Friday, March 17, 2017

One down, one to go.

Had my surgery this morning. #26. I know. Try to contain your jealousy.

It was successful. No more steel in my left foot.

Doing about as well as can be expected.

Aside from the time I was under anesthesia, I've been awake since 11 am yesterday, so that sucks. Hopefully I will sleep soon.

I'm glad this is over.

Now that it's over, I can heal.

The sooner I heal, the sooner we can get on to the right foot surgery, the much more complicated surgery.

The sooner I get to that surgery, the sooner I can start to heal and maybe get back to my normal and be able to walk semi-reasonable distances.

I want to start walking around the neighborhood for exercise, but I have to have working feet for that.

One step at a time, I guess.

Hopefully by my birthday in June, this will be over.

Hopefully.

Post-op appointment is in ten days, so we'll see.

One step at a time.

No pun intended.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Seven

Sunday, March 5th, my nephew turned seven.

My brain can hardly comprehend it.

I would move mountains to keep this boy safe and happy.

He is wild and exhausting and stubborn and sometimes frustrating, but he's also sweet and snuggly, fearless and free, smarter than most people think he is, and the silliest, funniest little boy I know.

I could not be more proud to be his Auntie Mal.

Keep dancing, Blake man. I love you to the moon and back.



These are so awkward, but hey, you try taking pictures with a sugared-up seven-year-old. ;)

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Saturday, March 4, 2017

At War With Myself

I should be going to bed right about now, but I need to get this out. (Also, I'm listening to Ed Sheeran's new album for the first time, and I don't want to stop.)

Okay, so remember how I mentioned that video I got from one of my soccer boys for Valentine's Day?

Truth time: I still have that video saved to my phone and have played it I-don't-even-know-how-many times in the past two and a half weeks.

Every single time, it makes me smile as wide as my mouth can stretch and gives me this warm feeling of being loved that is like wrapping up in a blanket on a cold day, but there's also been this recurring thought that I really, really wish would get out of my head.

I see my brother's face in the video, and I hear him saying the words "I love you," and as though it's out of my control, I think, I don't know how I got this lucky. It's not supposed to happen like this for me. 

Three and a half years of knowing him and the rest of my brothers, and a large portion of the time, my brain still cannot wrap itself around the idea that I actually deserve their love. It still searches for answers as to how a "girl like me" got chosen by "guys like them," why the good-looking and popular athletes who could have the attention of anyone on campus decided to love the semi-outcast, not conventionally gorgeous girl with health issues. Why did they pick me? I keep asking myself, as if that's something that really makes a difference after all this time.

Besides, I already know why they "picked me." I already know what they love about me. It's not like they've kept it a secret. They've told me time and again why they're grateful to know me and why they love me. They've never once made me feel like I was their "charity project," like a lot of people in high school treated me," yet I somehow still have trouble just accepting what they have told me, even though, in my heart, I know it's true. It's not like I don't believe they're telling me the truth. It's just that part of me still doesn't understand why it's true.

The good-looking, popular guys used to always be the ones who made my life hell. That's exactly why I was scared of these soccer boys in the beginning, and I've told them as such. I didn't think they could actually care about someone who was so completely different from them and anyone they usually hung out with. But when I learned they really were different from all of the others, when I learned they actually were who they appeared to be, the question became why are they wasting their time? That was the same semester my seizures came back; it would've been a hell of a lot easier for them not to bother with me than to invest in me and my life on top of everything they had going on.

Instead, Chirag and Justin sat at the ER with me for hours one day.

Justin and Bryce picked me up from the ER another day then spent close to 90 minutes taking care of me.

Bryce - how many seizures did he take care of me through between soccer and Reformation??

Isaiah brought me drinks when I was too sick to even leave my room.

Reafe, Tunji, Ricky, and Isaiah showed up to be my bodyguards.

So many of them carved time out of their schedules to spend time with me, whether it be lunch or dinner.

They listened.

They prayed.

They hugged.

They were always there.

Some of them are still always here.

And they've never even wanted a thank you for any of it.

I have a soccer ball sitting on my shelf signed by almost every boy from that year, a daily reminder of the memories that we share. I haven't forgotten any of it. So why is it that I still sit around wondering why I'm even in this position? It's been almost three and a half years. Will I ever accept this love, whether or not I think I deserve it? They believe I deserve it; isn't that enough?

One of them has reminded me many times that they all love me to death. He knows my insecurities, a lot of them do, and they've never judged me for them or been put off by them, so it's not that I'm afraid that I'm going to ruin things. It's just frustrating. I'm tired of spending time wondering why instead of just enjoying what I have.

It's been three and a half years. Is this ever going to make sense? Will I ever believe that I'm enough, that I deserve to be loved, that there doesn't have to be some crazy explanation for "guys like them" to love a "girl like me?"

"We accept the love we think we deserve." - from The Perks of Being a Wallflower...if this is true, Lord, please let me believe I deserve this, because I'm tired of my head being at war with itself.

I am crazy loved by some amazing guys who are the best friends a girl could ask for.

That's the truth.

That's what matters.

And that's more than enough.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

26 and 27

Yes, that's right, ladies and gentlemen. I'm having surgery again.

Please, please, try to contain your jealousy. We can't all live the exciting life that I do.

All jokes aside, I am indeed having both of my feet operated on again.

The left foot will be done March 17th, provided I get cleared next week (which I don't see why I won't).

That should be a pretty simple surgery, as my surgeon (the same guy who did the original surgeries back in 2010) is just removing the steel he put in there during the first surgery. The steel is pushing up off the bone where it's supposed to be into the top of my foot, so I constantly have a bruise there, and will often get this stabbing pain where it feels like someone is trying to cut the steel in half. The pain is making me instinctively walk on the outside of my foot to try to relieve the pressure, which just adds to the pain.

The right foot surgery is going to be much more complicated as he will be re-breaking the joint where my foot meets my big toe, lengthening that tendon so my toe lays flat down (the tendon is currently very contracted so my toe almost always is pulled way back), and then fusing it in place so it doesn't move at all. He was originally just going to lengthen the tendon, but because of my nerve damage, if he only did that, there is a good chance the tendon would start contracting again, and I'd be right back in the same position I'm in now. It's putting way too much pressure on the ball of my foot and causing massive amounts of pain; I'd really prefer not to go through this again, even if it means having a permanently immobile toe.

So yeah. The next few months are going to be LOADS OF FUN.

I'll be real, y'all. I know I need these surgeries, and I am looking forward to the help they are going to give me, but I'm so tired of this. It's only been six months since my last surgery, just shy of seven by the time this next one comes. This will be 27 surgeries before my 25th birthday. That is not fair by any means of the imagination. And I know that life isn't meant to be fair, but I feel like I live my life in this constant cycle of finding new problems and having to figure out how to fix them just when I think my life is getting back to normal, and I'M TIRED.

It makes me feel broken. People constantly having to cut me open to fix things in me makes me feel like I am broken.

And on top of that, you say the word surgery, and all I can think about is going into cardiac arrest last summer, so even though I usually don't experience any anxiety about a surgery until the night before or even day of, it's still two and a half weeks out and I'm already a ball of nerves.

I'll be okay. Right now, I'm just tired and frustrated and nervous. I'll figure out how to deal with it, though. I always do.

That's pretty much the story of my life, it seems.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

I'm getting the message. It's totally clear. I really gotta get out of here.

Last night, my mother told me she still sees me as a kid, not an adult.

Like, she insisted I'm still a kid. Straight to my face. When I'm 24 years old.

I've often felt like she treats me and talks to me like I'm still a teenager, but this is the first time she's ever actually confirmed it. And then she had the nerve to get annoyed when she realized I was angry about it.

She either doesn't understand or doesn't care why what she said is disrespectful and hurtful, so she's yet to apologize to me, so I've stayed in my room the entire day and completely ignored her because I'm not going to pretend that she can say crap like that to me and then just expect me not to be hurt by it. I've taken care of her day in and day out for the past six months, and she thinks I'm not supposed to be hurt when she tells me she doesn't see me as an adult.

But you know, if there's one good thing about this, it's made me realize just how long I've spent seeking validation from her and just how utterly stupid that is. I was hiding rejection letters I'd gotten from her because I was so worried about her being disappointed in me, and now I'm like, so what? Her opinion doesn't change anything. I don't owe her success. I don't owe her an update on everything I do. I don't owe her explanations. I don't owe her the right to lecture me about how I could be "better," especially considering the state of my sisters' lives. My worth has zero reliance on what she thinks or feels (or anyone else, for that matter).

This whole thing the past 24 hours has just reiterated the fact that I have to get out of here. I have to get away from my selfish, dysfunctional family and be my own person, so they stop thinking they have control of me and I stop forgetting who I am outside of them. That's the largest part of why I'm so scared these last schools I'm waiting to hear back from are going to say no; because I can't stay here. I have to get out of here. I have to be on my own.

I've spent my entire life fighting through things no one should have to, proving friends, enemies, neighbors, teachers, schoolmates, doctors, family, and even myself wrong. I'm not going to sit back and let anyone, especially my mother, tell me that that doesn't make a difference, tell me who I am.

I've got God for that, thanks.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sometimes you just need to hear the words.

Dude. Real talk?

Most of yesterday sucked.

I got another PhD rejection letter which, so far, brings the total to 4 rejections and 0 acceptances, which, you know, is just fantastic for a girl's self-esteem.

I wasn't in a good mood because, well, Valentine's Day. And I was in pain.

Mom's been super, super sick lately.

So it just felt like everything was gonna go wrong.

And then I decided to do something that would make me feel good but also make other people feel good, too, so I sent video messages to three of my favorite guys. That alone made my mood perk up a good bit, but then I got a response from one of them that honestly turned my whole day around.

There's something about hearing the words, "You know I love you. I always do. I always will," that just brings such peace to my soul sometimes. Don't get me wrong, I'm always very much a words of affirmation person, but there are certain times more than others where hearing the words really calms me down, and yesterday was one of those times. It's really hard for me to be so far away from everyone that I love, and because Mom's so sick, my relationship with her has been tense and stressful and distant, so I've really felt like I have no one. But getting the message I did from my brother, it came at exactly the right time to remind me that even though there's no one physically near me, I am not alone. I am so crazy loved.

So for the rest of the day (and let's be honest, a good portion of today), I've replayed that video as many times as I need or want just to make myself smile and remind myself of the truth, of how lucky I am to have this love in my life.

Because there's nothing wrong with just needing to hear the words.

(And then Matt came over for a few minutes last night, so I really got a special treat on top of my day turning around.)

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

We can be heroes.


I just finished binge watching CSI: Miami yesterday, because now that my applications are basically done and my feet are in such bad shape that I don't walk much, that's what my life has resorted to. I loved the show (because I love pretty much all crime shows) (also, hello, Adam Rodriguez!), but there's one scene from one of the last episodes that has stuck in my head. In it, Calleigh, one of the CSIs, explains to the son of the episode's victim exactly why his dad was a hero. And it hit me hard because that's a conversation that I've sat through more than once.

I've been called a hero before, by multiple people. It never made sense to me when they said it, it sort of made sense after they explained why they said it, but in general, I don't really get it. I will be the first one to tell you that I am not any more special than anyone else. I just happen to have a really weird life story and be absurdly stubborn.  That stubbornness in the midst of my really weird life appears to others as courage, even though I'm terrified more often than not. But people think I'm courageous, and that's something to admire, I guess, so the fact that I haven't given up in the middle of...all of this...makes people take notice.

Calling me a hero, though? No, still don't understand it. I'm just trying to survive, same as everyone else. My sheer will to survive doesn't feel like it's me having "special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities" or a reason for me to be a role model. I just don't know how to be any different. And this blog post isn't me trying to pull out some false humility to get sympathy or compliments or whatever; that scene with Calleigh and that kid reminded me of the times that people have said that to me and it's been hard for me to hear and process just like it was for that kid. (All this about a TV show. Ha.)

I think, in the end, we're all looking for someone we can call our hero. Aside from, you know, complete narcissists, we know that we can be better and look for people we can view as an ideal version of a person. We're a mix of constantly questioning whether we're good enough and constantly seeking self-improvement, and we need to find these people to look up to in order to believe that being better is actually possible. For me, my hero and role models give me hope that when the world seems to all be going to hell, there are still good, admirable people out there.

And if I can be that hope for someone else, then I'm good with being called a hero. Even if it doesn't always make sense to me.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

For however long this lasts.

Whether it's for the next 1461 days or 2922 (God forbid), as long as Trump is in the White House, this right here is my life mantra.


I won't stop, because this man is now in the Oval Office and we're all in danger. I don't care who is in his Cabinet or in Congress, I will fight for justice and equality for ALL. There are more of us than there are of them, and it's more important now that we protect each other than it's been in a long time. We need each other. The only thing that will overpower the hate the Trump administration represents is loving people. Love people harder and stronger and louder than they hate, and we'll win. Let's get to work.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

No, I'm not watching the Inauguration tomorrow.

Anybody who knows me knows that I am an extremely passionate person, especially when it comes to politics. I have very strong opinions, and I will discuss and debate anything with anyone, no matter how much or how little we agree on. I've followed American national politics, and particularly presidential elections, since I was 8 years old and George W. Bush was elected; once I watched that election night, I never stopped. And I don't regret it for a second. I love this country, I love politics, and I love what I do. (If I didn't, I wouldn't have racked up so many student loans to get my Master's!)

But no. I'm not watching the Inauguration tomorrow, and I don't really care if you agree with that choice or not. I've long accepted the fact that in less than 19 hours, Trump will be our president, but after everything that has happened in the past year and a half, even more so in the two months since the election, I can't sit back and celebrate giving the nation's highest office to a man who has shown so little regard not just for so many different groups of American citizens, but for US democracy and government as a whole.

I can't honor a man who has shown greater respect for Russia's dictator than for the CIA.

I can't esteem a man who accused a Congressman known for being a civil rights activist who got his skull fractured by police in Selma of being "all talk and no action."

I can't rejoice over the new presidency of a man who has hidden so much from the people he is meant to serve.

I can't be excited about the start of the term of a man who lies even when proof is on tape and then lies about having lied, about everything from small, personal things to huge, nation-changing problems.

Some may say that we should give the new president the benefit of the doubt, that we should give him a chance, but Trump hasn't earned that. Trump blew his opportunity for a second chance from me when he sided with and praised Putin over the US, and then compared the CIA to Nazi Germany.

When his supporters immediately started harassing and assaulting people and vandalizing property after the election because he had glorified racism, hatred, and violence.

When he insisted he never mocked a disabled reporter even though every news outlet in existence his video proof.

When he picked a guy deemed by the Senate too racist to be a judge as Attorney General, the President of Goldman Sachs - a company he criticized for hurting the working class - to run the White House National Economic Council, a guy against raising the minimum wage to a livable standard to run the Department of Labor, and the CEO of ExxonMobil with a $500 billion deal in Russia to be Secretary of State.

He, along with the help of his chief sycophants, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, are creating a plan to systematically dismantle the protections Obama's administration created for me and people that I love. I will lose my health insurance if the ACA repeal is immediate, which could actually kill me. Holly will lose her access to care when they attack Planned Parenthood. My LGBT+ friends are on the verge of being reduced to second-class citizens again. My friends who are teachers are risking having their whole lives upended because Trump's Education Secretary doesn't support public education.

This isn't about my party losing. This isn't me being a "snowflake" (as one obnoxious, racist commentator likes to say). This is real life that people who support and voted for Trump don't seem to get, that Trump and the GOP don't seem to care about, and the fact is that I'm not going to sit and waste my time watching as the country celebrates a man who proved long before his Inauguration that his loyalty does not lie with this country. It lies with himself.

My love for this country has nothing to do with the person in the Oval Office, anyway. Actually, it might even be stronger now that Obama is leaving and we are being faced with a man who gladly terrifies so many people. My love for this country is rooted in the people I know. In their lives, their stories, their families. In the goodness I've seen from strangers in the midst of danger or intense evil. In the glimmers of hope we can see when this country actually unites after a tragedy. It stands in the hope that though this feels like a setback, that after Trump is out of the White House, this country will be able to put itself back on a moral path that I can't possibly expect to see with Trump. My love for this country is what has kept me from giving up since November 8th, and it's what will keep me fighting for love and justice for all for however many years we have to deal with Trump as president.

Do I love my country? You bet I do.

Am I going to keep praying for my leaders? Now more than ever.

Am I going to celebrate and watch as an unqualified, vindictive, terrifyingly hateful man who has lied his way to the top of the government takes over? Not a chance.

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Monday, January 2, 2017

One Word: 2017

Coming up with my "One Word" choices has, surprisingly, never been difficult for me. I say "surprisingly" because you would think deciding on one word would be difficult for someone as indecisive as me. But year after year, the word just pops in my head before the end of the year and I instinctively know that's what it needs to be. Thanks, God.

This year was no different. When looking back on 2016, I realized that I hadn't been taking good care of myself. I'd been going through the motions, working day by day with a constant running to-do list in my head, thinking more about what had to be done instead of how to make sure I was strong enough to get everything done well. In hindsight, it's no wonder I was so exhausted. So when this year's word came to my mind, it made perfect sense.

Beyond that, though, one recurring theme of my therapy sessions, especially in the past couple of months, is how I am absolutely terrible at putting myself or any of my needs before those of the people around me. I'm not saying I want to become this selfish, inconsiderate person in 2017, but I'm realizing that part of taking care of myself is learning when my wellbeing needs to be more of a priority than my desire to take care of everyone else around me. Too often I catch myself feeling worn down because what I need and want has been overshadowed by what I've convinced myself I have to do for someone else. Being selfless is a good thing, but not when it comes at the expense of your own mental and emotional health. I need to find a balance between taking care of everyone else, like is my nature, and taking care of myself, too.

So then, I started thinking about the ways in which I wanted to take better care of myself, and the more I thought about it, the more it came down to two separate areas: emotional/spiritual health, and physical health.

I mentioned the former in my Year in Review post. One of my major goals of this year is to teach myself the discipline of daily Bible reading. I have been a fraud in that area, to be honest, and I realized that it's because the Bible just overwhelms me. But I have the Seamless study from Angie Smith that I'm going to start with, and try my very best to get into a pattern of truly seeking the Lord and growing in my relationship with Him. I know that that is the best healing that I can possibly find. I remember the first time that I had lunch with Reafe. We were talking about the bullying I had experienced in the past and he straight out said to me, "Are you close to God? Because if you're close to God, if you read the Bible, what everyone else says won't matter. You won't care." Well, it's taken me three years, so I'd say it's long past time I do something about it.

Second is my physical health. The past couple months, I've been getting better about portion control, so I've slowly been losing weight, which has been encouraging. (I think it may also be related to the fact that I've been taken off a couple of my medications.) But because my seizures were such a mess while I was still in New York and it was too physically difficult and dangerous there, and I've been so exhausted and slightly depressed since I got back to NC, I haven't been attempting any exercise. That's going to change, too. I'm just going to walk around my neighborhood, something simple but still exercise, free, that will get me in fresh air. And I also cut out soda as of yesterday. I'd been drinking a lot of ginger ale in New York and Coke since I got back to NC; no more. I'm not going to set up goals of "I want to lose x pounds by the end of the year" because I'm such a perfectionist that I'll feel really defeated if it doesn't happen at the rate necessary to reach that goal. I'm just going to start with these goals and see where that leads.

So I don't know if you could tell, but my One Word for 2017 is


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