At my counselling session today we discussed something that’s become a bit of a problem recently – my obsessive use of the internet.
My eyes open, I go downstairs and almost every day I turn on my laptop before I do anything else. Some mornings we’re late for school because I’ve spent time on there. Often I will turn down opportunities to go out as it means losing precious time at home doing things on the laptop
I got my first computer nine years ago. I was married to Greg and then I started sitting at this interactive box making friends with people with similar interests to me. Greg would sit on the sofa watching telly while I sat outside in the hallway talking to ‘friends.’ Before I got the computer, Greg and I would watch the telly or I would read a book or paint, do puzzles, sing, play the piano. I’d go to bed at a decent time and have more energy because of it. We would go to bed early and have sex. Greg wanted and valued time with me. Once the internet came along that dwindled. Before the internet I would also spend more time with the kids, taking them out. I spent more time with Sasha. I would spend more time cooking and baking. I worked, I had friendships. I had nights out. When Greg and I divorced, I used it for dating for a short time which is how I met Tom. I would sit on the computer just waiting for an email from him, or for him to come on chat. When we were (physically) together I didn’t use it so much as I wanted to be with him. We’d spend a lot of time in bed or eating out, taking the kids to the park or the beach.
When we moved in together is when it got worse. Unable to move about as much while pregnant with Annie and having no car for five months, I started using Facebook and a forum to chat with people. I felt quite lonely and isolated, people had stopped visiting and it was one of my only links to the outside world. When Annie came along, all the hours spent breastfeeding were made easier with the internet to look at and then when Tom pushed me away and rejected my every attempt at anything with him the internet became my saviour. Tom had his needs met in ways that didn’t require me; pub, alcohol, telly, Annie. The laptop soon took his place. When he went to bed at 8.30pm or out to the pub, I sat on my laptop and tried to forget how lonely I was and how much I was hurting. Then discovering my family tree, I was able to completely forget the pain he caused. I could escape entirely, hunting for clues for ancestors. It was like nothing he did mattered anymore as I had something new to focus on.
Now I use it to forget how bored and lonely I am. If I didn’t have it I’d feel lost, alone and hurt but I’ll also probably have a tidier house, food in the fridge, better dinners, clean clothes more often, cut grass, a decorated home, more time for friends – real friends – a different kind of life, outside of the house. I’d spend more quality time with the kids, I’d take them out more but I’d also feel panicky and out of control. If I had a man in my life that was attentive, loving, kind and non-dependent, I’m sure I’d want to spend my evenings with him and not with a piece of metal and pretend people.