(Hungry – Joy Williams)
Sometimes I make bad choices. Like walking in the middle of the street in the dark. Sometimes when I stop distracting myself from my loss and actually talk about it (and sometimes just totally randomly) the pain significantly intensifies. I know if I can push it away before it becomes all-consuming it won’t hurt as much. I know it isn’t the “right” way to deal with it, but it is what I am doing to make it through. Being in motion seems to help me feel at least a little better. So Thursday evening I grabbed my apartment key, put my shoes on, and as an afterthought took the bag of chocolate that I was really hoping I would eat and I went outside to walk. I would have rollerbladed or biked or something, but I knew I didn’t really have time to get any of those things ready. I just needed to go. Clearly I wasn’t thinking super logically…so I figured I wanted to be on the other side of the street so I crossed…not at an intersection…and not straight across…just diagonally from one side to the other…in my defense, I was at least wearing a brightly colored shirt…in the dark. When you don’t feel like you have much to live for though, what motivation do you really have for crossing the street safely? I haven’t been praying recently for God to take me home, but it is not because I have plans to take things into my own hands; I know that it is God’s job to decide when I go home. At times like that I am not sure whether to be proud of myself: I prevented a total meltdown, or angry: I should have been careful. What I do know is that God must have some sort of plan for my life: I am still alive. Of course, the next day I was crossing the street the right way and actually did almost get run over ’cause someone wasn’t paying attention…and okay, so I wasn’t doing it completely right since I didn’t attempt eye contact with the drivers near the intersection before starting to cross…
Because of my history of anxiety…and especially because the vast majority of my work was self-initiated, I have a very exposure-therapy based mindset to life. If it is scary and uncomfortable I tend to think I should probably make myself do it…clearly the exception is with processing the grief and stuff because I don’t think I am ready to handle that on my own yet. And recently I was watching a video that had a side note about the resiliency zone. I think that kind of gave credence to the way I am handling things right now. The resiliency zone is the range of emotion intensity that we have the coping mechanisms to handle and stay present. Above the resilient zone we fight or flight and below the resilient zone we freeze. We can only process and handle things in the resilient zone, but after a trauma or other stressful situation our resilient zone can be extremely narrow, and it takes a lot of time and work to be able to expand the resiliency zone and until it is wide enough to stay in the zone we can’t really work on re-processing whatever has happened.
Anyway, new things are scary, so Friday morning I went to Aldi because I saw that it was open. I wandered around for a few minutes and got overwhelmed because it was a very different atmosphere than any other grocery store I’ve gone to and there were a zillion people there like you had to wait for people to move to get through the aisles…but milk to make pudding has been on my list of things to buy for a long time because non-cow milk makes glop, not pudding because it doesn’t have the casein to hold the pudding together…but I don’t drink cow milk so it seemed so wasteful to buy a carton just to throw away the leftovers…enter Aldi where milk costs like half as much so it doesn’t seem quite so wasteful. So I will go back on Tuesday morning because it sounds like there is some kind of event then which sounds terrifying but exactly where I need to be.
You don’t make friends by being a hermit (That’s the right word for someone who never leaves their home, right?). And lol…speaking of making friends, someone randomly started talking to me yesterday as I was walking down the sidewalk.
Wait, I should back up. Second year when I was terrified of the interview into third year (even though it was pretty much common knowledge that if you show up you passed), my counselor asked me what I would want to do if I didn’t pass, like what other career I could pursue. That was a really hard question because there was only one thing I had ever been interested in doing ever: pediatric clinical pharmacy. Never had I wanted to do anything else. It took months, but eventually I determined that I would like to be a social worker…of course I was still thinking with that career option that I wanted to work with kids and families. Lately I have been frustrated because I don’t feel like there is any way for me to get from where I am to where I want to be. I know it would be throwing away the degree I fought for, but I’ve been thinking that while bachelor’s programs for social work are generally not conducive to holding a job at the same time that maybe a higher level program would be more able to accommodate a working adult schedule with asynchronous learning needs. Maybe if I did that and started over with a new career I would be happier and be able to find a job that makes me feel good.
It would definitely be a challenge – I am not an awesome reader and not attending lectures probably means an increase in the amount of reading and reading comprehension required. And most higher level programs are going to want prerequisites that I really don’t have, because hello, pharmacy graduate here. My psych classes included intro psych and abnormal psych. The only psych class I didn’t sign up for was psych of personality – it was a writing intensive class and I really had no reason to take it and I had a friend who took it and didn’t really enjoy it. I mean, technically my school also offered social psych which I did not take, but the reason I didn’t take it was that I signed up and then they cancelled the class. So anyway…most programs want like child developmental psych and family structure classes as prerequisites and I definitely have nothing like that unless you count the hands-on experience of the children that I work with volunteering in child care. I think hands-on experience for that type of subject matter is probably just as valuable as textbook learning, but something tells me that an admissions person would not be impressed.
So anyway, this guy starts talking to me, and you know someone most likely has special needs when he enthusiastically says hi to a stranger (me) and after being acknowledged says that he is so glad to have someone to chat with. Internally a part of me was going what did I just get myself into, because it was in the 90’s and I was so hot, but most of me was not just doing “the polite thing” but actually trying to really engage with this guy, because I really care about people. I know that someone like that probably gets rejected by people a lot, and that makes me really sad and ache for him, because I know how rejection feels, and to experience that constantly day after day is hard. I know that everyone has their own challenges and I really want to make people feel heard, because even if you can’t really change anything, it is really powerful for someone to be willing to step into your world and try to understand and acknowledge what you are going through.
And the more I talked with the guy the more I really wished there were more I could do, and he was super sweet despite definitely having some special needs. At one point he expressed that he was getting frustrated trying to get a new job and he was just looking for anything like maybe a store might need help taking out the trash and cleaning up. I remembered that Aldi had signs out that they were hiring and suggested he head over there to apply. He explained that he doesn’t fill out applications and he used to just ask to speak to a manager and he’d get hired that way. I kinda wanted to be like well that’s not how it works anymore and to consider you they need you to fill out the application, but with someone I just met I wasn’t quite sure how to express that respectfully, so I kept listening as he went on to say that now if he talks to a manager they tell him if he can’t fill out an application then the only other way to be considered is to go through an employment agency, but he’s tried seven different agencies and didn’t like any of them (I wonder if it is because he wouldn’t fill out an application?). By this point I felt really bad for the guy, because I totally understand the frustration of the job search and how eventually it just seems like everyone is telling you what to do and how easy it is to get a job and it just is SO NOT EASY and no one even seems interested in you.
People have always told me about things that aren’t safe…and from my perspective, to take it from them, the only way you can really be safe is to never ever leave your apartment and if you must, go directly to school do not pass go do not collect $200…but one thing people say isn’t safe besides a random assortment of basically every street ever, is talking to the weird people on the sidewalks. The advice is to just ignore and keep walking, which in my opinion is super weird and rude. I have always rebelled against that stupid advice and used my common sense. If it feels safe, it probably is, if you have that feeling of something is wrong and it isn’t just OCD telling you it is contaminated, then it probably isn’t safe and you should re-evaluate whether you should be doing it. From that perspective, I felt pretty safe with this person. The only moment where I really wondered if I should have ignored and moved on is when the guy started telling me that he will never go to Walmart because he got kicked out of there once because (in his words) they thought he was a retard. I was pretty sure there was more to that story, because stores don’t kick people out for being dumb…there are some pretty stupid morons in the world that are still able to go to the grocery store and buy food and go to wherever else and buy stuff…but by that point even though that put me on alert, I was pretty well stuck there because you can’t just walk away from a conversation…or, well, maybe you can, but I can’t. So I weighed my options and figured it was the middle of the day and we were on a sidewalk bordering a parking lot. If anything were to really go wrong, I might be able to scream and if I could scream then I could most likely garner enough attention to get help…the being able to scream part is where my safety is always going to be a little bit sketchy…that and the fact that I really doubt I could fight back not for lack of skills but for inability to hurt anyone or to repay evil with evil.
So the interaction with that guy made me want even more to see if I could get into social work. I really wanted to be able to help him, but couldn’t really figure out how. I think maybe the social work curriculum would teach me how to help people and connect them with resources to help them figure things out. And even if it didn’t, I know almost for sure it would help me learn better communication skills which would be helpful even if I never used the degree and just continued to be a pharmacist.