It’s time for me to #deleteFacebook. Not just deactivating, but deleting it permanently. I did a bit of a purge this week. I was having some problems with my phone, so I reset it to factory settings and didn’t restore my backup, which was easier than going through and deleting everything I didn’t want. I’m cleaning up and trying out what those consequences mean. Instead of filling my time with junk from the Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram, I’m disconnecting. There’s only a finite number of connections a person can have, and I’m happy with the ones I have now. Nobody ever really needs to get in contact with me that urgently, and there are still like 10 others ways to reach me if you really wanted. By removing social media, I’ll have more brainpower left over for the things I want to do. I’m ready to disconnect.

I’m expanding my morning ritual of doing nothing. Sometimes after doing a challenging chore, I’ll need a bit of time to clear it out of my brain with video games, TV, and the like. Obviously there are things that need to be done, but when there isn’t, I’m going to lie down in silence. I accomplished a lot these past couple weeks. I fixed a shelf that had been sagging, pulled out the stove and cleaned the floor underneath it, changed the filters on my humidifier and HEPA filter, unclogged the drain (3D modelling and printing a custom drain snake in the process), sold some jewelry, wheeling and dealing on Kijiji (Canadian Craigslist), and fixed the car. All sorts of odd jobs, all in line with spring cleaning, taking the initiative instead of just not doing it like I used to. Carrie said that in the past few months, I’ve done more than in the past few years. Calming things down and breathing deeply helps the body enter into a relaxed state, so it’s easier to enter into a productive mode when you need it. Less really is more.


In line with preserving what little energy I have, it was reflected to me a few months ago that I have too much empathy. It’s a skill I over-use, and I’ve started to notice when I get too absorbed into another person’s perspective. It comes from being gaslighted by my family over the years, having my grasp on reality questioned conveniently timed with when I was confronting them with their mistakes. As a result, I’m prone to being absorbed into other people’s perspectives, even when it conflicts with my own. That perspective-taking is an essential skill for surviving as an adult, but I sometimes take it too far. I have felt bad for people who were maliciously attacking me, when really I should have been directing that energy to protecting myself. Now, I’m trying to value my own perspective and stick up for myself. Sounds selfish, but I’m really trying to stop being so much of a pushover.

Saturday, I had a pretty bad anxiety attack brought on by an especially stressful day. I lost sight of things and just started doing chores like crazy. Feels nice to complete a lot of work, but then I ran out of fuel by the middle of the afternoon. I was trying to sell something on Kijiji, and something that a buyer said triggered a memory of my dad. (Believe it or not, I try to talk or think about my family as little as possible, but whenever it does happen, I process the thoughts and feelings until it goes away so I can go back to dealing with more important things.) So when the buyer reminded me of my dad’s bargaining, I started venting to Carrie, but then something different happened. Instead of the feeling going away, it started amplifying. It got worse and worse, and then my body went into a panic. Heart was aching, chest was tight, struggled to breathe. I tried to carry on with my day, but by evening, all I could do was lay down until I drifted off into sleep.

It was a reminder that even though I’ve regained some productive capacity in recent weeks, it’s still quite limited overall. I always seem to forget it, or maybe I just don’t want to believe it because I’m used to being capable and strong and I don’t like operating from this weak position. But alas, I have to reconcile with this new version of myself. This is who I am now. I wrote the other day about how I still have so much darkness left in me, and what I meant was that I still have a lot of delayed emotional pain to process from the abuse. Feelings don’t go away until you feel them, often requiring physical sensation and paying interest on the delay. Essentially, I just need to feel sad. So far this year, I’ve cleared my schedule, simplified my life, and done a lot of nothing, but I eventually need to address all these bottled up emotions. About a year ago, I stopped seeing my counsellor because I had run out of free sessions; 25 is extremely generous, and it saved my life. I could have sought more therapy, but I put a cap on it so that I could refocus my efforts on tidying up the rest of my life and marriage. I’ve been able to do that, but now that cap seems to be leaking from the pressure. It seems like stress triggers these little panic attacks, so I need to be especially careful to not put a chink in my own armour.

Occasionally, I still wrestle with suicidal thoughts. When I get extremely stressed and overwhelmed, all my mind can think to do to remove the pain is to end it all. When the stress dissolves, the thoughts go away. I really don’t want to die, and I know I have options and places to turn to if I need. It seems like it’s time for me to pick up my shovel and continue digging into the shit-clogged storm drain of my past. I keep thinking of myself as a kid interacting with my dad, who was vastly more powerful than me, and how he repeatedly put himself first. Maybe he wasn’t capable of loving me. The human body is pretty remarkable in how it can delay emotions by bottling them up. My buffer is full though, and the only way to clear it out again so that I can adjust to the normal ups and downs of everyday life is by processing everything one by one. It helps to keep reading the book “Adult Children - The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families” because it explains so much of my family dynamics. If I’m ever going to survive, I need to continue dealing with the emotional abuse from my family. This go-around, I want to focus less on what they did and more on what happened to me.

Finances. This is one of the final hurdles for us. All that schooling, job changing, buying a place, it all adds up after a while. We have a lot of debt. It would crush lesser persons, but even though it doesn’t quite look like it, we’re in a much better position than previous years. All of our problems have gotten out in the open, and now it’s time to pull up our socks. I’ve more or less dealt with my childhood stuff. We both had our big spending years where we were soothing our inner children who grew up poor. We had our travels, our fun parties. We paid for our educations, and we had an awesome wedding. We made the timely job changes to escape burnout and misery, and now it finally feels like we’re settled. No need for big trips anymore. No need for super fancy status items or clothes because we already have way more than we need. Time to just buckle down and work on paying off our debts.

I never really meant for it to happen this way, but it’s time to grow up now that I’m entering my 30’s. Time to disconnect from the wasteful social media timelines and newsfeeds. Time to open up my capacity by resuming the process of cleaning out the closet of my childhood. Time to settle down, save money, and pay down debt. Time to see myself as a tired old man, and savour every moment I have because it could easily be my last. I’m disconnecting from the mental junk food of social media so I can reconnect with myself.

Jonathan Phan Lê @jon_le