It was early 2011, and I’d accidentally become a consultant. I’d just come through security at the Milwaukee airport, and I was attempting to shove my computer back in my bag while simultaneously juggling sundry pieces of attire (shoes, belt, jacket). Cursing under my breath, I dumped everything onto a metal bench so I could get myself back together. As I laced up my shoes, I looked up to see which hallway would take me to my gate, and my eyes rested on a sign that read, gloriously, Recombobulation Area. I barked out a flustered, exhausted laugh, snapped a quick (and therefore blurry) photo, and went on my way.

I’m thinking about driving up to Milwaukee to sit under that sign for a couple of days.

You see, every once in awhile, I feel a Big Sad sneaking up behind me. I try to trick it into leaving; I dazzle it with my everything’s-okay smile, I laugh in its face, I burrow under three or four blankets on the couch, hoping it’ll think I’ve left the room. But eventually, it catches up with me. And then it says mean things:

  • You’re too old to do what you want.
  • You’re incredibly annoying and no one really likes you.
  • You’ll never find your people.
  • You’ve been eating cookies again, haven’t you? It shows.
  • Your kids are successful in spite of you, not because of you.
  • Your husband is secretly disappointed in you and bitter about your inability to pick a career and, you know, do that career for more than three or four years at a time.
  • Your friends are all together today–without you.
  • You say you’re an advocate for marginalized populations, but when was the last time you actually did something?
  • You have nothing useful, insightful, or important to say.
  • You’re a fake.

These mean things, which on a good day I recognize as lies (or at least exaggerations), do a great job of completely discombobulating me. I drop all the balls I’ve been trying to juggle, and, instead of spending time in fruitful activities like exercising or writing or cleaning the house, I get caught up in largely pointless activities–like reading through page after page of Facebook posts that only serve to discombobulate me further. Which is why, on Tuesday night, I decided to break up with Facebook for “a while.”

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to do that? 

In the last 36 hours, I’ve snuck back on Facebook a couple of a handful of several times (I’m such a disappointment)—but only to make sure no one’s posted something on my wall that requires an immediate response. Which hasn’t actually been helpful, because some people have posted things, and I can’t respond because I was dumb enough to put up a gone-fishing type update, so I can’t be caught online, so I’m feeling doubly bad because now I know people posted things and I’m ignoring them. (Wouldn’t you like to live in my head for a little while?)

ANYWAY. Here’s what I’ve learned in my brief time of (mostly) not being on Facebook: Much like the old saying, “Wherever you go, there you are” (attributed to either Confucius or Buckaroo Bonzai) I will not get recombobulated by putting my fingers in my ears, closing my eyes, and singing, “La la la la laaaa la. I can’t hear you.” The world is what it is, and people are who we are. All I can do is keep my head above water, put a muzzle and a leash on the Big Sad, and try to love people well enough that the world begins to change.

And instead of driving to Milwaukee, I think I’ll designate a small space right in my home office as my very own Recombobulation Area. It’ll be sort of like a time-out corner.

My family’s going to love it.


  1. Carol   •  

    Thanks Kelly for a great blog. I saw that you broke up with Facebook, and thought what a wonderful idea. I have so much that I want to do around my house, for myself, for my family, but never make the time. I thought if I didn’t spend so much time mindlessly looking at everything on Facebook, I might have the time to do some of those things. Facebook causes lots of distractions for me and creates a lot of emotions. Sometimes it makes you angry because people can be so ridiculous about trivial things like what kind of cups they drink out of at various times during the year. Sometime it makes you sad when you see what your friends are doing and wonder why you were not invited to join them. Sometimes it makes you happy when you find stories about positive things in people’s lives. It is fun to see pictures of friends and family. But in the long run, I find it takes away from doing things that I need to do or like to do. Why write a letter to my friends and family with my Christmas cards, they know about what we did from facebook? Do they really? Why have lunch with a high school friend? I know what she is up to these days. Why actually call people and invite them into your home for “Tupperware” party. I will host on line and they can buy what they want. We have lost that personal connection from talking to people. I completely get the recombobulation post. We all need it. Me too. So think I might just ignore facebook for a while, find a spot in my house to recombobulate and do some of the things that make me happy!

    Thanks again Kelly.

    • Kelley   •     Author

      Carol, thanks for stopping by, and I’m sorry your comment didn’t post immediately. Something in it made my spam filter unhappy (it’s super fickle like that). I totally understand the distractions/emotions thing. Oh – and the “how come I wasn’t invited” moments tear me up. In fact, I try not to post pictures with my friends anymore because I don’t want to upset someone. It’s tough to navigate. I’ve been known to say that Facebook brings out the 5th grade girl in me like nothing else can. 🙂 Anyway – happy recombobulating! Holler if you ever want to meet for coffee or something!

  2. Deb tiihonen   •  

    Kelly you are so brave. You are able to say what i feel.

    • Kelley   •     Author

      I’m just learning how powerful, “Me too” is. We’re all in this together, Deb!

  3. Jess Townes   •  

    So, I wanted to refute those bullet points line by line. Just take ’em down. Lawyer them.

    But I know the Big Sad too. And I know that it won’t make any difference, not right now at least. Because you know they are lies and I know they are lies, but sometimes in the middle of it, hearing they are lies doesn’t help. It doesn’t get you back to shore.

    So instead, I just want to say I’ve been there too. Which you already know. And I love you.

    • Kelley   •     Author

      I know you have, and I love you too.

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