Okay, I know the title of this post sounds like a downer, but I'm really not depressed or all angsty or anything. It's just how I would sum up my how I was feeling on Saturday.

Going to church screws me up.

As my friend C points out, that may be a good thing.

It brings out all my God-issues again and stirs up the disappointment, the anger, the profound sense of betrayal and loss... the caustic, sarcastic disbelief and the wounded, trembling child.

I don't like it.

But... I think she's right. It is still something that must be dealt with, layer by layer, from the inside out.

I left church because it was the right thing for me. I wasn't able to be healthy there at that time, and I still feel that way. It's not just because it stirs up all that stuff (although I won't lie, that's definitely a motivating factor), but because I always, always slip back into being this fake person, this achiever, this outward-focused, judgmental bitch, and I hate it. The worst part is that most of it is focused on myself. It is almost a given that I will hate myself, hate God, or both while I'm a church-goer.

I can't say that I'm not going back until I learn to get over that stuff, because it could very well be that I need to go back in order to learn to get over that stuff... but it's still not time yet. It's closer than it was, but not yet. I do feel as though I've learned more about myself and who I truly am since I walked out the doors and got rid of the mold I was trying to force myself into. That's been a pleasantly surprising process, and I know I'm far from done. I also know that I don't have to complete it before I go back.

Still, I'm glad I went. My grandparents were so pleased to see me, so excited... it almost made me feel guilty. Almost. It's like their joy at seeing me in church was an unconscious pressure to come back, to make their joy complete... but I can't go back for that reason, either. It wouldn't be real, and I would stifle. So many people had the same response. I felt very loved, yet also... bad. It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't know the mindset... the thoughts of "she's a young person wandering from the path but she'll be back..." I guess it just annoys me to think that the path I'm on could be so unworthy that I must be required to abandon it if I am to be "right" again. Blech. I can't even really verbalize this one this time. That's unusual for me.

The hardest part was not God, was not the quiet pressure from the pleased expressions, hugs, and well-meaning questions about where I've been.

The hardest part was the walker.

"What's that for?"
"What happened to you?"
"That's not yours, is it?"
"What do you need that thing for?"
"You're too young to need that!"
And, the very worst...

"What's wrong with you?"

Okay. Pause. Breathe. Think. Process.

I know they mean well. I know they're caring individuals who are shocked to see me with a walker, when the last time they saw me I was walking about freely. I know it's just the car-crash effect, and I know that they ask because they care.

But really?

There is nothing wrong with me. I am not defective because I struggle with constant, overwhelming pain. Just because certain parts of my body don't work as well as they ought to doesn't mean that I am somehow inherently flawed, alright?

When you hear the same thing over and over again, you start to believe it... and I left pretty down. I'd already been struggling with depression for the last week, and yesterday was a tough blow. Fortunately, I have some pretty potent tools in my toolbox, and I was able to avoid sliding into a depressive spiral, but it was tough.

I think the worst part is that I don't look sick. The walker/limp/stiffened gait are really the only outward indicators that I've got any illnesses at all. My wedding pictures are gonna come out great, because I'm slender and fairly toned, my skin is clear and my teeth are white, and my smile is as wide as ever. My thyroid problems don't show up outwardly now that I've got my acne under control. My adrenal issues aren't emblazoned across my forehead. My food allergies don't flash like a neon sign above my head. My miscellaneous gastro problems don't announce their presence via loudspeaker. (Um, unless I'm having flatulence issues... lol) It's just... that walker.

Usually, I'm pretty proud of it. I mean, I know I have to use it, so I might as well rock it, right? It's beautiful, and to me it's a sign that I'm a fighter and an overcomer. I will not let my illnesses keep me housebound or immobile. I will figure out ways around my problems and keep on keeping on.

But on Saturday... I felt like it branded me as some sort of defective piece of lower-class workmanship.

What's wrong with you?

How about this? How about asking me a different set of questions? Something like...
"How are you doing?"
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"You didn't need this before. How are you handling the transition?"
"Is there anything I can do to help?"

I liked the way the young man in Wal-Mart approached me. He pointed out the existence of the walker and politely asked why I needed it. When I told him I had fibromyalgia, the first thing out of his mouth was, "How are you handling the diagnosis?"

Wow. I've never run across that before or since. It really impressed me. I felt like he saw me as a person, not as a "less than" or a poser. I felt like a human being, and it was really nice. I felt the same way I do around C and my other supportive, understanding people, but it was coming from a total stranger.

I tell you, this has definitely impacted my thinking on how I relate to others, and how the questions I ask them might be taken.

Oh, and there is one other thing that I ran across (inevitably)...

Don't try to fix me.

I'm already doing my damned best, and I don't need anyone to imply that I'm not, or that if I did something different that I wouldn't have to be this way...

Because when you try to fix someone and assume they're not already on top of it, you're implying that it's their fault. They wouldn't have to be this way if they didn't want to, because you're offering them the cure! If they don't get better, it's their fault.

I hate, hate, hate that!

It's not my fault, and there's nothing wrong with me, alright?

*sigh* Moving on...

I created an entry for the Spread the Spoonz Awareness Campaign, and this is it:
This is the mantra that I repeat to myself almost every day, especially on days when I just don't "have it", or days when I'm feeling really insecure and inadequate about my performance (or lack thereof) and my inability to do or be everything that I want.

It was a good, fun exercise, especially since I was fighting that darn depression. It was quite therapeutic, and I'm glad that I saved it for that particular day.

C was also a good support. I came home from church and he just held me, listened to me, and let me vent... affirmed me :) He made me laugh, which was great. He also indulged me in my favorite anti-depressant/painkiller. (That's an innuendo, for those of you who didn't catch that.)

I'm glad I'm marrying him. (Five weeks from today! Whoohoo!) He has passed some of the most difficult tests of a true partner, and proven his loyalty, love, and compatibility. What a catch! I only hope that I can be as much of a faithful partner and loving support to him as he is to me. That's what I strive for, every day.

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