I’m so stubborn, it’s how I got here…when your heart’s still beating hang on, just don’t ever let go

(Hang on – Plumb)

 

I started writing this post last year. It sounds so weird writing that. It is now 2018. It seems like 2017 flew by. At this time last year I was nervous about my first on-site interview. I thought I knew where I was going in life and was excited to finally have that light at the end of the tunnel close enough that I could walk there step by step. I guess it was a mirage. A few months later the light went out.

 

It was hard. I cried. A lot. And sometimes I was so broken I couldn’t even cry. I did not want to be alive. Soon I was praying every day and night for God to please let me go home to heaven if he really cared about me. I was in so much pain. And I started healing and was broken again and again. Including when the deadline I gave God for taking me home came and went and I was still on Earth – why did even God not want me? But girl is not a quitter. I am stubborn and I held on to making it through life. This has been a year of fighting to get through and I won. I made it from morning and night and night to morning every day and re-learned how to feed and water myself. And you know what, that is an accomplishment. Sometimes success isn’t an A on a paper or the job of your dreams. Sometimes success is smaller. Sometimes success is I realized I was sanitizing my shoe while sitting in front of the computer at work and that was kinda dumb and threw the wipe away.

 

I really am doing better, but it still is not at all easy. It is definitely still very hard sometimes. It definitely doesn’t help that people have started announcing on facebook the jobs they have accepted and how thrilled they are. I really am happy for my friends who have gotten the job of their dreams, but at the same time, seeing all the posts where the biggest negative is that their start date is still a few months away is hard. It is a reminder of what I don’t have and of a time when my classmates were doing that while I was at the bottom, forgotten.

 

That was a time in my life that I am still recovering from…you know when the windchill is -30 and you are already running late but are still seriously considering walking to work that this was definitely no tiny molehill. Last spring, being in motion was how I could be okay. It was how I could get little bits of food and drink in my body and stop crying if only for a short period of time. I was scared to not walk to work because I’d been doing it every single day, but ultimately, logic and safety won out. I most likely couldn’t get to work on time walking, and walking in the dark not knowing how slippery the roads and sidewalks might be is obviously not safe. Not to mention I also didn’t know how deep the snow might be on the way to work. I drove for a week, and nothing really bad happened. I was okay. I probably will walk some days now that it is a little warmer, but now I know that not walking isn’t going to make my world suddenly explode or anything.

 

Lol…and speaking of experiences changing me…apple juice used to be a treat. After months of watered down apple juice being the easiest way to get at least a little calories and fluid in my body and therefore being forced in through tears so many times, apple juice no longer even really sounds that exciting to me. Apple juice feels like pain and tears…I hope that’s an association that will go away, because apple juice was a cheap easy way to have a fun treat before, but grief is unpredictable, so maybe tomorrow I will want apple juice like crazy, or maybe I won’t drink it again ever…who knows…

 

I recently stumbled across a blog that I really connected with. Yeah, I know you shouldn’t use prepositions to end sentences with, but I also don’t care. There are some rules I think are dumb. Anyway, the blog is about how kids who do well in school are often assumed by outsiders to basically have life made and explains common problems these kids face and how they are often the underdog, with fewer friends, less support, less recognition, less appreciation, more bullying, etc. I am not going to link to the blog, because the comment section (and even some of the articles) are a place where people tear each other down claiming that if you/your kid does not have this exact struggle then you/your kid must not actually be doing well and also claiming that if you/your kid is doing well in school then you/your child’s behavior should be excused no matter how otherwise unacceptable. I definitely do not agree that doing well in school gives one any right to misbehave. You can be the brightest kid in the world and I still think you need to follow directions, pay attention when spoken to, and be just as courteous as any other kid. I also think that every single person has their own unique wiring. No two people are going to have the exact same life and therefore we can’t decide whether or not someone we don’t even know is “intelligent” based on whether they have the exact same struggle as this other person. It is entirely possible to be doing well in school and pretty much have life made just as it is possible to be smart and struggling in pretty much every other area of life. People don’t come from a factory with a finite array of settings. Anyway, this blog made me realize that I wasn’t the only one who felt the way I have at times. I am not the only one who thinks that what they call it in elementary school, “gifted,” is anything but. I have experienced many times people thinking that because I was doing well in school that I must not have to try and that it was easy for me. Not true, I believe that hard work is a big part of success for probably the majority of successful people, and it hurts for you to brush aside all that work. I have experienced people acting like any struggle I had wasn’t valid because I was doing well in school so I must have life made. Not true, there are plenty of things school-related and otherwise that have been difficult in my life, and it hurts when you won’t let me be more than just my grades. I have experienced expectations either consciously or subconsciously seeming higher for me than others and the problems that can cause. Also, according to this blog anyway, it is super common for kids doing well in school to struggle socially – also definitely true of me. This blog kinda made me understand why I fell through the cracks – everyone assumes that the kid who did well in school has it made and can have whatever job they want and therefore any concern in this respect is negated as either completely unwarranted and first-world-whiny-pants or is some sort of self-made issue (being too picky, not trying…). Not to say there weren’t or haven’t been people who have supported and believed me – there were and are. Not to say woe is me let’s have a little pity party for me. Just saying that it felt good to find out other people have struggled with not just one thing kinda similar to what I have, but even very similar sets of struggles. Just saying that even if some people were unintentionally (or even intentionally) hurtful that it helps to understand more.

 

There are definitely some people who are intentionally malicious, but I think most people aren’t trying to be hurtful – they just don’t know what my life is like. Some people intentionally look for where I am weak to make their attack that much more damaging, but some people aren’t even trying to attack. For example, in fifth year another girl took me aside and asked me to please not attend the review session before a certain exam because some people don’t think it is fair for me to attend because I am probably going to pass anyway. Obviously I was upset and frustrated, but my being there doesn’t really hurt anyone – the class wasn’t graded on a curve and it’s not like there was a cap on how many students are allowed to attend class…and even if there were, I am not willing to sacrifice the grade I have been working hard on all semester for some do-gooder who hasn’t spent enough time studying all semester but probably agreed with her friends to be the one to talk to me. I guess in a way they kinda got what they wanted because I was frustrated so I probably got less out of the session anyway, but it hurts that it would make someone else feel good to watch me fail. I work as hard as I can to set myself up for success and when I am doing okay I am not going to let someone else kick the stool out from under me. I think though that she wasn’t trying to be rude or hurtful. I think she genuinely thought she was doing the best thing for everyone involved.

 

But I have to do what works for me…You know you still have some issues with communication when you are willing to pay membership fees to ASHP for no apparent reason except that if in the future you ever have to go to midyear again and want to pay the member rather than non-member fees you won’t have to talk to customer service…especially because I really don’t want to ever go to midyear again, and also paying continuously year after year means eventually I will have spent more than I would have saved by just paying the non-member fees and still not having to converse with anyone, but despite the fact that I am growing in communication skills and may very well have been fine talking to customer service when the time came up, sometimes that’s just not a risk I feel like taking and if I can come up with the money to prevent it sometimes that is a gift worth giving myself. If it were some exorbitant fee I wouldn’t do it, but sometimes it makes more sense to indulge in things that make life easier if I can.

 

This is my first post of 2018, so I guess people usually talk about resolutions or their one word or whatever other tradition they do for New Years…I’ve never been big on resolutions. A new year being a reason to make changes has never made a lot of sense to me…yep, spoken as a girl who hates change and as someone who perceives New Years as simply another day with no extra meaning. I guess that is how most holidays are for me, because I prefer the orderly routines of day to day life and holidays add a whole new set of social rules that are not necessarily written with me in mind. Because this day was magically chosen to be holiday there are suddenly all sorts of new rules that aren’t used often enough for me to learn them about whether or not it is appropriate to try to interact with another human and what not…I would not be opposed to wiping all holidays off the calendar as long as we get to keep snack season at some point in the year…and considering how much I write, you can imagine that picking just one word is way beyond me…I did a New Years reflection a few years. And then I gave up, because finding the questionnaire again sounded like work, and the answers started getting pretty predictable…and some of the questions were dumb and pointless, like three favorite books I’ve read…umm have I actually even read three books that weren’t textbooks? I mean, yeah, I listened to quite a few books before I lost interest, but I don’t read a lot anymore. I don’t even really read blogs nearly as much as I used to – youtube will talk at me without any effort exerted on my part…and then I saw something about New Years and finding your identity and I kinda liked that idea…I know who I am is someone who craves community and finds it best through serving. I am still trying to really find somewhere to serve that really feels meaningful and fulfilling. I am still trying to figure out how to make friends, because guess what?! If you felt at least internally even if it wasn’t obvious yet that you were struggling socially by early elementary, you don’t magically learn all those things you missed out on overnight when you become an real-ish adult. Y’all, I think I might be a real adult now. I was shopping like all day for a new mattress on Monday. It is way overwhelming and I have no idea what I am doing. If Sams Club still had the same mattress I bought a few years ago that my brother claimed when I moved out I would totally march my butt in there, buy me a membership and a mattress, and just carry it the mile-ish home. It is reasonably priced and familiar…but they don’t. And I have no idea how to judge one mattress versus another. I know pretty much every store told me their mattresses were absolutely the best quality and price. I know which places are more or less expensive and which ones deliver and how much they charge for delivery…but I have pretty close to zero idea how to pick out a mattress and whether a higher price means better quality or just means someone slapped a bigger number on what is essentially the same exact thing…but shopping for a mattress without mommy and daddy along makes me feel like maybe I am a real adult now.

 

I also recently read an article called “Unhappy New Year.” It suggests that around New Years you come up with at least one answer to each of three questions. It also kind of suggests that it is totally acceptable to be negative in these answers if that is what your year has felt like. First, “what have I learned?” There is a quote I might have pinned on pinterest a while back, but might not have: broken people are strong/powerful; they know they can survive. I think I learned this year how true that is. Each of the things I have lived through has strengthened my drive to survive. Next question “what have I discovered about God.” I think I have learned, just like the musical Estherday comments, that God doesn’t work on our timetables…because God, is God. I suppose I knew that and had experienced it over and over before, but at the moment anyway, it seems like what is really hitting home right now for this control-loving girl is that I can’t tell God how my life is going to be run and expect it to happen no matter how inevitable or impossible my plans seem. Final question “what can I be thankful for through all of this?” Oh my, I am so incredibly thankful for the people who have supported me through this. Some of these people came alongside me when I was falling apart and loved on me when I didn’t deserve it and was not at all a good person to be around. I was crying in all my alone time and a lot of my not alone time too, not really sleeping/eating/drinking – so clearly not an energetic optimistic friendly face people usually gravitate towards, and there were people who came into my world not to tell me to knock it off because people are uncomfortable with pain, but to really care about me. I yelled at one of my friends and she responded in kindness and wasn’t mad at me. I was not responding to anyone very nicely, but people cared. Some people set boundaries, which I totally understand and respect, but so many people went way beyond the call of duty to do what they could to support me.

 

Y’know, I think I know what I want for this year. I think there are two directions I can go. I can choose bitter or I can choose better. It is easier to choose bitter and go through the year frustrated about my job and unhappy about where I am in life. It is harder to choose better. It will take a lot of hard work, but I really want to be able to next year look back at the year and see how I’ve made the most of the hand I’ve been dealt. I don’t really have any clue how I am going to do that, and I know it is going to be hard work, but I am going to do my best and see what happens.

 

God really knows what he is doing. Today last year I started a rotation where I learned how real-world adult pharmacy works. It wasn’t my favorite thing ever – pediatrics is, was, and will probably always be my passion so no kids means it isn’t going to thrill me…but it did give me at least a marginal level of confidence in treating adults which was enough to make starting my current job not so terrifying. It would have been even harder finding a job and accepting it if I still had no confidence in treating adults.

 

This post was a lot more coherent and flow-y-ish until I decided it was way too long and tried to make it shorter…then I gave up and decided I didn’t really care, so now it is still kinda long and in addition feels to me at least like it’s going in a million dead end directions…

 

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I can’t promise to take the pain away, but you can know I won’t stop trying

(Angel by your Side –Francesca Battistelli)

 I saw this quote in a youtube video a few days ago.

support

The part I covered up isn’t bad or wrong or irrelevant, but I covered it up because there is more than one life event that could cause someone to need a support system. In fact, I think having a support system doesn’t have to be limited to times surrounding negative life events. Life is so much better surrounded by a community of friendly faces. Community and support is so important that I thought of four other titles for this post before deciding on this one…

When she’s all alone feels like it’s all coming down
(Stand in the Rain – Superchick)

But I know that you came
(Thank you – JJ Heller)

Thank you for never giving up on me
(The Reason – Lacey Sturm)

I don’t think I can live without you
(Don’t worry now – Britt Nicole)

I am so thankful for the people who have supported me. It is an enormously important role. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am now if I didn’t have that support…Y’all are so so special to me.

…in like June I made some bread to give the illusion that I was okay, but in reality I was still hardly eating anything…yesterday I made bread and was excited to eat it…sure, time is a great healer, but support is still a very important part of the equation. I still struggle with what happened, but I am doing so much better!

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Still I’m living like a prisoner…Yeah, I did it ’cause I didn’t want to hurt no more

(Heart of Stone – Britt Nicole)

 

I am absolutely loving this song this season. I do like Christmas music…year round…but I do not like all Christmas music all the time. I prefer just a little bit of Christmas music all year complemented by non-Christmas music.

 

I love the raw but hopeful message in this song. I love that the song seems to understand that hard things in life don’t just disappear. I have actually read a lot of blog posts along those lines recently and it is SO validating. It really helps to hear that other people also struggle with after effects of abuse (or other hard things like a difficult diagnosis or a major loss), still living in fear and shame and self-worthlessness and captivity when the chains have been released. It’s kinda like a caged animal that stays inside the cage once the door is open choosing the uncomfortable over the unfamiliar. I am free, but I don’t always live that way. When I became free I was fighting so hard to just to make it through that the excitement of freedom was lost. I had been looking forward to it for so long, but that light at the end of the tunnel had gone out and what should have been thrilling fell flat like a deflated helium balloon. I had been told so many times that I couldn’t do it and would never be good enough that when I faced so much rejection I believed it again and that was the thick fog separating me from most anything else in the world. I was broken and not so sure anymore that what I experienced was abuse and not just the hard reality that I was really not worth it.

 

I have worked really hard at overcoming those thoughts again and re-learning my value, but there are definitely days that those thoughts and feelings sneak back in and I feel completely worthless. The past couple days I have been back there and praying for God to help me write the truth in my heart again. I definitely am feeling a sense of alliance with the other people who are struggling to reconcile the joy of the season with the pain seasoning our lives. It is the time of year when we are expected to live life with a smile, but sometimes by the time I can curl up alone in my room, the smile melts into tears. The coming of the holidays doesn’t mean that the pain never happened. And grief has no calendar. People expect you to get over it and move on in some timeframe, and maybe you will feel a little or even a lot better at the end of that time period, but it isn’t over, and grief isn’t a straight line from point A to point B. I might feel on the top of the world one day and be struggling the next. And I have been lucky enough to have incredible friends who supported me for a very long time, but it is definitely true that the support runs out long before the deep well of grief dries up. Yes, if I expressed a need I could most likely find someone willing to at least attempt to fill it, but when I am the most broken I am the least able to access help. When I am doing well I can most likely explain a very reasonable contingency plan, recite a list of potential resources, and be confident in my ability to get my needs met. When I am struggling I lose a lot of my communication skills and critical thinking abilities. My fear brain dominates and that cute little emergency blueprint is about as useful as the fish and bread in the child’s lunch before Jesus multiplied it for the thousands. It would take a miracle for it to be worth anything. I might know I am not in a safe place, but my drive to protect people as a protective mechanism for myself keeps me from sharing too much or from being completely transparent about where I am. I have always been protective of people, but learned to take it to more of an extreme level when I quickly figured out that CS was less hurtful when I put my developer strength to use. Developers can see the teeny tiny bits of good in people and are willing to invest significant energy into helping people recognize those areas and growing them. That does not mean that it is my fault that I got hurt because I didn’t do a good enough job, and it also doesn’t excuse her behavior. Another lesson I had to learn…

 

It is hard when something happens that completely changes your world and no one really even knows enough about your world to know the true extent of what happened. I was allowed to tell people that my lifelong dream had died and the light at the end of my tunnel burned out. I was not allowed to tell them about the abuse and how this pain was intimately linked to the time I spent being told I wasn’t good enough and would never be wanted. And to be honest it wasn’t *just* the actual abuse making me feel worthless. At school there were also people who thought that because I didn’t handle escaping from the abuse in the most responsible way possible that maybe I didn’t really deserve to be a pharmacist. That also hurt. I was never told who voiced those opinions, and to be honest, I am not sure I want to know, but I wish I could sit them down and help them understand what they were doing. They were essentially engaging in victim blaming. Yes, from the outside it does seem like there were more responsible ways to handle the situation, but when you are in an abuse situation, you are not your best self. You are not thinking clearly. You need a way out, and when you get desperate you might take off running in the first direction you see without really thinking about where it might take you. That is why so many people stay in abusive relationships. They might be terrified of escaping and what that might mean (raises hand). They may have already tried to escape but the attempts failed (raises hand again). Escaping is a brave bold act that will be wonderful in time, but in the shorter term can also bring a lot of loss. At a time when I was broken and scared and hurting and in need of support and encouragement, these people were critiquing my escape attempt and pointing out how it could have been enacted with more finesse. I needed someone to listen to me and to believe me. Instead people blamed me for being hurt. For some people at school that meant sides were chosen because the princess told her friends they couldn’t be friends with both her and me so if anyone was seen being kind to me it was socially unacceptable, so for most people any small act of kindness had to occur in secret which was really hard when these people were the ones with whom I had previously had tightly knit relationships. That hurt. For one mental health “professional” in particular it meant not being willing to believe that a counselor could be abusive and instead choosing to believe if I thought that then there must be something wrong with me – but he couldn’t figure out what it might be. This is why I became so vocal about victim blaming. Victims are people with feelings. We have already been trampled. We need your support, not your scorn.

 

Like some more of the lyrics in the song say “I may be safe, but I’m all alone.” Abuse can be isolating. Escaping can be isolating. Silence is exactly what the abuser wants…and silence was mandated as a condition of remaining in school. I understood that the silence was mostly to cover their butts which was ultimately supposed to be good for me because graduating from a school with an awful reputation makes it hard to get a job, but to be honest my school already had such an awful reputation that I don’t think it was going to make much of a difference. I was never really sure whether to be offended or flattered when people interviewing me expressed surprise about finding me a good candidate considering my school. Yeah, I wasn’t too impressed with my school, but I still didn’t necessarily want outsiders dissing my school…Anyway, the point is that silence is incredibly difficult. We were not meant to live this life alone, but forced silence effectively kept me from going out and finding community to be able to share the burden. Imposing silence took away any possibility of obtaining support if I was going to follow the rules. I wouldn’t have wanted to risk having to start my education over by fighting against the rules, but of the many oppressive ridiculous and unfair rules and restrictions placed on me, I think one most definitely worth pushing back on would have been that gag order. Knowing me, they would have known that giving me the ability to share wasn’t going to make it headline news or anything. I am not one to shout *anything* from the rooftops. It would have allowed me to access support. It could have helped prevent someone else experiencing what I did, or validate their experience having already gone through it. I was already very alone and had lost almost all my close connections at school and the silence served to separate me further. But I was scared and the only option seemed to be to sign the papers as is (except for the typos I insisted on correcting). I wish when their end was changing I had pushed harder for mine to change too, but I’d been pushed down so many times that I barely asked before I just accepted the no and mourned more loss.

 

I don’t want this post to be a pity party. I don’t want this to be about poor me. I think I wrote this because I have experienced how much it really helps to read other people’s vulnerable stories. It is so validating to hear about other people who have gone through or are going through painful experiences. Even if the experience is not identical, the shared similarities have value. It is a wonderful reminder that I am not alone. If I can give that same comfort and validation to even just one other person then this was worth it. And I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer. I really am doing a lot better. Again to quote the song, “Life ain’t been a bed of roses,” but being completely separated from school for the past 7 months has been really helpful in my healing experience. I haven’t had to worry about CS’s interference. I haven’t had to wonder whether this person with whom I am interacting is treating me differently than he/she otherwise might because he/she is one of the ones who didn’t want me to return to school. I do really miss a lot of people, especially my advocate, and the group of teachers/staff members who might not have known what was going on but took me in and gave me a safe place and the support and encouragement I needed, but to be honest the separation from certain someone is probably more healing than having support but having it with the risk of her presence. I am hoping that I will be able to make a trip back to that city someday, and I think that after this separation that I might even be ready to face her without running away in fear. For a long time I really wanted a reconciliation meeting, and I really thought that would help me heal and probably be very good for her as well. When everything fell apart I lost that desire, mostly because I was very obviously in no condition for that kind of meeting to be successful. Now that I have had this time of separation, I think that a reconciliation meeting would be too little too late. I don’t really see a good reason to stir that pot and rekindle those memories now that I have been healing on my own. I am not scared of her anymore because she doesn’t have power over me anymore, but I think even if she initiated that I would be hesitant to agree even given the presence of a neutral party to ensure my safety, because I would have trouble believing this wasn’t just an attempt to get another chance to break me. I know people can change. I know that God wants us to be people of the second chance and extend grace and forgiveness to those who have caused us pain, but I give out so many second chances that I feel like maybe this is a time I should say no and protect my heart.

 

Though the world doesn’t care it matters to me

(It Happened – Stephanie Pauline)

 

I’ve seen blog posts after the owner has not written for a long time that simply say something along the lines of “Y’all, I am doing so much better” and that is the end of the post and often the end of the blog. I don’t think I have been away long enough to warrant that and I think I want to keep blogging…and I feel like as a blogger I have always been way too verbose to have a one-liner post…but I am doing a lot better.

 

Four years (ish) ago I claimed that I had absolutely no OCD issues anymore. At the time it was true…but OCD is a sneaky beast. Since then there have certainly been times when the OCD came back…usually it’s just been a few hours or maybe a day and then it is gone again. Considering the sleeplessness and poor intake over the past months since not matching the first time, I probably shouldn’t be that surprised that a more protracted relapse entered my life even though I am doing a lot better with the grief than I was. My body and mind are still recovering even if I want to claim that I am fine. I still cry sometimes. I gained weight to my goal (not all of it back) and kept the weight on long enough to say okay unless there is a concern it doesn’t matter whether or not I keep this weight on. I did lose some of the weight again, but having a lower set point is okay as long as I am actually eating reasonable meals three times a day and not using up excessive amounts of energy without replacing it.

 

OCD makes it hard to be at work sometimes because people call in sick sometimes and the internet says shared pens are disgusting and dangerous and so are phones. OCD makes me vulnerable to computer viruses, because if I need to search the internet for stomach flu stories, I need to click on every single link…which means potentially clicking on dangerous sites…I am fairly certain that is how my yahoo email account started sending out spam emails on its own which I only discovered when it sent one to me…I was so embarrassed because I have no idea how many people it may have fraudulently sent emails to since the emails are not archived in my sent mail folder…and I don’t know whether proper etiquette is to pretend it never happened or to email absolutely everyone I know to make sure I don’t miss anyone in letting them know it wasn’t really me…but then that would be basically another pointless email clogging up people’s inbox…and I really hope they know it wasn’t really me. Speaking of my obsessive searches…I am very much aware that the more I search the more fear I feel, but when the OCD strikes, the need to know overrides all logic, and it *feels* like reading all the things will make me safer…luckily, so far, although I had a bit of a protracted relapse, it never got to a really bad point at all, more of just a very mild hovering just above a normal point for a long time. Just in case though, after getting home from Target to buy my Christmas tree, I allowed myself to wash my hands because I was at a point where I wasn’t touching things and I knew that if the anxiety didn’t calm soon it would be a lot easier to cope if I washed my hands and kept my apartment at least relatively clean than if I forced myself to horribly contaminate my entire apartment…shopping can be hard. Partly because the internet also says that shopping carts are dirty and because people on the internet admit to going shopping while sick (STAY IN YOUR HOME PEOPLE) so all the stuff in the store might be contaminated. Also, there are times when I want to buy bleach, and I know that I am not quite ready to be responsible with bleach. There have been times I would have been ready to go shopping but didn’t because I was afraid I might come home with a bottle of bleach.

 

Sometimes “just relax” or “what’s the worst that could happen” are unhelpful words that show a lack of understanding, because trust me, if I could “just relax” I would. But sometimes I have to remind myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect…case in point: Thanksgiving. It came into my head that I *was* bringing something to Thanksgiving, so I asked and asked until I finally became in charge of bringing rolls. Easy, right? Well, first I kinda fell asleep after lunch and woke up and realized I intended to start getting the rolls ready a while ago…then I realized the directions were super confusing/vague. As I finally get to the let rise at least 45 minutes I look at the clock and realize that I am falling hopelessly behind the timeline. Remember that not only am I taking extra time trying to understand, the area in which I still wash almost excessively is when cooking…washing your hands doesn’t take a lot of time but do it enough times and it adds up. And I am also realizing that even if I skip half of the rise time I still have nowhere near enough time to re-use the same pan for two batches and I only have one pan that is really intended for making rolls so I’m going to need to come up with a creative improvised solution ASAP to get everything into the oven at one time. So this is the perfect time to spill and/or splatter most of a stick of butter all over my microwave. I don’t know the importance of butter in this recipe – I might just try skipping it altogether next time and see what happens instead of getting stressed out. Trying to make up time while shaking from anxiety makes it hard to get a new stick of butter unwrapped. Just sayin.’ And of course I spill flour all over too. To speed things up I try mixing the bread dough with a mixer…and pretty quickly realize it is a bad idea but for a few seconds freeze which is long enough for the dough to get up into the holes to the point that the eject button doesn’t work and I have to yank the stick things off of the mixer base…so after skipping a few steps I didn’t have time for I tried all sorts of things to get the dough out of the inside of the mixer and am hoping it’ll work again next time I have an appropriate use for it. Anyway, at this point you have to either laugh or cry…so I announced to myself that I now have the most well-greased microwave ever. And as I am looking for more towels to try to clean it up because soaking up some of the drips before they got to the floor with paper towel and napkins was good, but real towels are the only match for the explosion in the microwave, I relax and realize that it doesn’t have to be perfect and my worth as a person is not dependent upon my ability to make rolls. I might feel embarrassed if they turn out bad, but it is not the end of the world if there aren’t rolls for thanksgiving. In fact, I have been at thanksgiving celebrations where there intentionally was not rolls.

 

So yeah. The rolls weren’t perfect and some of them were falling apart. I ended up with a hard to clean microwave and almost every bowl in my kitchen dirty (thank God for dishwashers). I burned my serving tray by pouring the rolls from the pan directly out of the oven into the towel-lined tray. And I was still late to Thanksgiving…but I also still had a wonderful time. Thanksgiving can be hard for me because of my social skills or lack thereof, but I had such a good time. No one made me feel awkward for what I did or didn’t eat or for what I did or didn’t say. It was okay to just be me. I was accepted and included and LOVED it!!

 

Probably a week-ish later I had some time scheduled to hang out with a new friend. Maybe an hour or so before it is time to go I read a text from her that she hadn’t thought to tell me but her kids had been sick. And the way it was worded definitely sounded like the vomiting kind of sick. Full stop. This is basically how I lose friends. Anyone in the home sick pretty much means the person is going to be contaminated for a LONG time. I was determined not to lose my brand new friend. I was terrified because clearly if I hadn’t already been told this is not a contamination-aware home. I am strong. My plan was bring as little as possible in and only things that can be cleaned easily. In my car was a towel to protect my car from germs and spray hand sanitizer. Of course one of the first things that happens as I come in is she is preparing food that my passive can’t reject…and one potentially sick kiddo was helping. So, long story short, I ate throughout the day even with toddler fingers in the bowl. That is not something I really ever expected to be able to do. I don’t know if it would be a big deal for “normal” people, but it was a big deal for me. Yes, I did come home and wiped my flip flops with a sanitizer wipe, stripped all my clothes off into the washer with the towel and my watch band, ran a quick wash cycle while showering, found a new towel and clothes, ran a *real* wash cycle, and worked on cleaning my watch itself, my phone, and the floor where I walked before showering…yes, excessive, but after that I was totally fine again, and that is a huge accomplishment for me. I CAN challenge myself and I CAN do it without falling apart.

 

Do I still have OCD fears? Sometimes. Do I still at times struggle with the grief? Definitely, but I can live life okay with minor contamination sometimes and accept minor risks…and even challenge myself with big risks. And I no longer get up every single morning wishing I weren’t alive. I might not be thrilled with where I am in life, but I am doing so much better than before.

 

I don’t recall where this quote came from, but it’s been on my list of things for awhile… “I needed to live, not live better.” It is easy to be frustrated with myself and see all the perceived failure, but that misses the fact that one of my major success stories is that I lived. There are a lot of really hard things that I have faced in the past year, and even before that, but I survived. Sure, in retrospect it is easy to see how maybe there is some way I could have fought harder and lost less weight for example, but starving short term wasn’t going to kill me. I needed to live, not live better. It took all the power I had to get something in my mouth every day and to keep on making it through each day on almost no sleep. I did my best, and I survived. It really is only by God’s power that I am still here. Barely functioning I didn’t necessarily always remember even the basics of driving like gas vs brake, much less the intricacies…and I was often trying to get where I needed to be while struggling to see through the storm of tears. It wasn’t the best way to live, but I needed to live, not live better…

 

It is crazy to think that at this time last year I was finishing up and submitting the applications to the nine places I expected to interview including the one place I intended to end up. Now I am finally in a job that I do not like, but that I am learning to be thankful for because it pays the bills and has allowed me to grow not professionally, but personally as I learn how to make new friends and stuff…’cause as a resident in a lot of places you get a built in friend of your co-residents who also have just graduated and are in need of friends and with whom you will spend lots of time, so being a real pharmacist I skipped over that hand holding step into the real world.

 

I am really proud of myself. I might have challenges to overcome, but I am a fighter and no one will take away my shine.

Hold on you said and I held on

Go – Plumb)

 

I have been holding on for a long time. One way I deal with pain and loss is to pretend I’m fine and to shove it away into a box and try to cram the lid on top. It may not be the most recommended method, but you have to use the tools in your toolbox, not the tools in your neighbor’s toolbox. And this method is not completely ineffective. I have a lot of unhappy days, but I also am healing gradually and finding more opportunities for joy. Sure, I haven’t even seen a really young child since moving here except for one time at work for a few seconds, but recently I have gotten to hang out with a super cute almost 2 year old and her 5(?) month old sister. It is pure joy…until they have to go home…

 

Each breath breathed means we’re alive and life means that we can find a reason to keep on getting by – Breathe Superchick

 

I didn’t use to realize that life was a choice. It was just the way it is. I have since realized that it is a sign of my resilience that I am still alive and staying that way. It means that I have figured out how to get by. I am strong. I work really hard sometimes to make it, but I keep going, because that is what I feel like I need to do. I keep breathing and finding a way to keep getting by. It is very difficult realizing that my dreams have died. It is still painful and I still cry sometimes, but I am alive. But on Saturday a 6-year-old told me I needed to kill myself. Is it obvious even to someone so young that I am not worth it? I know she’s 6 and I’m 25 so I should know better, but it is the same message but just a little more blunt than I received at school so it is harder to pretend that didn’t happen. I feel like I try so hard only to fail. Why keep trying if it just means more pain later? I so desperately want to get back to pediatrics and especially to get back to my friends at Children’s, but I don’t know if I can take the pain again. The wounds aren’t quite so raw anymore, but neither have they healed enough to have strong bold scar tissue growing to better withhold against tough things. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may break my heart.

 

Some storms claim you. Some will rename you. – Be My Rescue Nichole Nordeman

 

This whole song has some really good imagery. Sometimes when the storm comes through you can’t escape it. Sometimes caught in the storm you get soaked, but when it ends you dry out and everything is back to how it was before. Sometimes though, you can’t go back to how it was before. As much as I would love to be the bubbly girl I was before everything happened, as much as I would like to be the confident girl I was before the abuse, those ships have sailed. Now I am different. I connect differently and I act differently than I did before. Although I guess it is kind of strange to label a girl with social anxiety to the point of near silence and potential selective mutism as confident, that is how I saw myself. I was not confident in *every* realm – socially I was not confident, but I was confident in who I was and in my abilities. That was before I had internalized that I was stupid, worthless, not going to make it, unwanted…It takes time to learn those things, but it is near impossible to really unlearn those things. I miss who I was, but at the same time, I recognize that I can never be that girl again and that who I am now is not all bad. I might be at a dead end career-wise and really be struggling with dissatisfaction about my job, but with God all things are possible and maybe God has wonderful plans for my life. Maybe someday I will be a success story. The more pain and obstacles in the way, the more inspiring the success stories are, so maybe God has something really cool waiting for me…but I have to remember that even if not, God is still good. Even if I never get to be a success, God still loves me and I still will one day get to go to forever home…just not today and probably not tomorrow either.

 

Sorta kinda related, but I recently read a story online that I really connected with. I don’t remember the whole thing, but long story short, this girl experienced a painful loss. A few years later she was shopping for gingerbread ice cream treats and they weren’t available at the store. Somehow in that moment it sparked a reminder of her loss and those ice cream treats were the most important thing in her world and she was crumbling in pain in the store, but it wasn’t really about the treats, it was about the loss…that is kind of where I am. I am doing just fine, minding my own business when all of sudden some unassuming tiny pebble becomes a giant mountain I can’t climb. It is exhausting.

Am I really living, or am I just existing?

(Save Me – JJ Heller)

 

There are a lot of negative thing I could say I’ve learned in the past few months, but despite the pain I think I have learned some positive things too…I’d probably rather not learn but escape the pain, but that wasn’t a choice and it does me no good to stay lost in the pain forever.

 

In March I learned that I am not just a source of parties for my coworkers and that they and other people really care. Maybe some of it was just the human desire to see everyone else smiling, but they were so amazing that week of spring break when I had just not matched the first time. They provided me distraction and let me just take care of me. I think I also learned that being around kids is a really good influence for me. My best friend made time for me and one of her sons said I should pray…she knew me at the time when I hardly spoke at all, so she is the last person who would put any pressure on me at all to pray out loud, especially when I was already struggling, but she looked at me to see if she needed to intervene and I did it myself. And I ate that evening. My best friend is one of the most important people in my life and I don’t know where I’d be without her.

 

In April I learned that my friends care and so does God. On March 17th, I wasn’t ready to even believe that God cares. By April, through the kind support that I really didn’t deserve of a couple of my friends, I was moving from *MAYBE* God cares to starting to believe that God does care. My friends are incredible. I was upset and not being very nice to them and they continued to be patient and keep loving on me. I was devastated and overwhelmed and exhausted and that probably made it really hard to be around me, but they continued to include me. Sure, they weren’t perfect, no one is, but they went way beyond the call of duty to do their best to support me.

 

In May I learned that graduating wasn’t going to end the nightmare that was my abuse history at school. I had been counting down for well over a year, but with the grief, the lights went out and graduation lost its luster. Okay, so really that happened right away in March, but I think graduation actually coming really brought it home that this wasn’t going away. I do know someday I need to face that pain, but I am not ready yet.

 

In June I learned why self-harm was such a strong addiction. Even unintentional physical pain is exceedingly effective in treating (okay, covering up) emotional pain. I fell really hard one day, and it hurt. Now in November I think I am finally feeling fully healed from that…a little stiff maybe from not really being able to move without pain for so long, but otherwise doing well. I am not going to fall into that trap, but I definitely understand why it is so appealing.

 

In July I learned everything happens for a reason even the worst life brings (blessings – Laura Story). After months of getting minimal sleep, having to work a late evening shift until 11pm was not fun, but wasn’t nearly as hard as it would have been otherwise. Instead of being pretty much just a warm body by 9, I definitely do not have fun, but I am able to pretty much be competent all night.

 

In August I learned that God was listening to my prayers and with me even if he wasn’t saying yes to my prayers requesting he take me home. Life was still hard, but God reminded me of his presence when he might not have given me everything I wanted, but did give me a few things that I really needed. I needed the stability of choosing a church and was totally overwhelmed and had no idea how to pick and he helped me make a decision.

 

In September I learned that I can make friends that aren’t just the leftover people no one else wanted.

 

In October I learned that my weight can’t make me happy and isn’t an ideal surrogate marker of my mental status. Actually, yesterday or maybe it was two days ago I heard somewhere that it is ideal to heal physically and mentally at the same rate. I now see how that could be really helpful.

 

So yeah, that is 2/3 of a year of learning…that is totally crazy. A lot of the time it still feels like just a few days ago that the sun came crashing out of the sky, but at the same time it feels like I have been living with this forever. I still cry sometimes. I am still mourning my loss. I am still trying to learn how to hope that it won’t always be like this. Interestingly, I was reading recently something that cited a study that found that at a certain amount of weight loss whether intentional or unintentional, humans begin to compulsively exercise. This isn’t necessarily eating disordered behavior induced, but simply a strange phenomenon found in studies. It made me think about this spring. I did lose a lot of weight, but I also found that one of the only things that made me feel at least a little less bad was to be in motion. The best ways to get even a little food in my mouth was to either make it a social event or to do to do something mildly active. I was walking around the block over and over just to get the tiny amounts of food and water into my body that I needed to survive. I know medically it means I am not getting nearly enough fluids in when I didn’t even need to pee every day…TBH, I think someday I may end up with kidney problems not just from the “dry” times, but also from the times I have practically drowned myself ’cause OCD said to drink like crazy to prevent germs staying in my body. Anyway, the point is that I wonder if what is happening is partly that I lost enough weight that exercise became compulsive and I was dealing with extra anxiety because of that when not in motion or if it was really that exercise helped control the grief…IDK…

Lord I Find You in the Doubt

(Oh how I need you – All Sons and Daughters)

 

This song has been stuck in my head today and I really love it. Admitting need is hard, but this song is a really good reminder that it is okay to be vulnerable. It is okay to admit that we have needs. It is okay to reveal that we are broken and need help putting everything back together…and it is very true. “And to know you is to love you.” I’ve struggled with God these past few months. When life is intensely painful it is hard to understand God as good. It is hard to believe he even exists or cares. I had held on for years of hard things and this was just the last straw where I really didn’t feel like God was good or cared anymore. It felt, to quote Britt Nicole’s song World that Breaks “like life is only pain.” When that is the case, it is so difficult to go on believing. Everyone seems so happy. Everyone has their life figured out…and you are drowning and no one cares. No one sees you as the waves crash high above your head. (Yes, there were people who reached out, and for that I am profoundly grateful, but for the most part, you walk the halls and streets with people who don’t even notice your pain or if they do either shy away or pretend it isn’t there).

 

I have healed a lot, but there are still a lot of moments that are hard. There are a lot of times when I just feel frustrated. And all the people who walked through the worst of it with me are miles away, so now it is even more true that I need God, because he is the only one I have who is still accessible and understands what I’m going through. I do still have moments of doubt – it’s a lot easier to dump out the package of glitter than to get all the glitter back in the package – but I no longer have a totally empty bottle in front of me while I stare at an enormous pile of glitter with nothing but myself to try to clean it up or make it go away. There is a lot further I could go with that analogy, but that wasn’t what I set out to write…

 

Where I am now wasn’t plan A. It wasn’t plan B. It wasn’t even plan Z or plan ZZ…maybe we went through the alphabet three times all the way to ZZZ…I don’t even know anymore. Suffice it to say that a lot of things that should have been exciting have been things I’ve attended or done out of necessity and going through the motions but haven’t really been thrilled. I have been able to experience a few moments of joy or at least calm but the overarching unescapable feeling has been the loss. I’ve frequently been barely surviving day to day when I wanted to be thriving.

 

I desperately longed for death for months…and even now if given the choice I do not think I’d choose to keep living though there’d at least be a question in my mind now. It is hard when you’ve prayed every day for God to take you home and he hasn’t. When you’ve learned that no one wants you and you’re not good enough, not worth it, not going to make it, that feels like the piece de resistance. Even God doesn’t want you. Ouch.

 

Well, at one point in August I was really really trying to make the best of what I had, but was frustrated and told my friend that life was still super hard and it was hard to think it would ever really be okay, but there were three things at least kinda sorta in the realm of possibility that would make life easier…a friend, somewhere to serve, and choosing a church. I saw my friend on Monday. Tuesday I went back to my new home and went to an event at one of the two churches I was still deciding between. I made a new friend, got invited to help serve at an event that was coming up, and I decided that was going to be my church. God was good.

 

Life was getting better slowly and I started considering hope again. Then I packed up some work clothes and went to my parents’ house expecting a phone call from my manager inviting me to come in to process the job title change to pharmacist…and found out instead that I lost my job. I was crushed again. I had been doing so good not crying in front of people, but the tears were pouring down while I was on that call…I was really upset because the one thing I felt like I had left was gone. I was officially losing my coworkers and my job and the place that had started becoming my home in elementary school. Maybe a couple weeks later, still really upset, I told God this place would never feel like home because there were no babies for me here…backstory, I adore small children, particularly the first few weeks of life and at the church I went to at my parents’ house, I spent five hours every Sunday in the nursery. Not necessarily working with infants the whole time, but loving any time I did get with the infants. Well, that day, God brought me into a situation in which I got maybe 2 minutes with a small child. The kid was kind of on the border of really still being an infant, but that time was an amazing reminder that God was still there and still listening even when life was so hard…but at the same time I was thinking if God was going to give me the one thing I exploded about this morning, I wish I could take that back and ask for something about my work situation to improve…I don’t really complain as much about that anymore because it became hopeless and if you put so much energy in and can’t change it, eventually you give up…but anyway, like one or two days later, I hear from my manager that she finally got a position open that I could apply for. God is so good. I was ecstatic!! I was literally jumping up and down once I was alone. I went home that evening and finished that application so fast. I was thrilled!!

And then on Friday October 6th, I got a voicemail from my manager letting me know that she wasn’t able to hire me. I’ve probably written about that already, but I was done with life again, struggling to eat again, not sleeping well again. And burned out on hope – again it seemed like hope was just a way to be hurt more deeply. It wouldn’t have been a big deal to not have the job if I hadn’t known it was a possibility…and it wouldn’t have been such a big deal to find out I didn’t get it if there were any question in my mind whether I would get the job…but in my head, I already was ten steps ahead. In my head I already had this job and finding out I didn’t get it was taking away that lifeline I’d built for myself. It hurt so much and was one more set back in my healing process. I miss my coworkers and my job so bad.

 

But I want to believe in hope again. I want to believe that someday I will be happy again. And if I am being really honest, there is one way in which this extended period of grief has been beneficial. Grief messes with your hormones. The first big hit was in March, and I think since then I have had two or *maybe* three periods, and they have all been super light. That has been a huge blessing. One of the things I had been worried about before all this happened was the difficulty in adequate functioning and the potential embarrassment the first time I was on the first day of a period with new coworkers who barely knew me. I have been sent home early from work when I wasn’t needed, and more than once people have asked if they should call someone from the emergency room to help me, because I have trouble breathing and staying upright and might be non-responsive to people talking to me or waving their hands in my face until I can get enough energy to say something…so not having to deal with that with brand new coworkers is a huge blessing. If I could choose having everything I wanted back or having this, I’m pretty sure I would still choose having everything I wanted back, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t rejoice in the little miracles along the way…and maybe if I’m lucky even after the grief is totally over I’ll get to keep it this way. I could totally dig having only one light period every four months or so…being a girl sucks even aside from the whole being less diverse thing… #firstworldwhitegirlproblems…

11 Days of Brave

Every October, a lot of bloggers commit to writing a post every day on a particular topic. That is a lot more commitment than I am able to give, but I think maybe I could handle 11 days if each day was a few sentences rather than an entire post.

So here are my eleven days of brave.

10/21: I am going to start opening up my heart to hope again. It is terrifying, but I have to believe that hope will be good in the end even if it just feels like a way to be hurt more right now. I am a fighter.

10/22: I completed my first marathon…not as a runner…I was on the medical team. The reason pharmacy is the best fit in the medical profession for me is because brief face to face communication with patients is not my forte. I am fine communicating with other providers as needed and I prefer most to work independently, but today I had to talk to patients directly with some brief interactions. I wasn’t really *supposed* to have to do that, but a lot of times all the nurses would be outside cheering for runners leaving me the only one available to triage new arrivals and start helping them. Luckily each time that happened someone realized I was way out of my comfort zone and jumped in to help before I totally imploded…But I tried, and that was a big brave thing. I was stressed out enough that I started getting enough dehydrated that I was a little dizzy, but I did it and really enjoyed it.

10/23: Today, for the first time since losing my job again, I wore logo wear. Sure, it was “just” a jacket that I have loved for the style rather than for the logo anyway, and the jacket was like my security blanket all last winter, but losing my job and coworkers and dreams was an incredibly painful experience and the simple presence of that logo was too much. A couple weeks ago the best I could do was realize it was way too cold to be outside without a jacket or something and put my jacket in my purse in case I really needed it. Sounds reasonable-ish, right? Well, except for that really needing it was probably not going to happen until my all of me was getting frost bitten. Luckily I figured out later that for most things a jacket wasn’t as necessary as SOMETHING warm that was comfortable enough to not make me whiney…Thinking back to winter storm Decima where I had to get a little creative to stay warm and ended up wearing a pair of dirty pajama bottoms around my shoulders for warmth, I realized that a soft sweatshirt would work too, so I haven’t been freezing the days that it was cold out. Being able to wear the jacket is a huge step in the right direction.

10/24: Today I was having a hard  time. On the way home I felt like I should sing the song God Rocks (here there everywhere better believe that God rocks! Not a doubt, check it out, gotta believe that God rocks…). I really didn’t want to, because it sure doesn’t seem like God rocks. It seems like God is sitting back relaxing when I need help. I feel left alone. I know intellectually that God won’t throw me away, but right now I don’t know it in my heart. Right about the time I stopped singing, the narrator on the audiobook I was listening to said sometimes we ask so many questions that they pile up on top of the answer. It made me think, maybe I have spent so much time asking God where he is and why it hurts to much and why he won’t take it away that I haven’t shut up long enough to hear an answer. I don’t actually know if this one is a Christian based book – I was drawn in by the pretty picture on the cover – so maybe this isn’t the “right” or “Christian” approach, but I feel like I’ve tried everything else and at this point I would be willing to try practically anything if it might help heal my pain.

Off topic, but I was thinking this evening about why today was feeling so hard – there wasn’t really any particular trigger I could think of besides wearing the jacket starting yesterday. I realized that maybe the problem is that I have been so focused on achieving my goal weight. I think it kind of became like a marker of when the grieving is over…but as it turns out, reaching a particular number on the scale does not mean that the grief is automatically over. I can work really hard and achieve the physical goal while emotionally I am still far behind. And this morning I was no longer at the goal. To be honest, in the morning I was able to just brush it off and realize the goal was not some biologically based number and if I am eating appropriately every day the exact number doesn’t really matter. The goal is a healthy weight that can fuel my body. For a while I wasn’t fueling my body. I was exhausted not just from grief-induced insomnia but because I wasn’t putting the proper nutrition and hydration in my body to effectively create energy. But I am a morning person, so everything tends to seem better in the morning. By the afternoon that was just one more reminder of failure. Another indicator that I am not good enough. I don’t want to cry anymore. I just want this nightmare to end. I want to wake up and find out this was all a dream. For that matter, I would be perfectly happy to die in my sleep tonight and never wake up. That might be the best option.

10/25: So this is kind of lame, but the brave thing I did was attempt to ask someone to hang out with me…except I failed because for some reason facebook won’t load right now and that is the only way  I know how to contact this person. But trying is step one and something I usually wouldn’t attempt because I am more of the find community as you osmosis into it kind of way than an actively seeking people out kind of way…

Also, off topic, but I wish that more problems could be solved the way one problem was solved today…my guitar wouldn’t work at all. The computer said it sensed one guitar connected, and the lights on the USB remote thing were lit up and the switch was in the on position…and the buttons were doing nothing. Eventually after frustratedly pressing every single button a few times and realizing nothing was doing anything and there definitely weren’t any steps in turning the game on I was missing, I got the idea to try changing out the batteries…so a screwdriver and four double A’s and a little bit of problem solving and it worked again. But screwdrivers and batteries do not fix ALL of life’s problems…which is probably good because I don’t have another four AA’s to use to fix the next problem…

10/26: I actually did contact someone on facebook today…is it cheating to use that as my brave thing since I kinda used it yesterday? IDK…Speaking of facebook, I also got challenged to take pictures and post them, so I’m doing that…today: the mess under my bed left over from yesterday…

And, off topic, but I do not like Hy-Vee… #annoyed… so it isn’t actually Hy-Vee’s fault for the most part… but I had 5 cents off/gallon on my Hy-Vee Perks card…and the only place anywhere near here that accepts that card is like across town. Gas Buddy and Google both agreed that the price of gas was the same there as everywhere else…so I figured that I’d probably save more than I spent in getting there and back, so I went. Yeah, so I actually passed a Hy-Vee on my way there when I got mildly lost. I figured I’d stop and try to find what I wanted, ’cause I’ve been driving with the gas light on for a while and figured it was time, but I was pretty sure I had enough to stop and get to the gas station…and I got SO frustrated. So disorganized. Found nothing I wanted. Struggled so hard to even figure out how to get out of the stupid store…it’s like a maze in there. So yeah…then I finally figured out how to get to the gas station and got that figured out…and got super lost on the way home…let’s just say if I ever tell myself that I don’t need directions I should probably know by now that I am lying to myself…yep, any potential savings most definitely lost and then some…and then on the way home, I discover that a gas station much closer to me was 4 cents less/gallon than the gas station I went to… #fail…

10/27: So someone at work complained that they felt like they were going to throw up and were going home early and kept talking about how she wasn’t sure if she was going to make it all the way home. So lets just say that even before that my OCD was starting to creep back in just a little and that was enough to push me from creeping in to totally drowning. But I still ate lunch and dinner including going to a restaurant (Panera) where I can’t control what happened to the food before I got it and it is sitting out without being sealed so like anything airborne could be on it or bugs could carry stuff to it…and it almost certainly has had at least indirect contact with human hands if not direct contact…yeah, all that to say that restaurants are already a little scary even before you add in the social aspects…and I am okay.

10/28: So yeah…I already shortened the commitment to 11 days instead of 31 days…and I failed anyway yesterday…but I’m not deleting this and pretending it never happened. I am getting back on the horse and continuing the ride.

10/29: I made a new friend in the garage today…you should probably know that by made a new friend I really just mean I managed enough one to two word responses to keep a conversation going for a couple minutes and said conversation ended in someone inviting me to knock on his door to borrow his bike sometime…but anyway, that is something that isn’t always easy for me…now whether or not I will ever be brave enough to knock on someone’s door is a totally different story, but getting far enough in conversation for that to come up is pretty sweet!

10/30: yeah…I kinda forgot and/or gave up…lol…whatev…

10/31: On my way home from work late at night, someone on the sidewalk started talking to me. It would have been easy to barely acknowledge them and go on towards my apartment, but I paused to exchange a few words…funniest thing ever though, the person said “isn’t it kinda late for walking outside?” That was the point at which I lost interest in talking when I could be sleeping, but I laughed because that lady was obviously also walking outside late at night.

Ready to Smile and Love Life

(Fully Alive – Flyleaf)

 

Grief, loss, and trauma all change you. I will never again be the person I was before, but gradually who I am now becomes a more fully healed person. Oh, I am definitely not saying that I am fully healed, that word “more” is still in there as an indicator that I am better than before but still broken, but it’s a (long, hard) process, not perfection. I have worked hard and come such a long way.

 

God is good. He is not good because I am doing better. He was not not good (pardon the double negative) when I was doing less well. Good is part of God’s being, it is just a lot harder to see and understand when I am on the bottom. Even now I certainly do not understand why God would let my life unfold this way and I really don’t get how a good God who has power wouldn’t have intervened and rescued me from so many hard things I have experienced, but I am learning how to let go of understanding and just cling to the knowledge that God *is* good. God *does* have a plan and has chosen me and will not throw me away.

 

When you are someone like me who worked really hard to be able to use conversational language, it is hard to get past the “fine, good, okay” responses to ‘how are you’ that you have learned from years of observation. Sure, there are occasionally other responses, but when you are building a vocabulary library through imitation, the predominant words and phrases are the ones that you are going to catalog. When you have been in an emotionally abusive counseling relationship in which showing emotion was a way to invite further hurtful interactions, you learn emotion isn’t safe and that takes a long time to unlearn. When your school’s response to the abuse is to punish you because your abuser plays her well-connected princess card to get out of jail free and you are not allowed to talk about the abuse or the punishment and are not allowed to tell anyone you aren’t allowed to talk about it, you work even harder on hiding your heart because if anyone starts to see a glimpse of your pain or starts asking questions about your life you are stuck. You can’t answer and you can’t say why because that stupid piece of paper says you won’t graduate if you do. When you are grieving you don’t want to bring anyone else down and you don’t really have the energy to really reach out anyway. All that leads to a girl who is ready to be known but doesn’t really know how to get past “hello my name is _____ . I work at ______ . It is okay.” Sometimes it really isn’t as okay as I want it to be.

 

Today I long to be back in the city of my school. Yesterday, with no cheating, I was back to 5 pounds away from my goal weight. I am so proud and excited, but I don’t have anyone here to share with. When you barely have told your story, and even when you have it has remained bookended in reassurances that it’s okay, you don’t really create any way to share the successes that to anyone else are either way weird or just normal parts of everyday life. If I were back near school I’d be going to church this evening. Would I have said anything about what’s going on in my life, maybe or maybe not, but there are people there that I might sit next to in silence and just having a close friend right next to me is healing even if words are not exchanged. I have fantasies about just picking everything up and going there on a whim. If I left right now, by the time I got there I bet there’d be at least a few people still hanging out at church, and if I hung out with them a little while then drove all night back here I would be exhausted, but probably not late to work tomorrow. That would not be the greatest idea though, because if none of the people I know were around I would be disappointed, and even if they were, an all-nighter is not something that my body is made for. I dream of just happening to show up in the middle of another work day and getting to be included again. That day this spring is one of the very few times I was able to escape the grief for a while and immerse myself in something enjoyable. By the end of the day I wasn’t just distracted enough to make it through the day, but was really living in a happy inner world…and it is the perfect environment for me because I was objectively helping which feels good for me, and I was surrounded by friends but without the pressure to use my words to interact with them. In the morning I was offered food and pretended to go eat but really just disappeared a couple minutes and came back. By the afternoon, I ate lunch without too much difficulty. At a time when every bite was a success, that is a big deal 🙂

 

It has been a long road. You can’t really ignore the past because it has been so intertwined with the present, but starting from a few months ago, there was not matching in phase I. There was just under a month of hard work and partial recovery when I didn’t match in phase II. Then I lost my job on August 24th…and then almost got it back again but didn’t. Each time I have been pushed underwater again and fought to reach the surface again. I’ve learned to eat because it is the right thing to do even when every bite feels like a marathon, but I’ve also learned grace for when I just can’t. I’ve learned to celebrate the little success when dinner is just apple juice instead of frustratedly seeing the failure of the rest of the meal.

 

Grief isn’t a streamlined journey from point A to point B. Yesterday I was so excited and that joy made me feel on top of the world, ready to just enjoy life as it comes. This morning hasn’t been quite so awesome, but I know that I will do my best and that is enough. God’s love for me isn’t dependent on the number on the scale or on my current mood.. He loves me just as I am.

 

I’ve kinda always put Holley Gerth on a pedestal and didn’t really think she could really get it because she had some hard things but they’d always ended up at the end wrapped in a nice package with a bow. I was listening to her book Fiercehearted this week, and realized that maybe she does get it…”every Christmas song I heard that day felt like a lie, every present I opened seemed empty…I wanted to stop hoping, because hope is what breaks your heart, splits it wide open…and you’re there bare and exposed for everyone to see your loss and disappointment and the cavern of almost abandoned dreams…you want to slip it into the trash and slam the lid forever. But at the end of the day you fall asleep with a stack of tissues by your bed and wake up to hope again tomorrow and if you do this long enough it changes you…it is also not the end.” I guess it is a good reminder that I shouldn’t be so disappointed comparing my middle to someone else’s end.

 

I think I am ready to give hope another chance. I’m not jumping all in yet, but I am ready to dip in a toe…or maybe just a pinky finger.

I’m a Warrior

(Toy Soldier – Stephanie Pauline)

 

Today I have a lot to be proud of. Usually the key to my success at the grocery store is to have a list of no more than three items, preferably just one or maybe two. That is all well and good except that my day off is only one day and I wanted to make bread and there were still at least 6 things I can think of off the top of my head that I didn’t have that I needed…and no, multiple trips in quick succession is not generally an effective workaround.

 

And I had a coupon for $5 off if I could spend $30. Considering I usually spend $10-20/month on food including both groceries and eating out, spending $30 all in one day, especially considering my usual shopping abilities was going to be a stretch goal, but I wrote a list and figured if I really couldn’t do it I would extend myself some grace. As it turns out, the price of chicken was 20 cents per pound more in the store than the advertisement said it would be and that threw off my list and I almost gave up, but I am so proud of myself for persevering. Because of that I had to alter my list a little and I was a little off on where I was at so I spent a little more than I intended and am the kind of person who definitely won’t tell the cashier that I’d like to put something back, but ending up with a full cart of groceries is something I have never done before ever!! (I mean, unless you count when I am shopping with my mom and I am pushing the cart but she is the one picking out groceries). I am so stinkin’ proud of myself!!

 

I didn’t do a perfect job, but sometimes my best is good enough. I might not have gotten the best deals in the world (in fact, I know some of the stuff I could have gotten for cheaper elsewhere), but I figure that after the coupon it probably works back out to at least reasonable prices so it really isn’t a big deal. And I didn’t necessarily pick out the best groceries…hashtag the flavor milk I wanted was only available in the 30 calorie variety and usually I won’t buy unless the calorie count is above 100…except I couldn’t find any milk at this store that met that criterion and so I picked the one with the most calories I could find; 60 calories in original almond milk…I figured it was DIY vanilla almond and the sugar and vanilla extract I will add will probably at least add back some of the calories the manufacturers forgot to put in. And I couldn’t find butter flavored Crisco so I called my mom to ask what the difference was between that and the other kind. Umm…duh…the flavor. So if I ever decide to make cookies, we’ll see how that situation works out, because I am guessing that in the case of greasing things it doesn’t matter much but in the case of making cookies it might make a difference…but on the other hand, cookies have enough sugar that the butter flavor might not be THAT important. It was super weird though seeing white Crisco when I opened the container though…that threw me for a loop. Also, just some advice that is probably obvious to everyone but me, but 5 pounds of flour, for example, weighs 5 pounds, and two of them weighs 10 pounds. I am not really sure why I decided I needed two 5 pound bags of flour, but I did…and that (and all the other things I bought) is kinda heavy. If I were smart I would have put the heaviest stuff in the bag on my back, but I am not smart, so I put it in tote bags to carry home…which is why I was late to the event I go to at church on Tuesday mornings that I don’t work, because I had to stop a few times on the way home to re-adjust…well, that and I spent most of an hour at the grocery store…

 

Also, today I used my big girl words and actually participated in conversations. I am proud of that too 🙂

 

Today I also had lots of opportunities to use my creativity and problem solving skills. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because it isn’t just OCD making me clean up and wash my hands after (or in the middle of) every single ingredient…it’s because I am not sure there is a single ingredient that didn’t spill at some point. Maybe the salt? But I didn’t have a big enough cutting board so a piece of foil and the other cutting board side by side and it kinda sorta worked. Not ideal, but you gotta do what you gotta do and I wasn’t about to go to the store again and get a bigger one. (I might update the post with that picture, ’cause it’s a little funny). And of course I only have the kind of cookie sheet with walls on all four sides which means I made a huge mess trying to get the bread onto the sheet and also I guess it conducts heat differently than the fancy kind my mom has so the bottom got a little burned…and of course the timer was going to beep in like 2 minutes when I realized I didn’t have a cooling rack. Doesn’t everyone pull the metal shelf out of the microwave and lay it out across an open drawer with a placemat underneath to catch crumbs while cooling things? (Umm, no…I’d never even encountered a microwave with a shelf until I moved into this apartment, and I can’t imagine any time the shelf would do anything in there except get in the way and cause my popcorn to burn even worse than usual). So the bread looks a little ugly and is a little overdone on the bottom, but it still tastes awesome! So we’ll count that a success 🙂 .

 

And I also have always wanted to have people over to my apartment…that is a slight exaggeration since there were some periods of time third year during which my OCD was so intense that being around people was a struggle and there were definitely not going to be any extra people in my space if I could avoid it…but aside from that, I would really like to have people over, but inviting them is super hard for me. Last night I did it when I realized I’d been waiting for small group for over half an hour and invited the one other person there to my apartment to hang out for a little while, and today I did it again trying to invite people over for dinner.

 

Also I am super proud of all these successes, but this is not actually what I sat down to right about. I actually was going to write about forgiveness. I still want to figure out what that means. Since it is now almost time to go to bed, I am going to skip over the rest of what I was going to say and just skip to something I found today that could be a paradigm flip but could also be one of those things where I just have to agree to disagree. I don’t yet know my opinion and I am a processor so sometimes it just takes me some time/space/thought to figure out whether I agree or disagree. This site on the internet claimed that if a person willfully and hurtfully sins and refuses to admit their wrongdoing and make it right, God will not forgive them and we don’t have to either. Using this remark, I don’t need to forgive. I’m not sure though that God ever doesn’t forgive us or gives us permission to not forgive. I think I need to see if I can find anything in the Bible to support or not support that.