(Beautiful – Bethany Dillon)
So yeah, I scribble or doodle a lot while I am work because I run out of things to do, and especially on evening shifts I need SOMETHING to do to keep myself from going completely crazy. Mostly it is literally scribbling across the paper. Random lines filling my papers in with bright red color…but yesterday one of my papers didn’t have any PHI on the back and I started drawing real pictures and words. Stupid stuff I found on the internet like “happiness is a piece of cake.” I followed that with a drawing of a piece of cake. Happiness is not a piece of cake as in easy though. Happiness is hard. Happiness is often a mask that I wear. Happiness is a disguise I put on while trying to run from myself and my pain, hoping it’ll all go away. Maybe that is why people discount my pain. I found something on the internet yesterday and it really well described what a lot of my life has been like. I have been going through a lot of life with duck syndrome. A duck looks like it is gliding across the water, but underneath it is frantically relentlessly paddling. I worked SO hard in school throughout middle and high school and college. I guess from the outside it looked easy because form the outside you weren’t with me much so you didn’t see that nearly every waking minute not consumed by the essentials of life was spent doing homework and studying. Even if I tried to access support, even if I tried to explain that I was struggling, even if I wanted to let people in that this was really really hard for me, they wrote me off. People expected me to do well, but refused to believe that my success was dependent upon actual hard work. They refused to believe that anything I did actually required any effort. Y’all, that is a huge pressure to carry. Sure, the world didn’t end when things happened and I got my first final grade that wasn’t an A, but the year that first non-A happened was the year the abuse was up front in my face for an hour every week. That first failure was partly an unfair teacher who (seriously) would randomly add points to certain student’s grades and take points away from others for no real reason, and partly because my ability to focus and stuff was inhibited by the abuse…but at the time I mostly blamed myself. I had been hearing over and over that no one would ever want me and I wasn’t good enough and here was some tangible proof that nothing I did would ever be enough. I was being told in counseling that I was lazy and didn’t want to learn, so what conclusion could I draw than that I clearly hadn’t tried hard enough and this was my punishment. I was a failure. It wasn’t something I did, it was who I was. I was paddling for everything I was worth, frantically trying not to drown. I didn’t need to be perfect, I just wanted to be worthy of love.
So imagine how much worse the pain when my failure is not just being one question away from an A, but the fact that not a single residency program wanted me. The crushing and reversal of shalom when every program that had told me what a strong candidate I was turned around and decided they didn’t want me. The betrayal when even my friends at the hospital I was currently working at didn’t want me and wouldn’t even give me a reason why. Those words that I would never make it as a pharmacist, that no one would ever want me felt like truth. The light at the end of the tunnel I had been reaching for was gone. This was all I had really wanted since early childhood. And graduation and residency was when I would finally be free of that abuse. Instead, the abuse took the forefront with all the chaos making it more real. And then it happened again in phase II. And I tried the Scramble and got zero response. Which meant I could live in denial for a long time, while still realistically looking for other options…looking, as in crying tears that were nearly dry while attempting to apply to positions.
And now I am trying to do it again. I wasn’t going to put any more details out there, but I just really need to write and I guess I am just going to have to hope my online anonymity plays in my favor and keeps me from oversharing with anyone who maybe shouldn’t know yet…so yeah, I got one robo-email thanking me for my application. Two complete non-responses. And the place I currently work giving me an interview. Tomorrow. Is it a pity-interview? Maybe. No one else wanted me. Why would they? But they were the only people that wanted me last year. But that was a different position. I don’t know if I want the position. I don’t know if I can take the rejection again. Applying only in phase II sped up the process. Not only WAY fewer programs, but also way less time to think about it. That was/is probably helpful to not extend the process too much, but it also means that I planned to get ready for the interview on my days off and so far absolutely nothing has happened. I did nothing last Thursday and I have done nothing today.
I don’t have an ADHD diagnosis. I got teased about having ADHD in school, and mostly just brushed it off, but once in a while I wonder…like how my plans for today was to prepare to interview. It is currently 12:30. I am in the middle of 4 different youtube videos. I haven’t started thinking about the interview yet besides putting tomorrow’s outfit in the bathroom so I remember what to wear. This is not to make light of the diagnosis or whatever and I know if I want to actually know I need to get over my anxiety surrounding the mental health profession…Plus, chances are that this part of it anyway is at least partly grief and anxiety and avoidance driven.
Pain makes us do stupid stuff…lol…umm…so it takes a LOT of preparation to figure out interviewing, especially for someone like me who works a lot harder than most other people for social situations. So, consider that a lot of “learned” “remembered” information from my interview preparation and experience last year is no longer in my memory because grief and trauma can break the connections that allow memories to be remembered or to even be formed. No problem, right, the vast majority of the information was written down as a backup anyway. Yeah, umm, in the pain following the loss, I threw away almost everything related to residency. I kept a few interviewing questions pages a little longer until I had a job, but once I had a job, it was all gone, because it was all too painful. Life was incredibly painful, and any reminder of what happened was another insult to the injury. I kind of knew I would one day do residency again, but mostly life was over. No one would ever want me, and I didn’t want to be alive. I had given God a date on which he should make sure I was no longer alive. It was all too painful.
I guess remembering that, I realize that I really am doing a lot better. Last year, Good Friday was really painful. I needed to be at church because I desperately needed community, but it was also hard because at church they talk about how God died on the cross and stuff, and I felt so deeply isolated because I felt so jealous that God got to die when I was stuck still alive. It still feels very painful, but remembering that, I realize that while the progress might seem slow while I am going through it, that there has been a crazy insane amount of progress since then.
It feels like the rejection was yesterday and at the same time it feels like I have been living in this hopelessness forever. I know the abuse ended when I graduated, but just because the abuse ended doesn’t mean the pain doesn’t still cut deep or that the words have been forgotten. Wounds don’t heal as quickly as I would like. And it still feels like no matter what I do I will still be stuck here forever. I don’t know what the right answer is. I don’t even know anymore if I even want this position. I am terrified of making the wrong decision. I am caught in the web of ambivalence. The gaslighting and powerlessness taught me to not trust even myself to know what the right thing is, and so add to that a decision that would be difficult for anyone and I am completely in over my head. I am learning trust again slowly. I am learning to trust myself and I am learning to trust others, but even before the abuse, decisions were hard for me. I just feel like I can’t. I can’t interview. I can’t. They aren’t going to want me anyway so why should I try? I know that is a horrible attitude. It just hurts too much. I just want everything to be over. I would be happier dead. Sometimes I do still think maybe I should abandon pharmacy and do social work instead. Maybe I would finally find somewhere that someone would want me. Or maybe I’d just find more rejection. IDK. It just hurts so much and I really just want a way out of the pain. I want to feel good. I want to be happy. I want to be worthy of love. Grief hurts so much. I just want everything to go away. But I can’t. It won’t. I’m stuck. I feel so isolated and alone. I want to go back to where there are people who care. Maybe I should go to that school with the pretty commercial that makes everyone look so happy. And I could volunteer again at church and the counseling center. And I would be around my awesome community again and maybe I would feel okay again. I don’t know how to keep going when it feels like my heart has been burned to charred crumbs.