Category Archives: Resilience

Ready to Smile and Love Life

(Fully Alive – Flyleaf)

 

Grief, loss, and trauma all change you. I will never again be the person I was before, but gradually who I am now becomes a more fully healed person. Oh, I am definitely not saying that I am fully healed, that word “more” is still in there as an indicator that I am better than before but still broken, but it’s a (long, hard) process, not perfection. I have worked hard and come such a long way.

 

God is good. He is not good because I am doing better. He was not not good (pardon the double negative) when I was doing less well. Good is part of God’s being, it is just a lot harder to see and understand when I am on the bottom. Even now I certainly do not understand why God would let my life unfold this way and I really don’t get how a good God who has power wouldn’t have intervened and rescued me from so many hard things I have experienced, but I am learning how to let go of understanding and just cling to the knowledge that God *is* good. God *does* have a plan and has chosen me and will not throw me away.

 

When you are someone like me who worked really hard to be able to use conversational language, it is hard to get past the “fine, good, okay” responses to ‘how are you’ that you have learned from years of observation. Sure, there are occasionally other responses, but when you are building a vocabulary library through imitation, the predominant words and phrases are the ones that you are going to catalog. When you have been in an emotionally abusive counseling relationship in which showing emotion was a way to invite further hurtful interactions, you learn emotion isn’t safe and that takes a long time to unlearn. When your school’s response to the abuse is to punish you because your abuser plays her well-connected princess card to get out of jail free and you are not allowed to talk about the abuse or the punishment and are not allowed to tell anyone you aren’t allowed to talk about it, you work even harder on hiding your heart because if anyone starts to see a glimpse of your pain or starts asking questions about your life you are stuck. You can’t answer and you can’t say why because that stupid piece of paper says you won’t graduate if you do. When you are grieving you don’t want to bring anyone else down and you don’t really have the energy to really reach out anyway. All that leads to a girl who is ready to be known but doesn’t really know how to get past “hello my name is _____ . I work at ______ . It is okay.” Sometimes it really isn’t as okay as I want it to be.

 

Today I long to be back in the city of my school. Yesterday, with no cheating, I was back to 5 pounds away from my goal weight. I am so proud and excited, but I don’t have anyone here to share with. When you barely have told your story, and even when you have it has remained bookended in reassurances that it’s okay, you don’t really create any way to share the successes that to anyone else are either way weird or just normal parts of everyday life. If I were back near school I’d be going to church this evening. Would I have said anything about what’s going on in my life, maybe or maybe not, but there are people there that I might sit next to in silence and just having a close friend right next to me is healing even if words are not exchanged. I have fantasies about just picking everything up and going there on a whim. If I left right now, by the time I got there I bet there’d be at least a few people still hanging out at church, and if I hung out with them a little while then drove all night back here I would be exhausted, but probably not late to work tomorrow. That would not be the greatest idea though, because if none of the people I know were around I would be disappointed, and even if they were, an all-nighter is not something that my body is made for. I dream of just happening to show up in the middle of another work day and getting to be included again. That day this spring is one of the very few times I was able to escape the grief for a while and immerse myself in something enjoyable. By the end of the day I wasn’t just distracted enough to make it through the day, but was really living in a happy inner world…and it is the perfect environment for me because I was objectively helping which feels good for me, and I was surrounded by friends but without the pressure to use my words to interact with them. In the morning I was offered food and pretended to go eat but really just disappeared a couple minutes and came back. By the afternoon, I ate lunch without too much difficulty. At a time when every bite was a success, that is a big deal 🙂

 

It has been a long road. You can’t really ignore the past because it has been so intertwined with the present, but starting from a few months ago, there was not matching in phase I. There was just under a month of hard work and partial recovery when I didn’t match in phase II. Then I lost my job on August 24th…and then almost got it back again but didn’t. Each time I have been pushed underwater again and fought to reach the surface again. I’ve learned to eat because it is the right thing to do even when every bite feels like a marathon, but I’ve also learned grace for when I just can’t. I’ve learned to celebrate the little success when dinner is just apple juice instead of frustratedly seeing the failure of the rest of the meal.

 

Grief isn’t a streamlined journey from point A to point B. Yesterday I was so excited and that joy made me feel on top of the world, ready to just enjoy life as it comes. This morning hasn’t been quite so awesome, but I know that I will do my best and that is enough. God’s love for me isn’t dependent on the number on the scale or on my current mood.. He loves me just as I am.

 

I’ve kinda always put Holley Gerth on a pedestal and didn’t really think she could really get it because she had some hard things but they’d always ended up at the end wrapped in a nice package with a bow. I was listening to her book Fiercehearted this week, and realized that maybe she does get it…”every Christmas song I heard that day felt like a lie, every present I opened seemed empty…I wanted to stop hoping, because hope is what breaks your heart, splits it wide open…and you’re there bare and exposed for everyone to see your loss and disappointment and the cavern of almost abandoned dreams…you want to slip it into the trash and slam the lid forever. But at the end of the day you fall asleep with a stack of tissues by your bed and wake up to hope again tomorrow and if you do this long enough it changes you…it is also not the end.” I guess it is a good reminder that I shouldn’t be so disappointed comparing my middle to someone else’s end.

 

I think I am ready to give hope another chance. I’m not jumping all in yet, but I am ready to dip in a toe…or maybe just a pinky finger.

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I’m a Warrior

(Toy Soldier – Stephanie Pauline)

 

Today I have a lot to be proud of. Usually the key to my success at the grocery store is to have a list of no more than three items, preferably just one or maybe two. That is all well and good except that my day off is only one day and I wanted to make bread and there were still at least 6 things I can think of off the top of my head that I didn’t have that I needed…and no, multiple trips in quick succession is not generally an effective workaround.

 

And I had a coupon for $5 off if I could spend $30. Considering I usually spend $10-20/month on food including both groceries and eating out, spending $30 all in one day, especially considering my usual shopping abilities was going to be a stretch goal, but I wrote a list and figured if I really couldn’t do it I would extend myself some grace. As it turns out, the price of chicken was 20 cents per pound more in the store than the advertisement said it would be and that threw off my list and I almost gave up, but I am so proud of myself for persevering. Because of that I had to alter my list a little and I was a little off on where I was at so I spent a little more than I intended and am the kind of person who definitely won’t tell the cashier that I’d like to put something back, but ending up with a full cart of groceries is something I have never done before ever!! (I mean, unless you count when I am shopping with my mom and I am pushing the cart but she is the one picking out groceries). I am so stinkin’ proud of myself!!

 

I didn’t do a perfect job, but sometimes my best is good enough. I might not have gotten the best deals in the world (in fact, I know some of the stuff I could have gotten for cheaper elsewhere), but I figure that after the coupon it probably works back out to at least reasonable prices so it really isn’t a big deal. And I didn’t necessarily pick out the best groceries…hashtag the flavor milk I wanted was only available in the 30 calorie variety and usually I won’t buy unless the calorie count is above 100…except I couldn’t find any milk at this store that met that criterion and so I picked the one with the most calories I could find; 60 calories in original almond milk…I figured it was DIY vanilla almond and the sugar and vanilla extract I will add will probably at least add back some of the calories the manufacturers forgot to put in. And I couldn’t find butter flavored Crisco so I called my mom to ask what the difference was between that and the other kind. Umm…duh…the flavor. So if I ever decide to make cookies, we’ll see how that situation works out, because I am guessing that in the case of greasing things it doesn’t matter much but in the case of making cookies it might make a difference…but on the other hand, cookies have enough sugar that the butter flavor might not be THAT important. It was super weird though seeing white Crisco when I opened the container though…that threw me for a loop. Also, just some advice that is probably obvious to everyone but me, but 5 pounds of flour, for example, weighs 5 pounds, and two of them weighs 10 pounds. I am not really sure why I decided I needed two 5 pound bags of flour, but I did…and that (and all the other things I bought) is kinda heavy. If I were smart I would have put the heaviest stuff in the bag on my back, but I am not smart, so I put it in tote bags to carry home…which is why I was late to the event I go to at church on Tuesday mornings that I don’t work, because I had to stop a few times on the way home to re-adjust…well, that and I spent most of an hour at the grocery store…

 

Also, today I used my big girl words and actually participated in conversations. I am proud of that too 🙂

 

Today I also had lots of opportunities to use my creativity and problem solving skills. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because it isn’t just OCD making me clean up and wash my hands after (or in the middle of) every single ingredient…it’s because I am not sure there is a single ingredient that didn’t spill at some point. Maybe the salt? But I didn’t have a big enough cutting board so a piece of foil and the other cutting board side by side and it kinda sorta worked. Not ideal, but you gotta do what you gotta do and I wasn’t about to go to the store again and get a bigger one. (I might update the post with that picture, ’cause it’s a little funny). And of course I only have the kind of cookie sheet with walls on all four sides which means I made a huge mess trying to get the bread onto the sheet and also I guess it conducts heat differently than the fancy kind my mom has so the bottom got a little burned…and of course the timer was going to beep in like 2 minutes when I realized I didn’t have a cooling rack. Doesn’t everyone pull the metal shelf out of the microwave and lay it out across an open drawer with a placemat underneath to catch crumbs while cooling things? (Umm, no…I’d never even encountered a microwave with a shelf until I moved into this apartment, and I can’t imagine any time the shelf would do anything in there except get in the way and cause my popcorn to burn even worse than usual). So the bread looks a little ugly and is a little overdone on the bottom, but it still tastes awesome! So we’ll count that a success 🙂 .

 

And I also have always wanted to have people over to my apartment…that is a slight exaggeration since there were some periods of time third year during which my OCD was so intense that being around people was a struggle and there were definitely not going to be any extra people in my space if I could avoid it…but aside from that, I would really like to have people over, but inviting them is super hard for me. Last night I did it when I realized I’d been waiting for small group for over half an hour and invited the one other person there to my apartment to hang out for a little while, and today I did it again trying to invite people over for dinner.

 

Also I am super proud of all these successes, but this is not actually what I sat down to right about. I actually was going to write about forgiveness. I still want to figure out what that means. Since it is now almost time to go to bed, I am going to skip over the rest of what I was going to say and just skip to something I found today that could be a paradigm flip but could also be one of those things where I just have to agree to disagree. I don’t yet know my opinion and I am a processor so sometimes it just takes me some time/space/thought to figure out whether I agree or disagree. This site on the internet claimed that if a person willfully and hurtfully sins and refuses to admit their wrongdoing and make it right, God will not forgive them and we don’t have to either. Using this remark, I don’t need to forgive. I’m not sure though that God ever doesn’t forgive us or gives us permission to not forgive. I think I need to see if I can find anything in the Bible to support or not support that.

 

I won’t give up I refuse

 

(Not gonna die – Skillet)

 

So, I there was something I was going to write about…I can’t remember what it was anymore…yes, I do sometimes write blog posts in my head and then try to remember them to write down later. So I guess I’ll just write about something else and see where it takes me…

 

I decided a few days ago that considering my ability to quote large portions of the Healing Path by Dan Allender, it was time to pick a different audiobook. I picked to re-listen to the Essence of Resilience by Tanya Lauer and Kathleen Parrish. There were a few quotes that stood out to me.

 

The most painful part of any story occurs in the middle – never the end. This is in the introduction of the book. I guess it is probably why this book got listened all the way through this spring and was downloaded again…it is a good reminder that someday the pain will fade. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow or even next week, month, or year, but someday. This doesn’t always feel like a true statement, and I don’t always even want to believe it is true because it feels like too much pressure to heal faster or because even that tiny bit of hope that someday it will be better seems like too much of an invitation to be crushed again. If I am being really honest though, it is true – although life is really painful right now, it is less painful than it was immediately following the loss. And I haven’t given up. I will not give up. I still am working as hard as I can on gaining weight and taking my life back.

 

Hope is having unconditional belief in our self…a bird sitting on a tree is never scared of the branch breaking because its trust is not in the branch but in its own wings…the experience of trauma includes feeling trapped, inert, and powerless. Sometimes there is nowhere to turn and no one to turn to…Hope can become a lifeline…there are times when hope seems unattainable. Well, that pretty much sums up why I need to learn how to hope again even though it seems like that is just opening myself up for further hurt. Hope is terrifying. Hope is believing in our own strength – but our strength is what we felt was taken away in trauma, so I guess it is understandable that hoping again is a challenge. For me, hoping means believing someday someone will want me – even though I did everything in my power and was faced with mountains of rejection this year. It is believing that the words and feelings thrown at me by certain someone are not true assessments of my worth but rather were intended to bring me down and it is letting her win to continue to feel that way. Not that it is a contest.

 

Speaking of certain someone, I am struggling with forgiveness. I realized that I don’t really know what forgiveness means. I want to forgive, but I don’t really know what that entails. Some say it means forgetting as if it never happened. People far smarter than me on the internet agree that it is neither important nor advisable to forget the pain of abuse. Our culture sometimes links forgiveness with accepting the other’s actions as admissible. But sometimes what we need to forgive is an action or a pattern of behavior that is completely inadmissible and it would be doing neither party a favor to consider it okay. Conflict avoidance feels good in the short term, but is destructive in the long term. But empty words of forgiveness are also not the goal, so what is really behind that word?

 

Resilience is found in the intersection between pain and hope…you may think that you are not resilient and that you don’t have the capacity to recover. Perhaps you’ve been lost…for a long time…you may feel that you are broken or that you have no value. Those beliefs are only manifestations of the trauma and do not reflect the truth about you. If you survived trauma, you have resilience. You have resilience because you survived and because you are searching for something to heal your wounds. Accept your resilience as a fact and embrace your strength. Wow. Another one that really hit me with a bucket of truth. The intersection of pain and hope. Hope is exactly what I have been terrified to hold as I tried to run from the pain. Hope seemed (seems) like a butterfly net, catching me and holding me closer to the pain that I long to escape…and I do feel like I can’t really recover. It has felt hopeless for a long time. When you are so deep down in grief, yet cannot trust anyone for a hand up, it is really difficult, Trust is hard following abuse. Whereas a natural response is for people to suggest turning to mental health professionals, when much of your trauma came from a mental health “professional,” engaging with that field becomes more painful than ignoring it, and can be dangerous. Should I eventually figure out how to disengage that automatic response, yes, certainly, but right now I think it is more adaptive to recognize it as a self-protective mechanism and pride myself for my preservation instincts. When I am doing better, I am considering how I can safely process through that fear and do some safety-learning to adopt a more normal response, but right now, survival is priority number one, and I don’t have the energy to spare to do everything at once, so that is something that will continue to simmer on the back burner. It isn’t an emergency. That aspect of the pain didn’t enter my life overnight and won’t leave overnight either. It was something I was immersed in deeply for a long time and lived with for years, so clearly even if I was ready to tackle it head on, it wouldn’t be realistic to expect it to end like blowing out a candle, rather it will likely end more like a trick candle or the deepest embers of a long-burning fire that just when you think it is out for good starts to burn again. Feeling broken and worthless were taught to me, and I think they are things that are a lot easier to learn than to un-learn. God has placed some wonderful people in my life to help me try to re-build and see some value in myself, but my worthlessness is so deeply rooted in my belief about myself that it is like building a home during an earthquake. Creating a structurally sound dwelling is nearly impossible and the walls keep crashing back down.

 

That last part is really the key. I survived. Third year, because of what was going on, I at one point described myself as leaning against a fence separating life from death, unsure whether the fence could hold my weight, but not fully sure I cared. I think what I meant by this was while certainly not in any acute danger, and pretty sure I was in a safe place, I didn’t have concerns about staying safe not because I was so clearly safe but because I didn’t really know if I wanted to stay alive or die. That summer, when everything exploded, I crossed the line and walked into the realm of no longer feeling there was any reason for me to be alive. I was not actively suicidal…for that matter I wasn’t really active at all. I spent all day laying flat on the floor in front of my laptop. While usually even being on the laptop put the “activ” in activity, my emotional deadness translated to physical deadness as if my body was weighted down with heavy magnets, pulling me down. I may not have had any interest in killing myself, but for the first time, I really knew I wanted to die, because it seemed from my perspective that I had nothing left to live for and it would be easier for everyone if I was dead. I didn’t think anyone would miss me. But I am still alive. I made it through and even experienced joy again. And after failing to match, I began to pray for God to take me home. I stopped for a while, but with the most recent blow started again…but God has kept me here and like it or not I am still alive. I have made it day by day. I have survived some really hard things and I guess maybe that does show resilience. I am strong. I am brave. I will not give up. I will continue to work towards recovery. And I am working towards recovery. Today, without cheating, I was five pounds away from my goal…yes, I will admit that sometimes I cheat. If  am afraid the number is going to be too low and I don’t want to deal with that, I have no problem with picking up a pile of dirty clothes or soaking a towel and holding it to add weight. I figure it is aiding my mental health even if it is not helping my physical health. I don’t consider it cheating to water load or stuff like that, because for a while getting water in my mouth was a major struggle, so if I am drowning myself in water to see a higher number then at least there is water entering my body.

 

Speaking of eating and drinking, a few days ago one of my friends encouraged me to order a caffeine free pumpkin spice drink if it was on the online menu even if it wasn’t on the menu in the store. I am so proud of myself for doing it!! The pumpkin pie coffeeless cooler from Caribou is so amazing!!!!! It looks absolutely nothing like the picture on the website, in fact, it looks nearly identical to Starbucks’ vanilla bean crème frappuccino, but it literally tastes like pumpkin pie in liquid form (without the crust, which is also awesome, because except for like graham cracker or cookie crusts, my opinion of pie crusts is that they are kind of a bummer). I was delighted!! With my quiet personality I wouldn’t have said anything if it was missing the pumpkin flavoring…and I might not have even said anything if it was accidentally made with coffee, so I was really excited to have a pumpkin flavored drink that was safe for me to drink!

 

Wanna know something else fall themed? The tree picture at the beginning of the post! It looks SOOO much better in person than on my cell phone pictures, but the colors are just incredible in real life.

 

You wanna know what else is incredible? My friends :). But I learned this week that trying to fit in and being open to making friends with every single person regardless of whether they realistically could be a good friend for me is not always the right option. I am awful at saying no. I am super passive…and so I realized that there were some people I was halfway friends with that were making me feel frustrated and annoyed rather than feeling good about having friends. It isn’t anything against them, just that there was a mismatch in interests and personalities that led to a disconnect that didn’t make me happy. I decided that it is hard enough work to make friends that it doesn’t make sense to force myself into a round hole when I am a square peg. Everyone knows from the traditional children’s shape sorter activity that the square hole is the biggest and the square, circle, and rectangle all fit through the square hole, so trying to fit anything except the circle into the circle hole isn’t going to work. You can put anything in the square hole, so really it is the most useful hole and I need to stop seeking out that round hole that is evidently too small.

 

‘kay, one more thing. Someone was talking about if you could choose five songs to listen to before you died, what would they be. Knowing me, you probably wouldn’t be surprised that the first song I thought of was Not gonna die – skillet…and then Breathin’ to Death – LeCrae. After that it took a little more thought. In case my death was maybe something preventable, I thought perhaps Another one Bites the Dust would be a good one because that one helps you do CPR correctly…although I don’t actually really know that song so maybe another one rides the bus by Weird Al would be better…then in case it was a gun-related incident with bystanders who could intervene, Take the Bullets Away – Lacey Sturm. So now I was down to needing one more song. Umm…Never be Rested – Josh Stearns?? Because if you are dead you’ll never be rested?? I have no idea…that fifth song was pretty much where I got stuck. So…what songs would you choose before you died?

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 gonna lift your name and let this flame get higher

(Fire – Krystal Meyers)

 

I have a really awesome God.

 

I have described the resiliency/determination/motivation drive inside of me as a fire, and God has been incredible in helping me keep the fire burning.

 

My fire had really just started growing again from the embers. I was healing really well from the grief and was finally at a point where the fire was pretty darn close to fully functional. Then life threw water on my fire when I got the voicemail that I lost my job again (that I didn’t actually fully have back yet…). The fire almost went out, but first, of course, there was the little flare that initially happens when you put water on a fire.

 

That evening I could use the back-up gas can to have a good time with my family. The can was running very low by the end of the night, but Saturday God put me with people who could throw some extra kindling on my fire to get me through the afternoon.

 

By Sunday morning I was running on the fumes from the gas can…and I was somehow supposed to make it through going out to lunch with some people. My fire was getting close to burned out and I didn’t know how I was going to make it work. But God is so good. On my own I would have given up and come up with an excuse to go home or I would have gone and not eaten, but I don’t serve a God who leaves me all alone. God had some extra logs and matches to make it through most of lunch and actually eat it!! By the end of lunch the fire was starting to burn down again and I was totally overwhelmed with the prospect of finishing lunch and eating dinner later.

 

But God didn’t leave it at that. God knows how hard I’ve worked to gain weight and how much I don’t want to have to remake all that progress. In the afternoon God continued to throw little bits of paper and sticks onto my fire to keep it from burning out. I started being interested in eating fry bread tacos for dinner…Well, I couldn’t figure out how I could make that possible, but while I was attempting to shop I got an idea…

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Fry bread tacos…nailed it…okay yeah, it’s an asiago bagel with a tomato bit in half and some taco seasoning sprinkled on…so I had a single baby tomato, a sprinkling of taco seasoning and an asiago bagel…and it took over an hour to eat it, but I have now eaten something and that is a lot more than nothing. I might not have gotten all my errands done this weekend, but nothing was a real emergency. They say you shouldn’t go grocery shopping hungry, but my opinion is that if you go when you aren’t hungry then what motivation do you have to put forth any real effort in picking out groceries? I feel that grocery shopping is difficult enough already so the best way to be successful is to go hungry so that you have a good reason to end up with food at the end of the trip. (My other tip is to only have 2 or 3 items on the list)…so going grocery shopping when eating is such a battle was not something I was going to make myself do, because setting myself up for failure when I’m already struggling isn’t a good plan…

Painting on a smile like it our covers our need, no thank you I’d rather bleed

(Almost 17 – Stephanie Pauline)

 

God is always working things for good. Even though it doesn’t always feel that way.

 

I try to pretend that I am okay, that I am moving on with life, that this doesn’t really bother me. I paint on a smile in hopes of it hiding the gaping holes in my heart and cover the tears that have so recently fallen and will yet fall again.

 

On Thursday, one of my friends emailed me something that really spoke to me.

 

I have tended to be more of a Stand in the Rain kind of girl (Superchic[k]). When hard things came my way I hid away the pain in a box and put the box in its little cubby in my head and tried not to let that box spill over. Tried not to let that box by seen. But sometimes I can’t stand up when it’s all crashing down, and if I stand in the rain, I will drown. Some days my anthem has to be “No, we’re not gonna die tonight, we’re gonna stand and fight forever.” (Not gonna die – Skillet). Standing and fighting in that sense isn’t standing in the rain; it’s continuing to eat sleep drink breathe. “I won’t give up I refuse.”

 

One email. It wasn’t a long email – one line intended to show caring but not to change my life or anything…but it made an impact. A big impact. My friend gave me permission to be upset. I’ve been trying to hold it together for so long. It was freeing. I might not be comfortable just crying openly at work or church or really anywhere, but her words let me know it is okay to hurt. It is okay to grieve. It is okay to not *really* be okay. If where I am is crying almost every day, it isn’t a failure. It just is. That felt really good. It was validating and comforting to know it was okay and that I wasn’t inconveniencing everyone when I couldn’t (can’t) contain the pain and tears. Letting go is hard, and that’s okay.

 

It is such a different message than I’ve gotten in other places. In the abusive counseling relationship, the one time I slipped and cried in session I earned myself extra hurtful words and actions. I got the message loud and clear that crying was unacceptable and bad and something I should definitely avoid. I learned that it was wrong to hurt and no one would want me if I showed any signs of pain. Even elsewhere in life, society has shown me that crying should stop, preferably before being seen. I mean, how else can you interpret being asked to go on break (alone) that first day back when I started crying…or that day on rotation being asked to take a few hours off to calm down before being given alternate activities that kept me away from the students…okay yeah, partly the goal was probably intended to be caring, but the point is, what this friend said was so other to the message I had been living and believing for so long. I had struggled to hide my pain. Felt like even more of a failure when it overflowed, but I don’t have to do that. She doesn’t need me to throw a smile on to hide the storm inside…and neither does God. She wasn’t condemning me when the tears overflowed and the pain stole away my voice. She didn’t see me as the failure I wrote myself off as.

 

It’s okay. I don’t have to wear the Christian ‘I am so blessed’ mask. It is exhausting to keep that mask on. Does that mean that I will suddenly feel totally comfortable walking around town crying…umm, I doubt it…but maybe sometimes with one or two friends I can stop painting on a smile when I’d rather bleed. My really close friends kinda saw through some of it anyway – it was never a very well-maintained act even when I wasn’t crying. And I don’t have to keep putting on that play. I can stop trying to hide away from all the pain that [I] feel…maybe making me bleed will be the answer that could wash the slate clean (When She Cries – Britt Nicole). Maybe slowly letting people in and talking about the pain will not make it more real than either of us could bear but instead be an avenue of healing. Maybe facing it with a friend by my side will make the pain more manageable. I am so glad for permission to hurt. I have been frustrated with myself for the breaks in character where people saw the pain underneath, but these simple words gave me permission to live in the pain and really feel it without worrying about it being not what others want.

 

That is such a huge relief for this girl who has been running a marathon with a backpack of concealer on her back, berating herself for being too slow and for sweating off the makeup and letting her true feelings show through. It is such a burden to be able to let go of for this people-pleasing girl who just wants to make everyone genuinely smile and know how appreciated they are for putting on a bubbly smile to not be an essential part of the role anymore. It is “living life with a different set of rules” (Rebel – LeCrae), and these rules make the game so much less overwhelming, and more fun.

 

Also, another friend who doesn’t know much of my story yet told me a few weeks ago that she was praying for bravery for me…I don’t really know where that came from, but it reminded me that bravery isn’t being unafraid. Courage isn’t not being scared, it’s doing it, scared…which reminded me of the Mary Kate and Ashley song, bravery…which I drew out the last line from today…because when you live alone and don’t spend 85% of your waking hours at school anymore, and no longer have homework to fill your time, you start realizing that the majority of the inside things you can do are either getting old (trying to find something to entertain me on the internet) or are a lot more fun with another person (playing games)…and sometimes the effort of putting on sunscreen and stuff just feels like too much so outside isn’t an option.

 

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It’s a sand pail sitting in the sand, but filled with bravery. It says “I’m brimming with bravery. It’s scary.”

But today I did find a video with which I connected.

 

Imagine if this video were real life…but instead of the lies and hurtful words happening on the internet it is happening via email and verbally between people when you aren’t around. It is a big, but not very well-kept secret. I might not have been around to hear it, and obviously I didn’t tend to be included on the emails, but I knew it was happening. I guess it is kinda like during the times at the beginning when the girl in the video was without her laptop but we both knew there was stuff going on about us that wasn’t positive. Other people knew and heard it, but I didn’t. I just knew it was there. Anyway, this in a lot of ways was a really good image of what life was like after I broke free of the counseling relationship with my abuser. A lot of broken relationships with people who didn’t want to be my friend anymore – or only wanted to be my friend when no one would see them. A lot of relationships strained nearly to the breaking point when I was hurt so badly that I couldn’t be a good friend anymore. I didn’t attempt suicide, but I did hurt deeply. I am thankful though, for the people who saw through my pain (both the I’m fine façade and the pain-induced responses) to the girl underneath who just needed someone to acknowledge that she had value. Abuse is really painful. Stalking isn’t a victimless crime. I am totally serious when I say that there were times I kept the alarm at the place I volunteered right next to me because I was terrified of how far my abuser would go to find me and hurt me. Eventually I determined she wouldn’t come find me there and it became my safe haven. The one place I could go and know I wouldn’t be followed and watched. Anyway, I pushed away the hurt and most of the time I was okay…but when the profound loss came this spring, it brought with it the pain of the abuse. The words came back just as vividly as when it was happening. Worthless. Stupid. Never going to make it. Unwanted. Annoying. Not good enough. Failure. Loser. That is just a sampling of how I was feeling and what I believed about myself. Abuse doesn’t go out like a birthday candle. Neither does grief. But I don’t have to be a happy plastic person…with smiles to hide [my] pain. (Stained Glass Masquerade – Casting Crowns).

 

I leave you with the closing lines of Stained Glass Masquerade, when the song slows to ask these very real questions that hurting people are subconsciously asking when walking into the church room where everyone seems to joyful and perfect and like they have it all together living in paradise, or at least a lot closer to paradise than I am…Sometimes the happiness everyone else exudes makes me feel even more like an outsider. I knew no matter how hard I tried that I couldn’t match their zest for life. I was the black cloud in a cotton ball sky no matter how hard I tried to scrub off the color to match everyone else.

 

Is there anyone who fails?

Is there anyone who falls?

Am I the only one in church today feeling so small?

My Soul is Gonna Get There One Day

(On the mountain – Christa Wells)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

These Scars are Not For Life

The Skies Alive – Remedy Drive)

 Note that this was composed from my phone as Mr. Lappy Pants was left behind last night…so there might be more typos then usual…or maybe less because I swipe to type on my phone so there is a lot lower chance of flipped around letters…

There has been a lot of hurt in my life, and sometimes it seems like no sooner does one wound heal but another cut comes deeper. I fight and fight and keep going through life…

Remember when I started a happy journal because of an idea in a book that sounded awesome…and wasn’t so awesome in real life? Well, the new awesome idea is that maybe I’ll make more friends if I don’t let anyone in on the pain and do a better job pretending everything is awesome…yeah…pretty sure that is not going to work very well. There are a few things that are legitimately signs that God is still present even if it doesn’t always *feel* that way.

Something I heard today is sorta related. “Disengagement is a refusal to risk any future loss.” I don’t think that is exactly what I do – a lot of my pretending is more related to my social prowess, or lack thereof. I do, however, stay super busy if I can as a way of warding off the pain. If I can manage to get engaged enough in other things the pain is much more dull and manageable.

But disengagement doesn’t completely take away the possibility of further hurt. Having no or low to negative expectations does decrease how much bad things hurt, but it isn’t fool proof. Some things are completely unexpected and just catch you really off guard. Like finding out today about someone I know in ICU trying to be stabilized enough to make it to a bigger trauma center. A few states away, I feel totally helpless, unable to do anything. I want to be able to help, but there is nothing I can do from a few states away, and even if I was closer, there’d be little to nothing I could do, because I am pretty sure at this point visitors would just be more bodies in the way.

It reminded me, though, about something someone said to me last winter about why he preferred pediatrics. His reasoning was that a lot of adult issues are at least partially self-inflicted and that it often seems like in adults we are sustaining life in circumstances in which living might not even be in the patient’s best interest because of what their quality of life will look like. I do agree for the most part on the second point with reservations regarding determining the patient’s opinion about what kind of life is worth it since I don’t think we as medical professionals can claim to know enough about any patient to make that decision for them. I don’t totally agree on the first point. Maybe it’s because I’m one of those look for the good in everyone and give lots of chances kind of people, but I really value treating people who brought their condition on themselves. I believe that for the most part people don’t wake up in the morning thinking about how they can harm themselves and ends up in the hospital, rather, it is more a breakdown of trying to do whatever it takes to get through life and not quite hitting the target. I really empathize with that struggle. I do strongly prefer treating children, but clearly it is not for exactly the same reason. And that is something really cool about this world. We all are totally different people who come from diverse backgrounds that shape us in such a way that even if we outwardly appear similar, our raison d’être can be utterly different.

So anyway, that wasn’t at all what I planned to write about and just became a kinda long tangent…but what else would you expect of me?!

So anyway, a few years ago when the word resilient was used to describe me, I was internally screaming “don’t you see what I am going through? Don’t you understand how hard this is? Do you think this is okay?” As the years have gone by, however, I have realized that I am resilient. I struggle, but I keep running towards the light. Although it seems to me like it I am just doing what I have to for survival, I guess I discounted that it is possible to stop doing even that. Recently, I have learned to be super proud of myself for how resilient I am. Resilience doesn’t mean not getting hurt; it means continuing to get up when you fall to the ground.

Y’know, I never thought I’d say this, but there are some jobs that I am kinda glad I didn’t get. I interviewed for a residency in Texas and it was one of my top choices at the time. I also applied for some jobs in Texas I didn’t get interviews for. And shortly after accepting the job I currently have, I was contacted by a recruiter from Texas to apply for some open positions. As enjoyable as those jobs may have been, I am so thankful I did not move to Texas and ends up losing everything. I may not be totally satisfied here, but I don’t think flooding is much of a threat…although I do live kinda at the bottom of a hill…so…who knows.

Yesterday I was driving to my parents’ house yet again and was thinking about the major contrast from the last time I’d driven up. Last time I was practically bouncing off the walls of my car with excitement. I could not sit still and literally more than once had to tell myself stuff like get your foot out of your face and watch where you’re going. I was thrilled to be about to get a call from my manager and reconnect and talk about scheduling and when I can come back (and see all my friends in person). This time the mood was much more sorrowful. I was still because the emotional exhaustion translates to physical exhaustion. I cried. But on the positive side, I did complete another life goal…taking a picture of this house…

20170828_100328.jpg

 Yeah, the front of that house is painted “blessed us he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Aside from how that reminds me of the donut man, I think that is really awesome. I’d I were talented, I’d love to have that painted on my house someday.

Speaking of driving, I think I’ve driven more miles in the past two months than I usually drive in like a year…and I don’t even usually drive to work or really anywhere except back and forth from my parents house to my apartment. I walk to the grocery store and almost everywhere else…except the gas station. I almost did that one day before realizing I couldn’t fill a car with gas from across town…but you know what, I am thankful that I have a car that gets me from point a to point b. I was just thinking about how everyday life is very doable without a car, but I can’t even imagine in some extenuating circumstances how difficult not having a car could be…yet people do it. (Though, mostly people who are a lot bolder than I am and don’t worry so much about burdening people by asking for help when it could make things easier).

I am very sad about losing my pediatric job. That has been hard, but I am so glad that I am getting used to the hurt. I think it is a definite sign of some healing from the grief that I am back to eating pretty normally again already, and so far anyway, I haven’t yet cried today! Score! That is not to say it doesn’t so hurt, but just that God is good and had provided some of the healing relief I needed so badly.

Also, God can be funny sometimes. I love how he is always working in such weird ways. I have now met two people in non-threatening friendship-inviting ways that are planning on becoming some type of counselor type person. I guess God knew that I maybe never was going to break the skepticism of people in that field by my attempts at exposure. It was always going to be too much. Instead, God seems to be sending people to me in a lot more manageable way that feels almost positive rather than terrifying. That is such a blessing.

Also, I just looked out the window and I can see the moon even though it is still bright and sunny. And also, here are links to two blog posts that are super awesome and I can’t remember exactly why I copied them here…so there’s that… Pretty sure the first one is about how it is okay to be hurting and need help and the second one is about learning to let go.

http://www.incourage.me/2017/08/youre-drowning-honest-motherhood.html

http://www.incourage.me/2017/08/the-house-that-built-me.html

 So yeah. I’m pretty sure there was a lot me that I wanted to say, but typing a blog post from a phone is a very long process so I’m signing off.

Love y’all.

Sincerely,

Wiggle Worm

A Thousand Miles on Bald Tires

(Thank God For Country Radio – Stephanie Pauline)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Impossible things are possible now

(Finale – Fear NOT)

 

(This is another linkup with Holley Gerth…and it might be a little messy because my life is a little messy sometimes…)

 

Yep, I definitely have moved back to Christmas music…

 

Have you ever wondered if Bible characters were sassy in real life?

 

Gabe: I’m going to strike you dumb.

 

Eli: *How* dumb?!

 

Gabe: No, dumb as in silent, you know, can’t speak?

 

Yeah…I’m glad we don’t generally call mutism being dumb anymore. That is hurtful. I guess I kinda understand why dumb became associated with stupid though…when you don’t talk usually people get that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes (Things aren’t always what they seem, you’re only seeing part of me, there’s so much more that’s going on behind the scenes – Francesca Battistelli), but I think maybe once in a while they assume that if you can’t verbally show that you know that you must not know. And I did label myself stupid…it mostly became ingrained in my identity when Certain Someone labelled me that way and did everything in her power to make sure I knew how stupid I was and that if I were smart I wouldn’t be struggling with anxiety…now even though it is stuck in my identity, I know cognitively that being able or unable to speak is not indicative of intelligence. Having anxiety was NOT my fault and NOT something I chose. I was working hard to overcome and not being able to snap my fingers and no longer have any social difficulties didn’t make me stupid, it made me normal. No one gets over anxiety instantaneously by just deciding not to have it anymore. It doesn’t work like that. I am not a complete failure. I am a resilient survivor. And broken people are strong because they know they can survive…even if sometimes they aren’t sure they really wanna survive. Okay, well maybe I am a failure, but not directly because of anxiety.

 

So anyway, the topic this week is: Living fully Loving bravely.

 

I know these things are supposed to be hopeful. Hope is so hard. So you’re going to have to get all the way to the end of this one to find the hope…I really am doing a lot better…and in a few more hours I’ll have made it two days in a row with no tears, but my world is still in little pieces waiting to be put back together with some shards too small to be able to even think about putting back together.

 

But I am going to learn to hope again. I will. I even already have some friends and I even know their names!! And I will learn to trust again.

 

Trust and hope both are incredibly difficult…and make living fully more difficult. When all you can see is your pain and your loss it is hard to go on with life. Sure, I go through the motions, and I am getting really good at pretending I am fine, but underneath I am not really living.

 

I don’t remember where I heard it, but sometime recently I heard that wounds in our lives usually come from relationship and can only be healed by relationship…and I think it is very true. I don’t think it is just because I am an extravert that I crave relationship and have felt the best while with other people and the first few minutes or so after being with people. I believe there is a lot of power in *with.* We were not made to live this life alone. It is sometimes small comments that weren’t even much a part of the conversation that make the biggest difference. Sometimes just someone else understanding is huge. It means a lot when someone can identify connections that really get at my heart. Being brave and making friends is the biggest step I can take towards continued healing.

 

I am never really alone…’cause God made me and he loves me so and he is my friend forever