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Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Way Back

And there I was, sitting in my vehicle, sobbing.  Wretched, convulsive sobs engulfed my body.  A flood gate had opened and I sat there, vehicle humming, seatbelt undone, face in my hands, sobbing as if I had lost someone.  

My faith life got off track for a bit during and immediately after college.  I would like to think this happens to most people that go through a huge life transition like college and becoming a true adult.  Admittedly, it began because I got lazy.  I got lazy with my faith and lazy in going to mass.  It just became so much easier to not go.  The innate desire I once had to be there was gone and I rejected all of my friends' invitations to go with them.

I think part of it was also due to a new boyfriend and residual guilt I had about our relationship and the fact that he was not Catholic, nor did he claim any denomination in particular or go to church.  I loved him and hey, I was a pretty decent person, I didn't really need to go every single week, did I?

I became a lapsed Catholic and ya' know, for several years after college, I was okay with it.  I would make it to church with my family and maybe a couple other friends, but never on my own.  I couldn't sit in that pew, lonely, dejected, and feeling guilty over my sinfulness.  What if people guessed how I felt?  Could you see those sins as easily as I could, imagining them scrawled on my flesh like pen on paper?  My soul felt smudged, blighted, as if I was no longer good enough for God.

I remember a distinct conversation I had with my grandmother, regarding my faith, years after this period.  I was telling her about it and she said, "Yes dear, I think it happens to a lot of us with our faith, but God was always faithful and standing by, calling you back to Him."

He was and He did.  I felt that yearning deep in my soul on a daily basis.  I felt that want to go back to church, to meet Him face to face in the Eucharist.  I knew I couldn't without confession and boy, that was hard to admit.  During this time period, I had met my now husband and drug him along with me to mass from time to time, but I still felt I needed something more.  We got married in the church.  I kept making excuses to God and myself about the steps I needed to take to get back to Him fully.

Finally, just a few years ago, I summoned up some nerve and went to take part in the sacrament of Reconciliation.  Standing in line for the confessional, I bit my lip and tried hard not to pass out from the anxiety of it all.  After several arduous minutes, it was my turn to step in.

I shut the door, kneeled behind the screen, and immediately burst into tears.  In a shaking voice, full of anguish, I choked out my plea, "Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.  It has been over 10 years since my last confession."  I'm sure some of those words dissolved under the weight of my guilt and sin and abject misery.  I gave my confession, my complete and total list of everything that encumbered my soul.  I prayed the Act of Contrition and received my penance.  When he said these words,

"God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of your son, you have reconciled the world to yourself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the church, may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

I started sobbing again.  I was a weeping mess for a few minutes, before the priest said he had a question for me.  He asked me what made me come back.  Why did I seek him out?  I told him my story, of how my husband and I had tried for 5 years to have children and how it didn't work out, even though I prayed every day.  I told him how I changed that prayer after a while and started asking God to make me okay with not having children of my own, to ease the pining in my heart, and He answered that prayer.  How could I not come back after He granted me that?

I walked out of that confessional in a daze.  I'm sure, to the others in line, I looked a hot mess, clutching a handful of Kleenex and a puffy, tear-stained face.

And there I was, sitting in my vehicle, sobbing.  Wretched, convulsive sobs engulfed my body.  A flood gate had opened and I sat there, vehicle humming, seatbelt undone, face in my hands, sobbing as if I had lost someone.

I didn't lose someone that day.  Instead, as the sunset streamed a golden hue through the windshield, I realized that I had finally found myself.  I had finally experienced true redemption.

This Maundy Thursday, I thank Jesus for instituting the priesthood.

Matthew 18:18New International Version (NIV)

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I Bite my Thumb at you, Sir!

I mention my obnoxious coworker a lot in my normal Facebook feed.  I have had a few friends ask exactly what makes my coworker so obnoxious.  So okay, here's the story on that one.

So, I have been in my current position within the agency for what, 2 years now?  We were originally in a different building and in that one, he was on the other side of the wall from me.  I am normally friendly to people unless they give me a reason not to be, so when I first met the guy, I thought he was okay, though a Nebraska fan, so ya' know, a little suspect.  

One thing I quickly learned about him was that he was a real smartass.  Not a problem, I thought.  I am, too!  I once had an ex state that I was too sarcastic?!  Is that a thing?  However, I noticed that it wasn't just that he was a smart aleck.  He repeatedly would go out of his way to aggravate someone.  If he knew someone didn't like something, it was like he had to do whatever that was more often.  Again, didn't seem like a big deal at first, but then something changed.  He was always talking about things that were slightly, um, edgy?, you could say and he thought he was hilarious.  Everyone was always saying, "Oh so-and-so, *haha* you shouldn't say those things, you could get into trouble."  He was one of those people that always tried to push the envelope and people let him, because I guess they thought it wasn't worth the trouble to say anything and the director of our department was one of the people who just said, "Oh, so-and-so, you're just so funny..."

Well, in my old office I had a massive attention whore who did something very similar.  Always had to speak out about everything in the office and try to make it all. about. them.  Every single time.  I'm just not a fan of these type of people.  This guy is very similar to that, but almost worse, because he intentionally tried to provoke people.  

He constantly brought up topics that were inappropriate or hurtful to others.  Sometimes I heard him and cringed.  Other times I intentionally put earbuds in so as not to get irritated myself.  Luckily, at the time, he was on the other side of my cubicle wall and I rarely ran into him.  

That all changed when we moved to our current building.  (By the way, this guy is so obnoxious that he actually stole signage from our old building, because he thought it was hilarious to put up in his new cubicle, and people LET him!)  Now he was in the same aisle, in the corner, and all of his buddies would come over and sit in his little corner cubie and talk and talk.  Still, that wasn't too bad.  What really made him super obnoxious was when they moved everyone around again and he was assigned a cubicle directly across the aisle from me.  Now he was catty corner to his BFF, my coworker, who is the other half of my 2-person unit.  This is the same lady who he made it a directive each day to go in and make some comment about how she looked that day.  She's my age (upper 30s) and he's in his 50s.  He would come in and ask about her necklace, ask why she wasn't wearing a certain shirt, ask about her weight (seriously?!) and just every day go in and say something mildly inappropriate.  

Now they sit where he has a direct line of sight (and speak) to her.  Look, I'm a morning person, y'all!  I love the AM.  Once I actually get out of bed, I'm awake and usually happily humming a tune while getting coffee started, making my lunch, and putting on makeup.  I love the mornings, so, so much.  I get to the office about 15 minutes ahead of my 'start time' and RELISH that quiet. The first hour of the day for me is like a meditation.  I check my voicemails, my e-mails, finish up responses from the day before, go through anything due, and then start on my new requests.  

Now, I have a LOUD person, who doesn't care one whit about his volume, that as SOON as my coworker comes in, has to speak with her.  Not a big deal at first.  Everyone has that "Hey, good morning!" crap they do with one another.  This however, is not a 5-minute chat.  That first week, he talked normally to loudly (way above a whisper every time) for an hour to 2 hours EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  

I thought it was the newness of the situation for the first few days.  Still annoying, but ya' know, easily written off.  Nope!  Every single day for the first two weeks it started in as soon as my coworker stepped foot in her cubicle and didn't usually end until an hour in.  

Look, the guy already knows I don't like him.  I don't care for the way he talks to people, so snotty and thinking he's just all that and a bag of chips.  Add on that I don't care for how he treats women either and I really don't care for the guy.  So, because he knows it, I couldn't be the one to say anything to his supervisor, because he would just excuse it away as me not liking him.  Finally, even his friends and cubicle neighbors told his supervisor.  He was talked to.  He grumbled and talked some more.  He was talked to again.  

I just want 1 friggin' hour in the morning at peace.  That's all I am asking!!

After he was spoken with, as soon as I reach for my mp3 player, he'll shut up within a few minutes, because I guess he thinks it's me complaining.  But on days like today, when his boss isn't in the building, it's no holds barred!  Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk....this guy will NOT shut up.  

Okay, so there's a bit more to the story than just this, because I have said something to his supervisor about his inappropriate remarks to my coworker.  He actually tried to defend himself, as he began degrading women AGAIN!  

So, is this obnoxious behavior?  I would say yes, but maybe your definition is different.  A guy who is misogynistic, an attention whore, a constant provocateur on purpose, and not a little bit creepy with the younger ladies in our office, is obnoxious to me.  Maybe I'm not stating my case well enough, but believe me when I say that most of you would NOT like this guy.  He goes out of his way to make people feel like shit and he goes out of his way to exclude the people he doesn't care for, too.  Plus, he does NOT want to get into a conversation with people who might possibly chastise him for his language and/or vulgarity.  All of this adds up to obnoxious for me...what do you think?  Am I not being charitable enough?  Am I being too judgmental?  All I know is in the mornings I just want a little peace and quiet.  Do your work and I'll do mine.  In the afternoon, after we've put in more than 4 1/2-5 hours, go for it, for a short while anyhow.  

So, since I didn't do Tuesday 5 again this week, I may need to get a good topic for next week.  Any ideas?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Limitless

Okay so, I don't really have a Tuesday 5 for you today, because as I was cutting up my grapefruit into beautiful segments...(I lie, they were all busted up and scraped out of their rinds, with juice dribbling down my hands and wrists), I was thinking a lot about my anxiety.  I have dealt with it for what, 3 years now, I think, maybe 2 1/2.

I was thinking about how it's actually probably a good thing that I'm not in a more high pressure sort of job.  What if I had become an ER doctor and developed anxiety?  How could I have helped people in life and death situations if I was anxious about my own mortality and my own medical needs?  On the other hand, I would have had a bunch of doctor friends that probably wouldn't charge me much for the occasional paranoid CT scan...hmm.  I got a little bummed thinking about this because I was viewing my anxiety in terms of how it has limited me.

Believe me, I'll be the first to tell you that anxiety hit me like a frickin' sucker punch, right to the gut and chest.  It didn't come on slowly.  Before 2 1/2 years ago, I was a (moderately) sane person.  I was still scared of heights and got the occasional vertigo, but the most that hampered me in Kansas was not being able to climb up to the Capitol dome.

Oh, anxiety has limited me in a number of ways, but I believe that it has also given me several blessings in disguise.

I am much more conscious of the things that I view and if they will be positive or negative.  I do a lot more things outside of sitting and watching TV.  I found more, varied hobbies that I didn't realize I would enjoy.  I am much more aware of the things I put in my body, food wise.  I am hyper aware of the medication that I take and how it affects me and my mood.  I think that these are all positive consequences of anxiety.  The two most positive things about having anxiety?  I have changed my way of thinking about this world and the next.  I have grown closer to God and learned to trust in Him more than ever.

I think deeper thoughts than I did before.  I mean, I never before truly contemplated death and how it would feel or what would happen afterward.  This is one of the best/worst aspects of anxiety, that ability to conjure up the topic that will make you feel the shittiest.  Mine is death.  Death is frightening and thinking about it, as a person with anxiety, would nearly make me have an attack as soon as I did.  However, working through this stressor has actually brought me a lot of relief, because I know I am prepared.  Okay, so how can you ever TRULY be prepared?  You can't, but, you can make sure that you have forgiven your enemies and told your family and friends that you love them and requested forgiveness from God for the things you have done.  You prepare mentally and spiritually, because anxiety will deceive you into believing that death is around every corner.  When you think like that, you plan on how to make sure you don't die with hate on your heart.

I pray like I have never prayed before.  I ask Mary and the saints to help me with every little thing now.  I ask God for all kinds of stuff I never would have asked before, because now I understand the purpose of prayer.  It isn't to just ask for material things to receive or even for people to get better or
for things to turn out differently, it's to be united with God in a quiet moment and recognizing that you can give it to Him because He has, and will always, carry that burden for us.  I know that I have increased in humility and meekness (believe it or not).  I pray for causes and people in new ways.  I pray for God to invade the souls of the people who wish to do others harm.  I pray for mercy for people most would say don't deserve it.  I pray for safety and protection of my family and friends, but most of all, I pray that God will inflame my heart with even greater love for Him.  This is the power of anxiety.

Anxiety has pushed me to the brink.  There were moments where I just wasn't sure how I was going to make it through the night.  I was scared of everything.  When you're scared of everything, how do you truly live?

When I try to explain to people how bad it was and my lowest moment, I always go back to the bathtub.  That moment when I had anxiety so badly that the only thing that could relieve it was literally sitting in a tub of warm water, with the shower head on, pouring even hotter water over me.  I would shut it off for 20 minutes to let it warm back up, then turn it back on.  Over and over and over again, for nearly 3 hours, I did this.

My lowest point, the nadir of my journey, the bathtub, was where I met God face to face.  I cried and prayed and begged for relief.  He has salvaged my soul and helped me grow spiritually in a way that I was limited by without the anxiety.

Huh, imagine that.