Category Archives: Resilience

No one said they were above me, but I could see, and it only proved how easy climbing trees should be

(Fish Song – Jessica McCabe)

First off, I really loved this song and I felt like it could totally apply to a wide variety of situations.

Here is the song:

I feel like this is kind of where I am right now. No one has recently said anything like hey you’re a lesser person for not having done residency or you’re not worth it…but it is pretty easy to see where I am and where other people are and feel frustrated.

It isn’t the overt you’re not enough anymore. Now it is the occasions when the me on paper holds me back. It is the excited people on facebook posting about how God loves them so much and has blessed them with dream job. By extension, if God shows love and extends blessing via meeting career objectives then I must be unloved and unblessed because I didn’t get what I wanted. If happiness is the proof that God is good then by extension the crushing of my dreams must mean the opposite. I also just realized another reason those posts were so distasteful last year (there haven’t been enough this year to make a blanket judgement). Pretty much every single person claiming God was blessing them was someone who wanted absolutely nothing to do with God prior to getting the job they wanted. I realized that while it was going to hurt either way, it probably hurt more because these people who hadn’t cared about God somehow at least acted like they believed when they got what they wanted. God is really important to me. I will admit that I am fiercely protective and this is probably me trying to protect God from people who only care when they get something incredible…one more way I am just messing everything up.

I am not a monkey, but I am also not a fish. I am a penguin. Metaphorically, I can swim, but not very well or gracefully. I am a bird, but I can’t fly. I live on the land but I can hardly walk. I am a throwaway animal. There isn’t really anything I can do right so the only thing I’m really good for is a spectacle.

Why does life have to hurt so much?

Last night I worked the 2:30-11pm shift at work. I drove home. And I got home later than I usually do walking. I live a mile away yet it took like 35 minutes to get home because I got so lost and now my car is dangerously low on gas. This is my brain on grief. I will admit that I am not the greatest at wayfinding, but when you only live a mile from work, it definitely shouldn’t take 35 minutes starting at 11 at night to get home. I don’t know what happened. Thankfully God put me somewhere that I eventually realized where I was and how to get home, but it is frustrating when stuff like that happens. I guess it feels like a confirmation that I can’t do anything right.

Today is match day for pharmacy. I made it out alive last year, and I will keep going this year. It hurts. But my oatmeal and a cookie made it to my mouth eventually. I feel like I can’t, but I know minute by minute day by day I will survive this. Someday it will be okay even if I have to keep waiting and holding on until I get to heaven for that someday to occur.


Whining and Crying as Well

(He Grants Sleep to Those He Loves – Michael Card)


The line that comes immediately before these lyrics, similar to the title of the song, is “For he grants sleep to the ones that he loves.” When life hurts so much and sleep is not coming easily, it feels easy to use this as evidence against God loving me…but I have to remember that next line “whining and crying as well.” God acknowledges that we can expect to have negative feelings. But it still hurts.


Today last year the light at the end of my long tunnel burned out…or more accurately, the bulb was crushed so it couldn’t really even be changed. I tried to make today not come. I just stayed at church and stayed at church as if not going home would mean yesterday would never end. Not that yesterday was awesome or anything, but I guess I instinctively knew that whatever I felt yesterday it would surely be much worse today…but eventually I had to leave…and eventually today came.


I’m eating, because that’s what you’re supposed to do, but it really isn’t enjoyable like it should be. I mean, I like the chocolate, but it isn’t enough to even make me feel happy while eating it. I guess that’s better than fighting to get the food in my mouth in the first place and crying through the entire process of putting food in my mouth, but that doesn’t mean I am happy to be living this way. Why won’t God take me home?


At this point, I really don’t care if there is something I am supposed to learn from this. If this is what it takes then I don’t want to learn anything. I just want it to not hurt. I wish I could say all the tears this morning were from cutting onions, but that wouldn’t be true. Although I did cut onions this morning. I guess I did claim I wanted a job where I could grow…in all honesty that was pretty much just some words other people fed me because “I am interested in this job because you are hiring and I need a job” doesn’t exactly give you much of a chance of being considered. But I suppose I have grown – I bought vegetables that were not frozen peas, and not just because the store ran out of frozen peas or for some one time recipe. I intentionally chose something else. I am learning to experiment and try new things. I am proud of that, but I would trade that and like anything else for the pain to end. I wish God operated the world like a laptop. Control alt delete, open task manager, select applications, find myself on the list, click end process. But God doesn’t operate the world like a laptop, so I can’t push my plans through. I am stuck here until God changes my path, and I feel frustrated. I don’t understand why God won’t fix it.


Just remember from the darkness of night always comes the bright of day…The pain in your heart that may never go

(Piece of Heaven – Go Fish)


First off, this song is awesome. I love Go Fish. Plus Go Fish is awesome because their tagline is something like music the kids love that doesn’t drive mom and dad crazy…as in their music is intended to be enjoyed by everyone.


Anyway, I mentioned recently that I have been really loving the book “Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God” by Sheila Walsh. In the book, Sheila Walsh becomes a speaker. It occurred to me a few days ago that Sheila was a real person and most likely I could find some of her talks on youtube. It seems like the theme through the book and her talks is what is your identity, not just your name, but who are you. A subtheme that is definitely expressed, but expressed more strongly in her collabs with other speakers, is that brokenness is not a flaw, in fact, our brokenness is what facilitates community.


In the context of those themes, this song seems even more relevant.


“Please God, how can it be? He was just here; it doesn’t make sense to me”


“Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s the middle of the night…but sometimes everything’s alright”


“You may not see what you’ve been given after all that’s been taken away.”


“People try but only Jesus could know the pain.”


“I see a piece of heaven when I look at you. It shines so bright after all you’ve been through. It doesn’t seem fair, things like this never do.”


“Tough questions they never leave your mind; easy answers are nowhere to find.”


So anyway, I am trying to figure out who I am after the storm that feels like it wiped everything I knew away. I used to be “future pediatric critical pharmacist, lover of and loved by my eternal daddy Jesus.” (To steal my about me section from YouNow). Then I didn’t match. I was no longer on the path I’d been on my entire life. That was the only thing I’d ever wanted since early elementary school, and probably even before. In the wake of the destruction of my dreams, I was pretty sure God didn’t care, and if he was perfect and all-knowing yet didn’t really care then he probably didn’t love me and to be honest, I was angry with him. My entire identity was washed away. I am stuck in a dead end that I don’t know how to get out of. God and I are on better terms as I am reminded that God gave us warning in advance that this life WILL be hard, but what about my dreams? I changed my bio to “wannabe” instead of “future,” but I feel like there has to be more for me than this. I think that is definitely a big part of why I have been thinking about if there is any way I could go back to school for social work without throwing away the degree I fought for first. It would be a fresh start. An opportunity to have something go right…but I know it wouldn’t really fulfill me. My real dream is still working in NICU or pediatric emergency. I hate that I had to settle for less. Sure, I make a pretty decent living, but money can’t buy happiness. I think I would rather live destitute but doing what I feel like I was made for than have all the money in the world and stay stuck here…but no one will hire a volunteer pharmacist…and I don’t really see any realistic way out of where I am. I feel frustrated.


People tell me I am brave, strong, resilient. I guess, in reflecting, I would have to adopt those words as my own and describe my identity as #brave #strong #resilient #survivor. Yes, with the hashtags, because I might not be a digital native, in fact, I have always been a little more reserved in pretty much everything, and so right about the time other people stopped verbally hashtagging, I started…so the hashtags kind of pick up that little piece of my identity. From hula hoops and scooters as a kid to hashtags as an adult, I have always picked up the trend right around the time it stopped being cool or popular. Sometimes those words feel right, but so many other times, I don’t feel brave. I don’t feel strong. I don’t feel resilient. And sometimes I don’t know if I even want to be a survivor.


Sometimes I still cry. Sometimes I am frustrated by the snail’s pace of healing from grief, or by the fact that recovery is not linear. Sometimes I am just making it through life. I feel like an imposter sometimes just impersonating the brave, strong, resilient girl that people expect of me. All I want is to sink into a puddle and drown out the pain, but I smile and keep on going. Maybe that is what it means to be courageous – to keep going even when life gets so hard.


Maybe it is hard because from a distance I don’t see the depths of pain so clearly, but from close up all I can see is the pain right now. When I look back, I do see the deep desperate pain, but more than that, I see my friends as a human shield. They gathered around me as if to protect me from my pain. They were my external armor from the world to soften my fall. When I try to look through the holes I do see the pain. I do see the girl scared by her rapidly plummeting weight yet struggling to feed her body. I do see the girl crying so hard she can barely see where she is going and mind so far gone that it is an effort to remember how to start, stop, steer my car, yet telling everyone she is fine so as not to accidentally inconvenience anyone. I do see the girl not sleeping while her eyes drip the moisture of tears onto the pillow – moisture her body didn’t have to spare. But those pieces add up to a fractured whole, because it is covered by the protective cage of my friends’ support. That cage wasn’t to keep me in, it was to try to keep me safe, just like we don’t put hamsters in a ball or cage to trap them, but to protect them from being crushed or lost.

 lunar Sphere inside bucky ball 3D Print 139325

The image I see in my head is kind of like this, but pretend the yellowish outside frame is a network of my friends’ bodies and arms and legs, and the green blob in the middle is me. I am so thankful for that support. Lol…I would try to draw it, but I am no good at art. I spent twice as much time in art class in eighth grade not because I loved it or had any talent, but because I was struggling and needed more time to get my projects finished…and okay, also because on one particular project I took the directions a bit too seriously which made it take FORever to finish that stupid painting.



But still seeing my brokenness and pain now, while hamsters are intended to live in a cage, people aren’t, and so eventually I had to leave the cage and figure out how to navigate the world on my own. And it is still hard, especially as in just a few more days it will be the first anniversary of the day I didn’t match the first time. It hurts. It feels like carrying a heavy weight on my shoulders every day. It is exhausting. My body is fighting a battle to survive while my mind holds us hostage in grief. I almost made plans to go see some people the weekend of April 13. My first match day was March 17, and the second one was April 12. This year the dates are March 20 and April 12. If just one of those dates were April 12 I would consider planning on a trip that weekend. With both of them, I know better than to try to plan anything. Considering how much I am already hurting, I want to make sure I am not setting myself up for a dangerous situation. I can’t say with certainty how I will be feeling that weekend, but it seems that there is a high enough probability that it will not be a good idea to travel that I shouldn’t plan on it. ‘Cause I am nothing if not stubborn. Once I planned it, I would have a hard time cancelling it, because girl is no quitter and isn’t going to let grief defeat her. So someday I will go reconnect with my besties, but not yet. I’m going to have to keep waiting. I miss my friends so bad, but TBH it probably isn’t ideal to show up struggling anyway. I want to see my friends, but I want to do it in a wise way that I can look back and only smile. God put awesome people in my life and that is how I want to remember my time with them, awesome.


So yeah, I have no idea where I was going with that…I guess that whole thing was a super long way to say that I have awesome friends, but I am still struggling one year later and coming to terms with that. And when I am struggling I am back to fearful of seeing my abuser. I dreamed last night that I was at a swim team party and for some reason she was there and not only that, was sitting at the end of the potluck table. It was scary. I went through the line, but I couldn’t stand to be so close to her so I went back to avoiding…to the point that my plate was filled with chips and umm, that’s about it. Sure, part of that is because girl is a picky eater, but dessert on my plate is pretty much a no-brainer if you know me. It might sometimes be dessert plus chips and skip the rest, but at this potluck there was only chips, because I would have had to get closer to her if I wanted anything else. And that showed me that as much as I want to believe that I am totally past that, I am not. I still have some work to do to get past the abuse. It doesn’t just disappear because I don’t want it to be there anymore.


Babies Bleed from Bulletholes

(Dear Me – Nichole Nordeman)


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

And I’m not done fighting, this is the sound of surviving

(Sound of Surviving – Nichole Nordeman)


So a couple weeks ago, I loaded an audiobook on my Hoopla account that I hadn’t ever listened to before. I was barely 5 sentences in when I decided it might be my new favoritest book ever. Now that I have made it to the end a few times, I can agree with my initial assessment that it is a pretty good book, although I do think that the beginning is incredible, but the end starts to get kinda meh…I don’t mind if you bring the Bible into your story, but it kind of gets disruptive to the storyline when you pause to tell me who all of the prophetesses in the Bible were. That random trivia doesn’t really add to your story and just makes me feel kind of annoyed because I want to get back to the story at hand. Oh yeah, the book is “Beautiful Things Happen when a Woman Trusts God” by Sheila Walsh.


A couple days ago youtube suggested I listen to a few Nichole Nordeman songs that I hadn’t listened to in a long time and I found myself really connecting. And I just really love the title of this one: Sound of Surviving. Surviving is pretty much all I was doing for a long time. The entirety of mid-March to mid-October is a huge blur of just getting through life. Maybe it is just because I tend to downplay things to avoid unwanted attention, but I want to label this a trauma with a little t. It is hard even knowing what I went through to acknowledge how hard this was. Intellectually I know the way this was so intimately linked to the abuse probably should qualify it for big T trauma, but I guess that feels like cheating. It feels like putting the blame on someone else for me not being good enough…and I guess now that I write that out, it shows pretty clearly that I really am still trying to rebuild.


I guess I need to acknowledge that the little girl who was wasting her life becoming a pharmacist because she could do so much more became the stupid girl who was so out of touch with reality that she thought she could be a pharmacist, and now this pharmacist still is struggling to learn to believe again that she could be worth anything. She is still trying to learn that she isn’t just an annoyance. She is still trying to learn that she deserves being acknowledged as a member of society even when she doesn’t have much to give. I hate so much that I ever let anyone make me feel like I was worthless, but I do understand that it isn’t my fault.


So, umm, yeah, whether little or big traumas, they can lead to living in chaos. And, oh my is that true of my life right now sometimes. I went to five different stores Friday and Saturday that sell fruits and vegetables…and even walked past the correct departments in each of those stores. And Sunday I opened the fridge to eat lunch and there was no fruit or vegetable in the fridge or freezer. There are clothes all over my apartment and papers on the floor. I recently-ish heard about a filing system that has always been very much my system, but is even more so my system and something I can totally support now. It is called the SHAPE system…which stands for Stacks, Heaps, And Piles Everywhere. It used to be a system that made me feel at home and actually worked well for me to keep track of things. Now it is at an extreme where I am working hard not to trip over things and I sure hope there is more than one copy if it is super important, because the extra is probably just as lost as the original, but at least with two things to look for there is a higher chance of actually finding one of them.


And, um, that was actually not at all anything that I actually sat down to write. (Okay, let’s be honest, except when I am out in public I VERY rarely am in a sitting position. I am almost exclusively more horizontally positioned, and as of the past months usually getting pressure input from at least a sheet if not the comforter as well). What I was actually going to say is that when you are “just” surviving you don’t really have much in the way of an ability to think in the long term. Everything is either now or not now, and not now bears no relevance when you are pretty much running on empty just trying to take care of now. So when in May you are told you absolutely must create an account on this website and you must do it right now, you do it even though you have absolutely no idea why you would ever want to have an account. You also assume that you will remember your username and password because you do now, and there is no not now that you have time to worry about. You then forget that this website even exists until one day when you get an email that says click here to sign in for more information.






A search of the emails that I saved located a username. Awesome. Except that I still haven’t got a clue what my password might be. And there isn’t a forgotten password link. It isn’t in my list of important passwords. There is a possibility I may have written it down, but if I did, it was probably in my notebook for class that I since have thrown away because there wasn’t anything useful in there except for a few things that were painful but that I saw no need in keeping. And even if it was written in there, chances are it was just on another line as another note for the day, and going through 70 pages of notes and recognizing that line and knowing it was a password and the password I was looking for is a pretty marginal chance. Even a series of gibberish-like characters isn’t much of a giveaway if you know the way I write. My typing is a little better because autocorrect and those little red lines give me some help, but when I handwrite, there isn’t a little genie flipping around letters and underlining potential mistakes as I make them, so I end up with words with the letters out of order. Most of the time it is middle letters alternating positions (incredible = icneridlbe), but sometimes there is a letter or two completely out of place (belautifu = beautiful), or a word spelled with inappropriate phonetics (write vs rite vs right, dun vs done), or some combination of the three. Yes, when I was in school and studying it sometimes made it a puzzle to figure out what I meant in my notes, but it also gave some much needed comedic relief at times. I still have a picture of my notes where furosemide is spelled something like frusomedie and I had looked at what I wrote and went wait, what?? So yeah, this account that I absolutely had to have, I have it all right. And it is very secure. So secure that I have tried every single thing I could think of and haven’t got a clue what my password might be. Luckily though, the information I wanted was purely curiosity and not anything I actually needed to know, so it isn’t a big deal…unless I continue to get messages that I can’t find out more about in which case I’ll probably be annoyed for eternity (or at least until I opt out of emails).


Courage is his Name

(Harold the Helicopter)


Today I actually feel pretty good. That is such a blessing considering that under a week ago I was desperately crying out to God to take me home. I know the fact that I feel that way sometimes means I should get help processing the grief, but I also know that with my history it will be best and safest for me to not push myself into that until I am pretty stable. It is kind of a catch 22 I guess. I can’t get help because I am struggling. I am struggling because I can’t get help…but first and especially second year I started learning to stand up for myself and to figure out how to support myself through things. I might have taken some steps backwards through the abuse third year, but elephants never forget and neither did I. Third year and the fallout gave me ample opportunities to start growing those skills to the best of my ability. Someone once suggested that I had PTSD surrounding another event. I posit that if that is true then I have comorbid PTG (post traumatic growth). I have found my inner warrior. I might be primarily a people-pleasing pushover, but I at least sometimes believe that I do have worth and I am worth fighting for.


I am not so sure the PTSD assessment was ever really that accurate, but that is not the point. The point is that grief storm attacks are normal, particularly in the first year surrounding the event. Considering that my “event” is more of a complex loss that occurred in pieces over a period of time, defining that year timeframe is kind of difficult. That is not to mention that the one year designation also does not make one immune to further storms of grief, but rather a somewhat arbitrary marker separating firsts from other hard events. It is easy to see the grief storm and feel like I’m not moving forward when in reality I am. I want forward motion to mean feeling awesome all the time and that is not how life works.


I am feeling apprehensive, because in almost exactly a month will be the first anniversary of the first match day last year. Maybe I will get lucky and the day will go by without a second thought…but probably more likely it will be a very challenging day. Last year on the 16th my red skates came in the mail and I tried them on that night before going to bed. The next morning I was taking pictures of my new skates to upload to facebook when I got a call from my mom to look for the match results. I figured it wouldn’t have come yet, but curiosity made me go look anyway. And my world stopped spinning. Grief is hard. It is crazy that it has been 11 months since then. It still feels raw like it was yesterday and at the same time it feels like it has been a million years that I have been fighting since then. In relation to another event someone once told me that I should try to do something exciting on the anniversary to cover up the pain and make it something to look forward to instead. Yeah, I’m not so sure about how that will work. To be honest, that day last year not only had the excitement the night before, but was originally a day to which I was eagerly looking forward. I was excited to announce my residency position. Then the excitement was crushed into disappointed agony. So I don’t really see how adding extra excitement will do much more than make the resemblance even more striking. And…umm, I may have decided to plan a party the night before anyway, because, well, mostly because I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to when the party was going to be when I said yes I would like to help plan. I am really hoping that the party is engaging enough that it at least is a little bit of reprieve from the pain that will most likely be happening that weekend. I am going to be brave. I am going to have a hard week, but I am going to survive.


Well, anyway, since I am already way far away from what I originally sat down to write, I guess I might as well go even further off course and share some of the things that have been saved in my internet for a long time.


I found this letter on the internet and the site was citing it from somewhere else that was citing it from somewhere else and I got tired of trying to track down the actual original reference, so I guess this is probably kinda copyright infringement or something, but this letter about grief I felt was not identical to my experience but did have a lot of things in there that I would very much have liked to have been able to express. I bolded a few of the things I would really have liked everyone to know.


Dear_____________________(Family, Friends, Pastor, Employer),


I have experienced a loss that is devastating to me. It will take time, perhaps years, for me to work through the grief I feel because of this loss.


I will cry more than usual for some time. My tears are not a sign of weakness or lack of hope or faith. They are the symbol of the depth of my loss and the sign that I am recovering.


I may become angry without seeming to have a reason for it. My emotions are heightened by the stress of grief. Please be forgiving if I seem irrational at times. I need your understanding and your presence more than anything else. If you don’t know what to say, just touch me or give me a hug to let me know you care. Please don’t wait for me to call you. I am often too tired to even think of reaching out for the help I need.


Don’t allow me to withdraw from you. I need you more than ever during the next year.


Pray for me only if your prayer is not an order for me to make you feel better. My faith does not excuse me from the grief process.


If you have had an experience of loss that seems anything like mine, please share it with me. You will not make me feel worse.


This loss is the worse thing that could happen to me. But I will get through it and I will live again. I will not always feel as I do now.


I will laugh again.


Thank you for caring about me. Your concern is a gift I treasure.




(your name)


I wish I had found this sooner. I might have actually posted it on facebook or something if I had been able to find the energy and motivation to do that. I wish that I had found it though because of those phrases at the end “I will not always feel as I do now. I will laugh again.” That is a piece of hope that I am not sure I would have actually believed if I had found this too soon, but that piece of hope is something that I still am clinging on to. Sometimes it feels like nothing will ever change and I am going to be stuck here forever. Okay, most of the time it feels like that. It feels really good to try to believe that maybe someday there will be something more for me than this pain.


I also found more recently a page by I think it was Margaret Feinberg about what not to say to someone grieving. Usually I hate that kind of list because everyone is so different and what someone else wants to hear might be what I can’t stand and vice versa. This list though had some things that I agree with. What not to say: you must feel so close to God right now. Umm, no, no I didn’t. I felt like God didn’t care about me, and that is not a close feeling…Instead pray for me. I like that this is phrased “for” not “with” me. While I did appreciate people who prayed with me, the first few days I didn’t want that because I didn’t feel like God was good anyway. Oh looking back I know I needed the prayers at that time, so please do pray for me, but I wasn’t ready yet for the praying to be with me. Don’t say have you tried more super foods? Yeah, trying to create easy solutions for me is not what I need when my world is falling apart. Sure, most people do drown in water where they could have stood up, but screaming at them to stand doesn’t help them. What helps them is jumping in to the water with them and holding them up out of the water. Instead be with me…I am a person, not a problem to be solved. Yes, there is a huge power in with. I crave community all the time, but in grief is isolating and a time when I really needed people but had even less ability to cultivate it…and I wanted people to be with me, not give me a list of what I should be doing differently or an “easy” answer that sure didn’t seem easy or like an answer to me. The third thing on this list was Don’t say let me know if I can help, instead make a specific offer. This one I am not so sure about. I actually really appreciated people who offered to help even if the offer was vague. Sure, I might not have known or if I did know I might not have been able to express it, but just the offer meant a lot to me. And to be honest, even a specific offer that was exactly what I needed could very easily have been turned down because I didn’t want to be a burden, I didn’t want to be anyone’s little charity project, I didn’t want to be needy, I didn’t want to end up in a situation that could get me in trouble, etc…

So yeah, I’ll end with a book title I found and fell in love with…(no I have not even looked for the actual book to read).

“Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved.”


Oh yeah, and this would be a good time to say thank you again to all the people who have made a huge difference with your kind and welcoming and supportive words and actions and stuff. Thank you so much for believing in me and for me when I didn’t believe in myself and couldn’t believe for myself. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for the time you took to enter into my world. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for putting up with my sometimes misplaced frustration and with the crazy that came out when I was hurting. You mean so much to me.

You don’t know what’s ahead, you just know you must stand, in that moment when you believe

(In that moment – Ester-ordinary Faith)


Sometimes I am working really hard to stay in those moments and keep standing.


Today last year was my first on site interview. It has been a really emotional week so far because of that.


I am having a really hard time, but I know I serve a really good God. I have to keep believing that God has a plan and it is a good one even if right now it just really hurts and doesn’t make sense.


I am struggling. I am still eating and drinking which is a huge step in the right direction keeping me from totally crashing again, but there is more to life than just eating and drinking and breathing and sleeping…and sleeping isn’t exactly something at which I have been excelling even though I bought a really wonderful new mattress…’cause that is another thing I struggle with when grief brain takes over. I can’t turn off the hurt at night to sleep. But I am doing my best. I am a fighter.


But I feel really alone. I work 40 hours a week and once you include transportation time and my half hour break each day and before you even consider the time spent working before I am technically scheduled because I can’t magically appear in my seat ready to work at the right time and therefore tend to be early and then add to that the time I have to stay late because being a salaried employee (and really just being a responsible employee) means that if you are in the middle of something when the clock hits the end of your shift, you don’t get to just drop everything and leave. You still need to complete what you are working on or at least pass on to the next shift what is going on. That adds up to about a third of my life. And it is not like I can talk at work about how much I hate my job and how hard it is for me going to work every day to be a trained monkey when I want to be doing something meaningful, so that is a third of my life I can’t talk about what is going on. And then there is the 8ish hours every day that I am in bed at least trying to sleep, so there is another third of my life I can’t talk about what is going on. That leaves about one third of my life left to do all of life’s tasks including potentially talking about what is going on, but even then, I really just feel like I can’t. First, I am trying to make friends and no one probably wants to be friends with the person who whines all the time. Second, there is a lot about the pharmacy world and about my world that people I have just recently met just won’t understand and so even if I do try to start talking about it, no one really gets it. I wish I were somewhere right now where there was at least one person who understood enough to just be there and smile and hug me. Grief is isolating, and my life has also put me somewhere that I am sorta functionally isolated as well.


The anniversary of the first on site interview isn’t just a reminder of the stressful interview season that was supposed to be a lot of work (and expense) to push me towards my dream but ended up being a fruitless venture. It is also a reminder of all the places I am not this year and all the exciting experiences I am not having. Additionally, I have been surrounded in interviews and the match for the past few weeks. Emails from a couple health systems letting me know when interviewees will be arriving and to be welcoming if I see the candidates…emails from professional organizations about it…students doing rotations excited about what lies ahead…the residency committee at work talking about candidates trying to decide who to extend interviews to (umm, yeah, that is a committee I attended once or twice and quickly decided was way too painful)…everyone on facebook announcing the jobs/residencies they have already accepted for next year…it really hurts.


I am trying to live out my goal for this year to make this year a year to be better, not bitter, but it is really hard when life hurts so much. Sometimes I just want to scream “but I tried so hard.” Like last week when I took myself to Starbucks after ordering online and they were out of one of the flavors in the drink I ordered and my social anxiety reared its head and just had them do it without the flavor because telling everyone it didn’t matter was easier than being upset. Then the girl who ordered after me whined that it took more than two seconds to get her drink (when she should have been able to see that all the employees were trying to simultaneously take drive through and in person orders while preparing drinks for everyone) and so they gave her an eight dollar gift card to shut her up. The drink I got was okay, but I know I should have used my words to ask for a different flavor. I feel like I can’t do anything right. And that second girl made me mad, first because she was able to use her words to express her discontent and I couldn’t (so, okay, jealousy), but mostly because if people who to me are clearly doing their jobs quickly and to the best of their ability are supposedly failing miserably, then how much more of a failure am I? I know I am a little bit fragile right now and things like that shouldn’t emphasize my worthlessness, but sometimes they do.


So, it isn’t just the fact that I do not really enjoy my job and want to do something, anything, else. This whole thing has constantly been linked to my identity and self-worth. When I was abused, I was told that I would never make it as a pharmacist and no one would ever want me. All the rejection served to make that feel true. I try to hold on to hope, but it feels so hopeless. I feel like I am never going to be wanted and I am going to be stuck in this dead end job that I do not enjoy forever. I am chasing happiness in anything I can find…most recently agreeing to switch into shifts I really don’t want because it will make someone else happy and that gives me at least a little temporary joy…I always have been a heart on the outside kind of girl in terms of vicarious joy. It works better for me, because I can stay home from the retreat that will be really not fun for me, and then look at all the pictures and hear people’s stories to get all the joy they claim I would have gotten by attendance. I just want to be happy. I feel worthless and that is hard. I know that is a lie and God doesn’t see me that way, but that doesn’t make the feeling any less real. I feel like it is true that I will never be wanted or good enough.


Sure, it has been a long time since the abuse occurred, but that doesn’t go away overnight. It sinks into your mind and soul…


And I have to remind myself that it is okay to grieve and that grief doesn’t come with an expiration date. And I am doing a lot better than I was. After the match(es) for a long time I really had no interest in being alive. I yearned for my forever home in heaven. Right now I would really like that, but the feeling is not as overwhelming as it once was…not to mention that while I am crying every day, it isn’t uncontrollable tears a lot of every day. I am healing, and I can’t force it to happen faster.


It is hard. There is one part of my job that helps though. There have been a lot of overdoses at the hospital recently, mostly attempted suicides, and it starts to normalize the feelings that I have had of wanting out. I really understand how those people feel, so I guess knowing that I was strong enough to never try that yet makes me remember that I am a fighter who gets her strength from a strong God who will help me until the battle is over. I guess even though I feel really alone that I need to remember that God is still with me. He has always been with me even though I wasn’t sure I believed he existed and cared. It is still hard to believe sometimes. I really understand that cry now, Lord I believe, help my unbelief.


Umm, yeah, it is just going to get harder if I don’t at least try to sleep, so I guess it is time to stop writing and go to bed. Sorry this is probably super rambly and stupid and pointless. I just needed something to keep my fingers busy for a while…I just want the pain to go away. I would certainly accept prayer for strength to keep standing through this and peace and joy and realizing my true identity in Christ and all those other good things. I accept that I am broken and I need help putting the pieces together.

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

(Hang on – Plumb)


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


I can’t promise to take the pain away, but you can know I won’t stop trying

(Angel by your Side –Francesca Battistelli)

 I saw this quote in a youtube video a few days ago.


The part I covered up isn’t bad or wrong or irrelevant, but I covered it up because there is more than one life event that could cause someone to need a support system. In fact, I think having a support system doesn’t have to be limited to times surrounding negative life events. Life is so much better surrounded by a community of friendly faces. Community and support is so important that I thought of four other titles for this post before deciding on this one…

When she’s all alone feels like it’s all coming down
(Stand in the Rain – Superchick)

But I know that you came
(Thank you – JJ Heller)

Thank you for never giving up on me
(The Reason – Lacey Sturm)

I don’t think I can live without you
(Don’t worry now – Britt Nicole)

I am so thankful for the people who have supported me. It is an enormously important role. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am now if I didn’t have that support…Y’all are so so special to me.

…in like June I made some bread to give the illusion that I was okay, but in reality I was still hardly eating anything…yesterday I made bread and was excited to eat it…sure, time is a great healer, but support is still a very important part of the equation. I still struggle with what happened, but I am doing so much better!



Still I’m living like a prisoner…Yeah, I did it ’cause I didn’t want to hurt no more

(Heart of Stone – Britt Nicole)


I am absolutely loving this song this season. I do like Christmas music…year round…but I do not like all Christmas music all the time. I prefer just a little bit of Christmas music all year complemented by non-Christmas music.


I love the raw but hopeful message in this song. I love that the song seems to understand that hard things in life don’t just disappear. I have actually read a lot of blog posts along those lines recently and it is SO validating. It really helps to hear that other people also struggle with after effects of abuse (or other hard things like a difficult diagnosis or a major loss), still living in fear and shame and self-worthlessness and captivity when the chains have been released. It’s kinda like a caged animal that stays inside the cage once the door is open choosing the uncomfortable over the unfamiliar. I am free, but I don’t always live that way. When I became free I was fighting so hard to just to make it through that the excitement of freedom was lost. I had been looking forward to it for so long, but that light at the end of the tunnel had gone out and what should have been thrilling fell flat like a deflated helium balloon. I had been told so many times that I couldn’t do it and would never be good enough that when I faced so much rejection I believed it again and that was the thick fog separating me from most anything else in the world. I was broken and not so sure anymore that what I experienced was abuse and not just the hard reality that I was really not worth it.


I have worked really hard at overcoming those thoughts again and re-learning my value, but there are definitely days that those thoughts and feelings sneak back in and I feel completely worthless. The past couple days I have been back there and praying for God to help me write the truth in my heart again. I definitely am feeling a sense of alliance with the other people who are struggling to reconcile the joy of the season with the pain seasoning our lives. It is the time of year when we are expected to live life with a smile, but sometimes by the time I can curl up alone in my room, the smile melts into tears. The coming of the holidays doesn’t mean that the pain never happened. And grief has no calendar. People expect you to get over it and move on in some timeframe, and maybe you will feel a little or even a lot better at the end of that time period, but it isn’t over, and grief isn’t a straight line from point A to point B. I might feel on the top of the world one day and be struggling the next. And I have been lucky enough to have incredible friends who supported me for a very long time, but it is definitely true that the support runs out long before the deep well of grief dries up. Yes, if I expressed a need I could most likely find someone willing to at least attempt to fill it, but when I am the most broken I am the least able to access help. When I am doing well I can most likely explain a very reasonable contingency plan, recite a list of potential resources, and be confident in my ability to get my needs met. When I am struggling I lose a lot of my communication skills and critical thinking abilities. My fear brain dominates and that cute little emergency blueprint is about as useful as the fish and bread in the child’s lunch before Jesus multiplied it for the thousands. It would take a miracle for it to be worth anything. I might know I am not in a safe place, but my drive to protect people as a protective mechanism for myself keeps me from sharing too much or from being completely transparent about where I am. I have always been protective of people, but learned to take it to more of an extreme level when I quickly figured out that CS was less hurtful when I put my developer strength to use. Developers can see the teeny tiny bits of good in people and are willing to invest significant energy into helping people recognize those areas and growing them. That does not mean that it is my fault that I got hurt because I didn’t do a good enough job, and it also doesn’t excuse her behavior. Another lesson I had to learn…


It is hard when something happens that completely changes your world and no one really even knows enough about your world to know the true extent of what happened. I was allowed to tell people that my lifelong dream had died and the light at the end of my tunnel burned out. I was not allowed to tell them about the abuse and how this pain was intimately linked to the time I spent being told I wasn’t good enough and would never be wanted. And to be honest it wasn’t *just* the actual abuse making me feel worthless. At school there were also people who thought that because I didn’t handle escaping from the abuse in the most responsible way possible that maybe I didn’t really deserve to be a pharmacist. That also hurt. I was never told who voiced those opinions, and to be honest, I am not sure I want to know, but I wish I could sit them down and help them understand what they were doing. They were essentially engaging in victim blaming. Yes, from the outside it does seem like there were more responsible ways to handle the situation, but when you are in an abuse situation, you are not your best self. You are not thinking clearly. You need a way out, and when you get desperate you might take off running in the first direction you see without really thinking about where it might take you. That is why so many people stay in abusive relationships. They might be terrified of escaping and what that might mean (raises hand). They may have already tried to escape but the attempts failed (raises hand again). Escaping is a brave bold act that will be wonderful in time, but in the shorter term can also bring a lot of loss. At a time when I was broken and scared and hurting and in need of support and encouragement, these people were critiquing my escape attempt and pointing out how it could have been enacted with more finesse. I needed someone to listen to me and to believe me. Instead people blamed me for being hurt. For some people at school that meant sides were chosen because the princess told her friends they couldn’t be friends with both her and me so if anyone was seen being kind to me it was socially unacceptable, so for most people any small act of kindness had to occur in secret which was really hard when these people were the ones with whom I had previously had tightly knit relationships. That hurt. For one mental health “professional” in particular it meant not being willing to believe that a counselor could be abusive and instead choosing to believe if I thought that then there must be something wrong with me – but he couldn’t figure out what it might be. This is why I became so vocal about victim blaming. Victims are people with feelings. We have already been trampled. We need your support, not your scorn.


Like some more of the lyrics in the song say “I may be safe, but I’m all alone.” Abuse can be isolating. Escaping can be isolating. Silence is exactly what the abuser wants…and silence was mandated as a condition of remaining in school. I understood that the silence was mostly to cover their butts which was ultimately supposed to be good for me because graduating from a school with an awful reputation makes it hard to get a job, but to be honest my school already had such an awful reputation that I don’t think it was going to make much of a difference. I was never really sure whether to be offended or flattered when people interviewing me expressed surprise about finding me a good candidate considering my school. Yeah, I wasn’t too impressed with my school, but I still didn’t necessarily want outsiders dissing my school…Anyway, the point is that silence is incredibly difficult. We were not meant to live this life alone, but forced silence effectively kept me from going out and finding community to be able to share the burden. Imposing silence took away any possibility of obtaining support if I was going to follow the rules. I wouldn’t have wanted to risk having to start my education over by fighting against the rules, but of the many oppressive ridiculous and unfair rules and restrictions placed on me, I think one most definitely worth pushing back on would have been that gag order. Knowing me, they would have known that giving me the ability to share wasn’t going to make it headline news or anything. I am not one to shout *anything* from the rooftops. It would have allowed me to access support. It could have helped prevent someone else experiencing what I did, or validate their experience having already gone through it. I was already very alone and had lost almost all my close connections at school and the silence served to separate me further. But I was scared and the only option seemed to be to sign the papers as is (except for the typos I insisted on correcting). I wish when their end was changing I had pushed harder for mine to change too, but I’d been pushed down so many times that I barely asked before I just accepted the no and mourned more loss.


I don’t want this post to be a pity party. I don’t want this to be about poor me. I think I wrote this because I have experienced how much it really helps to read other people’s vulnerable stories. It is so validating to hear about other people who have gone through or are going through painful experiences. Even if the experience is not identical, the shared similarities have value. It is a wonderful reminder that I am not alone. If I can give that same comfort and validation to even just one other person then this was worth it. And I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer. I really am doing a lot better. Again to quote the song, “Life ain’t been a bed of roses,” but being completely separated from school for the past 7 months has been really helpful in my healing experience. I haven’t had to worry about CS’s interference. I haven’t had to wonder whether this person with whom I am interacting is treating me differently than he/she otherwise might because he/she is one of the ones who didn’t want me to return to school. I do really miss a lot of people, especially my advocate, and the group of teachers/staff members who might not have known what was going on but took me in and gave me a safe place and the support and encouragement I needed, but to be honest the separation from certain someone is probably more healing than having support but having it with the risk of her presence. I am hoping that I will be able to make a trip back to that city someday, and I think that after this separation that I might even be ready to face her without running away in fear. For a long time I really wanted a reconciliation meeting, and I really thought that would help me heal and probably be very good for her as well. When everything fell apart I lost that desire, mostly because I was very obviously in no condition for that kind of meeting to be successful. Now that I have had this time of separation, I think that a reconciliation meeting would be too little too late. I don’t really see a good reason to stir that pot and rekindle those memories now that I have been healing on my own. I am not scared of her anymore because she doesn’t have power over me anymore, but I think even if she initiated that I would be hesitant to agree even given the presence of a neutral party to ensure my safety, because I would have trouble believing this wasn’t just an attempt to get another chance to break me. I know people can change. I know that God wants us to be people of the second chance and extend grace and forgiveness to those who have caused us pain, but I give out so many second chances that I feel like maybe this is a time I should say no and protect my heart.