Hey Girl in the Back of the Classroom, JUST BE STRONG

(Better – Britt Nicole)

So yeah, like I mentioned before, being still alive at the end of the day on June 30th was really hard. That had been a defined endpoint to work towards and even though I knew that God says no a lot and probably would say no, losing that was a lot harder than I expected it to be. Every remnant of hope was once again lost. It was a bit of a setback. There no longer seems like there is any way out and that is hard.

 

I hit a dead end. It is hard to let go of long-held dreams. There is truly no way to fully get my life back on track and that is really hard and frustrating. I worked so hard for so long for something that I can’t have.

 

But God hasn’t put a period at the end of the sentence. There continue to be secondary losses and hard times, but I have to believe that someday life will be less difficult and less painful.

 

Even with no hope and no end in sight, I am still working really hard at recovering and making the most out of the rubble. Slowly, life is getting easier. I’ve had to let go of my forever dream of working in pediatric critical care probably NICU or maybe emergency at a dedicated pediatric institution. I’ve had to let go of a lot of friendships. I’ve shed a lot of tears. I might have failed, but God doesn’t see me as a failure. God sees my success. I am eating okayish now. I am sleeping more than a couple hours at night. As a driver I am less often on the relying on other people to keep me safe and more on the watching out for everyone else side.

 

I still feel a profound sense of loss and there are still days that are so incredibly difficult, but gradually I am more and more able to experience little glimmers of joy sparkling underneath the heavy blanket woven of pain and sorrow that has been covering me.

 

People say that you should only own things that bring you joy and not own things that make you sad or don’t elicit any emotional response. I think that is dumb because by that logic I shouldn’t own a toothbrush and toothpaste because brushing my teeth is most definitely not fun and at times in my life has been downright overwhelming. I am willing to admit that when the OCD was at its worst, there were significant periods of time I didn’t brush my teeth because it was too scary. Anyway, most residency related stuff has been thrown in the recycle (with a few perfectly good books going to the goodwill)…and as I was sorting through piles of things, I found a thank you note that every time I come across makes me feel a surge of anger. I wrote a physical thank you note to every place I interviewed in person in phase I. One of the places rejected the note without even opening it and sent it back to me. It showed up at my house again about a month or so later. It wasn’t a place I was super thrilled about so at the time it was frustrating but not a huge deal because if they didn’t want me then I didn’t want them and I had no reason to believe I wasn’t going to be selected for a job I’d love more than that one anyway. It wasn’t until I was rejected from every job to which I applied that I was angry. I spent a considerable amount of time, money, and effort to apply for and interview for that job. If you disliked me enough to not even read my thank you note then you should have let go and cut my losses before dragging me out to an interview. I poured my heart and soul into phase I and was treated like a child’s toy, played with and then discarded without a glance behind. Everyone has always told me how much of a community the world of pharmacy is with everyone supporting each other. Instead, it feels like everyone is against me. Sure, there are some pharmacists who care about me, but they seem to be outnumbered by the ones who don’t really care. Whether you liked me enough to hire me or not, I would appreciate a response to my emails even just to say sorry not interested, especially if I am following up after already submitting my application. I think that is a respect thing. I might not be a good communicator, but I am a real live human who deserves respect.

 

On the other hand, there have been some really caring people in my life, primarily outside of the pharmacy setting. Life hurts so much, but over the past few months I have been shown more love than I ever could feel worthy of. I am so thankful for people who have been willing to enter into my life and love on me when I had minimal to no ability to give anything back. People have cared about me while I was hurting so much that they were at risk of becoming collateral damage. Despite the penetrating loneliness and isolation of grief, people have shown me that I am never really alone. They could have given up on me and ignored my pain, but people have chosen to love me way more than I deserve.

 

Making friends isn’t my forte and neither is letting people in, but the people I do have in my life have gone way beyond the call of duty to show that they accept the itty bitty approximations that I attempt.

 

With time to cool off and think, I have come up with a new way to soften the blow. I am ready for God to come back. Yeah, I know it isn’t the ideal solution for me to be thinking about, but even that solution didn’t seem like an option originally and if making that feel like an option is able to give me a less hopeless existence then I am pleased. God coming back would mean that there wouldn’t be any loose ends to worry about because no one would be left trying to tie them up…plus it means immediate heaven, and I definitely believe that heaven is a place where the pain of my earthly existence will melt away and I will be purely joyful.

 

So realistically, I don’t know what I am doing with my life. I do have one career-related dream left that isn’t AS impossible anymore, but I know it is not a great idea…I had only wanted one thing since early elementary school…until second year when my counselor (the good one, not the abusive one) challenged me to come up with something I could do if I wasn’t able to be a pharmacist. The other thing I want to do is be a social worker and work with kids. I’m not even totally sure what a social worker does outside of clinical social workers who do counseling…I think at the time I made the decision I had just watched a video on the internet where a person identified as a social worker was hugging a child and that sounded good to me. I know the phrase social worker is used in the foster care system and I am kinda interested in fostering. Also, on the counseling side, I have loved my psych classes, so I mean maybe it is a fit, but I see myself very quickly running into the same roadblock in social work as I have in pharmacy – who is going to want to take a risk on a girl who is way behind on learning communication skills? In fact, that is probably a field in which my lack of skills might be even more apparent and more likely to interfere with my potential for success…but maybe that is a field where the studying and training might actually teach me how to communicate…and working with kids doesn’t need to involve a lot of words. I mean, I really think some of why I am so skilled at calming kids is because I don’t usually start with the same method as everyone else of trying to talk to the kid until they can’t help but respond…I now do have enough communication ability to use that method if I am running low on options, but I start with physical comfort, distraction, and parallel play before I jump to that option.

 

I am still alive. I am still hurting, but I am not defeated. I will keep fighting until either God ends the fight by coming back to Earth or I come out on top and am able to spend much of most days happy. I am strong. I might have been dealt a lousy hand, but I am still playing the game.

sanity

Also, I’m not sure what happened to my other results, because I know I have taken this quiz a zillion times before, but it is pretty incredible to see how my score has moved from the edge where you just about as insane as it gets to where I am now hovering around the “average” score. The bottom score is from when I was in an active “relationship” with my abuser (aka, before everything blew up and the abuse became public). The middle is from when I was about three months from phase I, so around 2 months from phase II and was still actively grieving. The last one is from a few days ago…I am certainly still grieving, but it isn’t affecting me as severely. The physical effects of the grief are significantly better, and emotionally I am sometimes making it through entire days without tears. I like taking quizzes…that’s why before the MMPI as removed from the internet I took it a ridiculous number of times…at first trying to approximate my original answers because my counselor at the time never talked about it after I finished it, and then just with who I really saw myself as at that particular moment in time…

 

I may have almost cried in Panera last week because I couldn’t find on their menu the item I always order for actual meals at panera (vs just snacks), but that is possibly a good thing…it means that I cared enough…and I definitely did not have the bravery right then to try ordering something they might not have…

 

And I almost cried at the Honda dealership when my email dinged with a notification that I didn’t get the position I interviewed for in Bemidji, MN. I know I currently have a full-time job and should be thankful, but so far I’m kinda bored because the parts of my position I’ve been shown are kinda easy and brainless for me…and even if I didn’t want the job, rejection hurts. I’m hoping it gets better where I am and I hope that as the position gets better that maybe it will help decrease the pain of loss and soften the blows of the secondary losses. Like this one blog post I read recently said, wasn’t one loss enough?! But loss never stops at the primary loss; it always leads to some kind of secondary loss whether relatively minor like loss of a routine that you kinda wanted to change anyway or more major like loss of sense of safety…there are so many things that continue to come up as further losses. It is hard to put into words how much it still hurts and how these secondary losses continue to rub salt into the still very raw wounds, but I have to believe that God can and God will heal the wounds somehow whether I have to keep waiting for more time to run its course or whether the world ends and I get to go to heaven. Someday, somehow life won’t be so hard. I think. I just want to let go and drown. Sometimes I wonder if maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to stop fighting and just let myself stop eating when I don’t want to and end up malnourished in the hospital where maybe I’d have enough disruption in my life in a different way to shock my body and mind into not hurting about this loss anymore and even if that didn’t happen at least I’d be with someone 24/7 who was paid to at least pretend to care and would never be alone.

 

I’m still holding on and know that is a bad idea, but it is hard when there is no end in sight and no visible hope. As much as I really WANT to enjoy this position, I can’t force myself to like it. To really enjoy my position I think I would need to either feel challenged, be able to stay busy, or be passionate about what I am doing. I think I probably don’t need all of those things – maybe just one would be enough – but right now I don’t have any. What I do have right now is that I do feel at least mostly wanted, but that is very confusing. I don’t understand why this position for which my qualifications certainly did not make me an ideal candidate wanted me when no one else wanted me. Other places where I was much more qualified for the offered position turned me down. The other problem is that being wanted is great, but I would prefer to have a sense of being needed. Even if no one really realizes what I am doing and doesn’t know how much they need me, I feel fulfilled when I feel useful. That is also not happening. I feel like I do a lot of sitting around waiting for something to do…and because I am in training and therefore always paired with someone else, I don’t really feel like what I am doing is worthwhile because if I am doing something then the person I am paired with is just sitting there watching me…the other problem with this job is that everyone is sick…a lot of them it sounds like with real sickness like vomiting and strep throat sick. I am doing amazingly well considering the circumstances, but that also doesn’t make the transition easier or make me look forward to showing up in the morning.

 

I really want to like this job, but I am still counting down the minutes every day until I can leave and thinking about how long I might be stuck here. I really think that if nothing changes then I am going to need to find some way to get back to my dreams. There is talk of perhaps adding an emergency department pharmacist and if that happened and I could get into the position maybe I could stay a little longer, but that addition if it even happens is likely years into the future and even when it does, the chances of being selected as someone with no formal training is very slim. But so are my chances of getting anywhere else. Without going directly into a residency from school it will be even more difficult now to get into a residency, and without a residency even decades of experience is often considered irrelevant. No one wants a pediatric pharmacist without a residency and no one wants a critical care/emergency pharmacist without a residency, and I want into the very crevice of those two specialties; I want either NICU in a dedicated pediatric institution preferably with a mother-baby partnership, or pediatric emergency in a level one pediatric trauma center in a dedicated pediatric institution. I don’t know how I can break into that field, but I do know that right now it feels like I will never be happy again and never really work past this smothering grief without a change. I can’t keep living this way forever with the feeling that weights are strapped onto my mind and body weighing every part of me down.

image

I found this image that sort of explains what life has been like. That person is in the middle of the ocean, attempting to stay afloat, but a very heavy animal is standing on the person’s body, and there is a hand under the water also pulling the person down. Yet the person must stay above water to breath. Forward progress, while necessary, is not the focus. The focus is just staying above water. While getting to shore would make this better, it is a difficult proposal when just staying above water is so challenging…this image and explanation I hope explains to more than just me what life has been like and why I have been such a lousy friend and very likely may seem to not really be trying hard enough to recover. I am trying…but most of my energy out of necessity has gone into staying above water.

 

I don’t want to be a debbie downer though. I feel really bad that I continue to be so negative. I really am functioning a lot better than at first. I am back to being a little more dehydrated than I should be, but I am trying really hard. Although thinks are still really difficult, they are significantly better than they were a few months ago. While it is easy to look at where I am now and think that I should try harder or that I should be further than I am by now, I think (hope?) that where I am is understandable and put into perspective by where I came from. Sure, I am not rocking it at eating, but I am for the most part having three somewhat balanced meals every day. Much better than the solitary chicken strip and strawberry that could very well have somehow been considered breakfast lunch and dinner in the early days…and far better than the less than a handful of cereal and a couple sips of water that passed my lips on the second match day when in retrospect I really was doing a lot worse than I even let on which is scary considering how much emotion spilled through the mask I was trying to put on. I hid as much as I could, but it is really by God’s grace that I didn’t get into any car accidents. At the time I was driving to school for that last rotation I was pretty upset and driving through tears that were certainly not being adequately replaced by the miniscule amount of water I drank…and when the second phase came around I honestly don’t even know how I got from point A to point B. I could barely see where I was going. I certainly couldn’t think. It took everything I had in me to remember how to stop and start and not run into anything and really I totally would have run into other cars if they hadn’t been doing a good job of avoiding me. If anyone really knew what was going on I would have most likely ended up in a locked behavioral health unit because I know how I was living was threatening the safety of myself and others. I am so lucky and so thankful that no one knew what life was like. Now I am able to be mostly back to my usual self, giving other people plenty of space on the road and sometimes being a little too considerate in my driving (yes I am that jerk who feels bad for people waiting to turn and will stop so that people who have been patiently waiting at a not-four-way-stop sign can have a turn…). I actually slept reasonably well the past few nights – still not back to normal sleep, but sleeping hours at a time rather than minutes is a huge improvement. I still have a long way to go, but I am super thankful for all the way I have already come. I am so so thankful for the people who have helped me get this far. I don’t even know how to express how deeply I appreciate the people in my life who have been supporting me through this. I would very much like a support system where I am right now, but I wouldn’t be able to function as well as I am right now without one if I didn’t have all the people at school and back home who have poured so much into me.

 

And now it is time to stop writing because I haven’t been doing a very good job of studying and in six days at this time I will be getting ready for bed in a different city so that I can be ready to take the NAPLEX in the morning that I am not feeling ready for…that is an expensive test to fail…prayer appreciated 🙂

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