Saturday, December 31, 2011

Who is that?


 Who is that in the purple shirt? Look at her. She is so beautiful. Her confidence radiates and is evident through her smile. That person is me...

i.am.beautiful.

No one can take the beauty away from me. They may break my body but they can no longer crush my spirit. I am beautiful independent of what I do.

My life is amazing. I am a miracle. It's something to be said that I am here right now for my childhood could have dictated a far darker outcome.

I am not a victim. What I've come through does not lessen who I am as a person. It makes me greater. I have everything I need to face my childhood fears with an adult maturity. I am succesfully building relationships, creating healthy boundaries, and exploring what I want in companionship. 

All of these things make me uniquely qualified to do what I'm doing now, where school is going to take me and all I'm going to accomplish. My purpose is so much bigger than I can comprehend. I am going to do great things.

I cannot allow my fear of falling/failing stunt my growth or slow my climb. It's both my faults and the things I do right that make me beautiful.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What you focus on increases

"You don't have to take life the way it comes to you. You can design your life to come to you the way you want it."

I haven't blogged in a while. I've been depressed because I decided I didn't need a med and the decision caught up with me. I've spent the better part of the last 3 weeks in bed. Going home from work and doing minimal. Checking the chores for the house and laying in bed. Not wanting to do anything because doing them requires moving forward and movement is difficult.

Since the last time I have done any type of update I have found out that I was accepted into the disney institute, have gone through the training, and have been placed in a work group perfectly suited for my personality and abilities. Work is going good, I continue to hear good things from those around me and, just recently, at the training with my primary doctor, she even said how good I was at my job. This validation makes me feel good and I have actually started seeinng what others see: a smart, beautiful woman, with so much to offer those around me. I like what lays before me, I see purpose in everything, and I know I'm going places.

I went on a date recently. The man is wonderful and there are so many things I absolutely love about him. However, a cultural difference caused a huge relational boundary to be crossed. It took me a few days and acting on behaviors to realize what was going on, why I was emotionally shutting down to realize this. In the process of realizing this I acted on behaviors and then confronted what had happened. So, we are not going out again. I stood up for myself as an adult, but it took a few days.

In the last couple weeks I've binged for emotional reasons, purged for emotional reasons, weighed myself for emotional reasons. I'm STILL acting on behaviors, still have a scale until next year, still restrict, still have body image issues. Intellectually and cognitively I know that the weight doesn't matter. But, I'm so scared of gaining, of the weight I have gained, that I can't get emotionally past the number.

So, I must decide what I want to happen. Do I want to respond to emotional upheaval that I feel I have no control over? Or do I want to actively build up my emotional coping skills to have in hand so situations do not even bother me? Do I want to get so sick I can't pursue my dreams, or get myself-both emotionally and physically- to a place I can find and procure all that I want in life? I choose to create the life I want and that involves actively fighting what I've allowed on my path. To be strict with myself and get out of bed in the morning and allow time to do the things I enjoy. But to also be gentle because I'm just a person with faults as well as good things. The faults make just as beautiful as the things I do right.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Learning to breath




I'm worried about losing my job, losing my family, losing my friends. I'm receiving a package from family I don't talk to and it is heavy on my mind. Never mind the fact my mom is struggling and she must be (must be) going crazy. And the lady at work, the damn bipolar lady at work, is driving me crazy. Top it all off, I can't get in to see the doctors.

Suddenly my chest constricts and I cant breathe and I'm crying because I'm afraid of losing my job. I can't breathe over the thought of what might be on its way to me. My mind is a jumble of thoughts because, no matter the cause, my mom is struggling and I cannot help her. I can't speak in complete sentences, and therefore, cannot articulate that I'm worried the abuse my mom has suffered is real and I may be repressing something from childhood.

It's been estimated that 99 out of 100 things we worry about never come to pass. If you stopped worrying about what might happen tomorrow, wouldn't that give you more time to actually enjoy and savor today? What did you worry about six months ago? A year ago? Five years ago? How many of your biggest worries have actually come to pass?


All of these things, all of them, are things that caused me to go on a high level of panic attack medications in the last month. The thing is, whether I worried about them or not, the way they would've unfolded would not have changed. Meeting them with anxiety only consternated the situation.

And I can say, my worry about losing my job is far unfounded. I have recently interviewed for an opportunity at work in which the vice president of human resources interrupted to say how often she receives positive praise in regards to my work ethic. So, this worry is not something to fear.

I know this worry was compounded by the other concerns. In fact, the box did hurt a lot. But the silver lining in the situation was the breakdown to ground zero and the building up of the desire to recover. My mom is still here, I'm still listening to her, and praying she follows through on a release of information, so I may find out better what is going on with her. That's all I can do right now to help and I have to remember my own sanity because I have to put my recovery in front of my mother's needs.

I guess, I have found the strength and the difficulty in refusing to worry. Not worrying gives the added benefit of being able to meet situations with a grace and strength. I say that to say this: I am worried about recovery, worried if I'll get there. But, I refuse to give credence to that. Because I WILL recover. I refuse to carry this disorder any longer. So, I make a daily, an hourly, a second by second battle to lay it down. Until I don't pick it up anymore. I cannot worry about what the process will bring tomorrow, I just have to live in the progress of today.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The next five years

Five years...260 weeks...1,825 days...2,333,000 minutes. What will you do with it? What could you do with it.

This coming March I will hit a five year mark since a significant milestone/catalyst happened that has changed my life. The last five years I haven't been keeping track of time, I didn't think about the passing of time, I didn't want to commemorate the fact that five years have passed. But, in looking at a 5 year plan for my life now I have, inevitably, analyzed the last five years of my life.

It's crazy how much time has passed since my first hospital visit. Since the first time I actually took the initiative to address what I was struggling with as an adult. The last time I actively denied I had an issue. I mean, how can a person say everything is fine when they have had their shoelaces taken away? I was not fine, obviously.

And the last five years have been a whirlwind journey. A continuation on the path of discovery that began back in 2007. I've learned that problems bite you in the ass when you don't deal with them. It is far easier to kick and scream and run, than it is to actually look pain in the face, take it by the hand, and heal. I've learned the value of actually staying put, going to school for the right reasons, to stop taking other people's opinion as sacred in my own life.

That brings into question the next five years: Over the next five years, what do you really want to do? What do you really want to have? What do you really want to be? Where do you really want to go?

In the next five years I want to complete my Master's degree program. I want to run a marathon. I want to be in the process of finding positions as a therapist. I want to be in a home, my home. I want to live down south. I want to travel overseas. I want to experience something I haven't experienced before.

School is mapped out (pretty much). I know what classes I need to take, and when, in order to finish my Bachelors by 2013, which will give me 3.5 years to apply to/get accepted into/complete my master's degree. The therapist position is something impossible to actually map out and make concrete plans about because I have no idea, nor would I want to limit, the influence school/internships/experiences will have on my career path. I would like to think this will land me down south. But, maybe, I will find a civilian position in a mental health clinic for the military overseas. Maybe I'll do both. At the very least, I'm taking a trip somewhere, anywhere, overseas when I finish my Masters.

I want to buy a home...although I fully expect this will just be in the formulation process five years from now. I don't want to tie myself down somewhere until I know that it's right for me. I've been there, done that, and never again. But, home is state of mind sometimes. So, at the very least, I want to feel at home in my own skin.

I want to run a marathon. It's actually been on my to-do list for many years and I want to be able to cross a finish line before the five years is up. I want to be in such a head space that this is an actual benefit to my life, not a detriment.

There are so many things I'm waiting to experience...and I welcome all of them. Whether it's as simple as waking up every morning with crystal clarity in regards to the beauty in every day or a healthy companionable relationship.

It feels good to dream.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Be grateful

It is so incredibly easy to be a victim. Especially in my life.

I lost my father at an incredibly young age to suicide. I spent the next few years shuffled between homes while my sister was taken care of by my dad's parents. My mom met my step-dad when I was six. While I then had the father figure I still raised myself and am dealing with the abandonment issues I faced because they were uninvolved. I have been a wanderer. I have been sick.

Whine, whine, whine.

What I realized recently is that I AM NOT A VICTIM. I refuse to claim powerlessness over my situation. I refuse to blame my circumstances on other people, my actions as the result of past trauma. Yes, my past plays a part in why I do the things I do but, ultimately, I choose to do them.

And, I am grateful. I am an American and I have a wonderful job. I have health benefits that have played a large part of helping me reclaim my life. I have a roof over my head and food at the table. I have the freedom to choose what I believe and how to express those beliefs. It's ok if I disagree with my family, my boss, the community; I will not be killed for it. I am loved and have supporting people surrounding my life. Right there, at those statements, I am so much more fortunate than such a large percentage of the population. Even looking within our borders there are so many people that do not have what I have. So, I also choose to not belittle what I do have and bedgrudge the things I think I should have but dont.



Stop and view your life through the eyes of six billion people on earth. Literally hundreds of millions of people would gladly trade places with you right now- and be ecstatic

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thank God It's Monday

"Dreading Monday's is a ridiculous way to spend one-seventh of your life, but that's the weird habit that millions of people have fallen into."

-I'm moving before I'm even fully awake, Queen blaring through my alarm clock. Like always, after a full weekend, I've slept in far too long and am racing the clock into work. Having learned the art of showering, brushing my teeth, changing, and eating in under 20 minutes from the military I have become adept at maneuvering through this game. Of course, when I run late, is when the traffic is thick as molasses going from the freeway to the tunnel, where it becomes a parking lot. Even still, I manage to collide into work 10 seconds before my shift starts. Just another manic Monday-

The above segment is one that has played on various days throughout my week. In reality, I don't expect such an experience to happen on Mondays alone. In my case, because I'm not obedient to the alarm clock, I have a lot of manic Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays as well.

And I'll be completely honest here; I LOVE MONDAYS. Mondays are like every other day BUT, they are the beginning of a week's worth of learning new things in my life, navigating new challenges at work, and planning the span of my various goals. Mondays set the framework for the rest of the week. And, once I actually get myself on schedule, they will be just like every other day. In which I awake to a gift like the days before it. And I get to choose how I unwrap it.

Just think: Five years from now, or November 2016, I will be finished with my masters degree (or close to) and landing awesome job opportunities. And Mondays will be 1/7th of the time it takes to get me there.



"Imagine this: Over the next five years you'll receive the gift of 260 different Mondays, each one coming into your life fresh and full of promise. What kind of magic and miracles could you create with that kind of time? Why not be a maverick? Why not welcome every Monday with the same anticipation and excitement that most people reserve just for Fridays?"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

17,520

" The greatest day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. The gift of life is yours--it is an amazing journey--and you get to determine the quality of it"

What a profound statement. I mean, obviously it's my life. My life is not my families, nor is it my friend's. Yet I base life-changing decisions on what they think, what they feel is best. I've made career choices, school choices, living-location choices based on what other people think is right.

Then, this life is mine. Now what? I cannot, nor would I choose to, take back the crazy journey I have lived up to this point. Even coming out of living the dreams of other people for my life, I still find the value of the path, and the usefulness of its course in my dream. The worth of what I've learned is unmeasurable.

That being said, based on current statistics and average lifespan, I have 17,520 days left. What kind of quality would I like to have? I will forever be a student, whether in a formal college institution, or in the process of growing and changing. Because of this I do not know what the, or if there is, an ultimate career goal. Definitely psychology and inpatient...beyond that, I don't know.

I want to be in healthy relationships with those close to me. I want companionship but I also want the capability to live alone. I want to use food as fuel not as an emotional crutch. I want to have a healthy body, regardless of its size. I want to be okay with the resulting size.

I want to sprint towards life, not away from death. I want to run a marathon and be healthy enough to do so. I want to compete in challenges regardless of fear of failure. I want to chase down every dream and capture them. I want to live.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beautiful

I am beautiful. I am strong. I am deserving of love and a family. I am intelligent and of sound mind. I am wise. I am making a difference. My future is bright and laid out before me.

I am more than a number on  a scale. More than an image in a mirror. More than a size that I try to fit into. My soul and spirit are so much bigger than any box I try to stuff them in. I am more than arms and legs and torso. But that does not excuse my responsibility to care for them. They are the vehicle that take me through life.

Life is more than the day to day. It is not measured by accomplishments and failures but by moments of love and sharing. Long after the jobs have ended and the accomplishments are forgotten a hug, a word, love is remembered.

So I am looking at today as a day for forgiveness. To a day to reach out and rekindle dampened relationships and build new ones. To allow people to touch me and make a difference as I am making a difference. Because a life that is not spoken into is not a life but a coffin.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Healing from a broken heart


I’m sitting there, another box before me. With the possibility of love or pain and wondering if I have reason to hope. You have left me so long ago and I’ve processed the pain. I’ve accepted your exit and only hurt a little when people tell me I have your eyes. You haven’t left me with much. You left me with no physical proof of your existence, outside of a death certificate, and a picture (somewhere) of the two of us. Maybe a vague memory before you died. You’ve instilled in me the desire to make a difference and the knowledge of what it means to lose someone so completely.

Your death has left me with the desire to die. Your departure has left my heart aching with all you will never be a part of. You will never be there to see me walk down the aisle, or hold your grandchildren. You didn’t save me, ever, and you have never wiped away my tears. Your family doesn’t talk to me, despite the fact they are my family too. If anything you’ve left me with more negative emotions than positive memories.

So, I look at this box in fear. Because it is all that my grandmother, your mother, has left of you. I have no idea what my cousin, who I have heard from for the first time as an adult has sent me. With a shaking hand I pull the strip that keeps the box closed away. I slip out the first envelope and it’s pictures. Pictures of your childhood, pictures of your navy days. There are pictures of my sister and I as children. And pictures of you and Nikki…but where am I?

I pull out this box inside the outer box. It has your funeral book. With so few people in attendance and cards expressing condolences to your mom: there is one for my sister and I. The last envelope has a baby book, your baby book, and official navy-type documents.

I break down. I am crying from the depth of my soul. The hurt and anger are fresh all over again. Because I realize, once again, you have left me. You have left me with a family that, truly, does not want me. Through all these years my attempts at contact have been met with silence. You have left me with a mother that is hurting, and possibly breaking down in her own craziness, an I have no way to help her. You have left me with my sister who has grown into a successful, overbearing achiever and someone, though I love, have no way to relate to.

You have left me alone. You have abandoned me. And I have never grown beyond this abandonment. I don’t let people close, I don’t let people in, and I push people away. I do these things because it’s easier to run from them than it is for me to watch them leave. In the end they leave me in frustration anyway because I keep them at arms length. I don’t know how to share my pain and lessen the burden of the loss I carry and I don’t break down in front of others for the fear of being seen as weak.

This day I do break down in front of someone, completely. The lack of you in my life is too much for me to bear. The fact that I have a person in the room is inconsequential because I am alone in my grief and how it is rolling over me.

I don’t know how to move on from the brokenness I felt that day. It is now this weight on my chest. All the ways I have ever used to keep the memory of your absence at bay are no longer sufficient. I don’t know how to deal with the heartbreak and talk about it. I don’t know how to heal.

I do know, if I don’t heal, I will perish. If I don’t walk away from you I will always cling to the hope that, one day, you will come to save me. If I don’t let others in I will disappear. If I don’t create a family from those around me because yours does not want me, I will resort to your way of departure. So, because I cannot use you as my inspiration, I will use myself. I will move on, however slowly. Even though I don’t really want to leave you, I must because I can’t stay here. So dad, my last action in regards to you, is to abandon you like you have me.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Walk away


My approach to recovery has changed a lot in the process of trying to heal from a damaging illness. Sometimes recovery hasn’t meant anything…because I have felt the illness was better. It has been a buffer to my world. But it has also overtaken my life. There is a song, though, that has consistently stuck with me as my concept of recovery has changed.

"Little Black Sandals"

I'm being dragged down, down by the hand
The hand of a golden giant man
He's crushing my knuckles
Splitting my skin, he says he'll let go
If only I'd ask it of him

He says
Girl, it's your call
You wanna fly
You wanna fall
So I shout
I wanna get away from you
As fast as I can
I tell my feet to move it
I hope they have a plan

(chorus)
These little black sandals
Are walking me away
These little black sandals
Are heading the right way

These little black sandals
Are walking me away
These little black sandals
Saved my life today

So now I'm free
Free
From the big bad giant
Who was stalking me
Thank you feet, for guiding me
I'm glad somehow I got brains down there, at least

These little black sandals
Are walking me away
These little black sandals
Are heading the right way

(chorus)

Sometimes I'm tempted
Sometimes I am
I would be lying if I said I didn't miss that giant man
He was the line between pleasure and pain
But me and the feet have some years to reclaim

(chorus)

What this song says to me is that recovery is ultimately my call. I can either soar in the pursuit of my dreams, or I can fall into the arms of my disorder. That it’s possible to be free of this disorder and that recovery will save my life. That the disorder will not always have a hold on me. It also says, to me, that I may always be tempted…because of the fact that it is the buffer between me and my pain.

Am I doing this right?


My life has been quite frenzied so far. I have not taken the traditional route in life. I have been overcome by the need to run most of my life, from the time I was 16, and thus have had 25 jobs from the time I was 16 until 26. I come from a family of dysfunctional distance, crazy parents, and trauma that has left me afraid to create a new family of my own. My mom is 
a product of the system. And I don't want to be like her. 


So, accomplishments. I'm no longer afraid to list them. I'm proud (mostly) of what I've done. The places I've gone, the people I've met, the difference I've made. My impact. I know that the things I haven't finished, the route that has often been hard, is not a crippling thing, but experiences that have left me wiser. They are experiences that will be of value for others.




I have never been without a job, or unable to support myself. Despite of the numerous job changes, I have never left a job on bad terms. Many of the jobs were part-time in addition to the full time position I held at the time. I made sure I was not like my mother, I wasn't a part of the system. I refuse to take for granted my ability to work

The last 18 months I haven't moved jobs, I have been stable. I've been in the same position within the hospital for over a year. I have created a place where I have been recognized numerous times for what I've done. I've had doctors write me letters of reference. My boss trusts me to the extent that I have been asked to do tasks not a part of my job description.



I've picked up art again. I have made numerous small pieces that have met acclaim from those that I've shown. My doctor, that has one of the pieces says every time the amount of praise she gets for my piece. My art expands beyond mere paintings. I've done art with scales, an object of an area in my life that I'm working to overcome. This last one, is turning into a sculpture piece. I'm excited for it.
I've realized it's okay to ask for help. It's ok to seek out resources to heal and change. That there's no stigma in having to need those extra resources. Everybody's journey is different. Each of our journeys are beautiful. 

I've been accepted into a christian university. I'm a senior in college. I'm excited because the program I've been accepted into is psychology with an emphasis in crisis counseling. The crisis specific classes are going to be tough, but they will be worth it, and will help me heal. I'm also excited for the additional christian classes that I need to take. I'm excited to take an in-depth look into the bible and the history behind Christianity, because those are my roots, they are a part of me.


I'm building a good foundation for my life. I have my foot in the door for inpatient wards, I'm a resident advocate at a crisis shelter. I have people that love me and have stood by me. Despite my faults, I have not lost the people close to me. I'm healing and growing.

I've learned that, sometimes, accomplishments don't have to be things that you have done. The worlds view on what an accomplishment is doesn't have to be mine. Sometimes just getting up in the morning and going throw the day is an accomplishment. Not giving up is an accomplishment. Allowing myself to just rest and be is an accomplishment with unmeasurable value.


"So take a new grip with your tired hands. Stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow behind you, even though they are weak and lame will not stumble and fall, but will become strong" Hebrews 12:12-13

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Perpetual Senior

I had this written a couple weeks ago. But I couldn't post it. And now it's no longer accurate because where I was two weeks ago is completely different from where I am now. I'm living in the repercussions of decisions made last week and two weeks ago.

I'm still burned out. This is manifested in my inability to journal, my inability to finish blogs, and my inability to look at DBT skills too closely. I also can't seem to open my mouth to friends and let them know how I am feeling. I'm still not in therapy. I've realized what a week without the unconditional person to listen to does to my stress level. Do I go back though? No, I still have another 2 weeks until I go back. If I decide I need a break, I'll follow through that decision. I did decide to go ahead and keep my dietitian appointment for this coming week, even though it goes against my desire to take a break from treatment for a month.

Work is there: I am in the process of auditioning for the Disney transforming the workplace at my hospital. If selected I will be one of 25 associates part of these groups that will change how my hospital works with others.

My other 'job' is still a part of my life. It will be for the foreseeable future. Against all desire to actually stay I find myself stuck here. The rental fell through. Every place I had a desire to buy fell through for one reason, or another. In reality, the shelter is not bad and is a blessing in many ways, especially on my pocket. But I want my wings, I want to fly.

Oh, and I'm accepted into school. It's weird, seeing senior next to my name on my transcripts now. I am a college senior. I have enough college credits, enough life experience, that I should have a degree. Of course, I will be a senior for the next 18 months as I finish the requirements for my degree. And I currently have a 0.0. I need to talk to someone about that...my 4.0 WILL transfer dang it. And I'm crazy enough to take 3 classes in spring. I will need coffee. lots of coffee.

So, that's where I am now. In lieu of getting this out to you all before my life changes and this is no longer accurate, I am not posting pictures...to much effort.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fear


Running a hundred different directions
Without a clear path 
Or staying still for a moment
and being stuck for a lifetime

Going through struggles
with lack of insight
Facing illness
without love by my side.




Never completing something of significance
Living in mediocrity
going insane
not working



Growing old without knowing who I am
leaving behind broken hearts 
and unfufilled dreams.

Giving everything I have during the day
Being surrounded by people
Just to go home at night alone
And to cry from the loneliness.


Fears are the small things

the thoughts that slip in unnoticed 
Unwanted violations
against the light of day.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Paving New Paths

Three weeks ago I was given the task of finding a picture that describes my life. I have, obviously, been procrastinating because I was waiting for a picture to come to me. Who would've thought it would appear through a painting I've done myself while I'm on vacation.


My vacation was a bit controversial. I thought about going a year ago, when a health condition hadn't fully presented itself. Then, this year, even though I had a condition that made it unwise to go on vacation, I decided to go anyway. My doctors and the medical professionals in my life advised against it. So, I had the god guilt because I knew it was not the best decision.



And, I proved myself wrong. It was exactly what I needed. It was a time to relax, get outside my head, think. Being in the woods, without cell phone reception, without contact with the outside world, was so refreshing. Then, in the midst of thinking about going back to my life, I started freaking out. I thought about running. I joked with the staff about hiring me and that I would live out of my suitcase.

The thing is, my problems would've just followed me down to Tennessee. I would have the same issues to muddle through wherever I go. And I realized that I didn't want my life as it was and that I wanted to quit. The time away was a moment of clarity, that I needed to make some changes.

My life is crazy, I'm not living my life in a way that's healthy for me. I don't go home after work, I go to work again. There's no privacy, I live in a shoe box, and I'm constantly on the go. While the house can be normal and quiet, it can also be stressful. I realized, I would rather work 80 hours a week and have a home to go to, then to work 20 and have another job that I live in instead. So, I'm moving. December 1st.

I admit, I felt guilty. I love the women, I love the shelter, but I need my life back. I need to start back on the road that I see before me. I need to cement recovery and pay attention to what my body is telling me. I have to start dealing with my issues, or I will always be stuck in the past.

I got over the guilt. I'm now excited for the journey again. My life, the next two months are hard. But, there's wisdom to be gained in the struggle. And despite the frustration and the knowledge I'm letting people down, I'm at peace. Because, my health is important. What I think and feel should be the direction for my life is more important than other's opions.

I love my life. :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

learning to paint




Paint Brush

Author: Unknown



I keep my paint brush with me 
Wherever I may go,
In case I need to cover up
So the real me doesn’t show.
I’m so afraid to show you me,
Afraid of what you’ll do – that
You might laugh or say mean things.
I’m afraid I might lose you.





I’d like to remove all my paint coats
To show you the real, true me,
But I want you to try and understand,
I need you to accept what you see.
So if you’ll be patient and close your eyes,
I’ll strip off all my coats real slow.
Please understand how much it hurts
To let the real me show.

Now my coats are all stripped off.
I feel naked 
bare 
and cold
And if you still love Me with all that you see,
You are my friend, pure as gold.
I need to save my paint brush, though,
And hold it in my hand,
I want to keep it handy
In case somebody doesn’t understand.
So please protect me, my dear friend
And thanks for loving me true,
But please let me keep my paint brush with me
Until I love me, too.

I've liked this poem since I was in middle school. Of course, in my naive problems back then, I didn't understand all of it's intricate layers. But it was still very applicable, like it is now.

 

I've struggled to let people in, to let them see the real, true me and this poem so eloquently portrays my inner conflict. I still struggle with loving myself, loving my body, enjoying life. I still look to others for protection from the cruel world that doesn't understand. I still hide all that I am from those around me, closest to me, for fear of loss, disapproval, and the 

pain it causes me to do this over and over again.



 What this poem speaks to me is this, keep trying. Keep seeking those you can take the mask off to. Keeping the guard and walls up to everyone leaves you boxed in and alone.  


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Good friends are like stars. You don't always see them, but you know they are always there.

It's the time we tried to make chocolate covered bananas with regular chocolate syrup. Going to California with our class and experiencing the ocean together for the first time.It's her being in Baltimore for a week and a half in high school, seeing all the sights, and getting agitated because we were/are so similar to each other.

It's driving to California and her getting pulled over in the same place I did a year later, in my car. Driving off just to nearly stall the car as we are pulling away. It's road trips and first drinks. Getting lost in random places. Driving the wrong way on one way streets.

She's always been there for me. Even when actual communication is scarce, we have always being able to pick up the relationship as if no time has passed.

It's driving 6 hours to be a distraction while I was taking care of my dad. Going to Albuequerque just to go out. Going to a crazy music festival in the middle of the desert because we didn't believe that such a thing actually existed...it does

A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.
~ Walter Winchell

It's flying back to Maryland a few days after I got home, after my dad died. Being patient with me as I processed the loss of a man I didn't like until three weeks before he died. It's laughing over the morbid thought of how my dad's ashes looked like cat litter. I know, really morbid

It's laughing over trying to teach her how to drive stick shift, giving up after many sudden stops and stalls, deciding I would drive. Aggrivating a middle eastern man at dunkin donuts, because we didn't know what we wanted to order, to the point that he says 'you place your order now.' It's going to NYC together as adults because the trip never happened in high school. Her being understanding as I did the disobedient act of spreading most of his ashes in the hudson, on the fairy, on the way to the statue of liberty.

For all the things I've done, I've had one person by my side since I was 9 years old. In the 6th grade we both left our elementary school. Our relationship must have been god ordained because we ended up at the same middle school without any planning. My dearest friend has been there through all these adventures...and soooo many more neither of us remember, or will admit in court. We have listened to each others secrets, trusted each other with our deepest self, been each others family when each of ours were not enough.

I think of MY Jessica and I'm so grateful we found each other on the playground in 3rd grade. Our memories are precious. We've helped shape each other into the adults we are today. I'm so excited to see how the rest of our lives unfold. I don't know that we are going to live in the same place again. I hope so, but it doesn't matter either, because miles do not separate us. I know we will be old women continuing to talk about our memories, and the many more that we will create, as we sit on a porch somewhere in rocking chairs, drinking margueritas because that's the only thing both of us likes. I love you Jess.

A good friend asks to have a drink...
A true friend takes one...

A good friend expects you to always be there for them...
A true friend expects to always be there for you...

A good friend wonders about your romantic history...
A true friend can blackmail you with it...

A good friend hates it when you call late at night...
A true friend asks why you took so long...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Where do I go from here?







I am at odds with myself. I’m ok. My job provides a stable, livable income, and wonderful benefits. I do things that are meaningful in the eyes of others. I draw and paint and read and write.




The thing I’m having trouble articulating is, why is it not enough? I realize fully that this is not the end of my journey. I’m not going to be where I am right now forever. One day I will have an advanced degree and what I’m doing now will be an excellent foundation for where I want to go. I just feel stuck. Every moment drags on, each day feels as if it will never end.



There’s no difference between working and not working for me. 
Essentially I go from my paid position at a hospital to my unpaid position as a live-in advocate at a shelter. I’m on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
Sure, I take weekends/days off to spend with my family. I’m able to get in a relationship with somebody, go on dates with them, and I ALWAYS have Wednesdays off. But, even when I have the weekends off, even when I have Wednesdays off, I’m still not able to shut myself off.

Wednesday is my recovery day, the day I have therapy and group support and monthly appointments with my doctors. The weekends, even if there’s NOTHING going on at the shelter, I’m still not able to just get away for the day without clearing it ahead of time.



I’m sure my wanderlust has to do 
with my constant transition from thing to thing to thing. From the time I was 16 until I was 24 I never lived in one house/state/appt/barracks for more than a year.  And then you look at my jobs. I have held a total of 25 jobs in my lifetime. Not including working in my parents shop before I was 16. That’s 25 jobs in the span of 11 years. The longest I have been at one place was when I was active duty air force. I was in the military for a total of 26 months and I spent a majority of the time trying to get another position/get out. Besides that, I’ve only been at a job more than a year twice: this job, and one I was in 5 years ago.

I don’t know how to reconcile my past with my ‘here and now’ and I know that it’s a necessity in order to thrive. I’m tired of just surviving. But, where does one start to dig in order to uncover the root of a behavior/action/attitude? What kind of shovel do you use? Do you start with a shovel? Or with something able to make more precise engravings, like a spoon?





Sunday, August 28, 2011

When I grow up








Want is a fickle word. Especially when affixed to what one wants out of life. What we want and what we need are completely different.

For me, what I want out of life is fairly conservative. I've done too many twists and change of course to want anything extravagant. For me, I wanted to be a linguist, but I needed to be a civilian. I wanted to be a nurse, but needed to mature. I wanted to finish my degree in an appropriate time, but I needed to sort through issues in my life more. Even though the changes were a necessary evil, as more of these accrue, the grief over losing the want gets a little more engrained. 

But, I must also realize to not dream small, just in case they come true so here's my prayer: "Disturb me, Lord, when my dreams come true only because I dreamed too small. Disturb me, when I arrive safely only because I sailed too close to the shore. Disturb me, when the things I've gained cause me to lose my thirst for more of you. Disturb me, when I've acquired success only to lose my desire for excellence. Disturb me, when I give up too soon and settle too far short of the goals you have set for my life."


I aspire to make a difference during my journey. To impact others through my actions and words. I want my words to be powerful and remembered. I want to be healthy and strong. I want to run races and travel to unseen places. I want to keep an open mind and believe in new things.

I know, in due time, I will finish my degree. I will help people through my profession. I will write a book. I will get married and have a family. I will be strong and reliable to them. But, these are more like milestones in the journey and a lot of them will be achieved 
through the process of refining my attributes.





I must also remember that everyone's journey through life is different. The pace and timing of getting to and onward from milestones is never the same. One person cannot be compared to another.

Friday, August 26, 2011

One Year Later



One year after my dad’s death I am 365 days stronger. I am familiar with heart-breaking acts of compassion, acts of love, forgiveness, and grace. I know what it means to have a father and to have a male figure to hold my hand and just sit with me. I miss my dad. I miss the time we spent together. I’m glad I was able to do the things for him my other sibling’s would/could not do for him. Having to take care of his affairs made a young woman grow up rather quickly. We were mad at each other, for far too many years. But, if only for necessity, all was forgiven. For three weeks we shared hurts and joys and meals.


The month of August was tough on me last year. I flew out to New Mexico on August 1st to see what was ‘really’ going on. My step-dad had been dying for years and it was my siblings and my understanding that this was another ploy for attention from his estranged children. The next day, while my dad was seeing his primary doctor, I went up to the oncology ward, and I found out, I knew our time was limited. From then until he found out on Friday I had a heavy heart. Our time to make up was no longer a day to be put forward. His time was now a finite commodity…the time to forgive was now.

His sentence was 4-6 months. And our journey to find each other started. During the day I gathered paperwork, made cremation arrangements, arranged for siblings and family to visit. I urged them that this was pressing, that it wasn’t a lie that he was going to die. At night I would stay up with him, get his insulin, take care his needs. We would watch TV together. He would tell me stories about Vietnam. We opened up to each other.

We talked about our anger. Unforgiveness that had been brewing for over 9 years. I talked to him about why I moved out. How my mother’s struggles were affecting me. What their relationship was doing to me. I was too young to do all that he asked of me. He had forgotten why I moved, but never forgot the hurt. I had been forgiving him for a long time for the comments, the hurt he caused in my own life. But, as soon as he denied, or a new disservice happened? I was having to forgive him all over again. During that time, I was able to just throw those things out the window. With only 4 months left I knew if I held on to the hurt we would both lose

Eventually, I flew back home and jumped back into work. I worked everyday to try and save money in order to take time off in a couple months and go back to New Mexico. I applied for a southwest card so I could get a free flight. I called him everyday.

After only 9 days my mom had called me sobbing: they were taking my dad to the hospital by ambulance. She gave the doctor my number so he could explain what was going on, my mom wasn’t able to convey all that was happening. And the doctor called. He explained that my dad wasn’t breathing on his own, that his blood pressure was dropping, that he was on medication in order to keep it up. That night I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t. Instead I thought about my dad. I struggled with whether or not I was going to fly out. The next morning the doctor called and said he was on the maximum dose of three medications. They weren’t going to give him anymore; he might not make it through the night.

So I flew back to Albuquerque. In the bed, with all the medications and fluids they were pumping into him, in order to keep him alive, he had swelled up 50%. My dad was unrecognizable. I was strong, I didn’t cry. The only time I broke down was when I told him I would make sure we followed his will. My sisters flew in, and we gathered around his bedside.

The next day, August 28th, I told the doctors to take him off the ventilator. My mom couldn’t tell them to take him off of life support, to let him die. By 12:30 he was gone. A few days later my dad was in a shoebox. For all the life he lived, his death left him in something that could be placed in a closet and forgotten. I brought my dad back with me when I flew home. My dad wished to be with his mom in Ohio. Security had to ask what was in my bag. On the plane I couldn’t handle another’s luggage on top of my box. My senses were acute. I was hurting and afraid.

Thanksgiving I used my free flight and I did take my dad’s ashes up to Ohio. My sister and I spread them where he desired. Well, the portion that my disobedient self did not spread in the Hudson.

My dad’s death hurt me. A lot. I was forced to do many things out of necessity. I also gained sisters I had lost. I gained strength. I gained insight. Part of the insight was how much I would have loved to be able to send my dad a father’s day card. Because of the unending anger I never did. Isn’t it sad, when a person is gone is when we wish to have the ability to be sentimental? To realize that he will never walk me down the aisle and he will not be able to hold my children. But we also had a wonderful three weeks.

Dad, on the anniversary of your death, I want to say thank you. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for trusting me with your final wishes. I know how much you love me and I’m grateful. Most of all, thank you for teaching me such a true lesson on dying, on grief, and on growing up.