Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Change is Possible

I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of people the last three days. There are people in this world who do not believe that people can change or grow. We have sayings and phrases in the common lexicon that imply this but you know what…it’s not true.

Throughout our life we change, we grow, we become better, or worse…but we change. To say that we don’t grow and change would mean that I was still the loose cannon of my early twenties. I was still the idiot who in order to hide her insecurities had to act like she knew everything. It would be to say that I was still the ‘Little Bitch’ my mom dubbed me in one of my shittier moments. A moment that started a rapid translation and deep look at who I was and who I wanted to be.

I am not that person anymore. Vestiges of her still exist, but I am NOT her. Who I was at 15 is different than who was at 25 and who I was at 35. This goes for all people.

We need to allow ourselves and others to change and to grow. To become who we are trying to be. Growth is hard and usually comes with many mistakes. It comes with hurts for ourselves and the ones we love.

Don’t assume that a person past actions are all there is to them, don’t assume that as a person is struggling to change it is futile. Love them and support them, see what can happen when the caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

Advertisements

To whom it may concern,

Over the last 36 hours I have watched as friends became enemies.  I have watched as people became villains.  I have watched as strangers attacked the character of a person they knew nothing about, all on the words of another.  I have watched as a group of people with mental illness have worked their hardest to drive another over the edge, to destroy other people with the same illness.  I have found myself in tears…wishing for a way to end the pain, the anger, and the hurt for ALL involved.  I have found my friends sobbing and aching from pain caused by words.  I have myself collapsed in tears at the words of a ‘friend’.

Why?!?!  Why do we do this?  Why as a people do we strive to hurt?  I know sometimes it is unintentional, sometimes we just loose our way in the darkness, sometimes things go to far.  Why do we not apologize?  Why are the apologies unaccepted?  Why is it so much easier to hurt than to forgive?  Why do we hold onto grudges, why do we seek annihilation instead of reconciliation or for that matter nothing instead, why not just strive to find the strength within us to move on?  Why is it so hard to let go, to move on?  Wouldn’t it be better; more healing to just move on?  Why are we, as a people so very prone to evil?  To nastiness?  To hatred instead of love and kindness?

I admit I made mistakes, I carried things to far, and I apologized, I tried to move on.  I get forgiveness is hard, but why do you need to destroy?  Why do you need to take everything and everyone down with you?  Why do you have to break others?  Why?

There are times, there are days that I really hate this world we live in.  I hate that so many people are so broken and feel that they need to break others to be better.  Why are we as a people like this?

My heart hurts.  My very soul hurts for everyone who I have interacted with for the past few days.  I wish I could fix it all.  I wish I could repair the damage done not only now but the damage done in the past, the damage that caused the need to break others.  I wish I could fix it, and I can’t, and I’m oh so very sorry.  Really and truly.

The people of our world are so unbelievably broken, so wounded.  Until we figure out how to stop causing more harm, to heal ourselves, it will never get better only worse for us and for all to come.

Toxicity

There are truly evil people in this world. People who will do all they can to destroy others. People who will take all your mistakes, all your perceived evils and use them against you. People who will save up there anger to use at the most and in the most painful and vindictive way they can. When you find that these people are in your life remove them! Rip them out at the root and do not let them back in. Realize that what they do and what they say has more to do with them and their true nature than with you. Realize that they are the ones who are broken not you. Realize that your true friends, the ones who deserve a place in your life will look at the trash they are spewing and say no! They will look at the crap and ask about it, and talk to you before deciding and they will love you anyway. Realizing that mistakes are a part of life and that just because you made some, and someone held onto them to break you does not mean those mistakes are who you are. Realize that that evil person was never your friend and that the real ones, the ones that matter are still there loving you, and supporting you. In these moments cut out the toxic people and hold the others even closer. Remember how far you have come, how strong you are, and how important and loved you are by so many.

My brain on Social Anxiety

help-child-social-anxiety-coping-strategies-fears-afraid-quoteIt’s amazing how the human brain, well at least my human brain works.  Last night was my works auction.  For the last few years I have left the auction in a puddle of emotions.  Some bad, most good, all overwhelming.  So, here’s the thing for any newbies to reading my blog, not that anyone actually reads it – sorry that’s that that stupid brain of mine – I have anxiety.  Over the past four years or so I have become much more willing to talk about that…well in writing at least.  I am also an extreme introvert with some pretty gnarly social anxiety.  Once I get comfortable with people those issues greatly diminish and people forget that with new people, or busy environments I struggle a lot.  I don’t know how to interact in party situations, I literally don’t know how to make small talk, and I can’t get my brain to relax and stop second guessing myself and worrying about what all those people are thinking about me to just settle in,relax, and enjoy.

So, all of this leads to the realities of me in a room full of 90 people (or so I was told), mostly people I don’t know with the exception of my fellow teachers (whom I’m generally comfortable with) and a handful of parents (brain in overdrive to not say something utterly stupid or awkward).  As I wander the silent auction trying to find someone to interact with, without interrupting or intruding on another’s conversations; without trying to cling to my fellow teachers like the social looser I am, I am beyond uncomfortable and can feel the anxiety growing to insane levels. Thankfully it’s time to sit down, I go to my safe zone, a table full of my friends, the teachers I work with.  But I sit between two conversations, unable or unsure how to enter either, and smile at the person across from me, to far for a conversation and to new to my world for me to know what to say anyway.

It’s a great night in which we raise a remarkable amount of money for the school.  After standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, as the bidding for the item that I am contributing to, I am able to settle in and just enjoy the action and the laughter (our auctioneer is a riot).  Then the auction is over, and the families and church members begin to leave…but that means the hardest part of the evening is starting.  See, every year the auction ends with dancing, crazy wild, fun dancing by the teachers and sometimes a few of the crazier, more amazing parents.

For the last two years an amazing friend (if you read this I love you!), and this year a different one (love you too), has dragged me onto the floor and encouraged me to dance with everyone else, led me and tried so hard to help me be comfortable and have fun with my friends.  Shockingly enough (she says with utter sarcasm) I don’t dance, I haven’t got the foggiest idea how to dance with anyone other than my preschool students.  It’s not because I don’t have rhythm…I’m a musician I have rhythm, I just don’t know what to do with my body.  I 100% don’t want to be seen in that moment where I know I look like a big fat girl who has no clue and looks like an utter freak.

Now I know that these amazing ladies don’t care!  I just don’t know how to shut up that part of my brain, to not worry about what others are thinking, to not worry about how I look, to not worry worry worry…I don’t know how to shut off that anxiety part of my brain that says I look stupid, that everyone is laughing at you.  Even as I am being danced with (one of the event crew was dancing with us and seeing discomfort cane over with Ana I fly kind words and twirled me around the dance floor for a moment) and as am I laughing, and truly having fun, there’s still that niggling voice and those tears of unsurness and embarrassment in my eyes.

I have come a long way in the past four years at fighting all those years of shitty words, those mean and nasty comments, the bullying of my youth, but it’s still a process.  And those voices feed the anxiety, they feed the fear.

There is nothing like feeling overwhelmed, scared, loved, and extremely joyful all in the same moment.  There is nothing like trying to process all of that or trying to explain it all to someone else.

Every years a little easier who knows maybe next year I’ll find a way to just have fun.

At about 6:00 pm tonight, January 14th, 2019, it will have been two years since I found out my father was dead.  I cannot say that I have dealt with his loss with a whole lot of grace.  I have had moments of maturity but mostly I have had moments of a girl missing her daddy.

For 36 years he was there.  He was there to love me in spite of my failures, to help me figure out what to do, or to panic at his sobbing emotional mess of a child depending on the issue and me.  But, he was there…with unending and unconditional love.   My dad and I did not always see eye to eye and I could royally piss him off as only a daughter can piss of her Dad, but he loved me.  At times I exasperated him, but he loved me.  We fought, but he always loved me and except as petulant child, and really at the heart of it even then, I always knew that he loved me and that would never change.

I miss him, and the pain of his absence hits out of nowhere with no contexts sometimes…and sometimes I see it coming, sometimes I can deflect and sometimes I get swallowed whole.

49804311_10212908899826456_8518011327359221760_n

I will forever cherish the memories of him.  I will cherish styling his hair as a little girl, as he sat with a slightly exasperated and bemused grin.  I will cherish wrestling with him.  I will cherish sitting in the kitchen with him when he cooked, or watching cooking shows with him.  I will cherish watching horror films with him.  I will forever cherish our conversations, how he challenged me to think for myself, to fight for myself, and be the woman I am today.  I will cherish the memories of him going to bat for me when a teacher did wrong.  I will cherish him telling me, and throwing pillows at my head, when I was being a shit.  I will cherish loving hugs and cuddles.  I will cherish games of chess.  I will cherish all the good times the last year of his life brought before the cancer truly took his mind as well as his body.  I will cherish it all.

I will say this as well Cherish your loved ones.  Make memories, make time.  There are aspects of knowing my father was going to die that I will never be okay with, but having that time and making those memories that I will always keep close and be thankful for.

Good People

You ever marvel at humanity and human beings? I think there are more good, caring, and kind humans than the opposite but the opposite gets our focus and our attention.

Today is All Saints Sunday, a day to remember those we’ve lost, the names of the people in the church community who’ve died in the past year are read. My dad’s name was still in the list. I was silently sad remembering him and others we’d lost, but I was ok, until his name was read. I ran from the church as the loud sobs began. I was checked on by a member of the church. Another, a friend, came into the room and saw me, hugged and comforted me.

The next person to encounter me sitting on the floor, now silently, crying didn’t see the sorrow or the tears. She didn’t see my glasses on the floor she just saw me someone who could watch her granddaughter who was begin to struggle within the service. Of course it was at a time in the service where the nursery isn’t manned but hey. I stood up and told her she was welcome to hang with her but I could not take her. She still didn’t see the tears, the cracking voice. I repeated myself, smiled a teary smile at the little one and left.

I went and calmed myself, marveling at the lack of caring and compassion for a fellow human. I wondered what was wrong with the world. I then returned to the church to get my stuff. Was pulled into a comforting hug and kind words by yet another amazing friend and then in true Jenn fashion went to my office at the church to work, organize, basically focus on something else.

After a bit I returned to the church needing to relay info to someone. Our Deacon stopped me on the way to check in with me. As I approached my Priest, wanting to talk to him about a Children’s Ministries thing he saw me coming and said he wanted to talk with me. He wanted to check on me having seen my rush out of the service and knowing why he was concerned.

As I drove home I thought about all of this. I thought about the uncaring person for a bit but really considered the reality. One person was self focused and oblivious, 5 including one who doesn’t really know me, showed compassion and kindness.

My point in all this rambling? Focus on the five not the one. Focus on all the kind caring, compassionate, empathetic people in the world not the one whose wrapped up in something else. They are probably caring as well but in the moment they’ve got other things happening and that is where their focus is…it doesn’t mean they’re ‘bad’.

Vestibular: What’s that?

BAW_lockup_colorIt’s almost vestibular awareness week.  I share these dates, I share the VeDA site this time every year, but I never really explain why or what it is.  To a certain extent I am afraid to do, to have people understand some of what I deal with…what my chronic illness is like because it can seem scary if you don’t understand, if you don’t know how careful and how aware I am of my body and what is happening at all times.

So, what is Vestibular?  Do you know?  Until 8 years ago I didn’t know that word.  By the way it is the balance functions of the inner ear.  Did you know that your inner ear is responsible for balance, had you ever thought about the fact that there is a part of the body that works for this?  I didn’t not really.  I knew that my grandma Helen had a balance disorder and that as a kid I thought she was kinda boring and I hated that she couldn’t do so many things, but I didn’t get it and I certainly never thought about it. I often wish I could go back in time and tell that little girl to be kind, to ask questions, to appreciate all that Grandma did considering that battle she was fighting.  No one really thinks about the idea of balance and the body until it affects them.  This is where my story begins and the reason why I share VEDA every year.  Oh, yes VeDA is the Vestibular Disorders Association.  There are lots of vestibular conditions, most are little known and even less understood, and I have one.

Here is my Story:

My story began in mid June of 2010.  I woke up as normal one day and discovered that my left ear was stuffy and my balance was off.  My only real thought being ‘great another ear infection’.  I guess in some ways my story began before that June day, all my life I’d dealt with ear infections and in my late teens I’d had some dizzy issues that had been attributed to sinus congestion and ear infections.  I dealt with the fullness in my ears and the slight balance issues for a few days before going to the Dr and sure enough I had an infection.  A few days later the dizzies were worse they had escalated to full on tilt-a-whirl moments and I couldn’t hear anything in my left ear.  When I went back the Dr, my concern being the dizzy, they referred me to an ENT they weren’t worried about the dizzy but the hearing loss.

A week later I had my first hearing test since I was a child and was told that I had a profound, at the time 80% loss, in my left ear.  At that appointment my new Dr. told me that she thought I had a tumor pressing on my auditory nerve.  Que utter terror!!!, also I wanted to know when the world would stop spinning, they were not concerned.  I was told it would fix itself but would likely be a few weeks.  A week later I had my first Head MRI…lots of fun for claustrophobe and someone who now got dizzy when laying in any position other than on her right side with her head tucked in.  I few days later the doc called and told me the MRI showed nothing but now she wanted to do a Head CT to check some bone.  Scheduled that…guess what…NOTHING!!!  At this point is had been months, I had had all these tests including having my hearing checked again and it only got worse.  I was missing at least one day a week of work due to the dizziness.  I’d even had to be practically carried from my room as it turned into a tea-cup ride one afternoon.

Finally, I had another face to face meeting with the Dr.  The conversations at home had been about Grandma Helen.  See she had Meniere’s Disease, she had a vestibular condition, and what I was experiencing was her life.

In Late August/Early September I finally got the Dr. to take the Dizzy part of all this serious.  Yes, loss of hearing bad, but ya know what loss of balance bad too and it was not getting better, it was getting worse.  In late September I had what I refer to as the ‘spin around and make you puke test’.  No actual physical spinning involved, just lots of tricking your body into feeling like it’s spinning.  At the end of the test I had a diagnosis, I had a Meniere’s.  There is no cure, there are sort of treatments, and at 29 years old I was young for the onset of the condition.  I will add that I was lucky most people wait years for a diagnosis of Meniere’s.  It is generally a diagnosis of elimination in which you spend years doing one test after another to eliminate causes and more common conditions, because of my familial history I had people who were knowledgeable and who pushed to find out if this was it, there is also believed to be a genetic component.

At 29 years old I was positive that my life was over.  My dreams where done.  I was a preschool teacher who couldn’t spin, couldn’t bend over, couldn’t guarantee that the word wasn’t going to become a merry-go-round at any moment.  I tried, I struggled, and I fought for normalcy.  For a little over a year I continued what I was doing before realizing it wasn’t working anymore.  I was terrified, I was miserable, my co-workers were rightly frustrated, I was seriously depressed, and angry at the world.  Putting on a happy face for families and for my amazing kiddos was wearing and that exhaustion just made things worse.

I left a job that I loved and tried to figure out what my new normal was, what my new dream was, what I was going to do with my life now that I fully believed I couldn’t do what I loved.

I spent many years after my diagnosis, and really the onset of symptoms, terrified.  Living in a world where your body can betray you at any moment is scary.  There is a reason so many with Vestibular conditions have PTSD.  Eventually you figure it out though, for me it took about 3 years of despair and giving up before I figured out that I wasn’t willing to give up my dreams and I was going to figure this life with Meniere’s out.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

It has been just over 8 years since the onset of my Meniere’s.   And it has been 5 years since I decided I wasn’t going to give up on what I loved, working with kids.  I returned to teaching 3 years ago and I teach without fear most days.  I know what my triggers are, I know how to deal when things get off balance, and I have less of those whirligig moments.

I still have moments when I reach out for the wall.  I am careful about getting over tired.  I occasionally have those ‘drunk’ moments.  I have lost 90% of the hearing in my left ear.

BUT, I am blest!  I watch the people in my support groups who are still where I was…even years later, I worry about when those bad bad days will return but I try, so very hard to not let them rule my life.  I don’t physically spin about anymore, and I think about how I move but my life is MINE and I get to do what I love!  I fought and continue to fight for my dreams…I pray that I will never lose them.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Consider helping VeDa by donating here.

LEarn more about VeDA and vestibular conditions at their website vestibular.org