Grief

I never understood grief. I had never lost anyone close to me suddenly or unexpectedly. My great-grandparents have all passed on, but their deaths were not a surprise and I was not emotionally close to any of them. When my nephew passed away, I suddenly understood loss. For years I struggled to understand why one of my best friends was so emotional about certain things. I could not sympathize when she struggled with a coming date that commemorated a birthday or reminded her of the day a loved one died or so many other dates that seemed to mean something to her. I simply had no experience with grief and while I tried to be supportive, I admitted to her that it was not something with which I could sympathize.

I understand grief now- not in an all-encompassing depth of knowledge, as I only have a glimpse of the journey that I now travel, but I now understand that grief is real. I have nights of not being okay. I have days where everything seems to remind me of that terrible tragedy. I know what it is like to ache for a part of you that will never return. I try not to sink too deeply into my grief. I know that I must cling to happiness because depression constantly reaches for me, simply waiting for me to slip back into its grasp. I must not succumb to the grief because it will swallow me whole if I choose not to fight. However, I do need to greet the grief. I need to welcome it and entertain it for a while because it is now a part of me that needs to be addressed. There is a balance to grieving and a balance to living. I must do both. I will do both as I traverse these new emotions that I never thought would be a part of me.

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Sexual Attraction and Religion

There are a few things that I hardly ever speak about or write about because they are simply not culturally acceptable. Sometimes that means they are not acceptable in society at large, and sometimes it means they are not acceptable to my immediate culture surrounding me on a daily basis. Homosexuality, gender dysphoria, and sexual attraction are all things that are not culturally acceptable for me to talk about here, or anywhere else really.

I avoid these topics for a few reasons. One reason is that this blog posts directly to my personal Facebook page. I made the difficult decision to do that a few years ago because I realized how much people don’t talk about the hard stuff, and I wanted them to. I wanted to not feel so alone in what I was feeling. So I decided that if I wanted to see this, I had to start doing it.

I do not know how many of my friends know about my mental illnesses, disorders, or feelings toward gender or sexual attraction. I do not know who will read this today and learn something about me that I never would have told them in person. This puts me in an incredibly vulnerable place, but someone has to do it. Someone has to talk about the hard things to make it easier for others to talk about hard things.

So… Here it goes…

I read a post on Facebook that said sexual feelings are from God so we should not be ashamed of them. Since this was a post on a religious page, someone then asked why churches can discriminate between homosexual feelings and heterosexual feelings if they are all from God. How can we say that homosexual feelings are not from God if we believe heterosexual feelings are from God?

I don’t believe we can. I do not believe that we can honestly say that attraction in any form is unnatural, an abomination, or any other form of condemning language often used in religion to denounce the practice of homosexual behavior. If sexual feelings are from God, you cannot say that the direction of those feelings negates that statement.

However, believing that homosexual feelings are from God does not necessarily mean that acting on those feelings is sanctified by God. God gives us certain desires or tendencies that may or may not be for us to act upon. I have had depression for as long as I can remember. I have had the desire to die for as long as I can remember. I do not believe God wants me to act on this desire. However, I do believe that I should not be ashamed of this desire because it does come naturally to me.

We have a tendency in society, and often even more so among church members, to judge feelings as bad or people as bad for having these feelings. If you express natural feelings that are not common place or considered socially acceptable, you can be shamed, isolated, and abandoned by those around you. I do not think anyone should be ashamed of their sexual feelings. Whether you are attracted to the same sex or the opposite sex, the feelings that come naturally to you are not anything to be ashamed of. Again, that doesn’t mean you should act on these feelings (either heterosexual or homosexual) because there are bounds that have been set. But I believe that we need to break out of the mindset of being ashamed or shaming others for their natural feelings and inclinations.

I do not have sexual feelings naturally. Thinking about kissing or other sexual touching is not something I enjoy, and my body has an adverse reaction to sexuality in any form. Does this mean that my sexual feelings (or lack thereof) are not from God?  I cannot believe that to be true. I believe that God has given me these feelings for a purpose. I do not know that purpose, but I do know that it has helped me to better understand those around me and that it connects me on a more spiritual and emotional level with those around me rather than a sexual or physical level.

Because I feel no sexual attraction towards another person, I am more emotionally attracted to them. I feel the desire to get to know others because I feel their hurt or their goodness or their love or potential. I want to get to know people because I want to connect with them on an emotional level. I want to share their burdens and partake in their capacity to feel joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. I want to be friends with people because I like knowing and experiencing how others feel.

This makes me a good listener. It makes me more understanding of others. It makes me more compassionate when someone is hurting. It also makes life harder in some ways because I am more emotionally involved with others so the potential for emotional damage to myself increases. And it makes it harder to desire to date or find a companion because most people want a physical connection in romantic relationships rather than just an emotional one. In fact, romantic hardly seems like an appropriate term for me because how much romance is there if there are no sexual feelings?

The point of this though is that I believe we need to stop labeling thoughts as good or bad or people as good or bad for having certain thoughts or feelings. People are often quick to judge someone who does not fit their standard of normalcy. But if you believe that we are all created equal, that we are children of God, and or that God is no respecter of persons, I feel it is a contradiction to condemn another person for feelings that come naturally to them. We need to make discussing natural feelings normal if we ever want to understand how people feel and why they do the things they do.

Grateful To Be Understood

I didn’t do a gratitude post yesterday. I started writing it last night, but I became depressed and couldn’t continue. I wanted to write about how grateful I am for all the times people have really seen me over the years- the moments where people took the time to listen or get to know me better. I am deeply grateful for those times, but they also remind me that most people don’t stay in your life. No matter how hard you try or how much you want to be a friend to someone, nothing you do can actually make someone stay in your life. They have to decide to stay in your life. And I became depressed thinking about all the people that have decided not to stay in my life.

In that depressed state, I sent a three word text to my friend, “I miss you.” It’s what I always say when I’m hurting. I don’t really have the words to say that I am struggling or depressed or that I need a friend, but saying I miss someone doesn’t seem as selfish as saying that I am not okay. I was surprised to find out that my friend knows I’m struggling when I tell her I miss her. I guess it makes sense that she understands me because she’s my best friend, but it was very comforting to me that she understood.

When I explained how I felt to her, she just said, “I know.” Those two words are so amazing sometimes. Having someone know, understand, or sympathize is incredibly freeing. It means that your pain doesn’t have to all stay inside you. You are not alone anymore because someone else sees.

I still wish that friends stayed more often. I wish that I felt like I am someone people want around. But, I am grateful to be understood by someone. I am grateful for the incredible friends that have stayed in my life. I am grateful for all the people that have taken the time to understand me, to see me, and to keep seeing me and understanding me. I know it is not always easy to be friends with someone, but I am grateful for the people who continually try. Those few friends mean the world to me.

 

When Someone Understands

My entire life I have dealt with not being okay. There are different reasons why I might not be okay- maybe it is too loud or too bright or too hot or there are too many people or there is too much going on or I am hungry or tired or anxious or just not okay for some other reason. Sometimes I do a pretty good job of getting myself to become okay again; other times not so much. I have learned over the years that there are times I simply cannot handle a situation in a positive way because of how I feel. I have also learned to find a way to escape when I feel this way so that I won’t do something I would regret. But, until recently, I was generally alone in figuring out how to deal with all this.

A few days ago I was at a family event that was overwhelming for me. I felt crowded and hungry and the noises around me seemed extra loud. I went to a chair in the corner of the room and tried to pretend like I was okay. I didn’t really expect anyone to notice or do anything. I was just trying to disappear into my head. But, my sister did notice. She asked if I was okay and if I needed to go to a quiet place to be alone for a while. She and her husband hugged me and told me that it was okay that I was having a hard time. They showed me where I could go to get away from everything for a bit, and while I was away trying to calm myself, my sister made me food and brought it to me.

It felt so amazing that I cried. I cried because people are starting to understand. They are starting to realize when I’m overwhelmed and need a break, and they are helping me. When someone understands it changes everything. It is easier to become okay again when others don’t expect you to be okay in the moment. If they get upset with you or frustrated or scared or react in a way that makes you feel abnormal, it invalidates your feelings. You get upset with yourself because you should not react in that way, you should be able to control yourself, you should not be overwhelmed by the situation.

I feel like I have pretty good self control. I can generally hold in a meltdown until I get to a place where I am alone. I can generally calm myself down enough to get to another room before I get overly upset about a situation. It is hard though. It is hard once you are not okay to do everything on your own to become okay. It is hard to be alone, yet that is often how we believe we must deal with how we feel.

Over the past few weeks, I have had a lot of times when I was not okay. But I have been amazed at the positive, helpful responses I have received in these times. Not everyone has responded positively, but a few people have let me be not okay with them for a few minutes so that I could get to a point of being okay again. It has helped me to become okay so much faster and be able to still participate because I didn’t have to leave before I really wanted to go. Maybe it is not always that easy. Maybe sometimes other people can’t really do anything to help, but if someone can understand, if they can let you know that it is okay to not be okay, that can change everything.

 

Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop

Welcome to Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from special needs bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about having a special needs kiddo — from Sensory Processing Disorder to ADHD, from Autism to Dyslexia! Want to join in on next month’s Voices of Special Needs Hop? Click here!

Coming to Terms

I know I have been posting a lot lately about abuse, suicide, self injury, and things of that nature. I know it worries some of you. I know it saddens some of you. And I know that it may annoy some of you. I know it can be hard to read or difficult to understand or tempting to avoid, but I’m glad you read it anyway.

Right now, I am coming to terms with a lot of things. I am starting to understand myself and the philosophies that have governed my life. I am starting to see my thoughts as they really are and slowly learning to change them. It is hard. I know it is hard for you to read, but it is also difficult for me to comprehend.

I need you. I need this. I need a place I can come to to be completely honest with myself. As long as these thoughts stay in my head, I must deal with them alone, and it is a heavy burden to bear alone. Posting about my thoughts does not diminish the burden, but it does decrease the loneliness. It allows me to receive feedback that I am doing okay, that I am making progress, that even though I must bear the burden alone, the weight of that burden can be shared.

So thank you for being part of this. Thank you for allowing me to share my burden. Thank you for trying to understand even though these may be things you never experienced before or don’t know about. In all honesty, I hope you don’t understand. I hope you don’t know what it feels like. I hope you have never had to go through these things. But I’m glad you care anyway. I really couldn’t ask for any more than that.

Life is Hard: Be Kind

Yesterday at work, one of my coworkers told us about a vocational rehabilitation counselor that ended her life this past week. We don’t know the circumstances surrounding her death or her reasons for choosing to leave this world. What we do know is that life is hard. It’s hard for everyone. Whether you are a counselor or someone in counseling or a human being in general (actually I would include animals too), life is hard.

This post isn’t about suicide. I post a lot about suicide for many reasons. The most prevalent reason is that I know I’m not the only one who thinks about it. I may think about suicide more than the average person, but almost everyone has thought about wanting life to end at some point. This post, though, is about hope.

We are all fighting. We are all living hard lives. We all struggle and fail and fall and falter and wish we could do better and be better and live better. But as hard as life is, there is an undeniable beauty in it. There is beauty in our struggling. There is beauty in our brokenness. There is beauty in everything not being okay. It’s beautiful, not because it is attractive or desirable, but because in our brokenness we can understand. We feel more; we hurt more; we cry more. And in that feeling and hurting and crying, we understand something. We understand the pain of life. In this beautiful understanding, we connect.

We connect to others through our struggles because we know the pain that they feel. We don’t understand their exact situation, but we understand the hardness of life. We understand what it’s like to not be okay, and we can choose to be there for that person. That’s what makes it so beautiful. The struggle is beautiful in that we can be broken together. And in being broken together, we can become whole.

“Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Suicide

The demons are real.

It is hard to post about certain things because they are so real that you really don’t want people to know just how real they are. Especially when the people who would worry are probably going to read what you write. It’s like giving your mom your journal to read. I could, of course, hide this from anyone who it might hurt, but then they would never know. That’s the problem with mental illness, you don’t want the people who should know to ever know, but the silence solves nothing.

So, here’s the truth: I want to die. I know you don’t see a reason for it. Neither do I. I know I am doing good things. I know I am loved. I know I am needed. I even know I have worth. But suicide calls me like a familiar friend. It greets me with open arms and says, “come find peace”.

I try to stay away. I pray. I search for goodness. I try to stay healthy, to think good thoughts. I listen to uplifting music. I have faith and hope and love. I do good things.

But I scream silently. I struggle with the noise inside of me. I gasp for breath past suicide’s alluring arms. Death… It seems so easy… So near… Just a respite away. I long for it like a parched throat longs for water, yet I know I cannot drink.

The demons are real. I won’t do it… I can’t do it… But the demons are real… Please understand, the demons are real…