Posts Tagged ‘study abroad’

I guess I don’t really need something dramatic to fill up this space every time I write. I notice that is usually when I write-when shit hits the fan. I’ll write about family today, and the aspect that everyone seemed to negate in my life namely therapists.

I’d often complain or be sad that I don’t have a family, saying that’s who is supposed to help me through the rough times. Therapists always gave the generic, “Your family’s toxic, you need to find friends who you can utilize as your support system”. Then I went to Denmark, and prior to my arrival, during my last appointment with my dietician, she said I could stay here (at the treatment center) for a really long time, and that I’ve built a support system here.

I told her that I’d be living with a host family and she said, “That’s not the same, they’re not going to be your family.” Those words dug at me deep because I knew that DIS (where I study abroad) hooks students up with amazing host families and that the experience was more than a traditional host family (not that I’ve had much to compare to).

Still,  I didn’t have much to retort with to her aside from, “it’s different”.

Fast forward to four months later, my last night in Denmark before I was leaving on a short break. I walked through the doors after completing my last final exam and found that my host grandpa died unexpectedly. I felt compelled to stay and not leave the following day, though I had business to care of in the US.

Before she went to bed, I gave my host sister a present. Her mom, “our” mom Katja was around as I gave the gift.

Months earlier, Victoria had seen my harmonica and really seemed to want her own. This was the gift I gave to her that night.

Katja began tearing up, saying that her father played the harmonica. I had unknowingly kept a tradition going while making my 9 year old Danish sister satisfied.

Serendipitous moment.

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If only it were that easy. I finally have a family I believe would understand what I’m going through. My host family cares about me more than my biological family can and ever will. Friends and mental health professionals have suggested I open up to them and tell them that I struggle with eating, well that I have an eating disorder. It’s not that I’m afraid they won’t get it. It’s that I know it hits too close to home for them. My host brother (who lives away from the house with his fiance and son) had a serious girlfriend a few years back who struggled with what sounds like anorexia. When my host mom began describing the situation a few months back, I felt her heartache for her son and this girl. Things didn’t work out between them, I believe because of her eating disorder.

When I began treatment this summer a few occurrences are necessary to mention. Days before entering my first treatment facility, I had an anaphylactic reaction. At the time, I didn’t panic; it was actually a nurse at the school health center who flipped out more than I did. I calmly reassured her as I swallowed allergy pills (of course that day they didn’t have Benadryl or the like).

A few days later, I was admitted inpatient for what was supposed to be a short (2-3 day stay) to make sure I was stable before heading to a residential facility for eating disorders connected with the hospital. About three days after the anaphylactic reaction and one day into treatment, the allergy resurfaced, my leg and throat swelled yet again. In my first eating disorder treatment, I was constantly utilizing liquids to meet my nutritional needs. I was given excessive amounts. If I finished any less than 100% of my meal, I was given one Ensure Plus (I’m sure if you’re reading this, you’re a pro on calorie content, and there’s no need to trigger someone even more). If I finished less than 50% of my meal, I could look forward to having to down 2 Ensure Pluses. It was certainly not a liquid calorie for solid calorie equivalent. It was unfair and I was often noted as “not-compliant” with the meals and told I’d stay longer because of this.

Insurance company wasn’t on the same page as the treatment center. I wound up remaining inpatient for 9 days which I know isn’t long but remember I was only supposed to be there 2-3 days and then transfer to a residential facility. Upon an immediate, abrupt and unexpected discharge, (thank you insurance), I went to an extended day program not connected with the facility (since insurance refused to cover residential at that point) and began my journey there. Liquid supplements occurred every so often for me.

My body seems to always have expressed itself more than I can express my emotions. Lo and behold, I developed a bizarre condition where it felt like food was getting stuck and backing up in my throat. Like any “decent” treatment facility, a group therapist prompted our group as to if anyone else has experienced such a phenomenon and if so, raise hands. Every hand in the room was raised. It was all I could do to not scream out, “this is different, I just know it”, and so I sat silently, knowing within me that it was.

After weeks of having most meals finished with a Boost or Ensure Plus (this facility does calorie for calorie exchange so that’s a relief), the directors prompted me to seek medical advice. Not knowing where to turn, I decided if the problem’s in my throat, let me go to an ENT (Ear Nose Throat) doctor.

Upon seeing the doctor, he noted inflammation in my esophagus which he could tell by bubbling forming in the back of my throat. He sent me for a liquid swallow study. After the results came back, the doctor said there didn’t appear to be anything acutely wrong, yet referred me to the gastroenterologist. I scheduled an appointment for the following week.

Things were progressing pretty well in treatment, I was bringing up traumas and feeling them a little bit emotionally. This occurred after weeks of narcoleptic fits or “seizures” after delving into something emotional (I now can attribute this to traumatic stress release and the shaking wasn’t actually a bad aspect, it was my body’s was of discharging the negative energy). One night, after progressing to a lower level of care in IOP (Intensive Outpatient), I was having a regular conversation with other clients. I had switched mainly to liquids for the rest of the meal. This was a common occurrence and o one thought much of it at this point. As I was mid-sentence, I felt something come up my throat. At first, I thought it was something that used to occur. When I was 14/15, I would often have a clump (sorry for graphics) of what appeared to be semi-solid mucous come up my throat. I attributed this to anxiety at the time. However, as the object of this night was traveling up my throat, I quickly realized this was not the same. It was almost as if someone or something was trying to force me to vomit. Let me clarify- I have never engaged in vomit behaviors. I always knew my throat was sensitive and in this disorder, I wasn’t trying to kill myself.

I quickly got up from the table to find something to spit this into. Bathrooms are locked during meals, so I found a tissue and spit the thing out. Only later did I realize that it was undigested food. I sat weeping the rest of the meal, alone (as I was always a slow eater) and by then, people had finished their meals. My dietician happened to be sitting at the same table as me that night and said I should get an appointment with the gastro earlier than a few days from then. Long story short, after many procedures (some traumatic, some not), it was found that I have Jackhammer’s Esophagus or Hypercontractile Esophagus. Essentially, peristalsis doesn’t function as expected and succinctly for me as it does others. My esophagus contracts so frequently that it doesn’t allow food to move down as needed. The radiologist performing and evaluating one of the studies said “we don’t see this pattern of swallowing in your age group, we see it in 80 year-olds”.

I don’t feel special. I am quite certain (whether wishful thinking or not) that my physical problems are mostly related to the excessive traumas I’ve endured. It’s interesting to me that I develop a motility disorder while undergoing Eating Disorder Treatment. Rather than put my thoughts and feelings into words, my body speaks for me.

I care so much about my host family and how they’d be affected and perceive my eating disorder, that I can’t bear to let them in on this. They’ve already adjusted much on my motility disorder and buying foods I can bear with. At least, they managed that for a week or two. I feel like a burden already. I don’t want to hurt people who’ve shown me the most kindness anyone has ever shown me for extended periods of time.

So, I sit here and write this post as I hear the dishes clanking and the laughter emanating upstairs.

 

Considering I’ve never been a fan of lying, I have to set some things straight on here. I’m currently studying abroad and it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve dealt with some major issues, all within the first few weeks of arriving. To make this readable, I won’t include the gritty details right now. I will sum it up as such:

-I found out the day before coming here that my brother was going to have brain surgery in a few weeks.

-Right before his surgery, my biological family insisted that I see him, didn’t believe I was studying abroad and harassed me about not seeing him.

-I asked my biological father (the only person I talk to on occasion to not tell anyone that I was here as I didn’t think it would ameliorate the situation.

-Said person did in fact break his word and tell people I was studying abroad. His relaying this fact did more harm than good as I had initially suspected.

-Prior to the surgery, my grandpa became sick suddenly and died. When I asked my father if I should attend the funeral, his e-mail reply was “no need to disrupt school”.

-No one told my brother about my grandpa dying until after his surgery. My dad didn’t even make it to his own dad’s funeral.

It’s no surprise that my motility disorder only worsened throughout my time here. I fucking hate food. Every single time I eat I either become nauseated, regurgitate food, throw up (unintentionally) or have gurgling in my esophagus and stomach indicative of the spasms.

Over the break, I hope to see some therapists and doctors that I had over the summer prior to coming here. My friends already say I should be in treatment again. I know that I do not want to end up in the cycle of treatment. Plus, I’ve been offered an amazing opportunity to extend my studies here doing a neuroscience internship at a hospital. These sorts of opportunities don’t just happen upon someone in the States, they are hard to come by. When presented with the possibility that I could become sicker while here, my honest response is “so what?”.

Bluntly put, I’d rather die at least trying to get ahead in life then return to my basically nothing life in the States. I’m sick of missing out on opportunities because I’m physically or emotionally unwell. I crave having a family and the host family I have here is the closest thing I’ve experienced to a “normal” family. I just have no desire to appear sad in front of them or express my negative emotions. I judge myself, thinking that they expect me to be level-headed because of my age. After all, their two older kids are younger than me and out of the house and supporting themselves from what I know. One even has a two year old. I believe in my twisted world I must come across as stable and without issues and this is how I portray myself to most everyone.

Sometimes, I see the school psychologist and lately she’s been questioning my mood. I know she can pick up on my sadness even though I assure her repeatedly that I’m FINE. FINE = fucked up, insecure, neurotic and emotional. Yeah, I’m fine. I don’t want my experiences to be halted by psychiatric treatment. Not here, not now. I just don’t know how much longer I can keep this jig up.

 

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When I was six years old, I went to the neurologist. It was a simple check up and ended neutrally-nothing better, nothing worse. For all intensive purposes, it was a good day, a reason to celebrate. It was also the day I had to grow up immediately.

Following my check-up, my mom, step-dad, brother, and some aunts, uncles, and grandparents from my mom’s side went out to lunch. It was a boring lunch and my brother and I were the only kids present. As such, we sat next to one another, giggling at my brother’s finger.

For some reason, unbeknownst to our six and eight year old brains, his finger had begun shaking really fast. We laughed throughout the meal. By the end of the meal, his finger did not cease shaking and it was at that point he declared, “I think I’m gonna go tell Mom now”. I shrugged my shoulders and continued on with my meal, while observing my brother walk over to our mom, show his finger and see my mom’s happy face go frozen, almost like “into war” mode.

She made a call somehow (this was before cellphones were common to carry though she may have had one since she’s been on top of that technological advance) to a doctor. Little did I know it was my doctor. All of thirty minutes later, back we were in my doctor’s office, and my brother was seeing the doctor with our mom while my step-dad took me for a walk around the neighborhood. I remember glancing up at the trees in that neighborhood, it was a beautiful autumn day. The sun was shining through the trees, and to me it looked somewhat like this:

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During this walk, I remember thinking to myself, “Today is the day I have to grow up.” I don’t know how I knew this, I certainly didn’t know what this would entail, and yet I distinctly remember knowing today was going to begin a new way for me. Already being robbed of a “complete” childhood (free from worry or despair), I knew childhood was now a thing of the past.

Coming back from our walk, I found out that my brother was to be admitted to the hospital that day. It took two years for them to figure out what disease he was afflicted with. Neurofibromatosis Type II was the catalyst in completely tearing my family away from me.

Every time I complained about having Cerebral Palsy and how kids would make fun of me or how I couldn’t make the Junior Olympics in gymnastics because I wasn’t flexible enough or my legs not strong enough to perform certain maneuvers, I was invalidated by my parents. My dad always yelled at me to pick up my feet (my loud shuffling embarrassed him). He insisted I didn’t have Cerebral Palsy (CP). Barbara always told me to not complain, look at my brother, he has it worse. Yeah I suppose spending the first two months of my life in a hospital where I almost certainly lost my twin to premature labor and birth and having three major reconstructive surgeries before the age of 7 just wasn’t severe enough in her eyes. After all, we’re talking about the woman who had breast cancer and made no big deal of it because my brother and I both had incurable conditions and she knew hers had a cure.

If only it were that simple, to think oneself well. I want to think my brain damage will go away from her negligence of not seeking immediate medical attention when she began bleeding 3 MONTHS before her baby(s) was due. Whenever I had any sort of negative thought about my affliction with CP, I was told, “You don’t have CP, you have Spastic Diplegia”. What? I shrugged this off and it wasn’t until the internet became a common place to look up information that I realized that Spastic Diplegia is a form of CP. Really, who knew? Certainly not me…

Throughout my childhood, I formed the belief that my brother’s disease didn’t impact me and that I should be grateful I don’t have hundreds of tumors growing at will throughout my central nervous system. Thinking about it now I realize how irrational this train of thought is and how often my emotions were invalidated, how often I was invalidated.

I’ve been seeing a Somatic Experience Practitioner for a few months now (thanks to internet, I continue to have video sessions with her while I’m studying abroad). In our initial session she explained how the body stores trauma if there is no way to release it. She expanded upon this concept, explaining that we can react in 4 ways to trauma. 4? The conversation went as follows, with her asking me to list the ones I knew of:

Me: Fight, flight, freeze.

Her: There’s a fourth, can you guess what that is?

Me (very quietly with a smirk): Party?

Her: Nope

Me (again quietly): Dance?

Her (smiling): Closer… it is an action of sorts.

Me: (shoulders shrugging) I don’t know.

Her: Inquire. Ask why someone is doing something. However, kids don’t have the capacity to do this, they…

Me (interrupting her): No, no I did. One time I asked ______ (evil ex-step-mother) why I was abused and why ____ (brother) wasn’t. Evil ex-step-mother said it was because, “he’s too sick”.

The abuse I’ve endured, the hatred, and utter anger that has been projected unto me is something I’m able to understand now. The trouble doesn’t lie in my rationalizing this though because I believe there is no justifiable reason(s) people willingly choose to hurt a little kid. Back to basics for now though, at least to understanding defense mechanisms.

Defense mechanisms are often employed when a person’s capacity to cope is beyond his or her tool belt. There is no screwdriver to fit into the square peg, so what does one do? He or she tries another tool and another, until the tool that works is found. Sometimes it may not be the optimal tool, yet often at this point a person is overwhelmed and tired because finding the right tool is a difficult task. So, one takes what they have.

I think this analogy applies to the family dynamic I grew up in. Distancing myself from my family throughout the years, first physically, then emotionally, then pretty much all together, I have been provided with the chance to look inward and at the family dynamics, particularly while studying abroad.

The day before departing, I found out that my brother was to have surgery to remove a tumor from his brain stem in no more than four weeks from that date. There wasn’t much I could say or do as the only communication he and I have is the occasional text or e-mail. He’s essentially deaf and anything I relay to him immediately will be told to our mother who I have had no contact with in over 1.5 years after a messy ending. My brother and I are not close, and he sees me as crazy and not part of the family. I understand where he gets these thoughts from, though I must say I don’t agree with him. I simply responded to my environment the best I knew how to and my environment was not the model of Utopia, especially when it came to facing stress and dealing with emotions.

I recall at the point of my brother’s first hospital admission that Barbara lost a lot of weight and mentioned something about not being able to eat. Hmmm, wonder where the eating disorder evolved from (that’s a story for another time though, particularly because this is merely one of many factors that contributed to my animosity towards food).

You’d think it was clear that NF2 affected my life. My college application essay was entitled “My Brother’s Finger”. Barbara reviewed the essay as did some of my teachers. If I were asked even at that point if it affected me, I’d deny it, because denial and avoidance of emotions is what I’d become majestically acquainted with.

Fast-forward to present day and my first few weeks studying abroad. I wanted to prepare myself and have support if the outcome of my brother’s surgery was up in the air. During the time before and after his surgery, I somewhat relived my childhood and I began to unravel the intricacies of my past, one reminder at a time.

Prior to the surgery, I told my brother I couldn’t make it, wished him well and loved him. In an angry text to our dad, he wrote:

“I don’t know what you said to Laura, but she’s not coming to visit me. These games you play with your mentally ill daughter to get back at mom, have backfired and now have really hurt me, as well.”

I asked our dad to not mention anything about me being abroad, as it is my life, and they are not involved in my life and them knowing wouldn’t affect the situation in any way. He told me he wouldn’t tell and broke his word. He did leak that I was abroad and even then, it wasn’t believed by everyone. My cousin who I don’t often speak with messaged me on Facebook:

Yeah we heard your randomly in Denmark

 Pretty shitty timing to be going there knowing your brother was having a major surgery
 
And from the female person I am progeny of:
I don't know if you really are in Denmark 

Please remember if I have hurt you in the past it was NEVER intentional
And this lack of communication you are choosing hurts me to the core of my being

 

It’s like my childhood friend said, it’s like deciding between manslaughter and unintentional murder, end result is that someone’s still dead, intentional or not. I’m still hurt. From the male I am progeny of:

“I can’t make the two of u work anything out. U r being to cryptic and secretive to pass it off as just not lying. U r putting me in the middle of the crap your mother started which is not fair to me… U can be a bit more empathetic to ____ (brother) considering what he is going through…

And something I can’t post on here as it was on the phone was Ken screaming at me for how selfish I am after I told him “I wish you would have told me that you were going to tell him that I’m here before you did; it’s your opinion that it was going to make things better, and you didn’t respect my wishes.”

It’s things like this that I realize that all they all know how to do is blame me, use me as the sponge to absorb the mess that they’ve created. Yeah, we got dealt a pretty challenging hand of cards. Many people have shitty cards, and many people still manage to have happy families. There is no need for them to bash me and yell at me and torture me because they can’t deal with their own shit.

Yet, I constantly turn the negativity onto myself in the form of some negative behavior, and sometimes to other, never daring to hurt another lost child’s soul. I do believe I can and will heal, without my family. All I need is love, a healing touch, and a compassionate heart. Hopefully I learn to provide myself with that sooner than later. The darkness is seeping in again.

 


I can’t say why I feel how I do, completely disconnected, completely detached…

Surprisingly, nothing terribly significant has occurred lately. I briefly mentioned recently that the study abroad committee overturned their decision and are allowing me to pursue studies abroad this Fall in Denmark.

A health care panel which I organized without being asked to is taking place next week. My favorite doctor is attending and speaking at this, I have no excitement.

When talking with my advisor about my course selection and other opportunities this Fall she said if I could afford to do so, I should stay to visit medical schools abroad.

My response-,“I’ll talk with my banker.”

She gave me a puzzled look and then I said, “Oh yeah, my dad”.

She was like “Yeah I was thinking, dang, I wish I had a banker.”

I replied, “You have a dad though right?”

She nodded her head.

Before thinking, I replied, “…and he loves you right? He gives you emotional love.”

She nods, smirking a little (not in a sarcastic way) “Yes, he gives me emotional love, no money though.

So my life security pot is intermittently filled with monetary love and hers is emotional love.

We win some, we lose some. It’s really perspective and framing it into context. I would love to have a parent I could go to for any type of emotional support. That does not exist. I can’t even talk with my brother, for one because he’s hard of hearing, only getting worse. For two, he doesn’t consider me a part of the family.

Passover has officially concluded and I figured with my extremely limited vegan diet, the change to non-Passover food wouldn’t be drastic. Yeah, I was wrong, and I completely lose control anytime I’m around any type of vegan food. You want to tell me that this has nothing to do with being horribly neglected as a young child, unsure of when my next food would be? I go into survival mode with food and then absolutely regret it. All of my hard work down the drain. Yes, there can be fat vegans and I am an example of one of those. Granted, I’ve just begun the lifestyle, however I just keep stuffing my face over the past few days. And I’m not ok with that. I’m not ok with the numbers on the scale or the total loss of control. So, I did what makes the most sense to me, something I regret far less than overindulgence; the word starts with an “l” and ends with an “e”. It’s one of the tags to this post if you still can’t get it.

I have constant word recall challenges. I’m not depressed. I’m distant, disconnected, numb. Another way this disconnect is apparent is by my absolute lack of consideration for myself in terms of divulging anything relatively pertinent to a conversation. I’ve told many people multiple aspects of my life I’d usually keep to myself.

I was reading that this could be attributed to narcoleptic symptoms, a problem deciphering reality from dream. Well, I do think I know where that differentiation occurs, and yet I still don’t feel right. I don’t consider myself a danger to myself of others, just lack emotions of any sort.

I’m estranged from all the world, myself included.

Grand, evidently I wasn’t connected to the internet last night when posting, so those who tried to initially read the post, only got a subject line. And I get to write the post again and rehash my feelings over the past few days, focusing on two days ago (Wednesday). Since I need to put most of it out there and trying to figure out ways to heal, this post is going to be full of inserts. Hey, everything’s a little better with pictures!

I decided it would be beneficial if I started out with an e-mail I sent to K on Sunday, hours after our session where my lack of support was the main focus and K seemed to be annoyed that I was back at square one. I refused to believe I was back at square one and sent the following:

It wasn’t until later Monday afternoon I received this response, no doubt though K had been fully supporting B throughout this time. This is K’s reply:

I replied back in less than an hour, take note to the last sentence of the e-mail:

This was BEFORE I knew anything extra had been occurring between K and B. I’m practically begging for support, saying how much I need it, asking a direct question. I have yet to hear back from this e-mail. What I did get was this, on Wednesday afternoon via text from K.

There’s a lot I’d like to say to this, such as:

-What makes you think I want to talk to you?

-You think you deserve my money?

-Why would I drive two hours, using gas money I don’t have to come get a slap in the face?

-For what?

-Are you going to come to me?

-You really don’t see how your actions have affected me, do you?

Yet, I’ve not responded. I have a lot of negative energy festering within me. None of these responses would be particularly productive.

Every week I had a card that I give to K which outlines my emotions for the week, written down daily. This is mine for this week:

Yeah, definitely not ok, and haven’t filled the card out since.

To make matters even more confounding, I received this e-mail from the head of Study Abroad Wednesday afternoon:

You’d think going to a school with approximately 1,000 students and maybe 100, probably more like 50 (or less) of these students applied to study abroad this fall, that maybe, just maybe they could take the time to insert my name into this e-mail. I went immediately to the study abroad office after receiving this e-mail. Actually, first I started twitching and almost had a stress seizure and was on the verge of a major meltdown. I took some deep breaths, thought about how I wanted to come across to the director, whose shares the same name, to top it all off with K. How fitting, lies all around, withholding of truth, all around.

College K couldn’t even give me a specific reason as to why I wasn’t accepted by the school’s study abroad committee (done internally, not to where I’m actually planning on studying abroad. Everything she said to me was in blanket statements. She speculated that perhaps it’s because I’m a transfer and the committee wanted me to become more acclimated with this school. As if a full academic year isn’t enough? She also said maybe I wasn’t specific as to why I chose to study abroad in the fall. She said and I will, “fight for this” followed by, “I can’t promise you that the decision will change.” I will study abroad this fall.

I WILL PETITION THIS. I will study abroad. I will go to the supervisor’s supervisor. This WILL happen. School is the only thing keeping me alive. Without this study abroad experience, many things about school fall out of place; my decision and connections to attend medical school abroad, which ultimately leads to my career as a physician abroad.

You know one of the worst parts? A few weeks ago I asked a group of friends how long it usually takes to hear the committee decision to study abroad and was told by friends that though they didn’t know how long it would be until I heard the decision, they’d NEVER heard of someone not getting accepted. When I mentioned this “rumor” to college K, she said, “actually 25% of people weren’t accepted for the fall term” I’m thinking, “OH DID ONLY 4 PEOPLE APPLY?” You do the math.

My application was crisp, clean, and reviewed multiple times by my advisor and myself. In the application there are a few medical-related questions, such as allergies, ever been hospitalized, have a psych condition. It was also noted “Your answers to these will not affect the committee’s decision”. I checked yes to all three of these AND attached a one page, single-spaced explanation as to how I manage each issue, and how I’ve worked and volunteered for extended periods of time in the past.

Bullshit. Absolutely bullshit. You really want to tell me that my application, along with a GPA higher than 3.0 (3.0 is generally minimum GPA required) wasn’t sufficient? Then something else racks my brain. What if my recommendation letter wasn’t decent? What if it completely didn’t recommend that I study abroad?

I sent my petition in on Thursday morning, after my advisor reviewed it again, saying it was, “a good document”. This is nonsensical and unjust. I HATE THAT MEDICAL REASONS CONSTANTLY HOLD ME BACK IN LIFE BECAUSE OF OTHER PEOPLE’S BELIEFS ABOUT WHAT I CAN DO. This happened at the resort that I worked at too, and sometimes have cost me jobs. I hate that I am sooo honest that it hurts me, even when I think people will have only the best intentions. With all of my exposure to horrific events, you’d think I wouldn’t be so naive and trusting. Rarely can I actually imagine that someone is lying or evading the truth. And yet, they are. Most people can’t handle even hearing about what I’ve been through, so when a piece of my life is laid out on a piece of paper, it still comes with people applying their restrictions on MY life since it’s as though I’m a piece of crystal, so fragile, so in need of constant OVER PROTECTION that in actuality doesn’t benefit me, merely hurts my chances to thrive.

Considering that I’ve had a lot of things thrown in my face and continued to persevere, I can only hope I’ll continue to get my strength from somewhere. It’s getting harder and harder with each passing day. My initial instinct upon being deferred to study abroad was to self-injure. Problem with that is that it’s practically summer and the temperatures resemble that of a summer day. I hate being hot, and I don’t want to be subjected to the third degree by anyone. So what have I done? Well, the invisible self-injury. This one commonly goes by the pronoun “Ed” to play on words.

I’ve restricted my intake to the point that by Wednesday I’d lost 6 lbs in less than 2 days. Granted, much of this is water weight, except I haven’t wanted to stop restricting. It’s way easier to feel physical pain than emotional pain. At the moment, I don’t feel much of either.

I’m torn too because I want so badly to talk with someone who understands my situation. The closest person to that would be C. However, if I told C, there’s a good chance she too would be ripped apart, devastated, and right now there’s no need to spread the pain I’m feeling to another person. At least I have the decency to recognize that telling her would do more harm than good.

On to the good news of Wednesday. There was a pre-brief meeting for the Alternative Spring Break I’ll be attending next week. During the brief, a man from an organization in town working with the homeless came to speak to our group.

I absolutely despise people mentioning skin color as a factor, and even have said to multiple individuals, “You’re not black, you’re a shade of brown, we’re all just shades of brown. The only difference between you and me is that one of our skin absorbs more melanin than the other’s.  The only people who can say they’re white are people with albinism because they truly are, their skin doesn’t absorb melanin. Now if we want to talk about cultural differences, let’s talk cultural, NOT skin color.

In this briefing, we went around the circle talking about any previous experience we’ve had with the homeless population and our thoughts about those experiences. A common theme was that people worked in a soup kitchen one or two times, and had skewed perceptions about people who were homeless, often attributing it to mental illness. When it got to my turn, I mentioned my variety of work with homeless populations, concluding by saying, “I’ve also experienced homelessness.” Imagine the look on the faces of most in the room, most who are of “minority” status by skin color. It was something to the effect of, “WHAT? The white female doesn’t have a perfect life?”

Growing up, my biggest fear was becoming homeless. I was even told I’d never be homeless. Well guess what? It happened and I somehow made it through that period. It will likely happen again, I’m not going to pretend to shove it under a rug and store it there for decades. At the end of the meeting, people talked about where they’d be staying before and after our trip. One person didn’t have a place to go and someone recommended she talk to residential life to stay in the dorms for those periods. I wished her luck being that I had a big incident with residential life prior to winter break. Summing it up, I was assured I could stay there without any mention of additional fees. The week before finals I was told this was not a possibility and VERY LONG STORY SHORT, that’s how I ended up back at the sober living.

I went to residential life to see if my chance of staying may be favored this time by the fact that I was participating in alternative spring break. I got a harsh greeting from the director, and much attitude, except that after that, I was approved to stay in the dorms (which are otherwise considered closed for the break). This is a BIG relief because I was going to stay at another sober living that I was going to have to pay for and realistically, I can’t afford. Plus, I was going to have to sleep on the couch as they didn’t have a bed for me.

After this, I went to dinner and was sitting alone. I looked up and saw a girl who asked me to sit with her the other week. At the time I declined her request, saying that I was going to sit at another table since I hadn’t seen people there in a while. That was a white lie. In truth, I imagined our conversation to be really awkward. She speaks in monotone pitch, and that can be awkward. However, she was sitting alone too, and it didn’t make sense to me that we both eat alone, feet from one another. I joined her, and you know what? I WAS WRONG. She may have a monotone voice, except she has so much more to offer than that. She has a good soul, and she is a really good conversationalist. That’ll be hopefully the last time I jump to major conclusions and don’t step out of my social comfort zone in similar social situations. She is so kind. My own discomforts and assumptions held me back. You know what happens when someone ASSuMEs…

I still feel queasy and a bit uneasy. That is most likely due to the lack of nutrients I’ve consumed over the past three full days. Eating disorders, the invisible pain, the pain that even when you’re not eating, eats you… from the inside, out.

Though I still believe in Karma, a final thought: