All posts by Wiggle Worm

11 Days of Brave

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

So here are my eleven days of brave.

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

10/22:

10/23:

10/24:

10/25:

10/26:

10/27:

10/28:

10/29:

10/30:

10/31:

Advertisements

Ready to Smile and Love Life

(Fully Alive – Flyleaf)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

I’m a Warrior

(Toy Soldier – Stephanie Pauline)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I won’t give up I refuse

 

(Not gonna die – Skillet)

 

So, I there was something I was going to write about…I can’t remember what it was anymore…yes, I do sometimes write blog posts in my head and then try to remember them to write down later. So I guess I’ll just write about something else and see where it takes me…

 

I decided a few days ago that considering my ability to quote large portions of the Healing Path by Dan Allender, it was time to pick a different audiobook. I picked to re-listen to the Essence of Resilience by Tanya Lauer and Kathleen Parrish. There were a few quotes that stood out to me.

 

The most painful part of any story occurs in the middle – never the end. This is in the introduction of the book. I guess it is probably why this book got listened all the way through this spring and was downloaded again…it is a good reminder that someday the pain will fade. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow or even next week, month, or year, but someday. This doesn’t always feel like a true statement, and I don’t always even want to believe it is true because it feels like too much pressure to heal faster or because even that tiny bit of hope that someday it will be better seems like too much of an invitation to be crushed again. If I am being really honest though, it is true – although life is really painful right now, it is less painful than it was immediately following the loss. And I haven’t given up. I will not give up. I still am working as hard as I can on gaining weight and taking my life back.

 

Hope is having unconditional belief in our self…a bird sitting on a tree is never scared of the branch breaking because its trust is not in the branch but in its own wings…the experience of trauma includes feeling trapped, inert, and powerless. Sometimes there is nowhere to turn and no one to turn to…Hope can become a lifeline…there are times when hope seems unattainable. Well, that pretty much sums up why I need to learn how to hope again even though it seems like that is just opening myself up for further hurt. Hope is terrifying. Hope is believing in our own strength – but our strength is what we felt was taken away in trauma, so I guess it is understandable that hoping again is a challenge. For me, hoping means believing someday someone will want me – even though I did everything in my power and was faced with mountains of rejection this year. It is believing that the words and feelings thrown at me by certain someone are not true assessments of my worth but rather were intended to bring me down and it is letting her win to continue to feel that way. Not that it is a contest.

 

Speaking of certain someone, I am struggling with forgiveness. I realized that I don’t really know what forgiveness means. I want to forgive, but I don’t really know what that entails. Some say it means forgetting as if it never happened. People far smarter than me on the internet agree that it is neither important nor advisable to forget the pain of abuse. Our culture sometimes links forgiveness with accepting the other’s actions as admissible. But sometimes what we need to forgive is an action or a pattern of behavior that is completely inadmissible and it would be doing neither party a favor to consider it okay. Conflict avoidance feels good in the short term, but is destructive in the long term. But empty words of forgiveness are also not the goal, so what is really behind that word?

 

Resilience is found in the intersection between pain and hope…you may think that you are not resilient and that you don’t have the capacity to recover. Perhaps you’ve been lost…for a long time…you may feel that you are broken or that you have no value. Those beliefs are only manifestations of the trauma and do not reflect the truth about you. If you survived trauma, you have resilience. You have resilience because you survived and because you are searching for something to heal your wounds. Accept your resilience as a fact and embrace your strength. Wow. Another one that really hit me with a bucket of truth. The intersection of pain and hope. Hope is exactly what I have been terrified to hold as I tried to run from the pain. Hope seemed (seems) like a butterfly net, catching me and holding me closer to the pain that I long to escape…and I do feel like I can’t really recover. It has felt hopeless for a long time. When you are so deep down in grief, yet cannot trust anyone for a hand up, it is really difficult, Trust is hard following abuse. Whereas a natural response is for people to suggest turning to mental health professionals, when much of your trauma came from a mental health “professional,” engaging with that field becomes more painful than ignoring it, and can be dangerous. Should I eventually figure out how to disengage that automatic response, yes, certainly, but right now I think it is more adaptive to recognize it as a self-protective mechanism and pride myself for my preservation instincts. When I am doing better, I am considering how I can safely process through that fear and do some safety-learning to adopt a more normal response, but right now, survival is priority number one, and I don’t have the energy to spare to do everything at once, so that is something that will continue to simmer on the back burner. It isn’t an emergency. That aspect of the pain didn’t enter my life overnight and won’t leave overnight either. It was something I was immersed in deeply for a long time and lived with for years, so clearly even if I was ready to tackle it head on, it wouldn’t be realistic to expect it to end like blowing out a candle, rather it will likely end more like a trick candle or the deepest embers of a long-burning fire that just when you think it is out for good starts to burn again. Feeling broken and worthless were taught to me, and I think they are things that are a lot easier to learn than to un-learn. God has placed some wonderful people in my life to help me try to re-build and see some value in myself, but my worthlessness is so deeply rooted in my belief about myself that it is like building a home during an earthquake. Creating a structurally sound dwelling is nearly impossible and the walls keep crashing back down.

 

That last part is really the key. I survived. Third year, because of what was going on, I at one point described myself as leaning against a fence separating life from death, unsure whether the fence could hold my weight, but not fully sure I cared. I think what I meant by this was while certainly not in any acute danger, and pretty sure I was in a safe place, I didn’t have concerns about staying safe not because I was so clearly safe but because I didn’t really know if I wanted to stay alive or die. That summer, when everything exploded, I crossed the line and walked into the realm of no longer feeling there was any reason for me to be alive. I was not actively suicidal…for that matter I wasn’t really active at all. I spent all day laying flat on the floor in front of my laptop. While usually even being on the laptop put the “activ” in activity, my emotional deadness translated to physical deadness as if my body was weighted down with heavy magnets, pulling me down. I may not have had any interest in killing myself, but for the first time, I really knew I wanted to die, because it seemed from my perspective that I had nothing left to live for and it would be easier for everyone if I was dead. I didn’t think anyone would miss me. But I am still alive. I made it through and even experienced joy again. And after failing to match, I began to pray for God to take me home. I stopped for a while, but with the most recent blow started again…but God has kept me here and like it or not I am still alive. I have made it day by day. I have survived some really hard things and I guess maybe that does show resilience. I am strong. I am brave. I will not give up. I will continue to work towards recovery. And I am working towards recovery. Today, without cheating, I was five pounds away from my goal…yes, I will admit that sometimes I cheat. If  am afraid the number is going to be too low and I don’t want to deal with that, I have no problem with picking up a pile of dirty clothes or soaking a towel and holding it to add weight. I figure it is aiding my mental health even if it is not helping my physical health. I don’t consider it cheating to water load or stuff like that, because for a while getting water in my mouth was a major struggle, so if I am drowning myself in water to see a higher number then at least there is water entering my body.

 

Speaking of eating and drinking, a few days ago one of my friends encouraged me to order a caffeine free pumpkin spice drink if it was on the online menu even if it wasn’t on the menu in the store. I am so proud of myself for doing it!! The pumpkin pie coffeeless cooler from Caribou is so amazing!!!!! It looks absolutely nothing like the picture on the website, in fact, it looks nearly identical to Starbucks’ vanilla bean crème frappuccino, but it literally tastes like pumpkin pie in liquid form (without the crust, which is also awesome, because except for like graham cracker or cookie crusts, my opinion of pie crusts is that they are kind of a bummer). I was delighted!! With my quiet personality I wouldn’t have said anything if it was missing the pumpkin flavoring…and I might not have even said anything if it was accidentally made with coffee, so I was really excited to have a pumpkin flavored drink that was safe for me to drink!

 

Wanna know something else fall themed? The tree picture at the beginning of the post! It looks SOOO much better in person than on my cell phone pictures, but the colors are just incredible in real life.

 

You wanna know what else is incredible? My friends :). But I learned this week that trying to fit in and being open to making friends with every single person regardless of whether they realistically could be a good friend for me is not always the right option. I am awful at saying no. I am super passive…and so I realized that there were some people I was halfway friends with that were making me feel frustrated and annoyed rather than feeling good about having friends. It isn’t anything against them, just that there was a mismatch in interests and personalities that led to a disconnect that didn’t make me happy. I decided that it is hard enough work to make friends that it doesn’t make sense to force myself into a round hole when I am a square peg. Everyone knows from the traditional children’s shape sorter activity that the square hole is the biggest and the square, circle, and rectangle all fit through the square hole, so trying to fit anything except the circle into the circle hole isn’t going to work. You can put anything in the square hole, so really it is the most useful hole and I need to stop seeking out that round hole that is evidently too small.

 

‘kay, one more thing. Someone was talking about if you could choose five songs to listen to before you died, what would they be. Knowing me, you probably wouldn’t be surprised that the first song I thought of was Not gonna die – skillet…and then Breathin’ to Death – LeCrae. After that it took a little more thought. In case my death was maybe something preventable, I thought perhaps Another one Bites the Dust would be a good one because that one helps you do CPR correctly…although I don’t actually really know that song so maybe another one rides the bus by Weird Al would be better…then in case it was a gun-related incident with bystanders who could intervene, Take the Bullets Away – Lacey Sturm. So now I was down to needing one more song. Umm…Never be Rested – Josh Stearns?? Because if you are dead you’ll never be rested?? I have no idea…that fifth song was pretty much where I got stuck. So…what songs would you choose before you died?

I am what I am and that’s all that I am

(Please please like me – Go Fish)

This post was written a couple weeks ago-ish…then I was busy and didn’t post it…and then the grief got so deep again that I kinda forgot about it. But better late than never, right? Also, a lyric stuck in my head right now is “I won’t take the world’s abuse; I won’t give up, I refuse.” And also, I just finished watching a youtube video and it ended with “you are not a failed version of normal.”

The title of this post has been my quote on twitter since I joined in 2013…and I still love it.

You know you are living in a world a bit differently than the stereotypical female when you are thrilled looking up a calorie count that it is a lot higher than you expected. I guess I should back up.

It seems based on my stats that there are quite a few new readers over here so I thought I’d do a quick review on some of the major events that have made me who I am. Super abbreviated, because I want this to be short and sweet, not like one of my marathon posts that ends up way longer than I even would have an attention span to read.

Hmmm, where to start? August 10, 2008 my family attended a new (to me) church for the first time (and stayed). It was really hard being taken away from everything I knew and my plans for my life. On top of that, 90% of my writing and art projects in middle school were swimming themed and that year for the first time I was no longer a swimmer…and for the first time I was struggling in school (although causation is hard to determine so that part might have been a result more than a cause). Those things together really took away everything I had to identify myself. I realized that year I was using self-injury as a coping mechanism as I struggled. It has been suggested that perhaps I have PTSD from that situation. I was never totally sold on that, but considering that even five plus years later it was an extremely painful experience to recall, I do credit it as a difficult experience in my life.

A few people in my life at the new church had suggested that I try out the free counseling at my school when I went to college. I intended to go once, say I did it, then be done, but once I got in I didn’t know how to get out. I was seeing a counselor who was so involved in the social realm that she really wasn’t comfortable and didn’t know what to do with someone like me. I was someone who defined a friend as someone I could say hi to maybe 50% of the time if we passed each other alone in the hallway – and I had very few friends. I didn’t do a lot of talking. Based on my records, it appears there was a question in her mind about selective mutism. I wouldn’t be overly surprised if someone made that label official for that time period. Let’s just say my best friend literally jumped out of her chair to celebrate one day when I said “I haven’t thought about that” in response to one of her questions. She was used to my usual communication of yes, no, I don’t know, and silence…and those first three responses were primarily reserved for my very closest friends after good prompting.

The next year I switched to someone who was a lot better match. I also started having some issues with excessive washing as a coping mechanism. At the beginning it wasn’t overly linked to germ fears, but eventually it was very firmly linked. In any case, I wanted to set rules to get rid of that problem. Every assignment I turned in for a while was bloody and my hands were bright red, but she didn’t think that rules was the right answer. Long story short, she eventually agreed that if I promised to be safe with it I could make rules (and it was wildly successful). That was probably a God-thing though I didn’t know it at the time, because the ability to figure things out on my own with little to no support was going to become important later. Oh, it is also important to note that second year everyone at my school interviews into third year and I was terrified and my counselor had asked me to think about what I might be interested in doing if I couldn’t be a pharmacist. It took months, but I thought maybe I’d like to be a social worker…but I wasn’t super thrilled with that, because all I’d ever wanted to be since early elementary school was a pharmacist.

I planned to transition to a different counselor the next year despite warnings from my current counselor, because she was going to be at a different site and I was overwhelmed at the prospect of going anywhere else and flat out refused to do it. I should have recognized that the counselor I insisted on switching to had already shown how lacking in trustworthiness she was and how unethical she was, but I really thought that I could deal with it because in all honesty what I needed most at that point was an accountability partner and someone I could see at a convenient time in a convenient location. She was emotionally abusive. She had no respect for her clients, and I really want to believe that because I was not a tattletale that I got it worse than other people, but I mean, she was teaching shame to keep people quiet. I could see that she needed love and as a result I worked really hard at loving her well and I guess I thought I could fix her, but I couldn’t. I could go into a laundry list of wrong-doings, but suffice it to say that this is not just me being a pansy, but that her conduct was completely inappropriate.

The next summer she sent me an email telling me how well she thought we worked together and how glad she was to work with me. Not too long after that an hour or so before we had a planned phone session she emailed to say that she wouldn’t be available for the session – I thought we were getting somewhere. Her usual modus operandi would have been to just not answer or to be at least 20 minutes late to the phone session. A bit after that she emailed again that we were done, and unlike what she usually did with those outbursts, she didn’t forbid me from talking with anyone else, but she refused to tell me why. Yes, she had deeply hurt me over and over and over, but I was still trying to fix her and at that point I don’t think I had quite registered that having an accountability partner wasn’t helpful when you are being abused by said partner. In a way that only makes sense when you are as upset and confused as I was, I acted out I think attempting to slow her down to make her think long enough to cool it.

I tried to call to apologize. That took a lot of courage for this girl who will drive across town to avoid a phone call. She hung up on me. A lot of my closest friends took her side and blocked me on facebook – super hurtful when that was one of my primary ways of interacting with my world. I was very upset and the message that I was not good enough and a worthless failure that she had been barraging me with during my time with her started feeling really true to me and to be honest, I am not really sure I would still be alive right now if I had been at school where there are metro trains near campus. Because she reported me to the behavior response team (of which she was a member) and recommended I was too stressed out to be in school, a whole series of new stressors came my way…I didn’t get the okay to come back to school until the day before classes started, and on my way in the first day I was stopped by a security guard who was convinced I wasn’t a student anymore. Not a great way to start the semester. Anyway, I think I am getting into too much minutiae, so back to the point, in exchange for staying in school I was forced to sign among other things that I wouldn’t tell anyone about anything related to what happened and I wouldn’t tell anyone that I couldn’t tell anyone – so I was pretty effectively silenced from any means of getting support for the chaos in my life and had to keep the mask of okay on to protect myself from unanswerable questions. I was still being abused by this counselor, and despite my finally cracking and telling my advocate a little of what was going on, my abuser was never punished and instead was given princess treatment.

Fast forward to January/February/March of this year. I am in the intense process of interviewing and when questions get asked about hardest moments or dealing with unfair situations or conflicts, guess what pops into my head. I have to work extra hard to not just freeze and deer in the headlights. I come up with other answers and push the tears away until I am alone. Then I fail to match in phase I despite everywhere telling me how amazing I am. I struggle with deep grief. On the outside I keep going. I apply in phase II and have an insane schedule of interviewing nearly every day for a little while including leaving at like 3:30 AM to drive to an interview and not getting back until past bedtime and still having interviews the rest of the week and trying to keep up in school. I failed to match again in phase II. I am back to square one with the grief. I am barely functioning. I have been praying every day just crying out to God to please just take me to forever home. I have no desire to remain on Earth. I am hardly sleeping. I am fighting to eat and drink. I lose a LOT of weight. I will admit that I came into this with a little extra weight on my body, but not nearly as much extra as I lost…In the week after Easter I gained 8 pounds (yay!!), but since then progress has been very slow…and sometimes backwards. I still have 10 pounds to gain to reach my goal weight and I think the closest I’ve gotten is 5 pounds away…hence sometimes looking up calories to spot check intake in hopes of getting this under control.

So, I tried the scramble (failed) and also started looking for non-residency jobs. I did finally get hired. The job isn’t exactly as expected and I am bored out of my mind a large majority of the time, but God is helping me through molecule by molecule, not universe by universe, and I really am healing.

So yeah, this is the uber-abbreviated version of my life…obviously leaves a lot out, but you can probably find a lot of the details going through the archives or asking if there is anything you really wanna know…hope this gives some useful background on who I am.

And for my long-time readers, thanks for bearing with me as I repeat a lot of what you already knew. Love y’all 🙂

I’m gonna lift your name and let this flame get higher

(Fire – Krystal Meyers)

 

I have a really awesome God.

 

I have described the resiliency/determination/motivation drive inside of me as a fire, and God has been incredible in helping me keep the fire burning.

 

My fire had really just started growing again from the embers. I was healing really well from the grief and was finally at a point where the fire was pretty darn close to fully functional. Then life threw water on my fire when I got the voicemail that I lost my job again (that I didn’t actually fully have back yet…). The fire almost went out, but first, of course, there was the little flare that initially happens when you put water on a fire.

 

That evening I could use the back-up gas can to have a good time with my family. The can was running very low by the end of the night, but Saturday God put me with people who could throw some extra kindling on my fire to get me through the afternoon.

 

By Sunday morning I was running on the fumes from the gas can…and I was somehow supposed to make it through going out to lunch with some people. My fire was getting close to burned out and I didn’t know how I was going to make it work. But God is so good. On my own I would have given up and come up with an excuse to go home or I would have gone and not eaten, but I don’t serve a God who leaves me all alone. God had some extra logs and matches to make it through most of lunch and actually eat it!! By the end of lunch the fire was starting to burn down again and I was totally overwhelmed with the prospect of finishing lunch and eating dinner later.

 

But God didn’t leave it at that. God knows how hard I’ve worked to gain weight and how much I don’t want to have to remake all that progress. In the afternoon God continued to throw little bits of paper and sticks onto my fire to keep it from burning out. I started being interested in eating fry bread tacos for dinner…Well, I couldn’t figure out how I could make that possible, but while I was attempting to shop I got an idea…

20171008_192106[1]

Fry bread tacos…nailed it…okay yeah, it’s an asiago bagel with a tomato bit in half and some taco seasoning sprinkled on…so I had a single baby tomato, a sprinkling of taco seasoning and an asiago bagel…and it took over an hour to eat it, but I have now eaten something and that is a lot more than nothing. I might not have gotten all my errands done this weekend, but nothing was a real emergency. They say you shouldn’t go grocery shopping hungry, but my opinion is that if you go when you aren’t hungry then what motivation do you have to put forth any real effort in picking out groceries? I feel that grocery shopping is difficult enough already so the best way to be successful is to go hungry so that you have a good reason to end up with food at the end of the trip. (My other tip is to only have 2 or 3 items on the list)…so going grocery shopping when eating is such a battle was not something I was going to make myself do, because setting myself up for failure when I’m already struggling isn’t a good plan…

I cling to your promise there will be a dawn

(Beauty from pain – superchick)

 

–started Saturday…finished not Saturday because even if grief keeps me awake, I am at least going to TRY to sleep at night–

 

I thought I was ready to hope again. I let hope in. The hope grew. And then I got crushed again. I am angry with myself that I even let myself hope again. I should have known better. Living without hope was better than being crushed. It hurts too much.

 

I was thrilled to get my job back and the waiting was killing me but it was the biggest most exciting thing ever. On my phone on Friday I had two missed calls. I hadn’t really been looking at my phone because the computer system controlling our dispensing was down which meant what is usually just me scanning barcodes mindlessly became me logging out logging back in and restarting the computer or the program over and over until it would let me scan a barcode…and hope I got more than one in before it started spazzing out again. That sounds like a nightmare, and in some ways it was, but it was also really good for me because I get really bored at work because there isn’t anything to do, so that made my work take a lot longer.

 

Anyway, I recognized one number as the generic call out number from the Children’s location that was my home away from home where I have a millionty friends. The other I didn’t recognize, but assumed was from the Children’s Business Center where I assumed HR would be calling from. In my imagination my break couldn’t come soon enough so I could listen to the message letting me know that I had my job back. In reality I’m pretty sure one call was junk. The other was my manager letting me know it fell through again. I cried at work again.

 

I was determined not to throw my progress away and thank God that I had a less than stellar lunch so that by sheer determination I could have the success of finishing. Sure, I only had a teeny tiny mini-granola bar and some noodles with a little bit of tomato and a few pieces of corn on top, but it was a challenge. I have fought so hard to gain weight and wasn’t going to throw that away. I almost completely stopped eating and drinking before and I refused to do that again. There is a fire that burns in me most of the time to keep me moving forward when all I want to do is give up.

 

Clearly though, I was not playing with a full deck…I got a little lost on my way home from work…I looked up and was like, umm, there isn’t usually a busy street to cross on my way home…followed by where am I?!…and then oh cr*p, my turn was a few blocks ago and I am soaked and I want to just sit down and give up.

 

Luckily between my ability to compartmentalize, my ability to hide within myself, and that little bit of fire, I was able to actually enjoy dinner with my parents and one of my brothers that night. Maybe not as much as I would have otherwise, but I don’t think they caught on how hard it was for me and I actually did really well and got a full meal in without too much effort.

 

But I can’t contain it in a little well hidden box forever. This morning was hard. Usually in the morning I might pick up my laptop or phone first for a couple of minutes, but other than that, the first thing on the agenda is get out clean clothes and take a shower. And that is why it was almost 4 hours after the alarm went off before I took a shower, and I ended up back in pajamas for another hour and a half after that before I got dressed…see, for most of this year I almost exclusively wore my Children’s logo wear. Today that felt too painful. I probably have like 100 shirts in my dresser, so it shouldn’t be such a problem to get dressed. I am usually the kind of person who takes the shirt on top with little thought as to what it might be. But every shirt felt like a painful reminder of loss and hurt. Even the totally blank solid color t-shirts hurt somehow…and so I got stuck because I don’t like how dress clothes feel and I don’t like long sleeves, but I wasn’t going to go out in public in pajamas. Painting a house in pajamas was moderately acceptable because no one really wears their best clothes for that, but hanging out with friends requires that I actually get dressed.

 

I was very proud of myself for a job well done getting breakfast in my mouth. I didn’t do an awesome job with lunch, but I ate something…I was 7 pounds away from my goal before and that was the only thing getting anything in my mouth for lunch. I refuse to throw away that progress even if it does seem like nothing I do will ever be enough to get me to that goal.

 

I went out with some friends and I am very proud of myself for ordering SOMETHING to eat at all. Because of plans changing I found myself somewhere that I hadn’t studied the menu in advance and hadn’t memorized and practiced my order…and wasn’t with people I felt like I could ask for help. I picked something on the menu that was the very easiest to say and was also something I at least would be interested in eating when feeling good. It was hard work, but I ate my meal. I was thrilled with myself. I worked really hard. Looking at the website now, it looks like there are probably only 160 calories in the item I picked, but I fought for each of those calories, and that counts. And then someone mentioned cookies. That has been the other really hard part of the lack of interest in food…people know how much I love things like skittles or pizza or cookies or whatever, and half of my brain is thrilled, but the other half just feels like it is too much and just can’t do it. Sometimes peer pressure and the remnants of my social anxiety is an incredible thing. Because of peer pressure I managed to order and eat a cookie. That was a God-thing. It was a good cookie even if half my brain was totally not having it. Someday I will have to go back and try again when my stomach and mind WANT a cookie and it will probably be incredible.

 

When I got home I was about to start crying so I got my bike and left because being in motion helps. I figured it was not okay to be in motion with how little I’d eaten and decided I already had a Panera order memorized and might as well go there…unfortunately, it was towards the end of the day, and by evening Panera starts running out of things. I am so thankful for the caring cashier. I had two orders memorized in my head in case of things being out, but I could see that both orders were missing items. I was really struggling with words to order something else. The cashier could tell that I wanted to order something from the display and suggested an item. I had no idea what he was even suggesting, but was so thankful to have the ordering process done that I would have said yes even if he’d suggested tuna with ranch dip (yuck and yuck!!)…but he said the word chocolate so I figured it would be fine. It wasn’t nearly as many calories as plan A and it wasn’t a good deal or anything, but it got food into a bag and that was the goal.

 

I started biking home and realized I had a problem. I really wanted to bike into the intersection against the light. I had (have) no desire to live and figured either I’d get an adrenaline rush that might feel good or I might get to die. That was a scary thought so I decided that whether being in motion was helpful or not, it was not safe and I needed to stop…however, it is not safe to stop in the middle of the road and not advisable to stop on the sidewalk and stay there all night so I was conscious of being careful and went home. I made it there before the tears started falling. I have to be okay because a long time ago I said if I wasn’t okay I would get help…and I know that right now seeing a counselor would make it a lot worse…so I have to be okay, not just because it is socially better, but because I don’t want to break my word. The other thing is that stress lets my OCD start coming back. Luckily this time it has been more of an insidious onset than the sudden impossible overwhelm that often comes…but while I am very familiar with identifying germ-related thoughts as OCD versus normal thoughts, I have had less experience in the other OCD arenas that my OCD hasn’t really dwelled in. I know that OCD can cause suicide like thoughts that are really just obsessive intrusive thoughts rather than true suicidal ideation. I really don’t know if the thoughts I was having were a new manifestation of my OCD or if I really am going down a scary path. I guess either way it is something I need to work on…and TBH I am leaning towards identifying it as OCD because the fact that although the desperation stayed but the harm focused thoughts ended in minutes seems to better fit a pattern of harm focused OCD rather than true suicidal ideation.

 

I do not want to be alive, but I do not have any intention to kill myself. Life and death are God’s job, not mine. Only one entity can have control and I need to let it be God. Everyone says that God has a plan for my life and there will be good, but it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like it just hurts. The book I was listening to says that we can do anything if we can be in it just 51%. That last 1% above 50% will get us going in the right direction…but I feel like I am stuck more like at the 49 side of 50. I am trying, but I am failing. Today I put on my pants and remembered that earlier this year the button was re-sewn because I was trying to shove my body into this pair of pants that was a little too tight and the button popped off…and now I can get them off without unbuttoning if I want to.

 

If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.

 

I thought about sleeping in my hammock last night, but I was crying so hard at bedtime that it didn’t seem like a good idea to go outside. Being with people really helps prevent the crying, but once I am already crying, being out in public doesn’t necessarily help stop the tears.

 

Today is going to be another hard day…but part of it is completely my fault. I still didn’t want to eat or drink anything, but I had a reward on my starbucks account and figured that drinks are the best solution because you can get calories and fluid in at the same time and my opinion on breakfast is that its purpose is calories rather than filling any particular nutritional need, so anything counts. We had a minor problem: the online menu has a caffeine free version of the pumpkin spice Frappuccino, but the menu at the actual store doesn’t. Yes, I do memorize my order but still need to find it on the menu before ordering. Clearly, words are not my specialty and I had already practiced pumpkin spice so I had to make a decision and that decision was to just add the word decaf to the pumpkin spice that was on the menu. Yeah, my body is already telling me that was dumb. I read on the internet once that caffeine binds to calcium so I got some calcium in, and I found some ibuprofen, but a caffeinated drink probably wasn’t my best option. I tried…and if it gets more calories and fluid in than I lose, it is still worth it…and I do LOVE the taste of coffee…to all you people who can have caffeine and don’t have to think about these things, decaf does not mean the same as caffeine free. Coffee shop decaf generally has about 18mg of caffeine per cup. Most homemade coffee has 3 to 18mg of coffee per cup. I think I read somewhere that Folgers instant coffee crystal decaf is the only decaf coffee to have no caffeine at all. So anyway, compare that to the 40-50 mg in the average can of caffeinated pop, and it is still a pretty decent amount of caffeine…I decided that due to the caffeine level it was okay to not finish because my estimate is that I probably got 300 calories, which isn’t so bad for breakfast.

 

Y’all, it really is not fun being sensitive to caffeine. My whole body just aches and I feel super tired and sick…and now I am definitely feeling why I usually only cheat and do coffee in the evening when I can sleep it off. Why do I do these things to myself?! On the positive side, I do feel sick enough that it is numbing some of the pain of the grief…so there is that…this could be a good idea for bedtime to not go to bed in tears…

 

–updated to add this doodle from church…’cause I can’t sit still and listen without something in my hands…and today I was going to cry if I didn’t have a screen in front of me…I feel bad about appearing distracted, but I figure it is better to show up than to be alone…

20171008_140837

Cook the Turkey and the Ham the Pumpkin Pie and Candied Yams

(It’s Christmas Time – The Plane Truth)

 

Goodbye summer

 

 

Hello Fall

 

 

It is not super different because I am someone who values consistency and predictability, but yes, I re-decorated to better match the season…and because I have way too many decorations tucked away in my closet – I’ve been decorating both an apartment and a room at my parents house with enough stuff for rotation both places for a long time and now it’s all in one place. I window shopped online and at Target for some variety in bedding, but I haven’t found anything that met all four rights: color/design, price, size, comfort…well, that and my linen closet is full…I had a super cute pillow case I wanted to use for the post-Christmas winter, but it got lost at some point…but considering I have two copies of the bedding currently on my bed (except for the comforter), it is pretty safe to say that I really like it. A couple years ago I almost bought the same bedding in red and orange (which would have been awesome for fall), but it was only available in store, and I was the kind of person who never ventured as far as target. My apartment a mile or so away from school and church less than three miles from school were the boundaries defining where I tended to roam. Well, that and on rare occasions wherever my bike took me…and that one time when I tried to go to the princess library…

 

I was at Target like a week or two ago and found some towels I almost had to have. They were on a really awesome sale, so it would have been a good time to buy, but like I said, my linen closet is full and I really only use like one towel and then I put it in the washer and dryer and use it again and I have probably at least eight full size towels. Most of them don’t match (partly because as a swimmer occasionally I’d have matching towels and one would get stolen – super frustrating when you just got brand new towels but not nearly as frustrating as when your brand new (expensive) swimsuit that you adore gets stolen), but when you only use one towel they don’t really have to match. But these towels at the store were red. I don’t have any red towels. I told myself if I could come up with one reason to buy the towels without using the phrase “because they are red” I could buy as many as my heart desired, but obviously I couldn’t come up with any reason I needed new towels so I didn’t.

 

Speaking of the season, today I had my first pumpkin spice of the season. I had a pumpkin pie bagel from Panera. To be honest, it wasn’t that awesome. I realized that I like pumpkin flavored baked goods because they usually have a smooth consistency, but the bagel was kinda dry. And it wasn’t so much as pumpkin flavored as it was pumpkin colored. I probably should have gone with chocolate chip…but it was still good. Because of the issue of caffeine it is hard to get behind the PSL trend, but pumpkin oatmeal is AWESOME (and pumpkin and cinnamon doesn’t really flavor brownies but does make them smell AMAZING).

 

A few years ago when I did an ambulance ride along (which I primarily remember as an opportunity to get to go to like an hour or so of PALS (pediatric advanced life support) because there really wasn’t any excitement), they were talking about how you should eat when you can, pee when you can, and sleep when you can, because you never know when something will happen that will interfere with doing those things. I have been thinking recently about that advice and how useful it is in my current situation. I am actively trying to regain weight because I lost so much of it unhealthily this spring and haven’t yet regained my goal weight. Like I read somewhere, grief doesn’t really ever go away. Instead, it fades and becomes less all-encompassing but it is always there. At this point the grief is still very real, but it is SO much better than it was. I now can have times I am super excited though…but at the same time, it definitely isn’t totally gone. I can still go from having a really good day to about to cry quickly. So knowing that sometimes things are hard, I have started shoving food in my face whenever I have any interest at all in eating, because you never know when you’re going to struggle to eat your next meal.

 

So I made a new friend this week. Which was really awesome at first, but less awesome when this person wanted to know if I could hang out every day. I don’t know how I attract this kind of person…actually I do. I love people and am lousy at saying no and won’t write off the people everyone else ignored so people who haven’t made friends with anyone else become my friends and sometimes it is great, but other times I just wish I could figure out how to make them some other friends because it quickly gets exhausting being their sole source of entertainment and keeps me from having as much of an opportunity to make friends with people who might in the end be better friends for me anyway. Maybe God is giving me an opportunity to learn to say no…that is word that isn’t really in my vocabulary. I am not Minnesota passive aggressive, but I am most definitely Minnesota passive…and I wasn’t even born in Minnesota so I can’t say I was born this way…

Just Hold On

(I’ll Find You – LeCrae)

I’ve moved approximately 10 times in the past year (not an exaggeration at all), and before that when I was in school I was back and forth for Christmas/Summer break between home and school. And each time I made sure not to lose this piece of paper. I was going to take a picture of it, but decided that was dumb because by the time I covered up all the identifying information you’d practically be left with a blank strip of paper which seemed kind of pointless. So anyway, I had this paper that I was protecting because way back when in high school I tried to use my debit card at an ATM one day I didn’t know my password and guessed too many times and my card got locked for two weeks until a new password came in the mail. This password is the one that was on that piece of paper that I was protecting…good idea, right? Well, except that the card that password goes to is the one my bank cancelled pro-actively when the news came out in 2013 that Target had credit card information stolen for a lot of customers.

 

See, I guess I kinda missed that part and just kept making sure I knew where that important piece of paper was at all times. It is important because I almost never use ATM’s and therefore have no reason to keep good track of the number inside my head. Social anxiety has always made paying for purchases at a store using cash a scary hard thing. My mom was always talking about how you should never have more than a few cents in change because it is so easy to just use the change you have to pay for whatever you are buying, but I always had so much change the wallet barely closed because the least scary way to pay was to give the biggest bill I had that would cover the purchase and then whatever was given back hold in my hand until I was outside then attempt to shove in the wallet and sort it out later when I got home. Even if I knew down to the cent what the price was going to be, paying with coins just seems too hard so I mostly didn’t do it. And then I got a debit card which I called a credit card because in my world they are both pieces of plastic that buy you things and are therefore the same thing…anyway, that solved the problem and I now almost exclusively pay for anything with that magical piece of colored plastic. I pretty much just use cash if it is the only option and checks the rest of the time when plastic doesn’t work (rent, DMV…). And even though my mom says you should never go anywhere without at least $20 with you, in reality I usually carry more like $0 and like right now I think my wallet has 75 cents in it and my ID case maybe has between 25 and 50 cents. I will use change in the self-check at Cub as my candy purchasing money, but otherwise I pretty much just don’t spend cash so it doesn’t make sense to carry it around. And it’s not like it accumulates or anything because my paychecks go directly into my bank account, and when people owe me money I generally encourage a check because I can also put that directly in my account. A couple pictures taken with my phone and the money goes into my bank account to be spent using my pieces of plastic. Easy peasy.

 

So yeah, when I needed actual money a few days ago I had a problem. At first I was like oh c**p, I don’t have time to drive three hours to get to the bank and then get back to my apartment before work. Then I remembered the existence of ATM’s…and then after determining that the stupid find an ATM site on the internet I was using was definitely not working and locating an app on my phone to help me figure it out instead, I located the paper and the card and was ready to go…until I compared the numbers on the paper identifying which card it belonged to with the numbers on my card and they were definitely not a match. Hashtag fail. Hashtag look how perfect I am. (That second one is a reference to a WhatsUpElle video…every day’s a gift 🙂 ). So I figured I had four guesses what my password might be and I’m pretty sure you get at least three guesses before you get cut off…no pressure or anything that if you get it wrong you are going to be pretty much SOL and without a debit card for a while.

 

Then I remembered that I got a pile of paper in the mail from the bank about changes to my account as I age out of one of the accounts I have and figured maybe I should know what my ATM fees are before I go. That took another diversion: a call to my mom and then to the bank to figure out whether the “first 6 transactions” was lifetime (if so starting with the beginning of the new account or starting with my first account with them) or if it was per year? Month? Day? They should really specify these things…

 

Well, knowledge is power, so armed with the knowledge of what the fees were I took myself to the ATM. And was greeted with another wrench in the plans: a sign that all transactions were subject to a fee in addition to any charge of your bank at the discretion of the owners of that ATM. But by this point I was kind of committed and I didn’t come that far just to fail, so I figured it was time to just go for it. I tried really hard…After about the fourth time shoving my card in the machine and getting frustrated when I couldn’t figure out what to do and taking my card back out, I decided it was time to ask for help. I didn’t want to, because I felt stupid and didn’t really know what to say, but I knew I needed to do it and promised myself a treat for successful completion of the task. I went in and explained what I wanted. To my delight, instead of having me wait and then sending someone out to help me, they just took a copy of my driver’s license and took a look at my card and gave me the money right there. That was awesome. If I wasn’t so overwhelmed and scared they had free drinks and suckers in there. I might be back someday if I ever need real money again. (Okay, I WILL be back someday if I need real money).

 

So you might wonder if I consider myself pretty much over the social anxiety why I still rely on plastic…well…the way I got over it was the insane amount of time I spent on the phone the summer after third year and the first semester of fourth year. It is pretty much a miracle I was still passing all my classes that semester when I was spending so many frustrating hours on the phone. I don’t know how people do it if they actually have an urgent mental health issue and need a GOOD counselor ASAP. I was really just looking for SOMEONE. Good obviously preferred, but beggars can’t be choosers. Most places don’t have email or other online scheduling methods. Most places don’t answer their phones regardless of time of day. Most places don’t ever call back if they even have an answering machine on which to leave a message. Most places even if they do call back are essentially calling to say they have no openings for the foreseeable future. The one place that initially was reasonably promising and got back to me quickly did the intake I think within a week of my first call, but somehow managed to lose my information twice between that and matching me with a counselor and when they finally found it the second time I got a message from the director that they weren’t able to help me and gave me (useless) resources…see dude gave me the phone number of a college counseling center that made it very clear on their web page that they served only their own students. I did not attend that college. So I learned to talk on the phone, and I desperately needed friends so between the conversational skills learned on the phone and the work I had already been doing to learn to communicate, I gained passable social skills. But you know what is a mostly unessential skill that I never had any reason to learn: paying with cash. I went grocery shopping about once a month or so and that was pretty much the only shopping I did in school so it wasn’t like even if I wanted to practice there were even any opportunities. And I already had that magic plastic in my ID case, so yeah, I never learned that skill and in my opinion someday cash will be made obsolete so I don’t see any reason to force myself to learn that skill.

 

If we are talking about ways I have failed recently, I have plenty of other stories.

 

Like how occasionally this senior center that I walk past sometimes has community events and I see the signs and plan to go. And I walk over there on the correct day at the correct time. And I don’t go. The first time I got close then did my “this is so not happening” speed walk past the place and on to the grocery store instead. Today I got a lot closer. I got as far as the door to the building. I opened said door. I looked around while still standing outside. I got overwhelmed, turned around, and went to the grocery store instead. I felt so frustrated with myself, but I am trying to look on the positive side and remember that I did get a lot farther than last time, and chances are they will have another event and maybe next time I will get even closer. I tried, and that is worth something. Everyone has their own strengths and I can’t force myself to be good at something that I am most definitely not good at.

 

Or like my attempt at making homemade vanilla pudding today. The internet says that it is super easy. Reality says, umm, no it most certainly is not. I followed all the directions (except to use a metal whisk because I don’t have one and was using a non-stick pan that isn’t suppose to have metal utensils used on it), but at the end I did not end up with pudding. I ended up with liquid with burned bits and a scraped up pan. Apparently glass stir rods are also not good for nonstick surfaces. I probably should have known that. So plan B is attempting to freeze the liquid and see if that turns it into something pudding-like. The worst it can do is completely solidify in which case I’ll just melt it again and have cold liquid to eat like I already do. It tastes okay, but definitely not like pudding and the texture is obviously even less pudding-like. Oh well…it was worth a try. I need to use up the milk I bought and the internet says to freeze it, but that sounds like a good way to create frustration so my next experiment will be copycat starbucks bottled frappuccino. Of course I can’t completely follow directions for that either – even though caffeine does bind to calcium I am pretty sure that I can’t handle the amount of caffeine that would be left with regular coffee so I already have to substitute decaf coffee. The brand I have doesn’t have on the packaging or the internet the amount of caffeine in it, so I also plan on making it a lot weaker than the recommendation so I don’t have to worry about how much caffeine I am getting.

 

So yeah…we’re just gonna stop there before I embarrass myself 🙂

I’m falling on my knees…and so I’ll wait

(Hungry – Joy Williams)

Sometimes I make bad choices. Like walking in the middle of the street in the dark. Sometimes when I stop distracting myself from my loss and actually talk about it (and sometimes just totally randomly) the pain significantly intensifies. I know if I can push it away before it becomes all-consuming it won’t hurt as much. I know it isn’t the “right” way to deal with it, but it is what I am doing to make it through. Being in motion seems to help me feel at least a little better. So Thursday evening I grabbed my apartment key, put my shoes on, and as an afterthought took the bag of chocolate that I was really hoping I would eat and I went outside to walk. I would have rollerbladed or biked or something, but I knew I didn’t really have time to get any of those things ready. I just needed to go. Clearly I wasn’t thinking super logically…so I figured I wanted to be on the other side of the street so I crossed…not at an intersection…and not straight across…just diagonally from one side to the other…in my defense, I was at least wearing a brightly colored shirt…in the dark. When you don’t feel like you have much to live for though, what motivation do you really have for crossing the street safely? I haven’t been praying recently for God to take me home, but it is not because I have plans to take things into my own hands; I know that it is God’s job to decide when I go home. At times like that I am not sure whether to be proud of myself: I prevented a total meltdown, or angry: I should have been careful. What I do know is that God must have some sort of plan for my life: I am still alive. Of course, the next day I was crossing the street the right way and actually did almost get run over ’cause someone wasn’t paying attention…and okay, so I wasn’t doing it completely right since I didn’t attempt eye contact with the drivers near the intersection before starting to cross…

 

Because of my history of anxiety…and especially because the vast majority of my work was self-initiated, I have a very exposure-therapy based mindset to life. If it is scary and uncomfortable I tend to think I should probably make myself do it…clearly the exception is with processing the grief and stuff because I don’t think I am ready to handle that on my own yet. And recently I was watching a video that had a side note about the resiliency zone. I think that kind of gave credence to the way I am handling things right now. The resiliency zone is the range of emotion intensity that we have the coping mechanisms to handle and stay present. Above the resilient zone we fight or flight and below the resilient zone we freeze. We can only process and handle things in the resilient zone, but after a trauma or other stressful situation our resilient zone can be extremely narrow, and it takes a lot of time and work to be able to expand the resiliency zone and until it is wide enough to stay in the zone we can’t really work on re-processing whatever has happened.

 

Anyway, new things are scary, so Friday morning I went to Aldi because I saw that it was open. I wandered around for a few minutes and got overwhelmed because it was a very different atmosphere than any other grocery store I’ve gone to and there were a zillion people there like you had to wait for people to move to get through the aisles…but milk to make pudding has been on my list of things to buy for a long time because non-cow milk makes glop, not pudding because it doesn’t have the casein to hold the pudding together…but I don’t drink cow milk so it seemed so wasteful to buy a carton just to throw away the leftovers…enter Aldi where milk costs like half as much so it doesn’t seem quite so wasteful. So I will go back on Tuesday morning because it sounds like there is some kind of event then which sounds terrifying but exactly where I need to be.

 

You don’t make friends by being a hermit (That’s the right word for someone who never leaves their home, right?). And lol…speaking of making friends, someone randomly started talking to me yesterday as I was walking down the sidewalk.

 

Wait, I should back up. Second year when I was terrified of the interview into third year (even though it was pretty much common knowledge that if you show up you passed), my counselor asked me what I would want to do if I didn’t pass, like what other career I could pursue. That was a really hard question because there was only one thing I had ever been interested in doing ever: pediatric clinical pharmacy. Never had I wanted to do anything else. It took months, but eventually I determined that I would like to be a social worker…of course I was still thinking with that career option that I wanted to work with kids and families. Lately I have been frustrated because I don’t feel like there is any way for me to get from where I am to where I want to be. I know it would be throwing away the degree I fought for, but I’ve been thinking that while bachelor’s programs for social work are generally not conducive to holding a job at the same time that maybe a higher level program would be more able to accommodate a working adult schedule with asynchronous learning needs. Maybe if I did that and started over with a new career I would be happier and be able to find a job that makes me feel good.

 

It would definitely be a challenge – I am not an awesome reader and not attending lectures probably means an increase in the amount of reading and reading comprehension required. And most higher level programs are going to want prerequisites that I really don’t have, because hello, pharmacy graduate here. My psych classes included intro psych and abnormal psych. The only psych class I didn’t sign up for was psych of personality – it was a writing intensive class and I really had no reason to take it and I had a friend who took it and didn’t really enjoy it. I mean, technically my school also offered social psych which I did not take, but the reason I didn’t take it was that I signed up and then they cancelled the class. So anyway…most programs want like child developmental psych and family structure classes as prerequisites and I definitely have nothing like that unless you count the hands-on experience of the children that I work with volunteering in child care. I think hands-on experience for that type of subject matter is probably just as valuable as textbook learning, but something tells me that an admissions person would not be impressed.

 

So anyway, this guy starts talking to me, and you know someone most likely has special needs when he enthusiastically says hi to a stranger (me) and after being acknowledged says that he is so glad to have someone to chat with. Internally a part of me was going what did I just get myself into, because it was in the 90’s and I was so hot, but most of me was not just doing “the polite thing” but actually trying to really engage with this guy, because I really care about people. I know that someone like that probably gets rejected by people a lot, and that makes me really sad and ache for him, because I know how rejection feels, and to experience that constantly day after day is hard. I know that everyone has their own challenges and I really want to make people feel heard, because even if you can’t really change anything, it is really powerful for someone to be willing to step into your world and try to understand and acknowledge what you are going through.

 

And the more I talked with the guy the more I really wished there were more I could do, and he was super sweet despite definitely having some special needs. At one point he expressed that he was getting frustrated trying to get a new job and he was just looking for anything like maybe a store might need help taking out the trash and cleaning up. I remembered that Aldi had signs out that they were hiring and suggested he head over there to apply. He explained that he doesn’t fill out applications and he used to just ask to speak to a manager and he’d get hired that way. I kinda wanted to be like well that’s not how it works anymore and to consider you they need you to fill out the application, but with someone I just met I wasn’t quite sure how to express that respectfully, so I kept listening as he went on to say that now if he talks to a manager they tell him if he can’t fill out an application then the only other way to be considered is to go through an employment agency, but he’s tried seven different agencies and didn’t like any of them (I wonder if it is because he wouldn’t fill out an application?). By this point I felt really bad for the guy, because I totally understand the frustration of the job search and how eventually it just seems like everyone is telling you what to do and how easy it is to get a job and it just is SO NOT EASY and no one even seems interested in you.

 

People have always told me about things that aren’t safe…and from my perspective, to take it from them, the only way you can really be safe is to never ever leave your apartment and if you must, go directly to school do not pass go do not collect $200…but one thing people say isn’t safe besides a random assortment of basically every street ever, is talking to the weird people on the sidewalks. The advice is to just ignore and keep walking, which in my opinion is super weird and rude. I have always rebelled against that stupid advice and used my common sense. If it feels safe, it probably is, if you have that feeling of something is wrong and it isn’t just OCD telling you it is contaminated, then it probably isn’t safe and you should re-evaluate whether you should be doing it. From that perspective, I felt pretty safe with this person. The only moment where I really wondered if I should have ignored and moved on is when the guy started telling me that he will never go to Walmart because he got kicked out of there once because (in his words) they thought he was a retard. I was pretty sure there was more to that story, because stores don’t kick people out for being dumb…there are some pretty stupid morons in the world that are still able to go to the grocery store and buy food and go to wherever else and buy stuff…but by that point even though that put me on alert, I was pretty well stuck there because you can’t just walk away from a conversation…or, well, maybe you can, but I can’t. So I weighed my options and figured it was the middle of the day and we were on a sidewalk bordering a parking lot. If anything were to really go wrong, I might be able to scream and if I could scream then I could most likely garner enough attention to get help…the being able to scream part is where my safety is always going to be a little bit sketchy…that and the fact that I really doubt I could fight back not for lack of skills but for inability to hurt anyone or to repay evil with evil.

 

So the interaction with that guy made me want even more to see if I could get into social work. I really wanted to be able to help him, but couldn’t really figure out how. I think maybe the social work curriculum would teach me how to help people and connect them with resources to help them figure things out. And even if it didn’t, I know almost for sure it would help me learn better communication skills which would be helpful even if I never used the degree and just continued to be a pharmacist.