Monthly Archives: March 2018

Little Did They Know He’d Turn Their Cry Day to Good Friday

(Good Day on a Bad Day – Fish Tales – see the video of this song I found on youtube…not the highest quality video, but probably way cuter than an actual performance quality version of it…so whatev…)

 

 

I think I should probably add a disclaimer that I realized when I got to the end of writing this post that I probably shouldn’t post it…but I am doing it anyway, because, yes I do know that I should be careful about when I share my words, but I also was silenced for a long time and do not want to ever feel like I am not allowed to have a voice.

 

Today last year I was at my last on site residency interview for that residency season. I cried on my way there. I cried that night. I cried on the way home. Any residency would be better than no residency and I was drowning. The first failure to match was too much and my life was falling apart and I was trying again so fervently but at the same time knowing even getting a residency in phase II wouldn’t end my pain. It wouldn’t take away the grief. It wouldn’t be enough to re-label me. I was too far gone. I knew too deeply that I was a failure that no one would want.

 

The abuse was too raw. I never really had an opportunity to process the abuse because at first I didn’t understand for a long time that it wasn’t okay. Then I kind of went in and out of thinking maybe there was a problem, but y’all, gaslighting is for real and I would start to think again that maybe I was wrong and this is what was supposed to happen. There were signs something was wrong and I needed out, but while a few people tried, no one had enough pieces put together at the right time to create an escape. When I’m still standing my ground on the sand and you tell me not to go swimming but can’t explain why not, I feel like you don’t understand that I am a swimmer and I won’t know there is a riptide waiting to pull me under regardless of how strong I am now. When I am actively drowning holding onto a log that doesn’t quite support my weight and you tell me there is a kickboard a couple yards away that would be better for me, I feel like you don’t understand that I think I will drown if I let go of my log, and I won’t know that the seconds of fear it takes to get the kickboard will be worth it to save my life. So anyway, I finally escaped the in person one on one abuse and broke free, but I still couldn’t process because I was too busy proving to everyone else how okay I was and…okay yeah, still trying to protect the person who hurt me and feeling like a failure because I couldn’t save us both. If maybe even a week sooner I’d been willing to even kind of sort of let someone in and hint at what had been happening for the past two years I realize now there might have been discipline on her side instead of mine…but I didn’t. I couldn’t. My fierce protective nature refuses to hurt anyone or give up on anyone. I want to believe people can change and become good if they get enough love and support, even the person who was abusing me. And when the abuse was still ongoing because the little princess could do whatever she wanted including and not limited to sitting next to me in the cafeteria or following me to the parking garage and then hanging out at the entrance so I have to get past her to leave, I was finally ready to talk but forbidden from doing so under threats of losing my schooling. Was the contract I signed even valid, not really since I didn’t have the capacity to contract at the time of signing, but was I willing to test out what would happen if I boldly refused to follow the guidelines, certainly not. She had a lot of power and I didn’t so I was stuck just enduring it for the next three years.

 

Umm yeah, that was actually not at all what I sat down to write about. The pain of the abuse still is raw, and last year’s failure to match did bring it closer to the forefront again…but I was trying to write a positive post…I guess that’s my mind’s little reminder that these things don’t disappear. I can’t put an expiration date on pain and grief and I can’t outrun it. Like Maria says in the sound of music, you can’t run from your problems, you have to face them!

 

Last year I went to a Good Friday service and was just trying to survive. Afterwards I was walking around the block and doing whatever I could trying to figure out how I was going to get myself home. The next day I was back greeting. Apparently I met someone that day. I was so focused on going through the motions and greeting people and being okay that I honestly have no idea who that person was, which I felt really bad about, but y’know, that is the brain on grief.

 

Last year though Easter was a turning point. That Saturday evening (technically the day before Easter I suppose), I don’t know what happened, but somehow that week I was able to eat a little more easily. Note that I didn’t say easily, just more easily, but considering I’d been fighting for calories and fluids like my life depended on it because I was at a point where it really did depend on it, it was a huge blessing, and I gained a pretty good amount of weight that week. I was super proud of myself. Even if it was water weight, getting fluids in was a huge positive. When not too long before you’d gone more than an entire day without peeing because you weren’t drinking enough, you can’t really deny that even getting calorie free water in is a success.

 

This year my goal was for the year to be better, not bitter. On Tuesday I am doing part of what I was doing last year today – interviewing on site in phase II. There are a lot of parallels or similarities. At that one by the time I was done interviewing I wanted the position because I just really really wanted any position by that point, but there were multiple things I really didn’t like. At this one, I do really really want the position…but at the same time I am not even sure I want the position. It isn’t an idea fit for my interests and pays pretty poorly, but I worked so hard and paid so much for the opportunity that I feel like I need to have the position, and it would be a lot better than what I have now – the problem being that I am not sure it would set me up for success in moving from plan triple Z to anywhere closer to what I really wanted to do. And once I expressed my interest in this position, suddenly I was being offered all the things that had been explained as part of the position when I interviewed for the position I am in now that I have wanted so badly and been denied. So even if I don’t get a residency, I might still end up with a job that is better than the one I have now. I might be able to be happy again. I might be able to not hate my job even if I do not actually have the job I want. This is thrilling! This is a huge step forward.

 

I don’t know what the future will hold, but I am starting to think that maybe applying was good just to give me an opportunity to find something better than what I have whether I get the residency or not. I am starting to think that maybe this will help to decrease the pain of the residency season…which in reality is pretty much all year, especially with the way my story has played out. My story holds a lot of pain, but God can redeem any story if I let go and give him a chance…maybe I can go on a trip in a couple weeks. We’ll see.

 

Well, this is going to sound super out of place now since this post went in a completely different direction for the most part than I originally planned, but it was in my head as part of this post, so I’m gonna write it here anyway…lol…

 

Food for thought: Do we anxiously await for the reminder of Christ’s return to life Easter morning as anxiously as we awaited as children for our chocolate crosses and ziplocks of jelly beans and pastel m&m’s and skittles and whatever other sugary treats we got in our baskets?

 

If I am being honest, holidays to me are hard. I live very much in the concrete here and now. Life works best for me with every day being essentially the same. Tying some extra meaning to a particular day is an abstract that I don’t always do well with. Sometimes I use prepositions to end sentences with…lol. So yeah, it is hard for me to anticipate a randomly selected day as if something big is going to happen when that something big actually happened a couple thousand years ago. I get that this is an important part of our history, but you know what I also get? I also get that this part of our history isn’t any more important tomorrow on Easter than it was a month ago. To me, it is still just another day, not more important than any other day. If I were still little enough for an Easter basket, I am not ashamed to say that yes, I would be more excited for my yummy chocolate cross than for the abstract concept of remembering when Christ rose from the dead. Sorry if that offends you, but I am my own person and I am entitled to my own opinions just as much as you are entitled to yours.

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This is where your ship went down. You took the blame even harder….And my soul is at peace

(Hush hush – Nichole Nordeman….A Son of God – Journey Collective)

 

Sometimes it feels like knives into my body. Emotional pain follows the same neural networks as physical pain. I know I have seen studies that Tylenol helps with emotional pain for that reason…too bad I lost my Tylenol in South Dakota.

 

Today-ish last year (Tuesday the 28th) I was driving about 450 miles to an interview and 450 miles back. And there was too much parallel today and I was fighting back tears in the car. The shirt I was wearing today (Tuesday the 27th) is the one I wore back to school that evening. The lunch box and other stuff in the passenger seat. The country scenery. The crazy schedule. The stress of phase 2. It was just too much for a while.

 

There are three things that made me not sure when I would ever re-apply for residency and definitely wasn’t doing it yet. First, letting people down by leaving the position I am in. I am fiercely protective of other people and I don’t want to hurt other people even if that means in the process I am hurt instead. Second, my schedule and our PTO policy make it nearly impossible to travel for interviews, or really to interview at all. Participating only in phase 2 gives me at least a chance at being able to do an interview at a time I am actually available. Third, I was terrified of what could happen if I failed again. The rejection last year is still so fresh I couldn’t imagine going through it again and deepening the wound.

 

The first two are still hard. I feel really bad about potentially leaving. I am still worried that I will be excluded simply because I do not have many available opportunities to interview, trying to fit it in between a full-time schedule.

 

The third I am starting to be at more peace with. I am starting to feel like I might fail, but it won’t be my fault this time. I don’t know that it will fix the old pain, and it will still probably be hard, but I do not think that it will be nearly as bad as last year at this time. To be honest, not matching will also be positive. After I told my managers I was considering applying, they started offering other opportunities if I didn’t match – all the things I have been asking for since I started and a few more. So as long as they are actually willing to make good on those offers, whether I match or not, I get a job better than I have. If I match I get a job that qualifies me for PGY2. If I don’t match I get a job that pays three times as much. Neither one is a complete loss. Unlike last year, there isn’t really a possibility that HR will force me to be downsized if I do not match, so I also have the benefit of having a job doing something regardless of what happens. It isn’t a job doing exactly what I planned or wanted, but it is something, and something is better than nothing usually.

 

I don’t know what will happen, but I know that I need to believe that God works everything for good.

Lead the Way God I’m Gonna Follow You

(Now – Mallary Hope)

 

I tried to write out a brief version of my residency. I couldn’t do it. It hurt too much. And I am still too close to it. I still see only a blade of grass at the bottom of the forest at a time and can’t really put it all together to describe a bigger picture without describing blade by blade and hoping you understand.

 

It was and still is a painful experience, and I don’t know how to make it stop.

 

I do know that I am currently in the process of doing something completely crazy. I have no idea what I expect the outcome to be or even what the best outcome would be.

 

I am not ready yet to give many details via internet, but I feel like it is time now to share just a little.

 

I didn’t plan to apply for residency again this year – the pain is still way too fresh from last year and if was so difficult then I wasn’t sure how safe it even was to put myself through that again so soon. I wasn’t sure I was ready to do it again next season. When I randomly blurted out in an interview that I’d be in the position I was interviewing for for at least 5 years, I don’t know why I said that, but after further thought I really think that five years was probably the point at which the pain would be numbed enough I could try again.

 

Well, then as I was slowly spiraling down in the pain of this season’s phase I match, I started playing the what if track. What if we didn’t match where I am now? What if we also didn’t match in phase II and entered the scramble? I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be the resident at this particular site, but I knew I definitely wanted it more than I wanted to be in my position. And then match day came. I didn’t peak early. I found out we didn’t match. First the pain washed over me again as the reminder of when I saw those same words in reference to myself. Then I had to wonder if those random thoughts I had about applying were maybe something I needed to consider. About the time I decided it was the dumbest thing ever, my parents were fully convinced I needed to do this and it was the best opportunity ever. The more I thought about it the dumber the idea seemed – more competition, joining late in the game, not even as strong a candidate as before yet somehow hoping for a position in a more competitive arena. I wanted to run away kicking and screaming. And not only that, but the rush to get it all done was a reminder of the insanity of what was happening last year. And then I started telling just a few people and that made it even harder, because now this was real.

 

And I have no idea what I am getting myself into.

 

If I get a position was this a great idea to obtain a position with a lot less stress and time spent since it takes under a month versus nearly a year of preparation? Or is it a really dumb idea since it only gave me a few programs to choose from that might not have been the best ones? Am I going to constantly regret not waiting until I could do this the right way? Will getting a position start to heal the rejection from before or will the entire position just be a big poster broadcasting how much I failed the first time?

 

If I don’t get a position, will it throw me back into the deepest point of the pain I experienced before? Or is this a way to start to redeem my story? Will it let me re-write the narrative of rejection as not so bad after all? Will it encourage me to try again next time doing it right, or discourage me because how many times do you fail before you need to stop trying and just acknowledge that all you are is a failure?

 

So I don’t even know if matching is good or not good. I don’t know if not matching is good or not good. I don’t want to have thrown a few hundred dollars down the drain for no apparent reason, but at the same time I’m not sure a different job I am not thrilled with even if it is better than what I have is better than staying in the job I already have that I am not thrilled with. Either way I am not thrilled, but in one direction I am not thrilled but continue to have high likelihood of continued employment in my path, and in the other I am not thrilled in addition to getting paid 1/3 to 1/2 as much and have no guarantee of anything at the end of the year. Neither is ideal. But I suppose ideal disappeared last year when I didn’t match the first time.

 

So I guess all that to say I need God to figure this out for me, because I have no clue what I have gotten myself into and I don’t know where I am going and I have no idea how to figure this out. I guess like in the Healing Path by Dan Allender, I am tangled in the web of ambivalence, trying to choose the right way to go while being swayed by the alternative.

 

I just heard a commercial – not even sure what they were advertising – that said “are you going to keep licking your wounds or are you going to get up and fight?” Maybe this is just me trying to assign motives to God, but it made me feel like maybe I am doing the right thing. Whether I match or not this year, by trying I am teaching myself that I CAN try again – even if I crash, I am learning how to fight through the crash to find life on the other side. My story is messy and I need to trust God to know how long the story is supposed to be and to write the ending at the time and in the way that is best. Right now it feels like the ending should have come eons ago, but I have to believe that God is really good and wouldn’t intentionally write a bad story with my life. It is hard, but I have to hold on to hope that one day the wait will be worth it even if I may still wish I could have fast-forwarded and skipped the wait.

 

No one said they were above me, but I could see, and it only proved how easy climbing trees should be

(Fish Song – Jessica McCabe)

First off, I really loved this song and I felt like it could totally apply to a wide variety of situations.

Here is the song:

I feel like this is kind of where I am right now. No one has recently said anything like hey you’re a lesser person for not having done residency or you’re not worth it…but it is pretty easy to see where I am and where other people are and feel frustrated.

It isn’t the overt you’re not enough anymore. Now it is the occasions when the me on paper holds me back. It is the excited people on facebook posting about how God loves them so much and has blessed them with dream job. By extension, if God shows love and extends blessing via meeting career objectives then I must be unloved and unblessed because I didn’t get what I wanted. If happiness is the proof that God is good then by extension the crushing of my dreams must mean the opposite. I also just realized another reason those posts were so distasteful last year (there haven’t been enough this year to make a blanket judgement). Pretty much every single person claiming God was blessing them was someone who wanted absolutely nothing to do with God prior to getting the job they wanted. I realized that while it was going to hurt either way, it probably hurt more because these people who hadn’t cared about God somehow at least acted like they believed when they got what they wanted. God is really important to me. I will admit that I am fiercely protective and this is probably me trying to protect God from people who only care when they get something incredible…one more way I am just messing everything up.

I am not a monkey, but I am also not a fish. I am a penguin. Metaphorically, I can swim, but not very well or gracefully. I am a bird, but I can’t fly. I live on the land but I can hardly walk. I am a throwaway animal. There isn’t really anything I can do right so the only thing I’m really good for is a spectacle.

Why does life have to hurt so much?

Last night I worked the 2:30-11pm shift at work. I drove home. And I got home later than I usually do walking. I live a mile away yet it took like 35 minutes to get home because I got so lost and now my car is dangerously low on gas. This is my brain on grief. I will admit that I am not the greatest at wayfinding, but when you only live a mile from work, it definitely shouldn’t take 35 minutes starting at 11 at night to get home. I don’t know what happened. Thankfully God put me somewhere that I eventually realized where I was and how to get home, but it is frustrating when stuff like that happens. I guess it feels like a confirmation that I can’t do anything right.

Today is match day for pharmacy. I made it out alive last year, and I will keep going this year. It hurts. But my oatmeal and a cookie made it to my mouth eventually. I feel like I can’t, but I know minute by minute day by day I will survive this. Someday it will be okay even if I have to keep waiting and holding on until I get to heaven for that someday to occur.

Whining and Crying as Well

(He Grants Sleep to Those He Loves – Michael Card)

 

The line that comes immediately before these lyrics, similar to the title of the song, is “For he grants sleep to the ones that he loves.” When life hurts so much and sleep is not coming easily, it feels easy to use this as evidence against God loving me…but I have to remember that next line “whining and crying as well.” God acknowledges that we can expect to have negative feelings. But it still hurts.

 

Today last year the light at the end of my long tunnel burned out…or more accurately, the bulb was crushed so it couldn’t really even be changed. I tried to make today not come. I just stayed at church and stayed at church as if not going home would mean yesterday would never end. Not that yesterday was awesome or anything, but I guess I instinctively knew that whatever I felt yesterday it would surely be much worse today…but eventually I had to leave…and eventually today came.

 

I’m eating, because that’s what you’re supposed to do, but it really isn’t enjoyable like it should be. I mean, I like the chocolate, but it isn’t enough to even make me feel happy while eating it. I guess that’s better than fighting to get the food in my mouth in the first place and crying through the entire process of putting food in my mouth, but that doesn’t mean I am happy to be living this way. Why won’t God take me home?

 

At this point, I really don’t care if there is something I am supposed to learn from this. If this is what it takes then I don’t want to learn anything. I just want it to not hurt. I wish I could say all the tears this morning were from cutting onions, but that wouldn’t be true. Although I did cut onions this morning. I guess I did claim I wanted a job where I could grow…in all honesty that was pretty much just some words other people fed me because “I am interested in this job because you are hiring and I need a job” doesn’t exactly give you much of a chance of being considered. But I suppose I have grown – I bought vegetables that were not frozen peas, and not just because the store ran out of frozen peas or for some one time recipe. I intentionally chose something else. I am learning to experiment and try new things. I am proud of that, but I would trade that and like anything else for the pain to end. I wish God operated the world like a laptop. Control alt delete, open task manager, select applications, find myself on the list, click end process. But God doesn’t operate the world like a laptop, so I can’t push my plans through. I am stuck here until God changes my path, and I feel frustrated. I don’t understand why God won’t fix it.

 

This thing is gonna bend and shake you

(This thing is not gonna break you – Christa Wells)

 

It is still so hard. Today (Thursday) I was holding back tears at work. Saturday is the one year anniversary of the first match day when I didn’t match. It hurts so much. I pray for God to take me home, but he keeps saying no and I feel frustrated and overwhelmed and trapped. The pharmacy match day is Tuesday. The student sitting next to me kept talking about the awesome residency she plans to match with. She asked me where I did residency. I know she meant to make conversation, but it was another wound in my hurting heart. The physician match day is tomorrow. There are lots of information out about celebrating that. I don’t want to celebrate match day. I am grieving match day. It hurts too much. When can I go home to heaven? Why does this have to be so hard?

 

I want to believe the lyrics of this song that this thing is not gonna break me, but I feel so broken and I feel like I’ll never be able to put the pieces back together. It is too hard. I just want to not hurt anymore.

 

I know I am doing so much better than I was – still eating, at least able to hold back tears…but it is still so hard. It still is so intensely painful. And sleep is kind of hit or miss, but I’m at least getting some sleep some nights. But I am so exhausted of just surviving. I want more. It hurts too much. I just want this to end. How long do I have to keep going through this? Why won’t God take it away? I want a way out. Where is my white flag? Why can’t I just quit? I’ve wiped the tears from my face too many times. Does this ever end? Can my fractured heart ever be healed?

 

I’ve been looking up suicide rates following match day. I haven’t found any statistics. What I have found is that medical student suicides are most often quickly swept under the rug and hidden or disguised – labeled as accidental overdose when it was clearly intentional for example, or natural causes or unknown cause of death when wrists were slit or it was a self-hanging or whatever. I have also found that not only is the attempt rate higher in physicians or medical students, but the success rate is also very very significantly higher. I have found nothing on pharmacy students. I do know, however, that stress and anxiety rates are higher in medical students than in the general population and that stress and anxiety rates tend to be higher in pharmacy students than in medical students, although mental health is MUCH less studied in pharmacy students than it is in medical students…so I guess I wouldn’t be surprised if there is also a hidden phenomenon in pharmacy students. So maybe I should be proud I’ve made it a year almost without killing myself. But I don’t want to be proud. I want to be dead and I want to be happy. I’m sorry about not tying this up in a pretty package with a bow, but I’m just so tired of pretending I’m okay every day when I’m struggling so much. I just want to good enough. Maybe then I could express myself well enough that people wouldn’t invalidate my pain. It is probably my fault that people don’t get it, because I’m not good enough at anything, not good enough at using my words, not good enough at explaining what happened. Maybe she was right that I’ll never be wanted. It hurts to know I’ll never be good enough ever. Why did I bother trying so hard for so long just to be left here so aware of my worthlessness? Maybe it would have been better to get a job at Caribou or something or McDonalds or something. I might not have been competent at “would you like fries with that” at the time of high school graduation, but I could have learned. I would have learned, because I am determined and stubborn.

 

Just remember from the darkness of night always comes the bright of day…The pain in your heart that may never go

(Piece of Heaven – Go Fish)

 

First off, this song is awesome. I love Go Fish. Plus Go Fish is awesome because their tagline is something like music the kids love that doesn’t drive mom and dad crazy…as in their music is intended to be enjoyed by everyone.

 

Anyway, I mentioned recently that I have been really loving the book “Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God” by Sheila Walsh. In the book, Sheila Walsh becomes a speaker. It occurred to me a few days ago that Sheila was a real person and most likely I could find some of her talks on youtube. It seems like the theme through the book and her talks is what is your identity, not just your name, but who are you. A subtheme that is definitely expressed, but expressed more strongly in her collabs with other speakers, is that brokenness is not a flaw, in fact, our brokenness is what facilitates community.

 

In the context of those themes, this song seems even more relevant.

 

“Please God, how can it be? He was just here; it doesn’t make sense to me”

 

“Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s the middle of the night…but sometimes everything’s alright”

 

“You may not see what you’ve been given after all that’s been taken away.”

 

“People try but only Jesus could know the pain.”

 

“I see a piece of heaven when I look at you. It shines so bright after all you’ve been through. It doesn’t seem fair, things like this never do.”

 

“Tough questions they never leave your mind; easy answers are nowhere to find.”

 

So anyway, I am trying to figure out who I am after the storm that feels like it wiped everything I knew away. I used to be “future pediatric critical pharmacist, lover of and loved by my eternal daddy Jesus.” (To steal my about me section from YouNow). Then I didn’t match. I was no longer on the path I’d been on my entire life. That was the only thing I’d ever wanted since early elementary school, and probably even before. In the wake of the destruction of my dreams, I was pretty sure God didn’t care, and if he was perfect and all-knowing yet didn’t really care then he probably didn’t love me and to be honest, I was angry with him. My entire identity was washed away. I am stuck in a dead end that I don’t know how to get out of. God and I are on better terms as I am reminded that God gave us warning in advance that this life WILL be hard, but what about my dreams? I changed my bio to “wannabe” instead of “future,” but I feel like there has to be more for me than this. I think that is definitely a big part of why I have been thinking about if there is any way I could go back to school for social work without throwing away the degree I fought for first. It would be a fresh start. An opportunity to have something go right…but I know it wouldn’t really fulfill me. My real dream is still working in NICU or pediatric emergency. I hate that I had to settle for less. Sure, I make a pretty decent living, but money can’t buy happiness. I think I would rather live destitute but doing what I feel like I was made for than have all the money in the world and stay stuck here…but no one will hire a volunteer pharmacist…and I don’t really see any realistic way out of where I am. I feel frustrated.

 

People tell me I am brave, strong, resilient. I guess, in reflecting, I would have to adopt those words as my own and describe my identity as #brave #strong #resilient #survivor. Yes, with the hashtags, because I might not be a digital native, in fact, I have always been a little more reserved in pretty much everything, and so right about the time other people stopped verbally hashtagging, I started…so the hashtags kind of pick up that little piece of my identity. From hula hoops and scooters as a kid to hashtags as an adult, I have always picked up the trend right around the time it stopped being cool or popular. Sometimes those words feel right, but so many other times, I don’t feel brave. I don’t feel strong. I don’t feel resilient. And sometimes I don’t know if I even want to be a survivor.

 

Sometimes I still cry. Sometimes I am frustrated by the snail’s pace of healing from grief, or by the fact that recovery is not linear. Sometimes I am just making it through life. I feel like an imposter sometimes just impersonating the brave, strong, resilient girl that people expect of me. All I want is to sink into a puddle and drown out the pain, but I smile and keep on going. Maybe that is what it means to be courageous – to keep going even when life gets so hard.

 

Maybe it is hard because from a distance I don’t see the depths of pain so clearly, but from close up all I can see is the pain right now. When I look back, I do see the deep desperate pain, but more than that, I see my friends as a human shield. They gathered around me as if to protect me from my pain. They were my external armor from the world to soften my fall. When I try to look through the holes I do see the pain. I do see the girl scared by her rapidly plummeting weight yet struggling to feed her body. I do see the girl crying so hard she can barely see where she is going and mind so far gone that it is an effort to remember how to start, stop, steer my car, yet telling everyone she is fine so as not to accidentally inconvenience anyone. I do see the girl not sleeping while her eyes drip the moisture of tears onto the pillow – moisture her body didn’t have to spare. But those pieces add up to a fractured whole, because it is covered by the protective cage of my friends’ support. That cage wasn’t to keep me in, it was to try to keep me safe, just like we don’t put hamsters in a ball or cage to trap them, but to protect them from being crushed or lost.

 lunar Sphere inside bucky ball 3D Print 139325

The image I see in my head is kind of like this, but pretend the yellowish outside frame is a network of my friends’ bodies and arms and legs, and the green blob in the middle is me. I am so thankful for that support. Lol…I would try to draw it, but I am no good at art. I spent twice as much time in art class in eighth grade not because I loved it or had any talent, but because I was struggling and needed more time to get my projects finished…and okay, also because on one particular project I took the directions a bit too seriously which made it take FORever to finish that stupid painting.

 

 

But still seeing my brokenness and pain now, while hamsters are intended to live in a cage, people aren’t, and so eventually I had to leave the cage and figure out how to navigate the world on my own. And it is still hard, especially as in just a few more days it will be the first anniversary of the day I didn’t match the first time. It hurts. It feels like carrying a heavy weight on my shoulders every day. It is exhausting. My body is fighting a battle to survive while my mind holds us hostage in grief. I almost made plans to go see some people the weekend of April 13. My first match day was March 17, and the second one was April 12. This year the dates are March 20 and April 12. If just one of those dates were April 12 I would consider planning on a trip that weekend. With both of them, I know better than to try to plan anything. Considering how much I am already hurting, I want to make sure I am not setting myself up for a dangerous situation. I can’t say with certainty how I will be feeling that weekend, but it seems that there is a high enough probability that it will not be a good idea to travel that I shouldn’t plan on it. ‘Cause I am nothing if not stubborn. Once I planned it, I would have a hard time cancelling it, because girl is no quitter and isn’t going to let grief defeat her. So someday I will go reconnect with my besties, but not yet. I’m going to have to keep waiting. I miss my friends so bad, but TBH it probably isn’t ideal to show up struggling anyway. I want to see my friends, but I want to do it in a wise way that I can look back and only smile. God put awesome people in my life and that is how I want to remember my time with them, awesome.

 

So yeah, I have no idea where I was going with that…I guess that whole thing was a super long way to say that I have awesome friends, but I am still struggling one year later and coming to terms with that. And when I am struggling I am back to fearful of seeing my abuser. I dreamed last night that I was at a swim team party and for some reason she was there and not only that, was sitting at the end of the potluck table. It was scary. I went through the line, but I couldn’t stand to be so close to her so I went back to avoiding…to the point that my plate was filled with chips and umm, that’s about it. Sure, part of that is because girl is a picky eater, but dessert on my plate is pretty much a no-brainer if you know me. It might sometimes be dessert plus chips and skip the rest, but at this potluck there was only chips, because I would have had to get closer to her if I wanted anything else. And that showed me that as much as I want to believe that I am totally past that, I am not. I still have some work to do to get past the abuse. It doesn’t just disappear because I don’t want it to be there anymore.

 

Babies Bleed from Bulletholes

(Dear Me – Nichole Nordeman)

 

So this post (or maybe just the first part of it…) is kind of embarrassing and different from what I usually post, but there has been a little voice at the back of my head telling me to write through it. I’m not sure whether there is someone else who needs these words that God wants me to reach or if I need to be writing it to learn something for or about myself, but I’ve avoided it long enough and it is time to just go for it.

 

So the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, around 2:30-ish, I thought I heard four gunshots. Looking back I still have no clue what it might have been, but awake brain recognizes the lack of any identifiable police involvement means it is unlikely to have actually been a gun, and the lack of voice or static negates any possibility of a neighbor watching something on TV or listening to some kind of recording.

 

Terrified, I decided to close my bedroom door (for extra seconds of notice) and get under my bed. I barely fit, and was cold and squished, but leaving the pillow on the bed, I laid under my bed with my sheets pulled off and against at least one side of the bed for “protection.” Besides, there are clothes and jackets on the floor so it isn’t that out of place and if by chance my feet aren’t showing it could like the apartment was deserted.

 

At what I found out was about 3am I reached for my phone. I guess to try to put it on speakerphone to 911 if I knew it was the end since I definitely wasn’t making any extra noise so maybe I’d save someone else.

 

My original plan was to not get out until my alarm went off, but since I naturally start for real waking up around 4, it was about that time I realized it was increasingly painful to stay under the bed, and also I was no longer as hidden because my stomach was making hungry noises. I was cold and scared and decided at this point I’d been under there for a long enough time that maybe the situation was controlled, but if it wasn’t I still was going to need to be at work in the morning if I was still alive, so I needed some better rest.

 

Getting back out is rather challenging for an adult sized human, but I did that, took my glasses back off, typed on my laptop that I had been under my bed “in case I died and no one knew I tried,” and went back to sleeping ON the bed.

 

This whole situation was so out of character for me. Sure, my comfort zone is pretty much 39*75 (the size of a twin sized mattress), but while I have had problems with anxiety, it has never been like that. I am a girl who blatantly ignored all the rules about where you should and shouldn’t go in St. Louis, partly because I had no idea where these places were and weren’t, partly because if I need to go somewhere no one is telling me I can’t, and partly because I really wasn’t afraid and felt that mostly people were just being scaredy-cats about something that really wasn’t going to happen if you used your noggin as something other than a hat rack. I had no problem with wandering around in the dark or in the light or in the rain or by a train…okay, not by a train, but you get the gist. So I guess with this being so weird for me that there must be either something fueling it, or something I am supposed to have learned from the experience (besides the knowledge that I have no intention of ever sleeping underneath my bed).

 

So I guess most obviously, is there somewhere in life I feel threatened? I mean, physically, no, I do not fear for my safety. And actually, even if I were still in the area where my abuser lives, I am no longer afraid of her. She no longer is in a position of power over me, which has been huge for my healing. I feel safe from her. Actually, over the past few weeks, when I have imagined visiting people in the city where she lives, when the what if of her showing up appears, my response is no longer to yearn to get away and to put up a mental fence of protection around myself. Instead, my response is to politely excuse myself, calmly approach, and sometimes in my imagination my words are a request to please leave me alone, but other times the words are simply a quick “I forgive you” followed by calmly returning to my friend. It was actually really empowering the first time that happened to realize I was no longer kept captive by fear of her. Anyway, all that to say physically I feel safe. I guess sort of in terms of my career I do feel threatened to some extent. I am in a position that I do not like that is really not a very well-respected position. I also know that the longer I am out of school the harder it will be to convince any residency program to accept me. And I know that in the course of surviving (and having nowhere to use them anyway), I am most likely losing knowledge and clinical skills as I fail to keep up to date which will make residency harder if I ever get there. I feel trapped and frustrated. I want out, but with an impossible to use PTO system that requires one know when they will need days off a year in advance, I don’t see how it is even possible to interview without lying about being sick which is obviously something that would be wrong and not something that is even an option for me. I can’t do that. And in an interview, how do I explain the years off? How do I explain the holes and complete change in path? How do I even get that far when I have nothing to offer anymore? How do I find any relevant reference writers without announcing that I desperately want out?

 

Next Saturday will mark one year since I failed to match. I guess it is the one year anniversary of the trauma. Or is it? I mean, is it really that well defined, or do we mark time starting at midyear, or submitting the application, or the first interview, or the phone call from my advocate friend, or from the email from the abuser that was the beginning of my escape, or from my first session with her, or from her first day at school? Or we could start even younger and blame the change of churches as a teenager that stole away my identity as the beginning since without that I probably would never have gotten involved with my abuser and even if I had may not have been as vulnerable since I would have had a stronger, harder to break, confidence in my identity and worth. But that one year mark since the first match day does feel like a big mile stone. It seems insane that it has been nearly a year. In some ways it still feels like match day was yesterday. In other ways it seems like that was forever ago. It is hard, too, because as long as I stay in the pharmacy world I am constantly going to be confronted with the perennial cycle of resident interviews and the match.

 

As March 17th gets increasingly closer I am starting to feel more of the pain again. It hurt so much then, but it still hurts now. I still cry sometimes. You know, I think my response to hide under my bed to save myself maybe is showing me how far I have come. Last year when it happened, I definitely knew I had no interest in being alive. I longed to go to forever home with eternal daddy. Gradually as I healed I started to reach a point where I was ambivalent towards life. I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to die, but I also knew I wasn’t a super fan of being alive. I know that sounds weird, but I was and in a lot of ways still am just living every day for the sake of getting to the end of it even though I know inevitably the next day will come and I will have to start all over. My response kind of shows that I am reaching a point where I want to be alive more than I want to die. Maybe it is just a control thing, or maybe I just have enough good things coming up that I am living for those good things and will crash again when they are over, but I really want to believe that this is where healing begins and the light meets the dark. (Okay sorry, my brain really just is a messed up mp3 player sometimes). I am not where I would like to be, and I don’t have a lot to show for myself, particularly to anyone who isn’t privy to what was really going on last year (and even before that), but I guess I need to recognize that I have worked really hard to make it through this year. Pinterest told me that sometimes courage isn’t standing on the stage, but is instead the little voice that says I will try again tomorrow, and I have bravely tried again tomorrow for nearly 365 days since match day. Sometimes it feels like a knife is ripping me apart from the inside, but I haven’t given up. I’m still here. I’m not always sure I’d like to still be here, and it certainly wasn’t by choice, but I AM still here. I don’t know why God kept me on earth, but I am and I have to deal with it the best I can.

 

And that is certainly not to say that everything is bad and nothing is good. I have found some wonderful people. Also, recently I was watching a kid video that mentioned that kids or even adults who have been in hard places can sometimes be psychosocially still living at a lower age than their chronological age, because it is harder for them to grow past the age where they were hurt or missing something. As I mentioned above, changing churches was really hard for me. As a minimally social kid who really only fit in and had connections at church, being separated from that environment was a huge struggle in my world, not made easier by going somewhere that every other girl my age had been friends since early infancy. Most of them had no interest in inviting in another girl, and to be honest, at first I didn’t want to believe this change was for real and wasn’t that invested in trying to make friends anyway. Even when I realized I was stuck, and did want to be included, I was left out. It hurts when you go from somewhere you got to choose your Sunday school class to somewhere it is preassigned based on grade level and all the girls in your grade are a clique that doesn’t include you. It hurts when they frequently have parties that include every girl in the class except you. It hurts when going around the circle for anything intentionally skips you. It hurts when you aren’t even allowed a prayer request, instead being assigned the same prayer request every week from the other girls in the group. It hurts when you have no escape. Even when I signed up to lead my own small group, my assigned adult overseer was the mom of one of the girls. Anyway, last night I attended youth group at my current church. Yes, I know I am not a youth. At my old church at home there were a good number of college students and young adults who weren’t really volunteering as youth leaders, but kept coming every week basically never actually graduating from youth group despite their high school graduation. I always saw myself as being one of those people, because youth group was where I fit in. At the new church at home, that wasn’t something anyone did. Maybe because there was a college age ministry. Knowing that I wasn’t doing well in youth group and had connections in the college age group, I was allowed to join a few months early, and while a lot of the people were not actually college students and just hadn’t graduated from college ministry (I guess it was the holding grounds for people who still wanted something more the way youth group was at the other church) it was good at first…until the few college age people in the group moved on and the rest of the group would be excited you were there when you showed up and then ignore you the rest of the time. So anyway, this youth group experience was what I wish I had all those years ago. I didn’t fit in super well since I was an adult but not a leader in a room of mostly middle-schoolers, but I felt included and valued. The circle didn’t skip me. People acted like I belonged there, like they really cared about me. I wasn’t really ready to use a lot of my words yet, but I felt like it would be a safe place if I was ready to use my words. I didn’t actually intend to go to youth group – I have a bible study that meets at the same time – but a couple of the leaders asked, and I figured it would be a lot better than the bible study I had been going to. I always hear them happy and wish I were in a group like that. In my group, most of the people are really wonderful individually, but put them all together and it is a super negative group. I am very not a fan. Also, they are all at a completely different stage of life from me. They love having homework. I hate it. Okay, I said it. I’ve been pretending I don’t mind, or making excuses why my homework isn’t done, but in reality, I just got frustrated with the idea of homework. I want to be able to go to a group and have community, not just someone else telling me something I really should have done if I was a good little Christian girl. I get that if you are an empty-nester or a stay at home mom of school age kids you do have some time in the day you might like constructively filled with adult content, but as a single, full-time working, young adult who is also still just trying to make it day to day, I am not interested…especially since the homework is the kind of crap you get in literature classes and literature is right up there with history in my least favorite classes. You know, until I started writing this I didn’t realize how hard I had been trying to force a Honda key to start a Toyota. I joined the Bible study because I really needed community and decided there was some community, but I guess you can’t just make people your community.

 

So…TL;DR version: I had a weird fear response. I realized I want to live more than I want to die right now, but also that the closer March 17th gets the more the pain is resurfacing and strengthening. Also, I found out that I really enjoy youth group.

And I’m not done fighting, this is the sound of surviving

(Sound of Surviving – Nichole Nordeman)

 

So a couple weeks ago, I loaded an audiobook on my Hoopla account that I hadn’t ever listened to before. I was barely 5 sentences in when I decided it might be my new favoritest book ever. Now that I have made it to the end a few times, I can agree with my initial assessment that it is a pretty good book, although I do think that the beginning is incredible, but the end starts to get kinda meh…I don’t mind if you bring the Bible into your story, but it kind of gets disruptive to the storyline when you pause to tell me who all of the prophetesses in the Bible were. That random trivia doesn’t really add to your story and just makes me feel kind of annoyed because I want to get back to the story at hand. Oh yeah, the book is “Beautiful Things Happen when a Woman Trusts God” by Sheila Walsh.

 

A couple days ago youtube suggested I listen to a few Nichole Nordeman songs that I hadn’t listened to in a long time and I found myself really connecting. And I just really love the title of this one: Sound of Surviving. Surviving is pretty much all I was doing for a long time. The entirety of mid-March to mid-October is a huge blur of just getting through life. Maybe it is just because I tend to downplay things to avoid unwanted attention, but I want to label this a trauma with a little t. It is hard even knowing what I went through to acknowledge how hard this was. Intellectually I know the way this was so intimately linked to the abuse probably should qualify it for big T trauma, but I guess that feels like cheating. It feels like putting the blame on someone else for me not being good enough…and I guess now that I write that out, it shows pretty clearly that I really am still trying to rebuild.

 

I guess I need to acknowledge that the little girl who was wasting her life becoming a pharmacist because she could do so much more became the stupid girl who was so out of touch with reality that she thought she could be a pharmacist, and now this pharmacist still is struggling to learn to believe again that she could be worth anything. She is still trying to learn that she isn’t just an annoyance. She is still trying to learn that she deserves being acknowledged as a member of society even when she doesn’t have much to give. I hate so much that I ever let anyone make me feel like I was worthless, but I do understand that it isn’t my fault.

 

So, umm, yeah, whether little or big traumas, they can lead to living in chaos. And, oh my is that true of my life right now sometimes. I went to five different stores Friday and Saturday that sell fruits and vegetables…and even walked past the correct departments in each of those stores. And Sunday I opened the fridge to eat lunch and there was no fruit or vegetable in the fridge or freezer. There are clothes all over my apartment and papers on the floor. I recently-ish heard about a filing system that has always been very much my system, but is even more so my system and something I can totally support now. It is called the SHAPE system…which stands for Stacks, Heaps, And Piles Everywhere. It used to be a system that made me feel at home and actually worked well for me to keep track of things. Now it is at an extreme where I am working hard not to trip over things and I sure hope there is more than one copy if it is super important, because the extra is probably just as lost as the original, but at least with two things to look for there is a higher chance of actually finding one of them.

 

And, um, that was actually not at all anything that I actually sat down to write. (Okay, let’s be honest, except when I am out in public I VERY rarely am in a sitting position. I am almost exclusively more horizontally positioned, and as of the past months usually getting pressure input from at least a sheet if not the comforter as well). What I was actually going to say is that when you are “just” surviving you don’t really have much in the way of an ability to think in the long term. Everything is either now or not now, and not now bears no relevance when you are pretty much running on empty just trying to take care of now. So when in May you are told you absolutely must create an account on this website and you must do it right now, you do it even though you have absolutely no idea why you would ever want to have an account. You also assume that you will remember your username and password because you do now, and there is no not now that you have time to worry about. You then forget that this website even exists until one day when you get an email that says click here to sign in for more information.

 

Oh.

 

Cr*p.

 

A search of the emails that I saved located a username. Awesome. Except that I still haven’t got a clue what my password might be. And there isn’t a forgotten password link. It isn’t in my list of important passwords. There is a possibility I may have written it down, but if I did, it was probably in my notebook for class that I since have thrown away because there wasn’t anything useful in there except for a few things that were painful but that I saw no need in keeping. And even if it was written in there, chances are it was just on another line as another note for the day, and going through 70 pages of notes and recognizing that line and knowing it was a password and the password I was looking for is a pretty marginal chance. Even a series of gibberish-like characters isn’t much of a giveaway if you know the way I write. My typing is a little better because autocorrect and those little red lines give me some help, but when I handwrite, there isn’t a little genie flipping around letters and underlining potential mistakes as I make them, so I end up with words with the letters out of order. Most of the time it is middle letters alternating positions (incredible = icneridlbe), but sometimes there is a letter or two completely out of place (belautifu = beautiful), or a word spelled with inappropriate phonetics (write vs rite vs right, dun vs done), or some combination of the three. Yes, when I was in school and studying it sometimes made it a puzzle to figure out what I meant in my notes, but it also gave some much needed comedic relief at times. I still have a picture of my notes where furosemide is spelled something like frusomedie and I had looked at what I wrote and went wait, what?? So yeah, this account that I absolutely had to have, I have it all right. And it is very secure. So secure that I have tried every single thing I could think of and haven’t got a clue what my password might be. Luckily though, the information I wanted was purely curiosity and not anything I actually needed to know, so it isn’t a big deal…unless I continue to get messages that I can’t find out more about in which case I’ll probably be annoyed for eternity (or at least until I opt out of emails).