Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Be Still

In the stillness, in a darkened room, things can become clearer. Brighter.

The greatest sins are not the things I do, but the things I do not do.

I do not love enough, I do not give enough compassion, I am not still, I do not wait upon the Lord - or anything. I need to pray because I don't know what God's up to, but I do know that I do not have enough love, compassion, patience.

You could look at my life and see the glaring sins - the things I do that are traditionally recognized as sins. You could make a graph, a chart and see the steadiness or irratic nature of each of these. Some are just the way I live.
But that is the way that man would like to see sin - by the tangible. The things understood.

This is not a judgement on all mankind, it is recognition of our common desire to make sense of the world - we try to orient ourselves in this massive place from infancy on. The pieces that we live outloud and outside of us are so much clearer - but the inside is not.

Someone said in class once that imagine if we wore posterboards to church on Sundays revealing our true sins - the one's we conveniently leave out, or intentionally do, the ones that we hold with shame or reluctance, or that we have accepted are things we will do that are between us and God but know/fear the objection of others. The pieces of our lives that may not separate us from God (the definition of sin, right?) and the things that are notably considered un-Chritian could count too.

But the greater sins I commit each day are what separate me from God. I look away from poverty, I close my eyes. I choose not to love. I judge my classmate, my colleague, even my neighbor. I judge a friend or loved one. I don't forgive - myself or another. The list of what separates us - me & God - is not a tangible. And it is not finite.

While there are many concrete things that do - right now I get that the things that keep me away have much more to with with my unwillingness to dig through this clutter, come down to the calm, the stillness and start and know God.

I finally get it, I don't want to (or need to) understand God - I want to know Him.

Disclaimer: I know all sin is considered equal, but that is not how it feels or is treated. It is easier to get caught up in the obvious and tangible sins etc.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Recovery and Relationships

I am taking a substance abuse class and as part of this attending a few meetings for persons in recovery. So far I have only gone to one AA meeting. Have you ever gone to one?

I have a professor who said that people in recovery are possibly the only people who truly understand how to be in relationship with others. They have once had this stripped from them, or never had it in the first place, but through recovery they have learned that there is nothing to hide behind and you are out there. And they can experience true relationships, true relational experiences.

After attending just this one meeting I could see the truth to this statement. I am not a big drinker, I drink some and I know it is sometimes because I find them tasty, sometimes because I am nervous at a party and it does soothe some nerves, but sometimes it is just because. That same professor said that so many of us just have the glass of wine, create a social symbiosis of sorts - it's sharing in a group experience, it is loosening inhibitions. It is pretending to let go - when really it is just giving in.

This is not to say that I think social drinking, or limited drinking is a problem. It is that the beauty that I have seen in my research, in the books I have read and the meeting I attended, as well as the inspiring woman I spent about a half hour on the phone with today is amazing.

Alcohol and drugs ravish people's lives. And whether in recovery you come from a disease model, an AA powerless approach, a inner power to overcome approach, whatever, you come to a place of change. You come to a relational experience.

This sounds terrible, I do not want an addiction experience - I do not want that struggle, the pain that is caused to loved ones or anything irrational like that - but I do want that community. That acceptance. That revival from brokenness. It is beauty incarnate.

There is so much more to say on this - and this is probably a terrible representation of how I feel and I fear belittles things which is not at all my intention, but mainly it is meant to be a small statement of respect.

The process to reach recovery seems to me to be difficult and scary. I have so much respect for people in recovery - whether they attend meetings or don't - whatever their practice is in their life, I think it is amazing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

That's Right Kids . . .

That's right kiddies, listen to your parents and brush your teeth!

When I was younger (much so) my step-grandpa (Umpa as I call him) overheard me say, whilst complaining about my teeth issues - the ones that I have had my whole life - anyhow, I said, "I should just pull 'em all out and get dentures. I'll probably have them by the time I'm 30 anyways." That is the day that I learned that you don't laugh about dentures in front of someone who has them.

I have a whole new respect for the pain that one must go through to get there. And a new respect for those who are elderly and who have had them sometime because I can only guess that the process of removal, the medication etc., has improved.

Oh and being 30 now I see how I had a very different opinion of it in my early 20s. And I have a whole new respect for being 30 too. :)

On that subject I was listening to something depressing on the radio and they were saying how problems with childbearing etc. increase over 35 and by 37 are . . . the story went down hill. And this is what rushes through my head, some simple mathematical equations.

I'm 30 and it is almost 2009. I will graduate in 2010 right before I turn 32. Ok, so, hopefully Kyle and I will get married sometime before I turn 32 and at the earliest START to have kids when I am 33. Even if I got pregnant RIGHT AT 33 then I will be close to 34 for having a kid and perhaps I would like more than 1 and this puts me quickly over 35. That is all saying that I get to have kids. This is not whining, this is just that I know not to take for granted the gift of having children. So I am not adding that in to this particular equation.

Other than that I was thinking earlier how I hope our kids don't get my teeth - well visually they can, but health wise, nope, they need his.

Oh I could go on but thank goodness my latest codeine tablet (no, no I haven't taken one in at least 8 hours and this time I took just 1) is kicking in. I hope to sleep!!

Where's the Tooth Fairy When You Need Her?

I had the post put in for the long term process for what will eventually result in my having a fake tooth in July. When did this saga begin? January 2008 I had my tooth removed. This involved them having to essentially shatter my tooth and unfuse its' roots from the bone. The bone which now has a post in it and in July will have a tooth on it.

I feel sick now. Trying to be awake is causing this.

The acetemetaphine with codeine + the ibuprophine is finally helping . . . 3 hours later . . . but now I am feeling siiiick and my head still hurts . . .

Head hurts too much to figure out why I am typing . . . or what . . .


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Need Some Carrots

I still have to make those calls.
I am a bit calmer.
I am keenly aware of all that I have to do in the next week - and then some, but I'll start with 1 weeks "to-do's."

I was really disappointed in myself today. I went into therapy and heard myself whining (for lack of a better word) about this liteny of things and suddenly it was like the last 2 years of work weren't there. I mean as if my progress had disappeared. I wondered if my therapist sometimes asks herself, "Really? Will she never get it?" I don't think she REALLY does . . . well, I don't usually think so.

But she did ask me to ask myself some good questions:

1. Is this anger a red herring?
2. What am I getting out of it?
3. What purpose is it serving?

In discussing my sadness in regards to friendships and my experiences of loneliness (really of late compared to the recent past):

1. What does loneliness mean to you?

This was a difficult question to answer. I had never thought about. How could I describe it? It is a numbness. It is a lack of hearing others' stories. It is not being part of "something," something bigger than me maybe? Even just any "thing."

She said that what she sees is that loneliness means that I cannot see my "self" and so, yes, it is numb and it is empty. Because for someone (me) who is so relational having no one to interface with all day means I have no one to see my own reflection in. And this does not mean people who I can mirror or who I am similar to, but people. Interpersonal experiences.

Thus, I must wrestle with some internal demons. Some that I have already wrestled - it's like the 2008 Championships - Demons vs Heather.

Part of this, I have come to realize, is the impact of facebook and myspace. Feeling a false community makes me feel lonelier. In some ways it is great because I can connect to people I have not spoken to in well over a decade. In others it makes me aware of the gaps. Other times I just see that I do not get messages and experience the whole "last kid picked for the team" feeling. Either way, for me, it is this sort of false reality that, while it has its benefits, is risky.

Don't know if any of this really makes sense. But what I know is that I need to have a pretty clear agenda for the next week. A schedule - probably to the hour.

Starting with now.

I can read for 45 minutes. Then I have to go to an AA meeting for class. Then tomorrow dental "surgery" and more and more and more. . . BUT one day at a time with a dedicated schedule. My therapist said that if I am not doing homework anyways I need to schedule things like coffee dates or something. Or since I won't let myself watch TV in the day she said, "you're not studying, so study from 1-3 then you can watch something." Permission for tv viewing? She said it is like dangling a carrot.

(More on the role of TV in a healthy measure for creating relational experiences another time . . . )

For now? I need some carrots.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Hate Bipolar

Current state: Freaking out
Cause: Health Insurance
Problem: Multiple.

They claim they'll pay my doctor's visit, now they won't. I have to call them and write an appeal. I have to resubmit documents previously submitted. I have to call my old insurance company. I hate calling people when I am likely to cry and get upset, possibly unreasonably so when it is not the fault of the people I will talk to.

I have to not freak out when these things come my way.

My fears:

1. Can't afford my bills
2. Can't go to the doctor
3. Can't go to the psychiatrist (which I can't find one ANYWAY since their - Aetna but the crappy student version - website had few listed and most with wrong numbers - 9 out of 11 sought out were incorrect, of the 2 I called, 1 sounded like Vincent Price and the other? Her number was wrong too but I tracked her down with a different number and she has not called back. Guess I have to call Vincent again)
4. Get a psychiatrist but cannot pay them
5. My insurance won't pay for my meds which are almost $700 without insurance ($120ish with as long as I don't want my Lunesta - but hey, not sleeping is really good for my current state anyways)
6. Will freak out more because this is a really bad month for more to go wrong
7. This will kick up an episode - I just had a mild manic one, it's Fall which is the season for episodes and I don't want to hang out at EITHER pole.

I flipped out tonight, ranting about how anyone who doesn't agree with public health care is a bastard. I targetted Kyle's aunt because she targetted me previously about how my views on public health care are limited and that I don't understand the impact it could have on people like her (people with money and property).

My flip out? I want her to look me in the eyes and tell me that I am not a valuable enough human being to deserve health care and instead it is okay for me to suffer.
I want someone to look me in the eye if they believe this. (And I won't even start how looking ME in the eye is cake considering I am a person of privilege - albeit one who will be in debt roughly the worth of a house soon - but I am an easier person, comparatively, to say this to)

I need guts to stand up for my beliefs and I think others should get them to stand up for theirs. If you really don't care about people then you should have to tell them. Dehumanize them in person.

Shoot! My thoughts are not slowing down and the crying is starting again. No no no no no no no!!!!

Wow, why do I let things like this enter into cyberspace?

No self-respect?
No discretion?
A desire to let other's know what this feels like?
A need for a community?

It is not for pity I know that. Maybe for hope? For someone to validate it (other than my wonderful boyfriend who is calm to my crazy)?

I should try to sleep . . .

so . . . tired . . .

so . . . tired . . . hate . . . insomnia . . .

read for school for 2 hours.
went through and deleted like 300 emails.
categorized all but 30 more - some that need to be responded to others . . . it's 3am, so i don't know.

want to sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bread and butter . . . and fire . . . (written 11/08/2008)

So there was not actually fire, but there sure was a lot of smoke . . . and some awfully black toast.

My therapist is right, I need to treat myself to a toaster. She said that, after all, toasters were created to stop such burning of food and in my case sometimes flesh.

Once I move and get the counter space under control, I'm all about the $20 toaster. Mmmmm, not burnt and equally toasted on each side, toast. Fancy, fancy way to live.

Bread and butter . . . and fire . . .

So there was not actually fire, but there sure was a lot of smoke . . . and some awfully black toast.

My therapist is right, I need to treat myself to a toaster. She said that, after all, toasters were created to stop such burning of food and, in my case, flesh.

Once I move and get the counter space under control, I'm all about the $20 toaster. Mmmmm, not burnt, equally toasted on each side, toast. Fancy, fancy way to live.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Deposit is Down - Moving to Commence 11/30

What's that about a sweet 2 story, 2 bedroom, 1 bath townhome with a patio off each bedroom, giant closets, a pantry, a washer / drier, a dishwasher and a large patio off the living-space (no divide for a dining room) looking out at the pool? Oh, it's my new apartment? NICE.

Location isn't ideal. No pretty leaves outside like now and really no parking (1 spot) and a crazy busy street with no on-block parking - unless you don't mind being hit by buses or being towed. BUT fortunately I will be IN the apartment more than dealing with all that, once the car is parked that is.

It's really nice and the rent is only going up $25 from what I pay now. Well $12.50 each technically. :)

Now, just need to pack and move. Ugh.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Did he REALLY? A posting from Obama

Message from Barack: "How this happened"
From Barack Obama

Before his Election Night speech last night, Barack sent out this message to suppporters:

I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don't want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign. We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing...

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,


Oh, I thought we wanted a better world, not just our own agendas met. Silly me! Grrr.

The world, the country, does not depend on one certain issue. Things are so much bigger. The president is not the key turning point in abortion, gay marriage or many other issues. They are pieces. Yes, the most powerful person in the country, yes the best chance we have at changing for falling into miserable despair (i.e., the current status quo or worse) but there are checks and balances. The president leads us, he is not a totalitarian.

Here is something I was just talking about today. Part of the Progressive Christian Church is a movement towards consistency in certain areas. Like saying, if I am against abortion then I am also against capital punishment, war etc. If one murder is wrong, then why is another okay?

I am Christian, I do not agree with abortion, I think that there should be a lot of education around things, but I don't think that rights should be stripped. Not because I really even support the notion of "my body, my choice" or whatever, it is because there are times when horrible things happen, times when people are going to have abortions either way - and no, I don't think, as some have said to me, that it is their own fault so they can just go and have a back-alley abortion and suffer the consequences. I think we are a smarter people than that. Or should be. I think we should have humanity - for all!! And I don't think legislation should also determine the "rape only" and similar rulings, because then women won't really have any right to choose, a court will. Talk about government being in our lives.

Isn't that a key part of the Republican party? Less Government intervention? According to the Republican party the government shouldn't really be involved in our health care or helping the less-fortunate, or supporting people in general because we Americans can take care of ourselves. Hell why not privatize Social Security - because capable as we are, people can make better choices on their own. Clearly it would be that easy, I'll just go get me a financial advisor. Or not because people don't need help with understanding those things - I'm a very intelligent, well-educated woman and I couldn't do that stuff! (And oh, by the way, the stock market, personal investments, not too hot right now). BUT the Republican party does want: To be in our bedrooms, at our weddings and in our doctor's offices. Where is the logic in that? You can't have it both ways.

You can't decide that you are laissez-faire most of the time - you can claim it is laissez-faire business but not social - but then if you care about the social matters, then why not care about the actual people? If you want that baby born then you best be kicking down some better support systems. Because the "right" comes down hard on welfare but wants babies born by people who cannot care for them and they obviously WANT them born because so many are against ACTUAL sex-education in schools. Abstinence is obviously not the practice. So kids are being set up to fail and then forced into a life of ridicule.

Again, I do not agree with abortion and it sickens me how high the rates are and how many women and girls don't really get options or feel they have no options. I am heart broken by the lack of counseling services that come before or even after an abortion. But currently I see them as a necessary evil.

And frankly they are not the only lives being lost right now. People are dying everyday from starvation, from murder, from poverty, from the cold, from a poor (literally and figuratively) social and human services system where the workers are over-worked and underpaid, where the policies and red tape are insane, where the aviailability of needed services is rare. People are suffering from the divide of the rich and poor - the significant gap in the classes.

So, yes, babies are dying. It is horrible. But it can't be prevented without actually helping other people too. I'm not even starting on the murder of innocent people in times of war either or talking about other countries, I am sticking to simple domestic affairs. Domestic deaths.

It drives me nuts. And seriously if someone tells me they are against abortion and for capitol punishment then I would like to pull the plank out of their eye myself.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

. . . unyielding hope . . . that's a big statement

Tonight I felt what I imagine people felt many years ago when words of wisdom and hope fell on their ears. Words about a dream for a better society, for a nation that would rise up and live out the true meaning of: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," words inspiring us to step outside ourselves, to ask not what our country can do for us, but what we can do for our country. These were words with power, goodness, richness and promise. Awestruck like a little girl, excited like a grown woman carrying the past 30 years in her heart, the fears, hopes, dreams, broken faith - in people, the world, politics, humanity, anything and everything at different points in time - I sat, watching our new President walk to the podium and speak.

Now, I am hopeful for the opportunity to play a part in rebuilding our country. Thankful for a leader who has faith in the people.

I am scared by those who want to crush this dream and saddened by those who, with big pocket books and fractured souls and sensibilities, cannot see the better good of many things. [In all fairness I imagine I wouldn't be seeing it the same either if things were switched, hence the whole cammel and eye of the needle thing - the world looks difference when your pockets are lined and you were born with well strapped boots -I am probably too harsh on those with greater means, I know this is not an across the board sentiment, even though it often feels like it]

It mgiht be easier when you have little more than the promise of debt to rely on to be lofty in your dreams because the only thing to lose then is your hope. But isn't that the most valuable thing to hold? Hope.

Tonight mine, and millions of people's, has been restored.

For a moment in time, a moment in history, I can hear the silence that resonates through the valleys and trees. The whisper is coming of a new season. Just like the first frost of winter or the first crisp morning of Fall. It is time for a new era.

An era of hope.

This time in our country, in our world, this chance to make a change - it's a gift - we best treasure it and make it live - brightly, loudly, truly, completely.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Morning . . .

I have only been at work for 2 hours, it feels much longer. I was going to hang out in the living room to watch election stuff with the guys, but there are 2 couches and they have occupied them both. So I will return to the office to write this and then go read in the dining room - at least it shows that I am moderately invested.

Anyway I was standing outside while one of the guys was out there smoking and it is this perfect crisp, or cold really, morning and the trees are all kinds of beautiful colors and somehow it made me think about how my life has been worked out.

I used to be a morning person, not that I am grumpy in the morning or anything, but like I could wake up in the morning and experience the day. But why was I this way? Because I had an early morning job. In fact so much of my identity and life is based on these jobs - time punctuated by employment. And for many years by the men that were in my life.

I have a pretty good memory, up to about 2002 when I was taking a medication that turned my brain all swiss cheesey and poor Jason had to put up with a girl who couldn't remember that we went on a vacation for my birthday - there would be this hole and I would say, "Hey, how come last year we didn't do anything for my birthday?" And he would say, "Heather, we went to Catalina, remember?" Once prompted scenes of that trip began to reveal themselves. Like how someone remembers childhood - once triggered snippets and sometimes whole stories come back.

Well, about those punctuations. I know myself by titles - sales associate, coffee girl, assistant, receptionist, probation assistant, youth worker, psych tech, manager, group leader - most of these are not correct titles, but these significant pieces of my life are wound around them - for better or worse. I can see my successes and failures. Dissapointments are often easier to see but really just in my last full-time job. I don't like who I was there, but I also always saw the worst in everything - it was pathetic. I like who I was in most other positions. I was cheery, excited, sometimes drained and negative, but more than not I was invested and not just because I HAD TO BE, but because I wanted to be. I loved helping kids, which meant actually working with them. I loved being an assistant - some would think that odd, but I got to make sure that my boss was happy and doing well. I loved to learn new things. I was not "management material" because I didn't want to be totally in charge. I wasn't ready and I was so burnt out on life and had no rejuvination because I didn't work with people. Especially younger people, even with struggling lives they still had these glimmers of hope in the most dire of situation - well not so much that last one I worked with, but I still believe that there has to be hope for her. Because I have to believe it and I want to believe.

I remember so much about those experiences - vibrant memories of emotion and relationship. The smell of coffee, the different presentations of me - fashion, demeanor, walk, talk, style.

Anyhow, this is already so long or I would move on to those other punctuations. How they were more of my view of my "self" than an actual internal self. I think I finally got me one of those - an internal self. I like it. It is how we are supposed to be.

About Me

My photo
Portland, OR, United States
I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, counselor and colleague. I am a work in progress. There may be some pieces out of place and things might be messy, but it's okay. I would rather accept that I am still unfinished than think that this is it. You can find my comments on faith and spirituality on my blog: http://themessinessoffaith.blogspot.com/ And my comments and anecdotes on life at: http://sheisaworkinprogress.blogspot.com/

Books That Matter. Well, some of the many that matter.

  • Magical Shrinking: Stumbling Through Bipolar Disorder, Chris Wells
  • Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • An Abudance of Katherines, John Green
  • Dave Pelzer
  • Franny & Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
  • The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris
  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, Daniel J. Siegel