Category Archives: Resilience

Though the world doesn’t care it matters to me

(It Happened – Stephanie Pauline)


I’ve seen blog posts after the owner has not written for a long time that simply say something along the lines of “Y’all, I am doing so much better” and that is the end of the post and often the end of the blog. I don’t think I have been away long enough to warrant that and I think I want to keep blogging…and I feel like as a blogger I have always been way too verbose to have a one-liner post…but I am doing a lot better.


Four years (ish) ago I claimed that I had absolutely no OCD issues anymore. At the time it was true…but OCD is a sneaky beast. Since then there have certainly been times when the OCD came back…usually it’s just been a few hours or maybe a day and then it is gone again. Considering the sleeplessness and poor intake over the past months since not matching the first time, I probably shouldn’t be that surprised that a more protracted relapse entered my life even though I am doing a lot better with the grief than I was. My body and mind are still recovering even if I want to claim that I am fine. I still cry sometimes. I gained weight to my goal (not all of it back) and kept the weight on long enough to say okay unless there is a concern it doesn’t matter whether or not I keep this weight on. I did lose some of the weight again, but having a lower set point is okay as long as I am actually eating reasonable meals three times a day and not using up excessive amounts of energy without replacing it.


OCD makes it hard to be at work sometimes because people call in sick sometimes and the internet says shared pens are disgusting and dangerous and so are phones. OCD makes me vulnerable to computer viruses, because if I need to search the internet for stomach flu stories, I need to click on every single link…which means potentially clicking on dangerous sites…I am fairly certain that is how my yahoo email account started sending out spam emails on its own which I only discovered when it sent one to me…I was so embarrassed because I have no idea how many people it may have fraudulently sent emails to since the emails are not archived in my sent mail folder…and I don’t know whether proper etiquette is to pretend it never happened or to email absolutely everyone I know to make sure I don’t miss anyone in letting them know it wasn’t really me…but then that would be basically another pointless email clogging up people’s inbox…and I really hope they know it wasn’t really me. Speaking of my obsessive searches…I am very much aware that the more I search the more fear I feel, but when the OCD strikes, the need to know overrides all logic, and it *feels* like reading all the things will make me safer…luckily, so far, although I had a bit of a protracted relapse, it never got to a really bad point at all, more of just a very mild hovering just above a normal point for a long time. Just in case though, after getting home from Target to buy my Christmas tree, I allowed myself to wash my hands because I was at a point where I wasn’t touching things and I knew that if the anxiety didn’t calm soon it would be a lot easier to cope if I washed my hands and kept my apartment at least relatively clean than if I forced myself to horribly contaminate my entire apartment…shopping can be hard. Partly because the internet also says that shopping carts are dirty and because people on the internet admit to going shopping while sick (STAY IN YOUR HOME PEOPLE) so all the stuff in the store might be contaminated. Also, there are times when I want to buy bleach, and I know that I am not quite ready to be responsible with bleach. There have been times I would have been ready to go shopping but didn’t because I was afraid I might come home with a bottle of bleach.


Sometimes “just relax” or “what’s the worst that could happen” are unhelpful words that show a lack of understanding, because trust me, if I could “just relax” I would. But sometimes I have to remind myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect…case in point: Thanksgiving. It came into my head that I *was* bringing something to Thanksgiving, so I asked and asked until I finally became in charge of bringing rolls. Easy, right? Well, first I kinda fell asleep after lunch and woke up and realized I intended to start getting the rolls ready a while ago…then I realized the directions were super confusing/vague. As I finally get to the let rise at least 45 minutes I look at the clock and realize that I am falling hopelessly behind the timeline. Remember that not only am I taking extra time trying to understand, the area in which I still wash almost excessively is when cooking…washing your hands doesn’t take a lot of time but do it enough times and it adds up. And I am also realizing that even if I skip half of the rise time I still have nowhere near enough time to re-use the same pan for two batches and I only have one pan that is really intended for making rolls so I’m going to need to come up with a creative improvised solution ASAP to get everything into the oven at one time. So this is the perfect time to spill and/or splatter most of a stick of butter all over my microwave. I don’t know the importance of butter in this recipe – I might just try skipping it altogether next time and see what happens instead of getting stressed out. Trying to make up time while shaking from anxiety makes it hard to get a new stick of butter unwrapped. Just sayin.’ And of course I spill flour all over too. To speed things up I try mixing the bread dough with a mixer…and pretty quickly realize it is a bad idea but for a few seconds freeze which is long enough for the dough to get up into the holes to the point that the eject button doesn’t work and I have to yank the stick things off of the mixer base…so after skipping a few steps I didn’t have time for I tried all sorts of things to get the dough out of the inside of the mixer and am hoping it’ll work again next time I have an appropriate use for it. Anyway, at this point you have to either laugh or cry…so I announced to myself that I now have the most well-greased microwave ever. And as I am looking for more towels to try to clean it up because soaking up some of the drips before they got to the floor with paper towel and napkins was good, but real towels are the only match for the explosion in the microwave, I relax and realize that it doesn’t have to be perfect and my worth as a person is not dependent upon my ability to make rolls. I might feel embarrassed if they turn out bad, but it is not the end of the world if there aren’t rolls for thanksgiving. In fact, I have been at thanksgiving celebrations where there intentionally was not rolls.


So yeah. The rolls weren’t perfect and some of them were falling apart. I ended up with a hard to clean microwave and almost every bowl in my kitchen dirty (thank God for dishwashers). I burned my serving tray by pouring the rolls from the pan directly out of the oven into the towel-lined tray. And I was still late to Thanksgiving…but I also still had a wonderful time. Thanksgiving can be hard for me because of my social skills or lack thereof, but I had such a good time. No one made me feel awkward for what I did or didn’t eat or for what I did or didn’t say. It was okay to just be me. I was accepted and included and LOVED it!!


Probably a week-ish later I had some time scheduled to hang out with a new friend. Maybe an hour or so before it is time to go I read a text from her that she hadn’t thought to tell me but her kids had been sick. And the way it was worded definitely sounded like the vomiting kind of sick. Full stop. This is basically how I lose friends. Anyone in the home sick pretty much means the person is going to be contaminated for a LONG time. I was determined not to lose my brand new friend. I was terrified because clearly if I hadn’t already been told this is not a contamination-aware home. I am strong. My plan was bring as little as possible in and only things that can be cleaned easily. In my car was a towel to protect my car from germs and spray hand sanitizer. Of course one of the first things that happens as I come in is she is preparing food that my passive can’t reject…and one potentially sick kiddo was helping. So, long story short, I ate throughout the day even with toddler fingers in the bowl. That is not something I really ever expected to be able to do. I don’t know if it would be a big deal for “normal” people, but it was a big deal for me. Yes, I did come home and wiped my flip flops with a sanitizer wipe, stripped all my clothes off into the washer with the towel and my watch band, ran a quick wash cycle while showering, found a new towel and clothes, ran a *real* wash cycle, and worked on cleaning my watch itself, my phone, and the floor where I walked before showering…yes, excessive, but after that I was totally fine again, and that is a huge accomplishment for me. I CAN challenge myself and I CAN do it without falling apart.


Do I still have OCD fears? Sometimes. Do I still at times struggle with the grief? Definitely, but I can live life okay with minor contamination sometimes and accept minor risks…and even challenge myself with big risks. And I no longer get up every single morning wishing I weren’t alive. I might not be thrilled with where I am in life, but I am doing so much better than before.


I don’t recall where this quote came from, but it’s been on my list of things for awhile… “I needed to live, not live better.” It is easy to be frustrated with myself and see all the perceived failure, but that misses the fact that one of my major success stories is that I lived. There are a lot of really hard things that I have faced in the past year, and even before that, but I survived. Sure, in retrospect it is easy to see how maybe there is some way I could have fought harder and lost less weight for example, but starving short term wasn’t going to kill me. I needed to live, not live better. It took all the power I had to get something in my mouth every day and to keep on making it through each day on almost no sleep. I did my best, and I survived. It really is only by God’s power that I am still here. Barely functioning I didn’t necessarily always remember even the basics of driving like gas vs brake, much less the intricacies…and I was often trying to get where I needed to be while struggling to see through the storm of tears. It wasn’t the best way to live, but I needed to live, not live better…


It is crazy to think that at this time last year I was finishing up and submitting the applications to the nine places I expected to interview including the one place I intended to end up. Now I am finally in a job that I do not like, but that I am learning to be thankful for because it pays the bills and has allowed me to grow not professionally, but personally as I learn how to make new friends and stuff…’cause as a resident in a lot of places you get a built in friend of your co-residents who also have just graduated and are in need of friends and with whom you will spend lots of time, so being a real pharmacist I skipped over that hand holding step into the real world.


I am really proud of myself. I might have challenges to overcome, but I am a fighter and no one will take away my shine.


Hold on you said and I held on

Go – Plumb)


I have been holding on for a long time. One way I deal with pain and loss is to pretend I’m fine and to shove it away into a box and try to cram the lid on top. It may not be the most recommended method, but you have to use the tools in your toolbox, not the tools in your neighbor’s toolbox. And this method is not completely ineffective. I have a lot of unhappy days, but I also am healing gradually and finding more opportunities for joy. Sure, I haven’t even seen a really young child since moving here except for one time at work for a few seconds, but recently I have gotten to hang out with a super cute almost 2 year old and her 5(?) month old sister. It is pure joy…until they have to go home…


Each breath breathed means we’re alive and life means that we can find a reason to keep on getting by – Breathe Superchick


I didn’t use to realize that life was a choice. It was just the way it is. I have since realized that it is a sign of my resilience that I am still alive and staying that way. It means that I have figured out how to get by. I am strong. I work really hard sometimes to make it, but I keep going, because that is what I feel like I need to do. I keep breathing and finding a way to keep getting by. It is very difficult realizing that my dreams have died. It is still painful and I still cry sometimes, but I am alive. But on Saturday a 6-year-old told me I needed to kill myself. Is it obvious even to someone so young that I am not worth it? I know she’s 6 and I’m 25 so I should know better, but it is the same message but just a little more blunt than I received at school so it is harder to pretend that didn’t happen. I feel like I try so hard only to fail. Why keep trying if it just means more pain later? I so desperately want to get back to pediatrics and especially to get back to my friends at Children’s, but I don’t know if I can take the pain again. The wounds aren’t quite so raw anymore, but neither have they healed enough to have strong bold scar tissue growing to better withhold against tough things. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may break my heart.


Some storms claim you. Some will rename you. – Be My Rescue Nichole Nordeman


This whole song has some really good imagery. Sometimes when the storm comes through you can’t escape it. Sometimes caught in the storm you get soaked, but when it ends you dry out and everything is back to how it was before. Sometimes though, you can’t go back to how it was before. As much as I would love to be the bubbly girl I was before everything happened, as much as I would like to be the confident girl I was before the abuse, those ships have sailed. Now I am different. I connect differently and I act differently than I did before. Although I guess it is kind of strange to label a girl with social anxiety to the point of near silence and potential selective mutism as confident, that is how I saw myself. I was not confident in *every* realm – socially I was not confident, but I was confident in who I was and in my abilities. That was before I had internalized that I was stupid, worthless, not going to make it, unwanted…It takes time to learn those things, but it is near impossible to really unlearn those things. I miss who I was, but at the same time, I recognize that I can never be that girl again and that who I am now is not all bad. I might be at a dead end career-wise and really be struggling with dissatisfaction about my job, but with God all things are possible and maybe God has wonderful plans for my life. Maybe someday I will be a success story. The more pain and obstacles in the way, the more inspiring the success stories are, so maybe God has something really cool waiting for me…but I have to remember that even if not, God is still good. Even if I never get to be a success, God still loves me and I still will one day get to go to forever home…just not today and probably not tomorrow either.


Sorta kinda related, but I recently read a story online that I really connected with. I don’t remember the whole thing, but long story short, this girl experienced a painful loss. A few years later she was shopping for gingerbread ice cream treats and they weren’t available at the store. Somehow in that moment it sparked a reminder of her loss and those ice cream treats were the most important thing in her world and she was crumbling in pain in the store, but it wasn’t really about the treats, it was about the loss…that is kind of where I am. I am doing just fine, minding my own business when all of sudden some unassuming tiny pebble becomes a giant mountain I can’t climb. It is exhausting.

Am I really living, or am I just existing?

(Save Me – JJ Heller)


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Lord I Find You in the Doubt

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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.

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…


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.


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?