>To Love the Unlovable

>An extraordinary thing happening today. Something that completely caught me off-guard. Something that I could not have been prepared for even if I had been warned extensively. And yet something that gave me great inner peace.


Allow me to start from the beginning…

Recently I have taken a liking to the cob salad at Safeway. It’s just so yummy. About an hour before I was due at ARC for our final night of staff training, I decided I could go for a cob salad for dinner because I didn’t have time to go home first. So I went to Safeway, got my salad, and decided it was too crowded in the little cafe there to stay. So I went to my car. I pushed back the seat, pulled out a good book, and was just starting to enjoy my salad when…I noticed two men in my rearview mirror signalling to me. I think one even tapped on my back window. That is when I heard it.

The unmistakeable sound of someone in trouble. A woman in trouble. Big trouble. I dashed out of my car and followed the cowardly pointing of the two men who had beckoned me from my dinner…I saw a girl, no older than 20, walking towards us in hysterics.

Soaking wet.

Buck naked.

No joke.

My first thought as I made a mad dash toward her and my novel fell to the ground was that she had been raped. She was inconsolable. Fell into my arms and cried like a newborn baby. And between the sobs I began to make out some sentences…

“…wasn’t my fault…”

“…she’s gonna kill me…”

“…had sex with him…”

“…nobody loves me…”

“…I’m gonna die…”

“…I want to die…”

This was all taking place as she clung to me, and as one unit we slowly made our way to my car. I opened the trunk, found an old blanket and covered her up as I finally made eye contact with another witness and asked him to call 911.

I don’t think she knew she was naked. Or soaked.

That girl finally allowed me to pry her off for just a second so I could get a look at her face. I wanted to look into her eyes. I wanted to know who she was. She looked at me, too, and for just a second, the crying ceased. There was a moment of peace that passed through her. I saw it. I saw it with my own eyes.

That moment was interrupted by a figure approaching us. It was a woman. A woman who scared Crying Girl big time. A woman I would have avoided had I crossed paths with her in any other situation. And yet here she was, boldly approaching, clearly angry.

I thought for sure this was it; we were both gonna be beaten.

Instead she just started yelling at the girl, at which point I learned the girl’s name. And the girl, in turn, started that sobbing, choking, newborn crying again. It was a hard call for me: get involved and stick up for this girl, or protect her silently, with my body, and stay out of it. I guess I did a bit of both. Enough to find out that Scary Lady was Crying Girl’s off-duty caretaker. Caretaker for what, exactly, I have no idea. In any case, they knew that Crying Girl was out there buck naked and soaked, although Scary Lady didn’t exactly know why. And she wasn’t being very rational or nice or calm either. She kept threatening her, saying if she didn’t quit it she would end up back in the hospital. The hardest part for me was that she kept trying to take the girl away from me, but the girl was determined not to let me go. I didn’t mind that; I wasn’t planning on letting her go either.

So where, you might ask, are the police? It’s now been somewhere between 15 minutes and 10, 000 hours, and we are still here, just the three of us, save for awkward passerby’s who never once offered help or even eye contact. I began to feel very alone.

Scary Lady made one last attempt to get Crying Girl off of me: She threatened to call the police. I had to tell her, as much as I didn’t want to, that the police had, in fact, been called and were hopefully (had better be!) on their way. Interestingly enough, this was all it took to see Scary Lady take off for the wilderness. Apparently she didn’t want to have anything to do with the cops and was only using them as a threat.

It was just the two of us. Once again.

Out of the complete and utter blue came the moment that perhaps confused me the most. Crying Girl asked if she could kiss me. Kiss me. I said she could kiss me on the hand, which she did. Only a few moments later she decided that wasn’t good enough and kissed me on the cheek. Before I had the chance to ask her why she had done that, she said, between tears, “God told me to kiss you. He wanted me to do that.”

Okaaaaaayyy…

Just as I was starting to feel really, really angry at the police station or the 911 people or whoever was supposed to be showing up, this really big (and altogether quite gorgeous) cop appeared. I felt really guilty for feeling so attracted to him given the current situation, that a very unstable, naked girl was practically sitting on my lap in the trunk of my car. But what can you do? Anyways, turns out they knew each other. Not in a good way. I know all of zero details. But the girl did get up to “hug” him, dropping the blanket and further worsening the situation.

Incredulously, the officer just shook my hand, thanked me, and told me to go. No report or anything. The girl clung for just a final second, told me she loves me (?) and that was that.

I didn’t want to go to staff training in the first place, and I especially didn’t want to go after that. I wanted to talk to someone. I wanted to debrief. I wished so much that someone else had been present to witness that. But none of those things happened, really. So I zoned in and out all evening long, sometimes actively participating in conversations and sometimes just finding myself back in that place of confusion and shock. It happened so fast and yet it changed me, somehow.

Now that a few hours have gone by, some things have come up in my mind…

One thing I purposely neglected to mention earlier was that one lady did actually stop and talk to us. I’d say she was in her 60’s, just innocently heading to Safeway to buy some groceries. Crying Girl scared her, I think, or in any case startled her. She asked the lady, not quietly I might add, to pray for her. She wanted someone to pray for her. She asked the lady if she was a Christian and the lady said yes. So Crying Girl said, “Good, then can you please pray for me now?” It was most definitely the only clear, concise, intelligible sentence I heard her say the whole time. The only one. I am sorry to tell you that the lady said no, clutched her purse even tighter and hurried off, leaving me with an even sadder Crying Girl. So I prayed for her, but I think in her mind it was too late. In her mind that lady had kind of stolen something from her, some hidden hope I guess. It was the only time I felt helpless throughout this whole fiasco.

I wish the Christian lady had just prayed for her. I think it’s what Jesus would have done. I am not saying she didn’t have her reasons to be scared and want to leave quickly, but it still makes me really sad. That’s just my opinion.

If you go back to the top of this post, I said something that might not make sense to you, now that you have read through the story that took place in the Safeway parking lot. I said that what happened today gave me great inner peace. That’s true. It did.

When I was in Africa holding those sick babies as they grew even sicker, people would email me and ask me how I did it, how I held up under such circumstances. I think sometimes people hear my soft baby voice or see me crying or something and just assume that I am hypersensitive or weak. I’ll never claim to be one of great strength, but I do have to say that I personally feel my best quality is thick skin and a soft heart. It has served me well my whole life. It takes a lot to take me down when it comes to the real stuff in life, and yet I do feel empathetic enough to want to reach out.

It’s what has led me to where I am today, fascinated with sociology and social work and psychology. I am desperate to learn more about the human condition and to learn more about how we all fit into this world. I know that I won’t ever be able to wrap my mind around it. What happened today only drives this longing deeper, this passion to want to be a part of these things that happen. What happened today has left me with endless unanswered questions about Crying Girl.

A big question I have is this: How in the world did Naked Crying Girl get from Point A to Point B without someone stopping to help her? There aren’t exactly a lot of houses around that area. She had to have crossed a busy street. She had to have passed by someone. And yet she made it all the way to the middle of the parking lot. How many people in Abbotsford tonight saw her and have told the story to their friends and families about the crazy girl they saw? But why did no one help her? Why?

I want to know why. I want to learn about this. I want to learn about this thing called life.

And also, I want to do this. I want to hold soaking wet people. I want to spend the rest of my life loving the unloveable.

The strangest thing about this is that never once did I feel fearful. I only felt at peace, like this is who I am supposed to be. And I swear, if there was a camera trained on me during that time, you would have seen a faint smile on my lips. Because I felt this deep joy. I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be at exactly the right time.

Crying Girl, you’ve taught me so much. Sleep well tonight, dear girl. Don’t catch cold.

~C~
PS When I arranged the song for this post, I really wanted to play you Unloved by Jann Arden, but it was unavailable. Instead I chose Hold On…it pretty much speaks for itself.

PPS I guess I lied. I told you that you wouldn’t hear from me till I was 26, but when you gotta write, you gotta write. Thanks so much for listening.

PPPS There is a part of me that feels I somehow crossed some unseen line by sharing this so openly. If you know Crying Girl, or think you might, then please respect her. This blog is only meant to shed light on the human condition…
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>Smile

>I don’t want to be one of those people who resorts to discussing the weather on a regular basis. The weather is a space filler; something to talk about when things are awkward or crappy or boring. And I don’t want to be someone who blames bad things on the weather, either. But to be really honest, I am sad it’s not very sunny. I put away the winter blanket last week. Tonight I pulled it out again. I am sad that it is supposed to pour on my birthday.

A very good friend of mine emailed me tonight about some things that are going on in her life. She was blatantly honest and candid and real. Real as real can get. I love her for that. I hope she will forgive me for saying this in a public forum, but one thing she said really stuck out to me—something about being glad that she doesn’t have to wear summer clothes right now. I totally get that. It’s not nice out enough to wear short shorts and tank tops. So, so, so much easier it is to hide in hoodies and zippies and long jeans. I’m desperate for a steady stream of sunshine and warmth, but I’m no more excited than she is to be out there in summer clothes. It’s something we both need to work on. Confidence. Acceptance. Comfort. I don’t think I am ready for that, yet. I wish I was.
Anyways, when I sat down to write tonight it was to tell you that I am working on a special birthday post. I wasn’t gonna attempt to impart wisdom or anything like that right now, because it is late and I’m tired.
What I was planning on doing was posting a little video I found a few years ago. For all I know it has circulated around YouTube a million times and you have already seen it. I know some of you have, at least. I wanted to post it because I know that my friend and I are not the only ones feeling a bit gloomy about the weather and what it is or isn’t doing. I wanted to post it because I really wanted to smile before I went to sleep tonight. And if you watch it you might smile, too.
Next time you hear from me I will no longer be 25. As much as I am excited about my birthday, I am a bit sad, too. 25 was fun, but as Monica Geller says, “[We] don’t get older. [We] only get better”. Amen to that!
Cheers, guys.
~C~

>To Eden, With Love

>


I shouldn’t, I suppose, be so surprised that something actually grew in that garden of mine. I guess the torrential rains and then the blasting sun took away some of my hope that strawberries and peppers and cilantro and other such delicacies would come to fruition.
But low and behold, today I marched out into the garden to water it with an old garbage pail (still gotta buy a watering can!) and nearly fell over when I saw this:
Oh the simple joys in life. I’m happy. Really, really happy. With the help of H2O and some beautiful sunshine I actually grew something for the first time in my life. And it’s awesome.
So I ran into the house to get Eden the Bunny. She is really, really happy, too.
Enjoy your strawberry, my little one.
~C~

>Kick in the Pantz

>The timing of the ‘selfish’ post could not have been more ironic. Just when I go ahead and announce to the world that I am not good at sharing, all of a sudden it is “teacher appreciation week” at ARC.

I went through a really long phase after high school that lasted until a year or two ago in which I was really bad at receiving gifts. Well, not even just gifts. I was too insecure to accept compliments, offers of help in times of need, presents, encouragement, you name it. I must have babysat for like a thousand families for free because I didn’t know how to answer the question parents like to ask that goes, “how much do you charge?”. I would always just wave my hands frantically in the air in front of me and insist that this was a favour and no money was expected. My friends would always tell me that this was something I needed to work on, but I didn’t know how. I remember one Christmas my best friend was trying to give me a really sweet, meaningful gift, and I hid. Literally. Like, went into a bedroom and hid. Looking back now I can’t even remember what I was so afraid of. But perhaps it has something to do with not placing enough value in myself. I didn’t think I was worth anything. I thought it was a waste of time for people, even loved ones, to invest anything in this broken girl.
The irony is that one of my prominent love languages is receiving. Interesting, hey?
There is definitely no defined period in my life where this aversion to receiving ended. I can’t remember waking up one day and deciding that from now I would cheerfully let people help me and give me things. And actually, to be honest I am still too freaking stubborn sometimes to let people help. But somewhere along the way, somewhere between learning to love myself and learning to love others, I also learned a valuable lesson: people are insulted when you refuse their offers of tangible love. Another huge love language in this world is giving. It is a currency of love. That’s huge.
When I hid from my best friend and her Christmas present, I imagine her feelings were quite hurt. I know I feel hurt when someone who I know needs help won’t let me in.
It’s become increasingly easier to receive these past few years, mainly because in some ways I haven’t had a choice. When I decided that the last time I threw up on purpose would BE the last time I threw up on purpose, there was no possible way I could move forward without tons of help. That help came in the form of late night phone calls, accountability, prayer, flowers, support. Imagine if I had refused that…there is no way I could be where I am today if not for that outpouring of love.
So yes, this week seems to be the week when we cash in for every toddler-induced migraine, every pair of pants that were ruined by food colouring, every time we answered the same question 500 times, every ‘accident’ we cleaned up, every trip to the storage room, every bandaid we applied to unseen owies, and every ounce of patience that was mustered these past 10 months. Parents have seriously gone overboard with the gifts this time (and we thought Christmas was bad). There is one parent in particular who doubles as a faithful blog-follower and deserves an extra huge thank you for her gift to me. Seriously lady, I can’t thank you enough.
So while I am pouring my heart out to you guys about how I am selfish, irony kicks me in the pantz and shows me what giving looks like. So thank you, lesson. Dually noted.
Wish me luck tomorrow at the year-end bbq. Nearly 100 people will be in attendance, 55 of them my kiddies who I so often portray as little rugrats, but who, in complete and utter truth, hold my heart in each of their tiny little paint-smeared hands. It’s been totally and completely worth it. All of it.
It’s time to say goodbye to all our friends….
It’s time to say goodbye to all our friends….
It’s time to say goodbye with a smile and a wave
It’s time to say goodbye to all our friends.
~C~

>On Sharing…

>

Today when Todd the Telus Guy came to my house, I awkwardly blurted out to him that I am really selfish. It was a statement, and hardly an answer to a question. All he had said was, ‘Do you live alone?’. I don’t know what came over me; it was all I could think to say, though. I think Todd the Telus Guy felt a little awkward after that.


Do you ever feel like some people look at you and create this perception that doesn’t quite sit well? I don’t know if it’s because I am so hard on myself or what, but contrary to what others say about me, I really am quite selfish. I am not a good share-er. Maybe I should ask my mom when she gets home from Germany if I was good at sharing as a child. My brother and sisters are not close to my age, so I certainly didn’t have to share my dolls or anything.


I think that in theory we all want to be generous and strive to put others first. At least, I hope we do. But you have to admit that there are those moments when you hold two chocolate chip cookies in your hands and decide to give the smaller one away. Or when you hide your favorite tea when your friends come to visit. I get like that sometimes. A lot, actually. It’s hard to be sacrificial, isn’t it?


But then I think of my Lama. She is thee most generous person on earth, who would literally lay down her life for her friends. She gives away her possessions and money and time and groceries. She goes completely out of her way to help anyone in need. It is quite inspirational.


Not to mention…convicting.


This culture, this suburbia, this inner-focused world we live in teaches us the opposite, I think. Everything is about comfort, security, satisfaction, gratification. How many of us can honestly say lately that we have gone without? We are blessed and we are cared for. We work hard to get there, too. I can honestly say that every sip of coffee is “well earned”. Whatever that means.


At work we have Secret Pals. It’s something I have been taking along with me to every job I have worked at these past few years. The concept it basic. Draw name. Read profile. Watch for signs of needed encouragement. Purchase/create something special. Surprise pal. Completely and utterly enjoy seeing pal’s spirits lift. Kapiche.


Sometimes it is the only nice thing I do for someone else in a given week. Otherwise I just look forward to the end of the day when I can get home and be alone. And I just don’t know if that’s normal. It feels normal. But it also makes me seriously question whether or not I am cut out to ever be in a serious relationship. Maybe not. I just can’t imagine having to share everything when all I want to do is keep it close and to myself. And I am not just talking about worldly goods. I am talking time, energy, remote control, the works.


It’s something to think about.


My parents are coming back to Canada this week and next, thankfully. I really missed them and have admittedly shed a tear or two. It’ll be good to see Lama and Mom in their philanthropist armor loving people and sharing with them. I have a thing or two to learn.


~C~


PS As you can imagine, Todd the Telus Guy came to fix the internet. This is my very first post to you in my new house. : )

>Finish Strong

>It’s Monday morning. Just another manic Monday. Only it isn’t just another manic Monday this time. Because this week is different. After this week is over, my life, my routine, my schedule, is going to change drastically.

I have 5 preschool classes, 1 baby playtime, 1 Safari Zone shift, 2 mornings in child minding, and viola, contract 4 with the City of Abbotsford officially expires.

Of course, I have already signed contract 5. But that’s besides the point.

For now, I want to focus on finishing strong. The last few weeks my work performance has been pretty sketchy. I’d say 60% of the time I am flying below the radar. Ever since we got home from California I have been feeling blue and it is reflecting in my work ethic which was once upon a time pretty good.

Some of my coworkers deserve both an apology and a giant thank you. One of them told me last week that whenever they notice me slipping away they round up the cutest baby in the preschool wing and place it in my arms as soon as possible. It seems to me that the CoA has some pretty amazing people working for them. The other preschool teacher has probably been affected the most by my dissipating enthusiasm. Thankfully she is one of the strongest people I know and has encouraged me to stand in the wings and take care of all our administration and parent-related issues. This has served us both well. Of course, when I am with the kids I am reminded of why I love them. Nothing beats those sticky little hands reaching for yours. I will genuinely miss this bunch of kids.

This week, though, is going to be different. I think the Welbutrin is having a placebo effect on me. It’s too soon to have fully kicked in, but I think the simple fact that I made a good decision has been helping me feel better. And I want to prove that this week. I want to smile more and I want to do my best. I want to write notes to the amazing staff at ARC and AEP. I want to reach out to each of my 55 students and hug them goodbye. I want to say thank you to those parents that kept us fueled this year, bringing chocolate or some other little treat on the days we thought we would lose our minds. It’s been a great year overall.

It might seem to you like I am acting as if the world is coming to an end. Obviously it isn’t. I just want to realize and recognize all the good that has taken place this year. But I am looking forward to the summer. I really, really am. Back in February I was hired as a coordinator for specialty camps and worked hard planning out the 8 weeks of summer. It’s so hard to believe that those weeks are right around the corner now. I think I am ready for it, though. The hours will be longer than I am used to, yes, but to work with kids who are a little bit older and don’t need nose-wiping assistance will be pretty awesome. I get to go on a field trip every single day! It’s gonna be sweet.

So here I am, ready to step out into a week of many lasts. I am ready for it. Can’t promise that I won’t cry about it, but I am ready.

~C~

>I’ll Sing It With You

>

I love it when life orchestrates itself in such a way that there is nothing distracting you from the harmonies and melodies that sweep through and around you. No matter how loud and chaotic your life may be, there are those special times when you feel like you are inside this bubble; this place where nothing can touch you or harm you. And that, my friends, is where I am at tonight as I peacefully type away, my sister-friend gently dreaming beside me.


She is visiting from Edmonton. They say having house guests is exhausting, that it is a strain on your resources and bills and time. But actually, having her here is like scooping up the freshest, coldest, most delicious drink of water from a clean and quiet stream on the hottest day of summer. She is pouring into me, loving me, building me up. And I am so thankful. Last night she cut my hair (trust me, if she lived in BC her clientele would be all of you guys, because I can’t say enough about her gift of making people look and feel like movie stars). So there we were in the kitchen, me in a hard wooden chair, and her behind me, loving me with her gift. Since the moment she arrived, there was this hovering little conversation that so badly needed to be had and yet so clearly needed to be brought up at the right time. The topic was anti-depressants. She reads the blog, but was in Washington at the time that particular post went out, so while she knew something was up that I wasn’t saying, she didn’t know what it was. So I took a deep breath and told her everything, right there in that kitchen chair as she snipped and measured and snipped some more. Needless to say, the news didn’t come as a shock, and she took it for what it was: her best friend needed help and was getting it. She was supportive and empathetic and encouraging. She knew that I needed to be looked right in the eyes and told everything is going to be okay. I love her for that.


So there I was, back at the good old doctors office (albeit 15 minutes late), my heart pounding once again, my friend waiting patiently for me. I had called ahead to find out if there was something special that I needed to do or bring in order to get a prescription for this filled, but the receptionist said no. I’m not a huge fan of my doctor’s bedside manner, which is fairly business-like and sometimes abrasive, so I was prepared to break her down a bit today and try to get her to see eye-to-eye with me. Surprisingly, it didn’t take much. My ‘all-business, all-the-time’ doctor actually sat down across from me and displayed what seemed to be genuine empathy and concern. I filled out a questionnaire and scored myself a ‘mild’ on the depression scale. That didn’t shock me; I don’t feel depressed…I feel tired and unmotivated. I thought after scoring mild that she would tell me no, that she wouldn’t prescribe me anything. But she didn’t say that. Instead, she ordered yet another round of blood work (um, I seem to remember having a full blood count done like 2 months ago, but what can you do?) and she gave me a 1 week sample of Welbutrin, the baby of all anti-depressants. Now, I am fully aware that 1 week isn’t nearly enough time to find out if this is going to be good for me or not, but she said it was just to test the side effects. If I don’t have any, she will give me a real prescription, but if the side effects are bad, she has other mild options. Simple as that. I have another appointment for the same day, same time next week.


Tonight my sister-friend and I were watching Corrina, Corrina, and I completely teared up at the end when Molly and her Grandma are sitting outside on the steps together. Grandma is grief-stricken after losing her husband, and Molly is gently encouraging her to sing This Little Light of Mine. Grandma just doesn’t have it in her, so Molly puts her little arms around her and says, “Come on. I’ll sing it with you.”


You have all, in some way or another, sang it with me. If life is a song, you are my melody. You are my harmony. You are my percussion. You are my song.


You’ve all listened faithfully to my story, and I am so thankful for that.


I am writing this late at night, my girl sleeping beside me, my eyes drowsy. I know that in a few short hours I will be taking that first pill to my lips. I will be hearing the sounds of you singing beside me. It’s a baby step, but it’s a step.


~C~