Monthly Archives: October 2010

Beautiful Battle

I’ve always liked the analogy of life being a puzzle.  We are given pieces as we go through life – sometimes they fit right into the picture we can see, and other times, we have no idea where they go.  They just don’t fit anywhere.  If we’re lucky, we get some more pieces that fit around that one, out of place piece.  The picture starts to become clearer, and we understand how it fits in with the rest of our previous picture.  Sometimes, though, we never really see how a certain piece fits into our picture, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t belong.  I still really like the puzzle analogy, but I think it’s changed for me recently.

Puzzle pieces fit nicely together.  I’ve always liked that.  I instinctually have a tendency to think in black and white terms, and the analytical side of me likes things that fit together.  Throughout my life, I would always look for the other puzzle pieces to complete a certain part of the picture I was seeing, and it would frustrate me if they didn’t fit together nicely.  That had to mean that there was at least one piece missing.  I think I’m learning that life isn’t that neat.  There’s a part of me that’s always known that, but in recent weeks, I’ve been able to see things a little differently.

There’s still an aspect of the puzzle analogy that will always hold true for me, but not in a traditional, jigsaw, sort of way.  The pieces are much more jagged, and they don’t fit together nicely.  It’s become more of a stained glass window.  Each piece is it’s own separate color, shape, and size.  Because they don’t fit together nicely, it takes a little more creativity to put them together in any sort of recognizable pattern.  But the end result can be absolutely breathtaking.

Throughout my life, one of my biggest battles has been with depression.  I was well into adulthood before I realized that depression was my foe.  I wasn’t able to see it for what it was when I was younger, and no one else ever even considered it to be a possible issue.  After finally naming my foe, I can’t say that I was very successful at fighting it.  I was usually on the upswing before I would even recognize that I had fallen into depression.  I tried several different prescription drugs.  Unfortunately, my body does not respond well to any sort of medication.  What little help it provides does not even come close to outweighing the side effects.  That was a problem because I believe that part of my struggle is biological.  Of course, the bigger problem was emotional, and I have never been very good at dealing with that part of me.

I learned at a very early age that I was never going to be good enough.  I had nothing to offer, and I was not worth anything.  That’s something that is not easy to unlearn.  A couple of times in my life, I had started to see a counselor.  I knew I needed to change how I saw myself, but I had no idea how to do that.  Both times were good experiences, but something always happened that stopped me from continuing with the sessions.  I know that it was all a part of God’s timing.  He knew I needed other pieces, and I needed a better way to put those pieces together.

Five years ago, God provided me with a job that became the one stable thing amidst complete chaos in my life.  Around Easter time about three years ago, I hit my lowest point ever.  I honestly think that I never fully recovered from that battle.  I’ve still had ups and downs since then, but the ups were never very high, and I could never fully shake the ‘down’ feeling.  This is one reason why I wanted to quit my job, and one reason why God never allowed that to happen.  My job was the only thing that made sense to me so it was the only thing that I felt in control enough to change.  And something had to change.  I was tired of listening to the voices that constantly told me that everyone would be better off if I weren’t around.  But I didn’t know how to shut them up.

Last January, I found a counselor that I absolutely love.  She has been a perfect match for me and has helped me to start working through some of the lies that I have been taught to believe.  She knows, and understands, why I don’t want to take any drugs.  She suggested taking St.  John’s Wort as a natural alternative.  It has definitely helped.  I’ve had friends who have continued to stand by me and love me.  And I was completely overwhelmed by the reaction and support of those I worked with in my last few weeks at Blue Shield.  All of those factors combined to finally create a need to challenge the lies I’ve always believed because both things couldn’t be true at the same time.

As I sit here typing, I am happy for the first time in my life.  Maybe content is the better word.  I don’t like not having a job.  I still struggle with being single.  I have no idea what I’m going to do next.  But I’m happy.  For the first time in my life, I feel like I am more than one step ahead of depression.  It may always be a struggle for me, but I feel like I will be able to recognize it sooner and prevent myself from falling so deep into it.

There’s a part of me that wishes that I hadn’t struggled so much with depression all my life.  But there is another part of me that realizes that my picture would not be as beautiful without that battle.  I’ve realized that it is what runs through my picture and connects all of the jagged edges into the picture that God intended for my life.  It is not the only thing that connects them, but it is one thing.  I may never see the full extent of that, but I know that I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now without my battle.  And it will continue to join pieces together as I journey forward – maybe just in a different way.

One of the cool things about having jagged pieces of glass rather than puzzle pieces that have to fit nicely together is that I can connect those pieces however I want to make my picture.  A unique, creative, beautiful picture that has more flexibility to change as more pieces are acquired.  I had to laugh as I wrote that because it is so counter intuitive to what I’ve always thought and been comfortable with.  I love where God is taking me on this journey.


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Lessons Learned

The last month has been a whirlwind for me.  So much has happened, and I’ve finally had a chance to just sit and breathe.  I have learned so much already, and I’ve been very surprised with how differently I see things now in comparison to how I saw those same things just one month ago.  Tomorrow (Wednesday) will mark exactly one month since I told my supervisor that I quit.  Since then, I have seen God’s hand moving in so many different areas.  Since then, I have strengthened my belief that everything happens for a reason, and I have connected with an internal belief that I am who I am, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

When I turned in my resignation, the first thing I talked with my supervisor about (after establishing that I was a brat and she hated me, of course…) was who my replacement could be.  After some discussion, I had come up with my list of three people who could handle the responsibilities and expectations.  I thought that my number 2 and 3 choices could do the job, but my number 1 choice was someone I thought would do the best job.  If she replaced me, I would be certain that the job would be in good hands.  I was not the only one who felt that way.  Of course, it wasn’t easy.  My number 1 choice had vacation time planned and wouldn’t be able to interview until she came back – three days before I would be gone.  My number 2 choice had decided not to apply for the position.  My number 3 choice ended up being our director’s number 1 choice.  Before my number 1 choice could even interview, our director told my supervisor to go get my number 3 choice.  Right after that, my number 3 choice withdrew her application.  I know some of the story of why she withdrew, and there’s a part of me that feels bad for her because I think she was given misleading information by her supervisor.  But…everything happens for a reason.  Because she withdrew her application, my number 1 choice was able to interview.  Our director still wanted us to go a different direction, but in the end, I don’t think he could argue with the fact that my number 1 choice was the best fit for the team.  Even with politics involved, we were still able to get who we wanted.  And most importantly, I was able to sit with her and do a brain dump on my last day.  I see God’s hand all over that.

My last day was really tough for me – tougher than I ever thought it would be.  I still struggle with being comfortable with expressing emotion, and there was a whole mix of emotions that day.  I was also struggling with the sense that something wasn’t right with my decision.  I still knew that I did what I was supposed to do – that I did what was best for me – but something didn’t sit right with me.  It wasn’t until 4:30 that day, when I was finally leaving, that I started to realize what was wrong.

My supervisor came to me around 2:00 and told me that I could leave whenever I wanted.  Then she said, “You should probably go now or I’ll  just keep asking you to do stuff.”  I couldn’t leave yet because the person replacing me had a quick conference call at 2:00, and I still had some things I needed to tell her.  So my supervisor gave me my last check and said to give her my badge before I left.  I worked with my replacement until about 3:30, and then started getting all of my stuff together to leave.  There was a part of me that was having a hard time saying a final goodbye, and I ended up just sticking around because I didn’t really have time to go all the way home since I had agreed to go out for drinks with some people.  Finally, around 4:30, I took my badge and set it on my supervisor’s desk.  She was on a conference call, but she muted herself so she could say goodbye.  She asked me if I was sure that I didn’t want to just keep my badge and then asked if she could have a hug.  After telling me that she would forward open job postings to me, she said something that has played in my head over and over.  “Good luck with whatever is next, and I hope that it fills the void.”

It was such a simple statement, even though I had never really used the word ‘void’ in any of our conversations.  But it really struck me, and I was fixated on it.  I realized that it was the reason something was feeling ‘off’ about my decision.  I do have a void.  I’ve really always known that.  But it didn’t have anything to do with my job.  My job was just the easiest thing for me to blame.  The void was inside of me, and no matter what job I had, I wouldn’t ever be happy in it until I was happy with myself.

I’m not normal.  I never have been.  For all of my life, I’ve tried to be normal.  I didn’t want to be different.  Somewhere along the way, I learned that being different was bad.  For the first time, I’m okay with not being normal.  I kept thinking that I wanted to do something creative and relational.  In my learned ‘black and white’ thinking, I immediately decided that it meant I couldn’t do anything analytical.  The two could not coexist for me.  There’s a lot of reasons for that, but it finally hit me that the two are not mutually exclusive, and they are both a huge part of who I am.  So it’s about finding balance, not about replacing one with the other.  I need both to truly be who God created me to be.

So I’ve thought a lot about what I want to do, and I don’t really know what’s going to happen next.  But I do know that I have to figure out how to balance the two sides of my personality.  I never thought that I would ever say this, but that may involve taking another job at Blue Shield.  There are no doors that are closed to me right now, and I see my job at Blue Shield in a completely different light right now.  I see myself in a completely different light.  There’s a part of me that hates that I had to quit to figure some of this stuff out, but I understand why it had to happen this way, and I know that I would not have gotten to where I am right now if I had not quit.  I am who I am, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Such a simple concept, and yet it has taken me so long to truly understand and believe it.  I’m still going to struggle for a while, but I feel like I’ve gotten a good foundation started, and I’m ready to step into anything that God has for me simply because I understand that God created me this way for a reason, and it is up to me to be happy in that.

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