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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Thoughts on Halloween

I don’t like Halloween.

Yes, it does have to do with the unholy origins of the day.

But that’s not everything.

Halloween is a day that you pretend to be something that you aren’t.

Some people do the “being something you aren’t” thing in gory or gruesome ways. I saw someone dressed as a pregnant zombie, complete with her unborn baby’s (a nasty looking doll) head and appendages sticking through her shirt.

Some people try to live a fantasy — like a woman I saw who dressed as a man.

Others relive the past — such as the middle-aged woman who dressed as a pregnant woman and came back later with her brand new baby (a cabbage patch doll).

Little kids go as princesses or animals or Elmo — to escape being themselves for a day.

I don’t have much patience for these things.

It’s not because I don’t think people should have fun. If that’s what they want to do, who am I to tell them they can’t?

But please- I’ll respect your right to do these things if you respect my right NOT to.

And why do I “not want to”?

For a person who has experienced the things that I have — the guilt of womanhood, the burden of legalism, and always having to conform to everyone else’s idea of what you should be — every single day of your life could be Halloween. Every single day of your life could be Halloween because you’re forced to be something you aren’t every minute of every day, and you struggle and silently scream to be released from the masquerade your life has become.

Personally, I’ve spent too much time being someone I am not, someone I don’t want to be, and someone I actually hate having to be.

I just want to be me. I was made the way I am for a purpose, and as long as I’m trying to be someone I was never intended to be, I will never fulfill my purpose. I will never be content. I will never be joyful or happy. Of course, discipline, self-control and good moral values are important, but those things can be taught and accomplished without tearing someone’s sense of self away from them.

So, after watching everyone around me going to great lengths to be someone they’re not, tonight, I am asking myself how I can go about being who I really am. I suppose the first step would be to figure out just exactly who I am. And I suppose the second step would be to stop caring about what everybody else thinks — because I’m horribly afraid of having people observe and criticize me, and THAT is the thing that holds me hostage in my personal masquerade of a life.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in Current Events

 

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Leaving: Part 1

Meanwhile, at church….

Because the church had consisted mainly of single people for quite some time, my brothers and I were part of the first batch of babies to be born into the church. There weren’t any offspring of attendees/members that were older than us, so it was kind of ambiguous what would happen once we reached the magical age where their theology would be forced upon us.

My understanding is that for boys, nothing changed unless they wanted to take communion. If a boy wanted to take communion, they had to be baptized first. However, there were rules about who could be baptized — the church didn’t believe in infant baptism and for a number of years wouldn’t baptize children either.

This all changed when I was about 11 years old.

There was a girl in the church who was about 2 years older than me. I don’t know all the details of the story, but all of a sudden, it was announced that she had to begin wearing a head covering. There was some argument over communion and head coverings and it was decided that she would be baptized, would begin wearing a head covering and could begin taking communion after the first two things had been completed.

I watched all this go down with much dread.

I knew that soon enough, it would be me.

I didn’t want to be placed in front of the entire church to be evaluated, judged and humiliated. (I say “humiliated” because I have always hated being the center of attention, and I find it to be a very humiliating situation.) I did not want to be baptized. (I had no real reason for not wanting to. I just didn’t want to.) I didn’t want to wear a head covering. (Who really does?) I didn’t want to take communion. I just wanted to be left alone.

I literally prayed that none of this stuff would be forced on me and that we would leave the church before I began to be preyed upon in regards to these things.

I didn’t understand why girls were singled out like that, but boys could do whatever they pleased. I don’t remember there being any fuss made over boys taking communion or being baptized. I saw it as a way to control and humiliate women and I wanted nothing to do with it.

My prayers were answered one day when one of the people in charge decided to publicly condemn an attendee for saying “I’m good” in response to the question “How are you?” The person who publicized this person’s grammatical error stated that this person should never say that they are “good” because only God is good, and it is blasphemy to say that anybody or anything else is “good.”

Shortly thereafter, we left the church.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in My Story

 

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Nuptial Mystery

Last week, my aunt called me to tell me that they were driving through My Fair City on their way to Grandma’s, and did I want to ride along?

Of course I wanted to ride along!

I didn’t tell Grandma I was coming because I wanted to surprise her. 🙂

My friends and I arranged to have a small pizza party on Friday after work while I waited for my ride. But, it took…. forever! …. for them to get to my house and just as they put the pizza in the oven, my phone rang and it was my aunt asking me to arrange for someone to drop me off at a restaurant where they would pick me up.

So we grabbed my stuff and jumped in my friend’s car and ran over there. And my friends went back to my house and had their pizza party without me. That is SO not fair!

After a long, long time in the car, we arrived at Grandma’s, and boy, was she surprised to see me!! 🙂

My grandma lives in an itty-bitty town where everybody knows everybody AND their business, so when Grandma woke up Saturday morning, she was shocked to see the car across the street sporting the words “Just Married” on the back window.

Grandma told us that the gentleman in question had told her that he had been with this woman for something like 6 years and he had mentioned that he should “pop the question” some time previously, but that was the last Grandma had heard of it.

My uncle suggested that maybe they were supporting Minnesota’s Marriage Amendment.

My cousin stated that perhaps the previous day had been their seventh anniversary, which would turn their relationship into a common law marriage.

Later in the day, someone noticed that the neighbor’s shades were closed up tight, and Grandma said, “They must still be on their honeymoon.”

By the end of the day, “Just Married” had disappeared.

We found out the next day that they had indeed gotten married.

And that was the extent of my weekend.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2012 in Current Events

 

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Dark Dungeons

At some point, I began to withdraw from people around me and from life in general.

I don’t remember a lot from this time, but I do know that I worried a lot about the economy (I was 8….) and what would happen if our greed and selfishness as a society completely overtook us. I didn’t have the words to express that specific fear, but I actually lost sleep over how many people were selling stocks and how many businesses were losing money and going out of business.

Around that time, my parents tried to get me to exercise. I went for a walk with them once, under protest.

I didn’t have the energy for walking.

I didn’t want to be outside.

I didn’t want to be where people could see me.

I didn’t want to be exposed to the Big Bad World where someone could easily snatch me away.

My parents did try to encourage me, but I was stubborn. I went for one walk and then I started to spend most of my time behind my closed bedroom door.

I spent all of my free time alone in my room, reading.

I read classics like Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon and Little Women. I read all the books written by Janette Oke and Grace Livingston Hill and, of course, I read books suitable for daughters of the Patriarchal movement, such as the Elsie Dinsmore series.

I was in a funk. As time elapsed, I became more and more reclusive, eventually reaching the point where I didn’t have much desire to leave the house at all, and if I did leave, I was very anxious to get back home. The only time this wasn’t true was when I was going to be seeing my grandma, who had always been loving and nurturing toward me.

Occasionally, I had what I now understand were panic attacks. They would come on suddenly and without any real trigger. I’d start to worry about something or anything or nothing at all. Literally, I could be anxious about nothing at all. The only words I had to describe what was going on was that I was scared. I would have this feeling of dread for no reason and then I would start to feel sick to my stomach. These episodes usually happened in the evening and then when it was time for bed, I wouldn’t be able to sleep because I was “scared.”

This problem led to other problems, such as not being able to watch any TV whatsoever because if I watched TV, I would get scared, have a panic attack, sleep fitfully, have nightmares and then be up the rest of the night.

One could assume that if watching TV had this effect on me, reading books would have a similar effect. Not so. Reading had a calming effect. TV was too much action and noise. When you read a book, you have to process it for yourself. You see what you want to see, not what the filmmaker wants you to see. When I read a book, I was able to make the picture in my mind as not-scary as I needed it to be. And since the books I read were about things that I found appealing and happy (for the most part), this was a really good coping mechanism for me.

On the other hand, since I liked the fanciful world of literature way more than I liked reality, reading caused me to withdraw more. Oh, yes, I learned lots of interesting and helpful things. For example, in every single lovers’ quarrel in these stories, the problem was lack of communication or miscommunication, and I learned the importance of clear, concise communication. Unfortunately, I had no real instances where communication was needed, so while I knew this to be true, I had no way to practice, experiment or otherwise work on my communication skills.

I was so low for so long that several times, I contemplated ending my life. I was no longer afraid of death and the awfulness of my existence made me ready to be done with it all. The only problem was that I hated swallowing pills, guns and knives were messy and gross and I couldn’t think of any other options. And, I was far more afraid of surviving a suicide attempt than I was of continuing on my awful journey called life.

* * * * *

I’m going to end this post here, but I did want to take a moment to say that I have never attempted suicide and I never will. I’m too much of a chicken (thank the Lord for that!). 😛 The Lord has given me tremendous courage in some areas and tremendous uncertainties in others — and He picked the perfect areas to give strength and the perfect areas to allow uncertainties. He did it that way both for my good and for His glory. In some ways, even though fear has caused a lot of pain and problems in my life, it has kept me from doing many self-destructive things, and for that, I am very, very grateful.

IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING WITH SUICIDAL THOUGHTS/BEHAVIORS, PLEASE GET HELP!

The people at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline are there to help and support you. Please call 1-800-273-8255 if you are struggling.

STAY STRONG!

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in My Story

 

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Prayer

Shortly after my youngest brother was born, I was observing my mom who was listening to another mom talk about her kids’ desires for siblings when suddenly, the other mom turned to me and said, “You should pray for a baby sister.”

It had never occurred to me that I could or should pray for things before. God doesn’t want to hear what girls have to say. God doesn’t care about what girls think. Why would I pray?

It wasn’t that I had something against praying. I had never thought of it before.

I went home that night, slightly excited at all the new possibilities.

I laid in bed and prayed a silent prayer something like what my favorite 3-year old prays. “Jesus, I want a baby in Mommy’s tummy. Bye.” (No, really. I’m quoting the little munchkin word-for-word.)

Ok, so it wasn’t quite that irreverent.

The possibilities that were opened by even the idea of prayer gave me great hope. I took the Bible verse about praying without ceasing quite literally. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I asked God for a baby sister. I asked God to please heal me from a dermatitis that I developed rather randomly a while previously that just didn’t go away. Those two things were the things I prayed about most. I prayed for years. About 8 years after the dermatitis showed up, it mysteriously disappeared and has never come back.

When I was older, I stopped praying for a sister. My life had gotten so chaotic and difficult that I didn’t want anyone else to have to live through what I was experiencing, so I stopped praying. Stopped hoping. Stopped dreaming.

Oh, I still prayed for other people — but I felt so hopeless about everything in my life that I just gave up on ever having anything I wanted. But that is another story for another time.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in My Story

 

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Finding Comfort

For most of my life, during times that I’ve been, well, emotional… I’ve always reached out to food for comfort.

You kind of do that when you don’t have people to go to.

I mean, I have people — sort of. I have my childhood friend, to whom I could tell just about anything.

But she’s far enough away that it’s not practical to run over for the sole purpose of having a shoulder to cry on.

That’s the way it’s always been — if I did have someone within a reasonable distance, there was always something making it impossible for me to find that shoulder to cry on when I needed it the most. Anything from her having to take care of her kid(s) to being out of town to having to take care of the hubby…. Or, my most heartbreaking experience was when the shoulder I wanted to cry on was attached to a body that was dying of cancer.

I’m not trying to be all negative or anything. I’m just stating a fact.

Sadly, it happens.

And sadly, my way of coping has never been the best.

There have been two times in my life when I didn’t turn to food for comfort.

The first was my first semester of college, during which I was so sad, lonely, depressed, scared, and desperately wanting somebody — anybody — to love me, that I turned almost anorexic. During that semester, I ate a grand total of 10 meals a week. They talk about the Freshman 15 — my experience was that instead of gaining 15 pounds my first semester, I lost around 30 pounds.

The second time I didn’t turn to food for comfort was during semester break my sophomore year. My brother told me that my mom had told him that he could have my room because I wasn’t going to come back.

I was so angry at hearing this news that I went on a hunger strike that lasted for almost two days. I told myself, “If no one else cares about me, why should I? If no one else wants to take care of me, why should I?” I spent those two days crying and wanting to do anything and everything to destroy myself because life just hurt too much.

Food does have a wonderful ability to comfort, soothe and distract.

But, when it’s used solely for the purpose of comfort, it can kill.

Not only does it increase one’s risk of weight-related disease, but turning to food can cause what I like to call “relational deficiencies.”

You know, like when you’re so caught up in something that you neglect everything else in your pursuit of that one thing.

I’ve been there.

I’ve done it — oh, not intentionally, of course. I’m so relationally minded that I could never purposefully fill a void that people are supposed to fill with something else.

But somewhere along the line, I’ve been hurt by people to the extent that even though I know that turning to food has the potential to kill me eventually, it feels so much safer than actually opening up to someone.

I’ve been stuffing myself with physical food in an attempt to emotionally nourish myself.

Unfortunately, the properties of physical nutrition are not the same as the properties of emotional nutrition.

While our bodies need things like Vitamin C and calcium, our souls crave intimacy, affection and self disclosure. We want and need to be deeply known, to be accepted just as we are, and to have a place of belonging and a purpose.

This week, a friend of mine challenged me to begin using a fitness app that she likes. With this app, you put in your current statistics and your goals and it gives you a daily calorie intake goal. You enter the foods you eat, your exercise, etc., and it calculates how many calories you have consumed and how many you have left.

At first, I said “no thank you” to this idea.

I’m not into these things.

She said to do it anyway.

So I did.

I instantly fell in love with it because it helps me stay focused. It helps me choose to eat fruits instead of chocolate and chef salads instead of cheeseburgers. It’s been 6 days and I feel so much better. And- I can almost fit into the pair of pants that I discovered were too small 2 weeks ago.

I was doing really, really well with this fitness thing.

And then something happened.

My first reaction was this almost uncontrollable urge to find something to eat.

And then I realized, for the first time ever, that this food thing is a problem.

Cookies can’t empathize.

Cheetos can’t listen.

Ice cream can’t give advice.

Chocolate can’t hold you and cry with you and offer support and encouragement.

Only people can do that.

(Note to the super-religious who would argue that only God can do those things: I respectfully beg to differ. God initially intended it to be that we would first get those things from Him, and secondarily get them from people. He walked and talked with Adam in the Garden. He was physically present with Adam. However, somewhere in the chaos of the pit viper and the cumquat, humanity chose to disregard God and His presence, which left us down here and Him up there and a huge void in between. It’s not that God doesn’t WANT to do those things. It’s that He is now severely limited because of the choice that humanity made. I am not saying that it’s impossible to find comfort in Him. I’m saying that because of that choice, God doesn’t physically comfort us without using PEOPLE to do it.)

So, I’m challenging myself to seek friendships instead of potato chips. Emotionally or spiritually focused conversations have more potential to bring comfort than ice cream or chocolate or snack cakes ever could.

I’m just not so sure how to do this.

What if people are busy?

What if people are shocked that I’m not as perfect as I was raised to be?

What if people resent me because I’m honest about my struggles?

What if???

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2012 in Current Events

 

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The Mystery Tour

I just wanted to take a few minutes to let you all know why I haven’t posted in the past few days.

I was on what I call a “Mystery Tour.”

It wasn’t a mystery tour of the variety where you get on a tour bus and find out where you’re going when you get there.

There was no tour bus involved.

My friends told me where we were going 2 months ago, but I was in so much pain at the time (long story) that the info went in one ear and out the other. At the time, I asked if we could figure out the details later and my friend told me that she would send me an e-mail so I could read about it when I felt better.

She apparently forgot to write that e-mail.

Because it got to be last Thursday and still, the only detail I knew about the trip was that we were going to Minnesota to visit a friend of ours, and we were going to check out a museum and a zoo, but I didn’t know which museum and which zoo, and I didn’t have any idea where the each leg of the journey would take us — would we go to another town? And if we did, which town would it be?

On Thursday, when my friend heard that I didn’t exactly know what we were going to do on this trip, she tried to tell me more and I said, “But…. I’ve gone for 2 months without knowing what we’re going to do. Don’t tell me!”

My friend’s little girl told me that I had to “…. bring your makeup — because if you forget it, we will have to turn around and come all the way back to get it!”

I asked if I needed to bring my camera. Affirmative.

I asked if I needed to bring any dressy clothing or if I could just bring casual duds. Casual duds would do.

I asked if I needed walking shoes. (At that point, I wasn’t completely certain that the museum thing was on the books. I had heard a little bit about the possibility but I hadn’t been told it was a for sure thing.) I was told that I needed walking shoes.

Do I need my bathing suit? Most definitely.

My friend also asked if we could take my car because it was going to take about 3 tanks of gas if we took hers.

Three tanks of gas?? Ok, so we MUST be going somewhere quite a ways from where our friend lives.

We were going to stay in a hotel (which had a swimming pool), but I didn’t know if it was going to be in the town we were going to on the second leg (the museum) or if it was going to be in the town where our friend lives.

Oh, the uncertainties….

But, I’m pretty used to being clueless about what’s going on, so to me, this was the ultimate adventure.

* * * * *

We had to leave early in the morning, so I decided to put gas in the car right before I went home to bed Friday night. And, of course, the gas pump decided to not turn off when the tank was full and I got sprayed with gas.

So much for bringing walking shoes along…. I got home that night and stopped at the garbage can to deposit my stinky shoes and socks and then ran barefoot on that cold pavement to get inside.

* * * * *

Saturday morning, I woke to the sound of my phone ringing at 5:45 am.

“Hullo?” I said, groggily.

It was time to commence with the Mystery Tour.

* * * * *

Forty-five minutes later, all three of us (and our junk) were packed (tightly) into my little car and on our way to Minnesota. We stopped along the way to grab a pair of shoes that would be foot-friendly while walking. And, finally, with the assistance of Charlotte, our sadly outdated navigational buddy (good ol’ GPS!!!) — and with several little glitches because Charlotte is OLD (in the words of my friend, “Charlotte’s like…. FIFTY!”) we made it to our destination.

Hallelujah!

We discovered that in the time that has elapsed since Charlotte was manufactured, the hotel where we had reservations moved across town and the original hotel site is now the home of the Salvation Army. Yowsers. Crazy! We were SO lost for a while!!!

* * * * *

My car is little. It barely held two adults, a precocious 3-year old and our stuff, so the munchkin stayed behind with our friend while my friend and I took all the stuff — including our friend’s stuff — to the hotel.

At last — I knew which city I would be sleeping in!!

Then, we went back to pick up the munchkin and our friend and we immediately set out on the next leg of the journey — driving about an hour to another city to visit Exhibit A on the Mystery Tour.

As we drove, we munched on a picnic lunch our friend had so graciously prepared for us. The munchkin, being the clean-freak that she is, gave up on her apples and caramel dip the second she got stickies on her little fingers. And my friend gave up on her apples the second she chowed down on a piece of hair that her apple had attracted when it made contact with the space between the seats that the oil-changing guys had neglected to vacuum the day before. Oops. I feel terrible. (No, really, I do!)

By the time everyone gave up on their apples, we had made it safely to our destination:

The Science Museum of Minnesota.

Being the nerd that I am, I had way more fun than I’ve had since my class dissected a cat in Anatomy and Physiology lab.

The Science Museum has several levels each of which contain dozens of exhibits. The first things we saw were the exhibits on light. There was one where you could stand in front of a wall and there would be three shadows behind you — one in pink, one in blue and one in yellow. It was super fun for taking pictures!!! The munchkin had a lot of fun with another shadow exhibit where her shadow was magnified so she looked like a giant! We also saw a clear gazing ball and took some really cool photos of each other through the gazing ball.

* * * * *

My favorite part of the museum was the level that had the anatomy/human body exhibits.

I did a simulated exam, testing, diagnosis, and treatment for a sickly person who suffered from the affects of obesity — including diabetes, kidney disease and liver disease. She eventually died from a heart attack from all the strain put on her heart as she was treating with dialysis. I even got to do a simulated autopsy and determine the cause of death.

Then, I went in the Cell Lab, where I did some blood testing. I put on a lab coat and gloves, (and the munchkin did the same, only she had to wear goggles too cuz she didn’t have glasses — and she was the cutest little scientist I’ve ever seen!) and began with a test to determine the blood type of a blood sample. We sat down at the station and I said, “The only way this could be cooler is if we could use our own blood!!” But alas – we had to pick from Sample 1, Sample 2 or Sample 3. We chose Sample 3 because the little munchkin is 3. And we determined that since the anti-rh serum caused the sample to coagulate, the blood type was going to have a + after the letter. And since neither A nor B coagulated when we put the anti-A and anti-B serum in them, it was neither A nor B, so the blood type is O+. Woohoo! I’m such a nerd! (I understand that this means that someone with O+ blood can receive A+ or B+ blood without negative affects.)

From there, I moved on to the hematocrit test — to determine if the blood sample is anemic. A hematocrit test determines the percentage of red blood cells in the blood (the part that carries oxygen), and if the percentage is too low, it means that the person the blood came from is anemic. You fill a tiny tube with blood (I used sheep’s blood for this), seal off the end and then put it in a machine that spins it around really fast so that the blood separates. The RBCs (red blood cells) are on the bottom, followed by a small lighter layer called the “buffy coat” and then the liquid portion (plasma) is on top. The machine measures the percentage of RBCs and when you input the information into the computer, if shows the acceptable range for an RBC count and you then decide if the sample is anemic or not. I did two different samples and one was anemic and the other wasn’t.

ANYWAY, after all that, we made our way back to the hotel, had a bite to eat, took a dip in the pool (and hot tub!) and then fell into bed, exhausted from a long, fun day.

* * * * *

My friend and our mutual friend had played around with the idea of driving the hour each way to go to the zoo today, but we all agreed to skip it because it would be a lot of time in the car. Instead, we took another dip in the pool (and hot tub!), packed up and dropped everything off at our friend’s house and then we all went out for lunch at Space Aliens restaurant. That was a really…. different…. experience. But the food was fantastic!

And then we were on our way back to South Dakota. 😥

Of course, we had to stop at Barnes and Noble on the way out of town. I really miss living in a city that’s big enough to have a Barnes and Noble. I had to make my stop very short because my friend was in the car with the munchkin who had fallen asleep during the 3-minute drive after picking up our stuff from our friend’s house. Regardless of the short stay, I was able to find several things that I would have loved to purchase.

And then, the Mystery Tour was over.

Driving home is always the least fun part of any vacation. The vacation pretty much ends the second everybody fastens their seat belts and you start heading for the highway.

* * * * *

We had so much fun over the weekend, and I hope I can do something like this again SOON!!! I totally want to visit the Science Museum again. And I’d love to do another Mystery Tour. Not knowing exactly what was going to be happening next made it even more fun.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2012 in Current Events

 

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