Category Archives: pharmacy

So the sun can burn you up and wear you out; it’s an angry summer; there’s no room to smile

(Break your knees – Flyleaf)

About a week ago people were posting about their first days of their PGY-2 residencies. Tuesday this week last year was my first day at the job I am currently with. That was a hard day. It was another punch from reality that my dreams were dead. It was one more thing making it even more real that I was never going to get back what I’d lost.

 

And now people are posting stuff like “Getting into Harvard? It’s not like it’s hard.” It hurts. They treat it like it is so trivial. I wouldn’t even really be interested in specializing in palliative care at Harvard, but it feels frustrating that someone else gets to do it who doesn’t even get how hard I’ve worked and still don’t have anything to show for myself. She has a PGY-2 residency and I have tried and tried and tried and still don’t even have a PGY-1. I am no quitter, but I just feel like no matter what I do it’ll never be good enough. Maybe I’ll never be good enough to go from dead end to following my dreams.

 

It is so hard and frustrating. I have always been someone who worked harder in school and life than most of my peers, but in the academic realm I always had something to show for it before. Now I try and try and try and all I get is failure. I feel discouraged. I feel left out of the club. It feels like everyone else can find a job and I can’t and I don’t understand what is wrong with me. Why doesn’t anyone want me? I just want to be good enough for once. I’ve always been on the outside looking in wanting what seems to come naturally to other people. And I can’t figure out how to crack the code.

 

I figured out enough social skills to limp along and not even have people notice right away that I am lacking, though over time it probably does become a little more obvious there is something different about how I communicate…and a lot of the time I am not sure if what I said was right or wrong, but there definitely are times that I understand based on the reaction that what I said was evidently not an appropriate response. I try, but I still am working hard trying to keep up. Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to get a residency someday, but right now it feels so totally out of reach and I am so frustrated. I am tired of never being enough. I just want to figure out how to break the glass ceiling and enter the world it feels like everyone else lives in where friendship and communication is natural and getting jobs is just routine. I’m tired of looking on without being able to join the party. I don’t even like parties, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be invited.

 

And I think this is why I haven’t seriously started looking at residencies yet even though I told myself I was going to whatever I could to get a residency this year. Back when I was “supposed” to be looking at PGY-1 programs, I was well on my way to completely certain to which programs I was and was not applying. I don’t remember for sure if I still had 10 plus a maybe or if I was actually down to for sure the 10 I ended up actually keeping in the yes pile to apply and interview, but I was definitely a whole lot further than right now where I don’t even have much of an idea what I am looking for. And I feel discouraged because I have tried so many times and failed and I don’t want to be that girl who just keeps trying even though it should be obvious the answer is no.

 

I just want someone to give me a chance. I don’t understand why no one wants me. I get that my communication skills have room for growth, but there are so many other things I am good at. I know realistically nearly everyone I have worked with has loved me, because I am efficient and get things done quickly and accurately and once I understand the workflow I will find what needs to be done and get it done without waiting for someone to expressly ask me to do it. But no one cares what skills I do have, because they are stuck zeroing in on the skill I don’t possess. Like the song from the sermon on the mound says, it takes a team; every member has a job and that’s a team. Pair me up with a good communicator who can either teach me skills or do the communication role while I do the clinical and operational role, and I will excel. And I CAN learn. When I started at my previous job, I absolutely did not answer the phone, and rarely talked to customers. (In school we learn to call them patients, but my opinion is if you are purchasing something you are a customer…and besides, working in pediatrics, the person with whom I often needed to communicate was not the patient anyway, but a parent, so it doesn’t even really make sense to call that talking to patients. Also, I just hate the “new terminology” that my school used, so if they love it I probably don’t). Gradually through observation I learned first to talk to customers. For years though, my coworkers watched closely and any conversation I was starting to struggle with they took over. During that time I also started answering the phone occasionally. By the time I left, I handled the phone and talking to customers independently just as well as anyone else. So yeah, it’ll take me more time to learn, but I will learn. And people say that I am easy to train. I pick most things up to at least a working knowledge very quickly. I might not reach expert level immediately because that isn’t really possible, but at my current job, for example, training period is usually 4-8 weeks. By the end of the first week I was pretty comfortable and confident and could do my job independently. I couldn’t legally be left completely alone until I was licensed and the government isn’t exactly known for being speedy, but really I was only using my trainer for policy questions by the end of the first week. Could I have probably looked up policies instead, sure probably with 90% success, but I had a trainer doing nothing right next to me who was a lot faster than looking it up…and besides, when you try to learn based on written policies you will fail more often because they are often not what actually happens in practice, so it is often better to get the information from a real person.

 

So yeah…I really just want to be good enough. I want a residency. But I feel stuck. I feel frustrated. I feel hurt by the people talking as if this is something easy when for me I have worked my butt off just to fail over and over again.

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Now things have changed, won’t stay silent this time!

(Not backin’ down – Blanca)

I feel like now that I *can* talk I don’t. I guess partly because it is less relevant now that I am both not living at or near school where the rules impacted my every day and no longer living under those rules. Partly though, because I got used to pretending nothing ever happened. And when the residency thing happened it was easy enough to act like that was its own issue, not linked to the abuse. And, okay, let’s be honest, also because communication is still hard for me so I’d have to be really close to someone and have the right situation before I’d be likely to talk about what happened.

I was working maybe like a month ago on a version of my story I could share. What I started with wasn’t something I was comfortable posting on my blog, because I felt like even attempting to hide some details it was just too personal…but then I was re-writing it again, and this version seemed like a good place to start. More may come later…or maybe it’ll open opportunities to use my spoken words to share my heart, but this is what I am ready to share right here right now.

For the entirety of my third year of college I was in a counseling relationship with a woman who abused me. Life was hard. I escaped the counseling portion of that statement after third year, but I never really escaped the relationship part. I was not allowed to communicate with her (among a large number of other restrictive oppressive rules intended to intimidate me, keep me powerless, and protect the college from anyone finding out what they had allowed to happen on their campus). She, on the other hand, had no restrictions whatsoever and no consequences for any of her actions. She would follow me around and try to get me in trouble claiming I was following her – interesting considering I was always there first…but she was the princess who could do no wrong, so no one really cared that her stories didn’t check out. I stopped using the cafeteria because I got fed up with her coming in and sitting at the table next to mine. Then she decided to hang around to use the microwave next to where I was sitting despite the three other microwaves without lines closer to her workstation. There was fresh running water in her office yet she came to walk past me to fill her waterbottle. I was broken. I needed the metaphorical heart and lung transplant that graduation would give me. My official count down started well before 400 days.

 Fast forward to sixth year. Working on getting a residency was hard and stressful. For this girl still learning social skills, an interview is a challenging proposition. For this girl who thrives on routine and predictability, travel and interviewing in new places with new people was also not my forte. The months leading up to match day were like finally preparing for that transplant. It was hard and scary but there was that light at the end of the tunnel that everything would be so much better if I held on just a little longer.

Then match day came and I didn’t match. It was like they took out my heart and lungs in preparation and the organs to transplant weren’t viable and the only option was to use ECMO for heart and lung bypass. I had a week to stabilize before I had to be ready to transfer back to school. I was struggling and hanging on for dear life. I was prepping again at the same time and the second match day came and went with more failure and disappointment. Another failed set of organs. Nothing to keep me alive.

 Somehow, gradually, my body healed a little. I was functioning a little better, but still in tenuous position trying everything to just hang on a little longer.

 Finally I got a job offer. A barely viable set of organs were available for me. They didn’t really fit. They weren’t what I wanted. But they were my only option. ECMO wasn’t intended as a long term solution. It was even harder when my body had to wean off ECMO and I lost my job working with kids because HR didn’t think I was necessary anymore. 

Now I am here. Still healing, but realizing more and more that the organs are not a good fit for me. At the same time I know a re-transplant surgery (applying or residency again) would be a risk. And at the same time I know these organs are just going to keep making life hard as long as they last. I tried prepping for another surgery; another failed attempt this year.

 I know even the perfect fit wouldn’t put me right back where I was before. Anti-rejection protocols take a hefty toll on the body and are a lifelong requirement regardless of how incredible the match is once they’ve been started, and the more transplants, the higher the doses may be required to be to successfully suppress an immune response against the new organs. Life will never be the same as it would have been, but I still am holding onto my tattered shreds of hope that one day I will get the residency experience and ultimately the pediatric critical care position that I have been working towards my whole life. It won’t be the same as if it had been that first year, and I won’t be the same candidate anymore, but I have to believe there is more for me than this.

 Praying for patience as I try to decide how to get on the waiting list and prepare to live out my dreams.

 

Broken souls with smiling faces…all scared to say how they really feel

(You are loved – Stars Go Dim)

There are about a million things in my mind right now I want to write about…

 

I don’t know where to start, so I’ll start on the surface…I was reading a news article that claims that the number of school shootings being reported is inappropriate and should be a lot lower. Their rationale is that one particular shooting had no deaths. In the shooting the article references a third grader was playing with a gun at school and accidentally shot it, so it shouldn’t count. I don’t see how you can even consider not counting that as a school shooting. A gun was fired. It was fired in a school. That is very clearly a school shooting. Was it a deadly school shooting, luckily no, but it is the very definition of a school shooting. This is a problem. The very fact that a third grader had access to a gun long enough to shoot it whether accidental or intentional at school means that we as adults are not doing our job of protecting children. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, there is no reason for anyone to own their own gun. The (very outdated) constitution gives you the right to bear arms. As far as I interpret that, it does not give you the right to own those arms. If you want to go shoot something I see no reason why you can’t rent the gun like we rent out all sorts of other types of equipment. And if we agree that shooting people is wrong we shouldn’t be arming our police officers and giving them permission to do something we agree is wrong. I’m not even going to say not sayin’ because I definitely am sayin’. We can’t keep having a school shooting every week. It is not okay that there are kids who aren’t even shocked something happened because it has just become part of what happens sometimes in schools. I am absolutely not a gun hater. When I went to summer camp as an elementary schooler, I always signed up for shooting guns as one of my camp activities. We shot BB guns and rifles. I didn’t go home and ask for my own gun, because we learned gun responsibility, and that holding and shooting guns is a privilege, not a right. It seems that is something that a lot of people don’t understand.

 

Totally unrelated, but there is a concept I saw on pinterest recently that really resonated with me. There are two kinds of people, those that ask whether the cup is half empty or half full, and those that ask if you know the cup is refillable and who or what stops you from accessing the tap. In reality, I don’t really fit into either of those categories. I am someone who believes the cup is always full, just sometimes it is full of air, sometimes it is full of water, other times it if full of koolaid…et cetera. But anyway, I really liked that idea, and choosing between the two options in the original post, I think I fit more into the second category. I want to encourage people. I want to understand their perspective and help them live their best life.

 

Speaking of living people’s best life, I was reading an article about mentoring maybe like a month or two ago. It focused on non-millennials vs millennials working together and conflicts that can arise. I found that I don’t fit completely into the sides of the conflicts that I am “supposed to” as a millennial, but can definitely see the merits in being aware of these differences when working with other people. Some seem a lot more legitimate than others…but anyway…Millennials tend to prefer ad hoc as needed accessibility with frequent short meetings for direction whereas non-millennials tend to prefer scheduled structured engagement. I’m not sure that is even a true stereotype. From what I’ve experienced and my knowledge of myself, I prefer a scheduled meeting for everything to be discussed then leave me alone. I don’t want to be micromanaged. My mom on the other hand is always nagging me to go talk to someone and I whine and scream that she doesn’t get it, you can’t just show up, you have to wait until it is your turn to have a meeting! I guess it is important to recognize that some people do need to just show up even if it isn’t an emergency so if you are someone like me you can plan around that instead of getting frustrated, and if you are one of those people to limit how frequently you just show up with someone like me who feels trapped if we don’t have lines defining the boundaries of in a meeting and not in a meeting.

 

Next, millennials tend to prefer collaboration and diversity whereas non-millennials prefer siloed hierarchy. On this one I do fall closer to the millennial model – I see no reason why we wouldn’t want to go directly to the person who has the information we need instead of asking someone who will ask someone else who will ask someone else. Playing telephone just seems like a way for both the question and the response to be garbled and to extend the conversation into a much longer process than it has to be. I also think that some people naturally will fall into a leadership position whether given that official title or not, and it is silly to tell them they are not leading when it is clear they are. On the other hand, however, I think to prevent chaos we need a defined structure. If everyone is in charge without any real structure, rules, or defined leaders, chaos will ensue because really no one is in charge.

 

Whereas non-millennials value process, millennials value purpose which they define as results. At first I wasn’t so sure about this one. I felt like I was totally a process girl. I want to follow the rules to a T even if breaking the rules might be a more efficient way to work. After reading the article’s example though, I definitely fall into the category of valuing purpose. The way they explained it is that if someone discovered something that could help people, the non-millennial would work on studying all aspects of this and publishing the information whereas the millennials focus would be on using the discovery right away to start helping people without stopping to write a formal paper on the topic. I totally agree…partly because I think the formulaic approach to writing taught in school is dumb, and the “scientific method” writing is even worse. I can’t stand writing it, and to be honest I find it a frustrating writing style to read which is why I much prefer textbooks that say it like it is over research papers that say the same thing ten times and debate with themselves what is going on instead of getting to the point. Also why I LOVE the society of critical care magazines and do not like the AJHP magazines. If you want me to enjoy reading it, then avoid the scientific method style at all costs and just write what you want to say…For that matter, I would love if reference sources just wrote in bullet points as if someone was taking notes rather than structuring everything into sentences…if it is a reference, then people want a quick answer, not an English lesson. Not sayin’ just sayin’.

 

The rest of the article was an assortment of things like if you are getting frustrated because a person seems X, then consider how their behavior might actually be a sign of Y. For example, because someone does not see social distinctions and hierarchy the way you do, they may seem entitled to you, but instead of being frustrated with their entitlement if you try to think of them as motivated you might be able to value and embrace their attempts at autonomy. Similarly, a person who doesn’t respect “time in rank” and is annoyed by “busywork” might be seen as lazy, but instead you can try to see them as balanced noticing how purpose, mission, and skills motivate them. Other X,Y combos the article introduced are impatient vs efficient, narcissistic vs empowered, social vs collaborative, and needy vs engaged. I felt like in working with difficult people this list of negative attributes with ways to find the good was the gold of this article. It is super easy to get frustrated with someone who seems to have one of these negative characteristics, and that can be a huge barrier in effectively working with them and allowing both of you to be the best workers you can be, but if you can look for the positive side even if it seems like a stretch to call any part of their behavior positive, it totally changes your perspective. I think if you are looking for the good, you are more likely to find it and that will take your focus off of how frustrating the person is to work with which in turn over time might make them into someone you actually enjoy working with or at least don’t dislike quite so much. Not saying it’ll fix every problem relationship, just that it seems like it has a lot of potential for relationships that might still be salvageable.

 

So…let’s see, what other totally disparate topic should I throw in before calling this post over…lol…About a month ago I was looking up pharmacy school graduation statistics…I don’t really remember why. From 2000 until 2005, there went from about 7000 pharmacy graduates to about 8000 graduates. So some growth, but considering this was the time pharmacists were getting cars or even cold hard cash as sign on bonuses, no kidding pharmacy was a growing degree program. Soon though, growth in pharmacy graduates took off like wildfire despite the fact that jobs have become much more scarce. The last definite number of graduates was in 2014 with nearly 14000 pharmacy graduates, with projections of continued growth after that based on enrollment data. This is even more impressive when you consider that this includes both bachelor and doctorate degrees in pharmacy, the former of which is a starter degree that very few people actually receive anymore and which has not been valid credentials to actually enter the profession since I think somewhere around 2000 to 2003, so really the number of qualified graduates has grown even faster than it appears. I guess no wonder it is getting so difficult to find a residency. Although building a new pharmacy school is very possible to allow a much larger number of students graduate with a pharmD, opening a new hospital to let that many more students go into a practice is not quite so easy – there isn’t the same overabundance of patients, nor are there necessarily enough of the other healthcare and administrative professions to make that possible. There is a distinct limit on the number of pharmacists any one institution can support. Even more so on the number of residents, as a resident, unlike a student, requires a paycheck, but the resident, like the student, while present 40 hours a week (or more or less) does not actually perform the work of a pharmacist all 40 of those hours and does require some minimum amount of time from other pharmacists removed from the work pool to educate and mentor them…so while residency programs are trying to help accommodate more graduates as residents, it is impossible for them to create nearly as many new spots as the growth in graduates requires, particularly as the pharmacy organizations start pushing for residency to be required rather than recommended…another one of those things that is a problem without an awesome solution. I mean, yes, it was irresponsible for so many schools to open and churn out graduates knowing there wasn’t a market to support them, but at the same time, now that they are open you can’t exactly expect them to just close ’cause you said so, and also these decisions don’t happen in a vacuum. Very likely the ideas to open a new school started when there was a shortage of pharmacists, and just wasn’t tabled when the market turned back down a couple years later, because even if the schools knew this wasn’t a good plan, there was still plenty of money to be made because there were still students either passionate enough about pharmacy not to care about the economics, or either not knowing or not believing the economic situation…

 

Okay, rants over. This was probably the most useless post I’ve ever written, but sometimes there is just so much detritus in my brain I need to get some of it out to be able to do anything useful…

 

Little Did They Know He’d Turn Their Cry Day to Good Friday

(Good Day on a Bad Day – Fish Tales – see the video of this song I found on youtube…not the highest quality video, but probably way cuter than an actual performance quality version of it…so whatev…)

 

 

I think I should probably add a disclaimer that I realized when I got to the end of writing this post that I probably shouldn’t post it…but I am doing it anyway, because, yes I do know that I should be careful about when I share my words, but I also was silenced for a long time and do not want to ever feel like I am not allowed to have a voice.

 

Today last year I was at my last on site residency interview for that residency season. I cried on my way there. I cried that night. I cried on the way home. Any residency would be better than no residency and I was drowning. The first failure to match was too much and my life was falling apart and I was trying again so fervently but at the same time knowing even getting a residency in phase II wouldn’t end my pain. It wouldn’t take away the grief. It wouldn’t be enough to re-label me. I was too far gone. I knew too deeply that I was a failure that no one would want.

 

The abuse was too raw. I never really had an opportunity to process the abuse because at first I didn’t understand for a long time that it wasn’t okay. Then I kind of went in and out of thinking maybe there was a problem, but y’all, gaslighting is for real and I would start to think again that maybe I was wrong and this is what was supposed to happen. There were signs something was wrong and I needed out, but while a few people tried, no one had enough pieces put together at the right time to create an escape. When I’m still standing my ground on the sand and you tell me not to go swimming but can’t explain why not, I feel like you don’t understand that I am a swimmer and I won’t know there is a riptide waiting to pull me under regardless of how strong I am now. When I am actively drowning holding onto a log that doesn’t quite support my weight and you tell me there is a kickboard a couple yards away that would be better for me, I feel like you don’t understand that I think I will drown if I let go of my log, and I won’t know that the seconds of fear it takes to get the kickboard will be worth it to save my life. So anyway, I finally escaped the in person one on one abuse and broke free, but I still couldn’t process because I was too busy proving to everyone else how okay I was and…okay yeah, still trying to protect the person who hurt me and feeling like a failure because I couldn’t save us both. If maybe even a week sooner I’d been willing to even kind of sort of let someone in and hint at what had been happening for the past two years I realize now there might have been discipline on her side instead of mine…but I didn’t. I couldn’t. My fierce protective nature refuses to hurt anyone or give up on anyone. I want to believe people can change and become good if they get enough love and support, even the person who was abusing me. And when the abuse was still ongoing because the little princess could do whatever she wanted including and not limited to sitting next to me in the cafeteria or following me to the parking garage and then hanging out at the entrance so I have to get past her to leave, I was finally ready to talk but forbidden from doing so under threats of losing my schooling. Was the contract I signed even valid, not really since I didn’t have the capacity to contract at the time of signing, but was I willing to test out what would happen if I boldly refused to follow the guidelines, certainly not. She had a lot of power and I didn’t so I was stuck just enduring it for the next three years.

 

Umm yeah, that was actually not at all what I sat down to write about. The pain of the abuse still is raw, and last year’s failure to match did bring it closer to the forefront again…but I was trying to write a positive post…I guess that’s my mind’s little reminder that these things don’t disappear. I can’t put an expiration date on pain and grief and I can’t outrun it. Like Maria says in the sound of music, you can’t run from your problems, you have to face them!

 

Last year I went to a Good Friday service and was just trying to survive. Afterwards I was walking around the block and doing whatever I could trying to figure out how I was going to get myself home. The next day I was back greeting. Apparently I met someone that day. I was so focused on going through the motions and greeting people and being okay that I honestly have no idea who that person was, which I felt really bad about, but y’know, that is the brain on grief.

 

Last year though Easter was a turning point. That Saturday evening (technically the day before Easter I suppose), I don’t know what happened, but somehow that week I was able to eat a little more easily. Note that I didn’t say easily, just more easily, but considering I’d been fighting for calories and fluids like my life depended on it because I was at a point where it really did depend on it, it was a huge blessing, and I gained a pretty good amount of weight that week. I was super proud of myself. Even if it was water weight, getting fluids in was a huge positive. When not too long before you’d gone more than an entire day without peeing because you weren’t drinking enough, you can’t really deny that even getting calorie free water in is a success.

 

This year my goal was for the year to be better, not bitter. On Tuesday I am doing part of what I was doing last year today – interviewing on site in phase II. There are a lot of parallels or similarities. At that one by the time I was done interviewing I wanted the position because I just really really wanted any position by that point, but there were multiple things I really didn’t like. At this one, I do really really want the position…but at the same time I am not even sure I want the position. It isn’t an idea fit for my interests and pays pretty poorly, but I worked so hard and paid so much for the opportunity that I feel like I need to have the position, and it would be a lot better than what I have now – the problem being that I am not sure it would set me up for success in moving from plan triple Z to anywhere closer to what I really wanted to do. And once I expressed my interest in this position, suddenly I was being offered all the things that had been explained as part of the position when I interviewed for the position I am in now that I have wanted so badly and been denied. So even if I don’t get a residency, I might still end up with a job that is better than the one I have now. I might be able to be happy again. I might be able to not hate my job even if I do not actually have the job I want. This is thrilling! This is a huge step forward.

 

I don’t know what the future will hold, but I am starting to think that maybe applying was good just to give me an opportunity to find something better than what I have whether I get the residency or not. I am starting to think that maybe this will help to decrease the pain of the residency season…which in reality is pretty much all year, especially with the way my story has played out. My story holds a lot of pain, but God can redeem any story if I let go and give him a chance…maybe I can go on a trip in a couple weeks. We’ll see.

 

Well, this is going to sound super out of place now since this post went in a completely different direction for the most part than I originally planned, but it was in my head as part of this post, so I’m gonna write it here anyway…lol…

 

Food for thought: Do we anxiously await for the reminder of Christ’s return to life Easter morning as anxiously as we awaited as children for our chocolate crosses and ziplocks of jelly beans and pastel m&m’s and skittles and whatever other sugary treats we got in our baskets?

 

If I am being honest, holidays to me are hard. I live very much in the concrete here and now. Life works best for me with every day being essentially the same. Tying some extra meaning to a particular day is an abstract that I don’t always do well with. Sometimes I use prepositions to end sentences with…lol. So yeah, it is hard for me to anticipate a randomly selected day as if something big is going to happen when that something big actually happened a couple thousand years ago. I get that this is an important part of our history, but you know what I also get? I also get that this part of our history isn’t any more important tomorrow on Easter than it was a month ago. To me, it is still just another day, not more important than any other day. If I were still little enough for an Easter basket, I am not ashamed to say that yes, I would be more excited for my yummy chocolate cross than for the abstract concept of remembering when Christ rose from the dead. Sorry if that offends you, but I am my own person and I am entitled to my own opinions just as much as you are entitled to yours.

This is where your ship went down. You took the blame even harder….And my soul is at peace

(Hush hush – Nichole Nordeman….A Son of God – Journey Collective)

 

Sometimes it feels like knives into my body. Emotional pain follows the same neural networks as physical pain. I know I have seen studies that Tylenol helps with emotional pain for that reason…too bad I lost my Tylenol in South Dakota.

 

Today-ish last year (Tuesday the 28th) I was driving about 450 miles to an interview and 450 miles back. And there was too much parallel today and I was fighting back tears in the car. The shirt I was wearing today (Tuesday the 27th) is the one I wore back to school that evening. The lunch box and other stuff in the passenger seat. The country scenery. The crazy schedule. The stress of phase 2. It was just too much for a while.

 

There are three things that made me not sure when I would ever re-apply for residency and definitely wasn’t doing it yet. First, letting people down by leaving the position I am in. I am fiercely protective of other people and I don’t want to hurt other people even if that means in the process I am hurt instead. Second, my schedule and our PTO policy make it nearly impossible to travel for interviews, or really to interview at all. Participating only in phase 2 gives me at least a chance at being able to do an interview at a time I am actually available. Third, I was terrified of what could happen if I failed again. The rejection last year is still so fresh I couldn’t imagine going through it again and deepening the wound.

 

The first two are still hard. I feel really bad about potentially leaving. I am still worried that I will be excluded simply because I do not have many available opportunities to interview, trying to fit it in between a full-time schedule.

 

The third I am starting to be at more peace with. I am starting to feel like I might fail, but it won’t be my fault this time. I don’t know that it will fix the old pain, and it will still probably be hard, but I do not think that it will be nearly as bad as last year at this time. To be honest, not matching will also be positive. After I told my managers I was considering applying, they started offering other opportunities if I didn’t match – all the things I have been asking for since I started and a few more. So as long as they are actually willing to make good on those offers, whether I match or not, I get a job better than I have. If I match I get a job that qualifies me for PGY2. If I don’t match I get a job that pays three times as much. Neither one is a complete loss. Unlike last year, there isn’t really a possibility that HR will force me to be downsized if I do not match, so I also have the benefit of having a job doing something regardless of what happens. It isn’t a job doing exactly what I planned or wanted, but it is something, and something is better than nothing usually.

 

I don’t know what will happen, but I know that I need to believe that God works everything for good.

Lead the Way God I’m Gonna Follow You

(Now – Mallary Hope)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Babies Bleed from Bulletholes

(Dear Me – Nichole Nordeman)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

I’m so stubborn, it’s how I got here…when your heart’s still beating hang on, just don’t ever let go

(Hang on – Plumb)

 

I started writing this post last year. It sounds so weird writing that. It is now 2018. It seems like 2017 flew by. At this time last year I was nervous about my first on-site interview. I thought I knew where I was going in life and was excited to finally have that light at the end of the tunnel close enough that I could walk there step by step. I guess it was a mirage. A few months later the light went out.

 

It was hard. I cried. A lot. And sometimes I was so broken I couldn’t even cry. I did not want to be alive. Soon I was praying every day and night for God to please let me go home to heaven if he really cared about me. I was in so much pain. And I started healing and was broken again and again. Including when the deadline I gave God for taking me home came and went and I was still on Earth – why did even God not want me? But girl is not a quitter. I am stubborn and I held on to making it through life. This has been a year of fighting to get through and I won. I made it from morning and night and night to morning every day and re-learned how to feed and water myself. And you know what, that is an accomplishment. Sometimes success isn’t an A on a paper or the job of your dreams. Sometimes success is smaller. Sometimes success is I realized I was sanitizing my shoe while sitting in front of the computer at work and that was kinda dumb and threw the wipe away.

 

I really am doing better, but it still is not at all easy. It is definitely still very hard sometimes. It definitely doesn’t help that people have started announcing on facebook the jobs they have accepted and how thrilled they are. I really am happy for my friends who have gotten the job of their dreams, but at the same time, seeing all the posts where the biggest negative is that their start date is still a few months away is hard. It is a reminder of what I don’t have and of a time when my classmates were doing that while I was at the bottom, forgotten.

 

That was a time in my life that I am still recovering from…you know when the windchill is -30 and you are already running late but are still seriously considering walking to work that this was definitely no tiny molehill. Last spring, being in motion was how I could be okay. It was how I could get little bits of food and drink in my body and stop crying if only for a short period of time. I was scared to not walk to work because I’d been doing it every single day, but ultimately, logic and safety won out. I most likely couldn’t get to work on time walking, and walking in the dark not knowing how slippery the roads and sidewalks might be is obviously not safe. Not to mention I also didn’t know how deep the snow might be on the way to work. I drove for a week, and nothing really bad happened. I was okay. I probably will walk some days now that it is a little warmer, but now I know that not walking isn’t going to make my world suddenly explode or anything.

 

Lol…and speaking of experiences changing me…apple juice used to be a treat. After months of watered down apple juice being the easiest way to get at least a little calories and fluid in my body and therefore being forced in through tears so many times, apple juice no longer even really sounds that exciting to me. Apple juice feels like pain and tears…I hope that’s an association that will go away, because apple juice was a cheap easy way to have a fun treat before, but grief is unpredictable, so maybe tomorrow I will want apple juice like crazy, or maybe I won’t drink it again ever…who knows…

 

I recently stumbled across a blog that I really connected with. Yeah, I know you shouldn’t use prepositions to end sentences with, but I also don’t care. There are some rules I think are dumb. Anyway, the blog is about how kids who do well in school are often assumed by outsiders to basically have life made and explains common problems these kids face and how they are often the underdog, with fewer friends, less support, less recognition, less appreciation, more bullying, etc. I am not going to link to the blog, because the comment section (and even some of the articles) are a place where people tear each other down claiming that if you/your kid does not have this exact struggle then you/your kid must not actually be doing well and also claiming that if you/your kid is doing well in school then you/your child’s behavior should be excused no matter how otherwise unacceptable. I definitely do not agree that doing well in school gives one any right to misbehave. You can be the brightest kid in the world and I still think you need to follow directions, pay attention when spoken to, and be just as courteous as any other kid. I also think that every single person has their own unique wiring. No two people are going to have the exact same life and therefore we can’t decide whether or not someone we don’t even know is “intelligent” based on whether they have the exact same struggle as this other person. It is entirely possible to be doing well in school and pretty much have life made just as it is possible to be smart and struggling in pretty much every other area of life. People don’t come from a factory with a finite array of settings. Anyway, this blog made me realize that I wasn’t the only one who felt the way I have at times. I am not the only one who thinks that what they call it in elementary school, “gifted,” is anything but. I have experienced many times people thinking that because I was doing well in school that I must not have to try and that it was easy for me. Not true, I believe that hard work is a big part of success for probably the majority of successful people, and it hurts for you to brush aside all that work. I have experienced people acting like any struggle I had wasn’t valid because I was doing well in school so I must have life made. Not true, there are plenty of things school-related and otherwise that have been difficult in my life, and it hurts when you won’t let me be more than just my grades. I have experienced expectations either consciously or subconsciously seeming higher for me than others and the problems that can cause. Also, according to this blog anyway, it is super common for kids doing well in school to struggle socially – also definitely true of me. This blog kinda made me understand why I fell through the cracks – everyone assumes that the kid who did well in school has it made and can have whatever job they want and therefore any concern in this respect is negated as either completely unwarranted and first-world-whiny-pants or is some sort of self-made issue (being too picky, not trying…). Not to say there weren’t or haven’t been people who have supported and believed me – there were and are. Not to say woe is me let’s have a little pity party for me. Just saying that it felt good to find out other people have struggled with not just one thing kinda similar to what I have, but even very similar sets of struggles. Just saying that even if some people were unintentionally (or even intentionally) hurtful that it helps to understand more.

 

There are definitely some people who are intentionally malicious, but I think most people aren’t trying to be hurtful – they just don’t know what my life is like. Some people intentionally look for where I am weak to make their attack that much more damaging, but some people aren’t even trying to attack. For example, in fifth year another girl took me aside and asked me to please not attend the review session before a certain exam because some people don’t think it is fair for me to attend because I am probably going to pass anyway. Obviously I was upset and frustrated, but my being there doesn’t really hurt anyone – the class wasn’t graded on a curve and it’s not like there was a cap on how many students are allowed to attend class…and even if there were, I am not willing to sacrifice the grade I have been working hard on all semester for some do-gooder who hasn’t spent enough time studying all semester but probably agreed with her friends to be the one to talk to me. I guess in a way they kinda got what they wanted because I was frustrated so I probably got less out of the session anyway, but it hurts that it would make someone else feel good to watch me fail. I work as hard as I can to set myself up for success and when I am doing okay I am not going to let someone else kick the stool out from under me. I think though that she wasn’t trying to be rude or hurtful. I think she genuinely thought she was doing the best thing for everyone involved.

 

But I have to do what works for me…You know you still have some issues with communication when you are willing to pay membership fees to ASHP for no apparent reason except that if in the future you ever have to go to midyear again and want to pay the member rather than non-member fees you won’t have to talk to customer service…especially because I really don’t want to ever go to midyear again, and also paying continuously year after year means eventually I will have spent more than I would have saved by just paying the non-member fees and still not having to converse with anyone, but despite the fact that I am growing in communication skills and may very well have been fine talking to customer service when the time came up, sometimes that’s just not a risk I feel like taking and if I can come up with the money to prevent it sometimes that is a gift worth giving myself. If it were some exorbitant fee I wouldn’t do it, but sometimes it makes more sense to indulge in things that make life easier if I can.

 

This is my first post of 2018, so I guess people usually talk about resolutions or their one word or whatever other tradition they do for New Years…I’ve never been big on resolutions. A new year being a reason to make changes has never made a lot of sense to me…yep, spoken as a girl who hates change and as someone who perceives New Years as simply another day with no extra meaning. I guess that is how most holidays are for me, because I prefer the orderly routines of day to day life and holidays add a whole new set of social rules that are not necessarily written with me in mind. Because this day was magically chosen to be holiday there are suddenly all sorts of new rules that aren’t used often enough for me to learn them about whether or not it is appropriate to try to interact with another human and what not…I would not be opposed to wiping all holidays off the calendar as long as we get to keep snack season at some point in the year…and considering how much I write, you can imagine that picking just one word is way beyond me…I did a New Years reflection a few years. And then I gave up, because finding the questionnaire again sounded like work, and the answers started getting pretty predictable…and some of the questions were dumb and pointless, like three favorite books I’ve read…umm have I actually even read three books that weren’t textbooks? I mean, yeah, I listened to quite a few books before I lost interest, but I don’t read a lot anymore. I don’t even really read blogs nearly as much as I used to – youtube will talk at me without any effort exerted on my part…and then I saw something about New Years and finding your identity and I kinda liked that idea…I know who I am is someone who craves community and finds it best through serving. I am still trying to really find somewhere to serve that really feels meaningful and fulfilling. I am still trying to figure out how to make friends, because guess what?! If you felt at least internally even if it wasn’t obvious yet that you were struggling socially by early elementary, you don’t magically learn all those things you missed out on overnight when you become an real-ish adult. Y’all, I think I might be a real adult now. I was shopping like all day for a new mattress on Monday. It is way overwhelming and I have no idea what I am doing. If Sams Club still had the same mattress I bought a few years ago that my brother claimed when I moved out I would totally march my butt in there, buy me a membership and a mattress, and just carry it the mile-ish home. It is reasonably priced and familiar…but they don’t. And I have no idea how to judge one mattress versus another. I know pretty much every store told me their mattresses were absolutely the best quality and price. I know which places are more or less expensive and which ones deliver and how much they charge for delivery…but I have pretty close to zero idea how to pick out a mattress and whether a higher price means better quality or just means someone slapped a bigger number on what is essentially the same exact thing…but shopping for a mattress without mommy and daddy along makes me feel like maybe I am a real adult now.

 

I also recently read an article called “Unhappy New Year.” It suggests that around New Years you come up with at least one answer to each of three questions. It also kind of suggests that it is totally acceptable to be negative in these answers if that is what your year has felt like. First, “what have I learned?” There is a quote I might have pinned on pinterest a while back, but might not have: broken people are strong/powerful; they know they can survive. I think I learned this year how true that is. Each of the things I have lived through has strengthened my drive to survive. Next question “what have I discovered about God.” I think I have learned, just like the musical Estherday comments, that God doesn’t work on our timetables…because God, is God. I suppose I knew that and had experienced it over and over before, but at the moment anyway, it seems like what is really hitting home right now for this control-loving girl is that I can’t tell God how my life is going to be run and expect it to happen no matter how inevitable or impossible my plans seem. Final question “what can I be thankful for through all of this?” Oh my, I am so incredibly thankful for the people who have supported me through this. Some of these people came alongside me when I was falling apart and loved on me when I didn’t deserve it and was not at all a good person to be around. I was crying in all my alone time and a lot of my not alone time too, not really sleeping/eating/drinking – so clearly not an energetic optimistic friendly face people usually gravitate towards, and there were people who came into my world not to tell me to knock it off because people are uncomfortable with pain, but to really care about me. I yelled at one of my friends and she responded in kindness and wasn’t mad at me. I was not responding to anyone very nicely, but people cared. Some people set boundaries, which I totally understand and respect, but so many people went way beyond the call of duty to do what they could to support me.

 

Y’know, I think I know what I want for this year. I think there are two directions I can go. I can choose bitter or I can choose better. It is easier to choose bitter and go through the year frustrated about my job and unhappy about where I am in life. It is harder to choose better. It will take a lot of hard work, but I really want to be able to next year look back at the year and see how I’ve made the most of the hand I’ve been dealt. I don’t really have any clue how I am going to do that, and I know it is going to be hard work, but I am going to do my best and see what happens.

 

God really knows what he is doing. Today last year I started a rotation where I learned how real-world adult pharmacy works. It wasn’t my favorite thing ever – pediatrics is, was, and will probably always be my passion so no kids means it isn’t going to thrill me…but it did give me at least a marginal level of confidence in treating adults which was enough to make starting my current job not so terrifying. It would have been even harder finding a job and accepting it if I still had no confidence in treating adults.

 

This post was a lot more coherent and flow-y-ish until I decided it was way too long and tried to make it shorter…then I gave up and decided I didn’t really care, so now it is still kinda long and in addition feels to me at least like it’s going in a million dead end directions…

 

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

(Please please like me – Go Fish)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m 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.