Category Archives: Day in the Life

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).

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The King of Heaven Wants Me

(Control – Tenth Avenue North)

 

I heard this lyric recently and right now I’m kinda wishy washy on if it really feels true, but it is something that I would really like to be true. It is such powerful imagery. Deep down I know that God does want me, but it just doesn’t always feel that way when life hurts.

 

But I know God is good. I know God has a plan. I know life is not my choice to make.

 

This year was better than last year. Sure, it might be a lot of learning to better control the pain. It might be that hope hadn’t totally come back and therefore the loss wasn’t as profound. It might be that I was too numb to care as much or that I had pretty much already told myself I failed…but whatever the cause, it hasn’t been as bad as last year and I am thankful. I have not had uncontrollable tears. The pain isn’t quite as crushing…and I am recovering. I am struggling, but I’m doing a lot better than last year. I’m still eating. I’m tired all day and not sleeping super well, but I am getting a lot more sleep than I was last year and I am not crying myself to sleep or waking up crying. I am definitely not drinking enough, but even without fighting myself I am not at the super dangerous stage…although between the sleep loss and dehydration, I wiped out spectacularly on Friday and I now have a really deep bruise on my knee. But all in all, compared to last year I am doing super awesome. Life is hard, but I am functioning so much better than last year.

 

I was recently reading on a blog and the person said something like life was hard so I made sure to give thanks in all situations so we could move on two level two in life lessons, but God is not player 1, I am not player 2, and He doesn’t gamble with our feelings or barter as much as I wish he would. I thought that was really insightful, and kind of frustratingly true. God and I are not playing a game in which I can choose the direction we go. He makes pretty much all the decisions, and I have to trust that what he is doing is for his glory, because it isn’t about me, it is about him.

 

Also, I really connected with the SVU episode I watched a few days ago. The victim didn’t really want to talk about what happened and didn’t want to go to trial because she thought everyone would judge her, and when the case was not going exactly as planned she was angry because before the trial she hadn’t known hope in so long that it wasn’t even real to her. The case gave her the beautiful gift of hope and she had been afraid to accept it, but had eventually been convinced of the existence of hope, and then that hope seemed to have been taken away. She was back where she was before, except this time she really had a grasp on what she did not have. All that to say, at one point, Liv was so calmly talking to her and said “because you matter, and what happened to you matters.” I loved that. I definitely need the reminder sometimes that I matter. I need to know that what happened to me isn’t something that should be completely forgotten and ignored. I am not failing by being influenced by what happened to me. What happened to me matters. A lot of what happened to me was not okay. It shouldn’t have happened, but because it did happen, it matters. There was also a time when the victim told Rollins “That’s what you think of me,” and Rollins responded “yeah, it is.” My heart broke for the girl, but I was also proud of her. She encountered the situation head on and told it like it was, then when she received the negative validation she wasn’t crushed, but instead continued to fight for herself and for understanding. Probably because of that, her and Rollins eventually could see eye to eye.

 

I have a bunch of coloring books. I have sometimes claimed I do not like coloring, but okay, you know, you get desperate enough for something to do because, for example, people will give you weird looks which in my head could end up with getting picked up by the police, if you wander around in the snow with no defined destination. I could get away with it in the pouring rain and in the heat of the summer, but with deep snow on the ground, wandering without a destination wasn’t going to work…so I tried coloring. I never really want to start coloring. I feel frustrated because I am not good at staying in the lines and I don’t have the greatest hand eye coordination and depth perception and motor planning so sometimes I color in two boxes next to each other the same color when all the other boxes got their own color. And the fact that sometimes the colors don’t turn out how I want and there isn’t a set of rules to follow to do it “right” makes it feel intimidating…but once I get started, I don’t want to stop. Once I get engaged (plus have an audiobook or a video going in the background) the hurt and pain in my life start to fade away as the colors fill the empty space on the page and in my mind. When I am coloring somehow I am no longer Wiggle Worm the girl who was abused. I am not Wiggle Worm the pharmacist frustrated with her job. I am not Wiggle Worm the stupid unwanted one who can’t do anything right. Not the one with social anxiety and OCD struggling to fit in. Not the one teased about having dyslexia and ADHD. Not any of the negative labels I have worn. Once I am drawn in, I am Wiggle Worm the resilient survivor, loved by her daddy, Jesus. I am Wiggle Worm, brave overcomer, working hard to make a place for herself when it’d be easier to give up. And you know, some of my pictures end up kind of ugly, but some of them really aren’t that bad.

 

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Also, yesterday God really showed me that he can use any situation for his plans. Y’all know how starved for community I sometimes feel…and how I really want to fall into isolation when the grief is strong. I mean, I had been trying to make comments on facebook as simple as a smiley face or the word cute and was failing, unable to use even my written words to communicate. If there weren’t words coming directly aimed at me I couldn’t respond. So clearly, although I know fighting against isolation is super important, I was failing. But I saw on facebook a $500 giveaway and somehow commenting to enter the drawing was easier than the social communication I’d been attempting, and I succeeded. Drawing on that success I saw that there was free food and an opportunity for another entry if I showed up at the store. So I did. It was a little terrifying. As soon as I walked in I was greeted by a salesperson who asked if I was okay…I suppose because, umm, normally people do not wander around in the snow to a furniture store. Some words came out of my mouth about how I was just taking a walk and thought I’d stop in because my apartment seemed to be missing something, but what that something was I didn’t really know, and with that we parted ways and I wandered around looking at the furniture. Most of the things that really caught my fancy were things I had no use for – I already have a bed and a dresser and can’t envision where in my apartment another would go without either looking weird or college dorm-like. I knew in theory that it was the smaller pieces like benches or end tables or stools that would actually complement my apartment, but my heart didn’t agree…and even if it did, I probably needed actual measurements to know what size furniture I was going to need, because I do have a tendency to rush into things full speed ahead and not realize until it is a little late that this won’t work very well…like when I tried to fit a massive entertainment center into my car one day and determined I couldn’t even lift it…but anyway, I had looked at some stuff and now life became awkward. I wasn’t exactly ready to leave yet, because I really wanted to eat something. The treats looked amazing even though my brain said absolutely not are you going to eat anything. So instead of excusing myself, I kind of awkwardly stood there in the middle of the store and had a conversation with the owners…yep, this girl who couldn’t communicate even online was now having a conversation with people who were essentially strangers. I did have to work hard to hold up my end of the conversation, and I think they were probably kind of wondering at times why this weird girl was still standing there, but somehow eventually I was eating a piece of an amazing pie and was exchanging phone numbers with one of the owners who, as it turns out, lives across the parking lot from me. I don’t really know a lot or have much experience with friendship maintenance, so I’m not sure how well a friendship with the person from the furniture store is going to work out, but I know that God gave me that glimpse of hope for a reason and I am super thankful for it. She offered to give me a ride home, but I refused. On the way home I saw someone else on the sidewalk. He tried to start a conversation, but I didn’t really understand most of what he said so I just said some words and he wandered away from me in the middle of my sentence so either I totally got it wrong as to what I was supposed to be conversing about, or he was worse at social skills than me…lol…

 

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Also, I was eating this chocolate bar for dessert today. It was really good, but it was also a lesson in patience. When I eat skittles, it doesn’t take long before I can feel my blood sugar increase. Chocolate, however, has protein and fat which greatly decrease the rate of absorption of sugars, which is why it is a very bad choice for a diabetic having a low by the way. And yes, I am aware at times of what my blood sugar is doing. So while this chocolate tastes awesome, I can’t actually feel the effects of eating it right away, which is a lesson in delayed gratification. Not sure I prefer learning lessons via dessert, but considering that I have been out of skittles for quite some time and that I probably do have the most motivation for learning when food is involved, I suppose it makes sense…

 

And I feel frustrated because church is my opportunity for community and it was cancelled today and work doesn’t usually feel like community to me, but you know what, I need to rely on God, not on my friends, and it gave me an opportunity to start working on things I’ve been meaning to do since I moved in…or at least think about doing things. For example, one of the areas that was visually disgusting when I moved in was the area next to the door. The vacuum couldn’t reach that area well enough to pick up all the crud, and I just hadn’t had enough motivation yet to deal with it, and now that my OCD is reasonably controlled, there wasn’t really much way that area my feet would never step was going to trigger me enough to get it clean. And TBH, it still isn’t completely clean, but it is a lot cleaner than it was. Actually, it was pretty disgusting to see the amount of mud caked onto the bottom of my bucket by the time I gave up. There are still plenty of things I don’t really know how to clean, like the construction glue on the windows and the glob of woodworking glue on the kitchen counter…and things I just don’t feel like dealing with yet like the more stubborn paint spots on the bathroom floor and shower, but little by little I will have a clean apartment.

She doesn’t know why, but she knows

(Stand in the Rain – Superchick)

 

I didn’t realize how reactive I was to raised voices until this yesterday evening when some people were having a fight outside. When I heard the harsh voices my body tensed. I was trapped inside myself. Because I have grown a lot emotionally, my logical brain was able to get as far as finding my glasses, but beyond that I was pretty much stuck in the freeze part of fight flight or freeze. And when I heard one person say “you’re just a d*m* stupid b****…” I wanted to whisper “hey, let’s use our big boy and girl words.” But I couldn’t, because my body was reacting to danger which turned off my voice…and besides, a whisper from inside my bedroom would have no impact on the fight going on outside. Looking back I guess that kind of helps me understand why I can’t expect myself to get over overnight the traumas I have faced. The fear is still hardwired into my body and yeah, I do talk now…most of the time…but I still am working really hard to use my words. I still am running a marathon at a sprint in an attempt to keep even just close enough to caught up to continue to see the back of the pack.

 

I have been learning a lot this year. For the first time I had to really work to learn to make friends and create community because I moved to a completely new location at a time when I desperately needed community and caring friends. I do have to work a lot harder than other people to learn and use social skills, but I am seeing that hard work pay off. I can express myself sometimes. Sure, I do still struggle, but I am also starting to recognize areas of success. I was watching a movie with my parents and commented that it is sad the girl is so left out. My mom was like be quiet, that is not what the movie is about, but then had to admit that I was right. Later I commented that another girl in the movie probably had something really hard happen and really wants help but is pulling away, rejecting herself so others can’t and the rejecting others is totally accidental. When that also proved true, my mom asked if I had seen the movie before. I hadn’t. I realized that I understand and can predict this stuff one, because I am emotionally attuned, and I guess secondarily because this movie did a good job emulating real-world situations. There might be a lot I am not good at, but I am not stupid. I am not bad at everything.

 

Kind of unrelated, but I heard today a phrase “I am not waving, I am drowning.” At first I thought it was kind of funny, but then I realized to someone not trained as a lifeguard, active drowning does look a lot like waving and having fun. As a lifeguard and water safety instructor, I scanned for people who might need help and anticipate needs so that potential situations requiring help are recognized before they are serious. Full disclosure, I never had to jump in to rescue someone (outside of staged rescues in training scenarios), but there were times that my awareness let me get someone help before it reached that point. But taking it out of the literal realm, I started to think about what was going on last year. I was like the scariest pool patrons. I was drowning, but thought I was still just waving. I mean, yeah, I knew I was struggling hardcore, but I thought I had things pulled together in certain situations to be able to just have friends and not mention anything wrong…yeah…funny now looking back that I thought it was possible to have any aspect of life untouched, but that is where I was…and my wonderful and incredibly perceptive friend figured out before I did that I was drowning. Luckily I was willing to access help, but I guess that was probably also assisted by the fact that she didn’t outright say hey, you need help, but gently offered in a less threatening way first. She made me feel safe and understood. She stabilized my life in that time of need. I don’t know how I made it through that time, but I know people like her made a huge difference. I yearned for death to end my pain. Now, I was at a point where today I was looking forward to heaven not because I was feeling so utterly hopeless and desperate for an end to my pain, but because I was just thinking about how much of a party it was gonna be getting to see all my friends like all the time. It is hard when you’ve made friends all over the country because while it might be possible to see a few of them once in a while, it is not possible to see all of them or even really keep up with all of them. I am someone who connects deeply to people and goodbye is hard. I might not show it well, but people mean the world to me. There are so many people who likely wouldn’t recognize or remember me, but who still have a special place in my heart. And I can’t wait to catch up in heaven someday even if I do need to wait a LONG LONG time first.

 

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.

Love needs room to breathe

(Plumb – Phobic)

 

Sometimes life is hard. I don’t understand why God doesn’t love me enough to take me home. I am ready to be done. I am tired of pretending to be strong. I don’t want to keep going through this every day. When do I get to give up?

 

I came home today and, okay, I hadn’t held back all the tears already, but as soon as the door closed behind me I couldn’t breathe because I was crying so hard. I am trying to make it through life every day, but life hurts so much. Every day I just have to keep holding on and keep acting like everything is okay because I don’t have any other choices. Every day I have to get up, shower, get dressed, eat three meals, go to work, change into pajamas, buy groceries, go to bed…I keep doing it because what else am I going to do?

 

I guess I should back up. Today was another resident interview at my workplace. And today I found out I couldn’t take the PALS class I had signed up to take April 2nd and 3rd…because training is required to be on paid time and there isn’t PTO available those days, never mind that I would be perfectly happy to use my time I already was going to have off anyway to go to class. I’m a salaried employee, who cares if I “work” an extra 13 hours without extra pay. I want to do other duties as assigned. And that took away the only thing I felt like I had left to look forward to.

 

I want to just give up on pharmacy. I could be happier working at Caribou, but then everyone would be right that I couldn’t make it as a pharmacist. I wanted to prove everyone wrong and show them I am good enough. But all I do is fail and I just want out.

Lord I Find You in the Doubt

(Oh how I need you – All Sons and Daughters)

 

This song has been stuck in my head today and I really love it. Admitting need is hard, but this song is a really good reminder that it is okay to be vulnerable. It is okay to admit that we have needs. It is okay to reveal that we are broken and need help putting everything back together…and it is very true. “And to know you is to love you.” I’ve struggled with God these past few months. When life is intensely painful it is hard to understand God as good. It is hard to believe he even exists or cares. I had held on for years of hard things and this was just the last straw where I really didn’t feel like God was good or cared anymore. It felt, to quote Britt Nicole’s song World that Breaks “like life is only pain.” When that is the case, it is so difficult to go on believing. Everyone seems so happy. Everyone has their life figured out…and you are drowning and no one cares. No one sees you as the waves crash high above your head. (Yes, there were people who reached out, and for that I am profoundly grateful, but for the most part, you walk the halls and streets with people who don’t even notice your pain or if they do either shy away or pretend it isn’t there).

 

I have healed a lot, but there are still a lot of moments that are hard. There are a lot of times when I just feel frustrated. And all the people who walked through the worst of it with me are miles away, so now it is even more true that I need God, because he is the only one I have who is still accessible and understands what I’m going through. I do still have moments of doubt – it’s a lot easier to dump out the package of glitter than to get all the glitter back in the package – but I no longer have a totally empty bottle in front of me while I stare at an enormous pile of glitter with nothing but myself to try to clean it up or make it go away. There is a lot further I could go with that analogy, but that wasn’t what I set out to write…

 

Where I am now wasn’t plan A. It wasn’t plan B. It wasn’t even plan Z or plan ZZ…maybe we went through the alphabet three times all the way to ZZZ…I don’t even know anymore. Suffice it to say that a lot of things that should have been exciting have been things I’ve attended or done out of necessity and going through the motions but haven’t really been thrilled. I have been able to experience a few moments of joy or at least calm but the overarching unescapable feeling has been the loss. I’ve frequently been barely surviving day to day when I wanted to be thriving.

 

I desperately longed for death for months…and even now if given the choice I do not think I’d choose to keep living though there’d at least be a question in my mind now. It is hard when you’ve prayed every day for God to take you home and he hasn’t. When you’ve learned that no one wants you and you’re not good enough, not worth it, not going to make it, that feels like the piece de resistance. Even God doesn’t want you. Ouch.

 

Well, at one point in August I was really really trying to make the best of what I had, but was frustrated and told my friend that life was still super hard and it was hard to think it would ever really be okay, but there were three things at least kinda sorta in the realm of possibility that would make life easier…a friend, somewhere to serve, and choosing a church. I saw my friend on Monday. Tuesday I went back to my new home and went to an event at one of the two churches I was still deciding between. I made a new friend, got invited to help serve at an event that was coming up, and I decided that was going to be my church. God was good.

 

Life was getting better slowly and I started considering hope again. Then I packed up some work clothes and went to my parents’ house expecting a phone call from my manager inviting me to come in to process the job title change to pharmacist…and found out instead that I lost my job. I was crushed again. I had been doing so good not crying in front of people, but the tears were pouring down while I was on that call…I was really upset because the one thing I felt like I had left was gone. I was officially losing my coworkers and my job and the place that had started becoming my home in elementary school. Maybe a couple weeks later, still really upset, I told God this place would never feel like home because there were no babies for me here…backstory, I adore small children, particularly the first few weeks of life and at the church I went to at my parents’ house, I spent five hours every Sunday in the nursery. Not necessarily working with infants the whole time, but loving any time I did get with the infants. Well, that day, God brought me into a situation in which I got maybe 2 minutes with a small child. The kid was kind of on the border of really still being an infant, but that time was an amazing reminder that God was still there and still listening even when life was so hard…but at the same time I was thinking if God was going to give me the one thing I exploded about this morning, I wish I could take that back and ask for something about my work situation to improve…I don’t really complain as much about that anymore because it became hopeless and if you put so much energy in and can’t change it, eventually you give up…but anyway, like one or two days later, I hear from my manager that she finally got a position open that I could apply for. God is so good. I was ecstatic!! I was literally jumping up and down once I was alone. I went home that evening and finished that application so fast. I was thrilled!!

And then on Friday October 6th, I got a voicemail from my manager letting me know that she wasn’t able to hire me. I’ve probably written about that already, but I was done with life again, struggling to eat again, not sleeping well again. And burned out on hope – again it seemed like hope was just a way to be hurt more deeply. It wouldn’t have been a big deal to not have the job if I hadn’t known it was a possibility…and it wouldn’t have been such a big deal to find out I didn’t get it if there were any question in my mind whether I would get the job…but in my head, I already was ten steps ahead. In my head I already had this job and finding out I didn’t get it was taking away that lifeline I’d built for myself. It hurt so much and was one more set back in my healing process. I miss my coworkers and my job so bad.

 

But I want to believe in hope again. I want to believe that someday I will be happy again. And if I am being really honest, there is one way in which this extended period of grief has been beneficial. Grief messes with your hormones. The first big hit was in March, and I think since then I have had two or *maybe* three periods, and they have all been super light. That has been a huge blessing. One of the things I had been worried about before all this happened was the difficulty in adequate functioning and the potential embarrassment the first time I was on the first day of a period with new coworkers who barely knew me. I have been sent home early from work when I wasn’t needed, and more than once people have asked if they should call someone from the emergency room to help me, because I have trouble breathing and staying upright and might be non-responsive to people talking to me or waving their hands in my face until I can get enough energy to say something…so not having to deal with that with brand new coworkers is a huge blessing. If I could choose having everything I wanted back or having this, I’m pretty sure I would still choose having everything I wanted back, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t rejoice in the little miracles along the way…and maybe if I’m lucky even after the grief is totally over I’ll get to keep it this way. I could totally dig having only one light period every four months or so…being a girl sucks even aside from the whole being less diverse thing… #firstworldwhitegirlproblems…

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

(Hungry – Joy Williams)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

I wish I could be so much more

(Broken Things – Matthew West) 

Before I even knew the name of this song, I really liked how it sounded. Now that I know the title, I like it even better. I feel broken sometimes. 

Today (Saturday), I learned something really important. Do NOT paint on both sides of a page in a notebook. It is a good way to wreck three pages of pictures (and/or words, but all there was on the pages I messed up were pictures…)…I suppose an alternative is not to use water soluble colors on your pages…I learned that painting this picture…which was also frustrating because it isn’t anything like the picture inside my head.

 

20170916_153501[1].jpg
Castle (grace) with gate. Girl, sad, standing forlorn behind gate. Standing in a puddle of tears.

Anyway, I certainly do wish I could be so much more. There are so many ways that I look at myself and feel frustrated about how I am not good enough. I am trying really hard to reframe these things, but the reality is that there are a lot of things that have been hard in my life, and that colors my experience. Someone recently commented that some people think their stories are boring, but other people wish they had that kind of story. I really connected with that idea. I would be thrilled to have a boring story. My story is more like rollercoaster meets tangled up ball of yarn meets train wreck. I don’t want all that “excitement.” I didn’t want to be separated from everything and everyone I knew to go to a new church part way through high school…especially not a church where there wasn’t a choice what class I wanted to take and my assigned class was a clique that didn’t include me. I didn’t want to be abused in college…and I definitely didn’t want to be forbidden from talking about it or letting anyone know that I couldn’t talk about it. I didn’t want to end up at the end of school without a residency. I didn’t want to lose my job…I would be thrilled to have all these things taken out of my life. Boring would be so much better.

But I decided this morning (Friday) I am ready to hope again. Not a lot, just a little, but that is a really big, really scary, step forward. Hope is terrifying. Hope means opening yourself to vulnerability that can allow deeper hurt. When you’ve been living with deep grief for months and have been fighting to get through day by day, allowing the possibility of further hurt is one of the scariest choices you can make…but it is also something I know is probably really important to really healing.

There are a lot of things about my life that have made the grief more devastating already. It wasn’t *just* the loss of everything I had wanted and planned and it wasn’t even totally about being in an unknown. A big part of the loss was that it made me feel unwanted, rejected, alone, worthless, like a failure – the same things that had been drilled into my brain via the abuse. I had worked through some of that stuff before, but this situation was so difficult that I believed those lies were true. It didn’t seem like a feeling anymore; it felt like truth. It felt like identity. It made me think that maybe instead of abuse it was just someone being brave enough to tell me the truth – that I really don’t matter and would never be worth anything no matter how hard I tried. I know now that isn’t true, but it has definitely been a journey coming to this place of understanding, and even though I am here today it doesn’t mean I will feel the same way tomorrow. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was good enough and instead it felt like I did the opposite; I showed everyone how unwanted and worthless and stupid I really was. 

But I am not a worthless failure. Sure, I have lost almost everything that mattered to me, but all is not lost. The same day I hit send on an email to my best friend that I knew I so desperately needed a friend but I don’t really know how to make them without a place to volunteer and I have neither a place to volunteer nor a schedule that lends itself well to volunteering…and not only that, but no one would want to be friends with me while I am struggling so hard to make it and therefore even less of a good friend, God sent someone to be my friend. That is huge. That is God showing me that I really am good enough at communicating to make friends. That is God showing me I am worthy of community. That is God showing me that I do matter to him. 

It doesn’t mean that life magically became awesome though. It is still hard, and I can still definitely tell that I am working harder than I should be to get through each day. For example, yesterday (Friday), I went to the grocery store because I had maybe like a tablespoon of frozen peas left and then would be out of vegetables and the only fruit I’ve had in weeks was juice…but the grocery store was out of the bags of frozen peas that I was going to buy, so I got overwhelmed and gave up and went back home…yeah…I am not so stupid that I couldn’t figure out that there are other vegetables or other brands I could buy, but in that moment the one thing I needed to get done just seemed impossible and there didn’t feel like there were alternatives…this is what happens when so much brain space is taken with struggling that there isn’t space left for processing and responding to practical situations…so I’ll go to the store today and try again…or maybe I’ll find an ATM and then try the farmers market…or maybe I’ll order a pizza and call it a day…we’ll see…like the song Piece of Heaven by Go Fish says, “sometimes it’s hard; sometimes it’s the middle of the night.” I’m learning to give myself grace and celebrate the successes in this period of grief, because being angry with myself was adaptive at first to get food and fluids in and keep going through the motions, but now I am doing well enough that anger just uses up energy that could have been used for something else…and energy is certainly at a premium…it’s not as bad as it was in March/April, but it definitely is still something that isn’t completely back to baseline. 

Y’wanna know what excess stress sometimes causes in my life? OCD resurgences. Right now, it luckily has not reached crisis mode, but there are definitely some thoughts in my mind that shouldn’t be there. I’m scared of the world because I read a news article about enterovirus D68 and how it is causing a lot of respiratory illness this year, and I also read that the flu is predicted to be worse than usual this year…not is worse, just predicted to be worse…and that was one more reason to not travel over my birthday weekend.

 I hadn’t announced it yet, but I was strongly considering road-tripping over my birthday weekend to say hi to friends, especially since I didn’t go over labor day weekend like I originally planned. If I was going to go, this weekend was the cutoff I set for myself to ensure that I had enough time to plan and let friends know I was coming. And so today I decided the answer is no. I want to explain it away as being a combination of little things that make it not the greatest time to go, but if I am being really honest with myself, it is mostly that I feel like no one really wants to see me and would just be inconveniencing themselves to be polite to me by trying to make me feel welcome. I know that is not true, but knowing and feeling are different. If I were having an awesome day today, the story would probably be different and I’d probably excitedly be packing my bags way too far in advance…but the story my life is writing right now is one of being so used to rejection that I can reject myself before anyone else does to save them the time and me the pain of being rejected. It has been really hard because of some things I have seen on facebook. In March and April it was sometimes really hard to be on facebook because everyone was announcing how excited and hashtag blessed they were getting their first choice for residency. Their excitement at getting something I could not even have a tiny piece of was in painful contrast to the sorrow that swallowed up my world. As much as I wanted to be happy for them, it hurt and was a reminder of what I didn’t have…and the whole hashtag blessed thing was really bad for me. I didn’t really believe God was good and I didn’t really believe God cared anymore. I guess I had a pretty skewed view of God through the lenses of my pain, but from my view, if being blessed meant having a residency then clearly I was not blessed and God didn’t really care about me. No one wanted me, not even God. It was painful. It still is painful. 

Now people have started complaining on facebook about their residencies. Oh, how I would LOVE to have a residency to complain about. I would do almost anything to be in their places. I did everything in my power to get myself a residency. I paid application fee after application fee. I traveled to interview after interview. I prepped and interviewed and prepped and interviewed. I tried so hard, and no one wanted me. They just wanted to use up my time energy and money so they could crush me later. It might have been easier to be rejected upfront and not be driving all over the place and buying plane tickets and staying at hotels and airBnB’s than to be given the illusion of opportunity and be strung along. They didn’t care about me, they only cared about themselves and their own enjoyment laughing about me later…okay, so maybe that isn’t exactly what they were going to do, but after the large number of residencies I applied for and interviewed for and was told I was a strong candidate for just to still not have a residency, it sure does feel like perhaps their goal really was to see how high they could get me in order to see how crushed they could get me later. No one wants me. Especially when the whining is all stuff like OMG they made me work the 9-5:30 shift on Friday and it is not fair because I wanted to get out of work sooner to hang out with my friends. I just want to comment look at how blessed you are to have a residency. You should be thankful. There are a lot of people who would be thrilled to be in your shoes and would gladly work 9-5:30 and wait a little longer to see their friends if it meant having a residency. 

Anyway, speaking of facebook, it is often a place where I have to remember that I don’t need to agree with people to be friends with them. It seems that recently a lot of Christian’s have forgotten the command to respect those in authority over you. Even bashing people who kind of deserve it sometimes bothers me because I know how it feels to be bullied and excluded and don’t want anyone else to feel like that, but bashing people who are doing everything they can to advance society, keep us safe, and protect justice is something appalling to me. It has been rampant on facebook people bashing other people and talking about how wrong they are and how unfair it is. Unless you were at the scene of the crime, you do not know what happened. And a jury is for the benefit of the defendant. If the defendant does not feel he (or she) needs a jury then it is perfectly legal to forego that right. The evidence that I have seen does clearly point to innocence. While I am the kind of person who would be more likely to let someone beat me up than to fight back and defend myself, police officers certainly have the right to use force when necessary to protect themselves from a real threat. Someone reaching for a gun is a real threat. People are even speaking as representatives of the church bashing authority. I don’t think God said that we should respect those in authority over us unless they acquit someone the media portrayed as guilty. I am pretty darn sure that last half of the phrase wasn’t in the Bible last time I checked. And someone posted a long story about how the police are so awful. He describes going into a park after it was closed and the police coming and questioning him and his friends before letting them go. He repeated over and over how they weren’t doing anything wrong, but the police acted like they were being kind by giving only a verbal warning not to do it again…my thought is no, the police are not so awful; you were breaking the law and they could have imposed fines or written you up, but instead chose to show you grace by letting you walk away free…and the way you reward their kindness is by bashing them on the internet. 

We live in a strange political climate right now. That strange climate is one of the reasons I have given myself as a “real” reason not to travel. Because my license expires on my birthday, to travel then, I would be traveling on a temporary license. In this political climate, it is not very safe to be white in St. Louis. To be white is to have a target on your back that says protesters, please attack me. I firmly believe that rioting is NOT an appropriate way to express your opinion. If you can express yourself using your big boy or big girl words then go for it, but to use violence to express yourself is wrong. I don’t understand how you can claim racism if a white police officer shoots a black person who was threatening him (or her), but think it is okay and not racist for a group of black people to vandalize an innocent white person’s home and injure multiple innocent white police officers who are simply doing their job of trying to keep EVERYONE safe. That is disgusting. Y’all, we learn in elementary school that humans are different from other animals because we work together to accomplish great things. If you are gonna act like toddlers and throw a tantrum when you don’t get a cookie you didn’t earn, then maybe you need a reminder of what makes us human. So yeah…driving through St. Louis as a white person sounded like a bad idea if it wasn’t necessary, and doing it on a temporary license sounded like asking for trouble…it might be better to wait until people screw their heads back on a little straighter before I go. It seems like the more news I read, the more ashamed I feel of the people I share the world with…

 

I had some other things to say, but I feel like I’ve probably already said too much…

 

So I’ll leave you with this incredible youtube video from Inside Out

You don’t know you’re a ghost

(Christa Wells – Life Costs So Much)

A lot of the time I write because it is how I can process situations…sometimes I can’t write because I haven’t processed far enough to even have written words to express myself. I guess you can probably imagine that there’s been a lot going on in my life right now.

Seeing my coworkers again and saying goodbye got re-scheduled again. As much as I really really don’t want it to be over, I also just want it to be over immediately because being excited to see my team and being devastated at the loss is such a confusing combination.

And now it is even more confusing.

I don’t know how to write about it yet.

I am fighting so hard to recover from the abuse and the grief. And I am so afraid to hope. Every time I have tried hope again I’ve had more loss and more hurt. I don’t know if I even want to try to pursue or even think about the next little bubble of hope that came floating through today. I am terrified that if I reach out with any hope that I’ll just be crushed again. I don’t know if I can handle more loss. I feel lost in the web of ambivalence. I want to know if there really is hope but I don’t want to open up my arms and expose myself to vulnerability to be hurt more deeply.