Category Archives: Anxiety

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.

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Safety is not for Sale

(in the end – JJ Heller)

 

Sometimes facebook sends me emails about people I should consider friending. I have always wished I could turn it off, because it drives me crazy. It is usually random people I don’t know and have no way of knowing – like not even someone I have mutual friends with or who lives near me. It has never been anyone I was actually interested in friending. If I don’t know this person then I don’t want to be facebook friends with them. If I do know them, there is probably a reason we are not facebook friends yet, and sending me an email suggesting them as a friend isn’t going to make me friend them. Most of the time people I know are not my facebook friends because of my social unsureness. I am afraid the other person won’t want to be friends and that maybe it will undo the hard work I’ve put in to find community in real life.

 

Anyway, that isn’t the point. The point is that recently facebook sent me a friend suggestion. It was my abuser. Or at least it was someone with the same name as my abuser. I was afraid to even open the email, because once you have been hurt as much as I have, you learn to be wary and wonder if you are somehow being tricked.

 

That paragraph there. It is a sign that I am beginning to learn how to live free. Until I graduated, I really avoided using that a-word, abuse. For the most part, if I was going to talk about myself I didn’t come out with the word abuse, and if I was going to use the word abuse I was going to avoid directly talking about myself. Why? Well, I was told that my abuser didn’t like when I insinuated that she had abused me. She had a lot more power than me, so I was instructed that it was best to keep from making waves. And I did my best…although it was hard to completely not make waves, because she would turn the tiniest ripple into a tsunami like wave. For example, one day I was blogging about music. I mentioned that everyone has their own opinions about music, but like here are some types of music I am not a fan of. She got all butt-hurt because she likes that kind of music and tried to use it as a reason I should be kicked out of school.

 

I am lucky to have had an advocate who realized how ridiculous that proposition was. She protected me. I had to lay low and be even more careful for a while, but obviously I ultimately didn’t get kicked out of school. So yeah, it was in my best interest to be careful with what I said. Rule #1: Don’t vilify your abuser no matter how much she hurts you.

 

It is probably partly my fault that she had so much more power than I did. Sure, she had some extra power because she was older than me and had a lawyer husband who is the stereotypical American: Sue Happy. But, it feels like my fault, because I am too overprotective of people. Despite what she did to me, I didn’t want to hurt her. Also, she had two daughters and I didn’t want to hurt them either. She probably still has two daughters…lol…but anyway, I know about how kids can sense stress and tension in caregivers and take it on themselves or otherwise be negatively affected. I also didn’t want to take away a stream of income and cause a period of chaos in their lives even if it wouldn’t be that big of a deal…so yeah, at first I kind of refused to tell anyone what happened. I pretended it was all pretty much okay and nothing really happened. Probably also didn’t help that she pulled her little fake crying routine to make people feel sorry for her.

 

Again, I am so thankful to have had an advocate who somehow sensed there was a lot more to my side of the story than what I was sharing. That woman must have had the patience of a saint working with me. It took a few months before I started opening up to what had been happening behind closed doors. By that point it was too late. The school’s minds had been made up that I was going to be punished for my immature attempt at escaping and she would get pretty much whatever she wanted without any punishment. It isn’t fair, but life isn’t fair.

 

She had the freedom to follow me around. To walk into the empty cafeteria where I was studying and sit down at the table next to mine. To follow me to the parking garage. To wait in line to use the microwave next to me when there were multiple other microwaves without lines equidistant or closer to her workspace. To intercept faxes from my counselors and read them with her friends. And she accused me of stalking her and threatened to press charges. I wasn’t allowed to say anything and wasn’t allowed to access student services. I was powerless. I could run, but there wasn’t anywhere to hide. I could *try* to avoid her, but wasn’t super successful. Sure, I knew she tended to work 10am to maybe 3pm or so, but when someone seeks to hurt you and knows the last thing you want is to see him or her, they aren’t going to make their schedule 100% predictable…especially since her office window faced the quad so really she had a huge home court advantage in actually having a pretty reasonable ability to track at least what building I was in most of the time, and with our very window-y buildings, maybe even more than that. That is why from my perspective, the abuse never truly ended.

 

But I am gradually learning that I really am free now. I can express myself without fearing consequences. There will not be retaliation if I say something offensive. Now that I have a diploma, she doesn’t have much influence over me anymore. Now, I can use the word abuse. It feels a little dramatic after years of saying I was “hurt” to say I was abused. But it also feels really right to give it that name; to acknowledge that what happened wasn’t just me being too sensitive, but was something legitimately wrong that should never happened. It feels like it gives me back the power I surrendered so many years ago. My voice is not dangerous. It is okay to express myself. It still feel a little scary and a lot rebellious every time I use those words, but “safety is not for sale, you cannot buy peace of mind.” It is something I’ll have to continue to get used to a little at a time.

 

To be honest, despite the abuse, I still care about her. I can’t help but see that she is still another human on earth who deserves love just as much as I do. I kind of want to click over to profile and try to judge any public posts or images to determine if she seems like she is doing okay, but at the same time, just seeing her name was scary and I have zero interest in knowing what is going on in her life. I just want to check the box okay vs not okay. A few years ago I longed for reconciliation. I still think that has some potential to be a healing experience, but I also think that it could go wrong because I am so terrified of her…and who is to say she wouldn’t use the opportunity to find a new way to hurt me? I think I have grown enough in my confidence that I wouldn’t let her put me down, but I worry that my strength in the moment might not be enough to protect me from sinking into those hurtful words when things weren’t going so well.

 

On Sunday it’ll’ve been a year since I graduated. It feels like an eternity since I was in school, but at the same time it feels like yesterday. I feel like I am living in limbo. Not a student, not on a path towards my desired career, but also not settled into a career. I don’t want to forever be longing for the job I don’t have. It is times like this when I start really wondering if there is any way I could make it work to go back to school for social work and just start over. I’ve at least gotten a year out of my pharmacy degree, so I mean I wouldn’t be totally throwing away my education. Last night wasn’t so bad though. If every night could be like last night I might be okay with keeping my job longer. Last night I spent quite a bit of time in the ED with an infant. Not a newborn, and not a very involved patient, but just having the opportunity to be around an infant again and being a part of the emergency care team made me feel like I was at least kind of sort of living out my purpose. I really wanted to call everyone at Children’s and be like hey, number one if this patient comes to you, please be careful because this patient (like all my littles) means the world to me, and number two, I miss you and wish we could have taken care of this patient together…but I mean, it wouldn’t have been very appropriate to call, because I really didn’t have anything to hand off…I miss everyone at Children’s so much!! I loved what I did there so much. And I need to stop writing so I can finish eating dinner, because, priorities.

You’re not good enough…and you should be ashamed

(Fear is a Liar – Zach Williams)

 

I don’t remember what brought it up, but a few weeks ago I was thinking about type 1.5 diabetes. Thinking about it breaks my heart.

 

I guess I should back up a little for any non-medical professionals…

 

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune (body attacking itself) disorder where the cells of the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed. It is generally though not always diagnosed in childhood, earning it the term juvenile diabetes though that term is a bit of a misnomer as it can be diagnosed later in life, lasts a lifetime once it starts, and not all children with diabetes are type 1. Anyway, the onset is usually quite rapid, so children are fine one day and in anywhere from a couple days to maybe a month become severely ill and are often so sick at diagnosis that they require stabilization in an ICU if not recognized quickly. Since the pancreatic cells are destroyed, there is an absolute deficiency of insulin. Patients require insulin from outside of the body to control their blood sugar.

 

The other type of diabetes that lay people are at least moderately aware of is type 2. Type 2 diabetes is a disorder of insulin resistance. The cells of the body don’t respond as well to insulin, so higher amounts of insulin are needed. To some extent the pancreatic cells might be able to keep up, but eventually the cells of the pancreas can’t keep up, causing a relative insulin deficiency. It is correlated with obesity, and is generally diagnosed in adults, though it is possible for it to be diagnosed in younger children. Type 2 diabetes has a more gradual onset and has often been present for many years prior to diagnosis. Because the cells of the pancreas are still able to make insulin, these patients can often manage their blood sugar with a combination of diet and exercise as well as medications that decrease insulin resistance or stimulate insulin secretion. They may over time require insulin as the insulin resistance tends to continue to increase and may eventually be too much to overcome with oral meds alone, but insulin is not usually considered at initial diagnosis.

 

As you might expect, type 1.5 is kind of like an in between of type 1 and type 2. Biologically, it is more like type 1, but at least initially it presents somewhat more similarly to type 2. It is also called LADA or latent autoimmune diabetes of adults. It is an autoimmune disorder as is type 1, but the destruction of the cells of the pancreas is a lot slower, which means that the onset is a lot slower. If I remember correctly, it is more common in females than males, and is generally diagnosed around age 25-30 years, so older than you’d stereotypically expect for type 1, but sooner than typical for type 2. Unfortunately, because the onset is slower and the patients a bit older, it is often misdiagnosed as type 2. If diagnosed very early on, it is possible that medications to increase insulin secretion in combination with diet and exercise may temporarily allow patients to control their blood sugar, but if correctly diagnosed initially, patients usually start on insulin as a first resort rather than a last resort.

 

Unfortunately, this (oral meds plus non-pharm changes) won’t work very long. Quite soon, the patient’s blood sugar starts creeping up. The provider, assuming that type 2 diagnosis, admonishes to remember to take the medication, and be careful with diet and exercise. Perhaps doses are increased, but with fewer and fewer functioning cells in the pancreas, sugar control gets worse and worse. The patient tries harder and harder to do what they are supposed to, but it seems like they do everything right and still can’t be good enough – and at the same time while the patient is trying harder and harder, it is unfortunate, but possible, that the patient may be (or at least feel) shamed for not controlling her blood sugar appropriately. Imagine that you are doing your best and have no idea what you are doing wrong, yet it is never good enough. Everything you are doing people are telling you is wonderful, but the results aren’t there.

 

It is a really hard place to be. The discordance is difficult to reconcile. It is very much how my career has gone. I had good grades in school. I was very active as a volunteer. I was leading a variety of on campus organizations. I had a clear career goal and had been pursuing my dream for years and therefore had significant relevant experience. All of my preceptors loved me because not only did I have excellent clinical skills, but I was a reliable worker who sought out opportunities to enhance their work as well as my own, and I brought a positive, friendly, presence. I am self-motivated. I get my work done efficiently and then seek out more to do. I had research experience. I had teaching experience. In phase 1 of 2017 I had as many interviews as applications out, although two interviews were with the same place, so there was technically one institution without an interview. Each place told me I was an excellent candidate, but I found out later that I didn’t match. In phase 2 I applied to a similar number of places including re-applying to two places I applied in phase 1. One of them being the place I didn’t get an interview the first time, but I did get an interview in phase 2. My stats were just a little lower in terms of interviews vs applications, but again, every place I interviewed told me they were thrilled I had applied and that I had strong references and was a great candidate. I threw my all into interviewing, and I failed again. It was really disheartening.

 

Anyway, back to the point, the reason type 1.5 diabetes breaks my heart is that by the time people are correctly diagnosed, if they ever receive an accurate diagnosis, they have tried and failed so many times and believed they were a failure for so long that they often have added depression and anxiety to their problem list by the time they get a correct diagnosis. The correct diagnosis of type 1.5 is often a huge relief because it means they haven’t actually been at fault for their failure all along, but by this point, failure may be ingrained enough that the feeling doesn’t just go away. I get that actually testing C-peptide levels which would help determine type of diabetes is somewhat more expensive than a simple glucose screening and trial of medication to see if it does anything where doing *something* is assumed to indicate a correct diagnosis, but it hurts my heart to know that there are people suffering when it could have been avoided with an extra blood draw or two and a bit of cash, and arguably though in some populations it might not be practical unless there is a high suspicion of type 1.5, I personally would rather pay the price to find out up front in order to save my mental health later.

 

I wish I had some great comparison of this to my career like I did for the earlier part of my explanation, but I guess the best I can come up with is a bit of medical student syndrome…the past like 2 days I have been wondering if I might have diabetes, probably type 1.5…considering it has been the past two days and how much sleep deprivation I’ve been living with in that time, obviously there is a good chance there is a lot more fiction than fact in this conceptualization…but anyway, usually when I participate in blood glucose screenings, my numbers are low enough that I get asked if I am okay…as in I know one of the times I tested I was at 59mg/dL – diabetics are trained that they are too low if <80mg/dL and to react and treat the low if <70mg/dL. But this past year there was once I was all the way up to 79mg/dL. Still low, but a lot higher than my body’s set point. Add to that the fact that I had a headache and felt like my world was spinning the past couple days – probably sleep deprivation, but also symptoms of high blood sugar.

 

Then there are the three P’s of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar): polyphagia, polyuria, and polydipsia. So we’ll start with that last one. Polydipsia is being excessively thirsty. While this could make sense because I wasn’t drinking enough for a while and needed to catch up, I was drinking way more than enough while on my trip to Rochester, yet was still constantly thirsty. I had probably about 4 to 6 cups of fluids with dinner Wednesday night, and still got up like every 2 hours at night for more to drink. Polyuria, or excessive urination…okay, well this is embarrassing, but yeah, I might have taken a lot of breaks to use the restroom, but it is hard to say the real cause. I suppose one possibility is that I am developing diabetes and my body was trying to eliminate the excess sugar, but it is also possible that drinking a lot leads to peeing a lot, and that my body does seem to confuse boredom with time to take a potty break…and also being female, it might be partly a hormonal cycle thing. Finally polyphagia…umm yeah…that means eating a lot. Diabetes is a disease of starving in the land of plenty. The body has too much glucose (sugar), but because the body can’t actually use it because of the lack of insulin, it feels like it needs more glucose which stimulates hunger. I definitely can put away food, but is it diabetes, or is it just me? I will raise my hand and admit that I eat to entertain myself, and I eat for pleasure. Plus see above that who knows if I am extra hungry at any given moment because my body is giving all its nutrition to the baby I am not going to have, or whether there is something else going on. I won’t deny that I can put away food. For breakfast today I had around 12 ounces or so of orange juice and two cups of hot chocolate (one at home, one at church…or maybe it was two at home for a total of three…idk), and some potatoes and chicken. For lunch I had three platefuls of spaghetti with sauce and meat, as well as a few vegetables and three cups of juice and a cookie…and almost three whole sleeves of gluten free communion crackers…That’s a lot of food for a girl who has just slept 11 hours and when not asleep has mostly been laying on the bed in front of the computer or similarly inactive. And I still came home hungry and looking for more to eat…

 

Lol, it is probably just medical student syndrome (the “disease” of the health professions, where we kinda diagnose ourselves with like every disease we know about on rather faulty premises or very limited signs and symptoms)…but if someday I am right, you heard it hear first…lol…

 

And this entire post was written on Sunday (except this paragraph) and after another night of around 11 or so hours of wonderful sleep, my brain is functioning enough to realize that diabetes is a very remote possibility. Stress and sleep deprivation seem to fit this picture a lot better…

Under Shiny Plastic Steeples

(Stained Glass Masquerade – Casting Crowns)

I recently saw on facebook one of those type this into a text message and pressing only the middle predictive text, finish the sentence things. So, this one started “I couldn’t live without.” My phone finished that sentence with “my knowledge.” That seemed super stupid at first, but after further thought, I think there are aspects of that sentence that might be true. One of my strengths finders strengths as a first year in college was input. In their words, collection and gathering of all kinds of information is important, or in my words, I am a ferocious consumer of information. I have a need to know things and I would have a very difficult time if I wasn’t able to obtain knowledge. So I guess all that to say, I know cognitively that it is okay, and even good, to cry. But I’ve noticed that even when I am completely alone and there is no reason I shouldn’t cry, I still hold in the tears. I think there are a lot of reasons. One is definitely the abuse and fallout I experienced.

 

When I was a third year, the abuse was very obviously worse if I showed any negative emotion. Like it says in the book “Scattered” by Gabor Mate, “conditioned fear learning is particularly resilient…and in fact may represent an indelible form of learning.” So I learned that showing emotion, particularly negative emotion, was dangerous. Once this has been learned, it is quite difficult to unlearn, especially when it was compounded over the next few years. In September, I had to sign that I would not tell anyone what had happened or was happening, including not being able to tell them that I wasn’t allowed to tell them. There is only so much the deer in the headlights look can get you out of. I knew if I was caught crying or otherwise visibly upset, I was likely to be asked what was going on. I couldn’t tell unless I was willing to risk losing my student-hood at least temporarily while the legality of the contract was investigated. I couldn’t truthfully say or acknowledge that I didn’t want to talk about it, because I did want to talk about it. I needed to talk about it, but it wasn’t safe. If anything slipped, there was a direct threat to my security. Sure, at times there were things it would have been reasonable to blame the upset on, but I am truthful to a fault, and if it wasn’t the primary problem I was going to have a hard time using it to cover up the real problem. I’m not saying the sparsity of my tears compared to the depth of my pain this year at not getting a residency was completely my abuser and my school’s fault – it wasn’t and isn’t. Although that is a strong contributor, even before that happened I was someone who was fiercely protective of people and therefore want to avoid burdening them with my issues. Even before that happened, and probably more before than after, I wanted to avoid too much attention on myself. I don’t like being in the limelight, and am much happier working hard behind the scenes.

 

Fear learning explains a lot of things that I wish could just go away.

 

Another concept from Scattered that I thought was interesting was that memories of something happening are stored in our cognition, but memories of nothing happening when something should have are more often stored in our bodies. These implicit memories cause us to feel things that more correctly belong to the past which is why we might not understand our own behavior, reactions, and emotions until we understand the memories we have been storing in our bodies and move those memories into our cognition…just something to think about…I think about a lot of things…like someone I saw on youtube talking about milk and cookies. Her explanation of how bad milk and cookies are made no sense biologically – she explained that milk cause the stomach contents to be too acidic which causes problems. I was only half listening at the time, so I couldn’t put a finger on why that seemed so dumb, until I realized that milk is a base, not an acid. The thing is though, that when the stomach becomes too basic, LES pressure decreases which allows stomach contents to come in contact with the esophagus. Too basic for the stomach is a bit dependent upon age, but in an adult, the stomach pH is usually between 1 and 3. Too basic could be like a 4, which is still quite acidic (to brush up on your chemistry, a pH of 7 is neutral, milk is an 8 or 9). So even the too basic stomach contents is much more acidic than the esophagus is intended to experience for prolonged contact times. That can cause erosion of esophageal tissue which can lead to inflammation. So the person on youtube got the end result correct: inflammation, but the whole series of events to get there was completely wrong, as was the location of the inflammation.

 

This is pretty unrelated, but I recently discovered the facebook feature that lets you see what you posted on today in the past years. Looking back is kind of cringe-y and embarrassing. Umm, apparently as a high schooler I sometimes posted like 5 or more status updates in the same day…compared to now where it is quite rare there are even five or more posts in the same week or sometimes even month, much less the same day. Yeah, once in a while there might be two posts the same day, but it certainly is not common now. Also, it is super obvious that I used written words where my spoken words failed me, which is to say if you didn’t know how I used facebook at the time, it looked like an extreme case of overshare. What you don’t know, is that I said very close to zero words out loud at the time. My primary spoken vocabulary was hi and my name. This was supplemented for in person communication with nods, headshakes, and, well, writing. When writing is your only means of communication, you naturally are going to share a lot more. This is also why I was pretty selective as to which friend requests I would accept…and it is also why it is/was so devastating for someone to block me on facebook. Blocking me on facebook is essentially blocking me from relationship with you. Imagine if someone quickly walked away if it appeared you may speak, and refused to speak with you around. It would feel isolating, wouldn’t it? So anyway, I was looking through the list of posts, and thought today’s were a pretty good representation of me.

 

1 YEAR AGO

…yes I am wearing a soggy t-shirt…it may not occurred to me that if I wanted to wear my back-up pajamas as real clothes I might need to wash the shirt before this morning so that it didn’t smell like pajamas…oops…there are certainly worse things than a soggy t-shirt…lol, like I could call it moist…how many people hate the word moist?!

 

Umm yeah, a year ago at 6:07am I was sitting in my car in my soggy pajamas thankful that the staff wifi reached the street, because I had the ability to show up, but was struggling with the ability to let anyone know I was there. Actually, I used the staff wifi from my car a lot that year, because I desperately needed community, and being right there almost at church was super helpful, but I didn’t really have enough social confidence to actually *be* there, so I’d come, but not actually necessarily leave my car, or if I did leave my car I didn’t actually go inside – just as far as sitting under a tree on the median, or on the curb of the median.

 

2 YEARS AGO

Today if I were going to write an autobiography it would be titiled ppl respond to emails faster when you hit send…

 

Yep, as always, I struggle enough even with written communication at times that by the time I have written the email, I have thought about it so much that I can’t remember whether I’ve actually sent it…and sending it is also hard, so I might have thought about sending it once it was written every day for the past month, which does not help elicit a response any faster…see also why things become emergencies when I’ve had forever to figure them out…

 

3 YEARS AGO

knew I was forgetting a major food group when I bought my lunch today but couldn’t figure out what it was…I had the dessert group, the fruit/veg group, the carb group…yep, it was the protein group…and this is why I usually plan meals in advance…but my juice has 4%DV of iron, and that’s kind of like protein…right?…

 

Yes, when I meal plan, I more like food group plan…which is why I end up with meals like taco meat, gold fish crackers, an apple, and ice cream. None of the foods seem like they really belong together, but I got something from each major food group so it seems like an appropriate meal to me. This post also sparked a hilarious conversation about earthworms versus sour gummy worms. I laughed at work today.

 

4 YEARS AGO

…at least if I was going to really seriously learn that I shouldn’t be attempting to travel while significantly impaired by anxiety I did it in such a way that I didn’t endanger anyone’s life…and hopefully having a real consequence is enough to finally make the lesson stick…someone asking me questions BEFORE rather than AFTER I acted would have been really nice to prevent this, but considering the other ways I could have learned this lesson, I at least found one with relatively lower stakes…

 

I guess I kind of cheated – there were really two posts along these lines, because I posted one on each account and I have two facebook accounts, but they both essentially hinted at the same thing. I was really having a hard day and asked housekeeping to cut the lock off my bike. That was a bummer, because it was an expensive high quality lock. Yeah, my key broke, but I had a few more keys at my apartment…but they didn’t question whether I was sure or what I was going to do without a bike lock until after they cut the lock off. I’m sure watching my reaction was priceless as I explained that at home I had other ke…oh crap…I can act impulsively at times, and I do have trouble with thinking things through when I am really upset. There was definitely the positive side pointed out in both posts that I could have messed up some other way and for example been run over while running a red light…

 

6 YEARS AGO

can let the help desk find out in less than 12 hours why her computer beeps and turns itself off as soon as it is unplugged…hopefully they are less confused than I am…

 

Another one where I cheated and there were actually two very similar posts…so yeah, I have always struggled with technology. In this particular instance, my computer was at like 76% battery life, but would not stay on if it wasn’t plugged in…kind of a problem since I refused at the time to plug in my laptop in classrooms because the plug in areas seemed to germy. I rarely used my computer in class, but there were certainly times when it would have been helpful or even necessary.

 

7 YEARS AGO

“She who trims herself to suit everyone will soon whittle herself away. Stay true to you!” –post-it phrase of the day

 

thinks this weather is stupid…can we please have some weather that allows me to be outside??? My bike misses me.

 

occasionally entertains herself with the call duration information on her phone…in the past 2 months she has talked (well knowing me mostly listened) on the phone (received or dialed calls including voicemail) a total of exactly 27 mins…and the number is probs going to go down now that I can avoid calls even more with texting…definitely don’t use up my share of the minutes…

 

First one: yep, I have always been one who wants everyone to be happy.

 

Second one: classic me, not I miss my bike, but my bike misses me.

 

Third: Another reference to me and my social struggles. I think 27 minutes in two months was actually above average for me, and it was primarily listening to voicemail (usually from my parents) or calling my parents for a ride or to let them know I arrived at my destination if I had driven myself. The other *maybe* one or two minutes being telemarketers and the rare occasion in which a friend called me or I called someone else. Those occasions were exceedingly rare because I would rather send an email or even go across town to talk to someone in person than to talk on the phone (and I wasn’t such a fan of talking either).

Lead the Way God I’m Gonna Follow You

(Now – Mallary Hope)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Babies Bleed from Bulletholes

(Dear Me – Nichole Nordeman)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Am I really living, or am I just existing?

(Save Me – JJ Heller)

 

There are a lot of negative thing I could say I’ve learned in the past few months, but despite the pain I think I have learned some positive things too…I’d probably rather not learn but escape the pain, but that wasn’t a choice and it does me no good to stay lost in the pain forever.

 

In March I learned that I am not just a source of parties for my coworkers and that they and other people really care. Maybe some of it was just the human desire to see everyone else smiling, but they were so amazing that week of spring break when I had just not matched the first time. They provided me distraction and let me just take care of me. I think I also learned that being around kids is a really good influence for me. My best friend made time for me and one of her sons said I should pray…she knew me at the time when I hardly spoke at all, so she is the last person who would put any pressure on me at all to pray out loud, especially when I was already struggling, but she looked at me to see if she needed to intervene and I did it myself. And I ate that evening. My best friend is one of the most important people in my life and I don’t know where I’d be without her.

 

In April I learned that my friends care and so does God. On March 17th, I wasn’t ready to even believe that God cares. By April, through the kind support that I really didn’t deserve of a couple of my friends, I was moving from *MAYBE* God cares to starting to believe that God does care. My friends are incredible. I was upset and not being very nice to them and they continued to be patient and keep loving on me. I was devastated and overwhelmed and exhausted and that probably made it really hard to be around me, but they continued to include me. Sure, they weren’t perfect, no one is, but they went way beyond the call of duty to do their best to support me.

 

In May I learned that graduating wasn’t going to end the nightmare that was my abuse history at school. I had been counting down for well over a year, but with the grief, the lights went out and graduation lost its luster. Okay, so really that happened right away in March, but I think graduation actually coming really brought it home that this wasn’t going away. I do know someday I need to face that pain, but I am not ready yet.

 

In June I learned why self-harm was such a strong addiction. Even unintentional physical pain is exceedingly effective in treating (okay, covering up) emotional pain. I fell really hard one day, and it hurt. Now in November I think I am finally feeling fully healed from that…a little stiff maybe from not really being able to move without pain for so long, but otherwise doing well. I am not going to fall into that trap, but I definitely understand why it is so appealing.

 

In July I learned everything happens for a reason even the worst life brings (blessings – Laura Story). After months of getting minimal sleep, having to work a late evening shift until 11pm was not fun, but wasn’t nearly as hard as it would have been otherwise. Instead of being pretty much just a warm body by 9, I definitely do not have fun, but I am able to pretty much be competent all night.

 

In August I learned that God was listening to my prayers and with me even if he wasn’t saying yes to my prayers requesting he take me home. Life was still hard, but God reminded me of his presence when he might not have given me everything I wanted, but did give me a few things that I really needed. I needed the stability of choosing a church and was totally overwhelmed and had no idea how to pick and he helped me make a decision.

 

In September I learned that I can make friends that aren’t just the leftover people no one else wanted.

 

In October I learned that my weight can’t make me happy and isn’t an ideal surrogate marker of my mental status. Actually, yesterday or maybe it was two days ago I heard somewhere that it is ideal to heal physically and mentally at the same rate. I now see how that could be really helpful.

 

So yeah, that is 2/3 of a year of learning…that is totally crazy. A lot of the time it still feels like just a few days ago that the sun came crashing out of the sky, but at the same time it feels like I have been living with this forever. I still cry sometimes. I am still mourning my loss. I am still trying to learn how to hope that it won’t always be like this. Interestingly, I was reading recently something that cited a study that found that at a certain amount of weight loss whether intentional or unintentional, humans begin to compulsively exercise. This isn’t necessarily eating disordered behavior induced, but simply a strange phenomenon found in studies. It made me think about this spring. I did lose a lot of weight, but I also found that one of the only things that made me feel at least a little less bad was to be in motion. The best ways to get even a little food in my mouth was to either make it a social event or to do to do something mildly active. I was walking around the block over and over just to get the tiny amounts of food and water into my body that I needed to survive. I know medically it means I am not getting nearly enough fluids in when I didn’t even need to pee every day…TBH, I think someday I may end up with kidney problems not just from the “dry” times, but also from the times I have practically drowned myself ’cause OCD said to drink like crazy to prevent germs staying in my body. Anyway, the point is that I wonder if what is happening is partly that I lost enough weight that exercise became compulsive and I was dealing with extra anxiety because of that when not in motion or if it was really that exercise helped control the grief…IDK…

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 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 🙂

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 🙂