Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Always Need God-- last guest post by Barb

I have heard it said that some people only call upon God when life gets tough. What would that be like? My infirmities constantly remind me that I need God. And with God, I have done more than I ever imagioned. It was not congruent with my former painfully shy self to conceive of going on a mission. During the days prior to my mission, I felt that I was being prepared very much for a mission. I felt God's love so strongly that I felt there is no way that I could ever repay Him. And the Holy Spirit helped me press forward when my nonmember family was very opposed to going at the onset. I still marvel how a young woman who likes to avoid risk would embark on such a journey. And this decision felt more right than anything that I had ever done. But it was still going against my grain though I may not have focused on that as much as my desire to go. I was so shy and so afraid of a mistep that I whispered responses to the temple recommend questions. There was a lot more to my life that I will not go into now though I have in the past. I needed to draw upon God. And I look with such fondness to those days.

Soon there would be days of despair that I can recall now though it almost seems a vague recollection as I try to conjure up the emotional pain. That is when obessive compulsive disorder came into my being. And a weeks time was a painful time to wait for a meeting with a Mental Health Professional. I looked proufoundly sad at times and was. Ocd is still there in so many ways in my life though some of which plagued me know has shifted and I have improved in so many ways. I have tools to function. God helps me in ways that those of faith may understand. And I am so thankful for the love I have felt at times when I feel so unworthy. I don't know if I will ever be completely without ocd on this side of the veil. There are times when it hurts so much when I am not able to reason as well or fit it into a box where others have told me things are okay. And some things seem too vivid even after all this time and all the assurances. Yes, I am so aware of others trials that seem more than I would be able to bear. I am aware through my constant and probably morbid dwelling on death through ocd of the miracle of life.

This Fall, I had a great desire to go on a day trip to the town where I have relation and my grandma was raised. I felt prepared by God in a special way and the opportunity was there. I did things to minimize anxiety that a normal person would not do in limiting places that I went on the way to my destination three hours away. And I was blessed to do okay in the process. I also had my security person with me who is my mom and if there was a concern, she could tell me it was okay. She does not really like the role of caregiver to a grown daughter and would love me to be independent. This trip makes me think that if God really wants me to do something and I will be open to the task that I can do it.

With my anxiety, I do not feel the Holy Spirit as frequently as I once did. I do think I felt the Holy Spirit more during my darkest days of ocd. Therefore, it may be more than anxiety alone. The most spiritual times for me at one time was before I got out of bed. My Bishop said that sounded reasonable as that was before I actually started my stressful day. I do feel so blessed to generally go to sleep and sleep well as I resolve most of my fears before retiring. I remember the pain of a few occassions when that was not the case. I think I awoke a friend once after visiting his house with the anxieties that maybe something bad would happen from my visit. I wonder if not feeling the Holy Spirit as often is because I have not made it to Church for a long time. I had a lapse of going before where I still felt the Holy Spirit often. When I stopped feeling the Holy Spirit very often, that was one of the reaons that I decided to meet with my Bishop who had wanted to meet with me for over a year. That was several years ago and his kindness and counsel helped so much in my functioning. However, going to Church even to meet with him was too much for my ocd as there were often babies around or small children and I worry most about being a risk to them. I have so often felt on the brink of being well. And that is so much better than the alternative! But it is guilt-ridden as I do not take the doors that may open to me. I felt the Holy Spirit so much around the time that they had the special ceremony for Jospeh Smith in December a few years ago and so many were reading the Book of Mormon to finish by the end of the year. Maybe I was a failure in not making it to Church during that time frame. Or it feels that way. But things happen that push me back so I don't quite get there. Yet, I feel sustained. I have faith in God. I don't have a lot of faith in myself though. I know that I do pretty well most days. But there are moments when I know how very, very vulnerable I am and how close I feel to losing it all.

I worry that people may marginalize me due to my mental illness. I have been blessed to have witnesses by the Holy Spirit at times that are so separate from depression or obsession compulsive disorder or other mental issues. A Bishop shared with me what I think is a good explanation. He said that my spirit is whole and not afflicted in the same way as my temporal body and as such the Holy Spirit can speak to my Spirit. I feel a peace just writing this.

I don't take for granted anything that I can do. And while I know how dependent I am on God, I do think there was a window after being a convert and before ocd that I may have started to think that I was special and not in the debt that I was to God.

I also have come to feel that I have some gifts intellectually that I had not supposed when I was in high school or even in my early twenties though I did very well in school and had encouragement from teachers. I had so much self-doubt that failure was around the corner because of my limitiations. As I took classes that required some abstract thought more than the run of the mill courses and also as I have matured, I have realized that I may actually in a qualititive way have my moments of brilliance. Without my many weaknesses and my problems in taking care of myself and the many things that humble me and what I think are learning disabilities, I may be very arrogant. I still have too much pride in that frame where my abilities lie for someone who probably should consider myself much more stigmatized than brilliant.

I know this may not all tie together as I have expressed a lot. I just want to share how I have felt. I could have had an ocd free world at the computer as well as free from other baggage. That is how I was at my earliest days on a forum. It was nice as I thought I came across pretty normal and also well-spoken at times. It felt good to belong. When I am open, then I worry if I belong a lot of places. Then, I retract what I say also as I feel I may be out of place. I have learned that people are very open on blogs even when it is not relevant. I hope that I have improved.

If you were to see me in my normal day, you may have no idea all the crazy ocd ideas that are running through my head. You may also have no idea how close I feel to God as he helps me function and go forward in those moments. I will likely run my concerns by my parents when I see them all the same. Yet, I would not want to go a day without the strength of God to help me through. Were it not for God and also the kindness I have found from many people, I would feel shame. There have been times when I have felt shame, but I am usually blessed to have a better view of my worth. I often feel very good about myself in ways that may not come across online. I worry about being so public as I know everybody has trials and many far worse than me. And I know ocd is common and many are not so public like me. It is so apart of my identity. And yet, I feel that I am so much more than ocd. And I thank God for all the ways in which he directs me to have a life despite my OCD. And I feel blessed in so many ways ever aware that I am so dependent on God for all these blessings. I can't go it alone. And I am glad to know that.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Conversation with Bill about Bacon

(all in a cordial tone)

Bill: "You know how you've been cutting the bacon in half?"

Me: (reclining on the couch trying to wake up) "Yeah."

Bill: "Don't do it anymore."

Me: "I like it cut in half. It fits the pan."

Bill: "I don't like it cut in half. I don't care how it fits."

Me: "I like it cut in half."

Bill: "I don't like it cut in half."

Me: "I like it."

Bill: "I don't like it."

Me: "I do."

Bill: "I don't.

Me: "I do."

Bill: "I don't. Don't do it anymore."

Me: silence

That was over the one time in the last 6 months I've made breakfast. He wins the argument because I rarely cook breakfast anyway. I make good dinners, though.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Me and Bill are so screwed

That's what we say to each other a lot these days: "We are so screwed." Because we're both going senile, but in different ways (so they're all covered, you know) and we're losing our health.

Bill can't work the remotes for the TV and I have to do it all for him and he will mess it up and I'll have to fix it for him. I lose stuff all the time now and literally, within seconds, forget important things and friends. I have that face recognition problem(I read about it in People magazine and instantly diagnosed myself) where people with similar features look the same to me and that's disconcerting. I've been faking it a lot, I tell you, a lot.

The other day at Wal-Mart, I saw a woman I recognized and said "hello." And she greeted me in return. And it bugged me to death because I had no clue who she was or how I knew her. Finally, I went up to her and asked her and she laughed and said, "I was thinking the same thing."

It bugged both of us (she looked about 15 years older than I, but really really hot for an old broad) and we stood there for five minutes trying to figure it out.

Yesterday, while dusting, I found a $20 bill I'd stuck under a doily. I have no idea why I did that or where the money came from. Now THAT is senility because we are not rich and I so wouldn't lose track of $20 in my right mind.

Last night Bill and I were watching The Waitress (a really sweet show) together and I was thinking about all the pies and I said, "You know, maybe I should make the pies from scratch this year. Pecan would be nice. I haven't made a scratch pie in years."

And he looked at me and asked, "You used to make scratch pies?"

I sat up and stared at him in amazement because my crust is really a thing of wonder and he loved my pies! I just stared at him, didn't say a word. And he said, "well I know you make the crust, I meant the filling."

And I can't tell you how relieved I was. Because I don't know who's going to take care of us. Although I have a death wish, I would so worry about him if I die first because I wouldn't want anybody to be mean to him. I can see that happening.

I know if I out-live him and become old, nobody will still mess with me. Hell, I'll hide some pepper spray somewhere. Might forget where I put it, but I would so not tolerate mistreatment. I can see my poor sweet befuddled husband just being bullied all over the place.

These are the things one thinks about just before retirement.

Friday, December 14, 2007

"I deleted my guest post" Guest Post by Barb

I deleted my last guest post. I really hate to reveal how human I can be sometimes.

I like to think I am above all that. At any rate, I am so thankful to have counted many as my friends online. And thank you, Annegb, for all the support again and again. I know you hate it when I delete guest posts. I don't know if you even saw the post yet. The guest post was titled "On being Hurt."

Without giving details to what ancient history hurts I spoke of, I want to review a few things that I have learned in all these months.

First, I cannot expect a person to be responsible for the level of hurt that they caused when an ordinary person would not have been so sensitive. I know we are always to forgive, but I make it a harder offense to forgive because I am so sensitive. In addition, if a person really fell short and hurt me on purpose, then they are human and have not mastered that part of themselves yet. I need to allow them that without overlooking all the many ways that they have done good.

I have not mastered all areas of myself. And we may never fully master even the areas that are our strengths in this life. Also, I have hurt others myself and do recognize this. I try not to be a petty person. My weakness is thinking that people may not like me because I am unbalanced. In truth, I am surprised how very normal so many people treat me. Thank you all!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Since I Got a Computer Guest Post by Barb

Surfing the web seemed so inefficient to me when I used it to research a paper on campus. No, I don't need to be "online," if that is what is all about. You put in key words and got list upon list of things that could be far from what you were searching for. I had never had a modem at my home. Using a search engine at the library was entirely different as it could point you towards actual research.

I don't remember when I first discovered the joys that could be mine by surfing the web. I know that I had longed for a computer for quite a time. I think one of my main objectives would be to email relatives. But what made me so pumped up when I learned that I would receive a used computer was the thought of all that information at my finger tips. I don't know if I am a paradox or such, but I love to learn and yet I get information overload. Just the thought of all that knowledge was giving me so much excitement coupled with information overload sensations.

I would think of words to try tread articles that interested me. As a Speech Pathology major, I like to put in words regarding that field of study. I learned that one of their major journals required official membership. I wanted to beat the system. Cognitive psychology is related to all this and I would put in a lot of key words in that regard.

Then, I went to desertbook just to browse and found this thing called a message board. I was shy to post. A person asked a question that seemed like it needed a pretty fast answer so I dived in feet first. That forum closed and around that time, one of the regulars there gave information about an LDS Blog. I had never seen a blog and didn't know what it was. Also, there was an Exodus of a lot of us to Nauvoo. Before it closed, I had already joined another beloved forum Helamans-Army that recently reopened its forum doors much to my delight.

And instead of doing all this surfing, I was reading desertbook much of the time and later my other forums. Blog upon blog was added. I think the first individual blogger that I knew was Mary A of bystudyandalsobyfaith. I count her as one of my treasured friends. As I do not have a blogger account of my own or google, I haven't been able to post comments on blogspot as I would feel funny using annegb's so hi to all of you friends!

And the fellowship of all this blogging and forums means so much to me. You get to know people online past the surface so much quicker than you do those you see day to day. I remember when I used to have a mind whirling with thoughts that I wanted to share. I used to slip an idea in here or there. Now I can write essays or poems and share what I feel. It means so much to share sides of myself online. I look forward to it as I go about the course of my day at work where I do not have access to all this fun.

I can feel rather inefficient though as I often recheck places for new posts that can be slow moving. I don't read a lot of blogs by most people's standards. I have made some good friends though and those are the ones that I read the most including Lisa M, Mary A, Téa, and I cannot forget Sarebear!!! My life would be so much less without Sarebear!!! It is such a cool experience when somebody has posted on something that I have wrapped my mind around once upon a time. I need to try to hold back on sharing my every racing thought though on a given subject lest I come across strange. Ah, that doesn't stop me much, most of the time!

I do share my online time efforts with an online library that I signed up for some months ago. And I am reading so much about reading. I took Intro to Reading years ago and want to learn all that I can on the subject. And someday I want to get a program that costs 1,000 dollars that teaches reading. Who knows for sure what I will do with this knowledge, but I am rather drawn to it all. I am wired pretty good for phonics. I kind of laugh at the fact that I can now have my hearts content of the coveted field of Speech Pathology at my online library now, but have only scratched the surface there. I keep adding so many books to my book shelf from introduction to philosophy that I find interesting though I wish I had a guide to explain things that are beyond me. I found a book on physics that said that there was no math prerequistes and decided that was too good to be true.

A lot of my online friends are writers and I have been able to read a couple of excerpts from them. And I want to get the books of those that have been published or may soon be published!
Well, I wanted to post something, but didn't know just where to start. But I can talk a lot about being online. I don't know if this was navel gazing though. :)