More than a feeling. 33 to go…

I’ve been really homesick recently so I’ve been spending some time reminiscing. Some of my favorite memories of high school are of me and my parents laughing in the kitchen and singing along to the oldies jams that would come on my “Newsies” Pandora station. Journey, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Rick Springfield and more. One song in particular stands out to me, my mom always loved the song “More Than A Feeling” by Boston. I just remember her dancing around and singing loudly and it always makes me smile.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about feelings this week. I’ve been realizing that feelings, like most things, pass. I had a really hard week, and today I feel great. It’s odd how much things change in such short periods of time. And for people like me it’s really hard not to just ride on the highs and lows that come with each day. You see, I feel things. Hard. I don’t half heartedly feel things, I feel everything with every part of me. When I’m in love, the whole world is the most beautiful place. When I’m depressed, the sun is never coming back. I understand that this isn’t the healthiest way to live and that a lot of life is lived in the in-betweens, this is just how it is for me.

But this dopamine high I’m riding on at the moment will fade. It will be overshadowed by the darkness of winter and the stress of finals. And as we get further into November I find that I’m clinging to the bits of sunshine and the happy moments I can find in between the rainy days. I hate being at the mercy of my emotions. Feeling like I physically cannot get out of bed because there’s no happiness left to keep going on. Crying alone late into the nights and not being able to explain why I’m so damn tired. I know that all of these feelings pass in their time, but until they do I am manipulated by their every whim.

I find myself looking for something that will not pass, and I’ve begun to find it in little things. The love of the people closest to me, the way green tea makes me feel, my love of butt-jokes, or the warmth of sweaters. I’m also starting to understand that there are some things that do not pass. Hope, Joy, Peace. These promise not to fade as time goes on, they’re less a feeling and more of a mindset.

I’m starting to see a change in my life. I can see things differently. I’d like to write a little bit more about this later, but I’m feeling a change even in my brain chemistry. So I’m trying to get in the mindset of Joy and Peace. I don’t really know how to do that, but I think it comes with just looking at the world with a more positive outlook. So we’ll see.

Love you!

Abby

Advertisements

Pain. 59 to go…

I deal with a lot of pain in my life. I had been struggling with back pain for a long time before I found out about my slipped disk and that has been really hard for me to deal with. You see, back pain has always seemed like an “old person’s” pain to me. Not the kind of pain a teenager should have to struggle through. I had no explanation, I had no solution. I could only put up with it. Finding out that there was a legitimate cause for this pain was such a relief. I suddenly had a source, something to blame. I could start taking steps to healing. Physical therapy was so helpful and I could start to feel myself getting better. But there was still no clear solution for the pain. See, they can’t do anything to fix it. I’m just going to have to live with this pain for what might be the rest of my life. That’s one of the scariest things you can tell an eighteen year old. That there is a chance this pain will never end. That you’re never going to feel perfectly healthy again.

I have really poor eyesight so I am eternally jealous of everyone who can wake up every morning with perfect vision. I know that I will never experience that until I get so tired of my eyes that I get laser surgery. I will never know what it’s like to wake up and see the whole world clearly. This is what it’s like to live with constant pain. Never knowing what it’s like to sit for more than twenty minutes comfortably. Never being able to bend over and pick something without cringing. Never being about to run without clutching my right hip and hobbling along behind everyone.

I got sun poisoning on Sunday. That sucked so freaking much. I mean, I’m pretty white and I’ve gotten some pretty terrible sunburns in my life, but this was worse than anything I’ve ever experienced. I found myself lying on the bathroom floor in our hotel room on Monday morning just begging God to kill me because I was in so much pain and felt like I was going to vomit and pass out. I’ve been trying to stay positive about it, but it’s so hard to stay positive when I feel so incredibly helpless. I had only been outside for a couple hours and had reapplied sunscreen three or four times. The worst part has been how long it’s taking to heal. It’s been four days and I still get so tired that I can’t get up, my body hurts so much that walking is an almost impossible task, every inch of my body simultaneously hurts and itches.

I feel like I’m back in Haiti but in the worst way. I feel helpless and like I’m holding my team back. Between my back pain and my stupid sun poisoning I haven’t been able to participate in as many of the outreaches and activities as the rest of my team. I feel like a rock, dragging them down. Something they feel obligated to carry around and care about, but not something they want around. Don’t get me wrong, I love them all and they are so fun to be around and I’m learning so much from them and I do feel like they are including me and want me around, but I feel like I’m a burden on them which is exactly what I didn’t want to be.

Last night I felt one of the most intense pains I have ever felt in my life. I was with a group of people from my team and we were in a very intense time of prayer when I suddenly felt this incredible shooting pain in my shoulder. I’m used to pain, I’ve grown accustomed to my  everyday pains. But this was something I’ve never felt in my life. I found myself curled up just crying and praying over and over “please God, make it stop.” How do you deal with a pain like that besides just praying for an end? There is no other way. There’s nothing else I know to do.

Pain is so hard. Pain is so real. Pain is so unique. We each experience pain so differently and it is so hard to understand a pain that is not your own. I often feel like my pain is never going to end, that I’m going to be at the mercy of my body for the rest of my life. It feels like there’s no hope of things ever getting better. But I’m constantly reminded that I am not alone. As I lied on the floor sobbing and begging God for an end I was suddenly surrounded by friends praying for me. I couldn’t even make words to say what was going on, but they were there to pray and hold me until the pain passed. I have been blessed to have people in my life who care about me and I am loved by a God who does not let his people suffer in vain.

I do believe that everything happens for a reason and that the pain I feel from day to day is not a curse or a punishment. I know that it’s a part of me. An ugly, sad, dark part of me but still a part. It has taught me the power of prayer and has taught me so much about reliance on God. It has taught me patience as I wait for relief or as I try to understand the things that are happening to me. But mostly it has taught me how to stay positive. It’s so easy to just throw a pity party for myself and to block out everyone else, but there are still so many good things in my life. So. Many. Good. Things.

I wish I knew better how to wrap this up, but I don’t. I just have to continue to remind myself that there are good things left in the world and that there is always hope of healing.

Love you!!

Abby

a SAD poem. 61 to go…

the Sun comes out
the world is bright

Hope blooms
Joy flourishes
Laughter sings

the cold winter is forgotten
the promise of spring

no sadness
no pain
no stress

for just a moment
All is well

but in comes the Darkness

the sun has left
the world is Dark

Pain grabs
Depression suffocates
Defeat consumes

the sun has left us
the sun does not love us

no hope
no joy
no laughter

for many months
Nothing is right

but the Sun will come again
Hope will stand on feeble feet
Laughter will return with the birds
Healing will come with the Sun
Joy will come with the flowers

the darkness cannot last forever
it will not last forever
and neither will
the pain
the depression
the defeat

for darkness does not come
without the Promise of
Light.

Life is so good. 63 to go…

So my last post was a little heavy and I wanted to thank everyone for the support in writing my Story and to those who told me just a little piece of theirs. It means the absolute world to me. But this week we’re going to lighten it up a bit!

The sun came out yesterday and it made me so deeply happy. I feel entirely too happy. I got out of my sustainability class an hour early so I went and played the piano for an hour. I saw a beautiful friend and we hugged in the Sunshine. I just sat in my bed, played my ukulele, and soaked up the Sunshine.

Today is just as beautiful and on top of that it’s Friday!! I’ve got a happy song running through my head, I did my hair and it’s cute, I’m falling in love with the world. I know, it’s still winter, but for today I breathe in the Sun and breathe out the worries that have plagued me all season.

Happiness can come in such little things, a touch of sun, a smile, the sound of birds, a phone call, a mug of green tea, wearing a dress, taking a long shower, a hug, a good friends, a good book, a gentle breeze. I’m just trying to soak up as much of the Joy and Beauty in the world as I possibly can. Winter always makes me horribly depressed so I am enjoying this elated feeling while it lasts.

Honestly, this has been the best winter I’ve had in years. College is more work than high school, but there’s so much more time to relax. Time to take a nap, watch Bones, play a happy song, call my parents, cry. I’ve been eating better, exercising more, and sleeping longer than I have previously and I think that makes such an incredible difference.

I’ve also been making new friends who I really, really like. The kind of people who remind me why I love my friends from CORE so much. People who are kind and interesting and deeply rooted and hilarious.

I think it’s good for me to write when I’m feeling this way because it reminds me that the darkness of winter doesn’t last forever. The sun comes out. There is beauty. There is hope.

Things are looking up, looking up
There’s magic everywhere you go
People stop to say hello
So turn it up, turn it up
As loud as you can make it go
Cause love is on the radio

Random Fact of the Day- Bubble wrap was initially designed to be used as wallpaper.

Mission of the Day- Write a poem about how you’re feeling and then recite it in your best operatic voice to a friend.

Question of the Day- What helps you get through the winter?

Love you!!

Abby

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. 64 to go…

So this week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week and this is a cause that I’m super passionate about. I feel like our society both refuses to acknowledge eating disorders as a serious issue and alienates and shames those who are suffering. This is the kind of stuff that makes me absolutely furious. You see, I struggled with an eating disorder for many years and I know what it feels like to be struggling and to feel like you can’t tell anyone because no one understands and no one believes you.

I was always chubby growing up. I remember being teased about it all through elementary school and into middle school. It always hurt, but I always had some comeback to get the other kids to shut up. I remember going shopping with my mom and feeling like I didn’t look good in anything. I remember going to the doctor’s office and being told that I was at risk of becoming over weight. In my mind I didn’t hear “at risk” I just heard the words “Over Weight” echoing over and over again in my head.

There’s one very distinct memory that stands out to me. I remember riding the bus in ninth grade and the guys sitting across from me started making fun of me and at one point one of them turned to me and said:
“Abby, you’re so fat you should probably just kill yourself.”
Kill yourself.

I don’t remember when it started, but at some point I just started skipping meals.
“Sorry Mom, late to school! No time for breakfast!”
“No, I’m not hungry.”
“I already ate.”
“I’m just not feeling well.”
“We’re eating at her house.”

If I felt that I had eaten too much at a certain meal I would just purge it. I would tell myself that I had been weak and that I would be stronger next time. I punished my body for this perceived weakness.

But it didn’t matter what I did, I still felt terrible about myself. I couldn’t tell anyone because I was so afraid of people knowing how deeply insecure I was or knowing how much I hated myself. I covered up those feelings with false confidence and forced happiness. I found my own way of dealing with the deep pain I felt inside. I used physical pain to cope with (what seemed like) the unending emotional pain. And those scars, both physical and emotional, are still healing.

Now I don’t have an incredible recovery story about going to treatment for months and about suddenly becoming happy and healthy. It has taken time and is continuing to take time to become happy with the way I am. It came with making incredible and supportive friends, with building healthier relationships with my parents, and with growing in my Faith. There are days when it’s still hard, this isn’t a pain that just leaves you. There’s no immediate healing. It takes time.

Now I don’t tell my story because I want pity. I tell it for a couple reasons:

Telling our stories gives them validity. I’ve spent years denying my story for fear that it would bring judgement from the people closest to me and for fear of admitting to myself that I was deeply hurting and insecure.
We need to be encouraging those who are suffering to tell their stories and we must be willing to listen. Just by listening to people’s stories we tell them that we believe them and care. We cannot alienate and judge people for suffering. They deeply need us. They deeply need you.

I seemed happy and healthy. I didn’t look like I was suffering. I seemed OK. I look back at pictures from that time and can see that I wasn’t nearly as fat as I perceived myself to be.
If someone comes to you to share their story with you, don’t just assume that they’re lying or exaggerating because they seem happy and healthy. It’s not always the morbidly obese, the abused, or the stunningly beautiful who are suffering (not to say that they don’t.) If anyone comes to you and says they are struggling, you have to believe them. 

My story has the potential help. There are very few people in my life who know this part of my story. And I never thought that it would be something that I would be able to write about, but I was prompted by another friend of mine sharing her story. While I’m not thankful for this part of my story, I have had opportunities in my life to help others who are struggling because I understood. I understand.
If you have a story to share, share it. It isn’t easy and it isn’t fun and sometimes it comes with tears and deep pain, but your story is worth telling and I can assure you that there’s someone in your life who needs to hear your story.

If someone comes to you and tells you that they are struggling do not assume that they are just doing what they are for attention. That is one of the most unhelpful and destructive things you can do in a situation like this. Take the time to listen and be supportive.

If you’re suffering:
TELL SOMEONE: I assure you that there are people in your life who care and want to hear what’s going on with you and want to help you. This person can help you in getting help or can help to keep you accountable.

YOU’RE NOT ALONE: You are not the only person who has felt this pain. You’re not crazy, you’re not a freak, you’re not unacceptable. The worst thing you can do is alienate yourself. I know how deeply it hurts, and you have to know that there are others who have gone before you.

IT GETS BETTER: I promise you, this feeling will not last forever. It hurts and is terrible and seems like it will never end but it will. There is hope for Joy and normalcy and acceptance.  I felt like I was never going to be OK again. I felt like I was dying from the horrible pain and hatred I felt inside but I am OK. I am surviving. I am happy. I’m not saying it is easy or that it won’t take time but I promise that it is worth it. You will get out of this alive and there are people in your life who are willing to help you.

This was really hard for me to write. It’s never easy to tell my story but I know that I’m better because of it and that I am the person I am today because of the things I’ve gone through and the things I’ve learned from them. So let’s not sit idly by and ignore this very serious issue. Talk to the people in your life, do not shame those who are suffering, tell your story. I promise, you will not regret it,

Love you!

Abby

Here are some helpful links:

For those who are suffering
For friends and family
For more information

Lights and Chocolate Chip Cookies. 86 to go…

I like this song a lot. I just love the way it sounds. It’s kind of beautiful and melancholy and hopeful but honest. I agree with almost all of this song.

We’re born with millions of little lights shining in the dark
And they show us the way
One lights up
Every time you feel love in your heart
One dies when it moves away

There are things that put out the little lights in our hearts. When our grandmother dies, when we move away from our friends, the first time someone tells us we’re ugly, the first time a boy doesn’t like us back, the first time we lie to our parents about where we’ve been all night, the first time we hear a group of boys talking about girls, when our friends abandon us, when no one asks us to prom, when we get rejected from college, the first time we get drunk, when we realize he didn’t want us but just our body, when we realize we have disappointed our parents. The list goes on. Life’s moments kill the hope and joy we expected to experience in life. It tears us apart from the inside.  It kills us.

But there are things that light those little lights. Every time we say the words “I love you” and mean it, when our parents come to our choir concerts, when we drink really good tea with friends, when someone recognizes our hard work, when you stay up all night talking to people you care about, the first time we fall in love, when we reach our goals, when we get the hugs we need, when we hear beautiful music, when we discover that we love to sing, the first time someone buys us flowers, when we find that we love someone completely.

I’d like to think that the things that there are at least as many things that light our lights as there are that blow them out, if not more.

Some people believe that we are born as a blank slate that time and experience write on as we grow, but I’m not sure that’s right. It’s more like we’re clay. We’re clay that is shaped by time and experience, and in that clay there are chunks of hope. Wait… I have a better comparison.

We’re chocolate chip cookie dough. We’re born as a big lump of cookie dough with a certain number of chocolate chips. The chocolate chips are the little lights in us. As life goes on our dough changes shape and is molded by all of Life and our portion of chocolate chips changes as circumstances add and remove them.

You see, we’re not just blank slates that are at the whim of the universe. We are made of specific ingredients. We’re made a particular way and we are changed slowly by the things and people and experiences of this life. 

But here lies my problem with this song:

we’re born with millions of little lights shiny in our hearts
and they die along the way
till we’re old and we’re cold
and lying in the dark
cos they’ll all burn out one day
they’ll all burn out one day
they’ll all burn out one day
they’ll all burn out one day

Now, I’ve never died, but I sure hope that all the lights don’t go out right before you die. I want to believe there are lights that last. The light that was born when our first child is born and we feel that love, the light that was born when we found our faith, the light that was born when we realized that we are deeply and completely loved. There are lights I have that I will not let burn out. You see, life doesn’t just put them out. You get a say in the matter. You get to decide what makes you bitter and dark in this life.

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you.”

This is one of my favorite quotes for the book The Fault In Our Stars. I think it’s so true. You’re going to get hurt in life. You cannot stop that. But you get to choose what hurts you. You can choose to not let things make you bitter. You can choose to stay wide eyed and wondering at the world. You can hold on to that one little light. Grasp it for dear life. That’s my plan, because life is too beautiful and full of love to let all of your lights die.

Love you!

Abby

And pixie dust. 256 to go…

Do you know why this decision to not write about boys has been so good for me? Because it has given me space to think about other things in life.

I’ve realized how much time I spend thinking about boys and how much of that time is wasted time. In a month it won’t matter what I said to that boy who I sat next to. In a month it won’t matter that he doesn’t like me back. Boys are so fickle and feelings are so fleeting. I have to live with the person I am becoming, my family, my decisions and my beliefs for the rest of my life. The cute, nerdy boy I sat next to on calculus will probably only be in my life until August.

Yes, I have a lot of feels and a lot of things on my mind but there is so much more out there.

Dear reader, there is hope. There is so much that you are going to do with your life. So many beautiful and wonderful and inspiring things. And you don’t need another person to do those. If you have and want someone to help you along the way, then great! But you have the ability just the way you are. With faith, preserverance and pixie dust we might just make it.

Love you!

Abby