got the kids up and moving. As they ate breakfast with their dad I got dressed, put some of the folded clothes away and went downstairs after my husband left for work. I greeted my kids with a smile and kisses to their foreheads as they went upstairs to get dressed. The computer was on, but I passed right by and started straightening up the place a little. I was so tempted to sit there and play the games, but kept moving. I had to or I would be sucked into my addiction like ants in a vacuum cleaner.

When the kids came down for their morning chores, they were surprised to see me straightening up, instead of being on the computer. I even suggested we play some of the silly songs we heard on Youtube and other sites (the kids love Fred's- The BabySitter's a Vampire, the Gummy Bear song and the Crazy Frog Brothers), and they loved it! As long as they did chores I would replay their favorites, and we got a lot done. I only had to yell one time when they were paying more attention to the screen than to me, and I sat down once with my son because he wanted to do things his way, like not put his sneakers on until the last second before he had to go to school. Last week was a nightmare because he did this and ran late, so I sat him down and firmly told him this was not something under his control. I was Mom, and he needed to be ready for school, Period. In a calm voice. He actually listened. And I didn't have to yell.

In fact, when they did a chore well, I thanked them and kissed their cheek or hugged them. They loved it and beamed under the light of praise.

At the bus stop (which is right at my corner) I asked my son what he thought about this morning. He said he liked it. He liked that I helped and coaxed him to keep going, he liked that I played the music, and he liked that I wasn't yelling all the time. And he wanted it to continue, despite my lack of judgment concerning his footwear. He got onto the bus smiling and kissing me on the cheek.

I asked the same from my daughter as we walked to school, and the response was the same. She had fun doing chores for once, and liked the fact that I had helped and allowed them to play silly songs while we worked together. It was one of the best mornings I've had in a long time. And I didn't play a single game. I didn't even want to.

I came home and made something to eat, and only then allowed myself to play my one game. Ten minutes tops. And now I'm here making this post.

When something happens that changes your world view, it hurts to look back and see all the wrong you've done in the past, but it's really a necessary evil. You need to see what you've done in order to change things. Even passive wrongs like playing too much on a computer can do a lot of damage if not controlled. I might lose a few battles, because changing habits can be very hard to do- but the end result is worth more than gold to me. Today I was a real mom again, and not some game junkie who acted like she was a mother. Let the crops die. Let the animated treasures lie undiscovered. That doesn't matter. What matters is that my eyes are finally opened to see what I've been missing- real life with people who truly love me- and I have not been loving back the way I should.

I'm making changes, and I plan on sticking to those changes. Not just concerning games either, but life in general. No more being 'too busy' for inviting friends over for dinner. No more 'too tired' to snuggle with my husband. No more 'I have to do this first' when it comes to my children needing me. It just doesn't seem that important anymore. I've been too 'me' focused and 'thing' focused instead of 'family and friends' focused. And really, how much real love can you get from a computer anyway?

As for what's happened, I promise I will reveal what's been going on when I get more details and information. Until then, please pray for me and my family, and that I be a blessing to them as much as they have blessed me!


Anonymous said...

Take care kiddo

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