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Archive for the ‘Encouragement’ Category

Reunion: A sense of something past

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Depression and Mental Health, Encouragement, Friendship, Happiness, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on April 29, 2014 at 3:14 am

This past weekend was my 10 year reunion for Agnes Scott College. I was very excited, and it was a great weekend. A great many of the women with whom I attended school came, and it was something not quite nostalgic. There was a sense of something new: the chance to form adult friendships with women who are smart, accomplished, articulate. The chance to form mature friendships that I could not have formed as a young 20 something.

But, then, there was also a sense of something past for me. I did have good times in college, but (overall) it was not a happy time in my life. I have written before of how I dealt (back then) with deep depression that made me feel disconnected from other people. Strangely, though, I was brought into very close contact with people without whom I would have been unable to graduate on time and move beyond my stint in the behavior disorder ward. The administration of Agnes Scott and many of my friends made around me a protective circle of love, prayer, compassion, and faith. I’m forever grateful.

But, momentarily, I was flooded with questions like: why didn’t I…? Why couldn’t I…..? Shouldn’t I have….?

Is there a way to step, for a moment, back into that time and pick up the things that I missed? Or, can I at least figure out why I didn’t do this or that? I concluded, that for me, there is not a way to step back into that time. The things that I missed, the connections that I did not make cannot be redone or remade to be as if it had been ten years ago. For me, the best thing was to be grateful for the past, to be grateful for those who loved me in the past, to be grateful that I have a chance to connect with the women as they are now rather than lament that I missed the chance to connect with who they were.

This past weekend was a practice in living the now. And, I realize that I need to allow myself a healthy amount of grief over the very young and scared woman who was me. Until now, I mostly ignored her and the past. But, there is no need for shame, embarassment, and denial. After all, she eventually became me. But, grieving over her is not at all the same thing as resurrecting her. I cannot make her time happier, but I can work to make my time now happier. I cannot reach back across 10 years and make her experience peace; but, I can be at peace with who I am now.

And, oddly what so worried and saddened me 10 years ago was the thought that I would never feel happy or at peace. Some things do fall away into the past. Moving beyond those crippling thoughts and being the woman I am now among other women of the now made me happy–perhaps not exactly nostalgic–and glad to be with them.

Distance and Engagement

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Depression and Mental Health, Encouragement, Friendship, Law School Problems, Love and Romance, R[evol]ution, Uncategorized on April 21, 2014 at 2:42 am

On April 2, 2014, my boyfriend went down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said yes. He and I were by ourselves at this moment, and we went to celebrate by ourselves. In the coming days, we were quiet and savored the newness of the thing largely alone. Despite what movies and novels would have you believe, I didn’t have friends who I immediately called to gush over the news. Many of the women who I might have called for that reason have distanced themselves from me and I from them–perhaps due partially to this man.

But, it’s not a new distance among us. The drift had begun before he and I took real notice of each other and it quickened as soon as two weeks after he and I started dating in the summer of 2011. We met in law school, probably very early during my first fall semester since we both rode MARTA then. We were each involved in our own lives and really didn’t overlap each other. I was certainly swallowed up in the emotional and intellectual tides of first-year law school. At the end of the Spring semester, though, I called him to apologize for not coming to his graduation party. From there, we talked and saw each other regularly.

After about two weeks, we had our first real date and I met two of his friends and he and I went to watch movies at his friends’ home. It was all so deliciously normal that I began to feel guilty…..as if I was dragging this man into all of my friend-losing, engagement-breaking, prozac-taking drama. The criticisms of others had long before become the rain that watered my soul. Also, I have very little sophistication when I comes to relationships. Later that evening when he and I were alone I started to cry and all of THAT came tumbling out in (what I can safely assume was) a rather jumbled tale.

It was a little embarrassing at the time, so I can’t truly say that I remember it clearly as the significance did not dawn on me until later. What I remember most is how gentle and kind his eyes looked once he realized that I was serious and in some distress. There wasn’t really any pity and absolutely no shock in his voice or face. In those moments, he was quiet and listened. He said to me then what he continues to say to me now: that we all have our scars, weaknesses, and troubles. That mine were not worse than those of anyone else.

In the coming days, I watched for a sign that he thought I was different, crazy, soiled. But, that sign never came and it has not come. I did not recognize that I was in love and even if I had, I would have found it hard to explain it to my women friends. What I did know was that I felt comfortable, peaceful, at ease, and unsuspicious with this man–and those were things I experienced rarely then. Even though I communicate(d) in short, pointed, expressive, honest bursts punctuated with silence and he is more comfortable with conversation and words, he made (and makes) me feel an equal. I did not have the words to explain that to them–and did not (for whatever reason) search for the words to explain it.

I was, honestly, a little selfish in absolutely basking and camping in these experiences and not being particularly open with my friends about how I felt. The feeling of acceptance was such a God-send and I had no desire for anyone to remind me of the doubts I was slowly putting to death at the time. Maybe I was wrong to hoard that positivity. But, it was beautiful. And, it was mine. And, I had a chance to forge a healthy relationship with a balanced and open-minded person.

I took that chance, and I have not regretted it.

Sifting through Suicidal Thoughts

In and other uncomfortable topics, Depression and Mental Health, Encouragement, Uncategorized on April 3, 2014 at 3:20 am

First, I have to say that suicidal ideation is not a laughing matter. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please be kind to yourself and do not pressure yourself to do anything suddenly. You do, however, need to seek professional assistance. I am not a doctor or medical professional (they won’t even let me play one on TV). If you are in a crisis situation, you should go to a safe space and call 911. There are trained professionals available to talk at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

What I say below is not the result of science, and it is not an organized therapy plan. What I say below is simply a collection of anecdotes and thoughts.

I have experienced suicidal thoughts several times in my life. The sad thing is that people rarely talk about suicidal ideation, and focus instead on the aftermath of suicide itself: the loss, the sadness, the grief. Talking about suicidal thoughts is a particularly stripping, bleaching, burning, vulnerable experience. I know that former and potential future supervisors might read this; former students and parents of students; family members; friends. All of those people might read this.

But, some of those people are likely experiencing suicidal thoughts right now and have no idea where to turn or what to do. Thankfully, I have lived through all of my bouts with suicidal thoughts–and I anticipate being able to make it through any future bouts.

1. When I am in that PLACE, I feel lost and disoriented.

I always remind myself that I have been in this PLACE before. That’s what it is: an emotional and mental location. Just like any other location, I took a path to get to that PLACE and, maybe, retracing my steps will take me away from that location.

Can you go back the way you came? Can you look at each emotional road marker that got you there and realize that the opposite could be equally true? If you can do that, maybe you get away from that PLACE.

2. Often, I get to that PLACE because I am involved in a tough life problem and I cannot see a way to solve that problem. The more I cannot see a way to solve the problem, the large the problem seems, and the harder it seems to solve. Then, I begin to think that if I cannot solve this problem, my life and myself will be a disappointment.

And, the sad thing is that there are some people in the world who will focus on your failures, your weaknesses, and your disappointing moments more than your triumphs, your strengths, and your everyday average glories. Those people are assholes. For some reason, seeing you alive and striving for peace and balance really pisses them off.

Your life is not a scale in which you must outweigh each failure with two triumphs. I have no empirical proof, but life just does not work that way.

3. Sometimes, I get to that PLACE because the criticisms of others have soaked into me and become a constant inner banter of negative talk.

I find it odd that I never play the positive words of others on loop in my brain. I have to remind myself of the positive words that others have spoken to me. Perhaps that is because critical people are more likely to talk (far too much). Perhaps that is because I am wired to best remember negativity. A more likely answer is that I am giving space and power to people who do not deserve either in my life.

Begin to exercise power in your life by resolving to live tomorrow with the purpose of pushing those people into a menial and small place in your life.

4. While I am in that PLACE, I feel silenced and ostracized.

I have to remind myself that there are people who will truly listen and empathize.

When I was in law school, I was a part of an amazing therapy group. Obviously, group therapy means that everyone comes with the expectation of having to listen and empathize and share and feel. But, these people showed me that there are people who want to help and listen and feel and share. But, I have to make the effort to share and be open.

I urge you to reach out. Your hurts are just as serious and critical as knife wounds. Hearing another voice or seeing another face may help you to contextualize what you are feeling. You may not, through one conversation or meeting or call, find a solution to what is hurting you. But, you may recover a spark of hope that can get you through the next minute; the next hour; the next 2 hours; and, on until tomorrow.

Remember, there are assholes out in the world. Please don’t be swayed by the thoughtless words of some jerk. Keep pushing until you find a safe person to talk to. You are not alone. Maybe I have not been exactly where you are, but I have been somewhere similar.

5. I often get to that PLACE because my mind is racing and attempting to tackle the challenges of other days, weeks, and months.

Take it moment by moment. You don’t need to solve the entire problem right now. Focus on solving the next minute right now. This may sound discouraging, but each minute presents its own small challenge(s) that you can overcome.

When I am in that PLACE, looking ahead to the future is not usually helpful because of how powerless I feel and how unlikely a bright future seems.

6. Try to be powerful–even in small ways. Dialing that hotline number is a way to be powerful. Making a doctor’s appointment is a way to be powerful. Being insistent about getting help is a way to be powerful. Getting up to go sit at Starbuck’s so you can be around other people is a way to be powerful.

I made it, and I am in no way remarkable. You can make it, too. Your life is worth living. Please leave that PLACE.

World: 1; You: 0

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Examining my tears #ExMT, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on February 26, 2014 at 5:08 am

Allow me to be frank.

The world has a way of telling you that you ain’t shit, of ever so slightly lifting away your protective ego and exposing your sensitive soul to the withering glances of uninvited eyes. Then, what began as a just a corner lifted up turns into a gale force that rips away your confidence.

And, all it takes is one voice. One completed action aimed at you. Today, I heard that voice. Then, my own insecurities took over. It started with one dissatisfied client and
I’m inexperienced
I’m young-ish
I’m Black
I’m female
I’m not on anybody’s magazine cover
I’m not on any tracks
I’m not able to fit into any of my clothes from high school
I’m not a mother
I’m not married
I’ve not made any large or notable settlements
I’m in some serious student loan debt
I’m unable to replicate any of Norm Abrams’ wood-working

Obviously, some of those are pointless….

But, I realized that EVEN IF ALL OF THAT IS TRUE, there is one thing I have in my “plus column”: today, I was not that voice to someone else. I have the choice–and I made the choice–to speak positive words to others. I do not have to be the trigger for someone else’s insecurity spiral. I refuse to allow the World to get a plus one over on someone else because of me.

Instead, I can be for someone else what my loved ones were today for me: a voice that nurtures; a hand that consciously and purposefully replaces the protection over an exposed and shivering soul; a reassurance that one does matter; a reminder that there is no score card in life.

Tomorrow is another day, sure to present a multitude of voices. But, the only thing I can control is what I do with my voice.

Remember that day Jesus skipped to the cross?

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant..., Thoughts on Christianity, Using my words for good #UMFWG on February 7, 2014 at 3:18 am

In the end, I suppose that there is a self-centered reason for me writing this piece. I am not always happy. Not always. Some hurts take a deep root and are difficult to snuff out. I shed my tears. But, I believe that I have necessary things to learn from the hurt. And there are few things that anger me more than someone trying to cut short my healing process. That process is important. It cannot be circumvented; sometimes, it cannot even be shortened. It starts low, and it ends in balance and strength. Most of all: nothing can be earned from avoiding or denying the healing process.

But, there are a few key phrases that Christians, myself included, love to drop when we are faced with a person who is sad because of, despairing over, or agonizing with something in life:
1. “Count it all joy”
2. “Rejoice”
3. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Stop. Please for the love of peanuts, stop it. Jesus did not skip to the cross. He did not sing songs while He was whipped. The day before He was crucified was not a last grand bro-fest with the disciples.

Instead, He had (what sounds to me) a rather sad supper (seeing as how He had to tell His disciples that one of them would betray Him and Peter would deny Him) with the 12 men who had been closest to him, broke bread, drank wine (see Matthew 26: 17-35). Then, Matthew 26:38 tells us that Jesus told His disciples “My soul is very sorrowful . . . ” Mark 14:36 says that Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.” Luke 22:44 says that “being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.” After being arrested, He was beaten, spit upon, and pierced with thorns. Then, either Simon of Cyrene was made to carry the cross of Jesus (as it says in Matthew, Mark, and Luke) or Jesus carried His own cross (as it says in John 19:17) to Golgotha where Jesus was crucified.

It sounds sad, agonizing, dramatic. Jesus was marching to His own death. He was not skipping. He was not shaking hands and kissing babies and tuning his guitar. He was not repeating “I’ll soon be in Heaven” like a mantra passcode to better times. He did not look down from the height of the cross with a wink and smile. Jesus went through a process that began thick with agony, despair, and sadness. But, the process ended with Him glorified as the Son of God, the Risen Savior, and one of the most compelling (if sometimes elusive) figures in history.

To all of my Christian brothers and sisters, never forget that someone’s healing process is not an affront to God. Someone’s hurts do not indicate a lack of faith. Sadness is not a sin. When Jesus preached to others about the process and ordeal He would go through in Jerusalem, Peter rebuked Him and said it would never happen. But, Matthew 16:23 relates that Jesus turned to Peter and said something often quoted, but rarely contextualized: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

I know you don’t mean to be, but when you tell a person who is going through his own ordeals to act happy (or “rejoice” as we Christians like to say), you may indeed be casting yourself down as a stumbling block to him by convincing him that sadness and agony are evil even as God tries to bring him through to a place of strength. As humans, we dislike negativity and sadness. But, sometimes: those things are vital.

Simply put: if we are Christians and if we do believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God, what was good enough for Christ is good enough for us. We will have despair, sadness, agony, and sacrifice.

Of course, in closing I have to leave you with the required (but, appropriate) words of Jesus at John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble. But, take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Being the change and other nearly impossible things

In Encouragement, First World Problems, Happiness, Using my words for good #UMFWG on February 6, 2014 at 3:11 am

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

All oft quoted, true, and useful words to live by. As a teacher, I often reinforced my classroom management with one of these phrases. They are on posters, in scripture, on pins, on t-shirts, on walls, on billboards. They are short and to the point. As you go through your day, dole out benevolence in heavy measure because everyone else should feel equally as benevolent.

At least that’s what I thought they meant.

I can be such a douche bag sometimes.

It’s not so easy to do unto others when you feel like the world is doing it unto you already. I mean, how much doing is a person supposed to endure? Now, there: there is where some evaluation had to take place (today…..perhaps as recently as 15 minutes ago….I will neither confirm nor deny that….).

1. Do I, in fact and actually, ever at any time behave in such a way that is worthy of repetition and reproduction? Answer: Sometimes. Rarely. This means that I need to get that together. Tell the truth more. Be more accepting. Be more forgiving.

2. Do I really believe that treating people the way I want to be treated will make a difference? Answer: Yes. Yes, I do.

3. Am I willing to treat people the way I would want to be treated if I had just angered someone, insulted someone, been unkind to someone? To say it another way: am I willing to apply this “be the change-ness” to those who have hurt me, rejected me, insulted me, etc.? Answer: Yikes. I usually think about treating others the way I want to be treated when it comes to giving someone my umbrella, holding the elevator, or letting someone vent to me. So, now I gotta be loving, forgiving, and honest with the broad who just insulted me? Ugh. This is really starting to sound much less grandiose.

4. But, wait! How DO I expect to be treated when I insult others, am unkind to others, am unforgiving of others? Answer: I have no idea! What I would like is for everyone to cower from the horrible gaze of my eyes and give me my way. Somehow, I feel this is not quite right. Probably what I should expect is to be corrected in no uncertain terms.

5. Do I believe that I can establish new norms for myself (and possibly others) simply by talking or not talking about something; by doing or not doing something? Answer: Yes. Yes, I do.

6. Am I willing to be mindful of the things that I talk about and do? Answer: Whoa. Whoa there. You mean that I have to cut back on gossip and cutting talk and talking about my appearance and all that? Well, that leaves me very little small talk. I will actually have to read the real news. Double ugh. Now, I have to talk about and DO acceptance and forgiveness and love and kindness. I’ll need to subscribe to Harper’s again….soon.

I mean, this is starting to sound like a real lifestyle change. GO!

After the suicide attempt…

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Happiness, R[evol]ution, Using my words for good #UMFWG on February 3, 2014 at 4:55 am

[Note after writing: I am pressing publish with a deep sigh.]

In a couple of months, it will be almost exactly ten years ago that I attempted suicide during my senior year of college. I suppose I fit the stereotypical cliche that my attempt was a cry for help. I took a handful of random, but not very menacing, painkillers. I admitted what I had done to three of my friends and spent the next 72 hours in the behavior disorder ward of a nearby hospital.

It would be really great and deeply gratifying to say that I emerged from that ward a changed person; a butterfly from the chrysalis. But, I remember that ward as being scary as all hell and hardly an environment that nurtures change. I emerged tired, hungry, and fragile.

Thus began a long journey, a slow battle of the bulge, a crawl, a marathon. To be honest, I did not then and I do not now really know what the end point of the journey is but I remember full well what the starting point was. So, the journey has been to put as much space as possible between myself and that starting point. Some days I feel like the theme song from _Chariots Afire_ is playing every where I go. Some days are just days.

I have found out that there are many people on the same journey, and that many of us on the journey do not want to talk about THE JOURNEY because people can be cruel and abusive and manipulative. Simply by writing this post, I am aware that someone may read this and think that I am weak, weird, or crazy. But, I know there is someone at the same point that I was 10 years ago; some days I feel like I’m back at that same point.

But, I remind myself…..

1. That this life is entrusted to me and me alone. Apparently, God thought I was good enough to handle it. When the criticisms of others burrow so far into me that they become my own criticisms of myself, I remind myself that this life is mine. Despite what anyone thinks or believes, my life is not at anyone’s disposal. My life was not created to be firewood for someone else’s life.

2. That I am not disappointment, or saddness, or tragedy, or anger. Oh, I will disappoint others, sadden others, and anger others. But, that effect does not define who I am.

3. That I am flawed because I am me. That’s the way life works. But….

4. That flaws are sometimes simply misunderstood limitations. For instance, I can be overly emotionally sensitive. Is that a flaw? Perhaps. But, I choose to look at it as a limitation in one sense and a characteristic in another. I would not make a particularly good surgeon (one really doesn’t want a surgeon who melts into a puddle when one is on the table and things start going wrong). But, I do make a good listener. So, really: is it a flaw or is it a strength?

5. That I must be cautious around those who want to force me to see my limitations and characteristics as flaws. I mean, I could spend a lot of time trying to become less emotionally sensitive. I could spend a lot of time trying to “fix” that “flaw” if I surrounded myself with people who “encouraged” me toward that “goal.” I do admit: I have had to harness my strengths, limitations, and characteristics to work for me rather than allowing them to master me.

6. That I must dig deep when confronted with anyone who believes that I am worth less because I have attempted suicide. I have learned the hard way that such a person often wants to use me as a stepping stool for his/her own ego. Such a person often wants to make me his/her do-it-yourself fixer upper. A close relationship with such a person will usually force me to constantly remind myself of #1 and #4.

7. That the world, for a number of reasons, is a messed up place that labels normal people as crazy. One of the strongest impressions of the behavior disorder ward that I carry with me to this day (and that, to this day, will bring tears to my eyes) is that most of the people inside that ward were not crazy. We were people who were some combination of quiet, shy, sensitive, hurt and healing slowly, or sad in a world that values talking, outgoing, brash, devil-may-care bravado. Back then, I felt that I was lost on a journey that so many other people were making quite easily. Little did I know that many, many people were not only as lost as I, but also in denial.

8. That nothing is ever gained by lying to myself about who, what, and where I am. As I become ever more accustomed to being true to myself, it is easier to be truthful with others, and miraculously others have been beautifully truthful with me. As alone as I sometimes feel, there are others lost and blundering in the dark, too. We just need to play Marco Polo to find each other.

9. That Jesus is not disappointed in me for my attempt. How ugly, how truly ugly a thing it is to tell a hurting person that she’s let down the One in whom she believes. And, I was told that. And, it hurt. But, it is not true. If God is God, then I must believe that He knew my limitations and my strengths far ahead of me. He did not send His only Son to die for a bunch of smarmy know-it-alls who have their stuff together. Where is the grace and mercy in that?

10. That somehow, mysteriously, miraculously, slowly: things do get better. I do eventually untie the knots, work out the puzzles, clean up the messes, and learn the lessons. Life may not pick up at the same thread, but life does continue. Laughter returns. Smiles return. In the end, there is no darkness that can wipe out the light. That is the great thing about light. One small spark is enough sometimes. And, sometimes, a Youtube puppy video can provide that spark.

Learned of Love

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Lawyer Problems, Love and Romance, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on January 27, 2014 at 5:59 am

I’ve been sick for a few days–a lingering health malaise that still isn’t cleared up. Right in the middle of all the deadlines of a federal case. And, without the placations of the Prozac I’ve recently quit cold turkey.

Today, my law partner boyfriend (LPBF for short….let’s at least pretend at anonymity) brought me the case file for that federal case in which a deadline is currently looming. It didn’t take long for me to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. It took even less time for me to start taking it out on him in pounding, snipping, cutting words when we had a telephone call about the case. I realized what I was doing and that I was in the wrong. But, somehow, that didn’t stop me. Oh, did I mention that this wasn’t the first time I’ve done that? This wasn’t the first time I’ve done that to LPBF.

After an episode of Downton Abbey tranquilized me (I think it’s their lovely accents), I recognized that I was being an unmitigated douche bag to a man who taking up the slack for me on my case so that I can get healthier. Of all the people who deserve my choice words, he wasn’t one of them. But, he was the easy target. He was the one talking to me at the time.

So, I apologized and asked him why he hadn’t called me out on being so snippy. His response taught me to love him even more:

“Because I love you and now is not the time to argue.”

That response is packed with love and acceptance and patience and focus and passion. Love is a miracle that can happen everyday we wake up and it doesn’t need to come with flowers or chocolate or jewelry or flamboyance–but, somehow, it manages to come in the way you need it. But, it has to be nurtured. I’ll have to get over my unnecessary use of cutting words. That’s not nurturing. It will take love, acceptance, patience, focus, and passion to break that bad habit. I already know someone who can teach me how to use those.

Love is a miracle. I learn something new everyday.

Assassinating cynicism

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Friendship, Happiness, Thoughts on Christianity on January 21, 2014 at 3:28 am

I hate cynicism. It’s snide and snarky only as a veneer to hopelessness and unkindness. But, I really like Conan O’Brien.

So, I’m a hypocrite because I have been feeling very cynical lately. The hypocrisy has nothing to do with Conan.

I rarely “talk” (that is, in person with audible words) about church or Christianity. I rarely talk to people with whom I used to go to church. I rarely enter a church building. It didn’t hit me until recently that when I talk church, or go to church, or associate myself with anything that brings up church….cynicism takes over and I become someone very unlike who I actually am. I become mysterious, closed, cowardly, inarticulate, distrustful, and angry.

I’m not that person.

Have you seen Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop? It’s literally quite an interesting documentary. I remember Conan when he first started with Late Night. To this day, he is as he was then: funny, sharp, sarcastic. Then, he got fired or he quit. Let’s meet in the middle and say he quired. He gave a lovely farewell speech. Apparently, he also hates cynicism. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/22/conan-obriens-heartfelt-f_n_433954.html

Watching him work through the anger and the disappointment of leaving the Tonight Show was overwhelming because at every turn, I could literally feel him beating back the cynicism in a triumphant process full of hard work and trying moments. He spent time mulling, then he put together a comedy tour, hit the road, rocked Bonaroo, and played guitar with Jack White.

I don’t play guitar. But, recently, I have seen or heard from several of the teenagers I used to work with in teen ministry. It’s been so refreshing. For so long, I questioned my purpose for having been there. I questioned whether or not we did any good. I questioned whether or not I had been helpful. I questioned whether or not church as it is has a legitimate and meaningful place in the lives of today’s teens and young adults. Notice I said church–that weekly religious gathering. I had questions, but not a lot of answers.

Getting hugs and e-mails and text messages from these people has not really given me the answers. I have realized, however, that the questions I am asking are not that important. I cannot allow the sadness and pain of the present dim the truth of what happened in the past. Allowing the present to color the past inevitably leads to cynicism about the future. I worked with some great adults and teens to try to provide a safe, healthy, loving environment for teens to come and learn about Jesus. We laughed and cried and laughed and preached and laughed and prayed and laughed and travelled and laughed and fussed. We laughed a lot because we enjoyed being together and we found joy in talking about Jesus and in loving each other.

Thanks to Conan, I know that just because I left doesn’t mean that I have to harbor bitterness. Just because I felt pushed out of that church doesn’t mean that I can’t find a place in another church. It’s pointless to rehash the past. It’s done. The hurts are there. The wounds are there. Healing is process that looks to the future.

Stages of returning to crazy

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, First World Problems, Happiness, Using my words for good #UMFWG on January 12, 2014 at 4:35 am

I’ve been arguing with myself about blogging this topic. Too private? Too personal? Ultimately, in the spirit of an Agnes Scott College alum with a political science degree who took many classes with Dr. Allende, Dr. Scott, and Dr. Cochran: I realized that the personal is, in fact, political and that politics is merely the organized exercise of power and, therefore, a true exercise of power is to discuss the personal.

I’m about to share something very personal.

The thing about me being a professional woman is that I feel that I have to hide the personal in order to be professional because the things that are personal about me can easily be seen as weaknesses and those weaknesses could be seen as incompetence and that incompetence could affect the amount of business I get and that chokes my bottom line.

I’m about to share something very personal. If you read all of this and then think that I’m weak and incompetent: come at me. I can pull myself together in 60 seconds or far less. Insert further bravado.

A very competent psychiatrist prescribed me anti-anxiety/anti-depression medication not so very long ago. In my lifetime, I’ve been through a few of these meds, but I have never had a doctor as patient and perceptive as this gentleman. He listened, and helped me find a medication that actually helped me pick myself up, dust myself off, and get back to business. Unfortunately, I had to stop seeing this great psychiatrist because of the type of practice he has. But, our closing appointment left me pretty confident that I could continue on the positive trajectory.

And, it took one nincompoop (is that how you spell it? Regardless, you know what I mean) a mere thirty minutes to destroy all of that. The doctor that I went to after Dr. Competent (like, THAT could literally be his name and no one would laugh) was somewhat less efficient. This doctor simply prescribed me whatever I told her Dr. Competent had prescribed me with no questions asked this past September. In December, I was running out and had to go back for authorization. After waiting for an hour to see her for the authorization, she walks in; introduces the med school student who is shadowing her; and, promptly says, “so when are you coming off of these meds. You should be ready. I don’t think you have that much stress going on right now.”

She had some madcap scheme for tapering me off the meds that was not at all measured or planned. In the moments, days, and weeks since that moment sitting on her exam table/couch/chair (what is that thing?), I have found out that there are stages of coming off meds. I’m sure these stages are different for everyone, but here are mine. I go back and forth through these.

1. Bravado. “Felt like crap leaving her office” was the positive tag line to how I felt. I cried. Then, I dried my tears and immediately decided to go cold turkey off the meds. Taper me? Taper THIS! You don’t know me. This world can’t handle me off meds. The meds are for YOUR protection.

2. Elation. Making a big decision like that in the face of such negative talk from a doctor was empowering. Granted, I probably had some remnant meds in my system…….but, I was functional. I was waking up, getting up, getting dressed, handling business. And, all in a more or less organized and sensible way.

3. Despair. DR. COMPETENT! PAGING DR. COMPETENT. I realized that my psychiatrist would have had a far more organized planned to help me get off the medication. I don’t have the severe nausea that some have, but even the mild physical side effects are disconcerting. So, maybe despair is a strong word. Cut me some slack.

4. Self-distrust. Is this me? Is this me coming off the meds? Is it my hormones? “Over analysis” would also be an appropriate title for this stage.

5. Self-care. Eat all the veggies.Eat none of the junk food. Do all the yoga. Drink all the water. Get all the sleep.

6. Anger. How dare she? How dare he? How dare I!? I need to get myself together. You need to get yourself together. She needs to get herself together.

7. Quiet. My favorite stage. Feeling everything all at once, but not feeling anything to the point of being overwhelmed. Not needing to express anything,

8. Sharing. Talk about all the feelings.