Monthly Archives: June 2018

You can’t run when you’re holding suitcases

(Suitcases – Dara McLean)

Let’s ignore the fact that this lyric is wrong, but not worry too much about it, because it sounds pretty anyway.

I found a notecard in my lunchbox dated 4/14/16. It is from an activity with Cru. The idea was that you write down five things you want on the notecard and put it somewhere you won’t be looking at it all the time, but will eventually find it again. The directions were to dream big and if you write it down it’ll probably happen.

 

It was interesting reading my notecard. The second item on my notecard was good grades. I suppose every grade I got *after* that point was good…but I’m pretty sure when I wrote that I was hoping somehow I could get a revision of my previous not so good grades. It actually wasn’t a completely unheard of idea. At my school there were people who successfully whined to the dean that they didn’t like their grades and got a grade increase. The part that makes that very unlikely to happen in my case is that I am NOT a whiner. I hardly even stand up for myself, so yeah, I refuse to whine about my grades even if it would potentially increase them. So yeah, if you don’t express your discontent loudly and inappropriately then you aren’t going to magically get good grades. Another item on my list was “Friends, the real kind…maybe like the popular kid kind.” I have always struggled to make and keep friends who actually want me as a friend back. I also wanted reconciliation, a particular residency and job that I didn’t get, and “Healing from abuse, emotionally, self-esteem, confidence.” I thought that one was pretty insightful. For a long time I thought healing and reconciliation were basically one and the same, that if we ever got an opportunity to talk about what happened that it would all magically go away. It took a while to realize that abuse hurts and scars in a way that impacts a variety of aspects of life and cannot simply be reversed with an I’m sorry followed by I forgive you.

 

In church a week and a half ago, someone was talking and said forgiveness isn’t giving someone control. That really impacted me, and I realized sub-consciously, it is hard to forgive because certain someone always had power and control over me and it felt like forgiving would be like saying that was okay and that she could continue to hold the reins of control. I didn’t have control over anything else in life, so I was struggling to let go of that last set of reins and give up control. That simple statement helped me realize that I don’t have to let go of any tiny shreds of control I might have left in order to forgive, and that felt awesome.

 

Totally changing gears, a couple weeks ago I was going through some piles of schoolwork deciding what I was willing to say goodbye to, because if I get my way, next summer I will be moving and right now my mom keeps sending me back to my apartment with more of my stuff that I’ve left around the house, and it is overwhelming to think about moving all the stuff in my apartment (and all the stuff still around my parents house). So anyway, I was sorting through exams and syllabi and notes…and I had to laugh when I got to the APP (Advanced Pharmacy Practice) stuff…one of the things I was graded down on was smiling too much…y’know, I feel like having a positive attitude shouldn’t be a negative in a customer service position like the retail pharmacy skills they were assessing, especially since on the exact same page the assessor commented that I practiced good empathy so it wasn’t like I because I was smiling I was failing to respond to the SP’s (Standardized Patient’s) concerns…so y’all if you want the pharmacist who is crappy because she smiles too much then come to me…lol…Can I also just take a moment to vent about how much I hated APP. It was such a frustrating class. I believe there was *maybe* 1% of the class that was worthwhile and the rest was either completely pointless or a direct repeat of material learned in previous classes or that was going to be covered in future classes. Add on top of that the fact that the teachers for that class wrote lousy test questions and were lousy assessors of subjective assignments, and you have the recipe for a super frustrated student. It is not cool when you couldn’t be bothered to finish grading my and 4 other students first projects in time for us to get feedback before the final project and then grade me down on the final project because I should have known from the first project (you know, the one you have yet to give me any feedback on) that my introduction should have been worded differently. It is even less cool when after giving me my final grade on the project (which I might note was already significantly lower than I felt I deserved) that you tell me you changed your mind and are going to decrease my grade even further…not cool. Once you’ve given me a grade you don’t get to change your mind unless doing so would improve my grade. I will recognize the exception of a few teachers who said for recorded presentations you could request a regrade if there were points you didn’t receive you felt that you earned, but gave a disclaimer that they would listen not only for those points but to the entire presentation again and if they found places they gave points that maybe you didn’t completely earn they would take them away. I think that is a fair exception, because trying to grade from a recorded presentation is hard so asking them to do it again even if it is just for part of it is a lot of extra work to ask them to do, so it seems fair to put in some sort of way to discourage people from taking them up on the offer of a regrade unless there is a drastic problem.

 

I was reading something recently and it said ‘Sometimes “listen, really listen” is not enough, sometimes we need to ask.’ I thought that was a profound statement that is oh so true. Especially for me, there is a lot that I really want to talk about. There is a lot that has happened in my life that it would be really good for me to share, but I don’t. It isn’t that no one will listen – maybe they would, maybe they wouldn’t. I mean, some people I doubt would listen, but I know enough people that I bet there are some people who would be happy to listen…but I am someone for whom communication is extremely difficult. I work really hard trying to keep up socially, and as a result I often err on the side of not sharing because it is easier to fit in on that side than on the other side. I think listen, really listen is extremely important, but I also think it is important to remember that listening is the starting point. Sometimes there is more we can uncover if we ask. What might seem small and inconsequential to you could be the hinge keeping the world together to someone else, and this is not always information that people are readily sharing.

 

Speaking of perspective and reframing, we usually think of adoptions that do not go all the way through as failed adoptions. While some of these failed adoptions may seem to legitimately represent a failure, it may be more helpful to see them not as failed adoptions, but successful decisions to parent. A lot of adoptions “fail” because mom and/or dad had voluntarily listed their child for adoption, but changed their mind and decided to keep him or her. Assuming the bio parents are fit to parent, which tends to be ensured once social services gets involved with a potential adoption, I think it is usually best for a child to stay with his or her bio parents. Adoptions can also “fail” when a child is completely unable to settle in to their adoptive family. While there are better and worse ways to handle this, removing a child from a home that is not meeting their emotional needs and placing that child in a home where they will be able to get their needs met is a huge success for the child. I think I latched onto this idea a little because I do really want to adopt someday, but also because of the larger implication. Sure, I failed to find a residency, but it might be better to say I successfully navigated graduation and starting my career. A couple weeks ago one of my coworkers was talking to a student about me, and it sure sounded like I was a strong addition to the team, not just some loser they felt sorry for and picked up after she’d failed everything else. That was really validating.

 

I also had a really validating weekend. I wish I could bottle up the weekend to replay. Which sounds really weird, because there were also some negatives this weekend, but there were enough positives that my overall impression of the weekend was positive. I was working 12’s this weekend because we were missing a person so I worked quite a bit of the morning alone, which with a high census like we had can be busy. Multiple times, when I sent techs out to deliver meds they came back letting me know that they had been stopped to pass along that pharmacy was doing an awesome job that morning. That made me feel really good, because most of the time if techs are being stopped it is to field complaints. Also, since I was sending techs out to do deliveries, I was also verifying and checking alone in addition to doing a lot of the tech duties alone, so when the one girl show is actually not making everyone frustrated about having to wait a whole minute for a Tylenol that is success. Also, multiple times techs told me I was their favorite pharmacist. That makes me really happy. It feels really good to be appreciated.

 

You know what else feels really good? Ginormous snow piles on a 90 plus degree day. A few months ago we had huge snow falls that basically shut down the city which frustrated me because like a news story I read a few years ago stated, millennials are more social than previous generations and even snow storms don’t really discourage them from going out to hang out with friends. The article went on to say that the city the article was from was planning on increasing snow clearing efforts to make it safer since millennials were going to drive whether the city took care of the roads or not. So yeah, I am like other millennials in that even if it snows I want to be able to still attend all my social functions and go on with life even if it takes longer to get there, so it super annoys me when places are closed or events get cancelled for snow. I don’t remember whether it was two days or three days later, but in any case within a very small number of days later, the temperature went above 90 degrees. It was so hot, but there were still humungous mountains of snow way over my head in the morning because it takes time to melt, and even on my way home from work they were still at about shoulder height. As you walk towards those piles the temperature got progressively cooler, and the temperature was actually really manageable if you stood right next to the snow mound. I wished I could just stand next to the snow and not have to go home through the heat, but I knew eventually I would regret that decision.

 

But y’know, it wouldn’t be the only decision I ever regretted. Sometimes I make decisions I should know there is a 97% chance I will regret later… #frenchvanillacoldbrewsmoothie So I absolutely love the taste of coffee…and I love banana nice cream (faux ice cream made with frozen banana) so I made nice cream and added some French vanilla cold brew coffee into my blender like a month ago…and the immediate gratification of the smoothie in my mouth was so enticing and so worth it. It is super hard to remember that the delayed gratification of not having a headache and upset stomach is probably worth saying no to the caffeine… #definitelynotnoregrets. I am finding that as I get older I am getting less reactive to caffeine, but I definitely still notice it, and even minor sources of caffeine can cause some issues.

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They hold me, still.

(Your Hands – JJ Heller)

Like I’ve probably mentioned before, when I was a third year, multiple students from my class died. And my counselor told me I wasn’t grieving. Years later, now that I have realized that she was emotionally abusive and have some distance from that time, the sentiment has become almost like an encouraging mantra when things are going wrong. Don’t worry, at least you’re not grieving! You can do it! I mean, yeah, how messed up is that…it is a bit nonsensical and not overly true when I’m saying it. But just like an animal used to its cage will stay inside even once the door is unlocked preferring the known of the cage over the very alluring and probably so much more awesome freedom waiting outside the door, sometimes I am still so used to being marginalized and put down that it just feels more comfortable to do it to myself…and it probably sorta became a coping mechanism to start putting myself down so it didn’t hurt so much when she did…not sayin’ just sayin’. So I tell myself I am not grieving and don’t deserve any sympathy or support for anything in my life, because that is the response I learned.

 

And you’re probably wondering where the h**k I am going with this. Well, I kinda wonder where I am going with this too…but I at least have the background knowledge to understand why I am writing even if I have no idea where the writing is going. So I’ll share the why so that we’re on a level playing field. One of my cousins died Friday night. There isn’t a lot we know about exactly what happened. We know where he was. We know he tried calling his sisters before it happened, but was so drunk he was incoherent. We know there were 911 calls regarding someone acting strangely on the side of the interstate. We don’t know exactly the sequencing of events or how at fault he was for his demise. My mom left on Friday to go on vacation for the weekend. Some vacation she got finding out Saturday morning about the death and spending all day Saturday on the phone trying to figure out travel arrangements to the funeral and then back home – complicated when she is completely across the country from home and also very far away from the site of the funeral in a smallish town also very far from home and no one willing to help her safely get to a major airport.

 

So I’m going to completely change the topic because I’ve really thought all the possible thoughts and thinking them again isn’t going to change anything anyway…I’ve got a lot of blog post ideas written on scraps of paper or in word documents or whatever all over the place and since my mind is bouncing all around anyway, it’s probably a good time to waste a bunch of them by using them in a lot shorter version…and besides, realistically I don’t really blog *that* often anymore, so there’ll probably be a million other things to write about by the time I’m ready to write again anyway.

 

Lol, and lets be honest…I struggle on a good day to focus for very long, and so yeah, I definitely was just on a facebook and youtube (simultaneously) break and found that more details have been released. Still no one knows exactly what happened and very possibly we never will, but at least a little more of a story line emerged. And I listened to a great youtube video and scanned the facebook…and it’s time for bed.

They don’t know the real you. All the rain in the sky can’t put our your fire

(Gold – Britt Nicole)

 

Today I had some hard moments including some of the OCD fears coming back briefly. Sometimes I feel like a loser or a failure when that happens, but I realized this afternoon that I really have overcome a lot and I have beat the odds, and no one can take that away. Sure, I certainly had a lot of help along the way from people who really cared about me and wanted the best for me, but I can’t forget to give myself some of the credit.

 

This past week I’ve had more difficulty sleeping than usual and had some of the overwhelmed, defeated, trapped, frustrated feelings re-emerge. I cried last night and this morning. Then at church someone mentioned the V-word (vomit) and externally I rocked it (no washing, still touching things), and even internally I wasn’t completely flooded with fear, but there was definitely some very real fear threatening me. Because of that fear I felt angry that someone would enter the room I was in who had been near someone who felt sick. It is probably worth mentioning at this point that I don’t even know if this person ever actually threw up or just felt bad…and considering I can sometimes feel pukey just from my normal hormones and usually can hold back from actually vomiting, I do logically understand that feeling extreme nausea doesn’t even necessarily involve any threat of contamination. The OCD is going too fast in analysis to entertain the possibility of non-contagious nausea and the train going full speed ahead can’t be stopped. And I refuse to believe that once vomit has happened that it is not an infection hazard. Airborne saliva is infectious in my book, and vomit is even more airborne and even more infectious whether it comes from an infectious cause or not…which is why it was not at all reassuring when someone told me one day that I shouldn’t be scared because someone’s vomit was because she was pregnant, not because she was sick…umm, yeah, I had already figured out the cause of the vomit thank you very much, but that didn’t alleviate my fear, because the vomit still happened.

 

A few hours later I am doing totally fine again, OCD thoughts dissipated, but it got me thinking. I am so thankful that a few tears that I was able to stop this morning, and a VERY minor OCD incident are the worst I currently have to deal with. At this time last year I was only a couple weeks away from the deadline I set for God to take me home. I was still fighting every day to get enough food and water in my body, and sleep was much improved from the worst, but still most certainly not the best it could be. I was hanging on each day just thinking if I could hold on second by second would turn to minute by minute and I’d make it through the day and soon God would take me home and it would all be over.

 

Obviously God did not meet that deadline I set for him. He kept me alive. If I could live through that for this long, I know I can continue to face the battles of life. I made it through a pumpkin phase as a baby. I made it through thinking I was the only kid in my kindergarten class followed by a falsified report to ensure I stayed where it was thought would be best for me and subsequently being kept from play and craft time instead being asked to write book reports*. I made it through a second grade where the timeout desk might as well have had my name on it because falling down earned you a timeout and I fell (or got tripped) a lot. I made it through a friend telling me her other friends wouldn’t be friends with her if she was friends with me so we couldn’t be friends anymore. I made it through bullying including being hit in the head with a rolling pin. I made it through a traumatic change of churches taking me away from everything I thought was a given in my life. I made it through changing my college plans only to find out the school I went to wasn’t fully honest about what credits could transfer in. I made it through not getting the RA position I wanted because “I didn’t think you’d want to be an RA” despite the fact I’d essentially been RA’ing without the title or benefits for the past year. I made it through being abused by a counselor at my school. I made it through ending that counseling relationship and the chaos and restrictive punishment imposed on me while watching my abuser receive the princess treatment and continue to hurt me and other people. I made it through failing to match repeatedly, losing my dreams for myself and any self-worth I had left.

 

I will survive.

 

I was going to end my post at that, but something was nagging at me to say one more thing. The counselor that abused me is still at my school and still in a position to continue to hurt people. My school also used mandated counseling as a punishment. I firmly believe that mandated counseling should NEVER be used as punishment. First of all, it will not achieve any real goals and will thus waste the counselor and the counselee’s time and effort. Additionally, for me since it was mandated to do it off campus instead of being mandated on campus like they usually do, it was exorbitantly expensive…for something I had no desire to do. Even if someone did have legitimate mental health needs, those needs are likely to go just as unaddressed in mandated counseling as punishment as they are with no counseling. Let me say that one more time. Counseling should NOT be used as a punishment. Okay, now that we are clear on that, one of my friends was mandated to I think it was 2 or 3 counseling sessions as a punishment. She didn’t know about my getting abused by certain someone because of the gag clause. I am so thankful she is very well adjusted and that she came to me. She was like hey, this is what happened, is this what counseling is supposed to be like, because it felt really wrong. I assured her it was totally not how things are supposed to be and totally not okay. She was given the option of seeing a different counselor for free, but I am so proud of her, because instead she decided that two could play certain someone’s games. She went back intent on trolling certain someone back. Oh, I wish I could have been a fly on that wall, because my friend could be totally sassy, and oh did certain someone deserve to be put in her place. I am still frustrated with my school because they continue to promote certain someone’s “services” despite knowing what she did to me and other students. It angers me that not only do they allow her to continue to be in a position to hurt more students, but they also continue to encourage students to engage with her.

 

Okay, rant over. I just needed to get that part off my chest.

 

*side note…also not originally intended to be part of the post, but just popped into my head as I was about to hit publish…when you are a kindergartner and therefore don’t really have much understanding of numbers with commas, your book about kangaroos (it was actually a book on Australia) becomes quite confusing…how do they not know if the population is 64 or 307 or 599?! I thought each set of numbers was a guess and they just had a bunch of people make up a guess…Lol…It is also interesting being asked to identify the plot points of a book of science experiments…and this is why you probably should at least help kindergartners choose their books…

I’m workin’ on switchin’ them letters

(LeCrae – I’ll Find You)

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Doodle in my journal in January to commemorate my goal for the year and try to make it fun instead of some kind of obligational burden.

 

 

They say don’t get bitter get better. I’m workin’ on switchin’ them letters.

 

I thought maybe it was time for reflection and an update. I still cry sometimes. I still mourn my losses, but I keep putting one foot in front of the other and slowly I am healing. I am doing my best to hold it together, and sometimes I am almost successful. Sometimes I am less successful. And that is okay. Like it says in one of the books by Sheila Walsh that I read, people may say there is no reason to be sad or angry because joy comes in the morning. I’ve told them it is still night. While I would love to have a button to press to magically turn off the pain of the abuse and of the loss, I don’t have that. Healing cannot be rushed. And because of that I am very thankful for people who have been willing to sit with me in the dark when I really couldn’t access the bright side.

 

If I remember correctly, my goal for this year, better not bitter, was not inspired by the LeCrae song, but when I heard it in the song a couple weeks ago, I listened closer to the rest of the song, and it’s been a really good song…

 

Last year at this time some of my favorites were Skillet – The Last Night, We As Human – Take the Bullets Away, and Skillet – Not Gonna Die. I do still love those songs, and not that they are bad songs or anything, but I’ll Find You has so much more hope. Last year’s favorites had some hope, but it was kind of buried. That was the most I could really connect with, because the totally happy life is awesome kind of stuff just felt fake or like a slap in the face that I was doing it wrong or like no one really gets it. I’ll find you still has some focus on how life is hard, but moves from that to holding on for things to get better.

 

They don’t know the battle I face; They don’t understand what I’m going through.

 

Oh, there is so much depth to the lyrics of this song. Because of the gag clause, most people didn’t know how much I was fighting against through school and how that impacted what I was feeling when I didn’t get a residency. Even the few people who did know couldn’t necessarily really understand what the loss was like. Time passes, but the pain doesn’t ever end. It can’t be totally fixed. Even if I got a call today telling me there was a mistake and I actually should have had a position last year and it is mine for the taking effective immediately, it wouldn’t totally erase the pain. But I am starting to see some positives in not going directly into a residency. There is the obvious that I will be a lot more financially stable when I do finally get a residency, but beyond that, I am learning to be a real adult. Real adults don’t eat ramen every day. Being a resident is essentially an extended student position, which is a role I enjoy, but I think it was good for my personal growth to spend some time as an adult before jumping back into a student role, and putting me in the sink or swim position being an actual pharmacist instead of a resident with a preceptor forced me to learn to communicate without someone at my side giving me words, or at least being there in case I get stuck. Sure, I am certainly a communication avoider, because I don’t feel like I know what I am doing and I don’t really get much of a chance to observe and mimic to really get comfortable, but the skills that I am learning will help me no matter where I go in life…not just in helping me someday get a residency…which was in my mind, the only purpose in staying in pharmacy rather than getting a job at Caribou.

 

I’m tryna remember the way; I’m tryna get back to my home, but I can’t do this on my own.

 

Figuring out how to navigate from completely devastated and barely making it through the day to actually surviving and maybe even sometimes doing more than just surviving is something I couldn’t do without support, but it was also isolating. Grief is isolating. Partly because you are a hard person to be around when you are grieving – people are uncomfortable with pain and unsure how to respond and want to make the pain go away to alleviate their awkwardness, but they can’t…and partly, because in grief you tend to lose the energy to make any real effort to be around people and it is just easier to be alone. Sometimes even people way removed from my support network can be incredibly helpful. I was reading a blog post recently by someone who experienced a loss 12 years ago. She still struggles emotionally particularly around the time of year the loss occurred. It was so helpful to read that, to know it is normal to still cry so much later, to know that someone else understands there isn’t a mark on the calendar by which everything will be awesome again. I do still cry sometimes. I still have deep hurts that resurface particularly around meaningful dates. And that is okay. It was helpful to realize that she mostly posts positive well-adjusted posts – she has moved on from experiencing the pain as regularly as I still do, and someday so will I. She does post maybe a couple times a year about her loss, but mostly she shares about the other things in life – at the beginning of her blog I think she was like 5 years out from the loss if I remember correctly, and it was mentioned maybe a little more frequently then. Seeing the post made me feel like I had a kindred spirit. I am sure most of the people in her life would be like why are you still bringing this up, how is this still relevant to your life now, but as a fellow loss survivor, I get it. I get that no matter where you are in life, you might be struck down by a memory of that painful time and no positive can ever completely cover up the pain. Sure, some details of the memory may fade over time, but it will always be there.

 

I’m smilin’ in everyone’s face; I’m cryin’ whenever they leave the room.

 

Once I got far enough along that I could hold in the pain, this was totally me for a long time. I’d paint on a smiles in front of people, but as soon as either something happened that broke through to the darkness hiding behind the smile or I was no longer around people, the tears poured down. It was kind of a problem, because when wake up in the morning and cry is your modus operandi, it is sometimes hard to turn that off to be ready in time to go to church or to work or to wherever else needs going. I am so happy to be past that point. I do still cry sometimes, but not every day, and that is huge.

 

When that ocean of doubt comes don’t let me drown in my sorrow.

 

For a long time it felt like I was drowning and suffocating. It is a painful terrifying feeling. I finally started getting moments of reprieve from that feeling eventually. It is only over the past couple of months really that the drowning feeling has become more of a once a month or so thing rather than a more frequent or even near constant experience. I am so thankful for that progress. My external situation might still be similarly hopeless, but my internal situation is a lot better. To be honest, although I would have been angry if anyone had violated my trust and placed me in any kind of mental health crisis hold center, but looking back, I can definitely see where they might have been coming from and while it would have been devastating, I don’t think it would have been a wrong choice. I wasn’t eating, drinking, or sleeping well. I was undeniably living in crisis mode, barely making it through the day. Something needed to change. I don’t think not forcing me into that was the wrong choice, and I am glad that it didn’t happen, but I also know I was dangerously teetering on the edge. I had zero desire to be alive and wasn’t doing a good job taking care of myself. If it hadn’t been for caring and compassionate and patient friends, my outcome could have been a lot different. I don’t know exactly what that outcome might have been, but it would certainly have not followed the same trajectory I ended up on. Now I finally feel okay or even good again a lot of the time. I eat. I do what I can to take care of myself…my job isn’t very conducive to getting good sleep and stuff, but I am doing a lot better than I was.

 

I’ll be there for you no matter where you go…Just fight a little longer my friend.

 

I feel like this post is a little bit all over the place, but long story short, I am doing a lot better than I was. Life can still be hard and painful, but I am so thankful that I am not in nearly as deep as I was a year ago. Last year at this time I was quickly approaching the deadline I set for God to please just take me home…but he didn’t. I kept fighting and I am still here. And God is with me even though life is hard and painful and frustrating. He is good. He is not good because I am doing better though. God was good when I was at the bottom. He was good when I didn’t match. He was good when I went through phase II and the scramble with nothing to show for it but a drained bank account and exhaustion. He was good when I graduated and was still crying every day. He was good when I lost my pediatric job with all my friends. He was good when I almost got it back then lost it again. He was good when I struggled through another residency season, and when I failed again. God’s goodness isn’t based on the goodness or badness of my life. He is good and that is a truth. It is hard to believe sometimes when life is so bad, but God is good. God understands and cares about what I am going through, and one day he will bring me to forever home and the pain here will make paradise seem even better by contrast, and it will all be worth it in the end.

 

P.S. Even if you don’t wanna listen to the song, I totally recommend just reading through the lyrics to “I’ll Find You” by LeCrae. So good, so powerful, so full of depth. K, I’ll shut up now.

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This is from my journal in early November 2015, written across two printed emails from people who were way nicer to me than I deserved and took time out of their busy schedules when I was supposed to be serving them to actually serve me in a big way. Just taking the time to say hello and include me meant the world to me, and these people did that and more. And there were so many other incredible people I got to work with there. I so miss that place and yearn to be able to go back and serve some more even though a lot of the people have left. Buying everyone there a starbucks treat for their Monday morning meetings is still on my list of things I want to do someday to give back to the people who gave me so much even though so many of the people have left in the past couple years…

Now things have changed, won’t stay silent this time!

(Not backin’ down – Blanca)

I feel like now that I *can* talk I don’t. I guess partly because it is less relevant now that I am both not living at or near school where the rules impacted my every day and no longer living under those rules. Partly though, because I got used to pretending nothing ever happened. And when the residency thing happened it was easy enough to act like that was its own issue, not linked to the abuse. And, okay, let’s be honest, also because communication is still hard for me so I’d have to be really close to someone and have the right situation before I’d be likely to talk about what happened.

I was working maybe like a month ago on a version of my story I could share. What I started with wasn’t something I was comfortable posting on my blog, because I felt like even attempting to hide some details it was just too personal…but then I was re-writing it again, and this version seemed like a good place to start. More may come later…or maybe it’ll open opportunities to use my spoken words to share my heart, but this is what I am ready to share right here right now.

For the entirety of my third year of college I was in a counseling relationship with a woman who abused me. Life was hard. I escaped the counseling portion of that statement after third year, but I never really escaped the relationship part. I was not allowed to communicate with her (among a large number of other restrictive oppressive rules intended to intimidate me, keep me powerless, and protect the college from anyone finding out what they had allowed to happen on their campus). She, on the other hand, had no restrictions whatsoever and no consequences for any of her actions. She would follow me around and try to get me in trouble claiming I was following her – interesting considering I was always there first…but she was the princess who could do no wrong, so no one really cared that her stories didn’t check out. I stopped using the cafeteria because I got fed up with her coming in and sitting at the table next to mine. Then she decided to hang around to use the microwave next to where I was sitting despite the three other microwaves without lines closer to her workstation. There was fresh running water in her office yet she came to walk past me to fill her waterbottle. I was broken. I needed the metaphorical heart and lung transplant that graduation would give me. My official count down started well before 400 days.

 Fast forward to sixth year. Working on getting a residency was hard and stressful. For this girl still learning social skills, an interview is a challenging proposition. For this girl who thrives on routine and predictability, travel and interviewing in new places with new people was also not my forte. The months leading up to match day were like finally preparing for that transplant. It was hard and scary but there was that light at the end of the tunnel that everything would be so much better if I held on just a little longer.

Then match day came and I didn’t match. It was like they took out my heart and lungs in preparation and the organs to transplant weren’t viable and the only option was to use ECMO for heart and lung bypass. I had a week to stabilize before I had to be ready to transfer back to school. I was struggling and hanging on for dear life. I was prepping again at the same time and the second match day came and went with more failure and disappointment. Another failed set of organs. Nothing to keep me alive.

 Somehow, gradually, my body healed a little. I was functioning a little better, but still in tenuous position trying everything to just hang on a little longer.

 Finally I got a job offer. A barely viable set of organs were available for me. They didn’t really fit. They weren’t what I wanted. But they were my only option. ECMO wasn’t intended as a long term solution. It was even harder when my body had to wean off ECMO and I lost my job working with kids because HR didn’t think I was necessary anymore. 

Now I am here. Still healing, but realizing more and more that the organs are not a good fit for me. At the same time I know a re-transplant surgery (applying or residency again) would be a risk. And at the same time I know these organs are just going to keep making life hard as long as they last. I tried prepping for another surgery; another failed attempt this year.

 I know even the perfect fit wouldn’t put me right back where I was before. Anti-rejection protocols take a hefty toll on the body and are a lifelong requirement regardless of how incredible the match is once they’ve been started, and the more transplants, the higher the doses may be required to be to successfully suppress an immune response against the new organs. Life will never be the same as it would have been, but I still am holding onto my tattered shreds of hope that one day I will get the residency experience and ultimately the pediatric critical care position that I have been working towards my whole life. It won’t be the same as if it had been that first year, and I won’t be the same candidate anymore, but I have to believe there is more for me than this.

 Praying for patience as I try to decide how to get on the waiting list and prepare to live out my dreams.

 

When the Voices in Your Head are Anything but Kind

(Be Kind to Yourself – Andrew Peterson)

 

I learned that I wasn’t worth it and wasn’t good enough. The words of the woman who abused me became the words that I used on myself. Her view of me became my view of me. Before, I was hard on myself, but I did believe that my hard work paid off and produced results to be proud of. After, I was even harder on myself, but I now had the view that nothing I did would ever be good enough. I had learned a deficiency mindset and saw the good in other people but was only able to zero in on the negatives in myself. I believed the words I had repetitively heard about myself. I was trying to learn to fight for myself, but when you still have the voices in your head telling you your opinion doesn’t matter and you should be ashamed of yourself, it is hard to break free.

 

But I am learning to give myself grace.

 

Today at church was youth Sunday. I somehow agreed to help do the welcome at the beginning of church. It was scary. The youth group students were super brave. I wish I could be that brave. Anyway, the message was about how we are all awesomesauce even when it is hard to believe it. Sometimes we might not feel like we matter, but we do. During the service, a group of girls danced to a song called “Be Kind to Yourself” by Andrew Peterson. It was a wonderful reminder that those words I heard on repeat in school, those words that burned into my life song, those words were not the truth about who I am.

 

It is okay to be proud of my performance and accomplishments even when what I did wasn’t perfect. It is okay to do what feels right for me without needing it to be the right thing to do.

 

So I gave myself grace. It would be easy to look at my two sentence welcome speech and be like wow, that was lousy and you messed up the whole service. Instead, I can look at it and say wow, you did something you never imagined you could do and you worked really hard and did a good job. It wasn’t perfect, but no one expected perfection. That was your best today, and that is enough. I was able to be so proud of myself. Could someone else have done a better job? Maybe…okay, yes, but they knew that public speaking wasn’t my forte and still included me. Even knowing I couldn’t deliver a perfect welcome I was given a chance to participate. How cool is that?!

 

And sometimes giving myself grace means listening to myself. There was a lunch and celebration that sounded really fun at a grocery store on the other side of town this afternoon that I planned to go to between church and work. Last year at this time, being in motion was one of the only things that made me feel okay. It helped me down-regulate my grief to a level where I wasn’t crying so hard and was able to get some food and drink in my body. TBH, it is a big reason I walked to work most days and still do. For a long time I was afraid to stop walking because I was afraid that when I was doing more sitting still that the grief would grow bigger than I could handle. All that to say that now being in motion isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes doing anything but laying on my bed sounds like a chore. Sometimes being in motion feels like a reminder of that painful time when being in motion was my only escape from the tears and oppressive pain of grief…and that is okay. It is even okay when like today I got all ready to ride my bike. Clothing selected and put on, keys found, backpack packed, hair tied back, helmet on. And I made it about a yard outside of the parking garage on my bike before I turned around and decided I didn’t really want to bike. Part of me really wanted to ride my bike and was excited for the party. The other part of me associated the motion with the deep pits of grief and just wanted to be alone. I recognize it isn’t healthy to sit on my butt all day every day and isolate myself from the rest of the world, but all things in moderation, and I am trying to figure this out on my own and I’m doing my best.