Tuesday, August 28, 2012

a long list

Another day down. Today my clinic finished at noon and no one needed help. I stocked everything that I could find to stock and still had some time left over! Craziness..

One of our favorite little kiddos landed in the Peds Cardiac ICU today. Precious 7 year old child with osteosarcoma, in the maintenance phase of her chemo, attempting to move on with her life. But studies show damage to her heart as a result of the high doses of chemo that have been destroying the cells in her body for the past year or so. We give these kids chemo every day but sometimes we forget that it's poison. until something like this happens. it killed the tumor but it also killed a part of her heart. It's such a tough balance. the risk/benefit balance. Is the benefit worth the risk? There are so many questions.

Today, my body hurts. and a friend mentioned the word 'fibromyalgia' yesterday. and another friend mentioned it today. and then when I described my symptoms to my mom, she asked if I thought I might have it. all of these suggestions were totally separate of each other. Now I'm trying to decide if it's worth adding another doctor to my repertoire and probably another pill to my already overflowing pill case. My body really does hurt. I have good days and bad days and ok days. Some days I don't take any Ibuprofen. Some days I have a hard time going 6 hours in between doses. who knows? There's a rheumatologist at Duke who does research on fibromyalgia. Dr. Rice. now I have to decide if it's worth a visit.

why are bodies so complicated? there are so many parts and pieces and they all affect each other in different ways and sometimes it's just so hard to separate one issue from the next. and sometimes I wonder if I'm just making all this stuff up. but the last time I thought I was making stuff up, my pancreas had actually stopped working. the list just seems to keep getting longer and longer.

The good thing is, God is not surprised by this. He knows me better than I know myself and He's got this.

Monday, August 27, 2012


I need to write more. I think I've had some version of writer's block lately. I think I just need to sit down and type.

My heart is weary. There's a song that I love. It says "These are old shoes that I'm walking in, I'm wearing weary like it's a second skin." I feel like those words will never get old. Audrey Assad and I have the same heart and feeling like someone gets me, even if I don't know them at all, is always encouraging.

I'm trying to learn to be ok with gray. gray is an achromatic or neutral color that can be correctly spelled with either an 'e' or an 'a' as its vowel. gray can be used to balance an all-black or all-white view. gray means there's not really an answer. unclear. uncertain. I've been known to be an extremist at times. life is either really good or really bad. I have a hard time only being ok. ok just doesn't seem like enough. gray means I haven't figured it out. I haven't evaluated enough. I love the color gray. I was an English major. gray is celebrated in literature and the evaluation and critique of it. Math is black and white, there's only one answer. English is gray, the right answer is what you make it. So overall, I love gray but when it comes to my own life and my evaluation of it, gray is hard to swallow.

Loneliness. what a bizarre concept. How can one be lonely when surrounded by people? Somehow, it happens. it happens a lot. I've struggled with this before, in fact I think I've spent most of my life afraid to really trust people enough to make them safe enough to even remotely touch my loneliness. At this point in my life, there are a few but having diabetes has tied a knot in my safety net. how can anyone really understand what this is like? having struggled for years with disordered eating, I feel like food has always consumed my life. Food is simultaneously my best friend and my worst enemy. and now I'm expected to pay close enough attention to what I eat that I can calculate exactly how much insulin my body needs to appropriately use the number of carbs that I give it. I've always payed close attention to what I put in my mouth and there's always been a monologue of shame and guilt associated with every calorie. it seems my bingeing and my diabetes can't coexist without killing me. I know what you're thinking. "Well, you can't not have diabetes, you're stuck with it. so, guess you'll have to stop bingeing." and my answer to that is, "If I could do that, don't you think I would've done it a long time ago?"

I randomly picked up this book that I borrowed from a friend called "Breaking Free from Emotional Eating." My first thoughts were, "GREAT! another book that will tell me all the same things about eating and food that every other book has echoed throughout the years. Ideas, concepts, plans, suggestions, and strategies that echo relentlessly in my head, in the end only adding link by link to the chains of guilt and shame that have had me bound for longer than I care to admit. Nonetheless, I decided to 'skim' it. turns out, this woman knows me.

2.5 years of therapy has taught me that I don't take care of myself well. the minute I stop intentionally choosing and scheduling things that take care of me, those things quickly lose their place of priority. quickly and quietly. until one day, I wake up and realize that I've done nothing to care for myself in weeks and I'm empty and exhausted and discouraged. on that day, if I look at the last few days, sometimes weeks, I usually see at least one binge a day, sometimes more. "Binges are purposeful acts, not demented feelings..a binge can be an urgent attempt to care for yourself when you feel uncared for. Binges speak the voice of survival. They are signals that something is terribly wrong, that you are not giving yourself what you need--either physically (with food) or emotionally (with intimacy, work, relationships). They are your last stand against deprivation" (p. 68). Anne always says "just remember that it's not about the food." that's so true, the eating is a symptom, a sign-post, a red flag or check engine light that tells me something is disoriented or awry in my heart. the problem comes when I don't stop for long enough to realize what the binge is pointing to. I'm afraid to stop. I have a deep seated longing, almost compulsion, to DO something. "We can excuse ourselves for doing nothing when we eat because eating is doing something. Eating is a socially acceptable way of taking time for ourselves, All else is defined as indulgence. or selfish or unnecessary waste of time" (p. 68) Ah, the chronic problem of humanity's need to do instead of just be. I constantly find myself running in step with the Galatians, whom Paul refers to as "foolish" simply because they've begun working, trying to earn their standing before the Lord and perfect themselves. It's as if they've suddenly convinced themselves that what only God can perfect by His Spirit, they can perfect by their own flesh...nope, it's just never gonna be enough. Of course I believe that, right? I know I could never be perfect, yet there are hundreds of ways every single day that I reject grace and sometimes subtly, sometimes not-so-subtly, attempt to prove my worth and earn my own righteousness. For me, the arena is often the space between my hand and my mouth.

For years, I saw my mom try diet after diet after diet yet caught her crying at the kitchen table in the middle of the night. I saw the guilt and shame on her face after she ate something she "wasn't supposed to." I ate because everyone in my family ate. Overeating was celebrated. I was just eating like a Yarbrough. In order to feel like I belonged, I had to overeat, indulge, eat myself into oblivion and physical pain. I could never even begin to count the conversations revolving around "rolling ourselves out of a restaurant" because we had eaten so much that we couldn't bear the thought of moving. I heard the message, spoken and unspoken, that I should watch what I ate. After all, obesity runs in our family. yet I learned quickly that feeling "full" could numb some of the pain, some of the disconnected loneliness I felt, some of my desire to feel like I belonged. It numbed me, made it bearable to keep my eyes open long enough to make it through the day. It wasn't ok to be sad when I was sad so I just ate when I was sad. It wasn't enough to just celebrate when we were happy, we had to eat when we were happy. Nothing was done without food or at least the nearness of it. Quite often, we still discuss the plans for our next meal while we're eating. I was never taught to just enjoy food. The "enjoyment" was followed with shame, which automatically negated the enjoyment. "How could you let yourself eat that much? You said you were only going to eat half. You said you weren't getting dessert but then you ate enough of everyone else's to far surpass the impact that your own dessert would've had. You said you'd order a salad. You can't even have enough discipline to do what you decide to do! and it's only been 10 minutes since you decided it. Seriously, again? You are such a failure. You can't do anything right. You might as well just stop trying because you're never going to be able to do it. You're never going to say no enough times to make it count. One day you're going to screw up so badly that no one will ever love you again. No one wants to be around the fat girl. No one thinks fat is beautiful. No one wants to deal with your issues. You'll always be alone. You'll always be left to fend for yourself, to wrestle these demons again and again until one day they suffocate you. You'll always be alone and scared." It's unreal how a few bites of food becomes a deep, deep worth issue. Somewhere along the way, how "well" I eat became a significant measure of my worth. "If they really knew how and what I ate, they'd be disgusted, they wouldn't love me.." that's a problem.

So often, I rely on something other than the gift of God's grace in my Savior to monitor my "goodness" and "badness." I'm good when I exercise, bad when I don't. Good when I eat carrots, bad when I eat cookies. and so on and so forth. This structure of evaluation is so natural that it's hard for me to even notice it, much less to put it into words or stop it before it starts.

For so long, I've held my life together with the structure of a diet or an exercise plan. I complain about having to record carbs and blood sugars, and insulin but somewhere deep down, I like the boundaries it creates. I'm so afraid of letting go of those things. But there's this verse that talks about how Jesus was before all things and in Him ALL things hold together. and there's this other verse that talks about how if God gave us His own Son, how could he not graciously give us all things. Would he deny me the safety, security, and structure of Jesus holding my life together, too? How prideful for me to think that I could even begin to hold this all together with my own expectations or plans. He delights to hold my life together. He loves me and he loves my life and my rebellious heart. He pursues me even when all I want to pursue is the latest diet or the ever elusive calorie-free comfort food. He says that His eye is on the sparrow, all the sparrows, and if his eye is on all the sparrows then how could I forget that He sees me? He is near to the broken-hearted, he provides security in a way that nothing in this world could ever do, He sees me when I can't even see myself, He can see the face that I don't want anyone else to ever see, He knows my deepest desires and my deepest fears...and He promises never to leave, to always be near, to walk alongside me and go before me in the fight, to shepherd me in a way that makes me lie down and trust Him instead of scrambling around trying to prove myself. Oh how I long for these truths to take root in my heart. to take root and grow, such that my life and the way that I eat and the choices that I make reflect the reality of His relentless love.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

it just doesn't make any sense!

My favorite 8-year-old friend said it best when in the midst of an emotional breakdown, he screamed "it just doesn't make any sense!" Of course, he was referring to the fact that doing his homework kept him from playing with his friends but in his little world, that is as big of a struggle as counting carbs and calories and saying no to my favorite foods is for me. and trust me, it's a struggle that causes much weeping and gnashing of teeth. It's hard to let myself struggle. Even harder than it is to let the kids express their emotion, which if you have any interaction with kids at all, you know is quite difficult. Last night, Jordan needed exactly what I need right now. He was exhausted beyond the point of reason and everything I said, no matter how I said it was met with tears and flailing body parts. He was overwhelmed by his own emotion. I told him what Anne tells me: that intensity of emotion cannot last forever, it will end because your body can't sustain it. He needed to be hugged and told he's loved and reminded that God is bigger than his feelings. He needed to feel safe. He needed to be reminded that even though he doesn't feel or believe that he's loved and precious at that moment, it's still true. and then he needed a piece of cake. :) Ok, the parallel breaks down at some point but in reality, his little heart is wrestling with all of the same things that my 26 year-old heart is battling. Does God really know what He's doing? If Jesus is enough, why are things so hard? Couldn't God have chosen a vehicle other than suffering to refine and sanctify us? Why is it so hard to believe truth in the midst of overwhelming, intense emotion?

I'm learning so much right now and in some ways, I hate to admit it because life is hard. but if I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that suffering pushes me into a place of desperation and dependence on a God who promises never to leave or forsake me. 3 year-old Camille and I had a sweet little conversation last night before bed as she was in tears, having trouble sleeping, scared of the dark. I was singing "Jesus Christ, shine into our night, drive our dark away, until your glory fills our eyes. Jesus Christ, shine into our night, bind us to your cross, where we find life" and she asked "Why does Jesus Cries?" :) I explained that "Christ" means Messiah, Savior, it means that Jesus saves us. to which she responded, "when it's a emergency, he saves us when we're scared?" Yep, he does. and He's always with us when we're afraid, when we're sad, when we're happy, when nothing makes sense. He's always with us and we can always cry out to Him. Camille and I cried out to Jesus together last night. "Jesus, help me"

I started back Taekwondo. So far, a great decision. I love it. What could be better stress relief than getting to hit things hard while shouting? and the exercise is awesome. 45 minutes of sweating that goes by fast because it's fun :) yes, please. There are big, strong men in my class who consider it a challenge to fight a black belt so I get to hit hard without being afraid of hurting them. love it! The nutritionist told me yesterday that I need to exercise for an hour a day. Yikes, that's definitely gonna be a lifestyle adjustment!

The whole "adjustment" thing seems to be a trend. Is there always something to adjust to? maybe there is. maybe it's God's way of forcing us to lean into Him because there is no shadow of turning with him, he doesn't change, his compassions never fail, as He has been, He will forever be. forever is a long time. and he's the only thing that never changes and never fails. he's always faithful even when it doesn't make any sense to our finite minds and hearts. He knows. He is El Roi, the God who sees. I want to say, like Hagar did in the wilderness: “You are the God who sees me, ” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13