Change can be frightening and difficult for some people, but for others it can be empowering.
This is her story.
This world of mine changes so quickly and drastically, I can hardly keep up.
A year ago I was physically in the same location as I am now, but I can hardly recognize my past self.
A year ago, I was in a serious, long-term, committed relationship. I threw myself into it, determined and convinced that we would be together forever. I was going to marry this boy.
A year ago, I was so delighted to have my best friend back in the country that I spent time with no one but her. My weekdays were spent with the boyfriend. My weekends were reserved for my best friend. We were each others' top priority.
A year ago, I knew exactly what classes to take and what my career was going to be. I had steps A to Z planned out. I knew precisely where I was going and how I was going to get there.
A year ago I was preparing for a semester exchange, viewing it as a charming diversion. I would romp around the East Coast for four months and then Come Home and Resume my Real Life. It was supposed to be a detour, an adventure before continuing down the well-lit path of my Real Life.
But here we are.
One year later.
That trip ended up changing everything.
My world that I thought I knew so well was turned upside-down and shockingly enough, I see my life more clearly than ever now. My life path is not as brightly lit as it was a year ago. But I feel the light from the inside now, and my brightness is enough to give me the courage to keep walking forward.
The boy I was supposed to marry and I are no longer together. It was devastating when it happened, but the further away I get from the relationship the more I see how deluded I was. I loved him and he is a good man. But not the right one for me.
On that "charming diversion," I met an amazing girl. A person who came to know me inside and out and vice versa. And our friendship gradually became something more. I never imagined that I'd fall in love with someone while on that trip and I certainly never thought I would fall in love with a girl. But I wouldn't change a thing.
Our path is anything but clear. We're on scholarships to specific schools, stuck states apart. We're not officially "together," and circumstances prevent us from changing that anytime soon. But I know that the love we feel for each other is different from anything I have ever experienced. And I trust in that.
The best friend and I are still the very best of friends. But instead of focusing on each other as intensely as we did before, we've got different priorities. She is building an incredible career for herself and I am finding my way. We support each other every step, though. She is still my rock, my foundation that I can always count on.
But since I've been back, my other friendships have grown. I've rekindled old relationships and began others. My friends love and support me more than I deserve. I came home and I am grateful everyday for the people I rediscovered here.
That career that I thought I was destined for, I realized I was pursuing for the wrong reasons. I had plenty of time in my semester away to reflect and pray and the more I did, the more I realized how deep down I felt that I was making a huge mistake.
I found the courage to embrace my passion and live my life according to it. I still have a plan but it's more flexible now, and I've slowed down a bit. My life and career isn't a race. I want to take steps when I'm ready, not when I'm "supposed" to.
Last year, I had everything and everyone in my life planned out to a tee. But I think I was doing that to avoid looking inward. The exterior factors in my life were dazzlingly clear. My interior being? Far from it.
I have prayed more in the last year than I did in the previous three. As I write this I am struck with an immense gratitude for all that God has provided for me in the last year: new people, new experiences, and new goals.
Most importantly He gave me inner peace and faith. So much has changed in the last year that I never expected; how can I begin to predict where I'll be a year from now?
But I found my light.
I found what I'm capable of, who I am, and who I want to be. I learned so much about myself this past year and that knowledge is invaluable. I believe in Him and in myself. No matter where I'm headed, I know I can get there.
The path I'm walking is not as illuminated now. But I can feel the light emanating from within me. And I know that light will guide me, step by step.
Chronic illness can be frustrating and often affects mental health as well as physical.
This is how it affects her life.
I cry a lot.
I'm an emotional woman who wears her heart on her sleeve, who lets herself get hurt to easily, who throws caution to the wind over and over in the event that it might bring me to that all-consuming True Love.
I have diseases. And disorders. Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Hypogonadism, Raynaud's Syndrome, chronic daily migraines, autoimmune gallbladder disease, Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder (there's that whole caution-to-the-wind thing), Sjogren's Syndrome. I'm probably forgetting something.
I take a lot of pills. They don't help much. But the doctors tell me I need them and that I'd be worse off without them, so I dutifully take them every morning, despite what I think. Nine altogether. Plus a handful of vitamins and supplements. Plus hormone implants every six months.
What's my point?
I'm never going to get better.
There is no light at the end of the tunnel for me.
There's no recovery.
I'm 34 now, and my life will be a steady decline from here until the time I die. This year, I had to start walking with a cane sometimes because the vertigo is so bad I'll fall over otherwise. I'm in danger of losing the job I've had for 11 years, and therefore losing my health insurance. My boss has seemingly endless patience, but I know that even she will run out at some point.
I got a fortune cookie last week that said "Your fondest dream will come true this year." What is my fondest dream? To not be sick anymore. To feel normal again. I wish I'd never taken for granted how good I felt in my twenties when I was abusing my body and probably planting the seed for the things that are wrong with me today.
And how do I feel about this? I'm trying to make my peace with it.
But yeah, I cry a lot. Out of pain, out of exhaustion, out of fear. Because I feel abandoned and alone. Because I hurt all over and nothing helps. Not a damn thing. Well, okay, alcohol does, but then I just feel worse later and I can't very well be drunk all the time. I've tried every medication I can spell and those I can't, and they just don't work...not for me, anyway.
I just went back to college and I feel so overwhelmed. I feel like the stupidest person there, because I have to work extra hard to keep up. The Fibromyalgia and Sjogren's wreak havoc on my thinking, making it difficult to remember and to concentrate, the result being that my hours of studying are often forgotten within minutes, or that I can't absorb the words on the page to begin with.
I'm writing this because I read another post on here from a woman who sounded just like me. I was surprised at her optimism, because I am so negative. I'm depressed and pessimistic about the future, and always have been.
I don't know how to change that about myself. Years of therapy have not managed to do so. I think I've gotten worse. I wish I had a switch in my brain I could flip and become optimistic -- it would make dealing with disease so much easier.
Maybe one day that peace will come. Maybe I'll be happy and content despite my ailments. I sure hope so.
We all have them. Some dreams are as simple as getting a full night's sleep or getting an extra twenty minutes in at the gym. Others are more complicated - going back to school, making partner at your firm, taking that dream cruise through Alaska.
But we all have them. Sometimes, our dreams are what keep us going through the very darkest of times.
So what are your dreams, The Band? What will you do one day?
In honor of my friend Misty and her blog One Day I'm Gonna. This is for you, my beautiful friend.
One day I'm gonna...
...fully confront and overcome my insecurities.
...stop doubting myself because Misty believed anyone could do anything.
...learn that patience really is a virtue.
...not try to control ALL the things.
...crush anxiety and depression.
...find a better balance between my perfectionism and procrastination.
...do more to help make the world a better place.
...publicly perform at least one of my favorite jazz standards.
...learn to fence.
...attend an actual rodeo.
...have a real picnic.
...graciously and gratefully accept help when help is offered.
...visit Australia, Italy, Iceland, and New Zealand.
...write a book, of some sort.
...move to Scotland.
One Day I, too, will fly.
The effects of bullying can last long after the abuse has stopped.
This is her recovery:
It's been nine months.
Nine months since I was bullied and verbally abused with the full knowledge of my superiors. Nine months since I tried to get away from it, only to have those same people follow me and steal everything from me.
As a result, I had a major breakdown, the kind with paranoia, hallucinations, the whole shebang. My shrink encouraged me to apply for disability because he was afraid I wouldn't be able to work anymore. I was paralyzed by my fears, afraid to leave the house, afraid I might see someone or something who could hurt me again.
I'm sick of it.
The doctor changed my medications again, and this time instead of feeling sluggish or tired, I feel refreshed. I feel like me again for the first time in nine months. I want to get up in the morning and get back into running. I want to get back behind the wheel of my car and drive my husband and myself to a roller derby bout. I want to get out of here.
Because of the people who hurt me, I swore I would never be a veterinary technician again. Just looking at my scrubs made me feel sick; the thought of wearing them was almost too much. Like trying to drive, it made me feel like the world was closing in on me.
I put them all in a drawer that I don't open. It hurt because I was a vet tech for more than ten years and I always loved it. I turned away from everything I used to love. I let my certification expire. I mourned the loss of my career and my freedom at the same time.
I'm sick of that, too.
That's why I've decided that 2013 is going to be my year. Even if it doesn't want to be, I'm going to make it my year. I've even got a plan.
First things first, I'm going to reapply for certification. It's going to mean I have to pay a chunk of money and take a long, boring test but I'll be certified as a Registered Veterinary Technician again, something I worked hard to achieve.
Next, I'm getting my car fixed so I can start driving again. The first place I'm going to drive is to the gym, where I can start trying to run again.
Finally, I'm going to start applying for jobs as a tech and find one that's a good fit for me and our family.
Just looking at all that is scary. Reading it makes me think that it'll be easier to just stay at home and hide from the world, but I know in my heart that's not the answer for me anymore. I'm going to pull myself out of this hole of despair and struggle my way up to the light again. It's going to take some time but I think I can get back to myself if I set my mind to it.
I'm ready, 2013.
Let's do this!
Do you have any resolutions for the New Year?
2012 - what a year.
For some of us, it was a year of dreams fulfilled, questions answered and our way, at long last, found.
For some of us, it was a year of loss, sadness and longing for what we once had.
For all of us, it was a year in which we learned, loved, and grew.
What did 2012 mean to you?
2012 is drawing to a close and I can soon say goodbye to it.
Emotionally, I have felt that a vicious unfairness characterized this year. Logically, I can say that the facts are these: My husband moved out in February. I filed for divorce in May. It was final on July 27, one week after our fifth anniversary.
(My therapist wants me to continually make these separations: emotions in one box, facts in another. I am emotion driven. I am not a borderline personality, but we share enough traits that I am doing this lovely dbt therapy alongside them.)
As this year tiptoes to its end, I, an idealistic and optimistic girl, am hopeful and tentatively happy.
I made it.
To this Band of friends ... I cannot thank you all enough for sharing your stories, the struggles and triumphs. They helped me so much to read and remember that I was not alone.
Thank you, Aunt Becky, for having the foresight to start this Band, the resolve to make it a reality, and the will to keep it going even in the face of your own umbrage. Thank. You.
Thank you to all of the volunteers who tirelessly put aside their own shit to do to do this. I appreciate it and so does my evolving mental health.
To all of us, let's put on a brave face and look forward to 2013.
It could be the greatest year yet, full of light, full of HOPE.
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