Category Archives: pharmacy

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 🙂

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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.

My Soul is Gonna Get There One Day

(On the mountain – Christa Wells)

 

I recently re-discovered Christa Wells’ Frame the Clouds album…I am a little bummed I couldn’t find it on Spotify, but that’s what youtube is for 🙂 . Lol, a little throwback to high school…or college…or whenever it was that I first discovered it via (in)Courage (which no longer has the link to listen to the album for free…).

 

The grief is still an ever-present companion that makes life a little harder than it should be every day, but God is good. Even when it seems like God kinda forgot about me over here, I have to believe that he is in control, he loves me, and he isn’t making this happen just to make things harder for me. I have to keep believing that he cares and understands. It is hard, but I am strong and I am not going to be defeated. Things are a LOT better than they were though. Progress is slow, but not stagnant. That is an accomplishment to be proud of because especially with the continued big losses. Like that high school Bible study that I almost signed up for as a compromise between me and my best friend, Life Hurts, God Heals. I have to remember that God isn’t up there making me hurt for funsies, but instead he sees it happen and wants to be involved in the business of healing.

 

There has been a lot of hurt in the past few months, but there has also been a lot of healing. Someone said something recently about pain lasting only for a season…I’m kinda pretty sure that they didn’t mean that once fall hits it won’t hurt anymore, but I will admit that I got my hopes up for a few moments until I figured it out…but while one day to the next you might not identify the progress, it is there. I realized yesterday as I was walking home from work how far I’ve come. In the beginning I was lucky if I got more than a couple hours of sleep at night. Now most nights I am pretty much at baseline. My sleep is a little messed up still, but now it has more to do with the strange hours that I get at work. In the beginning I was doing whatever it took to get SOMETHING in my mouth, which usually meant hoping skating a few minutes balanced out that the calories and fluids in were greater than those out. Now I might still be careful to have three meals every day and that each meal consists of at least the four key components (protein, carb, fruit/vegetable, dessert), but it isn’t usually that hard to do anymore, and I don’t doubt that someday eating will be something that doesn’t really use much thought again like it should be. And I might still cry more days than I don’t, but it still is a lot better than it was in the beginning. It isn’t like I am holding back tears most of the day and almost certainly crying once I am alone. Considering it has only been a little over a week since the last big piece of the career-related loss, I am ready to be proud of that. I know that it all God. I couldn’t have possibly recovered this well without God on my side. I still have a long way to go. It still feels like I’ve been climbing forever and am still at the bottom, but I know that my soul is going to get there one day. Grief is a marathon, not a sprint.

 

I was working on getting rid of some stuff I don’t need anymore and came across some notes from one of my classes a few years ago. Some of it is definitely junk, like a list of updates we were supposed to sign up for and some things that we were supposed to follow on twitter. I might not have ever actually done it because 1) I don’t really *want* to blend school with my social life and 2) I didn’t then and certainly don’t now need more stuff showing up in my email inbox that I don’t care about and will just delete, and TBH, I don’t go on twitter often enough to ever even see anything useful if it was there…I like the idea of being connected on twitter a lot more than I like actually using it…especially since I prefer to use a lot more than my allotted 140 characters at a time.

 

Anyway, there was one page that I almost kept. It was the lesson about grief that most of the class either didn’t show up physically or showed up physically but not mentally because it wasn’t going to be on any of the tests…yeah, they probably shouldn’t have told us that in advance…but I did pay attention in case anything important came up, because loss is something to which I am no stranger. As usual on topics like that, it was mainly pretty self-explanatory material, but sometimes it is reminders of the obvious stuff that is important. Lol, so here are a few highlights.

  • We can’t really be present in life if we can’t accept death
  • There are four human conditions: freedom, isolation, meaninglessness, and death; Meaninglessness and death give life meaning.
    • This is one that I don’t really get…but I thought it kinda sounded interesting.
  • We are affected by loss because we are social creatures who need love and care and lacking those things our communication becomes feral.
  • We are affected by loss because we cultivate relationships and engage in communal living.
  • Grief is an experience. Mourning is a process.
  • Grief is normal and expected.
  • There are four responses to grief
    • Feelings: complex emotions can make it difficult because we experience negative but also positive emotions
    • Behaviors: withdrawal, isolation, impulsivity, erratic, denial (Yep, I have fought against most of these)
    • Cognition: numbness is common
    • Physical sensations: fatigue, tears, laughter, muscle cramps
  • We go through five stages of grief, recursivity is when we go backwards. (I would add that although this lecturer suggested that it was always linear that I believe it is also possible to skip over certain steps sometimes…)
  • Anger only exists because pain exists.
  • We attach therefore loss hurts.

 

So I was going to post this before church, and I can’t explain why I didn’t expect for that it was a God thing…God knew there was going to be another element of loss I was going to need time to process…

 

So the pre-communion message was about exclusion. And slowly I started to understand another element of the loss. I’ve always been on the outside looking in. In K-12 school it was because I was painfully shy (social anxiety/selective mutism??) and struggled to make friends. I framed my watching of conversations as observing for mimicking later to gain skills, and while that is true, it is also true that I would have loved to have been included. A lot of my friends were the ones who didn’t have any other friends…it meant that a lot of the time once they had the chance to make other friends they didn’t want to be my friends anymore. In college I started making friends. Then I was abused and the abuse itself made me feel like I didn’t deserve friends and no one would want to be friends with me. Then, after the abuse people started taking sides, and the people with whom I was most comfortable were reached by her first and they weren’t very nice to me. Over time they started to be more nice, but it was super hard to go to school every day knowing that “no one” wanted me there. I was already dealing with the pain of the abuse and the stress of the breaking of the relationship to get out. On top of that I was still being tormented by my abuser and the people who had been my friends were being hurtful. The people who were still trying to be my friend just didn’t really get it. No one really understood what was going on. I’d always been someone who was pretty self-sufficient because socially I kind of had to be, and now I was outside of my realm but couldn’t access help. And then the gag order came as I was slowly figuring out how to let people in and I was required to shut everyone out again. At a time in my life when I REALLY needed people I was threatened that my options were either no more school or no more people. I chose no more people because becoming a pediatric critical care pharmacist was super important to me.

 

And while school is talking about how everyone has so much access to XY and Z, they were telling me I was absolutely not allowed XY and Z. While they were inviting the whole school to an event it was understood that I was not invited. I was always excluded. While they were having discussions about how every student deserves the same rights and respect I was still being left out. I wanted to be involved on campus but when there was a prayer walk I was left behind alone in the stairwell trying to figure out where I could go without getting in trouble for no longer being with the group. When everyone was going to meet in the “special study space” I had to be the awkward group member pretending I didn’t understand the directions and joking that the cafeteria sure is special as a reminder to the organizer that I can’t go anywhere good for groups…I was effectively set apart as different in a negative way in group projects, study groups, student organizations, and anything else I wanted to do. What a way to show that every student is important and valued. It was very clear that some students were valued but I wasn’t one of them. I do understand that there were a few people on campus who were nice and cared about me, but the overwhelming message I got was that it would be easier for everyone if I had just chosen not to come back. It was incredibly hurtful to go from the promise second year that there would always be resources for me whenever I needed them to the decree fourth year that I had no access to any student services and better not create my own support network outside of the school’s system or else. Eventually I had to admit that the “next month” “next semester” “next year” was never going to happen. I just had to hang on until graduation. That’s why I was counting down days until graduation before I even reached spring break fifth year.

 

More to the point, when I was being abused I was being told I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t ever going to be enough, no one was going to want me. Getting the residency I wanted was going to prove to myself and to everyone else that I was good enough. It was going to prove that someone did want me. It was the only thing I had ever wanted and I had thrown all of me into doing whatever it took to get there even if meant living in painful silence for three years. Residency was when I was no longer going to be on the outside looking in. I was going to be included. I was finally going to be on the inside.

 

And then I didn’t get the position I wanted, nor did I get any position. Eleven months of applications and interviewing and I wasn’t wanted by even one position. I had so many friends, many of them on the residency panel at my preferred position and even they didn’t want me. No one wanted me. Like Dan Allender said in The Healing Path,”it is being used by someone who violates our dignity and then is unmoved by our pain.” No one cared about me. At every interview I was told that I was a top candidate…but I guess when someone better came along I was just a nobody that tossed aside like dross. Serious question: I have heard that saying before, but I don’t actually know what dross is…also, I apologize if that is a rude thing to say…sometimes I hear things and imitate what I’ve heard and it isn’t until people are shocked and mad at me that I find out that I am mimicking something that is a bad word. Yeah, I may have learned the B-word was bad by imitating it and being told off for saying it. Anyway, not getting a residency made me think that maybe it wasn’t really abuse but just someone telling me the truth that I wasn’t worth it. I do now have the perspective to know that it was abuse, but I think now that I understand 1) why the abuse was so hurtful and 2) why the failure to match was so hurtful. It all came back to exclusion. Another way to exclude me from the world in which I wanted to live when I so deeply longed to be included.

 

I am a fighter. Looking back I can recognize how strong I was. I might have been fighting to eat and drink and sleep, but I was still driving all over the country applying and interviewing for more positions in the next few weeks. I was still told how excited they were I applied and how I am such an excellent candidate…and then 5 days short of a month later was left completely unwanted again. And then the Scramble. And then eventually I had to admit that I had been excluded from the world of residency and had to settle for something else. So many positions applied for, most without even so much as a sorry you didn’t get the position.

 

Exclusion hurts. Isolation hurts. Add that to grief and no kidding it was (is) painful and hard…

 

Totally unrelated, but I try to avoid medical talk outside of work unless directly asked for my opinion…because I don’t want to be one of those people who is all up in your business. My opinion is that if you want me to know what kind of sick you are and how to fix it you’ll tell me and if not I should keep my mouth shut…(the exception being stomach flu…even though I am not struggling with OCD anymore, I do still tend to have a radar out for the stomach flu…). But here is one situation in which I am going to voice my opinion…so someone I know has been in the ICU because this person punched a window and somehow nearly amputated the arm. They don’t really know if it will ever be functional again, and for that matter even after a few surgeries keeping the arm still isn’t a guarantee, and there are a bunch of rules to follow to give at least a possibility for healing. My opinion is that it was a waste of resources to attempt to keep the arm…we’re talking things like no chocolate, no caffeine, no alcohol, no smoking, etc…umm, this is someone who didn’t have a driver’s license but thought it’s be a good idea to get drnk and go joy ride someone’s car…and then after being released from the hospital went home and was robo-tripping…seems to me that just taking the arm and promoting healing of the rest of the body would have been a better choice, because as it is it seems like they did all that work for an infinitesimally small possibility of it actually leading to saving the limb…I know that we are trained to heal, but sometimes you have to look at the whole patient and family and realize that there is a contradiction between what medical literature would give as the correct answer and what is really best for the patient. Obviously these decisions don’t happen in a vacuum and the patient and family need to be involved in the decision making, but I think sometimes in laying out the options we present it in such a way that people feel kinda forced or obligated to choose a certain option when it might not really be what they wanted…lol, maybe I am way off base or maybe I’ve done too many hospice and end-of-life CE’s, but I think part of empowering patients and families is giving them options without coloring those options through the biases of our own lenses and desires.

 

And yeah, I know that “patients and families” is really not the vernacular in the adult medical world…I have pretty much grown up in the pediatric realm (and really really want to go back to pediatrics). In pediatrics we know how hard hospitalization is on the whole family, including the siblings and caregivers, and we know the importance of the role the family plays in healing. We care about and have services for the families that are just as important as caring for and serving the patients. In adult medicine it is very clear that, as one of the logos of my employer states, “the needs of the patient come first.” No mention whatsoever of the family. That really bothers me. I haven’t seen research on the family in healing in adults, but based on what I know about pediatrics and adding that to the psychology that I learned in school and the basic skills of observation, I have to believe that family is still important in adult medicine. I know that the patient him or herself gets the final say if he or she is competent to make decisions, and I know that any sharing of medical information even with the family must be okay’ed by the patient, but I also believe the family should be included in the care decisions if the patient agrees and I think the family should be cared for. I’m not sure what resources are provided for families where I currently work, but from what I’ve seen so far, it appears to be precious little. It is a stress on a family when a member is hospitalized. It changes routines, it causes uncertainty and sometimes fear. It takes someone out of their home and leaves behind a hole. In some cases it takes away a source of income, or something else that directly impacts functioning of the household. I don’t think that is something that I can change though…and I should probably stop writing because I don’t really need more reasons to miss my friends at Children’s…

 

Wednesday is going to be hard. I usually kinda sneak out to avoid goodbye parties…now I’m having two goodbye parties in the span of two months. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate it, because I totally do. I really really love my coworkers, and I love that they show how much I matter to them, but I just don’t like being the center of attention, and I don’t like confronting the goodbye head on. It is really hard to have lost the one last thing that was really important to me. I know God cares, but it is hard to understand why he lets this happen if he really is omnipotent.

 

Also totally unrelated, but I recently did a CE on depression…I took the screening tests as if it were still March/April/May. On the first one if you score at least 3 points the pharmacist is supposed have you take the second screening. Even now I would hit three points. On the second one if you hit I don’t remember whether it was 7 or 10 points, the pharmacist is supposed to refer you for additional professional help rather than helping you with self-care…I would have scored something like 23 points…I was running short on time so I didn’t do the second screening again to score myself for right now, but I know for sure my score now would be significantly lower, and IDK for sure, but it might not even reach the cutoff for you shouldn’t be figuring this out on your own…that is kinda awesome. K seriously gotta do something useful with my life now…

A Thousand Miles on Bald Tires

(Thank God For Country Radio – Stephanie Pauline)

 

This video showed up on my facebook feed today. This is so wrong. I was thinking…If I were the family of that girl I wouldn’t trust that entire school district…for that matter the girl’s teammates were involved in the abuse and hurt her and videoed her being hurt instead of getting help or trying to stop her from being hurt. It was a team effort to assault her. I’d be interested in moving somewhere far far away.

 

But would I, really? My track record doesn’t exactly show that I know how to escape; It shows that I get stuck and let people continue to hurt me.

 

It is a good reminder that there are a lot of things that keep people from escaping really difficult situations. I couldn’t just leave because at the beginning of third year I was two years into school but had really only taken one class that I hadn’t come into college with because the rest of my classes were repeats of credits that hadn’t transferred in. After third year? Well, pharmacy oriented classes are unlikely to transfer because each school’s curriculum is so different. Additionally, even if they did, because of the differences in curriculum it would likely make little to no difference in the continuation of my studies somewhere else. Outside of the lost years of schoolwork, I had made connections to people in the area. After third year a lot of people chose sides and weren’t my friends anymore, but I still had a lot of incredible friends that I couldn’t have gotten through it without. And while leaving may have protected me from the continuation of the abuse, it wouldn’t have taken away the abuse that had already occurred.

 

So yeah, if you caught it in my last post, I lost my pediatric job and all the incredible coworkers I had there. It is really hard. That was the one little light I was holding on for and now that is gone too. Sure, I *knew* there was a possibility I wouldn’t be able to move into a pharmacist position and couldn’t legally keep a job title as an intern without an intern license, but I didn’t really think it would happen. I really honestly thought the reason I was talking with my manager was to figure out scheduling things. I got to my parents’ house and spread out all my schedules across the table and waited for the phone to ring…and waited…and waited…and discovered another loss. It hurts so much. The positive part of doing it over the phone instead of in person is that I could hide the fact that I was crying for a long time…although obviously the façade fades when I have to say more than one word and can’t control my voice enough to hide it, but I think she didn’t know I was crying for a while.

 

Speaking of crying, I would rather have someone overhear me repeating to myself that we don’t cry outside than for someone see me cry. I have a waterbottle that I thought back in March held like 3 or 4 cups but have since discovered is approximately two cups…anyway, I hadn’t re-filled it since Wednesday and it was still mostly full when I left work today…so I decided before I went home that it had to be empty…so I wandered the streets of my current city until it was finally empty…being in motion and outside does really help not cry, but it would have been nice if I had maybe thought about where I was and where I lived so that I didn’t run out about a mile from my apartment. I almost cried when I realized it was now time to go home (because excessive activity is also not ideal when you aren’t eating and drinking well…) and I didn’t know where I was and wasn’t 100% sure how to get from where I was to my apartment. Luckily I guessed right and took a relatively direct route home, but you know your head isn’t screwed on quite right when you see a sign that says Missouri and you almost sit down right there because you definitely can’t walk all the way from Missouri to your apartment. Umm, yeah, no, you didn’t wander across a few states after work.

 

There are a lot of really hard things in life and sometimes it seems like God doesn’t really doing a good job, but I can’t help but admit that he did a really good job today. The blender I ordered arrived today. I thought about doing a facebook live because it seems like all the cool people are doing that, but I decided probably no one wanted to watch me open a box and take out a blender. You’re welcome. But the novelty having a blender took away some of the hurt long enough that I was able to wash the pieces and attempt to make Nice Cream. Apparently “enough liquid to blend well” is a lot less chocolate almond milk than filling up the container so I ended up with a smoothie instead, but again the novelty was enough that I drank a pretty good amount of it. Yep, probably a serving and a half of fruit/vegetable and a serving of milk without a fight. That was such a blessing. Not everything me and God do is a fail. Kinda like last night. It would be pretty obvious to an outside observer that I failed to actually clean my car in the 45 or more minutes I was “washing” it. I actually had a very successful time. The goal wasn’t necessarily a clean car. It was more like giving my car a shower and using up plenty of time in semi-public not crying to that maybe I wouldn’t be crying quite as hard when I was trying to fall asleep. And it worked. More of the soapy water probably ended up on my feet and the ground than on my car, but I at least went to bed not soaked in tears and crying but not gasping for air.

 

And yeah, speaking of my car, it wasn’t the safest thing in the world for me to be driving back to my apartment, but it was a lot safer than some other times I have driven, and it wasn’t like I had a lot of other options. And more importantly, since I am writing this, I made it in one piece.

 

If I could have stayed overnight I would have because I know that the early morning is when I am at my best, but while there were extra clothes in my car, I can’t go to work wearing a logo t-shirt for a different hospital (Especially when it has salty stains on the sleeves from wiping off tears), and I also currently work somewhere that doesn’t allow sleeveless tops even if the straps are super close to being sleeves, and having to be at work at 7am doesn’t give a lot of extra time to go get a clean shirt from my apartment…and I didn’t have like a toothbrush or any other toiletries for spending the night. But I made it. The first almost accident I got in was only like 57% my fault. See, someone next to me was messin’ with his phone and totally not paying attention and started driving like straight towards me and I luckily happened to be looking out the passenger side window rather than the windshield (See, distraction can also be useful), and so I reacted by moving out of the way…without looking to see where I was going. Luckily the person driving where I was moving towards was actually paying enough attention to see what was happening and give me plenty of space. The next almost accident was, okay, maybe 61% my fault. Some brainchild in front of me came to a complete and final stop on the freeway for no apparent reason. And I didn’t…well, at least not until I was dangerously close. Apparently I screamed “What the he*k” loud enough that the person who had his/her windows rolled down heard me and made some gesture that seemed to be saying sorry. And then I felt bad because I shouldn’t use bad language and if I was going to talk disrespectfully I shouldn’t have said it so loud…and yeah, I remember there being more almost incidents, but I don’t remember them…but I didn’t run into anything, and that’s gotta count for something.

 

I was looking forward to seeing my coworkers one more time on Monday for another goodbye party, but then I got a facebook this evening that it doesn’t work after all. I still gotta drive most of the way there though because I already told my parents that was when I was coming home to work on my laptop.

 

And when life was getting better I was okay with a new laptop, but now that the world is falling apart again I don’t want a new laptop. It is way too different and I don’t really like it that much. Fujitsu makes laptops with incredible features that no one else can replicate…and they can’t be purchased at micro center. I know that you are supposed to buy a new laptop before your old one dies so you don’t lose information and that the fact that a couple keys stopped working wasn’t a good sign for my laptop, and I know buying used laptops isn’t the right approach, but it is frustrating that that is one more thing to deal with when my emotional plate is already overflowing and flooding the floor. I can’t do this. I know it isn’t the appropriate choice to just bring it back to the store and pay whatever re-stocking fee they charge if it is even allowed to be returned, but just having it in existence while I continue using my current laptop is just one more thing on my plate. I don’t even want to be alive. Why won’t God just take me home? I’ve been asking for so long. It doesn’t seem like there is anything left worth staying alive for. I know I have worked way too hard to just walk away, but I don’t know if I care. It hurts too much.

Hey Girl in the Back of the Classroom, JUST BE STRONG

(Better – Britt Nicole)

So yeah, like I mentioned before, being still alive at the end of the day on June 30th was really hard. That had been a defined endpoint to work towards and even though I knew that God says no a lot and probably would say no, losing that was a lot harder than I expected it to be. Every remnant of hope was once again lost. It was a bit of a setback. There no longer seems like there is any way out and that is hard.

 

I hit a dead end. It is hard to let go of long-held dreams. There is truly no way to fully get my life back on track and that is really hard and frustrating. I worked so hard for so long for something that I can’t have.

 

But God hasn’t put a period at the end of the sentence. There continue to be secondary losses and hard times, but I have to believe that someday life will be less difficult and less painful.

 

Even with no hope and no end in sight, I am still working really hard at recovering and making the most out of the rubble. Slowly, life is getting easier. I’ve had to let go of my forever dream of working in pediatric critical care probably NICU or maybe emergency at a dedicated pediatric institution. I’ve had to let go of a lot of friendships. I’ve shed a lot of tears. I might have failed, but God doesn’t see me as a failure. God sees my success. I am eating okayish now. I am sleeping more than a couple hours at night. As a driver I am less often on the relying on other people to keep me safe and more on the watching out for everyone else side.

 

I still feel a profound sense of loss and there are still days that are so incredibly difficult, but gradually I am more and more able to experience little glimmers of joy sparkling underneath the heavy blanket woven of pain and sorrow that has been covering me.

 

People say that you should only own things that bring you joy and not own things that make you sad or don’t elicit any emotional response. I think that is dumb because by that logic I shouldn’t own a toothbrush and toothpaste because brushing my teeth is most definitely not fun and at times in my life has been downright overwhelming. I am willing to admit that when the OCD was at its worst, there were significant periods of time I didn’t brush my teeth because it was too scary. Anyway, most residency related stuff has been thrown in the recycle (with a few perfectly good books going to the goodwill)…and as I was sorting through piles of things, I found a thank you note that every time I come across makes me feel a surge of anger. I wrote a physical thank you note to every place I interviewed in person in phase I. One of the places rejected the note without even opening it and sent it back to me. It showed up at my house again about a month or so later. It wasn’t a place I was super thrilled about so at the time it was frustrating but not a huge deal because if they didn’t want me then I didn’t want them and I had no reason to believe I wasn’t going to be selected for a job I’d love more than that one anyway. It wasn’t until I was rejected from every job to which I applied that I was angry. I spent a considerable amount of time, money, and effort to apply for and interview for that job. If you disliked me enough to not even read my thank you note then you should have let go and cut my losses before dragging me out to an interview. I poured my heart and soul into phase I and was treated like a child’s toy, played with and then discarded without a glance behind. Everyone has always told me how much of a community the world of pharmacy is with everyone supporting each other. Instead, it feels like everyone is against me. Sure, there are some pharmacists who care about me, but they seem to be outnumbered by the ones who don’t really care. Whether you liked me enough to hire me or not, I would appreciate a response to my emails even just to say sorry not interested, especially if I am following up after already submitting my application. I think that is a respect thing. I might not be a good communicator, but I am a real live human who deserves respect.

 

On the other hand, there have been some really caring people in my life, primarily outside of the pharmacy setting. Life hurts so much, but over the past few months I have been shown more love than I ever could feel worthy of. I am so thankful for people who have been willing to enter into my life and love on me when I had minimal to no ability to give anything back. People have cared about me while I was hurting so much that they were at risk of becoming collateral damage. Despite the penetrating loneliness and isolation of grief, people have shown me that I am never really alone. They could have given up on me and ignored my pain, but people have chosen to love me way more than I deserve.

 

Making friends isn’t my forte and neither is letting people in, but the people I do have in my life have gone way beyond the call of duty to show that they accept the itty bitty approximations that I attempt.

 

With time to cool off and think, I have come up with a new way to soften the blow. I am ready for God to come back. Yeah, I know it isn’t the ideal solution for me to be thinking about, but even that solution didn’t seem like an option originally and if making that feel like an option is able to give me a less hopeless existence then I am pleased. God coming back would mean that there wouldn’t be any loose ends to worry about because no one would be left trying to tie them up…plus it means immediate heaven, and I definitely believe that heaven is a place where the pain of my earthly existence will melt away and I will be purely joyful.

 

So realistically, I don’t know what I am doing with my life. I do have one career-related dream left that isn’t AS impossible anymore, but I know it is not a great idea…I had only wanted one thing since early elementary school…until second year when my counselor (the good one, not the abusive one) challenged me to come up with something I could do if I wasn’t able to be a pharmacist. The other thing I want to do is be a social worker and work with kids. I’m not even totally sure what a social worker does outside of clinical social workers who do counseling…I think at the time I made the decision I had just watched a video on the internet where a person identified as a social worker was hugging a child and that sounded good to me. I know the phrase social worker is used in the foster care system and I am kinda interested in fostering. Also, on the counseling side, I have loved my psych classes, so I mean maybe it is a fit, but I see myself very quickly running into the same roadblock in social work as I have in pharmacy – who is going to want to take a risk on a girl who is way behind on learning communication skills? In fact, that is probably a field in which my lack of skills might be even more apparent and more likely to interfere with my potential for success…but maybe that is a field where the studying and training might actually teach me how to communicate…and working with kids doesn’t need to involve a lot of words. I mean, I really think some of why I am so skilled at calming kids is because I don’t usually start with the same method as everyone else of trying to talk to the kid until they can’t help but respond…I now do have enough communication ability to use that method if I am running low on options, but I start with physical comfort, distraction, and parallel play before I jump to that option.

 

I am still alive. I am still hurting, but I am not defeated. I will keep fighting until either God ends the fight by coming back to Earth or I come out on top and am able to spend much of most days happy. I am strong. I might have been dealt a lousy hand, but I am still playing the game.

sanity

Also, I’m not sure what happened to my other results, because I know I have taken this quiz a zillion times before, but it is pretty incredible to see how my score has moved from the edge where you just about as insane as it gets to where I am now hovering around the “average” score. The bottom score is from when I was in an active “relationship” with my abuser (aka, before everything blew up and the abuse became public). The middle is from when I was about three months from phase I, so around 2 months from phase II and was still actively grieving. The last one is from a few days ago…I am certainly still grieving, but it isn’t affecting me as severely. The physical effects of the grief are significantly better, and emotionally I am sometimes making it through entire days without tears. I like taking quizzes…that’s why before the MMPI as removed from the internet I took it a ridiculous number of times…at first trying to approximate my original answers because my counselor at the time never talked about it after I finished it, and then just with who I really saw myself as at that particular moment in time…

 

I may have almost cried in Panera last week because I couldn’t find on their menu the item I always order for actual meals at panera (vs just snacks), but that is possibly a good thing…it means that I cared enough…and I definitely did not have the bravery right then to try ordering something they might not have…

 

And I almost cried at the Honda dealership when my email dinged with a notification that I didn’t get the position I interviewed for in Bemidji, MN. I know I currently have a full-time job and should be thankful, but so far I’m kinda bored because the parts of my position I’ve been shown are kinda easy and brainless for me…and even if I didn’t want the job, rejection hurts. I’m hoping it gets better where I am and I hope that as the position gets better that maybe it will help decrease the pain of loss and soften the blows of the secondary losses. Like this one blog post I read recently said, wasn’t one loss enough?! But loss never stops at the primary loss; it always leads to some kind of secondary loss whether relatively minor like loss of a routine that you kinda wanted to change anyway or more major like loss of sense of safety…there are so many things that continue to come up as further losses. It is hard to put into words how much it still hurts and how these secondary losses continue to rub salt into the still very raw wounds, but I have to believe that God can and God will heal the wounds somehow whether I have to keep waiting for more time to run its course or whether the world ends and I get to go to heaven. Someday, somehow life won’t be so hard. I think. I just want to let go and drown. Sometimes I wonder if maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to stop fighting and just let myself stop eating when I don’t want to and end up malnourished in the hospital where maybe I’d have enough disruption in my life in a different way to shock my body and mind into not hurting about this loss anymore and even if that didn’t happen at least I’d be with someone 24/7 who was paid to at least pretend to care and would never be alone.

 

I’m still holding on and know that is a bad idea, but it is hard when there is no end in sight and no visible hope. As much as I really WANT to enjoy this position, I can’t force myself to like it. To really enjoy my position I think I would need to either feel challenged, be able to stay busy, or be passionate about what I am doing. I think I probably don’t need all of those things – maybe just one would be enough – but right now I don’t have any. What I do have right now is that I do feel at least mostly wanted, but that is very confusing. I don’t understand why this position for which my qualifications certainly did not make me an ideal candidate wanted me when no one else wanted me. Other places where I was much more qualified for the offered position turned me down. The other problem is that being wanted is great, but I would prefer to have a sense of being needed. Even if no one really realizes what I am doing and doesn’t know how much they need me, I feel fulfilled when I feel useful. That is also not happening. I feel like I do a lot of sitting around waiting for something to do…and because I am in training and therefore always paired with someone else, I don’t really feel like what I am doing is worthwhile because if I am doing something then the person I am paired with is just sitting there watching me…the other problem with this job is that everyone is sick…a lot of them it sounds like with real sickness like vomiting and strep throat sick. I am doing amazingly well considering the circumstances, but that also doesn’t make the transition easier or make me look forward to showing up in the morning.

 

I really want to like this job, but I am still counting down the minutes every day until I can leave and thinking about how long I might be stuck here. I really think that if nothing changes then I am going to need to find some way to get back to my dreams. There is talk of perhaps adding an emergency department pharmacist and if that happened and I could get into the position maybe I could stay a little longer, but that addition if it even happens is likely years into the future and even when it does, the chances of being selected as someone with no formal training is very slim. But so are my chances of getting anywhere else. Without going directly into a residency from school it will be even more difficult now to get into a residency, and without a residency even decades of experience is often considered irrelevant. No one wants a pediatric pharmacist without a residency and no one wants a critical care/emergency pharmacist without a residency, and I want into the very crevice of those two specialties; I want either NICU in a dedicated pediatric institution preferably with a mother-baby partnership, or pediatric emergency in a level one pediatric trauma center in a dedicated pediatric institution. I don’t know how I can break into that field, but I do know that right now it feels like I will never be happy again and never really work past this smothering grief without a change. I can’t keep living this way forever with the feeling that weights are strapped onto my mind and body weighing every part of me down.

image

I found this image that sort of explains what life has been like. That person is in the middle of the ocean, attempting to stay afloat, but a very heavy animal is standing on the person’s body, and there is a hand under the water also pulling the person down. Yet the person must stay above water to breath. Forward progress, while necessary, is not the focus. The focus is just staying above water. While getting to shore would make this better, it is a difficult proposal when just staying above water is so challenging…this image and explanation I hope explains to more than just me what life has been like and why I have been such a lousy friend and very likely may seem to not really be trying hard enough to recover. I am trying…but most of my energy out of necessity has gone into staying above water.

 

I don’t want to be a debbie downer though. I feel really bad that I continue to be so negative. I really am functioning a lot better than at first. I am back to being a little more dehydrated than I should be, but I am trying really hard. Although thinks are still really difficult, they are significantly better than they were a few months ago. While it is easy to look at where I am now and think that I should try harder or that I should be further than I am by now, I think (hope?) that where I am is understandable and put into perspective by where I came from. Sure, I am not rocking it at eating, but I am for the most part having three somewhat balanced meals every day. Much better than the solitary chicken strip and strawberry that could very well have somehow been considered breakfast lunch and dinner in the early days…and far better than the less than a handful of cereal and a couple sips of water that passed my lips on the second match day when in retrospect I really was doing a lot worse than I even let on which is scary considering how much emotion spilled through the mask I was trying to put on. I hid as much as I could, but it is really by God’s grace that I didn’t get into any car accidents. At the time I was driving to school for that last rotation I was pretty upset and driving through tears that were certainly not being adequately replaced by the miniscule amount of water I drank…and when the second phase came around I honestly don’t even know how I got from point A to point B. I could barely see where I was going. I certainly couldn’t think. It took everything I had in me to remember how to stop and start and not run into anything and really I totally would have run into other cars if they hadn’t been doing a good job of avoiding me. If anyone really knew what was going on I would have most likely ended up in a locked behavioral health unit because I know how I was living was threatening the safety of myself and others. I am so lucky and so thankful that no one knew what life was like. Now I am able to be mostly back to my usual self, giving other people plenty of space on the road and sometimes being a little too considerate in my driving (yes I am that jerk who feels bad for people waiting to turn and will stop so that people who have been patiently waiting at a not-four-way-stop sign can have a turn…). I actually slept reasonably well the past few nights – still not back to normal sleep, but sleeping hours at a time rather than minutes is a huge improvement. I still have a long way to go, but I am super thankful for all the way I have already come. I am so so thankful for the people who have helped me get this far. I don’t even know how to express how deeply I appreciate the people in my life who have been supporting me through this. I would very much like a support system where I am right now, but I wouldn’t be able to function as well as I am right now without one if I didn’t have all the people at school and back home who have poured so much into me.

 

And now it is time to stop writing because I haven’t been doing a very good job of studying and in six days at this time I will be getting ready for bed in a different city so that I can be ready to take the NAPLEX in the morning that I am not feeling ready for…that is an expensive test to fail…prayer appreciated 🙂

I’m fine. But I know it’s a lie…hug me with your arms so I know you know

(The Last Night – Skillet)

TOTALLY UNEDITED EXCEPT FOR THE ADDITION OF THIS PARAGRAPH…Don’t judge and if you are concerned then please let me know. Kthxbye.

I’m trying really hard, but grief is hard, and like I heard somewhere recently, grief cannot be rushed. It takes its time. I had a fine Sunday morning – plenty of kids, a little chaos. In the afternoon I drove to my new apartment. And the low tire pressure light came on partway there. I really didn’t need any more stress in my life. I was just about ready to stop right there and give up on life. But life doesn’t work like that. Instead I called my dad to discuss whether this was really important since it didn’t feel like the tire was flat. His suggestion was to pull over and look at the tires, but I was in the left lane and didn’t really want to get over and not be able to get back over when I needed to turn…and if I stopped and there was a problem, you have to know where you are when you call roadside assistance…so I didn’t stop. Then I was somewhere I totally could have stopped but having already driven another 25 or more miles I figured if there were a real big problem I would have figured it out by then so I kept going. I made it to my apartment building and the stupid garage door opener wouldn’t work. I sat there trying and driving forward and backward trying to get it to work for at least 10 minutes…likely longer…before giving up. At this point I was way frustrated. I got out and all the tires looked fine. I started working on getting things out of my car and when I walked in and saw smiling strangers who were friends with each other in the hallway, I guess that was all that I could take. As soon as I was alone I was crying.

 

I was crying my frustration at the day’s events. I was crying my grief over the loss of my dream job, dream life. I was crying my loneliness of leaving behind so many friends. I was crying my inadequacy of not really knowing how to make new friends. So many reasons I was crying and probably more I am currently leaving out…this isn’t where I want to be. This isn’t how life was supposed to turn out. Years ago, I vowed that after graduation I was never living in an apartment again. Now I am back in an apartment, and yes, it is probably not helped by my negativity, but I am not happy with it. My parents kinda made me buy a TV because I have free TV service here…or I am supposed to. I called the TV service provider because it wasn’t working and they said the property manager needs to call them. I called the property manager and explained the situation. I still don’t have TV service. There is paint on the floor, in the bathtub, in the dishwasher. It was insanely dusty and dirty when I moved in. There are no keys to the door in the apartment and the scan tag locks are really frustrating. I am not that great at using keys, but would probably have an easier time with a key so that is definitely saying something. There are dimmers all over the apartment except not in my bedroom and I always sleep with lights but don’t want to waste the electricity of using the entire light fixture.

 

I am not moved in, really. It looks like I am, but in reality I stopped putting things away and just started piling things up in the closets and drawers – and did the same with the stuff I didn’t have time to pack at home. With closets with only a single shelf I don’t know how to put away all my things.

 

The first day at work was also hard.

 

Someone came and talked about he “just fell into” working at this hospital system. He talked about how the match works and how he originally put some place I don’t remember as his first choice, but a week before rank lists were due changed his mind and put this place first and then ended up at his first choice. That was a really painful story to hear. Such a contrast from my own. The difference seemed to accentuate my failure and my pain. My first choice wasn’t a last minute decision; it was a life-long desire. My match day was not met with excitement of obtaining my first choice; it was filled with sorrow…and then there was phase II with another failure. And the scramble: fail. And the job search where I continued to mostly be ignored and also have failure for the most part. I doodled on my doodle page and prayed no one would notice my tears.

 

I am strong, but not that strong. Sometimes the pain is more than I can take. We did a wellness worksheet. After ranking our wellness on a circle chart we were asked how well our wheel would roll on a bike or car. I answered “it wouldn’t.” I couldn’t help but note that while my wheel approximated a half-circle, that while the exercise was designed to show that you needed wellness is all areas of life that in reality if I were completely devastated in all areas of life then my wheel would theoretically be round and roll well…not sayin’ just sayin’.

 

I try so hard just to continue to live with this pain. I would be thrilled for the world to end and God to come back. This is more than I can take. And just to bring it home that I have absolutely no control in life, OCD struck on Sunday. It was super dumb, because in the morning I was able to handle a kid who climbed on the toilet like a monkey and stuck is hand in the water after using the toilet (oh the joys of potty training) and a kid who stuck his hand in his poopy diaper and was pretty much fine…and then I sat on the couch at home that was vomited on when I was in elementary school and was in a bad anxiety attack. On the positive side, I am super proud of how I handled it, but on the negative side, I am really frustrated that OCD can still own me so easily. I wanted so badly to strip off all my clothes, shower with excessive soap, put on clean clothes, and sanitize all the dirty clothes and spray lysol in the air to get rid of some of the airborne germs and clean the floor where the clothes sat while I showered. I could have washed in steaming hot water until the anxiety died down enough to at least kinda sorta think logically and go on with life. Instead, I forced myself to keep sitting there. So I sat, wanting so badly to hold my breath and run away. And of course because abuse infiltrates a lot of aspects of my life, I then remembered vividly my first exposure with my abuser when as I was trying to calm down she saw a vulnerability and started talking about how her previous clients had thrown up (probably my worst fear, as she knew). You may say that sounds like appropriate exposure therapy, but I need you to believe me that it certainly was not. I knew and she knew that the exposure I had just done was right at the tip of what I could safely handle. I knew and she knew that talking about vomit was something that at that point in my life would certainly cause excessive disruption to my life. She did this right before times up on the session. So yeah, anyway, one more thing to increase the anxiety from an 11 out of 10 to a 12. But I continued to sit there because years of doing hard things growing up socially anxious with a bold mom who didn’t get it taught me how to survive and the psychology I know tells me that avoidance won’t make it better, but doing hard things might. So I sat there and eventually I was able to calm down enough to realize that it was really dumb to be so upset when it had been so long ago that any germs had almost certainly transferred to the entire house including my room by this point and if I was going to get sick from them I already would have. The great thing about OCD recovery though is that by an hour later the event was virtually forgotten.

 

Speaking of germs though…four out of five guys wash their hands after using the bathroom. Someone should really talk to that fifth guy.

 

I was supposed to go to the lab today. I didn’t. Getting to the lab was scary…knowing what to say when I got there was scary. It was more than I wanted to take on and I decided I wasn’t doing it. I know tomorrow is the very last day I can put it off and I am scared. TBH, right now thinking about it I am so scared that I barely feel the pain of grief except that I wouldn’t have to do this if it weren’t for this new job that wasn’t what I wanted. One of the labs they want is one that is very hard for me. I cried and got alternatives at my doctor office at home, but that isn’t an option here. I’ve already had to do it once for this job and now they want it again. It is extremely uncomfortable physically and emotionally for me. Because it is so stressful, I almost cried at my last employee health visit where I had to do it. The first person I talked to said I could interrupt at any time to do it. Being very polite I didn’t want to interrupt, but eventually I was not listening at all anymore and was at my limit and wanted it to be done and said I wanted to go get it over with and it was like 20 questions. Are you sure? We’re almost done here you could wait? Wouldn’t you rather do it later? I was working so hard to hold back tears because no, I was so overwhelmed at this point that I was going to be a crying mess on the floor if it wasn’t over soon. I think the nurse must have eventually understood the desperation in my harsh reply that I just wanted to get it over with and gave in. If I could, there is a lot I would do to not have to do this. I seriously think I would be willing to pay as much as $100 to not do it. In fact, I might be willing to give even more than that if asked as long as it wasn’t going to be a constant thing they were going to want from me. My happiness is worth something.

 

I am working really hard though. I may not have eaten dinner yesterday, and lunch today was really more like a snack because the food was supposed to be provided but the food was so far outside of an acceptable food for me that I had to force myself to even take one bite before throwing away my plate. Yuck. I’m sorry, but it was worse than when SAA ordered Jimmy Johns. They may not have figured out that not everyone likes mayo either, but at least with a jimmy john’s sandwich the mayo is to one side so you can get it out and still have a functional sandwich. The same was not true of these sandwiches. They were drenched in mayo all over from top to bottom. I went to the bathroom to wash my hands. Yes, this is stimulus generalization and not a good way to handle my frustration, but as an adult, it is not appropriate to whine that I just wanted a normal sandwich and to not have to eat just the snacks (that I always come prepared with) for lunch. After how nice the person was that told me on Friday about lunch was, I expected something edible and even my snacks weren’t really an appropriate substitute.

 

Luckily starting tomorrow I am in charge of my own lunch and will pack something suitable…I am definitely currently using sugar as emotional currency…and calorie currency…but you gotta do what you gotta do to get through the day.

 

I hope God comes back tonight. I don’t want to go to the lab tomorrow and I am tired of all this pain and I am physically sore (even minimum necessary was more child lifting than I should have been doing and I am back to it hurting just to breathe) and I just want to be done with all this. Then the lyrics of this song would be more true “you say that this will be the last night feeling like this. Just came to say goodbye. Didn’t want you to see me cry.”….but I absolutely love the lyrics of this song…very true of me – I claim I am fine. I am always fine. Especially when I am not. I don’t necessarily see it as a lie because my heart is still pumping oxygenated blood, but I suppose it kind of is, because my emotional lifeblood is pretty much at 1% oxygen saturation completely depriving me of the ability to experience joy in life 99% of the time. Maybe it is time to be honest with everyone including myself. I am not okay. But that isn’t socially appropriate and I work so hard every day at creating socially appropriate communication.

If I reach out can I trust you? Will you help me see the light of one more day?

(Take the bullets away – We as Human)

So yeah, I fell on two Sundays ago. I’m blaming it on the red bumps at the end of the sidewalk, because I already hate those anyway, but in reality I have no memory of falling. Partly I hate the red bumps because in school I was told that everyone appreciates having those and I don’t like when school tells me what I like and what I don’t like…but partly I actually legitimately dislike those red bumps because they make it more work to skate and because they collect yuckiness on the sidewalk.

 

So anyway, I remember looking both ways and starting to cross the street while singing to myself and listening to an audiobook, and then I remember being on the ground and in a lot of pain. I honestly have no memory of actually falling or what happened. I know as soon as I realized I was on the ground I looked around to see if anyone saw me and noticed someone had heard me fall and turned around to see what happened. Hashtag embarrassing…based on the scrapes on my skates my ankles were facing towards my right which is already weird because I naturally tend to lean towards my left when I’m on my back…although maybe that is why I was falling. Seeing as how I don’t remember falling and I was too concerned with getting up ASAP to preserve as much of my pride as possible, I have to judge what happened by the marks left behind, so what is really confusing is that the bruises are definitely worse on the lower right, but the cuts are worse on the upper left on my back. Based on what my helmet looks like I am pretty sure I caught myself before I hit my head.

 

Someone suggested that maybe I fainted…IDK…my best guess is that I was dehydrated because I hadn’t had anything to drink all day and I was dizzy and between that and acting out the song I was singing to myself managed to get off balance and maybe it all just happened too fast for my brain to keep up with what was going on…IDK…Either way, I know dehydration isn’t good for me even though it does feel like it helps sometimes, so new rules have been implemented that if I want to do anything active I have to drink something before I leave and especially if the goal of going in the first place was to create enough motivation to drink something, the water needs to come with me unless I am not going further than the end of the driveway.

 

I might not know what happened, but I do know the impact was pretty significant…the plastic on my left wrist guard broke just a little…and the person a block away heard me hit the ground. I initially thought the cut on my hand was from the broken wrist guard, but as I realized later the break is a lot lower down than where the cut is, so my hand must have scraped against the pavement which is also super weird because that is the hand that was holding my phone and would therefore have most likely hit the pavement later but hit more with the fingers than at the base of the thumb. My phone survived the fall (besides how it already didn’t have service). I also know it is significant, because none of the injuries I can see explain why it hurt so bad just to breathe the first few days…also, while the injuries I can see explain why it hurts to lean against anything, it doesn’t explain why I can’t twist or bend at the torso without pain and why doing really anything but laying down mostly flat on my front hurts at least a little. Yeah, I know that sometimes being strong means letting other people in and getting help…but sometimes I just am not that strong. I can handle a lot, but even I have a limit.

 

Two and a half month olds are not heavy…but I have to admit that as much as I love infants, that it probably was not nearly as good for me physically as it was emotionally to hold that cutie for an entire service to put him to sleep, keep him asleep, and then let him gently wake up. It was so hard to give him back to his mom when she returned. But anyway, although I was holding and carrying bigger kiddos before and after that, I was being more careful to hold for as short a time as I thought I could get away with without the (child’s) tears coming back, so it wasn’t as big of a deal…but I have a soft spot for infants…and yeah, I could have at least sat down to rest more of the weight on my lap and the chair, but I didn’t wanna…but it was totally worth it. On the way to church I was working really hard just to remember things like using my turn signal because I was having such a hard time, but on the way home I was doing a lot better. Life is still hard, but any small moment I can experience even of just better and not good is something I am super thankful for.

 

I felt super lazy taking the elevator last Monday, but carrying three (empty) cardboard boxes was way more weight than my body was telling me I should be carrying…I got halfway down the (not very long) hallway and wondered if I needed to abandon the boxes and get a wagon to pull instead of carry, so there was no way that I was going to be able to get down the stairs carrying the boxes and make it back upstairs by the end of my break…so yes, I do really need a lot more boxes than I brought home, but my ability to carry the boxes is a definite limiting factor in the number of boxes I can bring home…and if the elevator can allow me to remain functional for my shift then I might need to be lazy and realize that is okay.

 

While I certainly do not want to indicate that I believe intentionally creating pain is okay as long as it will be beneficial for emotional health, because I certainly do not condone deliberate self-injury, I have to admit that this was super awesome in the emotional realm. Without recognizing the role that physical pain plays, it would be easy to have just found myself on the ground and been annoyed that I wasn’t dead or to just lay there and hope to become dead by someone not seeing me and running over me or something…but that isn’t what happened. For the first time since March 17th, I didn’t really strongly desire to be dead. In fact, I actually felt thrilled to be rollerblading. It took until Wednesday for the thoughts that I’d rather be dead to come back, and even then, the thoughts come in and out. The strong desire to die is no longer a constant companion…at least not right now. The physical pain seems to have done a really good job whiting out the emotional pain.

 

I know it is not healthy to live with the desire to die whether that desire is accompanied by suicidality or not, so really I just exchanged physical for emotional health. It seems like a good trade because one thing I have always thought was pretty fortunate considering the severity of my former, also unwanted, buddy OCD, is that my skin heals pretty quickly. Partly wiping up the blood quickly made my back look a lot better immediately, but beyond that, in the past few days the puffiness around the cuts has mostly healed and the cuts are definitely shrinking really well. I wish the pain went away just as quickly…both the emotional and the physical pain. I know grief is more like a marathon than a sprint and I can’t expect it to completely go away by utilizing pain. I also know that it is unacceptable to intentionally use pain to heal my mind…it is not a long term solution and definitely not something I am going to allow into my life. If God wants to gift me with physical pain I wouldn’t complain (except for that most of my ibuprofen is an hour and a half away already and I already am in a decent amount of pain without adding new physical pain to help with emotional pain. And I know that my body is the temple of the Lord and it is wrong to damage his home…but at the same time I am thinking about the teen in the nursery with cuts on her legs and arms and how easy it would be with all the blades at work to try out a few cuts to try to get an emotional release. I don’t want to do it. I know it is wrong…but the thoughts are there. I don’t want to be alive and I know that hurting myself physically will dull the emotional pain. I promise I won’t do it, but the thoughts are scary because it was such a big deal to stop hurting myself the first time…I know that they say once you do it once the thoughts about doing it again will never fully go way even years later as an adult so I guess it is kinda normal to have these thoughts, but it is kind of like how even normal things to be grossed out about make me nervous sometimes because I don’t know where the line in the sand is between what is normal and okay to think about and what is not normal and not okay to think about.

 

I had like three more paragraphs written and then my computer froze and when it woke up those three paragraphs were goners…I don’t even have the energy to care that much, so I’ll just continue with what would have been the fourth paragraph…lol (not literally)…

 

Since I am posting this, I suppose it is evident that God refused to take me home on June 30th like I told him to. It is so hard continuing to live like this. I cried myself to sleep Friday night. I was so thankful for the sleep I got even if it wasn’t much. I guess I didn’t realize how much having an end in sight was helping me get through each day, so I didn’t realize how much harder it would be when the end was no longer in sight…I guess I should have. I am so tired of living with this pain. I don’t want to keep going. I don’t see an end in sight. I don’t see any way out. I don’t see any hope. All I see is how much life hurts right now and I don’t like it, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to make it okay. It will never be okay. I will never be okay. Being alive hurts too much, but death doesn’t seem like a good option anymore either. Dying would just leave a bunch of messes mostly figurative, but some literal. Death wouldn’t fix enough to even be worth it anymore. The only alternative between dead and alive is for the world to end and everyone to go to heaven. That isn’t really a fair solution either though because then people who have worked hard and are actually seeing some kind of reward from it wouldn’t get to experience the fruit of their success. That isn’t really fair to them. So basically all I can see in life is despair and hopelessness. I can experience little glimpses of joy like when my coworkers surprised me with gifts and pizza on Friday and it was completely overwhelming in an awesome way, but most of my day is spent crushed in the pain of rejection and loss and inadequacy and frustration. I can tell how out of life I am by the fact that I let my mom throw away things that had been important to me for years and despite the fact that I don’t watch tv, when my mom insisted that I needed a big tv I gave her my credit card and let her use it to buy one…which then led to further frustration later when the stupid tv hook ups didn’t work in the apartment where they needed to so unless the cord was going to be stretched across the apartment it wasn’t going to work anyway.

 

I should be studying for the NAPLEX…and probably to retake the MPJE when I find out that I failed…but I’m just so overwhelmed that I just can’t right now. Life hurts too much. I don’t know why God makes me live through this but I know that I don’t like it. I want a stop button on life so I can have a break. I also want someone to hang out with and hug but I don’t have that right now either. And I really want to go to Lake Superior and to a few places where I know people…but while I am an adult and can therefore go on vacation if I want, the only place I should be going right now is to finish putting things away in my apartment…vacation is not on any agenda until that is done and my room in my parents house is clean and empty and my tests are passed…and also I don’t know how to plan a vacation.

Am I worthless? Am I filthy? Am I too far gone for a remedy?

(We As Human – Take the Bullets Away)

 

I’ve been living with the intense pain of grief for a long time…and before that the abuse…and long long before that the bullying. I know rejection. I know being unwanted. And so many other hard things life has thrown in my path. I am familiar with pain, but it seems to follow me and want cuddles like a small naughty puppy that I can’t get rid of. It doesn’t feel like there is a way out. I tried to create a timeline of when I could get back to my dreams. It was good to try to create an end to work towards, but even on the more magical completely unrealistic timeline, I still will be fighting through this for another year…and if we’re being really honest, even if we pretend this timeline is practical (it’s not) I am not naïve enough to believe the pain will completely disappear upon starting a new path. Sure, it will likely be super helpful, but it won’t be like flipping a switch. It won’t remove the previous rejection and wipe the slate clean. The more realistic timeline is a minimum of two years. The idea of holding on that long is overwhelming.

 

It is hard not knowing why no one wants me. It is hard feeling so much rejection. It is confusing to be chosen for a big girl position even over people with experience when I was rejected from all the transition roles I tried to get, especially when the same organization didn’t even give me an on-site interview for the residency to which I applied. It is hard hearing people tell me how great I am and then rejecting me later. I’d rather you were just honest and said hey we don’t like you instead of leading me on just to let me be crushed later. I’d rather instead of being polite you told me what was wrong with me so that I could change and improve. Am I so worthless that I do not even deserve the respect of being told the truth? Am I really so lousy that there is nothing I could do to even be close to good enough? And why doesn’t God love me enough to finally just say yes to one of my prayers and let me leave this pain? It is hard to reconcile this pain and God’s power with the goodness all-knowingness of God.

 

I’ve heard that when a Christian woman wakes up in the morning the devil says “oh no, she’s up again.” It’s not just the devil thinking that when I get up. It’s me too. God doesn’t seem to ever want the same things that I want. I keep crying and praying that God will take me home because I can’t take this pain. I can’t keep living like this…and God keeps saying no. I know God cares and I know God loves me, but it is really hard to understand how it could really be love to leave me here. It hurts so much. Why won’t God take me to forever home where I don’t have to deal with this? I have already struggled so long and I don’t want to keep fighting. I want to go home. When the bravest thing you do every day is get up and keep going, it is hard to keep up with life. I FINALLY got my authorization to test from the Board of Pharmacy…and I know that just trying to make it day to day has drained so much of my energy that I really haven’t put nearly enough into studying…and since it took so long to get the authorization, I probably only have one chance before my job gets taken away. I feel like I am probably going to fail…then I’ll have nothing but an expensive apartment in a city where I don’t have any close friends…

 

But I keep fighting. I keep trying. I get home and my ears hurt from the multiple media sources at full volume to which I am listening as I drive to minimize the tears so I can see where I am going to get home…because I can pretend life is awesome or at least tolerable when I’m with people…but put me alone in a car and it is very possible I will struggle – time alone with my thoughts and emotions, kinda trapped there. So especially if I’ve been reminded of the pain I am pretending doesn’t exist prior to getting in, I am likely to have a hard time. Grief doesn’t have a calendar. Grief doesn’t know that it has been over three months and is time to give me a break. Grief doesn’t have empathy. Grief doesn’t know I am exhausted and just want to be able to move on and have this whole thing disappear.

 

How am I? I’m doing the best that I can. I know the basics of life enough to know what I need…and God has been doing good things even if he didn’t give me what I want. I usually burn practically just by thinking about going outside, but I didn’t wear sunscreen and biked to my friend’s house and back last week and the burns were pretty mild. Yesterday, I did put on a little sunscreen but was outside about 4 hours (biked around 40 miles) and didn’t reapply…lol, you can look at my hands and see exactly where there was zero sunscreen on though…but anyway, last night I knew I was on the border of being too dehydrated (vs just dehydrated enough to mute some of the pain and tears as long as there aren’t any reminders). So I gave myself two choices: water or ice cream…I didn’t want either, but the trying to be a good girl half of me was stubborn long enough to win, and I did eventually pick one of the options…picking nothing seemed so much easier, but that wasn’t one of the choices. Protip: ice cream is always the answer. No, ice cream didn’t solve my problems and I was too far gone for the sugar to help pull me back in, but at least it did kinda sorta make me feel a little better about myself because I was also getting calories in at the same time…

 

There is a long road in front of me. Soon I will be moving a couple hours away and be even more alone. I am thankful that I make friends easily, but worried because I can’t exactly expect someone I just met to support me the way that the friends I have made over multiple years have…and I can’t expect to immediately be invited into other people’s circle of friends as the new girl. It is hard being new. Some people are willing to let you join their friend group, but other people are like the girls in my grade at the new church who never really let me join their clique. Sure, the moms sometimes tried to invite me, and sometimes I tried to push myself into their circle, but I wasn’t dumb, I knew that most of them really didn’t want me there and it was easier for them to preserve their little friend bubble by writing me off and keeping me out of the circle. I probably should have asked to join the girls in the grade above me who were a lot more welcoming and had already invited me in…but when I had the opportunity I was still in denial that I couldn’t just go back in time and make this whole nightmare end so besides the fear of using my words to ask or even of having someone ask for me, I denied that because I didn’t want to admit that I would be there long enough for it to matter. It wasn’t until almost my senior year when I finally let go and realized that this was for real and wasn’t changing any time soon…and by then the girls in the grade above me were graduating and moving on. They invited me to the grads group, but that didn’t solve the Sunday morning problem. (But the grads group was a lot better place for me than youth group ever was. Smaller and more inclusive was super helpful for me…no one cared that I was the farthest behind academically…it was awesome until the rest of my class joined and it gradually became more and more exclusive…a few years later I took my brother and he noted that every time he said anything it was as if he hadn’t said anything but the person next to him could say the exact same thing and people would respond. I hadn’t really noticed much because I didn’t talk much anyway, but it is definitely true. They would express excitement that someone new was there and then completely ignore whomever was not in their little friend group). Lol…all that to say that I appreciate however much my friends are willing to tolerate me while I am a lousy friend in return, and I do know how blessed I am and that having friends like this is nothing to be taken lightly.

couch

Speaking of my new place, last week I bought this couch (yes and the pillows in the picture)…might not have gotten the best deal of anything, but it is red and the place I am getting it from seemed to have a super flexible delivery plan which is helpful not immediately knowing when I’ll be available to receive the delivery…

I wanna go back

(Wanna go back – David Dunn)

 

I was rollerblading today and was thinking that I should be happy. I love my red skates, but they came in the mail shortly before the first match day. They became something I used for just a couple minutes during the day to induce enough motivation to get something in my mouth. Maybe all I’d end up with was a chicken strip, but it was more than the big fat nothing I was eating without that. It made it more of a chore than a fun activity even though the reason it probably worked is that I was having little fun…well, that and I found that if I could be in motion I could handle things better.

 

But I wasn’t happy. I was crying. No one can tell me what I did wrong in the residency search, so I don’t know that there is anything I could have done differently to make people like me, but I wish I could go back. It was really hard and stressful to do all those interviews, but at least then it seemed worth it. At least then there was some hope that this was simply a necessary hurdle on my way to achieving my dreams. I’ve had to jump over a lot of hurdles to continue running towards my dreams before my dreams disintegrated and the broken pieces were forced from my hands, the sharp edges cutting into my skin. The promise of my dreams in a few more years is what got me through the abuse and fallout throughout school and while I am now finally free of that, I am not free of the effects of being abused. Aside from that situation being raw in my mind when asked about difficult relationships and making interviews even harder than they should have had to be, it is also tied with this situation as it is a relationship in which I learned that I was never going to make it as a pharmacist and no one was going to want me and I wasn’t good enough and stuff like that. You can imagine that those beliefs about myself became more real when faced with the reality that it was true that no one wanted me.

 

It still hurts that no one wanted me. It especially hurts that the one place I had forever dreamed of working, and who had led me on as if they planned on selecting me said no. Sure, one place was finally willing to give me a chance, but I am still really grieving the loss of my dreams. All I’ve ever wanted was to do pediatric critical care in a dedicated pediatric institution, preferably one particular pediatric institution, and that dream had been narrowed to NICU or pediatric emergency care. Without a residency, it is difficult to get into pediatrics and is difficult to get into critical care. With a job I will likely have less flexibility to miss days to get to interviews. Also, with a job my contributions matter more, and missing days or leaving has a larger effect. I feel guilty thinking about trying again for residency next year. Also, I don’t know if I can handle going through the process and failing again.

 

So I have a basic idea of day to day life, but I don’t know where my life is going anymore. I felt like the only thing positive about me before was that I knew exactly what I wanted for a long time and was working solely toward that one thing. And I failed and now I don’t have that and there isn’t anything positive about me. If I couldn’t get a residency while I had something going for me, there isn’t really any chance now that I don’t really have anything special to offer. Why get me when you could get someone who isn’t such a failure, and who almost definitely has better communication skills than me? I don’t know if I should try again for residency immediately and feel disloyal or if I should stay a few years and get even further away from my dreams. I do know that I am pretty sure I won’t be satisfied long term having completely given up my dreams. I feel frustrated.

 

I want to go back to a few months ago before this pain, but I can’t. My only option is to continue to go forward. I still think the only satisfactory option would be for God to take me to forever home. It hurts so much to have to live this reality. If God can take me, but wait until after June 30, I won’t leave any holes in the schedule at my current job, and I won’t have yet started at my new job, so it’s not like they’d have lost that much on me. I wish I could just give up. I should be studying for the NAPLEX and MPJE, but the pain I still live with takes up so much of my energy and concentration that it still feels like too much to really study. I know it is very important, but important and having the mental ability to do it are certainly very different things.

 

It is very hard. The pain is a little better than it was, but is still very intense…but it has been long enough that the support ended. I need people, but I don’t have them. I’ve thought about planning a trip in the next few weeks when I have days off to the city where school is just to be able to see people even if not in the context of them being there for me. I think people wouldn’t want to see me though. At church they already turned off my access maybe like a week ago to the schedules and announcements. Being excluded hurts. I’ve been excluded a lot in life, and I’ve never liked it.

 

The book I was listening to today “The Night the Angels Came” by Cathy Glass mentioned that by talking about a hard situation, it starts getting easier…I think since for so long I’ve had so many things I wasn’t allowed to say, that I used writing in that way…but talking about it I feel like is probably so much better. (Oh, and if you are looking for books to read or listen to, I love the books that Cathy Glass writes. She writes stories about foster kids. Fostering and adoption are things that I would really like to do someday).

Rise above the hurt and listen to these words

(Beloved – Jordan Feliz)

 

Recently I have been re-listening to the awesome books “The Essence of Resilience” (Kathleen Parrish and Tanya Laurer) and “Resilient Grieving” (Lucy Hone). TBH mostly I’ve been re-listening because I needed something to occupy my brain during my breaks at work and I still had a few days left of those book downloads and don’t have any more downloads left until June, but they are really good.

 

There were a couple quotes from “Resilient Grieving” that I heard the other day while driving home (yes I was listening to a book and the radio at the same time in the car…if one thing is good, two is better).

 

“Let me not die while I am still alive”

The idea behind this quote being that while Trauma or grief events often completely change our lives making us a distinctly different person in the before than the after, it doesn’t have to mean that the rest of our life is not worth living. Although I do still believe that death would be better than this, it does lead to the next quote…

 

I have wanted one particular job and had one particular career path in mind since elementary school. The story I tell says 4th grade, but in reality I am pretty sure it was sooner than that, but the story was altered at some point because I was told it was more realistic that way. Anyway, the quote is:

“Option A is no longer an option, so let’s kick the s**t out of option B.”

I would say that I am a lot further along than option B. I think option B would have been getting a different residency in phase I (and we could probably break that down further to particular programs being B and others being other letters, but that get way complicated way fast)…Option C would be getting a pediatric PGY-1 in phase II. Option D would be getting any PGY-1 in phase II. Option E would be, well, there at least being a pediatric residency to which to apply in the scramble. Option F would be getting one of the residency programs to which I applied in the scramble…I don’t really know what letter I am on at this point, but like I mentioned previously, I am learning not to let go of my dream, but to let go of some of the pain. It is a very slow and non-linear process, but I know that someday this will not be the all-consuming factor in my life. I still remember the pain of changing churches on August 10th 2008, but I don’t think about it every day anymore. Most of the time if I do think about it, the thoughts do not lead me to feeling pain, and if they do the pain goes away quickly and most of it is more remembered pain than acute pain. I have to believe that someday that will be true of this situation and of my abuse…I think both of them are pretty well tied together right now, so they’ll have to be disentangled before one can be healed without the other.

 

After the first match, I wrote that I planned to get another residency and be the best resident they ever had and exceed expectations so well that other programs were jealous they didn’t have me. My mom saw it and wanted me to delete it, but I refused. Maybe that plan didn’t work out, but now I can be the best clinical pharmacist ever instead…there are some things I am giving up. Among other things, I am giving up staying close to my friends, I am giving up focusing on pediatric critical care, I am giving up teaching opportunities, and I am giving up being able to commit to leading my 0-3 year old VBS class. There is one thing that I gain though…I don’t have to do a residency project or a bunch of presentations this year. TBH, the residency project thing is the one part of a residency that does not sound at all appealing to me…well, that and some residency programs require going back to midyear, but it is possible that this job will also require that, so before I get too excited I’ll have to find out whether that is an expectation (or a strong suggestion…) or if I really do get to skip it.

 

Oh yeah, I wanted to wait until I’d actually been officially offered the position, because I unfortunately know that seeming promises of employment can fall through, but now I am ready to announce that I have accepted a full time pharmacist position. I was kinda hoping for a pediatric position (especially the NICU position to which I applied) and I was kinda hoping for a schedule with longer hours (like 7 on 7 off or 10-12 hour days) because I prefer having a lot of time off a few days than working a few hours every day, but I think I will like this position. I have very little adult experience, but that will make this a good growing experience, and my preceptor on my acute care (which I’ve been calling adult care) rotation at least got me to a point where caring for adults is still not my forte but isn’t so scary anymore. I know that I can, it might just take me a little longer to get to the right answer, and that is okay…and really, although it isn’t the path I wanted, I think getting adult experience will be good, because I definitely still do avoid checking prescriptions for kids who are starting to become adult sized. For NICU that is no problem at all, but for my other dream of emergency and because you can’t really only be competent in one area and make it as a pharmacist, it will be good for me to gain some confidence in treating adult sized patients.

 

And I have realized that while my heart is in pediatrics, I really do love pharmacy. Someone texted me yesterday with an adult pharmacy question, and I loved problem solving. It was a question that played well into my pediatric knowledge since it was a formulation question, but it was for an adult patient, so I guess maybe it also showed me that some of the things I love about pediatrics will make me a valuable resource in an adult setting.

 

So with the exposure I was working on…it actually went okay. It was really hard, and definitely intensified the pain that I still feel every day, but by the end of Monday it wasn’t nearly as bad as it was Sunday morning to be walking around in a logo shirt. I could definitely feel how much extra emotional energy I was using to make it through the day, but it will be worth it if the end result is after the down-trending now that I will have a few days while the shirts are in the wash is better desensitization and numbing to the pain. It might exacerbate the pain for a little while, but if it works how I want it to, it will be worth it in the end, and right now I have enough distraction in my life to be able to handle a little bit of exacerbation and stay relatively safe. I slept nine hours last night without even waking up at 2am like I usually do to get a drink…it makes it a little harder to get up in the morning when that happens since I’m too dehydrated to feel totally awake, but sometimes I guess my body needs that sleep because the emotional energy leads to real exhaustion. Post-exposure, I am doing really well. I did cry today, but I also had some moments when the pain was less crushing than it has ever been since the first match failure. I am really thankful for that. Right now I am struggling, but even a few minutes of not feeling so bad is a good reminder that maybe eventually this won’t be so all-consuming. Someday this will just be the way it is and I’ll be able to talk about it as if it is no big deal (even though it kinda is).

 

One last thing from Resilient Grieving that I missed the first time and I think is really relevant here is about Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG). Growth doesn’t have to mean that you are a better person or that life improved after loss or trauma; The growth might simply mean that your path has changed and you are now going in a different direction. We are different people after grief has re-written our stories, but if all you know is PTSD you will live a self-fulfilling prophesy and your grief will spiral into PTSD. If you understand PTG or even if you have a spiritual background you are more likely to recover more quickly. The implication that loss could be beneficial is a painful thought, but the fact that it can change one’s direction is less threatening.

 

I liked that imagery, and agree that the idea of loss making me a better person is something that is like salt in fresh wounds. I like the idea that growth can occur but that it doesn’t make it okay that the pain happened. I don’t like when people try to minimize big losses with but look now you have this good thing…sure, but now you are essentially asking me to value whatever good you see that I have now over the good that I had before and value it as worth the pain it took to come to this place. I don’t like that. Given the choice, I don’t know that I would necessarily value these things more highly than what I had before or highly enough to suffer as much as I did for them. On the other side, it is undeniable that grief, trauma, and loss have changed not only who I am, but my direction in life…beyond the fact that there are still people who probably think I graduated from Drake University…To allow the concept of growth as a shifting of paths allows me to acknowledge that yes, I am growing without discounting that this isn’t what I wanted to happen and that the pain is still very real and very relevant. I am resilient and I am strong, but that doesn’t mean that I think being hurt is okay and it doesn’t mean that I never experience pain.