I cling to your promise there will be a dawn

(Beauty from pain – superchick)

 

–started Saturday…finished not Saturday because even if grief keeps me awake, I am at least going to TRY to sleep at night–

 

I thought I was ready to hope again. I let hope in. The hope grew. And then I got crushed again. I am angry with myself that I even let myself hope again. I should have known better. Living without hope was better than being crushed. It hurts too much.

 

I was thrilled to get my job back and the waiting was killing me but it was the biggest most exciting thing ever. On my phone on Friday I had two missed calls. I hadn’t really been looking at my phone because the computer system controlling our dispensing was down which meant what is usually just me scanning barcodes mindlessly became me logging out logging back in and restarting the computer or the program over and over until it would let me scan a barcode…and hope I got more than one in before it started spazzing out again. That sounds like a nightmare, and in some ways it was, but it was also really good for me because I get really bored at work because there isn’t anything to do, so that made my work take a lot longer.

 

Anyway, I recognized one number as the generic call out number from the Children’s location that was my home away from home where I have a millionty friends. The other I didn’t recognize, but assumed was from the Children’s Business Center where I assumed HR would be calling from. In my imagination my break couldn’t come soon enough so I could listen to the message letting me know that I had my job back. In reality I’m pretty sure one call was junk. The other was my manager letting me know it fell through again. I cried at work again.

 

I was determined not to throw my progress away and thank God that I had a less than stellar lunch so that by sheer determination I could have the success of finishing. Sure, I only had a teeny tiny mini-granola bar and some noodles with a little bit of tomato and a few pieces of corn on top, but it was a challenge. I have fought so hard to gain weight and wasn’t going to throw that away. I almost completely stopped eating and drinking before and I refused to do that again. There is a fire that burns in me most of the time to keep me moving forward when all I want to do is give up.

 

Clearly though, I was not playing with a full deck…I got a little lost on my way home from work…I looked up and was like, umm, there isn’t usually a busy street to cross on my way home…followed by where am I?!…and then oh cr*p, my turn was a few blocks ago and I am soaked and I want to just sit down and give up.

 

Luckily between my ability to compartmentalize, my ability to hide within myself, and that little bit of fire, I was able to actually enjoy dinner with my parents and one of my brothers that night. Maybe not as much as I would have otherwise, but I don’t think they caught on how hard it was for me and I actually did really well and got a full meal in without too much effort.

 

But I can’t contain it in a little well hidden box forever. This morning was hard. Usually in the morning I might pick up my laptop or phone first for a couple of minutes, but other than that, the first thing on the agenda is get out clean clothes and take a shower. And that is why it was almost 4 hours after the alarm went off before I took a shower, and I ended up back in pajamas for another hour and a half after that before I got dressed…see, for most of this year I almost exclusively wore my Children’s logo wear. Today that felt too painful. I probably have like 100 shirts in my dresser, so it shouldn’t be such a problem to get dressed. I am usually the kind of person who takes the shirt on top with little thought as to what it might be. But every shirt felt like a painful reminder of loss and hurt. Even the totally blank solid color t-shirts hurt somehow…and so I got stuck because I don’t like how dress clothes feel and I don’t like long sleeves, but I wasn’t going to go out in public in pajamas. Painting a house in pajamas was moderately acceptable because no one really wears their best clothes for that, but hanging out with friends requires that I actually get dressed.

 

I was very proud of myself for a job well done getting breakfast in my mouth. I didn’t do an awesome job with lunch, but I ate something…I was 7 pounds away from my goal before and that was the only thing getting anything in my mouth for lunch. I refuse to throw away that progress even if it does seem like nothing I do will ever be enough to get me to that goal.

 

I went out with some friends and I am very proud of myself for ordering SOMETHING to eat at all. Because of plans changing I found myself somewhere that I hadn’t studied the menu in advance and hadn’t memorized and practiced my order…and wasn’t with people I felt like I could ask for help. I picked something on the menu that was the very easiest to say and was also something I at least would be interested in eating when feeling good. It was hard work, but I ate my meal. I was thrilled with myself. I worked really hard. Looking at the website now, it looks like there are probably only 160 calories in the item I picked, but I fought for each of those calories, and that counts. And then someone mentioned cookies. That has been the other really hard part of the lack of interest in food…people know how much I love things like skittles or pizza or cookies or whatever, and half of my brain is thrilled, but the other half just feels like it is too much and just can’t do it. Sometimes peer pressure and the remnants of my social anxiety is an incredible thing. Because of peer pressure I managed to order and eat a cookie. That was a God-thing. It was a good cookie even if half my brain was totally not having it. Someday I will have to go back and try again when my stomach and mind WANT a cookie and it will probably be incredible.

 

When I got home I was about to start crying so I got my bike and left because being in motion helps. I figured it was not okay to be in motion with how little I’d eaten and decided I already had a Panera order memorized and might as well go there…unfortunately, it was towards the end of the day, and by evening Panera starts running out of things. I am so thankful for the caring cashier. I had two orders memorized in my head in case of things being out, but I could see that both orders were missing items. I was really struggling with words to order something else. The cashier could tell that I wanted to order something from the display and suggested an item. I had no idea what he was even suggesting, but was so thankful to have the ordering process done that I would have said yes even if he’d suggested tuna with ranch dip (yuck and yuck!!)…but he said the word chocolate so I figured it would be fine. It wasn’t nearly as many calories as plan A and it wasn’t a good deal or anything, but it got food into a bag and that was the goal.

 

I started biking home and realized I had a problem. I really wanted to bike into the intersection against the light. I had (have) no desire to live and figured either I’d get an adrenaline rush that might feel good or I might get to die. That was a scary thought so I decided that whether being in motion was helpful or not, it was not safe and I needed to stop…however, it is not safe to stop in the middle of the road and not advisable to stop on the sidewalk and stay there all night so I was conscious of being careful and went home. I made it there before the tears started falling. I have to be okay because a long time ago I said if I wasn’t okay I would get help…and I know that right now seeing a counselor would make it a lot worse…so I have to be okay, not just because it is socially better, but because I don’t want to break my word. The other thing is that stress lets my OCD start coming back. Luckily this time it has been more of an insidious onset than the sudden impossible overwhelm that often comes…but while I am very familiar with identifying germ-related thoughts as OCD versus normal thoughts, I have had less experience in the other OCD arenas that my OCD hasn’t really dwelled in. I know that OCD can cause suicide like thoughts that are really just obsessive intrusive thoughts rather than true suicidal ideation. I really don’t know if the thoughts I was having were a new manifestation of my OCD or if I really am going down a scary path. I guess either way it is something I need to work on…and TBH I am leaning towards identifying it as OCD because the fact that although the desperation stayed but the harm focused thoughts ended in minutes seems to better fit a pattern of harm focused OCD rather than true suicidal ideation.

 

I do not want to be alive, but I do not have any intention to kill myself. Life and death are God’s job, not mine. Only one entity can have control and I need to let it be God. Everyone says that God has a plan for my life and there will be good, but it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like it just hurts. The book I was listening to says that we can do anything if we can be in it just 51%. That last 1% above 50% will get us going in the right direction…but I feel like I am stuck more like at the 49 side of 50. I am trying, but I am failing. Today I put on my pants and remembered that earlier this year the button was re-sewn because I was trying to shove my body into this pair of pants that was a little too tight and the button popped off…and now I can get them off without unbuttoning if I want to.

 

If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.

 

I thought about sleeping in my hammock last night, but I was crying so hard at bedtime that it didn’t seem like a good idea to go outside. Being with people really helps prevent the crying, but once I am already crying, being out in public doesn’t necessarily help stop the tears.

 

Today is going to be another hard day…but part of it is completely my fault. I still didn’t want to eat or drink anything, but I had a reward on my starbucks account and figured that drinks are the best solution because you can get calories and fluid in at the same time and my opinion on breakfast is that its purpose is calories rather than filling any particular nutritional need, so anything counts. We had a minor problem: the online menu has a caffeine free version of the pumpkin spice Frappuccino, but the menu at the actual store doesn’t. Yes, I do memorize my order but still need to find it on the menu before ordering. Clearly, words are not my specialty and I had already practiced pumpkin spice so I had to make a decision and that decision was to just add the word decaf to the pumpkin spice that was on the menu. Yeah, my body is already telling me that was dumb. I read on the internet once that caffeine binds to calcium so I got some calcium in, and I found some ibuprofen, but a caffeinated drink probably wasn’t my best option. I tried…and if it gets more calories and fluid in than I lose, it is still worth it…and I do LOVE the taste of coffee…to all you people who can have caffeine and don’t have to think about these things, decaf does not mean the same as caffeine free. Coffee shop decaf generally has about 18mg of caffeine per cup. Most homemade coffee has 3 to 18mg of coffee per cup. I think I read somewhere that Folgers instant coffee crystal decaf is the only decaf coffee to have no caffeine at all. So anyway, compare that to the 40-50 mg in the average can of caffeinated pop, and it is still a pretty decent amount of caffeine…I decided that due to the caffeine level it was okay to not finish because my estimate is that I probably got 300 calories, which isn’t so bad for breakfast.

 

Y’all, it really is not fun being sensitive to caffeine. My whole body just aches and I feel super tired and sick…and now I am definitely feeling why I usually only cheat and do coffee in the evening when I can sleep it off. Why do I do these things to myself?! On the positive side, I do feel sick enough that it is numbing some of the pain of the grief…so there is that…this could be a good idea for bedtime to not go to bed in tears…

 

–updated to add this doodle from church…’cause I can’t sit still and listen without something in my hands…and today I was going to cry if I didn’t have a screen in front of me…I feel bad about appearing distracted, but I figure it is better to show up than to be alone…

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Cook the Turkey and the Ham the Pumpkin Pie and Candied Yams

(It’s Christmas Time – The Plane Truth)

 

Goodbye summer

 

 

Hello Fall

 

 

It is not super different because I am someone who values consistency and predictability, but yes, I re-decorated to better match the season…and because I have way too many decorations tucked away in my closet – I’ve been decorating both an apartment and a room at my parents house with enough stuff for rotation both places for a long time and now it’s all in one place. I window shopped online and at Target for some variety in bedding, but I haven’t found anything that met all four rights: color/design, price, size, comfort…well, that and my linen closet is full…I had a super cute pillow case I wanted to use for the post-Christmas winter, but it got lost at some point…but considering I have two copies of the bedding currently on my bed (except for the comforter), it is pretty safe to say that I really like it. A couple years ago I almost bought the same bedding in red and orange (which would have been awesome for fall), but it was only available in store, and I was the kind of person who never ventured as far as target. My apartment a mile or so away from school and church less than three miles from school were the boundaries defining where I tended to roam. Well, that and on rare occasions wherever my bike took me…and that one time when I tried to go to the princess library…

 

I was at Target like a week or two ago and found some towels I almost had to have. They were on a really awesome sale, so it would have been a good time to buy, but like I said, my linen closet is full and I really only use like one towel and then I put it in the washer and dryer and use it again and I have probably at least eight full size towels. Most of them don’t match (partly because as a swimmer occasionally I’d have matching towels and one would get stolen – super frustrating when you just got brand new towels but not nearly as frustrating as when your brand new (expensive) swimsuit that you adore gets stolen), but when you only use one towel they don’t really have to match. But these towels at the store were red. I don’t have any red towels. I told myself if I could come up with one reason to buy the towels without using the phrase “because they are red” I could buy as many as my heart desired, but obviously I couldn’t come up with any reason I needed new towels so I didn’t.

 

Speaking of the season, today I had my first pumpkin spice of the season. I had a pumpkin pie bagel from Panera. To be honest, it wasn’t that awesome. I realized that I like pumpkin flavored baked goods because they usually have a smooth consistency, but the bagel was kinda dry. And it wasn’t so much as pumpkin flavored as it was pumpkin colored. I probably should have gone with chocolate chip…but it was still good. Because of the issue of caffeine it is hard to get behind the PSL trend, but pumpkin oatmeal is AWESOME (and pumpkin and cinnamon doesn’t really flavor brownies but does make them smell AMAZING).

 

A few years ago when I did an ambulance ride along (which I primarily remember as an opportunity to get to go to like an hour or so of PALS (pediatric advanced life support) because there really wasn’t any excitement), they were talking about how you should eat when you can, pee when you can, and sleep when you can, because you never know when something will happen that will interfere with doing those things. I have been thinking recently about that advice and how useful it is in my current situation. I am actively trying to regain weight because I lost so much of it unhealthily this spring and haven’t yet regained my goal weight. Like I read somewhere, grief doesn’t really ever go away. Instead, it fades and becomes less all-encompassing but it is always there. At this point the grief is still very real, but it is SO much better than it was. I now can have times I am super excited though…but at the same time, it definitely isn’t totally gone. I can still go from having a really good day to about to cry quickly. So knowing that sometimes things are hard, I have started shoving food in my face whenever I have any interest at all in eating, because you never know when you’re going to struggle to eat your next meal.

 

So I made a new friend this week. Which was really awesome at first, but less awesome when this person wanted to know if I could hang out every day. I don’t know how I attract this kind of person…actually I do. I love people and am lousy at saying no and won’t write off the people everyone else ignored so people who haven’t made friends with anyone else become my friends and sometimes it is great, but other times I just wish I could figure out how to make them some other friends because it quickly gets exhausting being their sole source of entertainment and keeps me from having as much of an opportunity to make friends with people who might in the end be better friends for me anyway. Maybe God is giving me an opportunity to learn to say no…that is word that isn’t really in my vocabulary. I am not Minnesota passive aggressive, but I am most definitely Minnesota passive…and I wasn’t even born in Minnesota so I can’t say I was born this way…

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 🙂

I’m falling on my knees…and so I’ll wait

(Hungry – Joy Williams)

Sometimes I make bad choices. Like walking in the middle of the street in the dark. Sometimes when I stop distracting myself from my loss and actually talk about it (and sometimes just totally randomly) the pain significantly intensifies. I know if I can push it away before it becomes all-consuming it won’t hurt as much. I know it isn’t the “right” way to deal with it, but it is what I am doing to make it through. Being in motion seems to help me feel at least a little better. So Thursday evening I grabbed my apartment key, put my shoes on, and as an afterthought took the bag of chocolate that I was really hoping I would eat and I went outside to walk. I would have rollerbladed or biked or something, but I knew I didn’t really have time to get any of those things ready. I just needed to go. Clearly I wasn’t thinking super logically…so I figured I wanted to be on the other side of the street so I crossed…not at an intersection…and not straight across…just diagonally from one side to the other…in my defense, I was at least wearing a brightly colored shirt…in the dark. When you don’t feel like you have much to live for though, what motivation do you really have for crossing the street safely? I haven’t been praying recently for God to take me home, but it is not because I have plans to take things into my own hands; I know that it is God’s job to decide when I go home. At times like that I am not sure whether to be proud of myself: I prevented a total meltdown, or angry: I should have been careful. What I do know is that God must have some sort of plan for my life: I am still alive. Of course, the next day I was crossing the street the right way and actually did almost get run over ’cause someone wasn’t paying attention…and okay, so I wasn’t doing it completely right since I didn’t attempt eye contact with the drivers near the intersection before starting to cross…

 

Because of my history of anxiety…and especially because the vast majority of my work was self-initiated, I have a very exposure-therapy based mindset to life. If it is scary and uncomfortable I tend to think I should probably make myself do it…clearly the exception is with processing the grief and stuff because I don’t think I am ready to handle that on my own yet. And recently I was watching a video that had a side note about the resiliency zone. I think that kind of gave credence to the way I am handling things right now. The resiliency zone is the range of emotion intensity that we have the coping mechanisms to handle and stay present. Above the resilient zone we fight or flight and below the resilient zone we freeze. We can only process and handle things in the resilient zone, but after a trauma or other stressful situation our resilient zone can be extremely narrow, and it takes a lot of time and work to be able to expand the resiliency zone and until it is wide enough to stay in the zone we can’t really work on re-processing whatever has happened.

 

Anyway, new things are scary, so Friday morning I went to Aldi because I saw that it was open. I wandered around for a few minutes and got overwhelmed because it was a very different atmosphere than any other grocery store I’ve gone to and there were a zillion people there like you had to wait for people to move to get through the aisles…but milk to make pudding has been on my list of things to buy for a long time because non-cow milk makes glop, not pudding because it doesn’t have the casein to hold the pudding together…but I don’t drink cow milk so it seemed so wasteful to buy a carton just to throw away the leftovers…enter Aldi where milk costs like half as much so it doesn’t seem quite so wasteful. So I will go back on Tuesday morning because it sounds like there is some kind of event then which sounds terrifying but exactly where I need to be.

 

You don’t make friends by being a hermit (That’s the right word for someone who never leaves their home, right?). And lol…speaking of making friends, someone randomly started talking to me yesterday as I was walking down the sidewalk.

 

Wait, I should back up. Second year when I was terrified of the interview into third year (even though it was pretty much common knowledge that if you show up you passed), my counselor asked me what I would want to do if I didn’t pass, like what other career I could pursue. That was a really hard question because there was only one thing I had ever been interested in doing ever: pediatric clinical pharmacy. Never had I wanted to do anything else. It took months, but eventually I determined that I would like to be a social worker…of course I was still thinking with that career option that I wanted to work with kids and families. Lately I have been frustrated because I don’t feel like there is any way for me to get from where I am to where I want to be. I know it would be throwing away the degree I fought for, but I’ve been thinking that while bachelor’s programs for social work are generally not conducive to holding a job at the same time that maybe a higher level program would be more able to accommodate a working adult schedule with asynchronous learning needs. Maybe if I did that and started over with a new career I would be happier and be able to find a job that makes me feel good.

 

It would definitely be a challenge – I am not an awesome reader and not attending lectures probably means an increase in the amount of reading and reading comprehension required. And most higher level programs are going to want prerequisites that I really don’t have, because hello, pharmacy graduate here. My psych classes included intro psych and abnormal psych. The only psych class I didn’t sign up for was psych of personality – it was a writing intensive class and I really had no reason to take it and I had a friend who took it and didn’t really enjoy it. I mean, technically my school also offered social psych which I did not take, but the reason I didn’t take it was that I signed up and then they cancelled the class. So anyway…most programs want like child developmental psych and family structure classes as prerequisites and I definitely have nothing like that unless you count the hands-on experience of the children that I work with volunteering in child care. I think hands-on experience for that type of subject matter is probably just as valuable as textbook learning, but something tells me that an admissions person would not be impressed.

 

So anyway, this guy starts talking to me, and you know someone most likely has special needs when he enthusiastically says hi to a stranger (me) and after being acknowledged says that he is so glad to have someone to chat with. Internally a part of me was going what did I just get myself into, because it was in the 90’s and I was so hot, but most of me was not just doing “the polite thing” but actually trying to really engage with this guy, because I really care about people. I know that someone like that probably gets rejected by people a lot, and that makes me really sad and ache for him, because I know how rejection feels, and to experience that constantly day after day is hard. I know that everyone has their own challenges and I really want to make people feel heard, because even if you can’t really change anything, it is really powerful for someone to be willing to step into your world and try to understand and acknowledge what you are going through.

 

And the more I talked with the guy the more I really wished there were more I could do, and he was super sweet despite definitely having some special needs. At one point he expressed that he was getting frustrated trying to get a new job and he was just looking for anything like maybe a store might need help taking out the trash and cleaning up. I remembered that Aldi had signs out that they were hiring and suggested he head over there to apply. He explained that he doesn’t fill out applications and he used to just ask to speak to a manager and he’d get hired that way. I kinda wanted to be like well that’s not how it works anymore and to consider you they need you to fill out the application, but with someone I just met I wasn’t quite sure how to express that respectfully, so I kept listening as he went on to say that now if he talks to a manager they tell him if he can’t fill out an application then the only other way to be considered is to go through an employment agency, but he’s tried seven different agencies and didn’t like any of them (I wonder if it is because he wouldn’t fill out an application?). By this point I felt really bad for the guy, because I totally understand the frustration of the job search and how eventually it just seems like everyone is telling you what to do and how easy it is to get a job and it just is SO NOT EASY and no one even seems interested in you.

 

People have always told me about things that aren’t safe…and from my perspective, to take it from them, the only way you can really be safe is to never ever leave your apartment and if you must, go directly to school do not pass go do not collect $200…but one thing people say isn’t safe besides a random assortment of basically every street ever, is talking to the weird people on the sidewalks. The advice is to just ignore and keep walking, which in my opinion is super weird and rude. I have always rebelled against that stupid advice and used my common sense. If it feels safe, it probably is, if you have that feeling of something is wrong and it isn’t just OCD telling you it is contaminated, then it probably isn’t safe and you should re-evaluate whether you should be doing it. From that perspective, I felt pretty safe with this person. The only moment where I really wondered if I should have ignored and moved on is when the guy started telling me that he will never go to Walmart because he got kicked out of there once because (in his words) they thought he was a retard. I was pretty sure there was more to that story, because stores don’t kick people out for being dumb…there are some pretty stupid morons in the world that are still able to go to the grocery store and buy food and go to wherever else and buy stuff…but by that point even though that put me on alert, I was pretty well stuck there because you can’t just walk away from a conversation…or, well, maybe you can, but I can’t. So I weighed my options and figured it was the middle of the day and we were on a sidewalk bordering a parking lot. If anything were to really go wrong, I might be able to scream and if I could scream then I could most likely garner enough attention to get help…the being able to scream part is where my safety is always going to be a little bit sketchy…that and the fact that I really doubt I could fight back not for lack of skills but for inability to hurt anyone or to repay evil with evil.

 

So the interaction with that guy made me want even more to see if I could get into social work. I really wanted to be able to help him, but couldn’t really figure out how. I think maybe the social work curriculum would teach me how to help people and connect them with resources to help them figure things out. And even if it didn’t, I know almost for sure it would help me learn better communication skills which would be helpful even if I never used the degree and just continued to be a pharmacist.

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.

Comfort sings a siren tune…bring us back to life in you

(I can’t find the name of this song on the internet and it was months ago that my PCO access was cut off, so I don’t really have a way to find it out…)

 

The week, my church (and the other churches in the network) met at one time in one location as One Church. I was unable to be there, but I am in the process right now of watching the livestream.20170917_133032.jpg  

One good quote so far that I would be remiss to neglect mentioning: We begin with tears.

 

It was a really cool idea, but I’m not so sure that having the four services of my church plus all the services of the other churches all meeting in the same place at the same time was the most thought out option as they talk about how there are people standing and sitting in any open spaces and the pastor joked about how they caused so much traffic that they basically shut down a freeway without even protesting. I love it online though. I am thrilled to see the familiar faces of my church family even if I can’t catch up with them or hug them or anything. And to be honest, as thrilled as I would be to attend in person this morning, I have to admit that the it is very possible that the environment there would have been something that wasn’t good for me…without being there, it is hard to say, but if it is an arena or mall atmosphere then it could easily be too much for me. (And lol, yes I do also attend a church in a mall right now…it makes me miss my other church, because being on the greeting team I could start church with wonderful music (worship team practice), then small group social time, then saying hi to “all the people.” After that depending on how I was feeling I’d either ask someone if I could sit with them, or go upstairs and sit by myself kinda alone. The service happened, and a lot of the time after that I’d be in the volunteer room either journaling or doing homework or basically just using time and/or processing. After that, a lot of people would be gone and with fewer people there I was ready to have some social time or at least smile goodbye to my friends as I left. I miss the people, but I also miss the environment that fostered my ability to communicate).

 

I really like the service. I definitely appreciate that they started by acknowledging that we might not all agree with each other, but that we will respect and listen to each other to be the church to each other. There certainly were people with whom I did not agree, but you know what I do agree with? I agree that every human has value and should be respected. I agree that it is important to listen open-mindedly. I do not have to agree with what you are saying, but I do have to listen and realize that your value as a person is not linked to how appropriate I think your opinion is. Making people feel heard is a priority for me…and if you can’t do that then I don’t think you will really learn the real meaning of community. Community is people who care about each other. Caring about people doesn’t mean agreeing on everything; it means loving on them even when you disagree with them. Like someone said, we need the church to be diverse because we all know a piece of God and we need the people who know the parts that we don’t so we can see the whole picture of God. I loved that…if you only include those who are exactly like you then you will miss the pieces that others hold. You might disagree with 99 or even 99.99% of what someone is saying, but if that last 0.01% is a piece of God that you don’t have then you’ll be missing out if you don’t take the initiative to listen fully. We can’t write people off just ‘cause we disagree.

 

Totally unrelated, but I met the best grocery store employee ever today. I don’t know if this guy is just super helpful or if he somehow noticed that I’d been to the grocery store every day and left empty-handed, or if it was totally random or what, but I was walking down the frozen vegetable aisle and he was like hey can I help you find anything. I answered with what I came for, acknowledging that the shelf was empty. This incredible employee responded that there was more in the back and he’d go get it now…and then he did and he didn’t just fill the shelf and then let me get what I wanted, he got me what I wanted first and THEN set to work re-filling the shelf. That was awesome. I finally had a successful shopping trip.

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Also unrelated, but I discovered this morning that sanitize plus heated dry was maybe a little too much for this lid…yeah, I had a minor freak out last night and ended up staying up late loading the dishwasher and pressing whatever buttons would make it get as clean as possible. I am now thankful that there wasn’t much in the dishwasher so I didn’t destroy more dishes. But look how cute it is…totally nonfunctional, but cute.

I wish I could be so much more

(Broken Things – Matthew West) 

Before I even knew the name of this song, I really liked how it sounded. Now that I know the title, I like it even better. I feel broken sometimes. 

Today (Saturday), I learned something really important. Do NOT paint on both sides of a page in a notebook. It is a good way to wreck three pages of pictures (and/or words, but all there was on the pages I messed up were pictures…)…I suppose an alternative is not to use water soluble colors on your pages…I learned that painting this picture…which was also frustrating because it isn’t anything like the picture inside my head.

 

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Castle (grace) with gate. Girl, sad, standing forlorn behind gate. Standing in a puddle of tears.

Anyway, I certainly do wish I could be so much more. There are so many ways that I look at myself and feel frustrated about how I am not good enough. I am trying really hard to reframe these things, but the reality is that there are a lot of things that have been hard in my life, and that colors my experience. Someone recently commented that some people think their stories are boring, but other people wish they had that kind of story. I really connected with that idea. I would be thrilled to have a boring story. My story is more like rollercoaster meets tangled up ball of yarn meets train wreck. I don’t want all that “excitement.” I didn’t want to be separated from everything and everyone I knew to go to a new church part way through high school…especially not a church where there wasn’t a choice what class I wanted to take and my assigned class was a clique that didn’t include me. I didn’t want to be abused in college…and I definitely didn’t want to be forbidden from talking about it or letting anyone know that I couldn’t talk about it. I didn’t want to end up at the end of school without a residency. I didn’t want to lose my job…I would be thrilled to have all these things taken out of my life. Boring would be so much better.

But I decided this morning (Friday) I am ready to hope again. Not a lot, just a little, but that is a really big, really scary, step forward. Hope is terrifying. Hope means opening yourself to vulnerability that can allow deeper hurt. When you’ve been living with deep grief for months and have been fighting to get through day by day, allowing the possibility of further hurt is one of the scariest choices you can make…but it is also something I know is probably really important to really healing.

There are a lot of things about my life that have made the grief more devastating already. It wasn’t *just* the loss of everything I had wanted and planned and it wasn’t even totally about being in an unknown. A big part of the loss was that it made me feel unwanted, rejected, alone, worthless, like a failure – the same things that had been drilled into my brain via the abuse. I had worked through some of that stuff before, but this situation was so difficult that I believed those lies were true. It didn’t seem like a feeling anymore; it felt like truth. It felt like identity. It made me think that maybe instead of abuse it was just someone being brave enough to tell me the truth – that I really don’t matter and would never be worth anything no matter how hard I tried. I know now that isn’t true, but it has definitely been a journey coming to this place of understanding, and even though I am here today it doesn’t mean I will feel the same way tomorrow. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was good enough and instead it felt like I did the opposite; I showed everyone how unwanted and worthless and stupid I really was. 

But I am not a worthless failure. Sure, I have lost almost everything that mattered to me, but all is not lost. The same day I hit send on an email to my best friend that I knew I so desperately needed a friend but I don’t really know how to make them without a place to volunteer and I have neither a place to volunteer nor a schedule that lends itself well to volunteering…and not only that, but no one would want to be friends with me while I am struggling so hard to make it and therefore even less of a good friend, God sent someone to be my friend. That is huge. That is God showing me that I really am good enough at communicating to make friends. That is God showing me I am worthy of community. That is God showing me that I do matter to him. 

It doesn’t mean that life magically became awesome though. It is still hard, and I can still definitely tell that I am working harder than I should be to get through each day. For example, yesterday (Friday), I went to the grocery store because I had maybe like a tablespoon of frozen peas left and then would be out of vegetables and the only fruit I’ve had in weeks was juice…but the grocery store was out of the bags of frozen peas that I was going to buy, so I got overwhelmed and gave up and went back home…yeah…I am not so stupid that I couldn’t figure out that there are other vegetables or other brands I could buy, but in that moment the one thing I needed to get done just seemed impossible and there didn’t feel like there were alternatives…this is what happens when so much brain space is taken with struggling that there isn’t space left for processing and responding to practical situations…so I’ll go to the store today and try again…or maybe I’ll find an ATM and then try the farmers market…or maybe I’ll order a pizza and call it a day…we’ll see…like the song Piece of Heaven by Go Fish says, “sometimes it’s hard; sometimes it’s the middle of the night.” I’m learning to give myself grace and celebrate the successes in this period of grief, because being angry with myself was adaptive at first to get food and fluids in and keep going through the motions, but now I am doing well enough that anger just uses up energy that could have been used for something else…and energy is certainly at a premium…it’s not as bad as it was in March/April, but it definitely is still something that isn’t completely back to baseline. 

Y’wanna know what excess stress sometimes causes in my life? OCD resurgences. Right now, it luckily has not reached crisis mode, but there are definitely some thoughts in my mind that shouldn’t be there. I’m scared of the world because I read a news article about enterovirus D68 and how it is causing a lot of respiratory illness this year, and I also read that the flu is predicted to be worse than usual this year…not is worse, just predicted to be worse…and that was one more reason to not travel over my birthday weekend.

 I hadn’t announced it yet, but I was strongly considering road-tripping over my birthday weekend to say hi to friends, especially since I didn’t go over labor day weekend like I originally planned. If I was going to go, this weekend was the cutoff I set for myself to ensure that I had enough time to plan and let friends know I was coming. And so today I decided the answer is no. I want to explain it away as being a combination of little things that make it not the greatest time to go, but if I am being really honest with myself, it is mostly that I feel like no one really wants to see me and would just be inconveniencing themselves to be polite to me by trying to make me feel welcome. I know that is not true, but knowing and feeling are different. If I were having an awesome day today, the story would probably be different and I’d probably excitedly be packing my bags way too far in advance…but the story my life is writing right now is one of being so used to rejection that I can reject myself before anyone else does to save them the time and me the pain of being rejected. It has been really hard because of some things I have seen on facebook. In March and April it was sometimes really hard to be on facebook because everyone was announcing how excited and hashtag blessed they were getting their first choice for residency. Their excitement at getting something I could not even have a tiny piece of was in painful contrast to the sorrow that swallowed up my world. As much as I wanted to be happy for them, it hurt and was a reminder of what I didn’t have…and the whole hashtag blessed thing was really bad for me. I didn’t really believe God was good and I didn’t really believe God cared anymore. I guess I had a pretty skewed view of God through the lenses of my pain, but from my view, if being blessed meant having a residency then clearly I was not blessed and God didn’t really care about me. No one wanted me, not even God. It was painful. It still is painful. 

Now people have started complaining on facebook about their residencies. Oh, how I would LOVE to have a residency to complain about. I would do almost anything to be in their places. I did everything in my power to get myself a residency. I paid application fee after application fee. I traveled to interview after interview. I prepped and interviewed and prepped and interviewed. I tried so hard, and no one wanted me. They just wanted to use up my time energy and money so they could crush me later. It might have been easier to be rejected upfront and not be driving all over the place and buying plane tickets and staying at hotels and airBnB’s than to be given the illusion of opportunity and be strung along. They didn’t care about me, they only cared about themselves and their own enjoyment laughing about me later…okay, so maybe that isn’t exactly what they were going to do, but after the large number of residencies I applied for and interviewed for and was told I was a strong candidate for just to still not have a residency, it sure does feel like perhaps their goal really was to see how high they could get me in order to see how crushed they could get me later. No one wants me. Especially when the whining is all stuff like OMG they made me work the 9-5:30 shift on Friday and it is not fair because I wanted to get out of work sooner to hang out with my friends. I just want to comment look at how blessed you are to have a residency. You should be thankful. There are a lot of people who would be thrilled to be in your shoes and would gladly work 9-5:30 and wait a little longer to see their friends if it meant having a residency. 

Anyway, speaking of facebook, it is often a place where I have to remember that I don’t need to agree with people to be friends with them. It seems that recently a lot of Christian’s have forgotten the command to respect those in authority over you. Even bashing people who kind of deserve it sometimes bothers me because I know how it feels to be bullied and excluded and don’t want anyone else to feel like that, but bashing people who are doing everything they can to advance society, keep us safe, and protect justice is something appalling to me. It has been rampant on facebook people bashing other people and talking about how wrong they are and how unfair it is. Unless you were at the scene of the crime, you do not know what happened. And a jury is for the benefit of the defendant. If the defendant does not feel he (or she) needs a jury then it is perfectly legal to forego that right. The evidence that I have seen does clearly point to innocence. While I am the kind of person who would be more likely to let someone beat me up than to fight back and defend myself, police officers certainly have the right to use force when necessary to protect themselves from a real threat. Someone reaching for a gun is a real threat. People are even speaking as representatives of the church bashing authority. I don’t think God said that we should respect those in authority over us unless they acquit someone the media portrayed as guilty. I am pretty darn sure that last half of the phrase wasn’t in the Bible last time I checked. And someone posted a long story about how the police are so awful. He describes going into a park after it was closed and the police coming and questioning him and his friends before letting them go. He repeated over and over how they weren’t doing anything wrong, but the police acted like they were being kind by giving only a verbal warning not to do it again…my thought is no, the police are not so awful; you were breaking the law and they could have imposed fines or written you up, but instead chose to show you grace by letting you walk away free…and the way you reward their kindness is by bashing them on the internet. 

We live in a strange political climate right now. That strange climate is one of the reasons I have given myself as a “real” reason not to travel. Because my license expires on my birthday, to travel then, I would be traveling on a temporary license. In this political climate, it is not very safe to be white in St. Louis. To be white is to have a target on your back that says protesters, please attack me. I firmly believe that rioting is NOT an appropriate way to express your opinion. If you can express yourself using your big boy or big girl words then go for it, but to use violence to express yourself is wrong. I don’t understand how you can claim racism if a white police officer shoots a black person who was threatening him (or her), but think it is okay and not racist for a group of black people to vandalize an innocent white person’s home and injure multiple innocent white police officers who are simply doing their job of trying to keep EVERYONE safe. That is disgusting. Y’all, we learn in elementary school that humans are different from other animals because we work together to accomplish great things. If you are gonna act like toddlers and throw a tantrum when you don’t get a cookie you didn’t earn, then maybe you need a reminder of what makes us human. So yeah…driving through St. Louis as a white person sounded like a bad idea if it wasn’t necessary, and doing it on a temporary license sounded like asking for trouble…it might be better to wait until people screw their heads back on a little straighter before I go. It seems like the more news I read, the more ashamed I feel of the people I share the world with…

 

I had some other things to say, but I feel like I’ve probably already said too much…

 

So I’ll leave you with this incredible youtube video from Inside Out

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

(Almost 17 – Stephanie Pauline)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Is there anyone who fails?

Is there anyone who falls?

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

She Wonders Why

(Britt Nicole – When She Cries)

 

So, being real honest here…today was an especially rough day in my world, and I told myself I needed to communicate somewhere instead of just living inside my head…so I decided blogging was easiest…

 

I know I need to trust God’s plans, but sometimes it is hard.

 

Sometimes when I’m struggling I start to isolate myself because despite how deeply I yearn for community, it feels so hard sometimes to do anything but just get through the day.

 

I’m a fighter. I will get through it.

 

There’s that phrase I heard somewhere a long time ago, if a tree falls in a deserted forest does it make a sound…I mean, considering the laws of physics, I would have to say yes…but anyway, yesterday I accidentally cried at work, and was wondering if no one was around to see does it really count as crying in a public place?

 

Sunday is world suicide prevention day. Sometimes I wish I believed in suicide, because that would be so much easier than continuing through all the pain…but I don’t believe in suicide, and I have to believe that God will help get me through. It may be true that prayer changes people more than it changes situations, but even if I am stuck here, being more able to cope with it emotionally will still be good. The residency cruise ship has sailed, and I have to learn how to live on this rowboat in a stormy ocean that God put me on instead and just hold on, trying not to go under.

 

Most days I am doing a lot better…okay, all days I am doing a lot better…but some days are a lot better than others. Today was another day I was struggling to eat dinner. But I am strong. I asked myself what I wanted to eat and the resounding answer was nothing…not even skittles sounded good…but I knew nothing wasn’t a dinner option. It took all evening, but dinner was eaten. I did it. I have to remember, like in Estherday, “the very last minute isn’t late when God is in it.”

 

You don’t know you’re a ghost

(Christa Wells – Life Costs So Much)

A lot of the time I write because it is how I can process situations…sometimes I can’t write because I haven’t processed far enough to even have written words to express myself. I guess you can probably imagine that there’s been a lot going on in my life right now.

Seeing my coworkers again and saying goodbye got re-scheduled again. As much as I really really don’t want it to be over, I also just want it to be over immediately because being excited to see my team and being devastated at the loss is such a confusing combination.

And now it is even more confusing.

I don’t know how to write about it yet.

I am fighting so hard to recover from the abuse and the grief. And I am so afraid to hope. Every time I have tried hope again I’ve had more loss and more hurt. I don’t know if I even want to try to pursue or even think about the next little bubble of hope that came floating through today. I am terrified that if I reach out with any hope that I’ll just be crushed again. I don’t know if I can handle more loss. I feel lost in the web of ambivalence. I want to know if there really is hope but I don’t want to open up my arms and expose myself to vulnerability to be hurt more deeply.