It’s been over a month since my last post. I haven’t wanted to post because I’ve been in a weird emotional place. I haven’t gone to church. Haven’t read my bible. Haven’t communicated with most of my friends. I went to a wedding but it was so rife with stress I didn’t really have much to say after that. I haven’t wanted advice or pep talks because they invariably make me feel worse. All I generally ever want is prayer… but I’ve been to proud to reach out and ask. I’ve been thinking about closing down this blog and going somewhere nobody knows me. There is much to be said for blogging anonymously. I need an out. A place where I can air my thoughts… good, bad, ugly, indifferent. I’m embarrassed by my thoughts, but they are mine and need to be dealt with. For now, I’m choosing to post here, but I really would appreciate it if folks didn’t try to fix this problem. Only God can do that. I need this out of my head and I need people to pray. This is the post I wrote a month ago and was too embarrassed to post:
One of my biggest question for God is why hasn’t he helped me break free of my addiction to porn?
I had a perfectly lovely day yesterday and today. All week actually. I took a stay-cation and I’ve been enjoying the down time. Today I went to the beach and splashed in the waves. It was great. Then I came home and then, after a few hours watching “JAG” on my laptop, I thought it would be a good idea to look at porn. Where the hell did that come from??? When is porn EVER a good idea? I had to disable the porn filter that I have on my laptop in order to access the visuals, so it wasn’t like something just popped up on my screen. This was premeditated and I can’t say that I was all that sorry for it when I finally got bored and lost interest.
I’ve been struggling with porn since I was a child. Ok. I shouldn’t say “struggling.” At one point, I didn’t think it was wrong. I wasn’t hurting body. In college I dated guys who like to watch it with me. When I became a Christian it used to stress me out to no end that I struggled with porn. What kind of serious Christian woman struggles with porn??? You go to bible studies and Suzy over there wants prayer for her bad temper and Jill wants prayer because she’s a gossip. And there I’d sit and squirm in the corner, not knowing how to tell all those shiny faced Christian women that I liked to watch gay male porn. Susy, could you pass the tea please? And OH MY! Aren’t these cookies fabulous?
After 20 something years as a Christian, you’d think this would be a done deal. I should have prayed my way into holy behavior years ago. I have a friend who’s a recovered alcoholic. She has the chips to prove that God helped her find sobriety. What I want to know is where ‘s my chip? I used to condemn myself every time I fell into porn and the masturbation that went along with it. I would fall into these horrible depressions and I’d call myself horrible things. Then I found a website for Christians who struggle with porn and sexual addiction. It was amazing. Finally I could tell somebody about it. And I did. I poured out my soul in my journal there and for three, maybe four years, I was free of porn and anything like it. There weren’t a lot of women on the website, but there were some and I no longer felt like a freak of nature. It also got to the point where I could tell people at church. They weren’t scandalized. They accepted me and gave me the prayer I so desperately wanted. They told me that it was a process and that I needed to trust God. The whole “process” thing sat well with me for a few years… but I’ve been a Christian for over 20 years and I still bound up in an addiction that was foisted on me when I was too you to know better. Process? I am sick to bloody death of this process. When does the flippin’ process end??
I do not remember what made me fall off the wagon this time, but I fell hard. And it’s been a never ending struggle ever since then. I do not engage in porn like I used to. It used to be a daily thing. Now I’ll go a few months before I cave in. I do not understand why I cannot stop. I’m doing that which I do not want to do. I’ve read books, attended workshops and deliverance ministries. I did some really intensive prayer counseling. I had a sponsor. I tried to go to a 12 Step meeting with traumatic results. And for what? There are a lot of things related to my addiction that I no longer do, but the head of the beast won’t stay still long enough to be chopped off.
There are some who might say that I don’t have enough faith or that I haven’t tried hard enough… or that I’m not “trusting” God. To those people, I say that it is easy to say those kinds of things when you haven’t had to walk this road. I’d also say, “Bite my.” For those who would tell me to “lighten up” and tell me that I’m not hurting anybody, I’d say that they are wrong. I AM hurting somebody. God does not like porn. It devalues his amazing creation. It diminishes people who are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of our Creator by turning them into body parts to be ogled. It hurts God and that should be enough, but it hurts me too. I cannot begin to explain the effect my addiction to porn has had on my life and my relationships. I have lost more than I can ever recover. If I could go back to the beginning… to where it all started, I would have walked away. I would never have taken that first look, because for me, that one look cost me everything.
I don’t really know how to end this post. Maybe I should ask for more prayer. I’m definitely not asking for advice or pep talks. I’m not asking to be told that I’m being too hard on myself. I’m bringing my actions out into the light of day because that’s what God tells us to do:
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
My grand plan to go to church on Father’s Day…
Turned out to be one of those
“Of mice and men”
Minus the dead mouse
in my pocket.
I woke up with health problems.
Really embarrassing health problems.
What kind? you ask…
I could tell you,
you’d want to
So rather than go to church
Then I slept
and that gave me thoughts.
I’m thinking that Father’s Day
is the same as un-birthdays or
There are 364 1/4
aren’t Father’s Day.
If my grand plan was to go to church
so that I could celebrate God, my Father…
then I’m missing the point.
So… my earthly fathers left a bitter
taste in my mouth.
So… I have precious few warm fuzzy
and it cannot be changed.
What can be changed
is my relationship
Going to church
one “special day” to celebrate him
…one day out of the whole year
overlooks the 364 1/4 other days that
I have to celebrate him.
Sure, some of those days I’ll be in church,
but there’ll be a whole lot more where I won’t
So I’m not going to beat myself up
for missing Father’s Day.
God does not love me any less because
my grand of mice and men plan to go to church
It’s not like I planned it…
My health problem was too gross
for me to have
conjured it up on my own
even if I was hunting
for excuses not to go.
Which I wasn’t.
But if I was…
I wouldn’t have picked that one.
This one was all on God.
He stopped me in my tracks and made me be still.
Thereby proving that He is still God
even on the contrived holidays.
It grieves his heart that these days grieve mine
so he gave me an out.
He wants to heal that which
my earthly fathers broke
and, in time, I believe that he will.
No, he didn’t heal anything on Father’s Day.
He just placed me under house arrest and told
me to be still and know
that he is God,
Having meltdowns in church has got to be one of my least favorite aspects of having bipolar disorder. I don’t have the big flaming meltdowns like I used to have when I was actively in crisis… but last week’s meltdown in church was as unexpected as it was unwanted. I pride myself on finally being more mentally stable than I’ve ever been, but I’m not as stable as I’d like to be. I just cover it better. People see the normal in me because I work really hard to present normal. I avoid things that I know will be triggers which does make my world smaller, but it also makes it a whole lot less chaotic.
One thing that triggers me? Holidays. Especially the contrived ones. The Hallmark holidays that exist because retailers wished them into being. Mother’s Day was difficult for me. Always has been. I cannot come to the end of my grief in knowing that my mom went to her grave hating me finally speaking out about something that was done to me. If I’d been anything other than the loving and dutiful daughter, it might have been easier to bear, but I worked so hard for so many years to finally get her to love me but in the end it was all for nothing.
And now another retail holiday.
The other 364 days of the years I actually have a handle on my daddy issues. I’ve been dealing with them ever since I was a missionary with YWAM Mercy Ships back in 1995. We did a week of lectures about the “Father Heart of God” that sent me into the grand mal of all mental breakdowns. I was having nothing of it. I loved my friend Jesus, but I did not want or need a father. Short version of a long story? My bio-dad tried to kill me and my sister with a butcher knife when I was about 8 years old. I say that with no emotion whatsoever, because it happened decades ago. It is a matter of fact no emotion. I’ve made peace with it and him… but it doesn’t leave me with any happy father’s day memories to dredge up. My stepfather? That’s a complicated relationship. I trace my addiction to porn back to his own and I still struggle with a lot of emotions. I’m a Christian female with a porn addiction. If I had “victory” in this area I think my emotions would be a lot less volatile. By God, my Father, hasn’t seen fit to work a mojo and set me free from this body of sin and death.
If I go to church tomorrow I’m going to have a meltdown. They’re going to be singing about God, the Father, and it’s going to make me cry… and not in the good way. I love God, but telling me that my father in heaven “holds” me or that I can sit in “Abba Father’s lap” is cold comfort. When I look around seeing people who have real fathers who love them; who have held them; who have been there… I feel that much more alone. And since I do not see marriage on the horizon or children… I don’t even have the prospect of having my own chosen family to ever celebrate contrived holidays like this. It’ll just be me and Spike. One of these days when I get bored of my own company and all the porn… I’m going to get a dog. Might as well name him Spike.
There are days that my life hurts so badly I can physically feel it. I don’t tell people because what can they really do? Now this is where I must say that I’m writing to vent. I need these thoughts out of my head. This isn’t where I need the pep talk or to be told that I shouldn’t feel this way. This isn’t an invitation to people who might want to try to fix this. THIS cannot be fixed. The only person who can fix this is God and while I don’t understand why he’s let me go nearly 20 years of praying and crying out without fixing any of this, I respect his right to do whatever he wants to do with my life. I am his. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that God works “mojos” on your life and everything is magically better. It means believing in and following a God even when things aren’t better. Jesus died on a cross and it wasn’t so I could celebrate Father’s Day. He wanted me to be free to celebrate the Father every day of the year no matter what was happening in my life. He wanted me to be free to celebrate what he did for me.
I cannot celebrate Father’s Day because my heart is heavy, but it won’t always be that way.
The bible says that this is not my home. I am an alien here. There will come a day when I leave this place and I meet my Father face to face. I have no idea what heaven is really going to be like, but I do know that God, my Father, will be with me and I will be fully loved. My fathers and my mother really screwed up those contrived holiday for me. There are few, if any, really good memories. But I know I am not the only one who feels this way. There are people out there with crappier childhoods than mine. That’s one reason I write: so other people will know that they are not the only one who feels the way they do. I also write to get prayer. I could sit in my home all alone wallowing in self-pity or I can be transparent about what I feel and trust that God will call people to pray for me. I have been keeping a lot bottled up for a long time because I haven’t wanted advice or pep talks. I have wanted people to listen and to pray. They don’t have to understand what I feel… they just need to understand that I do feel it. In lieu of people I need to write. If I don’t write I die. My words just shrivel up like a dead mouse in a box.
My faith is the same way. If I don’t exercise my faith, it shrivels up and dies right next to the mouse. I’m going to church tomorrow because it is my father’s house. When I started writing the original plan was to skip church to avoid the meltdown. I do not want to have any meltdowns and I pray that I don’t, but avoiding church tomorrow is not the answer. More than anything I’d love it if Jesus came back during the service and I got to go home. I want to go to my Father’s house because it’s where I need to be. He knows it’s Father’s Day. Maybe I should focus on all the things God, my Father, has done for me and perhaps stave off any and all flavors of meltdown.
That’s where it came from.
Completely out of NOWHERE….
Or at least it seemed that way to me
when I just started crying during the worship time
A few tears at first
and then the dam broke.
And the more I tried to stop them,
the more the tears insisted upon falling.
I wasn’t upset when I walked in the door.
In fact, last night, a friend and I went to
a hula fundraiser.
There was music,
and a well known comedian
I laughed myself silly.
My chest hurt I laughed so hard.
I cried so hard my face hurt.
Or maybe it was all the rubbing.
I didn’t plan on crying
so I didn’t bring tissue.
You know what I mean…
if you were upset just before church
or even the night before it’s almost a given
that something will set you off
and you will cry,
therefore needing tissue.
Consider it “Cloudy with a chance of tears.”
Unfortunately, I had no such forecast
so I had to use my jacket sleeve
and my hair scrunchy.
Neither of which is very soft.
Note to self: better to bring Kleenex.
I now know what set me off…
but more importantly GOD
knew what set me off and
he used it to make me cry
because for weeks I’ve been needing to.
I poured out all the guts that I have
and when I got to the end of those guts,
I dug deep and poured out more.
And God just took it.
Nothing I say to him will ever shock him.
He won’t tell me that I am wrong to feel that way.
He won’t tell me not to feel that way.
He will accept that my feelings are mine to feel
and when I’m ready to let go of them
and all the stress they cause,
he will be there to listen,
and to heal.
Nobody heard me crying this morning.
Long ago I perfected the “art” of
While a big old sob-fest
might have felt better,
I didn’t need it.
I didn’t need attention.
I needed catharsis.
I needed to see my burden
for what it was
and to let it out.
Christ alone is the one
who can carry my burdens.
Christ alone is the one
who can lift them.
Christ alone heard my cries
even though I never made a sound.
After the worship I went to the
ladies room, washed my face,
and returned to my seat in
time for the message.
I was exhausted from all the crying
and keeping my eyes open seemed
like an exercise in futility.
Until the pastor said something
that had to be intended JUST for me.
I’d been looking for it during the worship
and couldn’t find it.
God found it for me
and told the pastor.
When I left church
I felt like a tremendous burden
had been lifted.
I felt like I had taken
all the stuff that was mucking
up my heart and mind
and I left it there.
Recently, I had an anniversary of sorts. I wouldn’t even have remembered had I not gotten an email wishing me well. Four year anniversaries aren’t that big of a deal. I mean married people don’t even get big gifts on the four year anniversary. I mean isn’t is something goofy like paper or gum?? And that’s for stuff you want to remember.
For the stuff you don’t want to remember… the anniversaries are generally big life and death stuff or things that are commemorated with lots of pomp and circumstance– maybe even a parade. My anniversary originally meant the world to me… I was a survivor…but now, it’s something that I try to forget. I actually had forgotten until Hystersisters.com sent me an email wishing me well on the fourth anniversary of my hysterectomy. Since nobody would be commemorating anything if it were the fourth anniversary since I lost a leg… this seems weird to me. They wanted to know how I was doing and hoped that I was enjoying good health. Since I’m not… what do you say? This one event in history that changed my entire life is so many ways was a turning point with consequences that I could not have foreseen. When Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, they didn’t put all the pieces back in before post-op. I didn’t respond to HS because I didn’t want paper, gum, or pomp and circumstance. I wanted God to put all the pieces back together again… but I cannot pretend that the anniversary or the event that it “celebrates” didn’t happen.
Since I know people more disabled than I am, it doesn’t always sit well with me to call myself “disabled,” but when I look at how much my surgery changed my life for the bad physically, I cringe. I don’t like being disabled. Who does? I admire people like Bethany Hamilton, Nick Vujicic, and Joni Eareckson Tada. But I’m not them. I don’t want to be them. I want to be the old me. There are days that I don’t accept this. When I’m sitting it doesn’t generally hurt. So I feel like my old self. Just today when I was talking to God I asked him to restore me to that point in my life when I could walk without difficulty. Once upon a time I could run. What I would give to be able to walk like I used to. I really craved that in the airport when I went on vacation. The gate was a ridiculously long distance away from the TSA. The people movers weren’t working and I had to fight against gravity to move one foot in front of the other. People would go whizzing by me or speed up just to cut in front of me and I just felt old and tired. I felt mad. I wasted my good health when I was young and now I desperately wanted it back. I would do things differently.
Now? I do the best that I can with this disability, but my attitude about it generally sucks. I wasn’t born this way. There was no tragic accident. There was a surgery that left scar tissue in all the wrong places. There’s nothing glamorous about it. And I generally keep my whining under wraps, because most people probably don’t want to hear it. Most people think there’s something wrong with my knee. I’ve grown weary of trying to explain about adhesions since most people have never heard of them. There’s this one woman who keeps on insisting on asking me how’s my knee even though I’ve explained to her many times that it’s adhesions. Three surgeries later, I have decided not to have anymore surgeries to remove the adhesions. They keep coming back. Evidently, I’m stuck with them. I’m also ready to stop trying to explain it to people. It doesn’t fix anything. It’s easier to just smile and say that my knee is getting better.
So, as far as anniversaries go… this one bites.
And yet, I have to look at the whole picture. There are 364 un-anniversaries. May 26, 2010 marked the end of my struggle with suicidal episodes and that’s a gift that keeps on giving. I had been plagued by deep depressions and suicidal episodes for all of my adult life starting in college. It’s kinda weird to think that my psyche was somehow hot wired to my uterus, but when the uterus went, so did the darker parts of my bipolar. Don’t get me wrong…I still get depressed sometimes because my job can be really depressing… but gone is the debilitating depression that sweeps over me like a menacing wave. I cope with my stress a lot better than I ever have and I am a lot more mentally stable than I’ve ever been. You can’t put a value on that. THIS is something to celebrate. It’s something that bears remembering.
When I die it won’t be by my own hand. What I look forward, though, is my 100th anniversary of my hysterectomy. I’ll be in heaven by then and whatever body I do have won’t be missing any parts. I’m writing this post now so that I can look back in a year and see if God has helped adjust my attitude any. Since I firmly believe that nothing happens without out the foreknowledge of my omniscient and omnipotent God… there is no mistake in what happened to me. It is a part of his plan whether I accept it and rejoice through it or grumble and complain about it until the day I die. I am hoping that if I commit this anniversary and all future anniversaries to God, he will help me not only accept it, but rejoice in it. And who knows… maybe one day after I’ve done all that accepting and rejoicing I might stop and notice that somewhere along the line… my God healed me.
A month and a half.
That’s how long it’s been since my last post. It amazes me given the fact that I used to be so mentally unstable that I would blog several times in a day in a vain attempt to stop my world from spinning out of control. It used to help me to put my thoughts out there… because then they weren’t “in here” with me. They weren’t sloshing around in my mind like a giant vat of poisoned Cool-Aid. Now, my mind is a lot more quiet. I’m still not as mentally stable as I would like to be… but my thoughts no longer fester in as much as they age — like a fine wine. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. I think a lot longer before I think or write… because once the words are out there, you can’t ever really call them back.
A lot has gone on in the last month and a half. A lot of it was stressful and bad. Most of it was stressful and bad. But the take home point is that at day’s end, I was home alone thanking God for my home and the peace he affords me in it. I say that every day when I am leaving my home. Just before I lock my door.
Except for last week.
I left my rock and the safety of my sanctuary and boarded a plane to California. I haven’t been back to California since 2007. Even though I grew up there, went to college there, and worked there… it holds very little in the way of warm fuzzies for me. Mine are mostly bad memories that I prefer not to revisit. The one truly bright shining star in my entire time in California was a little boy. One of my second grade students. When I came to his school as a new teacher I was told I had a student in my class with Asperger’s Syndrome. I was told that his behavior kept him out of the class. He spent most of his days on the floor in the office coloring because he couldn’t stay in the classroom without melting down. He’d fly into rages and scream and cry. He’d interrupt the learning.
Honestly, I remember very little of those days. I was in crisis and my memory has large gaps. I just remember that I bonded with this child and he loved me for it. I brought him back into the classroom and made him feel safe. I spoke to his parents and told them about my own bipolar. I told that getting help had made all the difference for me. I encouraged them to seek help for him and as they addressed his issues the rages became few and far between. This boy was brilliant, but he struggled with his own demons. I think that is what probably bound us together. He had his demons. I had mine. Working at that school was hard for me. It was a nightmare and I would have quit save for this child. I would have killed myself save for this child. The year ended and somehow I ended up being his third grade teacher as well. I couldn’t quit. I had to stay there for him. I’m not sure when I said this to him, but I promised him that when he graduated from high school no matter where I was in the world, I’d be there.
When I left California in 2005, I had already developed a very special relationship with his family. His parents treated me like I was… family. I’d spent time in their home. I shared meals with them. In fact, they have a guest room that I stay in when I’m in town and I call it “my room” because they are storing my cedar hope chest in it. I’ve had the chest since I was in grade school and it holds scrapbooks and albums and mementos from every era of my life. When I moved to Maui I couldn’t bring it with me, so they agreed to keep it until I could. Who knew that it’d be there for seven years?
Leaving my rock to go to their house for his graduation really was like going home. This family loves me. They laugh with me. They “get” me. Seeing them all was an amazing gift that I wanted to remember. I took tons of pictures and I journaled while I was there. I didn’t want any of that to fall into the gap that is my memory. I had the best vacation ever. The little boy who used to hug me around the waist and say, “Ms. G, I love you. You’re soft” was now a young man of 18 who hugged me around the waist and told me that he loved me… that he missed me… and that I was “soft.” To him chubby equals “soft” and it’s comforting to him.
I know there’s a lot of other things I could have blogged about given my crazy month and a half long hiatus… but most of that would have been about all the bad stuff that was happening. I am choosing not to focus on the negative. There is plenty time for that later. I’ve come to appreciate the fact that bad things are bound to happen whether we choose to learn from them or not. I am still trying to find the lesson in my most recent trials, but one thing about trials? When they do happen, they make the good things seem that much more amazing.
My vacation… this family… my little boy? They were all part of that bright and shining light that Jesus chose as a gift for me at the end of a month and a half that pushed every bipolar button I have. And while it was never voiced, it’s understood that when he graduates from college I’ll be there.
Being neurotic is a full time job.
I should know.
I’m neurotic and
not ashamed to admit it.
It’s just time consuming.
Growing up, I was an “odd” child and when the bipolar kicked in my neurotic nature grew exponentially. And being neurotic is tiring. I’ve mellowed out a lot over the years, so people who like me call me “quirky.” They don’t notice my neurotic behavior so much. People who don’t like me? Well let’s just say that they call me something else. And they notice my neurotic tendencies all the time. It used to bother me. Now? Other people’s opinions of me don’t destroy my world.
Don’t get me wrong… I am still very idiosyncratic and a lot of stuff sets me off. But I’ve had to learn how to define my boundaries. I needed to know where I stopped and other people started. I’m a firm believer in boundaries. Healthy boundaries can prevent so many problems. Just like good fences make for good neighbors, good boundaries work wonders in relationships. But it can’t stop at merely having said boundaries. I need to know how to communicate them to other people because if I don’t I end up angry. Then I react and end up feeling guilty. Then I do worry about what other people think because my behavior was so dodgy. If people step all over my boundaries because I haven’t taken the time to express them… then whose fault is the resulting tension?
The other day I had to have a boundary setting conversation with a colleague who has been mashing my buttons pretty severely for two months now. It got to the point that I cringed when I saw her coming and was very abrupt with her when I couldn’t avoid talking to her. I ended up feeling guilty for my rudeness and I’d come home mad. Then God and I would have really loud conversations about why this woman was pushing my buttons and why he (being God and all) should get her out of my orbit. Of course, God was going to do no such thing. I was either going to suffer in silence and complain to him at home, or I was going to say something to her. Thing is… she’s really sweet and wouldn’t hurt a fly. Whereas I have no problems crushing flies and sending them, and any other critter that invades my space, into the hereafter. I didn’t want to hurt this woman’s feelings. She was tap dancing on the Bipolar Button and it was about ready to explode.
Everybody else on staff that I work with closely knows that I have Bipolar Disorder. First, because I’m not ashamed of it and people need to be educated about the many faces of mental illness. And second, because my disorder effects how I relate to people. I will have fewer meltdowns or blowups if people know the kinds of things that set me off. And it’s stuff that people can easy accommodate… like I cannot process a lot of information at one time. I need small chunks of information and then time to process before expecting an immediate response. Or personal space issues. It weirds me out to no end to have people sit or stand right next to me or right behind me. I start to feel anxious and it gets hard to breath. Most people who know me respect that and literally give me my space. I can get positively ill if I feel caged in.
I was worried about the conversation because I’m not very tactful.
I’ve been stressing for two months now about what to say to her. Last night I was talking to God about it and he said I needed to apologize to her. He’d said it before, but I’d chosen to ignore that because surely that wasn’t God. I’m all for apologizing when I’ve done something wrong, but in this case I was the offended party. She owed me and apology. Then God showed me exactly why I needed to apologize. My heart response to her was wrong even if she hadn’t noticed how I was acting. Finally. God was going deeper than just working on my actions. He was working on my heart in a way that I could actually see it. I didn’t develop some agape love thing for this woman, but I definitely did not want to do the whole bull in a china shop bit. Leading with an apology was the right thing to do even if she interrupted me and said I didn’t need to apologize. (She did)
In the end, I’m glad I lead with the apology. I also started by asking her to let me finish and to hear me out before she said anything. She always interrupts me and never listens to me. Communication was at the heart of our situation. We have to work together. I’m not trying to change her. I was just trying to get her to hear and respect my boundaries. Her response was actually more than I could have hoped for. She totally heard me and we reached a place of understanding that I hope will keep channels open and clear communication flowing. She thanked me for being so blunt and straight forward. And I figure I shaved off six months of stressing out over this by finally listening to God.
What I’m learning is that all the striving in the world is not going to fix the things in me that make me so neurotic. And all the hiding that I do isn’t going to heal that which is broken. It is weird to think that God put all the things that make me neurotic into my make up, but if he put it there he knows how to fix it. He will use difficult people and difficult situations to chip away at my neurotic ways until one day… I will stand before him, neurosis free. Now that really is comforting.
A student went ballistic on me today.
It came completely out of nowhere and he was very loud, clearly trying to intimidate. I was sitting down. He was standing over me and his anger filled the space between us. This while I’m surrounded by a small contingent of students who all needed my attention NOW. When I worked with nine year olds I was used to students pitching fits. It goes with the territory. And since I’ve been in my current job teaching young adults, I’ve had a few notable run ins with students over the years. At one point I even voiced my fear of one student to my supervisor because I feared for my safety. As our student population changed, however, I saw less and less aggressive behavior in my classroom so today’s events were truly a shocker. Six months ago I would have been quaking in my boots. I would have either started yelling or crying or a soggy combination of the two.
Bipolar Girl stresses out fairly easily. I do not handle multiple stressors well. I don’t like being crowded. And I hate multiple people making multiple demands on me simultaneously… and yet God keeps me in education where all of that is part of the territory. I’m good at what I do and I KNOW that I’m supposed to be there, but I often wonder why God continually keeps me in a profession that continually keeps me off balanced. Many of my worst suicidal episodes can be traced back to my previous jobs. When is God going let the cloud move?
Everybody was looking avidly at the drama that had erupted in their midst. The student was insisting that I undo something that had I done. Something I’d already discussed with him and to which he’d given his consent. If I thought he couldn’t or wouldn’t do it, I wouldn’t have made the change in the first place, but because it was necessary for him to move on and grow, I made a decision. Yes, it would be difficult. Yes, there would be a lot of change. Yes, he would be uncomfortable dealing with new things he didn’t like…but because I was in possession of more of the facts… because I had faith in his ability to not only survive this difficult time, but to thrive — I made the change.
I envisioned a freak out on his part, but not of the epic proportions that flamed over me today. He glared at me with hands clinched and ground out, “How DARE you do this!!“ I could feel myself getting heated, but I didn’t react. Neither my fight nor flight reflex kicked in. I stood my ground and there wasn’t a tear in the duct. He was trying to be intimidating to get his way, but I wasn’t having any of it! I wasn’t afraid of him. I wasn’t going to undo anything because my choice was best for him. And I wasn’t going to let him yell at me in front of a room of students. I asked him to go outside and we talked. We went to see my supervisor and talked some more. PRAISE GOD she actually backed me up on this. She was the voice of reason even though he was beyond seeing any reason. Eventually, he stomped out without any resolution.
In the past, I would have been a nervous wreck. I would have been shaking and crying unable to go back into my class and teach. Today? That didn’t even cross my mind. No mental health days for BPG. I went back into my class and taught my students as if nothing had happened. I had a really good time with my class. My third class was rather chaotic because it’s new and I have a bunch of new students. One guy was deliberately being a wise ass trying to set me off (yep. I said it. Keep reading). I had to deal with him and let him know that his behavior was completely unacceptable. But I also had to lighten up the maniacal grasp that I tend to have on my class when it comes to structure/procedures. My way works best for me because Bipolar Girl needs structure to function, but it doesn’t work best for everybody. That was one reason why elementary school teaching was so hard. I kept trying to bend the kids to my will. That rarely works in the classroom or anywhere else. It’s the fuel of mutiny. If I left my elementary school classrooms broken and bruised at the end of the day, I have to acknowledge now, that if I hadn’t been so ridged we all might have fared better.
By my last class I was feeling the stress and with 10 new students in my class all needing to do different things, it was a recipe for disaster given my day. Plus, that student from that earlier verbal brawl was back in my class. He was still trying to get me to change my mind, but he was now accepting of the fact that I wasn’t and that yelling at me wasn’t going to change anything. The way I was treating him now was weird. Last class of a busy day and there he was sitting directly in front of me… and I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t livid. I didn’t want to light into him for how he’d treated me. I know he’s upset and I like this kid. He’s had a rough life with very little home training. He wasn’t at the point where he was going to apologize, but I was at the point where I didn’t need one. Sitting across from me in the last class of a long day, he needed my help and it was a foregone conclusion that I would give it. He waited patiently for me to get the ten new students settled and then we talked.
Yesterday the whole thing would have upset me. I am tired of being other people’s butt monkey where they think they can step all over me and my feelings with no recourse. I would have come home pissed off at the world and demanding to know WHY God was making me stay in teaching when I’m CLEARLY not cut out for it and really don’t like doing it 97.6% of the time. But today was different. When the last student left my class I didn’t fall on my sword. I got ready for a meeting (and we ALL know how much I love those)… and then I continued to do my job. I was actually smiling at the close of the last meeting. I was whistling (ok, I can’t whistle but it was something resembling it) down the hall as I walked to my room. I stopped to crack jokes with the students in lounge. I smiled when I got in my car and sang once I hit the highway. By the time I got home I was positively giddy. I rewarded myself with a SALAD for dinner and I actually enjoyed it. And I turned off the videos on my computer long enough to be still and hear God.
Why does God keep me in teaching when he knows how strongly it effects me and how badly I hate it? The answer came in a verbal brawl:
If I thought you couldn’t or wouldn’t do it, I wouldn’t have put you there in the first place, but because it is necessary for you to move on and grow, I made a decision to keep you there. Yes, it has be difficult. Yes, there has been a lot of change. Yes, you have been uncomfortable dealing with new things that you don’t like…but because I AM in possession of more of the facts… because I have faith in your ability to not only survive this difficult time, but to thrive – I made the the decision to make no changes. I choose to leave you exactly where you are.
“If you come from a broken home, then you are more disabled than I am.”
I’m not sure if I’m getting his words exactly right because as soon as he said them I started to cry. Not the loud obnoxious wailing that some people are prone to. No, I sat there in a crowded stadium listening to Nick Vujicic speak and I cried. Silently. He went on to say that people would literally give an arm and a leg to come from a happy, well adjusted family with parents who loved them and each other. I think that’s when I started crying because it was true. Nick said a lot of things that I could identify with last night in the crowded War Memorial Stadium… but this one statement hit me where I live. I realized that I would give an arm and a leg for a family that loves me.
For some time now (years) I have felt alone in the world because I am. I have seven sisters, two brothers, two half sisters, two foster brothers, and a foster sister and none of them speak to me. My own mother hated me. People will try to tell me that I’m wrong — that she didn’t hate me, but last year when she was on her death bed she didn’t want me. She died content to let our unresolved issues go to the grave with her. I didn’t even know she was on her death bed. For years I prayed to God to fix this, but he didn’t. Nick prayed for arms and legs for years, but God never gave him arms and legs. He said he still keeps a pair of shoes in the closet because he believes in miracles and he still has hope.
Family. That has been the one thing that I have always wanted. I never pictured myself 45 years old, mentally ill, physically disabled, and alone. Nick mentioned wanting to give God his “Plan B.” I can relate. My siblings bullied me. One of them molested me. None of them ever knew or loved me, so they were not my real family. They didn’t love me and I just wanted to run away from them. I figured I’d grow up, get married, and have six kids with names that all had sixteen letters in them or something ridiculous like that. I think one of my daughters was to be named Jessica Amber Casey followed by my last name. I decided young that I wasn’t going to change my name. I’d just find a guy with the same last name and marry him. I even looked in the phone book for guys with my same last name failing to realize that they were all already probably way older than I was and would be positively decrepit by the time I was marriageable. But when you’re nine years old you don’t see the flaws in your Plan B.
I did not count on Bipolar erupting onto the scene when I went to Berkeley. The broken pieces that my family had left behind? My illness gnawed on them like hungry locusts. I have never been able to explain what life with Bipolar is like so that people would actually understand. I don’t know that I can. It’s true that I’d have given an arm and a leg to have a family that loved me… a mother who loved me. But I’d give the remaining arm and a leg to get back what the locusts ate. It’s like I fell into a deep dark whole that I never crawled out of. Yes, I am a Christian. I have new life because of Jesus Christ. I’m forgiven. I love Jesus. I’ve been missionary and a Christian school teacher. I don’t regret doing any of those things, but none of the made me whole. As I battled with mental illness the years just seem to pass me by and my hope of having a happy family seemed to die a little more each year.
And then the locusts were followed by a flesh eating monster. In 2010 I had my hyster-ectomy. The fibroid that was the size of a football had to go, and with it all six of my children with their ridiculously long names. I felt like God had taken my biological family from me and now he was taking all hope of ever having my own family. When the doctors took out my uterus, they took a little more of my hope along with it. When it became clear that I had complications after the first (then the third surgery) that affected my ability to walk my hope died. What guy in his right mind would want a mentally ill woman, who struggles with porn, is missing her uterus, and can’t walk straight?
Try selling that on e Harmony.
Hope. Nick talked a lot about hope and how it’s important to have it. Perseverance I’ve got in spades, but I didn’t realize until last night that I was pretty low on hope. While God has been in the business of resurrecting the dead in the past, I doubt he’s going to resurrect my mom so that we can kiss and make up. That hope has sailed. A woman at the Conference on Saturday kept telling me that she would pray for God to reconcile me with my family and every time she said it my heart hurt. My family hurt me and even still, I tried to reconcile with them to no avail. I’ve tried writing letters only to get no response. I’ve left phone messages and texts that don’t get returned and each time that happens I cry. I feel abandoned all over again. If I had a third arm or leg, I would have given them to fix my family relationship years ago… but that ship sailed too. I don’t want to be reconciled with my family because they are not healthy for me and I can do unhealthy all by myself.
Nick didn’t quote this verse, but it came to mind last night:
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29
I gave up a lot to follow Jesus. I had to take stands for truth and paid for it with my family. I am well and truly alone in the world if you look at it from a worldly perspective. No family from the past and not likely to have family in the future... unless you count the family of God. I am welcomed in many homes. To many Christians in the family of Christ I am friend… but I am also sister, daughter, auntie. And to Christ himself, I am bride.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to hear Nick speak. I just asked God to help me hear what I needed to hear. This is the one thing that really stood out for me. I have given up hope of ever having my own family when God wants me to see that I am already a part of a family that is just waiting to accept me. I keep thinking that if these new church folks really knew me and my past they wouldn’t like me. I don’t want to tell any of them that I have BPD or that I’ve lived a very messy, baggage filled life. But Nick kept pointing out how he didn’t know what his future held for him. When he tried to drown himself he had no idea that Jesus would take hold of his life and give him a hope. He said that if you have no hope of a better life you won’t pursue it. He said that he turned his back on God because God wasn’t answering. I think a part of my heart turned away from God because he wasn’t healing me. It became difficult to love him OR my neighbor with all my heart. I went to hear Nick hoping to hear God.
Last night spoke to me. I cannot say how it changed me because not all change is instantaneous. Nick planted seeds of hope and I need to believe that Jesus intends to do something with them. He knows my desire for a family. He sees my deep need to love and be loved. He doesn’t, however, want me to give an arm and a leg for this loving family. He wants me to give my heart.
Today I went to a Women’s Conference
with my new church.
This was huge because
I avoid such things
like a bad rash
in an awkward place.
I needed this.
For so long I’ve been
I’d stepped out of
I believed I was
but all I was
seeing was waves.
I took my eyes off
and I began
There was worship this morning
at the conference.
And in my spirit I danced
because God met me there.
I didn’t have some
big emotional experience…
Bipolar Girl tends to think
emotions are overrated anyways.
I wanted to dance because the songs
spoke to me…
The songs spoke to me where I’m at.
They spoke to me where I’ve been...
And hopefully, this one, will speak
to me about where I’m going….
(At least up until you get to 5 min. 17 seconds.
Then its gets random and I’ve have enough
random in my life. Feel free to stop the video at that point)