Category Archives: SP

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.

 

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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.

They won’t like me like they did

(lecrae- identity)

I am supposed to be excited to interview at seven out of the nine places I applied, but I’m not; I’m dreading it. It seems so pointless. I am told that the reason places bring you onsite for an interview is to find out how you fit into the culture and community at their facility. That’s all well and good, but no one wants the girl who doesn’t talk. The girl who doesn’t talk doesn’t really fit in anywhere.

I try to think realistically. I know I have grown a LOT. I might look like a middle schooler, but I am no longer the high school kid with very few friends counting a friend as someone she might be able to say hi to maybe 50% of the time if confronted face to face in the hallway. I am not the first year getting high fives and congratulations for saying hi to my friends when I see them. I am not the second year going everywhere with a laptop to type out the parts of conversation that can’t be answered with nodding and pointing.

…but I still think of myself that way. It has always bothered me when people called me the quiet girl as if that were my only identity or even worse “quiet girl” as if that were my name, but that label sunk in deep enough that I still think of myself that way. I have made a lot of progress since then, but I do still frequently think about how to communicate potential needs without spoken words.

Those thoughts, while sometimes absent-minded brain games, are sometimes legitimate preparation even now. Sure, most of the time I am now a chatterbox that people wish had an off switch, and most of the time I can communicate verbally in such a way that no one needs to know that this isn’t how it always was, but not always, and an interview situation is different.

First, an interview is a high stress situation. High stress situations are the situations in which I am most likely to lose the ability to form coherent words. It isn’t cool when “tell me about yourself” is met with a blank stare or when “what is a strength you have” is met with a deer in the headlights.

Second, I have been observing conversation for years to learn patterns and scripting, and am getting better and better at applying what I have learned to new situations so that at this point I seem like a competent conversationalist most of the time. Unfortunately, interviews are not something I have had much of an opportunity to observe…let’s see, I had an interview-ish conversation in middle school when I was getting my first job, but in reality, the boss asked me to apply for the job and the interview was mostly just me filling out the application and getting the information I needed for my first day. I also had an interview at a university I did not attend. That one was a real-ish interview, but was a super fail. Umm, so the person interviewing me was apparently an English professor. She spent the entire time questioning me about one event that I had put on. She seemed to be trying to get some kind of information out of me, but clearly I was getting the answers wrong, because she just kept asking the same questions over and over despite my attempts at answering. The only other interview I’ve had was at school for the interview into third year. That one they gave us the questions in advance, I wrote answers and memorized said answers to regurgitate in the interview. It was scary because as a first year I was told there was no reason for me to even be in school because I was just going to fail the interview into third year anyway. As it turns out, I wasn’t good at interviewing, but if you showed up you automatically passed, and I might be lousy at interviewing, but I am good at showing up.

All that to say, I feel like they aren’t going to want real me. I admit that paper me sounds like a reasonable candidate – okay grades, involved, excited, good references – but, I don’t think that the people who liked paper me will be interested in real me. Who needs a girl who shuts down in interviews? For all they will know, shut down really is my constant state of being.

One of my awesome friends reassured me that confidence and eye contact are really the most important…which I mean is a good reminder that what I say isn’t as important as that I say SOMETHING (which given my history, even saying something is an accomplishment), but it is also scary, because the two things I get the most constructive criticism on are eye contact and confidence. I try really hard, and my preceptors tell me that I have made a LOT of progress (or at least the ones who have seen me present more than once)…and a lot of progress each rotation times five completed rotations is definitely something I should be proud of, but it doesn’t seem like enough. I don’t think anyone is going to want me. I hope someone is going to be willing to take a chance on me, but I feel like they’d probably rather have someone who can consistently communicate and do it well…and when you get a choice, why go second class?

I feel like I am going to have spent all this time and money and all I’m going to get in exchange is the knowledge that I wasn’t enough. I was actually thinking today that maybe I wasn’t too far off thinking I could take a year off and work at McDonalds or Caribou if I didn’t match. Besides the yummy food, those are two jobs in which I would be forced to have constant communication time. Being in pharmacy has pushed me into part time communication, but even then I often get breaks to do things that get me away from direct communication for a little while, which I’m guessing doesn’t happen quite so much in the food service industry.

hand up worries down

(love and the outcome—God I know)

BTW, I LOVE this song right now.

So I just realized I have about a week left of this rotation and a lot of work left to do, so I’m gonna try to write all the things that I have half written on scraps of paper and stuff but do it FAST…lol…

 

You know you are still a social learner and still using scripting when it is 8:01 am and you wish someone a good night. Yep, did that. Well, on the positive side, I did use words that were not strictly required, which is a lot more than I used to do. After that experience I tried really hard to modify my script to a good DAY rather than a good NIGHT. Once I practice it into a script it is hard to change, but mostly I have switched over to a more appropriate greeting for the morning. Also on the positive side: one of the pharmacists at my rotation site told me that she thought my social skills were fine!! Y’all, that seriously means like the world to me. Every preceptor so far has given me the feedback that my clinical skills and other knowledge are great, but that my communication and social skills need some development. I wholeheartedly agree, and am very thankful that so far each of them has been willing to modify my grade so that it didn’t hurt my GPA. I don’t think anyone has ever told me before that I had reasonable social skills!! The closest I’ve ever gotten to that was first year when my friend literally got out of her chair and jumped up and down out of excitement when I used the phrase “I haven’t thought about that” instead of “I don’t know.” So yeah, a comment that there wasn’t a problem in that area was one of the most amazing things someone could say to me. It was a recognition that my hard word was starting to pay off. Sure, I am still practicing conversation with myself in the car and I am still doing a LOT of observing and mimicking and watching for cause and effect to figure out how to communicate, but I used to do all that and still be obviously impaired. Now, apparently, I do all that work and it makes me seem like a normal girl. Yay!! I wish someone had realized there was a problem and gotten me help before I became a college student who fended for herself and when necessary communicated primarily in writing, but I can’t take that back and can only move on from there. In the past few years I have learned to talk on the phone, text, email, and speak normally enough to pass as a normal college student. There is still evidence that I used to struggle, but it isn’t glaringly obvious anymore, and rarely does anyone see the deer in the headlights girl when there is the potential for words being necessary. Occasionally I do kinda avoid answering the phone when I am on rotation, but that is stemming more from knowing that there is a 95% chance I won’t be able to help the person on the other end rather than the pure terror of the phone that fueled my pretend inability to locate the phone in the past.

 

Speaking of improving social skills, it is sometimes unfortunate, because as I’ve learned to enjoy in person social contact, I have begun to crave it. No longer is looking at a facebook profile picture enough to satisfy my social needs. It also means that when people leave my life it actually matters a lot more. Which makes it hard when I am moving every five weeks and therefore leaving behind friends constantly. I hate goodbyes. Sometimes I wish I could crawl back into my shell where someone leaving my life didn’t matter very much because I never knew how to get overly connected to anyone—even my best friends. Now I connect and have to let go.

 

Change in subject, I found out this morning that I am not the only one who has ever had physical manifestations of anxiety. In high school there were a few times I vomited because of test anxiety, and even since then I do sometimes have stomachaches because of anxiety (which is unfortunate, because the anxiety is usually surrounding fear of getting sick…). Not that I ever would even wish my enemies would feel sick, but it was good to know that my friend had a stomachache because of anxiety, because that normalized it for me. Okay fine, and it made the whole situation a lot less scary because my OCD decided to flare this week. I know exactly what happened: I was still super sensitive because of the recent move to a completely new environment. On Sunday someone had said she had just thrown up. A few hours later someone said it was flu season and they were pretty sure someone was going to start vomiting. At the hospital I think it was on Monday but it might have been Tuesday I saw and heard someone throwing up over and over and over and over. That is what broke me and I almost didn’t eat lunch that day. I took my lunch break because the anxiety was so high that I was struggling to do the basic task of alphabetizing and dispensing prescriptions. I went and got some food because I know better than to skip lunch and was determined that OCD was not going to win. I stared my food down for a few minutes before putting it into my mouth, but I was wildly successful. I started putting food in my mouth, and as I did, the anxiety dropped far enough that 95% of the food made it to my mouth. Food is my drug.

 

Speaking of anxiety, I know that lack of sleep can make me vulnerable, but I learned yesterday that if I am exhausted enough then it is like I don’t have the energy to feel anxiety and the mute button goes on. It makes it a lot easier to give presentations that way. I am not saying that intentionally not sleeping would be a good idea for presentations…in fact, it probably makes the presentation worse because I can’t track what I am saying long enough to even get to the end of a sentence and know where I was going with it when I was at the beginning of the sentence, but it is really nice to be able to give a presentation with no fear. I will note that it was not intentional that I didn’t get much sleep. I was up a little late because two of my friends were going to leave soon and I wanted to get in as much time as possible. Then at midnight I woke up to a lot of beeping. I thought someone was texting. Then I realized I was the only one in the house and if someone was texting then it must be an intruder, so either there was an intruder or there was an unidentified noise that I should probably ignore. I decided I would get out my computer and look up the number for security just in case I needed it then I would try to figure out where the noise was coming from and if I could get it to go away…well, as it turns out, the sound was my computer. It apparently had come open in my bag and among other things was trying to send an email without the recipient filled in and therefore continued to beep about an error. Craziness. So I solved that problem, reset all the settings that had gotten screwed up on the computer, plugged it in because it was now almost completely out of battery, and tried to go back to sleep. Hahaha good luck with that. There were train whistles almost constantly until about an hour before the alarm went off. Needless to say, I turned the alarm off and went back to sleep, waking up in just enough time to my rotation on time but not enough time to do any of the practicing I intended to do in the morning.

 

Fear is a funny thing. I am scared of a lot of things…but not the things I should be scared about. I drove around with my gas light on not knowing where I might find a gas station and I stopped half asleep in the dark at a gas station in a city that may or may not be overly safe. And I had no fear about this process…yep…I can be terrified of things that shouldn’t matter one day and have no fear about things that do the next…my mom has always said that normal is a really low standard, but I still really believe that I’d like to be normal some day.

Who I am is moving on

(Josh Wilson—No More)

I know exactly what I want to say, but not how to say it…which if you read the rest of this post you will understand why that is a very common experience for me…lol, intro sentence introducing the topic…

I read this article today and I think you should too. This is eerily similar to my story and makes me think maybe the SM (selective mutism) I saw on a differential for me in my records wasn’t too far off. Sometimes I knew exactly what to say, but couldn’t make words. Sometimes even now, writing someone a “quick” email can take hours of deliberation and maybe a couple days to psych myself up to hit send (thankfully not constantly—mostly just when I am stressed out for other reasons). Sometimes even the nonverbal communication arena was far outside my abilities. If you didn’t know me then, I do want to put out a quick disclaimer that I know people who primarily saw me in silence wondered how I managed to make it through life, but it definitely wasn’t overly unpleasant. When you live that way you quickly learn how to survive and even thrive with minimal communication. I also was very lucky that the classroom was one of my most comfortable settings so even before I was much of a talker, I never had too much trouble with academics (aside from speech class…I have passed most speech classes with insane amounts of efforts to at least pass the speeches combined with doing anything possible for extra credit to boost my grade into the safe zone…let’s just say that most people probably don’t practice their speech until it is good enough record it on an mp3 player and listen to it on repeat during nearly all waking hours for the month prior to the speech, but that is how I passed my college speech class because there weren’t extra credit opportunities). Now I am a talker and it is thrilling to be able to communicate a lot more readily. If I am being honest, I still have a lot of roadblocks in my way. Some of them were not placed by my brain, but I would be lying if I said that I am 100% extravert 100% of the time. I do still sometimes fall into the role of observer. I do still sometimes watch from the outside wishing I were on the inside. A lot more texts get written than get sent. A lot more words remain thoughts than are shared.

This is going to sound like totally off topic, but someone remarked recently that younger people have to be able to learn a lot faster than older people have ever had to learn. Every day new things are discovered about the world. Once we are older, we mostly just need to keep abreast of these new developments, because we have learned the baseline knowledge already. Younger people, on the other hand, are still working on the basics while all these new things continue to be discovered and there is infinitely more in that baseline than there ever was for us because it now includes all the things that have been discovered daily up to that point, yet education is still supposed to be completed in the same or a similar amount of time.

So to bring it back to clearly on topic, I thought about that and realized it is kind of where I am with communication skills and social skills. I have always worked hard to learn these skills, but in middle school it started being obvious to me that there must be some secret to these skills that I was missing and I was falling behind. Retrospectively, I think that secret was the lack of social anxiety. (I could be wrong—maybe there was another secret and because I didn’t know the secret and didn’t have good skills the anxiety developed secondarily—I didn’t really experience it as anxiety until probably late high school because I was an avid avoider and mostly didn’t have to face the situations I was bad at…it really only manifested as frustration with myself until late high school). Anyway, my peers still learn more about how to effectively communicate daily, and I am behind and having to try to catch up because I am missing a lot of the basics they mastered over a decade ago. It is really hard sometimes, especially because as my social skills grow, so too does my awareness of how far I still have left to go, but thinking about that statement about younger people needing to learn more rapidly, it makes me really proud of myself. I have worked really hard to be where I am today. While I may not be at the top of the heap socially, people who are just meeting me generally no longer have any reason to think there was ever a time I wasn’t able to communicate on a reasonable level. I certainly have plenty of room for improvement, but the difference between my peers and I is no longer so wide that I am discounted before I am ever given a chance. That is probably the thing that bothered me the most when I wasn’t a good talker. I hated being told what I couldn’t do or being excluded to my face. It might have been harder for me, but I wanted a chance to try. I may have needed a little adaptation or a little flexibility in how “good” the verbal skills had to be, but I wanted to be included. Inclusivity has always been really important to me, and I think it is very much because of how often I was excluded either unintentionally by people not realizing I wanted to be involved or not knowing how to include me, or intentionally when people didn’t want me or assumed I couldn’t do it anyway. I am sure some of that was a well-intentioned attempt to not place me in situations in which I was bound to fail or otherwise was certainly not intended to hurt or limit me at all, but the result was that I learned how it feels to be on the outside and developed a passion for preventing others from being left out.

I refuse to be ashamed of where I came from, because I worked hard to get to where I was even if it wasn’t quite good enough, but I am so proud of where I am now. I certainly wish I was better than I am now, but I also know I have worked hard to get where I am, and that is something to be celebrated. I refuse to mourn where I am not when where I am was such an accomplishment. This concept seems hard for some people to grasp, and I have likened it to the learning of a child, but another example would be that while the straight-A student might be devastated with a lower grade and not be that proud of that grade or even their other grades because that one grade is not so good, the straight-C-with-occasional-D’s student is thrilled to be graduating and celebrates his or her accomplishment with pride. It is all about perspective. If you had told me a few years ago that today I would be asked to give a presentation about two minutes prior to the presentation and I would be able to confidently say that the presentation went pretty well, I would have told you that was a lie. Actually, no I wouldn’t, because I would be busy laughing my head off. Or, no, I probably wouldn’t, because I would be so terrified I would just stare at you blankly and try really hard to smile politely. That is just something that would very likely not be possible at that point, and I don’t think I really believed the light at the end of the tunnel was that close…I actually don’t think I realized at that point that even an AWESOME communicator could even do that. It was just so far out my realm of reality and possibility to even be considered as an option. But yeah, that is a true story. My preceptor told me her idea of something for my to present to the pharmacists. I agreed to do it and asked when this presentation was going to occur and the answer was in about two minutes. I quickly brainstormed what I was going to say, then I presented it with no practice run, and no preparation aside from the previous two minutes. I really did rock it! I was so proud of myself. I can’t say I would ever volunteer to spontaneously give a presentation, but it was incredible to realize that I could do it, and it was probably really good for me to have another opportunity to practice presentation skills. In reality, not having the topic and details in advance or even knowing it was going to happen more than two minutes before it did happen meant that I didn’t spend hours upon hours working on what I *should* say or obsessing over whether it would be good enough. It saved me tons of practice time and re-working time. It is definitely a little more nerve-wracking to go into a presentation so blatantly unprepared, but at the same time knowing that my preceptor anyway knew that this was impromptu (even if I’m not sure anyone else did) greatly decreased the stress level as I knew that with the minimal guidance on what was expected and the minimal prep time that there was a definite limit of what could be realistically expected of me. I think I actually might like the idea of an impromptu presentation, because it evens the playing field a bit, because I doubt that there are more than a handful of people who would choose to do a presentation without first practicing, so it is taking anyone out of his or her comfort zone. Side note that I was so far behind on communication skills in high school that even impromptu speeches couldn’t bring me all the way up to where everyone else was—even though I did practice in whatever ways I could prior to days I knew there might be impromptu speeches. God has done some pretty incredible things in my life.

And the last words you’ll hear tonight will be ‘I love you.’ Love takes us all of a lifetime to tell

(For he grants sleep to those he loves—Michael Card)

(written at church as an excuse to stay where I feel loved a little longer…posted at home after using the drive time to make sure I wasn’t posting something that was going to get me into trouble later)

I’m not as think as you dumb I am…lol

So last night I wrote on my to do list, “directions.” This morning I saw that and was like no problem, I totally know where I am going, I probably just was super tired and needed to remind myself to bring my directions notebook to my car in case I need it.

Lol, story of my life, as it turns out, I remembered why that was on my list about the same time that I noticed the “road closed” sign. Oh no…so yeah…and that is how I got lost…and how I ended up running down the sidewalks as I realized that I had parked a mile away from where I was currently sitting and could not apparate into the drivers seat…

Luckily, I miscalculated how long it took to get to church from where I was parked, and it worked out. All is well that ends well.

Except, now I should leave church, but leaving is hard because I have friends Tuesday and Thursday and Saturday, but Sunday and Monday and Wednesday and Friday I am alone. I know that changes starting tomorrow, but that is more stressful than a relief of stress, because I tried really hard to be an adventurous eater, but the most adventurous I got was mandarin oranges. And even that was still a challenge as of last week when I was eating them not to cringe each time one went in my mouth.

And then in a week I will be driving to another state where there aren’t any days that I have friends.

I get to have a million friends here at church, and I never want to leave, because I go home to no friends.

In the past, I was still going home alone but it was a needed break after having friend time all day 6 days of the week and I was totally ready to go home and have Sunday all to myself. But then I became a big girl who doesn’t spend all her time at school anymore. I don’t like the real world. Actually, I probably do like the real world—I don’t like moving every five weeks and therefore not having friends at the place I spend most of my time. I miss going to work in the morning and having a million friends there and stuff.

Finally, two quotes that have been sitting on my list of ideas for a while.

“It’s like being on the 100th floor of a building with only stairs and needing to sign an important document. The problem is, all the pens are on the first floor. You know you need a pen, and you know how to use one, but when you’re up at the top, it’s difficult for you the access the pen and therefore, the skill of using it.”

I love this quote. I can’t remember where I found it or to what it was originally referring. I love the analogy. It is so true that sometimes I have the skills and knowledge but not the ability to use them. There are a lot of directions I could go with this. I think the biggest one that I run into on an unfortunately somewhat regular basis is in the arena of communication. Because I was a little late to the game in learning these things, a lot of the time I am completely at a loss as to how to handle things that are in that arena. I studied really hard on the mechanistics of conversation, but studying for one, didn’t tell me the details that I really needed, and two, flies out the window when I am faced with a situation that feels over my head, because I can’t really take five minutes working on my “correct response” to a friend’s wave or conversational comment. A lot of the time once the instance of needing to respond right now is over, I know exactly what the right thing to do would have been, but in the moment I was on the 100th floor, and the pen was on the first floor. I didn’t know how to get myself there.

“Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.”

This quote was channeled from Kati Morton youtube’s best online therapist and just a really awesome and caring person whom I would love to meet in person some day…not in the context of therapy, but she is actually awesome enough that I could probably feel safe in therapy with her without a warm up period to make sure she wasn’t another one out to hurt me. She got the quote from Mark Suster who has adult ADHD. And probably child ADHD he just didn’t know about it yet.

Oh yeah. I hate the term damaged people. I just think it sounds kind of derogatory. Damaged things get discounted because they aren’t worth as much—no one will pay full price for damaged goods. The pain in my life doesn’t make me worth any less than anyone else. Being hurt deeply by someone doesn’t mean that I deserved it or was less than in any way. Fighting my way out of severe OCD, and social anxiety that bordered on selective mutism means that I do some things a little differently in life, but different isn’t wrong. Experiencing how people responded to the girl who was often on the sidelines but not often by choice gave me a lot of opportunity to learn how to do the same for others. I might not reach everyone, but I can reach someone. Like that starfish story, I might not be able to make a difference for each of the millions of people who need someone, each one counts. “It made a difference for that one.”

So anyway, the point is, at first I looked at that and was like, what?! As I thought about it, it is true. I totally do know that I can survive. I can’t be destroyed by hurtful words and actions or other adversity because I know I have made it through some pretty tough stuff (things way worse than anxiety disorders). I know I can survive. Bravery isn’t not being scared, it is doing it, scared. Because I know I can, I have developed tenacity and resilience. I still see more trees than forests, but I know when I see the tree that a forest is out there. Lol, speaking of forests and trees, I can recognize first that my rows of straightened chairs have a little zig and zag in them, but I can also recognize that when I walk into church I absolutely do not notice the chairs that aren’t quite straight until I see someone straightening them, because I don’t come to church for the chairs, I come to church for the people and to worship my wonderful Father. Doesn’t mean the church should look like a tornado came through, because in the eyes of a visitor that would probably be super confusing, but also doesn’t mean that I am a failure of a volunteer because I can’t make the chairs look perfect like everyone else does.

They walked right through the door

(Noah took the animals two-by-two—the Donut repair club at the zoo)

On Friday my family got fast food for dinner. My parents were proud of me because I went into the restaurant when they got stuff wrong in the drive through. It is really cool, because I am so far removed from my years of silence that I didn’t understand at first what I did for them to be proud of me. Just a few years ago I would have cried and screamed until I got out of it if I was asked to go in. Now I don’t even really think twice. I just do it. It isn’t even the yummy food motivating me…it is just doing the right thing. I might be a little shy sometimes despite my extraversion, but speaking isn’t something that terrifies me anymore. I am still sometimes a communication avoider when I am overwhelmed, but for the most part, no one can even tell if they didn’t know me then that I ever wasn’t loud in most situations. Now I can talk to anyone, not just a few words sprinkled here and there with my closest friends. Starting with writing has helped me learn to use language, and now I can use language both written and oral. I feel like I can connect with people so much better now that I can use words because I am not limited to only the people who have the patience to sit with me until I can speak to them. I was independent before because I didn’t know very well how to get people on my team. I am independent now because I can do more things all by myself. It is less stressful this way.

Where there is a will, there is almost always a way. On yesterday that will was for ice cream, and that way was…umm…well, I expected there to be a bike rack outside Culvers. There wasn’t. My plan B was to park my bike at the pretty building across the street. I was like 99% sure there was a bike rack there. I was 99% wrong. So after looping around the block a few times I thought about going to the doctors office a few blocks away to park my bike…’cause I mean doctors want you to be active, right? Except if I parked my bike there it would be farther than I wanted to walk to get my ice cream and come back…so I found a light pole to lock my bike to…the lock might not have really fit on the right way, and it may not have been 100% legal, but I got my ice cream and my bike was still there when I came back outside…

Total side note, but the really pretty building says in big print on the outside “mental health clinic.” The majority of the walls of the building are windows without any kind of window coverings. That seems like an interesting structural design. There are definitely some times (especially with certain people) that the distraction of a window would have been highly welcomed to pull my mind away from difficult things…and I definitely asked a certain person a few times to please leave the blinds open and my request was denied…but sometimes having windows isn’t such a good thing. Sometimes counseling requires having a serious conversation—as in one not interrupted by my outburst about the pretty leaf I just saw outside…and having a serious conversation is highly hindered by attempting to have it in front of a window—hello distraction. Hi person walking a dog. Hi red car. Hi fuzzy bunny. Lol…I’ve never actually been inside the building, so maybe it is just waiting spaces around the perimeter of the building and all the real room are in the middle…IDK…the designer clearly didn’t consult me when she or he designed the building…