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


" 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


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

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
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


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


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