Tag Archives: Education

Love Story, Part III: Paper Hearts

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Our senior year of high school, around the time I met The Guitarist, my future husband met a girl on a school trip. She was smart and drop-dead gorgeous, and obviously into him. Things got serious quickly.

When The Guitarist broke my heart, my old friend offered me comfort. Only as a friend, of course, since he had a serious relationship with someone else at the time. “I never understood why you were with that guy anyway, he wasn’t good enough for you,” he told me. I mourned and waited and hoped for about a month, and then I went on the re-bound. I dated lots of boys casually, had a lot of fun but broke a heart or two in the process. When I had been back on the dating scene for a few months, my old friend’s girlfriend broke his heart. And I was there for him, just like he’d been there for me. We started hanging out more, talking more, even went on a few dates.

A couple of months after we started dating, I left for an internship across the country. The night before I left, I took a risk and told him that I might be falling for him. It was dark. He froze. My heart pounded for what felt like an eternity. Just when I was sure I’d made a terrible mistake, he drew me close and kissed me tenderly. “I think I am, too,” he whispered. Joy and relief washed over me as we embraced in the moonlight. I still had several suitors at that time, but I realized that night that I only wanted him.

When I left, we made no promises, but both secretly hoped that maybe when I came home we could begin a real relationship. We exchanged letters, postcards, and the occasional long-distance call. He sent me a couple of gifts, I sent him photos of my adventures. He made it clear in some of his early letters that there was no one else. I felt hesitant to trust someone new with my heart so soon, but oh, how I hoped.

Every time a letter came with that familiar handwriting on the front, my heart skipped a beat. I could hardly wait to find somewhere private and quiet to drink in every word. Those letters nourished our timid hearts, both healing, hoping, reaching. He won my heart not with slick manipulation, but with slow, honest sharing of himself.

When I came home, he met me at the airport with flowers, and soon we became inseparable. We went for long walks hand in hand, hiked mountain trails, had romantic picnics at the park, and generally made people sick with our sweetness. If happy ever after does exist, this was it.

In the Fall, we attended the same college. We studied together and attended free events on campus. We even took some classes together. We roasted marshmallows over back-yard campfires, and I further cemented my place in his heart with my signature hot chocolate and baked goods. Our relationship thrived, and life was good. We got involved in a local church together and talked about theology regularly, sharing our views and our questions. We didn’t agree on everything, but we respected and appreciated each other’s ideas and even won each other over occasionally with civil discourse.

As Fall gave way to Winter, I accepted my second internship. This one would take me to a far-off land filled with unknowns. I would live with the locals this time, potentially without phone or postal access for the duration of the assignment. It was a lot to ask of a still-new relationship, but we were young and believed in the power of our love. At the airport, we kissed and said our tearful goodbyes, and I promised to write if I could. We didn’t know what the following weeks might hold, for me, for us, but as I boarded the plane, I left behind a strong, courageous young man of sound character. This time, it went without saying, we each would wait for the other.

Love Story, Part II: My Detour

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The guitarist and I talked and flirted the evening away. I could not believe he liked me! At the end of the night, I gave him my number. I grinned the whole way home. We spoke on the phone a couple of times that week, and then I totaled my car. That is a story in and of itself that I will save for later, what you need to know for this story is that I suffered a Grade III concussion. Because the concussion was so severe, I missed several weeks of school. I couldn’t remember anything from the morning of the accident until I woke up after, and I could not retain any new information. The morning after the accident, the guitarist called to check on me. Several of our classmates had driven by the wreckage on the way to school, so word spread quickly. He asked if I’d like to see a movie when I felt up to it, and I said yes. I joke that I only agreed to go out with him because I wasn’t thinking clearly, between the head injury and the teenage hormones. There’s probably more truth to that than I’d like to believe.

This boy knew how to play the game. He told me what I wanted to hear in dulcet tones, dripping with honey, and I lapped up every word. He even started going to church with me, and we prayed and read the Bible together. We moved fast and did some things I’m not proud of, and quickly fell into puppy-love. We talked about our futures and made the starry-eyed plans that young lovers make. Then, at the Prom, he requested Our Song. While we slow-danced, pressed too close together, he slipped a tiny ring onto my finger. We had been dating for a whopping five months and had only known each other for three weeks before that. Yes, we were total idiots.

Shortly before graduation, he developed a serious medical condition and couldn’t walk. For weeks into the summer, I cared for him all day so his parents wouldn’t have to take time off work. At first it was OK, but things started to change. He began to withdraw. When he started to recover, he still let me help him some, but we didn’t talk. I was so confused. And then the hammer fell. He broke it off. I felt nauseous. I couldn’t breathe. How did this happen? What did I do wrong? Why would he do this? A few days later, he called and asked me to come over. He apologized, and we got back together, but something was different. We went back and forth, on again, off again, for months. And then it was over.

Love Story, Part I: Sittin’ In A Tree…

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I thought in honor of Valentine’s day, you might like to hear my love story. But take heed, ye faint of heart, this is no fairy tale or shiny Hollywood blockbuster. You’ll find no saucy scenes to get you hot under the collar, either. I present you with a REAL love story, one that ends with “To Be Continued…” not “And They Lived Happily Ever After;” in which love truly conquers all, sometimes in unexpected ways. Oops, I’ve gone and spoiled the ending for you. Oh well.

My husband and I have known each other literally all our lives. We became childhood sweet hearts, holding hands in the sandbox and squabbling over silly things as children do. Everybody smiled at our sweet innocence and said things like “Wouldn’t it be something if they grew up and got married.” Our parents got along well, as did our siblings. Seemed like a tiny match made in Heaven, right from the start. Feel free to gag at the sugary sweetness because it ends here.

Tragically, we attended different elementary schools and slowly grew apart. THE END. Just kidding! When I transferred schools in the seventh grade, this handsome guy shared several of my classes. His apparent sadness intrigued me. I wondered what made him so sad. I felt like I knew him from somewhere, I just couldn’t place him. As a painfully shy new kid just trying to blend in, I pondered over him from afar while trying to remember where our paths first crossed. One day, while looking through some old photo albums, one picture grabbed my attention. My jaw dropped. The mystery man (of course, in the seventh grade you see yourself as grown)! I’d like to say the memories came flooding back, but instead I had to go ask my mom about my old friend. He doesn’t really remember our childhood romance, and unfortunately I only have a couple of hazy memories tucked away. But we do have some old photographs, and naturally our parents have an abundance of cute stories they happily share.

I kept this news to myself for a while, trying to muster up the courage to approach him. One day, we ended up sitting next to each other in History class. Before the bell rang to bring the classroom to order, I smiled at him and said “Hi, I’m Grace.” “I know who you are,” he said, sadly staring at his desk, doodling absentmindedly. “Oh…” *awkward silence* And then the bell rang, and class began.

That was not the response I expected. I sat through History confused and distracted. I began to make some friends at my new school, and occasionally spoke to my old friend, when I could overcome my immense shyness. He always responded with short, impersonal dead-ends and never made eye contact. I couldn’t take it personally, he acted like that with everyone. I felt drawn to him because he openly expressed the cold numbness I tried to hide. I thought maybe we could help each other in some way, or at least understand each other. I longed for someone to know the pain inside me, to understand and validate me.

As the school year unfolded, his dark cloud seemed to shrink bit by bit, until Spring when I finally heard him laugh. He started to use real sentences when I spoke to him, make eye contact and oh, that smile. It made my heart flutter. But he didn’t seem attracted to me, or really anyone, just yet. I “dated” a couple of boys in middle school, to the extent that my parents allowed. The first one tricked me into thinking he genuinely liked me so he could humiliate me and gain status with his friends, leaving my already fragile self esteem shattered. The second was a high school boy I met at a party. My parents did not approve, which naturally made the romance even more appealing. But of course it ended quickly and tearfully, as that sort of thing typically does.

In high school, my old chum began to find himself and we started building a real friendship. I felt a strong physical attraction to him, but he could be kind of a jerk sometimes, so I “friend-zoned” him. Although his depression had improved over the years, he still suffered such low self-esteem he just couldn’t believe any girl would really want to date him. So he didn’t get into the dating scene, even though plenty of girls liked him and would have said yes if he’d just asked.

I didn’t date much in high school, either. I did meet a boy the summer between Sophomore and Junior year, who I dated for a few weeks. He gave me my first kiss, but then he pushed for more so I broke it off. Then Senior year, I went to a party with a live band. They played ridiculously well for a group of high schoolers. The guitarist in particular caught my eye. He could play like the wind; the melodies and harmonies virtually flew off the strings. He owned the stage, exuding confidence and that “it” factor you always hear about. I couldn’t tear myself away. When the band took a break, I introduced myself, and we hit it off.

No PTSD is NOT demon possession and crap like this, does not help!

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This causes me such deep pain, anger, frustration, and sorrow. Christians, before you go throwing the P-word around read your Bible.

John 9: “9 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” 6 When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.”

Matt 5:45 “so that you may [a]be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
And there are more. Instead of crying demons, how about we all just love those who are suffering, whether we think it’s their own fault or not? A little compassion goes a long way.

Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

This is an exert from the link…

“Evangelist groups have had a checkered history of dealing with PTSD, including prominent evangelists who have recently gone on record as saying that “good Christians can’t get PTSD.” For many religious groups, prayer alone is the only valid way of treating mental illness. A 2008 survey by Baylor university Matthew Stanford showed that 36 percent of mentally ill churchgoers are told that their illness is caused by sin while 34 percent are told that it is caused by demonic possession.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/media-spotlight/201401/fighting-the-inner-demon

As a result, many churchgoers with psychiatric symptoms find themselves “shunned” by their fellow churchgoers and even their pastors. It has also led to the rise of evangelical camps offering a very different approach for dealing with mental illness.”

Tis is worse http://www.alternet.org/belief/why-right-wing-evangelicals-claim-good-christians-cant-get-ptsd

Some ‘Christians’ just need to SHUT UP!!!!!

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Food For Thought, Part III

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As I moved through high school, I experienced periods of healing along with periods of simply getting worse more slowly than before. Sometimes I took two steps forward, one step back. Other times it was ten steps back, then two steps forward, then just crawling forward inch by inch. By graduation day, I knew that I was sick and needed help. I began to recognize some of my disordered thoughts and behaviors for what they were. That didn’t mean I stopped, many times I didn’t know how or was too wrapped up in the illness to care. But I saw that some of my thoughts and behaviors were abnormal and unhealthy. Sometimes I was afraid, sometimes I just wanted to be normal, but I wasn’t quite to the place of wanting to fully heal just yet. I’d been sick for so long that I felt it was a large part of my identity, and I wasn’t ready to let it go.

After graduation, I went to my second-choice college. In orientation, the counselors from the health center each spoke about some of the common problems new college students face and what resources were available on campus and in town to help us navigate these challenges. One of the things covered was eating disorders. My heart fluttered as I listened and heard specific things about myself included in the descriptions of disordered thinking and behavior. I was sicker than I’d thought, and I was not alone, not by a long shot. Things I thought I owned were common.

I left that orientation session a little shell-shocked from the new information. I tucked the resources away in the back of my mind, in case I ever felt ready to use them. But the disease had so consumed me, I wanted to see how sick I could get before I had to start getting well. How thin could I REALLY get? How hard could I push my body? How long could I deal with the blackouts and other side effects before collapsing in public, and thus “getting caught?”  This is how sick I was. I actually thought those things. I wanted to push my body to the brink of death, just to see where the brink was. I didn’t care if I fell over the edge. I didn’t consciously want to die, but if I did, I thought I was OK with that. I wanted to stop, to be free, but I didn’t care about actually getting better. I didn’t think I could. I just wanted to be free from the strict litany of rules and the urges and the fun-house mirror distortions. But I didn’t want to be fat, to be noticed, to get hurt again.

Deep within me, the Holy Spirit had been whispering to me for a long time. No. Beloved. Stop. No. Sometimes louder. This is wrong! You’re hurting yourself! It hurts ME when you do these things. Can’t you see I have plans for you? Beloved.  And I would tell him Lord, I can’t stop. I don’t want to stop. Please don’t make me. This is MINE, I don’t want to give it to You and anyway, I don’t know how. I do not trust You with this part of me. Don’t let people see me. I just don’t want to hurt anymore. This doesn’t hurt. Let me have this. It’s mine. I want to serve You, but I don’t want to get hurt so that means keeping people out. If they can’t see me they can’t hurt me. Just let me do this. Let me disappear. And then God would be silent, and I was alone. I’d feel empty. So I’d try to fill the emptiness with runner’s highs and hunger.

Those first few weeks of college, I reveled in my new-found freedom. With no family meals to worry about, no friends holding my spot at our lunch table, I ate less than ever before. And with a beautiful campus where I could run and hike and a free gym with all kinds of equipment, I was in anorectic/non-purging type bulimic/ED-NOS heaven. I rarely went to the dining hall. I lost weight more quickly than I’d ever been able to at home. And I loved it, but I felt like crap. And of course, it wasn’t enough to appease the disease. It demanded ever more, more pounds shed, more ticks on the pedometer, more time in the gym, fewer calories. I began to black out more frequently. I couldn’t concentrate in class and frequently skipped class to exercise. The numbness and tingling in my extremities got worse. And one day, I finally collapsed during a run. Just blacked out and fell, mid-stride. Fortunately it happened in a well-populated area of campus and a cute boy came to my rescue. He scooped me up like I weighed nothing and carried me to his car, then drove me to the health center. He asked if I wanted him to stay with me, but I told him I’d be OK and gave him a winning smile. I never saw him again.

As I waited to see the nurse, I filled out the necessary forms and took in my surroundings. The medical scale in the corner naturally grabbed my attention. There was a large plant by the check-in counter, and a book shelf filled with those clear plastic brochure holders.  Any mental health-related issue you can imagine a college student dealing with, they had a colorful brochure for it.There were some on eating disorders I made mental notes of; some on depression, learning disorders, pregnancy and STDs, drugs and alcohol. Then it was my turn to see the nurse.

She examined my ankle and felt like it was probably just a sprain, so she splinted it and issued me a loaner pair of crutches. She gave me some samples of Aleve and told me to visit the hospital in the morning for an X-ray if the pain got worse or wasn’t improving, and gave me my discharge information. And then she flipped to a new page on her clipboard. She asked how I was liking school so far, if I was making friends, had I tried any of the clubs or extra curricular activities. She said they ask any student visiting the health center for any reason a few standard questions and smiled. I was caught a little off guard by some of her questions, and the fall had scared me, so I answered more honestly than I otherwise might have. She looked a little concerned and asked if she could introduce me to one of the staff counselors. I said yes, and immediately regretted it.

 

Food For Thought, Part I

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Every crumb that entered my body consumed me. Every morsel occupied my entire mind before it entered my mouth. Every calorie crowded out the important and the mundane. Every bite required atonement. To live was death. To think about anything real was pain. So I stayed hungry and focused on that. I thought about what I could see and touch: my legs, my stomach, muscle definition and hair and what I could pinch and where and how much. I believed somewhere deep inside that if I could just shrink down small enough, I’d be invisible. And if they couldn’t see me, they couldn’t hurt me. If nobody saw me they couldn’t punish me for crashing through glass walls. Not my parents, not my peers. If only they couldn’t see me, they would just leave me be.

Clinical anxiety is largely misunderstood by those who have never experienced it. An undercurrent of anxiety ran through my consciousness every waking moment. When I had nothing to worry about, my brain would find something. As I went through puberty, the changes in my body became an easy target. I was an early bloomer, and so went from a socially awkward child to a socially awkward adolescent who stood a head above her peers and whose developing breasts were, therefore, at eye level for her pubescent male peers. I went from being a target who could hide behind her books and stay out of the way, to a giant target with acne and frizzy hair with nowhere to hide except in giant tee shirts and hoodies.

I obsessed about my weight and measurements. I weighed first thing in the morning, then over and over again throughout the day, before and after anything I thought might affect my weight by even an ounce. I measured various parts of my body morning and night, and replaced my tape measure frequently in case it stretched out with use. I studied nutrition, gleaning everything I could about what nutrients we require to live and what different ones did. When I ate, I ate things that I thought would not make me gain weight (this was of course the most important criteria), that would help me not starve myself into blindness or hair loss, things that were supposed to be good for my skin and nails and kidney function. I had an extremely strict, very limited diet and all kinds of tricks to stick to it without being found out. I had a trove of tricks for staving off hunger as long as possible and distracting myself from the pangs.

I tried to induce vomiting a handful of times, but no matter what I tried I physically could not do it. I’d gag and gag, but never could get anything to come up. So I gave up on that traditional method of purging and turned to over-exercising instead. I’d sneak in reps of different exercises throughout the day whenever I could get away with it, in addition to my regular after school session and my more private, secret hour-long session before bed. I researched the most effective ways to burn calories and fat. Towards the end of middle school and entering high school when I had been suffering from this disease for several years already, I got careless. I was finally making some friends, and some of them began to suspect and to worry. So I had to reevaluate some of my strategies. If I was making friends and spending time with them outside of school or church, that left me with less time to sneak in exercise and more encounters with food to navigate my way through. But I found that as I began to make some real friends, missed sets and reps bothered me less.

I would read about actresses and supermodels who were taller and thinner than me and think dammit, why can’t I get below x weight and y body fat? I’m just not working hard enough. I don’t have enough self-control. I’m not a REAL anorexic. But I realize now, I just am not built to get that thin. I have hips and broad shoulders, and no amount of diet or exercise will change your bone structure. But even when I could feel my bones, even when some of my unrealistic, unhealthy goals were met, it never satiated. It was a competition, I was losing, and that was unacceptable.

Those friends I mentioned earlier, the ones who began to worry and suspect, they accepted me and liked me for who I was. They were real friends, my first. God used them, among other things, to begin to rebuild my shattered self esteem. Through those friendships, He began to show me His love. Some of the goals, preoccupations, and lies began to slip away, just a little bit at a time. When I went away to college, the health center offered free counseling. I’d known for about a year that I needed help, but I had no way to get it. In college, away from the stresses of home, I found the courage to finally begin the healing process.

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