Recycling Myself

Welcome to the most exciting time in my life. So far.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

What can we do?

Philip and I have this terrible habit of reading the comments on things.  We live in a very conservative state and are not very conservative, so sometimes we’ll go on the local news’ Facebook page and read comments on stories to see how crazy people are.  Last night we were doing that on a story about the San Bernardino shootings.  Every post was about how guns don’t kill people, everyone should have a gun, this is Obama’s fault, we need to rid the country of Muslims…  You get the idea.  In the middle of reading a comment, he interrupted me.  “Stop!  I can’t hear this anymore.  I’m so sad.  I’m so angry.  This is so frustrating.”  He expressed my sentiment perfectly.  I’m so angry that innocent people are dying every day, while we’re all writing on Facebook about how the other person’s ideas to fix it are stupid.  I’m so sad that I’m scared to go to my college classes some days because we might be the next school on that list of mass shootings.  I’m heartbroken when I read that people think teachers should be carrying weapons, because my sweet, kind, gentle, peace-loving husband teaches elementary school, and while I know he would risk his life to save his kids, he has never, and could never, use a gun.  I’m scared for our world.  When I was growing up, shootings happened, but we always talked about smaller scale solutions.  Getting rid of violent video games, changing the way the media reports it.  Now it’s religion, it’s politics, it’s mental illness.  It’s problems that are so big, I don’t think anyone knows how to fix them.

Sometimes I look at the sweet faces of my nephews and niece and think “How could someone who started out so innocent like this want to kill other humans?”  But it’s not even the shooters that I’m shocked by.  I know there are bad people in the world.  There have always been bad people in the world.  It’s those of us who are surrounding these bad people.  We’re all hurting and we’re all confused.  And I feel like so many of us are using that as an excuse to be hateful.  Memes about all the Muslim-led acts of terror being countered with memes about all the white men-led acts of terror.  Does it matter?  PEOPLE are doing this.  Not whites, not blacks, not Muslims.  HUMANS.  The thing we all are, the thing we all have in common.  I think we can all agree that there is not one simple answer.  So, why are we all waiting on the cure-all fix?  It’s almost like we’re afraid to do anything to fix it because it might not fix it completely.  When your heart is broken, there isn’t one thing you do that makes it all better.  You wallow at home with ice cream for a while.  And then you have a friend come over.  And then you go out with a group.  And then you meet new people.  And eventually you realize your heart isn’t aching as much as it was.  Why are we so afraid to try something?  To take that first step to healing?

Last night Philip said “I’m scared about bringing a child into this world one day.  How do we do that when the world is so scary?”  And I said, “Well, we raise them to be kind to others, and to not judge.  And to be loving.  What else can we do?”

Maybe all we can do is just support each other, hold each other closer.  Be that light that so many are missing in their lives.  Maybe if we love each other hard enough, we can drown out all the hate around us.  I hope so.  I’m so sad.  And I’m so scared.  And I’m so tired of hearing the same arguments over and over again.  It’s not about gun control, it’s about mental illness.  It’s not about mental illness, it’s about race/religion/political affiliation.  Maybe it’s about a lot of things.
I don’t really like being too open and transparent on social media.  It’s that whole feeling vulnerable thing.  I want the people who don’t know me that well to think I’ve got it all together.  So, on the days when I don’t have it all together, I keep pretty quiet.  But this is happening too often.  I feel vulnerable every minute of my life because I have no idea what’s happening in the world out there right now.  Will I be safe when I go to the hospital for clinical tonight?  Will my husband be safe at his school today?  Will something happen in Pennsylvania or New Jersey where so many of my people are?  I think everyone, no matter which party you’re affiliated with, has had these thoughts lately.  More specifically:  Am I, and the people I love, safe?

Instead of planning how to counter someone's idea that you don't agree with, can we all just agree that something needs to be done and move forward from there?

Monday, October 20, 2014


Let me start this off by saying, I do not fail.  I don’t have a couple of classes from college that I stopped caring about, so I failed some tests, or just barely passed, or whatever.  I don’t fail.  Am I a perfect straight A student?  Absolutely not.  But, I do not fail.

Until a couple of weeks ago. 

In nursing school, we have these things called Skills Check Offs.  We’re taught a skill during lab, and then we have to practice it and practice it, and then we go back to the school on Skills Check Off day and show our instructors that we can do it well.  We’re given a time to go in and do it.  We have to be in full uniform, and a huge group of students sits around in the hallway waiting to get called in (meanwhile, everyone sits there with a lot of negative energy and anxiety while they wait.  It SUCKS).  We get called in and go into a room with an instructor and they watch our every move to make sure we have this skill down, so that they can trust us to perform it on a real person in the hospital.  It’s stressful and insanely pressure-filled, and even the students who seem totally cool and calm in every other situation look like they’re going to throw up when they’re waiting.  This past skills check, we had 4 sterile skills to practice, and we would randomly get one picked for us when we got there.  We also had to do some medication calculations and perform an injection on a mannequin.

So, I get called back by our instructor who, in my opinion, is the most intimidating instructor of them all.  She was very kind to me and told me to take deep breaths when she sensed I was getting too anxious, and somehow, I aced my medication skill.  Then came my sterile skill.   I got the skill I felt the least comfortable with (of course), and I took one step out of order from how I’d been practicing, and it was all downhill from there.  I don’t know if it was nerves, or if I just wasn’t thinking, but that tiny change in my routine threw me off of everything.  I broke my sterile field, and that was it.  I’d failed.  My instructor very kindly told me what I had done wrong, and what I could do differently in the future, and that I would have another chance to re-do my skill in two weeks, but all I heard was that I failed.

When I was leaving the school, I didn’t feel great, but not awful either.  I was given another chance.  You’re allowed two tries.  I knew what I’d done wrong, and I would just go back in a couple of weeks and get it right that time. No big deal.  Until I started leaving a message for my husband and as soon as I heard the beep, I lost it.  Ugly crying the whole way home. 

Then I forced myself to get some perspective.  People screw up, it’s totally normal.  I just needed to practice and do it again.  The worst thing that could’ve happened that day had happened and I was still standing.  I sent an email to the instructor who had worked with me and thanked her for her tips and assured her that I would practice and pass the second time around.  And, as it turned out, about half of my class had failed for one reason or another.  That’s just life.  We’re learning things that are completely new for us.  So, we may need a little extra help.  If I’ve made it to 28 years of age and this is my first failure, I can handle that.  In college, I got a D on the first exam of one my classes, and I panicked.  But, I sucked it up, made an appointment with my professor, talked to him about what I could do to help study for future tests, and I came out of that class with a B+.  I will use the same attitude for this.

And, I am proud to say that I had my re-do this morning, and passed!  My instructors still had some tips for how I could improve in the future in a hospital setting, which I greatly appreciated, but that weight has been lifted. 

I failed something, and it wasn’t the end of the world.  I failed something and people didn’t point and laugh and tell me I was stupid.  I failed something, and I got to come back later that week and ace an exam.  I failed something and my teachers didn’t think less of me as a student.

So, even though I hope and pray this doesn’t happen to me again in my nursing school experience, at least now I know that it can and that I’ll be ok.

I just really don’t want to fail again.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

What I've Been Doing

I keep thinking I should write a post about nursing school.  How it’s been, what I’m learning, if I’ve made friends, etc.  But, in reality.  I’m in nursing school.  There’s hardly any time for anything.  So, here’s the short version.

Nursing school is HARD.  I thought since I’ve already graduated with honors with a BS in Psychology, there was no way this ADN program would be any harder than that.  WRONG.  There is a reason why there are so many memes and cartoons about how hard it is to be a nursing student.  It’s damn hard.

In orientation, a student a year ahead of us said that she studies about 8 hours a day, on average.  At the time I thought “Surely that’s an exaggeration.  No one spends that much time studying.”  WRONG.  5 weeks in, I can already see that being a very real estimate.  And have, in fact, spent more than that amount of time studying in one day.  It’s a ton of information, and unless you’ve been working in health care for years, it’s primarily new information.  And you can’t just learn it for the test.  Because on lab days, and in clinical, we’ll have to DO the things we’ve been reading about.  And in lab, sometimes the instructor will simply say “You read about it, so go ahead.”

I’ve had a couple of meltdowns.  Sometimes, I just want to sit on the couch with my husband and put my phone, books, and computer away.  But, I can’t do that with a clear conscience most nights.  We can get new assignments at the last second (Case in point, Wednesday night at 7:30pm we got an assignment to prepare for lecture the next morning at 9am.  Thank God I checked my email).  Luckily, I'm getting a little more comfortable with everything, so I'm finding the down time I need to stay sane.

I’m getting down a system of how to organize my information and I’m still working on trying to find an effective way to study (if anyone has one, I’m totally up for hearing about it!).  I’m incredibly motivated to get through this program, and I have a good group of people I can talk to if I need to vent or need clarification on something.

So, I’m surviving.  It’s challenging.  But, having been a patient in a hospital, I do feel better knowing that nurses need this kind of intense training.  You’re responsible for someone’s health and that’s a big deal.  The training is definitely effective.

But, I won’t lie.  We watched Divergent last night, and during the Dauntless training sequence I thought “Hey, that’s kind of like nursing school.” 

But, don’t worry.  No one throws knives at my head or beats me up until I’m unconscious.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why We Don't Have Kids Yet - My Messy Beautiful Story

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

One of my first interactions with a southerner after I moved to Louisiana was when a woman said to me, “So, what’s your story?  Do you have kids?”  I was 23 and thought the question was absurd.  Kids at 23?  Of course not, crazy lady. 

I met my husband 2 years later.  We both want kids.  We’re both the kind of people who have always wanted kids.  He’s the guy who’s wanted to be a dad for his entire life.  And I’m pretty sure he’s going to be awesome at it (He’s, at least, really good at corny, dad jokes).  When we were first married I was only 25 and thought I was way too young for kids.  And I really wasn’t ready for it, regardless of my age.  I was suddenly legally bound to this guy I’d known for about a year and living in Oklahoma (a place that I was fairly certain was made up, until I actually got here).  For a long time I truly was not ready for babies.  I was figuring out what it was like to be a wife, to create a life with this other person and not alongside him, like it had been when we first dated.

Now we’ve been married for 2 years.  I’m 28 and my husband is 30.  We’re ready for babies.  Most of the people we spend time with have kids.  My husband teaches elementary school.  I babysit and work in a day care on an as-needed basis.  We know it’s hard to have a life with a baby.  We’ve seen the exhaustion and frustration in our friends.  We can see beyond the excitement and joy of having a baby.  And we’re still ready.

But, we’re not trying to have babies right now.  Even though we’re both emotionally prepared for parenthood (as prepared as one can be), our life is not in the place it needs to be for us to have a baby.  I’m in school right now.  And, since neither of us are independently wealthy, we’re working very hard to make school a reality without adding to our already high amount of debt.  I can’t work full time while I’m in school.  So, I have a virtual assistant job that I love, and I pretty much jump at any other chance to make even a little bit of money.  Every extra dollar not accounted for in our budget goes towards nursing school.  My husband works very hard during the school year as a teacher, and works summers as a camp counselor.  While we may be ready for kids, our life is not ready for kids.

This makes life painful and challenging.  The beauty of life without kids is not lost on us.  On Saturdays we stay in bed all morning talking, watching tv, and eating donuts.  We know we couldn’t do that if we had kids.  We spend our evenings relaxing and unwinding from the day, instead of feeding and bathing and putting a child to sleep.  We never need to tiptoe around our house at naptime.  Diapers are not a part of our daily life.  Crying and tantrums are not a part of our daily life (well, with the exception of mine...).  We can leave town for the weekend without too much rearranging of our lives.  We can go out with our friends until late without having to pay someone to stay in our house.  And we appreciate getting close to, if not more than, 8 hours of sleep a night.  We certainly do not need a reminder of how we’re lucky we don’t have kids yet.  We get it.

And yet, life is messy when you're wanting kids and not having them.  When we first got married we would dream about the day we’d have kids.  We talked about baby names, we talked about how we would announce the good news to everyone, we made jokes about how our kids would get the worst combination of my red hair and his dark skin.  We don’t do that as much now.  Because, it kind of hurts.  There are days when I panic that after all this waiting, I won’t be able to get pregnant for some reason.  When I see people announce their pregnancies on Facebook, I’m excited, and then immediately a little sad.  After being very close to both my sister and my sister-in-law as they navigated the first couple of years of parenthood, I’m pretty sure of which parenting books I’ll read, how we’ll introduce food to our baby, the challenges of breastfeeding, how I’m going to prefer to cloth diaper (and the best ways to do it), different naptime methods, what developmental stages our baby will go through and when those will happen.  I know what wonder weeks are, I know good techniques for soothing a teething baby, I know when to call the doctor and when to ride it out.  I know we’re not going to find out the sex of our baby until they’re born.  I know that whether our first baby is a boy or a girl, they will have a family name.  And, writing all of these things down is making me feel an ache in my heart knowing that we have at least 2 years before we can realistically start thinking about these things.

I know that if having a baby was more important to me than being a nurse, we could have one right now.  But, I also know that if I don’t become a nurse, there’s really not much I can do to allow me as many of the financial and health (insurance-wise) benefits of being a nurse.  And, I don’t want to sacrifice one dream for the other.  At the risk of sounding selfish, I want it all.

It sucks that we started our marriage with a lot of debt.  It sucks that it took several years for me to figure out that nursing was where my passion lies.  It sucks that there’s no convenient way for me to take classes at night or online so I can still work full-time.  It sucks that we both feel ready to have babies before I’m out of school.  It sucks that we have no way of knowing how easy or hard it will be to get pregnant.  It sucks that we watch other parents doing what we want to do every single day.

Don’t get me wrong, parent-friends.  We love your kids.  We LOVE your kids.  We talk about your kids on a daily basis.  We look at pictures of your kids on Facebook and laugh about them and talk about how cute they are.  We take joy in your kids’ accomplishments.  We love hanging out with your kids.  And when your kids hug us, it melts our sad hearts that just want kids of our own. 

But, underneath all of that joy and love for your kids, we hurt.  Because we wish we could be telling our friends stories about our kids, and not your kids.  We wish it was our kids reaching for us when they get hurt.  We wish we could participate in your conversations about your kids with stories about our kids.  We wish we could talk about how tired we are without feeling guilty because, as parents, you’re obviously much more tired than we are.

We know that in the grand scheme of our marriage (which should last a while…), the 4+ years without kids shouldn’t feel that significant.  We know that when we have sulky, moody teenagers, we’ll probably reminisce about these days.  We know that we should be savoring every good night of sleep we get, instead of dreaming for sleepless nights with a baby.

And we know that we have to get through the messy, to get to the beautiful.  But some days (like today), it’s really hard to be patient.

So, for now, we'll keep living vicariously through your highs and lows of parenting, and enjoy being the fun aunt and uncle who still get to sleep all night.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

7 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Self

I’ve learned a lot of things as an adult that I did not know as a teenager.  I guess that’s the point of growing up, but there are some things I REALLY wish I’d known then.  So, in an attempt to go back in time, I’ve created a list of things I wish I had known then.

1. You do not have to fit 1 mold.

When I was in high school, I thought I had to be the girl who hung out with guys and didn’t care about anything.  I listened to the music my guy friends were listening to, I pretended to like stupid boy things (Jackass?! Seriously?!), I dressed like I just didn’t care about anything (ripped up jeans, t-shirts from the thrift store…), I believe for a while I prided myself on being the girl who never cried.  Why did I work so hard to be that girl?  Now I do things based on how I feel and what makes me happy.  I listen to bad pop music, because it makes me smile.  I dress up because I want to feel pretty.  I spend more time on my makeup and hair than I’d like to admit.  And, yes, I still listen to music where the lead singer screams more than sings.  And some days, I wear ripped jeans and t-shirts from high school.  Because I can be more than one girl.  It’s so freeing.  I don’t have to be any type of girl, the only thing I need to be is Courtney.  I would have saved a lot of time if I had learned this about 10 years ago.

2.       Don’t be careless with your heart.

For a lot of teenagers, this would mean “don’t fall too hard and get your heart broken”.  Not me.  
As part of my “I don’t care” philosophy on life, I also never liked any specific boy too much.  Or, at least I never admitted to it.  I would date boys I didn’t really care much about more than as friends, and would break up with them after a couple of weeks.  While the boys I really liked went off and found girls who were more honest with their feelings.  I never really succumbed to the head-over-heels feeling until I met my husband.  Which is good, but I think I shut myself off from some wonderful things by not listening to my true feelings.  I probably would have gotten hurt like so many of my friends did, but those are life experiences meant for everyone, and I intentionally avoided them.  In choosing boys I wasn’t that crazy about (who, unfortunately had the bad taste of being interested in me), I made bad relationship decisions and I hurt myself and other people in the process.

3.       You have REALLY good friends.

I knew this at the time.  But I remember being scared in high school that we wouldn’t stay friends after we left for college.  And for some of those friendships, that was true.  And they’re definitely not the same relationships they used to be.  But that doesn’t make them any less amazing.  I had exactly the friends that I needed at that time in my life.  And there’s no bad blood with any of them now, relationships just change over time.  I think back on my friends in high school so fondly.  We had so much fun spending HOURS upon HOURS scouring the Blockbuster to find a movie that all of us would enjoy and then watching said movie at someone’s house, going to playgrounds after dark, bowling and going to the diner every weekend…  As I got older, I realized that having a really great social life in high school was not something that everyone had, so I’m really grateful for that time.  And I still LOVE those friends with my whole heart, even if I don't see or talk to them as often as I'd like to.

4.       Grades DO matter.

Sorry, but once I got to college, I was told on several occasions that those grades don’t really matter, as long as you get your degree.  False.  Especially if you major in something like Psychology and need to further your education.  I applied to 4 graduate programs and 1 nursing program, and because I cared about my grades, I got into 4 programs, and waitlisted for a PhD program (I mean, I wasn’t a genius or anything…).  But, I could’ve worked harder had I realized that at 27 I would have to put my college GPA on a nursing school application.

5.       Be very thankful that Facebook is not a part of your life today.

I LOVE Facebook.  I don’t pretend like it’s a hindrance on my life because it’s not.  It’s a great way to keep in touch with my family and friends that are far away from me, and if there’s someone or some group posting things that I would rather not see, I can hide it.  Maybe I’m a little too dependent on it, but I just love it.  There are good things about Facebook.  However, on MANY occasions, I have considered how HORRIBLE it would be to have had Facebook when I was a teenager.  Passive aggressive status updates, stalking people you hear about but don’t truly know (or people you do know and really shouldn’t be stalking like exes and their new girlfriends), the ability of people to unfriend you…  It overwhelms me to think about all of those things in the hands of hormonal and moody teenagers.  The internet did have the ability to wreak havoc on our lives when I was in high school (Xanga, Livejournal, away messages intended to hurt other people…), but it could have been so much worse.  I’m thankful for that every single day.

6.       Don’t say something about someone behind their back that you wouldn’t say to their face.

Let’s be honest, this is something I could learn today.  I like gossip.  It’s awful and hurtful and I wish I didn’t, and I have definitely gotten better since high school, but inevitably, it gets back to the other person.  It’s so easy to get sucked into someone else’s fight and talk bad about Person B when you’re with Person A and vice versa.  Thankfully, I didn’t lose any friends over my gossipy, behind-the-back talk, but I could have very easily (and frankly, I probably should have).  There is a way to be supportive of your friends without taking part in any hurtful remarks about another person, and I have learned those ways as an adult.  I just need to work harder on putting them into practice sometimes.

7.       Sometimes it’s really hard to see it.  But life is good.

I felt like I’d been dealt a bad hand when I was growing up.  Stuff with my family wasn’t easy and I had a hard time with it.  I felt things really intensely and painfully, and I didn’t really tell people about it.  I watched my friends have these great families and siblings they could be friends with and I felt left out and sad.  But, the longer I’ve been away from my family, I’ve gotten some perspective.  I had a pretty great childhood.  Things were not perfect, but they could have been much worse.  I had all of my basic needs met (and MUCH more than that), I had a family that loved me, and I have some great childhood memories.  Holding on to the attitude that life wasn’t fair to me just gave me a negative attitude, and it was completely unnecessary.

Now, if only teenagers would listen to those who have been through the experience so they could avoid painful and embarrassing experiences.  But, isn’t that the point of adolescence?

A post about high school requires a high school picture.  Thankfully for me, the only photo I have of myself from before college is from my prom with a cameo from my awesome prom date.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Phantom Kidney

I don’t like to write or talk about this topic.  For 2 very conflicting reasons.  One: I don’t want people to think that I think donating a kidney was a big deal.  I don’t.  For me, it’s pretty much on par with donating blood.  I was physically able, someone needed it, so I did it.  End of story.  Two:  I worry that saying it’s not a big deal is diminishing what it means for my recipient.  She may not think of it the same way I do, and in reality, this is her story.  I’m just a player in it.  That said, my vulnerable post from last week opened me up to writing about the things that might make me uncomfortable.  So, after writing pieces of this post in my head for 3 days, I decided to finally get it down in print.

This post has nothing to do with my decision to donate, the surgery itself, or the recovery.  So, if you’re looking for details on that, you can talk to me about it.  But honestly, in past experiences, I haven’t been a fountain of information on that topic.  Again, it’s weird to talk about.
No, this post has more to do with my life after the surgery and how and why certain things affect me.  So, here goes:

One of the biggest questions I get about my surgery (usually from people I haven’t seen in a really long time) is, “So, what’s different since your surgery?”  Do I need to have a different diet, do I feel different, are there things I can’t do, can I drink alcohol?  To which I respond: Nothing is different.  I eat just as badly as I did before, I drink alcohol exactly as I did before (which isn’t too often), and the only things I can’t do now are contact sports and skydiving (I’m pretty ok with that).  I tell people that the recovery was painful, and for a while, I could feel the muscles underneath my incision healing and it hurt A LOT, but now, almost three years later, my life is exactly the same as it was before.

Except, realistically, I guess it’s not.

Right after the surgery, my recipient got really sick.  I don’t really remember the details and I probably didn’t know many of them before, but we had connected with her and her friends in the hospital, so I did have contact with them and was aware of the complications she was having.  She had a fever, she was in a lot of pain, I believe there was talk of an infection, but I honestly don’t remember.  But, what I do remember is the VERY complicated and confusing emotions I was feeling.  As a doctor, I imagine you feel responsible for your patients.  However, if the surgery goes smoothly and you did everything correctly, medically speaking, you can tell yourself that things happen and no one can control them (although I’m sure that’s still challenging).  But, when a part of you is inside someone else and it looks like it might be failing, how are you supposed to feel?  There’s no handbook for people who don’t donate to a friend or family member.  I remember after the surgery, I imagined a community of people online who had donated to a stranger and how we could connect and talk about our emotions with the surgery and our emotions about our recipients.  I assure you, after hours of searching, there is no such thing.  Even before my surgery, the hospital connected me with a woman who had donated her kidney so we could talk about what I could expect and how the recovery would go.  But, she had donated to her husband.  So, while all of the physical stuff was helpful, the emotional stuff didn’t really apply.  Am I allowed to feel guilty if my recipient gets sick?  With a family member, you can take them to doctors’ appointments, take care of them when they’re feeling bad.  But, with a stranger, you just kind of watch it from the sidelines. 

I’ve been VERY lucky in that my recipient has been very healthy for the last few years.  So, for the most part, I can go on with my life as if nothing happened.  But, before the surgery, I was told that she will most likely need another kidney transplant in her lifetime.  Meaning, mine will start to fail at some point.  In the couple of times that she’s been sick since the surgery, I’ve had very complicated feelings.  My first feeling is how I feel if a friend is sick.  I want her to be healthy because I like her and she deserves to feel good.  But, then I quickly feel guilty.  If she had someone else’s kidney, would this be happening?  Is there something I forgot to tell the doctors about my health that makes my kidney bad?  (The screening is really, freaking thorough, so this is incredibly unlikely, but still a thought I have).  Now when I think about how I want her to be healthy and pray for her good health, I second guess my motives.  Do I want her to be healthy because I care for her and good health is good for everyone you care for or do I want her to be healthy to ease my guilt?  And, if I’m thinking positive thoughts for her and pray for her, do my motives really matter?  Can I control my thoughts and feelings anyway? 

Living donations don’t work for just any organ, so the number of living donors is already a small group.  The number of living donors for someone other than a family member or friend is even smaller.  But, I imagine that those who do have similar qualities and personalities.  Meaning, that my reactions to the health of my recipient may be very common for someone in my position.  I just wish I could find some of those people so I could see if I’m a weirdo among our little weirdo group, or if it’s our weirdo tendencies that cause us to have the surgery in the first place. 

I’m not totally sure what the point of this post was.  Getting my thoughts and feelings out doesn’t make me feel less confused about them.  I guess I would like it if someone was searching for a kindred spirit online that they would find this post instead of the quick little blurbs that are currently the only online presence for anonymous living donors that say things like “I feel great!  I would do it again if I could!” or “I can’t give much, but I can give this!”  Because, those just aren’t helpful.  So, if anyone reading this knows of anyone who was in a similar situation as me, I would love to connect with them!  Until then, I’ll just feel confused and emotional every so often, but very thankful for the good health of the current owner of my kidney.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Sacred Scared

I am so thankful to bloggers like Glennon MeltonDoyle.  Mostly because I feel like she says all of the things that I’m afraid to say out loud.  I’m afraid to admit that I’m self-centered enough to believe that people do things, not for their own personal benefit, but to harm me.  I, too, feel like people are pointing their avocado at me.

She started this Sacred Scared series at about the same time that I realized I needed to write more.  So, I thought this was a perfect place to start.  Although, now I’m sitting here trying to think of my most vulnerable, messy fears and insecurities, and, still, trying to think of the pretty spin I can put on it, so I don’t look like a lunatic.  I think I clearly missed the point.  So, here goes:

I spend a lot of my day thinking about how I’m viewed by other people.  Yes, I know we all do that.  But I’m pretty sure mine takes the cake.  Here’s a quick example:  I don’t go inside fast food restaurants.  Don’t get me wrong, I eat fast food all the time.  More than a normal person probably should.  But, always drive-thru.  Even if I’m on a road trip and use their restroom.  I will still leave the restaurant after using the restroom and then go through the drive-thru.  Why?  Because I’m convinced that everyone in that restaurant will listen to my order and then stare at every imperfection on my body and think “Well, no wonder she looks like that, look at what she’s eating!”.  This makes my husband crazy.  He doesn’t like to eat in the car, especially if we have the time to go inside.  But, God bless him, he does it.  He’ll even sit in the parked car in the restaurant’s parking lot and eat with me, just so I can avoid going into the restaurant.  Let’s ignore that fact that everyone else in the restaurant is eating just as poorly as me.  There are no super healthy, skinny women hanging out in McDonald’s just so they can judge the orders of the people who go in there.  And, I know that logically.  But thinking about saying my order out loud and carrying it to my table for the whole world to see makes my heart pound out of control and my breathing shallow.

In a lot of ways, I have grown out of my high school insecurities.  I can leave the house without makeup on now (let’s not get crazy though, only for quick trips and when I’m guaranteed not to see anyone I know). I can look at myself in a mirror in a public place without worrying that everyone in there is thinking “Why is she bothering to look?  She already knows she’s ugly.” I have a husband who loves me and tells me I’m beautiful every day.  I’m a confident, hard-working, intelligent woman.  But I am also a woman who considers every single word she is about to say before she says it, just to be sure it comes out the way I want it to.  I never understood people who just said things without thinking.  I hear people share their embarrassing stories of speaking without a filter and it baffles me.  Didn’t you practice all of your words in your head first?  Didn’t you think about your inflection and which words to emphasize before even opening your mouth?  Didn’t you weigh the risks of saying this word instead of that word? 

In high school, I tried to tell myself that everyone else in high school was so worried about how they were perceived that no one was even thinking about me.  As an adult, I tell myself that people have far more important things to think about than my wearing the wrong outfit or my hair not being perfectly in place.

I hate how self-centered this part of me is.  I hate that I can’t get through a day without worrying about how I’m perceived.  I hate that I can’t do the things that make me feel good for fear of being judged.  I hate how hard I have to work at being perceived as better than I actually am.  I hate thinking about how one day I may have a daughter, and how the hell am I going to teach her to be the opposite of me, because I wouldn’t wish these insecurities on anyone. 

As a feminist, I am fully aware that this part of me sucks.  On principle, I believe that my looks do not affect my value as a person.  I believe that it is my strength, my love for others, my actions that define me, and not my appearance or my weakness for McDonald’s cheeseburgers.  I just wish that part of me was a little louder.

I like to end my blog posts on a positive note, but that’s not really the point of this exercise.  In my opinion, the point of this exercise is to share with everyone where my insecurities lie, to open up my vulnerable side so that hopefully others will be able to admit to their insecurities.  Because, even though I fear judgment in my every action, I still show up, every single day.  Even though I’m horrified at what I imagine my classmates must think of me when I don’t feel perfect, I still go to school, I still study, I still work my butt off to get the good grades that I deserve for all of my hard work and intelligence.  I’m hoping I can keep writing posts and putting myself out there because I think the more I do that, the more my insecurities melt away.  I hope to post more things about myself and my life, even though my stomach is in my throat at the thought of publishing this post today.

I would also like to end this with some words Glennon provided when she started this series on her blog:
        “**NOTE** We hear a lot lately about the importance of being vulnerable in front of others, but we haven’t been taught how to respond to someone else’s vulnerability, so I’ll be offering suggestions about how to receive vulnerability during this series. Here’s the first one: When someone lets you into her Sacred Scared – she is showing you her messy insides NOT because she wants you to fix it, but because she trusts you enough to let you know the real, true her.
Imagine that you have a new friend that you just love, and she’s coming to your house, and you finally liberate yourself enough to skip the panic-clean before she arrives. You decide that you trust her enough to walk in and see your messy house and you just KNOW that she will GET IT. She will LOVE that you just Let It Be for her. But she walks in and instead of flopping down on the laundry covered couch, she starts cleaning up the mess. Your mess is making her too uncomfortable. She starts to FIX IT instead of appreciating your mess as a trust offering. How do you feel about that?
Let’s not try to fix each other’s Sacred Scared, if we can avoid it. The people in this series are letting you in to see their Real, Beautiful Mess. Let’s not try to fix them, because they don’t need to be fixed. Neither do you. Let’s just try to find some comfort and love and maybe even Me Too in the offerings.