Saturday, September 16, 2017

The past few days.

You know your life is kind of sad when you are as excited to go to the doctor as I was to go to the neurosurgeon on Thursday.

Too bad nothing good really came of it.

The doc was irritated because my neurologist sent me to him before doing all the tests he could have done, and I didn't have all my records from Duke and my brain surgeries, because no one told me I needed to bring them. He needs to run a bunch of other tests plus get all the records from Duke before he can tell me anything. So I have to a) get Duke to fax him all my records, b) get Duke to mail me CDs of all my scans to bring to my next appointment, c) get a bunch of labs, d) get a shunt series (X-rays), and e) get checked out by a neuro-ophthamologist. I talked to my old neurosurgeon from Duke's office yesterday, and they emailed me a release form that I can print out, fill out, scan, and email back to them, so I've got to talk to my uncle tomorrow since he's bringing me meds anyway. I'll get the labs done next Monday the 25th at my primary care. The shunt series can be done as a walk-in next time I go down to see this doc. They sent the referral to the neuro-ophthamologist who will call me to make an appointment. Hopefully the fact that I don't have vision insurance won''t prevent me from being seen. Also, usually when a shunt is infected, there is redness around it, but there's not around mine, so that's a good sign; however, he's very concerned about how sensitive I am to touch on my head, so he "hopes it comes together quickly," because it's not a good sign that I can't stand for my head to be touched. If the labs and X-rays don't show anything, all he can do is tap my shunt, which he really doesn't want to do because of my history of meningitis (Duke docs are pretty sure I got meningitis thanks to them tapping my shunt when the valve broke). Meanwhile, I get to spend another month or so in constant, unexplainable, excruciating pain.

So...that's fun.

Yesterday, Mom and Mommom left for 10 days in Pennsylvania. I was going to go, but decided that I'd rather have 10 days to myself and hopefully be able to get some job applications done. (So far, that's been a no go thanks to my freakin head.) The silence is weird, but refreshing. My aunt and uncle are leaving on Tuesday, so then it'll just be me and Chelsea in town, but I don't even have to see or talk to her every day, so it's no big deal.

Today, I woke up feeling pretty good (well, pretty good for me, anyway) so I thought that after my afternoon of sports, I'd be good to get some work done. Ha! Guess again. As soon as the last game I cared about was over, my head felt so explosively painful I couldn't do anything but sleep. I can still barely turn my head. On the upside, the Wolfpack won, so there's something, I guess.

Sigh. I'm so tired of feeling like shit.

Here's hoping tomorrow is better. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Story of my life.

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Monday, September 4, 2017

A post about bullying.



When I was in third grade, Becky O'Neill called me stupid, because I wrote my Js backwards. I told her, "J's a hard letter. You never know whether to hook left or hook right." A right hook from Ashton Bellman in junior high was meant to swell me up and make my tiny nose normal-sized. At least, that's what he told me. And in high school, Ryan Mundy called me many things I dare not repeat but still replay in my head from time to time, all because I did theater instead of playing football.

Sticks and stones, right?

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words...A stone I can take. A quick break, yeah, that I can shake. And though you've never punched me in the face, every syllable you speak stabs through my spirit and hardens my heart. And though my hand makes the cut, your words are the accomplice, seeking to accomplish I know not what other than to bury some sense of loathing you have for your own self. I know you hate yourself so much; otherwise, you wouldn't be so obsessed with hating me more. No eye has seen and no ear has heard just how much I care about what you think of me, because I would never show anyone other than the darkness of my bedroom and tear-stained pillowcase. Just in case Mom and Dad could hear my cries, I suffocated my suffering in a cotton case grave and believed all the lies you told me about who I am, or what I would become, or whose fault it was. 

It got worse when your fingers started saying what your mouth was too cowardly to utter. Under the influence of your description of me, I learned to despise many things about myself, not because they're so bad, but because if I didn't have them, then you wouldn't have noticed them and be powerless to use them against me. The pricks and pins of pricks' opinions spins my whole sense of self out of whack, and so I shacked up in the safest place possible: on the island of invisibility, on the shore of "don't make any waves," at the corner of complacency and fitting in. I hide in the back country of cowardice praying you won't notice this insecurity factory I call a life, or a family, or a faith, or a body. And even today, I'm not lying when I say I could care less about what people think of me, because I could. I could care much, much less, because I still care a whole lot.

But you are not my source. You are not my well. If your opinion of me were the last cup of water in a desert, I would throw it in your face, and even though there's still a trace of the pain you caused, those scars are hard as armor and so faint that sometimes I can't even see them anymore. Because the sticks that used to harm me have been crossed, the stone that used to bruise me has been rolled away. Sticks and stones were your weapon, but sticks and stones are His way. So say all you want; a better Word has been spoken. Lie all you need to; a greater Truth has been revealed. Hold me back if you must, but my future has been sealed.

Sticks and stones, right?

-----

It's been a while since I've really thought about the bullying I experienced growing up. Progress, right? Well, then things like this poem come along, and I realize I've still got a lot more healing to do than I thought I did...and I've never been more thankful.

Most people know that I was bullied pretty intensely when I was a teenager, to the point where I was forced to leave the church I'd grown up in and spent the vast majority of my high school years contemplating suicide. I was surrounded by so many people telling me that I was unwanted and that I would never be loved that I became convinced that they were right. Even when I got to Campbell and met the people who proved they were wrong, became my family, and loved me at my lowest, my brain couldn't reconcile the truth in front of me with the lies that had been engrained deep into my soul.

I think I've gotten better at it over the years, but listening to this poem made me remember that those wounds are still very much a part of me and how I view the world and relationships. I still struggle to understand why people like me as much as they do and to accept the love that I know in my heart I deserve. I can't help but wonder how different my life would be now if I'd had words like Jon's to hear when I was younger, if I would have sabotaged so many friendships out of fear and shock.

I know the truth now. I know who I am as a person, as a friend, and in the eyes of God. I know how loved I really am. Just today, one of my friends from my neighborhood in NYC called me. He originally said he only had five minutes, but we ended up talking for nearly half an hour, and one of the last things he said to me was a reminder that I am never alone and never forgotten, even though it can feel that way being stuck in this town so far away from the people who know and love me best.

Let's be real: bullying sucks. I know that sounds obvious, but this is something that I think most people don't talk about because they're afraid to, or they're ashamed and they haven't fully recovered from the lies and the hate drilled into their heads. I think a lot of us get bullied, even the people we think are untouchable, the people we think have it all together and everyone likes. People are cruel sometimes, and while it'd be easier to say something cliché like "Why can't we all just be nice to each other?!", the reality is that we don't live in a utopia where that's possible. We're broken, and we hurt, and it's easy to take that hurt out on someone around you you see is vulnerable. I definitely was vulnerable and easy to attack, especially being in a small school where it was easy to be known for all the wrong reasons.

Words can break you. Physical wounds heal. The bleeding stops. The bruises and scars fade. The pain goes away. But mental wounds? They seep into your soul like red wine into a white couch that you have no idea how to get out, except you can't throw out this couch because you've only got one and you're stuck with it for life. So you scrub and scrub and pray that God will perform some miracle and it will go back to the bright white it was before, and some days you think it has, but other days, you look at it, and you notice the faint reddish-purple droplets still lingering and become convinced that it's all ruined, that you're ruined, and you might as well give up.

That's what happened to me. I became so convinced that I was too broken to be redeemed or ever be worthy of love that I stopped trying to find it, but more importantly, I pushed it away anytime I thought it was getting close. I hid. I tried not to be seen so I could avoid what I believed was the inevitable end of someone else telling me they hated me. But people like my soccer boys and my Reformation brothers, they saw me saying "no" and refused to take that for an answer. They made me their family when I didn't think I wanted them to and pursued me when I tried to run from them. They are the reasons I finally began to understand that maybe I am worthy of love, after all.

But ask any of them and they'll tell you the lesson doesn't always stick with me. I've said more times than I can count that I don't understand how I got so lucky to have them, and it's partially because it still seems so unbelievable that everything has changed so drastically. God used two groups of guys I never really intended on meeting to begin with to show me that His declaration of my worth is the final say. He is the voice of truth, and He tells a story completely opposite from what I grew up hearing and believing. It's like Jon says; my future has been sealed because my self-worth lies in a foundation that no person can ever shake. I know it's true because I actually trust people now. I'm not afraid of loving and being loved just because I've been burned or I've heard a lot of terrible things said about me. I stay determined to see the good in people because God sent me people who saw the good in me when I didn't see it in myself.

Do I remember the things bullies told me? Yep, pretty much every single one of them. Do they still sting? Yep, some days more than others. But do they define me? Not in the least. And that change in my perspective is 100% all God's doing through the Holy Spirit and His working through the people He's surrounded me with.

Praise be to God.

If you have scars from bullying (which, really, I think more of us do than we care to admit), go listen to Jon's new poem, "Sticks and Stones." It's embedded in this post. Bring tissues.

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Rerouting, Rerouting

I've come to realize something.

I've been doing a much better job lately at learning how to direct my emotions into something productive.

I feel things very intensely. I always have, and I probably always will. That's just a part of who I am.

But I'm learning how to take those strong, intense emotions and pour them into positive things instead of wasting my mental and emotional energy on negative things that I can't change. It's like I have a Siri, finding an alternative path when she realizes I'm about to drive into a lake. I'm just rerouting my emotions instead of a car.

For example, instead of being caught up feeling devastated or furious about having another friend abandon me over a mistake I made, a friend I never could have predicted I'd be okay with losing, I'm making the choice to focus my love and my heart on the friends who have stuck by me, the ones who have a grasp on what forgiveness means. Really, ever since I started making friends at Campbell, anytime I lost someone, I would get so caught up in that that I would lose sight of the incredible people I still had. That was a disservice to them and, frankly, horribly destructive to my mental health.

I don't get it right all the time. It's definitely a learning process I'm still very much deep in the middle of, but it's a huge improvement over how I have been for a long time. I have so much going on right now that I've accepted that I don't have the capacity to waste brain power, mental strength, or heart on negativity and people and things that ultimately just add more stress to my life.

I guess this is what self-care feels like, huh?

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Friday, August 25, 2017

A lot of soccer this weekend. And a lot of driving.

And a LOT of time with my grandmother.

Brianna's college soccer team was playing at Duke today. That's 6-6.5 hours round trip. Mom didn't go.

And they're playing at William & Mary in Virginia on Sunday. That's probably going to be 9 hours round trip. And Mom's not planning on going to this game either.

Which means I have ALL that time in the car with my grandmother by myself listening to her bitch about every. little. thing for a total of four hours of soccer and maybe one hour total of actually seeing Brianna play.

And I don't have a phone battery that lasts me long enough for either of these trips, or a portable phone charger.

The upside, though, is that the Campbell boys are also playing today and Sunday, and I can stream their games in the car on the way home on my grandma's tablet.

I hope I at least get some good sleep tonight and tomorrow, because I slept like crap last night, and I know that definitely didn't help matters.

Lord, help me.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Charlottesville


Neo-Nazis use a symbol of Polynesian culture in their storm through a college campus. A black cop stays calm and protects men throwing Nazi salutes and wearing KKK hoods. People trying to stand up against racism are literally mowed down by a coward with a car. These are all sights you'll see this weekend in Charlottesville. And it's a heartbreaking reminder that evil is alive and well.

To all Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, agnostics, atheists, and every other non-Christian, please hear me: THIS. ISN'T. JESUS. This is not what he stood for. This is not what he preached. This is not what he would be doing if he were around today. These are bitter, angry white men scared at the idea of people not like them getting a seat at the table. There is still a HUGE number of Christians who believe in freedom of religion the way the Constitution intends it. I know it may not feel that way, but I promise you, it's true. And we won't give up the fight.


To all POC: You are seen. You are valued. You are loved. These may be the loudest voices right now, but they're wrong. These are bitter, angry white men scared at the idea of minorities no longer staying silent and taking away their privilege of the final say. They may be louder for now, but it won't stay that way, no matter what terror like this makes us think. I don't have the answers, all I can say is please know that so many of us are on your side. You are never alone.


To white people, especially Christians: STAND UP. SPEAK UP. DON'T SHUT UP FOR A SECOND AS LONG AS BIGOT RALLIES ARE HAPPENING. We may not be able to end bigotry and hate, but we can send it back to the fringes of society where it belongs. 


All lives won't matter until non-white lives do.
All lives won't matter until non-Christian lives do.
All lives won't matter until we get a president who condemns white terrorism as strongly as he does ISIS terrorism.


We've got a lot of work to do. The longer we hide behind "not all white people" "not all Christians" "not all Republicans" to avoid taking blame, the longer we allow this to spread like the disease it is. It's on ALL of us.


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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Dunkirk! OMG.

All of my thoughts will be under the poster to respect you poor, unfortunate souls who haven’t had the pleasure honor of seeing this movie yet. 
SPOILERS ABOUND.


Okay, seriously, if this movie is not the Hamilton of the Oscars, and by that I mean if it does not get nominated for all the awards and win every single damn award it is nominated for, then I will personally start a revolt against the Academy. Because HOLY HELL. THIS MOVIE IS PERFECTION. Easily the movie of the year. Christopher Nolan did it again.
I don’t really cry at movies or television, but that part where Alex told Peter George was dead, then Peter still told Cillian’s character that George was going to be okay, and the look he gave his father afterward, because he knew it was the right thing to do not to traumatize him any more than he already was, that was the part that got me closest to crying. 
Speaking of George, I want to take Barry Keoghan and Aneurin Barnard and wrap them up in blankets and keep them safe and warm forever. It was nice to see Alex’s humanity come out and try to save Gibson just what seemed like seconds after trying to throw him off the ship.
Watching Harry Styles nearly drown three times in the span of an hour and forty-five minutes is not good for my blood pressure. Or sanity.
Hans Zimmer is a genius, and also really, really cruel. I think I’m going to be hearing that ticking clock in my sleep.
How can Tom Hardy possibly do so much with just his eyes??? I want to meet him just so I can ask him that. It’s ridiculous. He spent the vast majority of the movie with the pilot’s mask over his face, yet I felt more attached to him than almost any other character. That final look when he takes his mask off in front of his burning plane and you can see Germans behind him, AGH! SO GOOD! 
I didn’t get to see it in IMAX, because we don’t have an IMAX theater nearby, but the cinematography was so phenomenal, I still felt like I was there. I remember noticeably jumping several times.
The chemistry between Kenneth Branagh and James D’Arcy was great. They made me smile, even in the middle of all the tension. They and Mark Rylance were the perfect balancing forces leading the chaos.
I actually audibly laughed when Peter pulled Collins in from the water and Collins just said, “Afternoon,” with a tone of like Hey mate, how’s it going? Nice day out, isn't it?
Harry was so good, and I mean that from a purely cinematic perspective, not because I love him. I forgot that I was watching Harry. I can’t believe that for someone jumping into their first major acting role, with such a recognizable face, he was able to immerse himself so easily. Maybe it was at least partially because who Alex is is so different from who Harry is, but even though I knew it was him, I forgot it was him because I was so enthralled by the action of the movie, particularly during the scene in the grounded boat with the group. You could tell that Alex was really only an asshole because, as Harry said in interviews, he was as scared and desperate to get home as anyone, but he genuinely scared me a few times. 
All in all, 10 out of 10. I’d go see it again, but my grandma was so pissed at the movie theater upping their prices, there’s no way that will happen. Ah well, once is far better than none at all.
Run, do not walk, RUN to see this movie as soon as you possibly can.

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Get your red on!

Well, July is officially over, which means I only have to survive one more month of brutally hot summer, then the best season of all arrives.


FOOTBALL SEASON!!!!
Insert all the praise hands here.

The Wolfpack started preseason camp Friday, so I am already HYPED UP for what is looking to be a good season. I know, I know, don't get caught up in the hype. State is spectacular at being a letdown. But this is the best group of players we've had in recent memory and the highest preseason standing we've had in a long damn time, so I say it's not getting caught up in the hype, it's having faith that this season is going to be one to remember. :)

I mean here's what we're dealing with.

4-1/4 returning starters on the offensive line (1/4 because one of the guys started 3 of the games) that allowed only 17 sacks all of last season
A wide receiver who can run a 4.48 40-yard dash (faster than a WR/RB we have who is an All-American sprinter)
A redshirt-junior quarterback who threw for more than 3,000 yards last year
An "all-purpose back" so multi-purpose talented our conference had to create that title just for him
An all-senior defensive line often ranked among the top 3 in the nation
A punter with the fourth best average in school history and the best in over 40 years
8 players on preseason national award watch lists

And that's just for starters. :)

I love this school. I love this game. I LOVE THIS TEAM.

September 2nd, I'm ready for you.

Win, lose, or tie, Wolfpack 'til I die!

WOLFPACK FOR LIFE!

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My People

I know I say this a lot, but if I didn't have my friends, I would go absolutely batshit crazy. Really.

Stuck here, if I didn't have people that I could text at the drop of a hat, even if it's just for a word of encouragement and a reminder that I'm not alone in this insanity, even when I feel like I am, I truly don't know how I'd make it. As much as I love my family, they are exhausting, in every sense of the word. I am so. tired.

That's why I'm so thankful for the people whom I chose and who chose me. They are the people who know me deep in my bones, with all my scars and flaws and insecurities, and love me just the same. They are the people who make time for our relationship, because they care and because it's important to them, too. They are the people who, despite being spread over literally thousands of miles, make me feel surrounded by love when I need it most. They are the people who support me unconditionally and who tell me I am enough - I don't have to try to be anything else.

I don't get that from my biological family most of the time, and that kind of love is something everyone deserves. The past couple weeks, it's been especially evident to me just how crucial it's been in my survival, especially from one person in particular. He's been so unbelievably good to me, despite having literally every second of his day taken up with work and stuff for his own life. He's still invested. He still cares about my life and is here as much as he can be. Just having someone to talk to can mean so much. I can't even properly explain it.

So yeah. I don't really have anything else to say. The past few weeks have been pretty boring, and I've been feeling pretty awful, both physically and mentally. But I'm thankful that in the midst of it all, God has helped me to keep an eye on one major constant blessing in my life.

My people. When all else fails, they are good, so so good.

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Well, this is just fantastic timing.

Well, this didn't turn out quite as planned.

I decided this week that I was going to start walking around my neighborhood again. I found out last week at the doctor that I weighed 274 (I managed to lose 6 lbs in May and June despite being completely sedentary because of my foot surgery! I was shocked!), and my goal is to hit 250 by the end of the year, so while I've been doing pretty well so far all things considering, I wanted to do a little bit more, and as my friend Jay says "it's all about increasing that output."

But I knew that I needed to start slow and take it easy on myself, first because it's been so long since I really tried this, and two because the fusion in my right toe is still pretty sore, so I didn't want to hurt myself right off the bat. Here are my stats from Wednesday - Friday.


I thought those were pretty good, right? Slight increase in distance day by day, but still not too sharp. And each day when I got home, I felt GOOD. Like the whole cliché endorphins-rush kind of good. And my muscles were sore, and I was definitely out of breath, but I wasn't in real pain, you know? I was really happy, I thought I was doing well and was going to take today off to rest, anyway, for some balance.

Well, about an hour after I got back inside last night (Friday), I could barely walk. My right hip and lower back were in so much pain I was either screaming or wanted to any time I moved the slightest little bit. It is AWFUL.

I have no idea what the heck I did. If I'd had any indication I was hurting myself, I would have stopped and come home. Agh. I was just getting started, and now I have no idea when I'll be able to walk again. Because something tells me this pain is going to stick around for a while.

(Hint: I'm actually writing this post on Tuesday the 11th, and yep, I still can barely move. AWESOME. It's a bit better than Saturday, but I am still nowhere close to being able to go on a walk again.)

Prayers for healing would be much appreciated. I'm really determined to keep losing weight, and this is just...frustrating, to say the least.

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

God is SO COOL.


Something happened today that's the kind of thing you hear about happening to other people but never think will happen to you.
So today, I ran into the grocery store for Mom for some things we needed. You know those days where you have a strict budget on how much you can spend at the store, with NO room to spare? This was one of those days, so I was a bit anxious to make sure I stayed under budget. No one wants to be that person that has to put stuff back while people are waiting behind you, especially days like today when it was a madhouse. When I got to the line, I asked the cashier if he had a store card on him for discounts. He did, so I took a deep breath, and once the mom and daughter in front of me were done, I stood there watching the total as he rang up my items. The bagger asked me how I was, and I said, "I'll let you know when I find out if I made it under budget." As the cashier was getting near the end, I felt a hand on my shoulder. The mom who'd been in front of me was there and said, "I want to buy your groceries for you. I'm a believer, and God is telling me to buy your groceries." YEAH. I KNOW. I started ugly crying right there in the grocery store. And you know what's the coolest part? If she hadn't done that, it would have taken up every dollar of that budget I had when I walked in.
Here's to you, Robin. Thanks for reminding me that God is in the details, and that there are more good people than bad out there.

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