UBC 4/20 Day 13: Not a Fish

Just like many Americans, as well as others around the world, I’m consuming an inordinate amount of television these days. Between Netflix and cable, I’m watching a lot of shows that have been in syndication and are the perpetual rerun cornerstone of channels like WE. Some of the shows, Law and Order or Criminal Minds,  I end up watching start off as mere background noise for one of the women I’ve been staying with for nearly a month now. Other shows are binge-worthy shows that have been picked up by Netflix, like The Magicians. The other woman whose home I’m staying in likes to binge-watch shows with me. We’ve decided our next binge will be Orphan Black. A couple of shows I’ve been watching are Locke & Key and Legacies.  I watch when neither woman is with me. Finally, there are their accumulated shows on their DVR…like The Closer and network staples like Grey’s Anatomy (which I never got into).

Why am I telling you about my tv watching habits? Glad you asked. Because sometimes there’s actually something useful to be learned or some bit of interesting trivia that you didn’t know. Such a thing happened to me, yesterday.

Earlier in the day, my friend was watching Grey’s Anatomy on her DVR. She offered to change what she was watching to something we had been watching together. I told her to continue watching her shows and free up some DVR space. After all, I’m a long-term guest whose presence had been invited over for a short period of, not to be a roommate. Apparently, there’s a character on there who was also an unexpected long-term guest at one of his friend’s.  He was packing up his things when the person who lived there questioned what he was doing and why. His response, “Houseguests are like fish. Both go bad after three days.” Later, we were watching a rerun of The Closer and Brenda Leigh’s mom had come for an unplanned visit and announced, out of the blue, that she was taking a flight back home the next day. Her reasoning? Houseguests are like fish, after three days they go bad.

My friend said, “You’re not a fish.”

It felt good to know that my presence hasn’t become a burden to them. I’ve basically been getting free room and board…and I feel very appreciative and blessed by them. However, I don’t want to take advantage of their hospitality. But, the longer this shelter-in order continues, the more concerned I get about whether I’m wearing out my welcome. So, I do my best to leave as little “footprint” in their home as possible.

I pick up after myself and sometimes pick up after them, too. Nothing major, just putting empty bottles in the Bottle Drop bag or gathering accumulated debris off the coffee table. I try to help with the dishes. I could do more there, so I’m going to make more of an effort…especially on the nights when the first woman cooks. (She’s an AMAZING Southern cook.)  IMG_20200412_153355Easter dinner consisted of glazed spiral ham, green bean almandine, and fried corn. Nom nom. I also go to the store with her to help her shop, so she doesn’t have to walk around too much. Her knees are bone on bone and she’s always in pain. However, she works herself like a workhorse. So, I try to help her in ways that don’t infringe on her pride and autonomy. I’m also planning on giving them some money when I start getting paid.

So, if you’re a houseguest who doesn’t want to start going bad like a three-day-old fish keep in mind the following:

  • The people you’re aren’t your maids. Pick up after yourself and see where you can pitch in with the cleaning.
  • They aren’t your cruise director. Don’t expect them to entertain you or take over their entertainment. Be willing to do what they normally do when you’re not there.
  • They’re your hosts, not your parents. Pay your way, when you can, and help out however you can that works for them.

If you’ve ever hosted someone in your home, what are some ways they can be helpful on their own, without your prompting?

If you’ve been a long-term guest, what did you do to not wear out your welcome?

What’s on your binge watch list?

UBC 4/20 Day 12: Nailed it

Another restless and sleep deprived night. So tired.

Being this tired eats away at the creative process and dulls the mind. I really have no clue what to write about, because my brain is so foggy. So, I guess you will learn of the new skill I’ve been teaching myself during this period of enforced isolation. Painting my own nails.

Sounds a bit silly and frivolous, I know. But, it’s something that has been giving me a minor creative outlet, engaging my brain in a new activity, and giving me at least a small sense of accomplishment. Why painting my nails and not some other, useful, edifying thing, such as learning a new language or reading, or doing more writing? Well, because, sleep deprivation. I’m too tired to really engage my brain in those ways. I’m too distractible and I can doze off mid-word…whether I’m writing or reading. If I’m reading, that means I’ll reread the same sentence multiple times and I lose the thread of what I’m supposed to be understanding or learning. If I’m writing, it disrupts my thoughts and disconnects the ideas. Sometimes, I’ll even type out some kind of gobbledygook and have to backtrack in order to figure out what I was trying to say.

Neither one of these options are helpful. Both leave me feeling frustrated and angry with myself. Since I have a goal to be gentler with and more satisfied with myself, I’ve decided to do something else with the massive amounts of otherwise unoccupied time and the short attention span.

I’ve had the lifelong, nervous habit of chewing my nails. It’s gotten a lot better over the past several years as I’ve gone through my healing and recovery process. I’ve reached the point where I don’t chew them every day. So, they actually get a chance to grow to a little past my fingertips. It would be great to have nails. However, they grow out super thin and sharp. Then they get brittle and easy to break. When that happens, it’s uncomfortable for them to be unevenly long. That’s when the chewing comes back and the portion of all the nails that have grown out get chewed off again.

This time was different, though. First, the sheltering in order from the government. Second, the environment where I’m sheltered in at. Things are crowded and chaotic in my home. However, I’m not there. I was spending time with friends when the orders came down. My pregnant daughter and her three littles, along with their father were in my apartment. I didn’t want to chance affecting them if I somehow had contracted the virus. Then, there’s the fact that the women I’m staying with both fall into the vulnerable category and if they needed help I would be here for them. It’s a much more stable and calm environment here.

When I realized my nails were at that length again, I really wanted to see if I could preserve them. So, on one of my friend’s essential trips to the store, I accompanied her and grabbed myself some nail polish and supplies.

Trial and error have resulted in some fairly decent results. It takes me a long time to achieve the final results, because I have to use so many layers of polish to actually fortify and strengthen the nails. Then, I have to let each layer dry fully. I’ve gotten impatient a few times and the results were more fail than nail. So, I had to start over. But, I’m getting the hang of it now.

Here are my first three efforts:
Collage 2020-04-12 08_51_43

1) Pink holographic
2) Purple Holographic
3) Dark purple French tip
4) Purple French tip with sparkles

 

 

 

 

Collage 2020-04-12 08_50_08

 

 

 

Red with Gold sparkles

 

 

 

 

Collage 2020-04-12 08_51_04

 

 

 

Sparkly Holographic Blue French tip

 

 

 

I know it’s silly, but, I’m feeling quite proud of myself. I hope I can keep them up when I start working again.

What’s something you feel good about yourself for doing?

UBC 4/20 Day 11: Be the Church

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‘“I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.’ ~ Revelation 2:19, NLT

God sees us and knows us. In times such as we are in now, God sees how we love each other and those in the world around us. God sees the faith we have, which enables us to get up and move another day in this world of worry, fear, and chaos. God sees the many ways we serve each other and others we encounter, whether in person (from 6 feet away) or virtually. God sees how we patiently deal with the difficulties we encounter in our isolation or during the times we must expose ourselves to others who may not be following the safety protocols in place. Finally, God sees how, despite our falling short and missing the mark in these things, we still do our best to get better at doing all these things.

If you’re anything like me, you know exactly when you’ve acted out of emotions and attitudes other than love. Maybe you think the worry, fear, anxiety, anger, and a myriad of other feelings mean your faith is lacking. Perhaps, you think there’s more you could and should be doing for others during this time of struggle that we and most around us are experiencing. Possibly cabin fever is setting in and the irritability with those you’re sheltered in with feels like it’s rising minute by minute, day by day. “Oh,” we might think to ourselves, “I’m kind of sucking at this thing called life right now,” because of these things.

Good news friends, we’re actually not failing. If we are considering these things, it means that we want to do better. We want to be better. We are making an effort, however minor it might feel, to grow and improve in all these ways. God sees this and knows this about us and that matters as much as when we get it right.

God is walking through this time with us. Maybe he’s carrying us because we can’t take another step forward, for whatever reason. The Holy Spirit is with us throughout it all teaching us and encouraging us. Jesus is with us, guiding our way, showing us how to do the things that matter most on this journey. We are not alone.

The Anchor Prayer
I rest in faith, trusting Father
I walk by faith, following Jesus.
I hear in faith, obeying Spirit.
In You I remain.

This is how we grow in our ability to see, hear, and know God in deeper ways. This is how we put one foot in front of the other and do the things which need to be done. This is how we grow into the people we are being called to be: people of love, faithfulness, service, and patience. This is how we “be the church.”

UBC 4/20 Day 10: The Colorwheel of Emotion

Color Wheel of EmotionMy therapy homework this week is to start identifying and naming the waves of emotion I experience. Here’s the way it works:

You can either work your way from the inside out, which is what my therapist asked me to do this week, or you can work your way from the outside in, which I think could be quite useful.

When she assigned this to me I asked her when or in what context she wanted me to do this. Basically, her response was to do it whenever I experienced a wave, big or small, of emotion.

I’m beginning with this very moment.

Honestly, I’m feeling anger. What am I angry about? Sleep…rather, the lack thereof. My scalp feels tight and achy. So does the back of my neck. I have been tossing and turning all night. I was too warm, so I turned the ceiling fan on. But, it was too loud and blew too much air. I could have gotten up and turned it down, but, I didn’t for some unknown reason. So, now, the kind of anger I’m feeling is exasperation and irritability. Being exasperated means I’m feeling agitated, frustrated, or both. In this instance, it’s both. I’m agitated that the insomnia has gotten so bad and I’m frustrated because I’m tired and want to go back to sleep, but I know it’s futile. I can tell that irritability is right beneath the surface. Annoyed and aggravated are the extensions of that. Again, I’m experiencing both: annoyed with myself for not getting up and adjusting the fan and aggravated by the knowledge or belief that it wouldn’t have done any good anyway.

Let’s try another one.

Yesterday, I received the email containing the link to the employee portal for the company I’ve been hired by. Through this portal were all of my onboarding processes: completing my I-9 verifying my right to work; the same with the W-4 telling the company how much of my earnings to submit to Federal and to Oregon, before giving me anything I had earned; I submitted my banking information to let them know how I wanted them to pay me; I received instructions on getting the TB testing done; and, finally, accepting and signing the job offer itself.

Ever since the HR guy told me I had a job, I’ve experienced joy whenever I think about it. On the wheel, joy is a base emotion like anger is. This means there’s more to it. After the phone interview, I felt optimistic. I was both eager and hopeful. I was hopeful that I would get the job offer and eager to know if I had the job. Once I got the first email offering me the job, I felt proud, triumphant that I had gotten the offer within a week and a half of submitting my application. Getting the second email containing the link to the employee portal made me enthusiastic and optimistic again. I was excited about embarking on this new leg of my journey, moving toward what I want to be doing with my life, instead of merely surviving. I was eager to do the preliminary onboarding process and move into training. In the midst of it all, I’ve felt proud. Triumphant that my hard work on my own healing and recovery, as well as all the job readiness and training I’ve done over the past nine months has paid off.

Then, I got to the point in the process where I was supposed to schedule the TB test. I contacted the medical facility the company uses for the testing, only to find out that they aren’t doing ANY pre-employment testing…because… COVID-19. Bounced back to anger, with a little fear mixed in. Back to feeling exasperated and agitated. I was feeling scared and nervous, which was really feeling helpless and worried that this whole virus fiasco might prevent me from starting work.

So, I sent an email to the person in charge of the onboarding process. The response made me feel something not on the wheel – relieved. I think that was a joy response to the worry being nullified. I also felt proud again, illustrious, perhaps. She said she was impressed that I had acted so quickly to do the onboarding paperwork and that they were suspending the TB test prerequisite until the medical facility is testing again.

All of those emotions were experienced over a seven-hour period yesterday.

No wonder I was ready for bed by 7:30 last night.

UBC 4/20 Day 9: Good News and Hypomania

I got it!

I got the phone call with the job offer. It’s contingent on me passing the criminal background check. The HR guy still needed to finish the reference check and get the employment verification done. However, there shouldn’t be any issues with any of that. So, for all intents and purposes, I HAVE A JOB!!!

I am scheduled to attend orientation on the 17th of this month. I’ll be working Thursday through Saturday, just over half-time. It’s a union position. However, that’s a brand new situation and they are still negotiating the initial collective bargaining agreement. I’ve never worked with a union before. So, we’ll see how that goes. Once my training is complete, I will be the only staff on duty during my shift. That’s something else I’ve never done…work alone. I’m sure I’ll do okay, but, it’s still a bit unsettling to think about. I just have to trust that I wouldn’t have gotten the offer if I wasn’t qualified for it.

I called my daughter and told her she either had to go into labor before the 17th or between then and the 23rd when I believe my actual job begins. She laughed and said she’d let the baby know. We talked about the contingency plans and who will stay with her kids and who will transport her, both if I’m available and if I’m not. I told her that I wanted to be able to take her and be there when the baby comes. However, it’s about what she needs and not what I want…obviously.

I just hope that I can settle into a good sleep schedule between now and the start of my job. The insomnia has been pretty bad the past couple of weeks, causing me to be inordinately sleepy during the day. I can’t afford to have that happen while I’m working. Now, it seems that a bit of hypomania has been triggered by the news of the job offer. I never actually got sleepy last night. When I did fall asleep, that didn’t last more than an hour or so. I have this kind of buzzing, humming along the nerves, right under my skin, antsy. I can’t seem to settle down. At the same time, due to the accumulated exhaustion in my body from the lack of rest, activity, and good nutrition, I can barely bring myself to move. My body feels sluggish and my head is foggy, but my thoughts are racing and there’s this nervous energy coursing throughout my being. These are all signs of hypomania.

If I can, I’ll channel the nervous energy into increasing my physical activity so that I can get at least a week’s worth of activity to build up a little stamina between now and when I actually start working. I also hope that I can wrangle the racing thoughts into doing something more creative here instead of just giving an account of my daily comings and goings.

I miss how easily I could access the creativity with words that I had when the Bipolar wasn’t being treated. Thankfully, though, the bipolar is “mild” enough that the meds to help mitigate it enough that I can still prioritize the relationships and functionality of my life over how good the rush of the beginning of a manic or hypomanic episode feels. I’m grateful that I am able to exercise that level of control with the meds and DBT skills I’ve learned over the past six years.

Not everyone with a Bipolar diagnosis can do this. It can be a real struggle when the brain fights itself in these ways. I have an online friend who shares his experience and struggles with his bipolar brain. He works as hard as he can and has as much support as he can get and he continues to fight what probably feels like a losing battle a significant amount of the time. He still shows up and fights. So, not just for myself, but for my fellow Mental Health Warriors, if I can work to maintain and continue my recovery, I have to.

UBC 4/20 Day 8: Updates and Checking In

I don’t have anything particularly interesting or exciting or deep to write about today. As a matter of fact, it’s about 3:00 AM and the insomnia is activated. I woke up around 1:30 AM, had some juice, chatted with my friend … rather, I listened to her retell a couple of stories I’ve heard before. Then, I just stayed up and dozed for a little bit, but couldn’t really sleep. So, I decided to write today’s post. See if I can get the words to stop wandering around in my head, whispering and shouting at me. So, here we go.

I hadn’t heard anything about the job since last Thursday. So, I tried calling the number the HR guy I’d interviewed with had called me from. It was a generic Google Voice number with a generic screening message and no indication whose phone I was calling. I hadn’t actually saved his phone number, so, I was left wondering if I had left a message on a spam caller’s voicemail by accident. A little later, I remembered I had his email address. I emailed him and got an almost immediate response

It turned out that the managers of the house he had in mind had both been off work and he hadn’t connected with them yet. Also, he hadn’t actually checked my references yet. When I submitted my initial application, it required that I list three professional references, with at least one being a supervisor. Well, having been out of work for over seven years, I didn’t have any ongoing contact with any of my former supervisors or co-workers. I couldn’t even remember most of their names or could only remember first names. I reached out via text and email to my instructors from the Peer Support Specialist and Peer Wellness Specialist training classes I took fall and winter of the current school year.

Well, I didn’t hear anything from them within 24 hours of starting my application and I was too impatient to wait any longer. I made a false assumption and jumped the gun by listing each of them as a reference without first getting their agreement. One of them replied to the email, stating that she doesn’t usually provide references for her former students, but, because she thinks I would be good for the organization, she would give me a reference. I was applying to the same organization that had provided the training.

Additionally, he had to do employment verification for the one job I held, back from 2007-2008, which held any kind of relevance to the position I’m being considered for. Normally, he would have had me come in and complete a form which would then be faxed to the employer. However, as we all know, these are not normal times. With everyone working remotely from home, there was no one and nowhere he could fax anything to. So, he had to have me complete an application for the specific position, since my first application was a generic one used to have a pool of employees ready to fill various positions which are needed on a regular basis. Completing this new application was the only way he could get my electronic signature to authorize that employer to release employment information to him. I got that done as soon as we got off the phone.

I also found out that the house I’m being considered for is a low-risk house and I would be on shift by myself. I’m not really sure how I feel about that. I’m used to working with other people as part of a team. I told him that I’m good with it. I know I can do that on my own, I just feel awkward and uncertain thinking about it, at this point. Anyway, if things check out and all the connections are made that need to be made, I could start training next week.

Not knowing what that potential schedule will be, meant I couldn’t actually schedule next week’s counseling session. So, if I don’t hear anything concrete by Thursday afternoon, I’m going to text my therapist to set up that appointment. We’re getting some good work started and I don’t want to lose momentum.

I read, paraphrased, what I had written on the blog yesterday. She was surprised at how much I had actually opened up about, especially in such a public forum. I told her that I’m REALLY good at going deep in a very shallow way. She indicated that is a common thing amongst trauma survivors. It tends to be a way of testing relationship waters. Basically, putting the bad stuff out in the beginning, determines if someone is going to stick around or if they’re going to abandon the relationship. It is a way of telling the story without getting into the emotions and feelings.

We talked about feelings being like waves in an ocean. Some can be soft and gentle like the small waves brushing against the feet and others can be huge waves that overwhelm us and knock us off of our feet. An these emotions can be ones that make us feel good as much as they can be ones which make us feel bad. My assignment for this week is to work through the Color Wheel of Emotion and identify the waves of feeling I experience.

Well, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. See you tomorrow.

UBC 4/20 Day 7: Avoidance, Fear, and Understanding Myself

I have a counseling appointment today, via computer. I really like this therapist. I met her fact-to-face just once after social distancing became a recommendation, before it became a government mandate… so, that would have been three weeks ago. I feel like she’s going to be good for me. I also think she’s going to be somewhat hard-nosed and won’t let me get away with not doing my “homework.” So, here I am, cramming homework I had all week to do, into a few hours before it’s supposed to get turned in. Just like in high school or college.

Turns out that this is exactly part of the homework I was supposed to be working on. Avoidance.

What am I avoiding, exactly?

Well, the questions she asked me to consider at our last session were about me identifying my space in the world and in my life. Not where I feel I belong, but the space that belongs to me, specifically in my own home. What do I need to work on taking back so that I can feel safe and secure? Why is there such a strong sense of avoidance? What does avoiding look like? What am I avoiding?
Believe it or not, I think tackling the questions on avoidance will be easier than the other questions. Of course, that’s also a way of avoiding examining the other questions. Right?

Aaaaand avoiding dealing with the avoiding. It’s been about an hour, maybe more, since I finished that last sentence. So, back to the question: Why such a strong sense of avoidance? I think this is the point where my “stream of consciousness” writing style may come in handy.

Fear. Fear is at the heart of avoiding. At least, I think that’s what it is. If that’s true, then, I need to figure out what it is I fear. In the context of the initial questions about space and figuring out how to take back what is mine and what I need to do to work on to taking it back, what is it my fear?
It may be two things. The first is realizing that I’ve seldom, if ever, completely had my own space, or my own place in the world. I don’t think I even understand what that looks and feels like.

I remember being a young child where a couch was my bed and the living room was my bedroom. After that, when I had my own room, it became to catch-all. Whenever my mother expected people to come into our home, all the accumulated clutter from the public spaces was moved into my room and seldom, if ever moved back out. I recall one Christmas I had been given a peppermint candy cane log – it was HUGE. If memory serves, I had carved out space for it on my dresser and I was looking at it from an angle that meant I was on the floor. I have a sense that was because the floor was the only available space and it was also where I slept. After that life fell through and we moved again, I may have had my own room for a few months before my mom and I moved to live with my grandmother. It was a small, one bedroom apartment. More moving. Then mom died, leaving me in my uncle’s custody. Another one bedroom apartment for my uncle, his wife, and me. I was 12.

Eventually, I had a room to myself, but, it never felt like it was mine or my space because I never really felt like I belonged, that I was part of his family unit. Three more moves over the next four years. Some of the time I lived with my uncle, some of the time I lived with my grandmother. Sometimes I had my own room, but, mostly not. Then, at 16, I ran away. When you’re a runaway, you really don’t get your own room. I lived out of cars and hitchhiked across the country with my son’s father, until he almost killed me in front of our two year old son. At 19, I was a single mom, with no employment history or proven work skills. So, there was no way to afford my own space. When I did afford my own space it was either studio apartments or one bedrooms that I shared with my son. Sometimes there were roommates.

During the times when I might have had my own space, I wound up helping other people out and giving them a place to stay…often for extended periods of time. Including now, when my adult daughter’s family became houseless right after Thanksgiving. Her family of five plus one on the way moved into my tiny two bedroom, one bath apartment. Even before they moved in, though, my space wasn’t my own because her younger sister, who I was partially co-parenting, but mostly single parenting, is autistic and at 10 years of age refused to sleep by herself.

So, yeah, I have no clue how to own and occupy space that’s just mine.

The second fear is that, if I push the issue and push my daughter’s family out, I’ll be abandoning them, abandoning her, the way I was. Well, maybe not the way. After all, my mother’s undiagnosed, untreated mental health issues are what caused her suicide. But, she left me alone and, even as a 50 year old woman, there are times when I wish I had a mother to turn to. I don’t want her to ever feel that I won’t be available when she needs me and, right now, she needs me.

Finally, the third fear is intertwined with the second fear. I’m afraid of losing relationship with her and my grandchildren. Six years ago, my relationship was so broken with her that I had to find out from an old family friend that she had gone into premature labor and was in the hospital. She didn’t want me there. Now she’s about to give birth to baby #4. I don’t ever want to be in a position where I am not wanted or allowed to be in my daughter’s or grandchildren’s lives again.

Well, that’s enough processing for now. I know this was long. Thank you for sticking with me until the end.

UBC 4/20 Day 6: Living

Reaching out, all I grasp is air.
Seeking what is not there.
Feeling the edges of despair.
Apathy says, “I don’t care.”

Opening my eyes, I see nothing.
Looking for one special thing.
Wanting a reason to sing.
Hope says, “Wait for spring.”

Walking into the void,
Fear being destroyed
I’m no longer paranoid.
Faith says, “Life’s to be enjoyed.”

Listening in the emptiness.
Hearing my inner distress.
I sense love’s caress.
“You are mine,” Divinity says.

lem 04/2020

UBC 4/20, Day 5: Why Reality TV?

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness and other tru-crime documentaries.
Waka & Tammy and other “day in the life of a celebrity” shows..
Marriage Boot Camp, The Bachelor, and other reality tv competitions.

These things were highly popular before the “Stay Home. Save Lives” initiative. Now, they seem to be even more so. 92350815_3045724895467389_8313616307643744256_o I find myself caught up in these shows whenever they’re on the screen in the same room as me. It’s like they’re like a powerful drug, very addictive. I feel like a “looky-loo” driving past a three-car pile-up or a train that ran off the rails. I can’t just look away.

The daughter of the couple who I’ve been  “sheltering-in” with came over and spent the night. (Yeah, I know: that defeats the purpose of me trying to live by the social-distancing initiative. But, we’re not talking about that. Nothing I can do about it.) She decided to turn on what she called “ratchet tv.” The night before, she tried to convert me to a Tiger King viewer. I resisted. When I inquired about why she wants to watch this kind of show, She said, “It makes me feel better about my life.”

What is it about reality tv that turns us into voyeurs as fanatical as sports fans can be when cheering for their favorite teams? Why do these shows make us feel like we are psychiatrists qualified to diagnose mental health disorders? How do we become more attached to the celebrities living scripted lives, than to our own families? What gives us the right to act as judges, juries, and executioners, when we have never been part of the first-hand events, seeing and examining the first-hand evidence?

Personally, I think it’s part excapeism, from our own lives. A break from the daily trauma and drama we all experience in one way or another. Like my friends’ daughter said about feeling better about her own life it’s a way to minimize our own troubles in our heads. “Oh, at least we’re not saying/doing/experiencing THAT, my life is not that bad, so I’m good.”

I don’t know why the fascination with these kinds of shows is so prevalent. What do you think?

UBC 4/20 Day 4: Sitting on Pins and Needles

Waiting.

Waiting is one of the most difficult things to do, I believe.

I got a phone call on Thursday from the gentleman I had interviewed with the day before. The gist of the conversation was that I was only waiting to be hired until they found the right placement for me. He said they had a couple of positions. One is full-time, but, it requires working on Sunday. The other one is part-time, 24 hours a week, but, it gives me Sundays off. I haven’t really been employed for seven and a half years, unless you count my recent and very short stint as an H & R Block Tax Preparer – which I don’t. Since I’m incredibly out of shape, physically and in terms of being mentally focused for eight hours a day, part-time is probably best. Starting off slow and working my way up seems to be the prudent course of action.

After that phone call, I was explaining the details to my friend, who I’ve been sheltering in with. She gave me an incredulous look when I told her I was turning a full-time position down because I wanted to keep my Sundays because that’s the primary day I connect with the people in my faith community. She proceeded to tell me that while the bible has a place where it says to keep the Sabbath holy, there’s also a place where it talks about gleaning and healing being done on the Sabbath. In other words, even though attending church on Sunday may be sacred and holy, it’s still permissible to do what needs to be done.

First off, for a lot of reasons, I happen to believe the actual, biblical day of Sabbath rest is Saturday. I won’t go into why I believe that, I just do. For years my faith community met on Saturdays. However, for a variety of reasons, we moved our service to Sunday nights. The structure of those nights is a key reason I don’t want to give up my Sundays. Even though in our current reality we can’t meet in person, we are using technology to ensure we stay connected with one another and worship together. Prior to this time of social distancing, we spent about three hours or so worhshipping, learning, eating, and talking together, as well as praying for each other.

Secondly, I’ve volunteered weekly to support the worship team and helped to set up the building for the service. That’s probably the most consistent thing I’ve done and the only real structure I’ve had in my life since 2012. Now that we’re doing virtual church, I’m participating in ways that support the new way we have to do things. So, I still have structure and routine in my life on this day. It’s a touchstone for me in a world upended on itself.

These two things mean that holding space on Sundays isn’t a mandatory religious routine dictated by the evangelical interpretation of biblical scripture. It is an act of self-care and a very important way of me taking care of my mental health. It gives me structure, routine, and connection to a supportive community of people who know and care about me, whom I care about and want to deepen my relationships with.

I tried to explain this to my friend. I don’t think she gets it. I suspet that she doesn’t completely approve. However, that’s her stuff, not mine and I’m grateful that I’ve reached this point in my recovery process that I don’t feel the need to keep explaining myself in an effort to get her understanding and approval. I know she loves me and cares about me even if I don’t make choices that align with her opinions.

So, I don’t have to feel like I’m walking on eggshells with her while I’m sitting on pins and needles trying to wait patiently to hear about the job.