Category Archives: SP

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

(Break your knees – Flyleaf)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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When the Voices in Your Head are Anything but Kind

(Be Kind to Yourself – Andrew Peterson)

 

I learned that I wasn’t worth it and wasn’t good enough. The words of the woman who abused me became the words that I used on myself. Her view of me became my view of me. Before, I was hard on myself, but I did believe that my hard work paid off and produced results to be proud of. After, I was even harder on myself, but I now had the view that nothing I did would ever be good enough. I had learned a deficiency mindset and saw the good in other people but was only able to zero in on the negatives in myself. I believed the words I had repetitively heard about myself. I was trying to learn to fight for myself, but when you still have the voices in your head telling you your opinion doesn’t matter and you should be ashamed of yourself, it is hard to break free.

 

But I am learning to give myself grace.

 

Today at church was youth Sunday. I somehow agreed to help do the welcome at the beginning of church. It was scary. The youth group students were super brave. I wish I could be that brave. Anyway, the message was about how we are all awesomesauce even when it is hard to believe it. Sometimes we might not feel like we matter, but we do. During the service, a group of girls danced to a song called “Be Kind to Yourself” by Andrew Peterson. It was a wonderful reminder that those words I heard on repeat in school, those words that burned into my life song, those words were not the truth about who I am.

 

It is okay to be proud of my performance and accomplishments even when what I did wasn’t perfect. It is okay to do what feels right for me without needing it to be the right thing to do.

 

So I gave myself grace. It would be easy to look at my two sentence welcome speech and be like wow, that was lousy and you messed up the whole service. Instead, I can look at it and say wow, you did something you never imagined you could do and you worked really hard and did a good job. It wasn’t perfect, but no one expected perfection. That was your best today, and that is enough. I was able to be so proud of myself. Could someone else have done a better job? Maybe…okay, yes, but they knew that public speaking wasn’t my forte and still included me. Even knowing I couldn’t deliver a perfect welcome I was given a chance to participate. How cool is that?!

 

And sometimes giving myself grace means listening to myself. There was a lunch and celebration that sounded really fun at a grocery store on the other side of town this afternoon that I planned to go to between church and work. Last year at this time, being in motion was one of the only things that made me feel okay. It helped me down-regulate my grief to a level where I wasn’t crying so hard and was able to get some food and drink in my body. TBH, it is a big reason I walked to work most days and still do. For a long time I was afraid to stop walking because I was afraid that when I was doing more sitting still that the grief would grow bigger than I could handle. All that to say that now being in motion isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes doing anything but laying on my bed sounds like a chore. Sometimes being in motion feels like a reminder of that painful time when being in motion was my only escape from the tears and oppressive pain of grief…and that is okay. It is even okay when like today I got all ready to ride my bike. Clothing selected and put on, keys found, backpack packed, hair tied back, helmet on. And I made it about a yard outside of the parking garage on my bike before I turned around and decided I didn’t really want to bike. Part of me really wanted to ride my bike and was excited for the party. The other part of me associated the motion with the deep pits of grief and just wanted to be alone. I recognize it isn’t healthy to sit on my butt all day every day and isolate myself from the rest of the world, but all things in moderation, and I am trying to figure this out on my own and I’m doing my best.

Make a big mess and do lots of dishes

(How You Live – Point of Grace)

 

I haven’t been sleeping well. Hydration has been a challenge. Today I got home from work, and cried for about an hour. And that is okay. As much as I wish the grief would just go away and never come back, the fact that my life was irreversibly changed is not going away, and I am learning that trying to hide from the grief might help when I really need to act professionally or when I need (okay, want) to fit myself into the social norms, but giving myself space to grieve is also important. It is okay to hold it in at times now that I can – I am pretty sure it would be a lot harder to find community if I walked into a brand new church with tears rolling down my cheeks, and I might not be employed very long if I couldn’t see through my tears to do my work…but it is also important not to hold it in forever. I know in one of the books I listen to a lot, the author states that if a child’s cries remain unanswered consistently the child will learn in about 30-60 days to stop crying. I also read a heartbreaking article on the internet recently about sleep training. Study found that while the infant being sleep trained does gradually cry less and less as sleep training progresses that the only cortisol level dropping is the parent’s. In other words, the infant’s cortisol level, which is a surrogate marker for stress levels remains at  very similar level, but crying fades out and becomes uncoupled from internal distress. So yeah, after I was done crying, I actually did feel like some of the tension had drained out through my tears. As much as I hate crying, especially the deep painful suffocating kind, it was kind of relieving. I still feel the pain of grief and the sting of loss, but my body feels at least a teeny tiny bit calmer.

 

Before anyone freaks out that I should have gotten help by now if that is what is happening, I guess I should clarify that crying for an hour after work is not an every day activity for me right now. Sure, part of that is certainly that I do want to pretend I am fine, pretend it doesn’t still feel like my world shattered and I am now trying to live in a world of shards that continue to pierce my skin, leaving wounds in my heart, but I promise another part is that I am doing a lot better than I was a year ago…and not just in the amount of control I have over the tears.

 

I think the trigger making it more intense recently was the picnic the pharmacy staff had last night. Mostly because the last staff picnic type event I went to was the resident picnic last summer that I originally intended to attend as an incoming resident…and there has been information sent out about this year’s resident picnic that I can’t really go to seeing as how HR said I am no longer needed and therefore am no longer employed at that institution. I am still not a resident. I am still the reject no one wanted. Also, the picnic was to meet the youngest pharmacy staff family member. Seeing an adorable baby reminded me of how I no longer have any baby interaction opportunities. I really miss having infants to love on.

 

Speaking of the picnic, let’s just say the reason this post got the title it did is because my ability (or lack thereof) to cook is probably kind of impacted by the scatterbrained-ness that grief gave me…patience and measuring are useful skills in the kitchen. I may not exactly have measured the water I was adding to a recipe for a loaf of bread that I figured I’d use to make rolls. So I ended up with a sticky bread dough soup that I tried to fix by adding flour. Well, bread is more than just flour and water, so eventually I realized even though it was still super sticky that if I kept adding flour I probably wasn’t going to end up with something good. I had flour and bits of bread dough all over my kitchen and self at this point and tried to make roll shaped bunches of dough, but mostly ended up with wads of dough which were more biscuit like. And because the recipe was for a single loaf of bread rather than a bunch of little roll-biscuits with not nearly enough rise because of all the extra flour and water, the amount of time they spent in the oven was a lot longer than it should have been. I guess yay me, I tried.

 

I had another kitchen fail a couple weeks ago too…so I tried to make meringue. I started trying to use my mixer in a bowl in which the fluid was pretty close to the top already. Fail. Liquid splashed all over the kitchen. I upgraded to a slightly larger plastic tupperware bowl. That worked for a little while, but eventually as the fluid grew, I was at the top of that bowl too, and flinging sugary goop everywhere again. I’m not sure if I missed a step in the directions, or what I did wrong, but part way through cooking the meringues I discovered that they were completely flattened…and although an hour or so was still left on the timer, they were starting to look dark brown. Yeah, that was great…it took about 2 hours to have kinda sorta clean baking sheets after that because the stuff was stuck on there so much.

 

Sometimes it just seems like my whole life is a fail. I can’t sleep. I can’t stay hydrated. I can’t get a residency. I can’t make rolls…but at least the bits of this fail that I could get off the sheet tasted okay. I wish every fail were sugary. While at times even sugary treats aren’t enough to get me to eat anything, a lot of the time, sugar is a good anesthetic to emotional pain. I’m pretty sure there are some studies that it works for physical pain too…

 

Well, I should probably finish eating dinner and then get packed up since my suitcase has been halfway packed while in the brain fog of lack of sleep and grief and stuff and while I know there are things I am missing that are on my list to pack, I wouldn’t be that surprised if I opened up my suitcase and found no underwear or an abundance of socks without any matches. And since I leave tomorrow I need to do my best to have a usefully filled suitcase by the time I go to bed so that when I arrive at my destination I am not stuck with a target run for a shirt besides the one already on my body…or possibly worse, showing up without any credit card or other way of paying for anything, because girl is going to need a place to park her car and stuff. And I probably need to pack some food, because who knows if I am going to be willing to eat anything I didn’t provide myself direct from its packaging…I think I am doing okay on the germ front right now, but yesterday on my way home I started talking quietly in French (difficult since my vocabulary has contracted from fluent as a high schooler to very limited now), which is a sign that my social anxiety is flaring, and I really think the OCD was 97% really an offset of social anxiety rather than actually being a disorder on its own. As in while I do not doubt I met criteria for a while, I think there is a possibility I never truly could have been diagnosed using the DSM criteria because of that clause they throw into pretty much every diagnosis “the disturbance is not better characterized by the symptoms of another disorder.” The underlying reason I do not want to get sick is not even really the fear of getting sick, but the fear of communication and stuff like that comes with getting sick. I guess I should explain that the way French was taught in school was like if this is the concept you want to express, this is how you say it to a teacher, this is how you would say it to your boss, this is how you say it to a parent, this is how you say it to a friend, this is how you say it to a best friend, this is how you say it to an acquaintance, this is how you say it to a stranger, et cetera…so I started actually almost feeling confident expressing myself in French because I knew the right way to have a conversation with practically anyone. I longed for English to be taught that way. Unfortunately, once you leave the French classroom, people expect you to be able to speak English, and direct translation of the French phrases is likely to sound a bit stilted…but still, I’d work up my courage starting by repeating the French phrase to myself trying to find the courage to translate it conceptually to English as best as I could…

And I’m falling apart at the seams

(Have Your Way – Britt Nicole)

 

Yesterday (or at least it was yesterday when I started writing this…IDK how long it’ll have been when I finish the post and hit publish…) my facebook memories reminded me that not too long ago I was 399 days away from graduation and was bouncing out of my seat excited about it.

 

So much can happen in a year. A year later, I was fighting to hold my life together as I was falling apart at the seams. I didn’t really care so much about graduation anymore, because I had bigger things to worry about, and I mean the actual process of graduating wasn’t something I actually wanted to do either way, the part I wanted was the freedom of no longer being bound by that stupid not even valid contract. When my world came crashing down around me, I no longer had much to which to look forward. Graduating meant facing the fact that I either had a job I really didn’t want, or had no real job prospects lined up at all aside from working at Children’s and praying they kept me forever and ever. I tried to be excited about the freedom, but really all I was doing in life was going on rotation, doing homework, crying, trying to eat, trying to drink, trying to sleep, going to church. It wasn’t like I really had any margin in my life for any non-essential tasks. And I’d learned to speak in euphemisms well enough that I could express most of what I needed to express without exactly breaking the rules. I mean, IDK anymore whether the rule was “no talking” or “keep confidential” or however else it might have been worded, but either way leaves it up for interpretation whether a well placed “maaaybe” as an answer to someone’s guess and check of what was going on is okay. My opinion was that was totally valid considering the rules were stupid anyway. I am a strong follower of rules, but you have to draw a line somewhere. For me that usually means my line is so far away from the actual rule that even if you pushed me and I fell, I wouldn’t be likely to cross the line. In this case though, I actually could see that particular line. Besides, if we use Miss Princess’s definition of confidential (which is a definition I think is more like an antonym than a synonym), then that rule would mean I am free to forward on word for word whatever I want to my hundred closest friends…so it isn’t like if I fell across that line they really had a leg to stand on in doing anything about it, especially since her only punishment for the ongoing abuse was that I “got” to stay in school.

 

So anyway, then in another year, here I am. Yes, I am still struggling…and it is super obvious in my current dehydration. I am still eating well, but am having some trouble with the drinking part. Not as bad as last year by any means, but definitely enough that I notice. And I am not sleeping very well…probably partly the anxiety/grief, partly the crazy schedule I work, and partly the dehydration. I’m doing my best, but sometimes my best is not enough. If I was doing better, it would be a no brainer and I would go on a road trip this weekend. I would assume that any increase in intensity of grief symptoms would be easily manageable and mostly covered up by the excitement. But where I am now, I really really wanna go see friends, but IDK if it is a good idea. Sleeplessness plus trying to drive most likely past midnight to get there doesn’t seem like a brilliant idea. And the grief itself can make driving dangerous. Then add to that the more raw the anxiety can be when the grief is peaking. OCD plus social anxiety is a difficult combo to manage. If I can’t handle the germs in an unfamiliar public bathroom but also can’t handle going into a familiar place (if one is even practical at the time) to use the bathroom we have an issue. If I can’t use my words to ask my friends to hang out with me then it is kind of pointless to have even tried to drive that far and back all in a weekend. If any water that I didn’t bring myself feels contaminated and I am already having trouble drinking we could be looking at no drinking at all to make sure that the water doesn’t run out. That is not a good plan. Add in that I am trying to get this figured out in only a few days…and I want to know if people are available, but I don’t want to tell them I am coming if I am not, and even if I am, using my words to ask if they are available is super hard. I think part of it is that I do still reject myself first so that it doesn’t hurt so much when other people hurt me. I still brace myself for the rejection I expect is coming.

 

On Saturday, someone said something that I really appreciated. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I just got the sense from her that she really understood at least on some level what it is like to be told over and over that you are stupid or whatever that you accept it as truth. I think mostly people don’t get it. They don’t get that once you have heard it over and over that it isn’t something that really hurts your feelings so much anymore. Instead it is something you start to believe and accept into your identity. Once it is there it is really hard for it to go away. Repeated verbal abuse is different that once in a while being picked on. You don’t just get over or forget the words that feel tattooed into your heart. And to try, the scar will go very very deep and probably even lose some functionality because of the amount of scar tissue…

 

Umm, yeah, I can’t remember exactly what I started this post to say…but I guess long story short, I wish I still had something to look forward to, still even had the ability to excitedly look forward to something. I wish that graduation could have been the exciting celebration it was supposed to be. I wish that life didn’t hurt so much. I love the song for this post and really connect right now…”Feels like I’ve been here forever, why won’t you just intervene? Can’t you see the tears keep falling?” and it also starts to bring in the little pieces of hope that I am learning to re-cultivate. I am not ready for much hope yet, but I am ready for tiny little bits which is good, because like it sorta says in the Healing Path, once hope has started to thaw, rarely can it totally refreeze again. I love how the pain and unsuredness of the hope is woven in “And you never promised that this life wasn’t hard, but you promised you’d take care of me.” It leaves open whether God is really going to take care of me. He promised he would, but will he really? “And even if my dreams have died and even if I don’t survive, I’ll still worship you with all my life.” When everything had been taken away and I really didn’t think God was good or caring anymore, I still needed worship. Not just because it is what I did, but because even so upset and in a weird relationship with God, innately I still knew that I needed him.

 

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’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 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 🙂

Just Hold On

(I’ll Find You – LeCrae)

I’ve moved approximately 10 times in the past year (not an exaggeration at all), and before that when I was in school I was back and forth for Christmas/Summer break between home and school. And each time I made sure not to lose this piece of paper. I was going to take a picture of it, but decided that was dumb because by the time I covered up all the identifying information you’d practically be left with a blank strip of paper which seemed kind of pointless. So anyway, I had this paper that I was protecting because way back when in high school I tried to use my debit card at an ATM one day I didn’t know my password and guessed too many times and my card got locked for two weeks until a new password came in the mail. This password is the one that was on that piece of paper that I was protecting…good idea, right? Well, except that the card that password goes to is the one my bank cancelled pro-actively when the news came out in 2013 that Target had credit card information stolen for a lot of customers.

 

See, I guess I kinda missed that part and just kept making sure I knew where that important piece of paper was at all times. It is important because I almost never use ATM’s and therefore have no reason to keep good track of the number inside my head. Social anxiety has always made paying for purchases at a store using cash a scary hard thing. My mom was always talking about how you should never have more than a few cents in change because it is so easy to just use the change you have to pay for whatever you are buying, but I always had so much change the wallet barely closed because the least scary way to pay was to give the biggest bill I had that would cover the purchase and then whatever was given back hold in my hand until I was outside then attempt to shove in the wallet and sort it out later when I got home. Even if I knew down to the cent what the price was going to be, paying with coins just seems too hard so I mostly didn’t do it. And then I got a debit card which I called a credit card because in my world they are both pieces of plastic that buy you things and are therefore the same thing…anyway, that solved the problem and I now almost exclusively pay for anything with that magical piece of colored plastic. I pretty much just use cash if it is the only option and checks the rest of the time when plastic doesn’t work (rent, DMV…). And even though my mom says you should never go anywhere without at least $20 with you, in reality I usually carry more like $0 and like right now I think my wallet has 75 cents in it and my ID case maybe has between 25 and 50 cents. I will use change in the self-check at Cub as my candy purchasing money, but otherwise I pretty much just don’t spend cash so it doesn’t make sense to carry it around. And it’s not like it accumulates or anything because my paychecks go directly into my bank account, and when people owe me money I generally encourage a check because I can also put that directly in my account. A couple pictures taken with my phone and the money goes into my bank account to be spent using my pieces of plastic. Easy peasy.

 

So yeah, when I needed actual money a few days ago I had a problem. At first I was like oh c**p, I don’t have time to drive three hours to get to the bank and then get back to my apartment before work. Then I remembered the existence of ATM’s…and then after determining that the stupid find an ATM site on the internet I was using was definitely not working and locating an app on my phone to help me figure it out instead, I located the paper and the card and was ready to go…until I compared the numbers on the paper identifying which card it belonged to with the numbers on my card and they were definitely not a match. Hashtag fail. Hashtag look how perfect I am. (That second one is a reference to a WhatsUpElle video…every day’s a gift 🙂 ). So I figured I had four guesses what my password might be and I’m pretty sure you get at least three guesses before you get cut off…no pressure or anything that if you get it wrong you are going to be pretty much SOL and without a debit card for a while.

 

Then I remembered that I got a pile of paper in the mail from the bank about changes to my account as I age out of one of the accounts I have and figured maybe I should know what my ATM fees are before I go. That took another diversion: a call to my mom and then to the bank to figure out whether the “first 6 transactions” was lifetime (if so starting with the beginning of the new account or starting with my first account with them) or if it was per year? Month? Day? They should really specify these things…

 

Well, knowledge is power, so armed with the knowledge of what the fees were I took myself to the ATM. And was greeted with another wrench in the plans: a sign that all transactions were subject to a fee in addition to any charge of your bank at the discretion of the owners of that ATM. But by this point I was kind of committed and I didn’t come that far just to fail, so I figured it was time to just go for it. I tried really hard…After about the fourth time shoving my card in the machine and getting frustrated when I couldn’t figure out what to do and taking my card back out, I decided it was time to ask for help. I didn’t want to, because I felt stupid and didn’t really know what to say, but I knew I needed to do it and promised myself a treat for successful completion of the task. I went in and explained what I wanted. To my delight, instead of having me wait and then sending someone out to help me, they just took a copy of my driver’s license and took a look at my card and gave me the money right there. That was awesome. If I wasn’t so overwhelmed and scared they had free drinks and suckers in there. I might be back someday if I ever need real money again. (Okay, I WILL be back someday if I need real money).

 

So you might wonder if I consider myself pretty much over the social anxiety why I still rely on plastic…well…the way I got over it was the insane amount of time I spent on the phone the summer after third year and the first semester of fourth year. It is pretty much a miracle I was still passing all my classes that semester when I was spending so many frustrating hours on the phone. I don’t know how people do it if they actually have an urgent mental health issue and need a GOOD counselor ASAP. I was really just looking for SOMEONE. Good obviously preferred, but beggars can’t be choosers. Most places don’t have email or other online scheduling methods. Most places don’t answer their phones regardless of time of day. Most places don’t ever call back if they even have an answering machine on which to leave a message. Most places even if they do call back are essentially calling to say they have no openings for the foreseeable future. The one place that initially was reasonably promising and got back to me quickly did the intake I think within a week of my first call, but somehow managed to lose my information twice between that and matching me with a counselor and when they finally found it the second time I got a message from the director that they weren’t able to help me and gave me (useless) resources…see dude gave me the phone number of a college counseling center that made it very clear on their web page that they served only their own students. I did not attend that college. So I learned to talk on the phone, and I desperately needed friends so between the conversational skills learned on the phone and the work I had already been doing to learn to communicate, I gained passable social skills. But you know what is a mostly unessential skill that I never had any reason to learn: paying with cash. I went grocery shopping about once a month or so and that was pretty much the only shopping I did in school so it wasn’t like even if I wanted to practice there were even any opportunities. And I already had that magic plastic in my ID case, so yeah, I never learned that skill and in my opinion someday cash will be made obsolete so I don’t see any reason to force myself to learn that skill.

 

If we are talking about ways I have failed recently, I have plenty of other stories.

 

Like how occasionally this senior center that I walk past sometimes has community events and I see the signs and plan to go. And I walk over there on the correct day at the correct time. And I don’t go. The first time I got close then did my “this is so not happening” speed walk past the place and on to the grocery store instead. Today I got a lot closer. I got as far as the door to the building. I opened said door. I looked around while still standing outside. I got overwhelmed, turned around, and went to the grocery store instead. I felt so frustrated with myself, but I am trying to look on the positive side and remember that I did get a lot farther than last time, and chances are they will have another event and maybe next time I will get even closer. I tried, and that is worth something. Everyone has their own strengths and I can’t force myself to be good at something that I am most definitely not good at.

 

Or like my attempt at making homemade vanilla pudding today. The internet says that it is super easy. Reality says, umm, no it most certainly is not. I followed all the directions (except to use a metal whisk because I don’t have one and was using a non-stick pan that isn’t suppose to have metal utensils used on it), but at the end I did not end up with pudding. I ended up with liquid with burned bits and a scraped up pan. Apparently glass stir rods are also not good for nonstick surfaces. I probably should have known that. So plan B is attempting to freeze the liquid and see if that turns it into something pudding-like. The worst it can do is completely solidify in which case I’ll just melt it again and have cold liquid to eat like I already do. It tastes okay, but definitely not like pudding and the texture is obviously even less pudding-like. Oh well…it was worth a try. I need to use up the milk I bought and the internet says to freeze it, but that sounds like a good way to create frustration so my next experiment will be copycat starbucks bottled frappuccino. Of course I can’t completely follow directions for that either – even though caffeine does bind to calcium I am pretty sure that I can’t handle the amount of caffeine that would be left with regular coffee so I already have to substitute decaf coffee. The brand I have doesn’t have on the packaging or the internet the amount of caffeine in it, so I also plan on making it a lot weaker than the recommendation so I don’t have to worry about how much caffeine I am getting.

 

So yeah…we’re just gonna stop there before I embarrass myself 🙂

Sometimes in my tears I drown

(One Day – not gonna even attempt to sound out the name of the artist…so we’ll just say from my friend’s facebook page…and plus apparently the “real” version has a lot of beat-boxing so really I probably like my friend’s ukulele version better anyway…)

Sometimes…it implies there are times I am still swimming…or at least treading water and keeping my head up. It is definitely true that there are times I am drowning, but it is important to acknowledge there are definitely other times when my hard work is paying off.

Today I made a new friend….scratch that…today I told myself I made a really close friend…and then I realized that my perspective on friendship is still a little skewed sometimes. I am not ashamed to admit that I at least formerly had social anxiety…I think when there is the question of whether you might be selectively mute you can no longer deny that you are definitely socially anxious. Yeah, one reason this girl was so upset about not being allowed to speak about what happened (besides that gag orders for victims have only been shown to make things worse…) was that she had fought so hard to have language skills and her ability to communicate was being taken away. No fair!! So anyway, I was wandering because my goal was to not get home until dinner time because that would make it a lot easier to eat and while I am doing a lot better with eating, there are still days I struggle…and I am starting to get frustrated because I feel like I try so hard to shove enough food in my face and no matter how much I eat I can’t seem to gain back the last few pounds…and then the frustration just creates more stress which, ironically, can make it harder again to eat enough. As I was walking, some random guy started talking to me…and because it was more than just hi, I concluded that we were now very good friends…and then I realized that while I do have more stringent criteria now on the category of friends, that sometimes my definition is still a little too loose. I may not anymore consider friend to mean someone I can say hi to about 50% of the time if I saw him/her in the hallway, but now I don’t have a good definition…I could say it is someone I care about, but that doesn’t work well, because I care about pretty much everyone – how much I cared about my abuser was why it was so hard to escape – I didn’t want to hurt her or anyone else…and clearly just having a one-time conversation with someone doesn’t make us friends…I would say it is having a conversation that includes exchanging names, but considering how lousy I am at social skills, that is a less than ideal definition, because I can go a long time without ever knowing people’s names, and it really isn’t the end of the world for me…names are helpful but not required in my world…

But maybe the random dude outside could be my new friend…I am craving friendship and community…I feel lonely. Maybe I could go wander around again and find him and we could order a pizza…who cares that I just finished dinner…if I had someone to hang out with it would totally be worth spending some money to buy more dinner. But that might be desperate and weird…and I don’t wanna be the weird kid…

Also, I listened to the book “The Hardest Piece” by Kara Tippetts today. There were a few things that I really liked. “We want grief to be like a pregnancy having a distinct end, but it is never ever pretty…It is a gift; the gift you never wanted; the gift of perspective………still is a life-saving word. There are still parties, still laundry.” I thought that first comment really hit the nail on the head. Grief is hard because there isn’t a clear, visible, tangible endpoint to wait for. There is no guarantee that in a certain period of time the hard will be over and the joy will come. In some ways it may never end. Never will things go back the way they were before, and that broken and empty place can continue to be a reminder of what will never again be. It will always be a marking of pain and loss. And there are pieces of pregnancy that are beautiful, but grief does not share this beauty. That gift thing…maybe when I’ve healed a little more I’ll be able to see a useful perspective from grief, but right now I want to believe that there is a hopeful truth in that, but right now that is not my reality. Right now the only perspective grief has given me is that the world hurts and I want out. And I just liked the way still being life-saving sounded.

Here’s some pretty pictures from my walk home:

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Side note: the people conducting exit interviews should probably be told WHY the person they are talking to is no longer employed prior to getting on the call…that was painful. I can’t help but think that perhaps she’d have been a bit more gentle in questioning if she’d known upfront that losing my job wasn’t my choice. Maybe not though considering that even after finding out she was still kinda not making it easy…although maybe it is my fault since I have become skilled at hiding how I feel and acting like I’m cool with whatever when really I’m dying on the inside…I got off the call and ran across the room and threw myself on the floor to cry…I can be your sunshine girl, but once I’m alone, hiding is so much harder.

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

(The Last Night – Skillet)

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

The first day at work was also hard.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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