Wednesday, November 2, 2016

"today is the day i realized that i could be loved..."

i'm about to make a bold admission.  besides the fact that i keep trying to wear a size 0 but am actually a size 4 now, i have to express something that has been eating up my insides for years.

there is a five-day period of my life that i have refused to acknowledge happened.  however experiencing these five days changed my view of life, religion and love forever.  let me rewind and say that over the last few years i have gradually came to the realization that:

1) God loves you unconditionally, despite who you love and if you drink coffee.
2) Happiness does not come from church.
3) You don't have to be nice to other people because of eternal incentives: it's called being a good person.

now how did Marcie come to these conclusions?  where did her testimony go wrong?  i'm already expecting the "she didn't pray hard enough" or "she didn't study the Book of Mormon like she should have" or "definitely because the lack of temple, church, and activity attendance" accusations.  but in fact, these things among countless negative experiences with church were what led me to these conclusions.  it seems impossible that going to church every Sunday, fulfilling a calling and doing family prayer every night could possibly lead to these realizations.  i am probably the only exception among millions of church members.

i never quite felt "good enough" to be a member of the church.  i have and continue to always feel guilty about something i did or didn't do.  this guilt mixed with low self-worth were a recipe for the big D.  no, not that one.  DEPRESSION.  yes, i said that buzzword.  the word that denotes a sense of laziness for some people.  why don't you just try harder to be happy?  why don't you just snap out of it?  the word that is so casually thrown around when you are sad: "Chick-fil-a was closed.  I'm so depressed!"  the thing that many people experience but don't actually admit to if they are really in the depths of its hell hole.

i was depressed.  so depressed because i constantly compared myself to how i thought i should be doing in the church to who i really was.  when i tried to attend church, i felt like crawling out of my skin and that made me feel even worse.  why don't i want to be here?  i keep messing up in life, watching a rated R movie, going out to eat on Sunday, not going to the temple every week or saying a swear word (or 2, or 3). i continued to feel guilty every day that i did something else wrong.  i started to feel guilty for things in the past.  i cried, prayed, repented and repeated.  lather, rinse, repeat became the daily cycle.  why won't this depression go away?  why doesn't God show me he loves me?  that's when i realized that maybe He did love me.  but the church, did the church actually love me or care about me if i wasn't checking off all the commandments, one by one, day by day?

i constantly hear that the church isn't meant for perfect people.  that people go to church to be perfected and you can't judge a church by its members.  but what is a church without its members?  it is merely a building with gospel principles and no one to partake.  it is...similar to a picnic filled with yummy fruit, cheese and salami with no one to eat it.  but of course, you have to wash your hands first and wear a sweater over that tank top or else you can't enjoy it.

eventually i sunk into a depression so deep that my entire body and soul ached every morning that i had to get up and face reality.  the pain became so debilitating that the thoughts began to creep in.  there's a train track nearby.  what's in our medicine cabinet right now?  co might be the least painful way to go. 

i attempted.

i attempted several times.  sometimes i stopped myself.  sometimes it was someone else.  most times, i just didn't know how to do it.  each time that i was about to seriously injure myself, i thought about what triggered me...and each time those experiences were related to church.  my interactions with church and its members...the members who were supposed to be disciples of Christ, spreading his gospel and love on the earth.  the people who i thought i could trust to really love me as a human being instead of as a tithe payer.  someone who could really listen to me instead of only seeing what i was doing wrong in life to deserve these trials.  i wasn't blaming the church or its members for my depression, but instead i was realizing that it was the source of my unhappiness.  i felt like i had been forcing myself to be a certain person that i knew wasn't me.  the last time i attempted suicide, i got sent to a psychiatric hospital for five days.

i supposedly checked in of my own free will.  five days isn't really that bad in a hospital, right?  they tell you at the ER that the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (or mental hospital) is a safe place where you will receive care from the best doctors and social workers.  they don't mention that you are basically put in a prison with much nicer furniture and 'wardens' who look like Costco employees.  overall, the experience was dehumanizing.  i was well aware of the reason why i was there.  i knew that i had to be under surveillance because of my attempts and i knew that it was the only way to get better.

each day i met with a social worker, a counselor, or a doctor.  sometimes all three.  but each day, i was forced to relive the reason why i was there.  each day i had to relate to these complete strangers why i was depressed.  it became mundane but then one night, while laying in bed (with a tiny blanket, they don't want you hanging yourself)  i realized that i knew why i was so unhappy.  i couldn't say it though.  if i say it out loud, if i say those words then my world will fall apart.  so i never said those words.  i made up completely different reasons for why i was so depressed.  work.  family relationships.  friendships.  all a bunch of bull crap of course.

my roommate hated life.  she hated life so much she tore our drapes down one day.  there were broken metal curtain clasps all over my bed one afternoon.  she had been forced to stay at UNI over her birthday.  even after the employees brought her a chocolate cake and threw her a birthday party, she literally tore the crap out of our room.  in a sense, i was jealous of her.  i was jealous that she was capable of expressing that much emotion without restraint.  when was the last time i did that? have i ever done that?  when she was granted her clothing privileges (we all had to wait a couple days before we were allowed to wear normal street clothes) she constantly wore tie dye leggings.  during smoke breaks i saw her pacing back and forth, the tie dye was really the only color in the yard in the middle of the haze.  i wasn't smoking of course.  but the only way to go outside was to take the break with everyone else.  that took me two days to get privileges for.  when i finally did, an elderly patient pulled the fire alarm and had to be sedated immediately.  i knew i was going to like these smoke breaks.

we had television.  i could never watch it though.  whenever i attempted to change the channel some middle aged woman (another patient) stormed in and yelled at me.  she literally watched baseball all day in that room. it was the best room on the entire floor, too.  plenty of sunlight.  a view of the beautiful mountains.  she wouldn't even let me have that space to feel a sense of normalcy.

i felt like i was torn.  i couldn't really express my emotions like my roommate could.  i couldn't tear down the walls around me and show everyone what i really thought about my life.  i couldn't tell them that the church and my religion were slowly killing me inside because it did not make me into the person i wanted to be.  on the other hand, i knew i couldn't accept the status quo.  i couldn't sit in that comfortable seat, quietly next to the window with the view of the mountains because there would always be that nagging feeling that something wasn't right.  i would feel like a stranger to myself if i tried to make that work.  after the five days were over, i felt like life was clearer.  i felt more focused (yeah, props to the meds) and more capable of doing whatever i wanted with my life.  i felt like i was loved beyond measure by my family (especially Graydon) and i knew that i couldn't and wouldn't attribute any of that to the church.  Yes, to God.  But not the church, which i stopped attending soon after leaving UNI.

i'm not denouncing the LDS church or any religion for that matter.  all i know is that the church for me, doesn't work.  it works for many people, but i kept trying to force myself into this puzzle but i am not the right piece for it.  i do not fit just right.  i don't even think i want to fit just right either.  i like who i am.  i know who i am besides being a member of the LDS faith.  i am asian american.  i'm a perfectionist. i can read novels upon novels and write pages of research on Hamlet.  then i can turn around and ace Organic Chemistry.  i really am damn good at O chem.  i can dance.  i can sing.  i can learn instruments.   i'm pretty funny if you get to know me.  i like good movies and tv shows.  i like good music.  i care about people.  i really will do anything for my family and best fiends.

i think i will continue to attend church but not in the same way i did before.  i want my son to be surrounded by good influences and to have interactions with other kids his age but mostly, i want him to decide for himself whether he will want this for his life.  i won't whisper a testimony in his ear as he stands up in testimony meeting.  i won't force him to attend seminary.  i won't even make him go on a mission.  i will tell him everything that i love about God, the teachings of Jesus Christ and the amazing things that the church does for the world.  But honestly beyond that, i want him to learn for himself if he has a testimony.  i am not going to keep him from church and deny him the opportunity to learn more about it.  i just want him to know that he doesn't have to quietly suffer like i have most of my life.  i don't want him to be someone he is not.  i want him to be a good person who serves other people and does the right thing on a daily basis because he knows that there is a God, not because i told him there is one.  most of all, i want him to be happy.

i hope this post doesn't shock anyone and make you all think less of me.  i hope this doesn't hurt anyone's feelings or cause you to point out all my flaws with my reasoning.  honestly i am posting this to heal my soul.  i am a broken person and i have been able to slowly put myself back together with each new discovery i've made about who i am.  i am a good person and i know that i am capable of great things.  please remember that before making any judgments.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Oh, Henderson.

I've wanted to write a post about how life here in Henderson has been so far but haven't quite found the right time to do it.  Maybe it's because I'm horrendous at keeping a diary/journal and a blog is a very similar outlet.  Of course, I have to do a lot of self-editing since this is public!

Anyway, after Grady turned 1-year-old on the 4th of July (Independence Day!) we basically started loading up the truck and U-haul and then moved to our 3 bedroom apartment here in Henderson.  Our first day here didn't look so good: no AC.  It was completely shot.  Imagine loading in boxes from 105 degree weather but not having anywhere to cool off.  My poor Grady ended up running around in his diaper (which I don't normally do) but was still so hot.  The front office insisted that "it took 4-5 hours for the AC to cool down the apartment" which I thought was bologna.  I was no HVAC expert but there was definitely not any cool air being produced, nor did the actual unit make any noise.  Eventually, the entire unit was replaced with a new monster one.  A few weeks later our neighbors' was also changed out.  Looks like they had some maintenance to do!

Initially I was worried about the heat before moving out here.  Everyone I told that I was moving to the Las Vegas area said "oh man it is so hot!" and I started to tell myself this would be a problem.  Of course, if my AC didn't work like that first day, it would've been a problem.  But normally, I walk a few yards to my car, then a few feet into the store, back to the car, then back into the house.  All indoor places are pretty much blasting cold air 24/7 in the middle of 114 degree summers here.  So the heat doesn't bother me.  In fact, I love it.  I'm always sweaty, yes, but I feel less inclined to eat poorly, I find more creative things to do with Grady, and I can brag to others when the weather cools down everywhere else but stays pleasant where I am.  For example, right now it's been in the upper 70's and I leave the patio door open.  Grady wanders in and out, happily singing or talking to himself and I get to feel warm breezes blowing through the apartment.  It's been one of my favorite memories so far.

I have had a great time.  I have tried very hard to step out of my comfort zone.  Normally I wait for someone else to befriend me.  However this has been the best opportunity for me to reach out and make friends on my own terms without waiting around for some miracle.  I won't lie though, there have been several amazing people out here who have actually done that very thing.  The first week or so that I was here I was invited to go to the library for kids' story time and also to attend a playgroup.  I was extremely grateful for church at that moment and the connections and life-long friendships I would potentially make.

There is so much to do here.  I wasn't exactly a stay at home mom in Utah, so maybe I didn't realize that there were a bunch of activities around for Grady.  Anyway, here we go to the library quite frequently either for story time or for merely letting Grady run his tiny fingers over the spines of children's books.  There is even a corner just for little toddlers to play and get their wiggles out.  When we aren't at the library, we go to the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas.  When we first came here, we frequented the dinosaur exhibit there.  A couple animatronic dinosaurs were on display and there were also other fun prehistoric type activities for the kids.  They also have a Toddler Time event every Thursday there.  A rambunctious man reads a story and a theme is established for the day.  After the story is over, all the toddlers make a craft.

So when we aren't at the Springs Preserve, nor at the library we go to the park for playgroup.  The playgrounds here are amazing!  I've never seen so many slides and cool contraptions that even I want to play on.  I am actually quite jealous and sometimes insist that Grady goes down the slide so that I can also take a turn.  When we weren't at the park in the summer, Grady and I would swim a lot at the apartment complex's pool.  He loves floating around in his little floaty raft and splashing is definitely the number one activity for this kid.

As you can see I keep busy.  When Graydon is at school or studying, which is basically all the time every day, I make sure that I am occupied.  There is never anytime for me to feel lonely or sad for myself.  I sew dresses if I need something even more demanding to take up my time.  I read books for Book Club to pass the time.  I sell my old clothes online to help pay for eating out occasionally.  Maybe I will work out one of these days too.

Being here in Henderson is similar in some ways to Utah, but definitely different in a lot of other ways.  There is so much diversity and more opportunities to be exposed to other cultures and people.  I love it.  I love the chance to live in a swing state as well.  I have never seen a commercial on TV for a potential presidential candidate until I moved out here!  I didn't even know they existed!

So far, I would say the schooling aspect speaks for itself.  Graydon is busy, yes.  But I stay busy too and it isn't that hard.  It gets harder when I'm sick or Grady is teething, but people in my ward are so caring and quick to lend a hand.  I can't say that I know exactly what being a medical school student's wife is like, but so far I've been trying my best to make the most of it.  Who knows, maybe we would end up living here after all this is over?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Stubborn? Me? No way!

I can't believe that the last time I wrote a blog post was when Grady was 3 months old!  Time flies when you're having fun.

And boy, have we been having fun.  

My little Grady is such a fascinating boy.  Now that he is nearly 16 months old, I've started to identify some strong personality traits.  Some of them I selfishly compare to myself: "is he turning out like me?" and then there's "he definitely gets the stubbornness from me." 

But he's not stubborn like me.  I am far worse than anyone can possibly measure.  Grady is patient and gets frustrated when things don't pan out how he wants them to, but eventually he learns he can't have everything he wants.  Me, on the other hand, I complain and cry and don't want to change my ways until it's too late.

My stubbornness will be the end of me. I've learned this several times throughout my life.  Like that one time when I hung out with the wrong kind of friends as a kid.  I was warned and warned.  "it's going to end in heartbreak" I was told.  When the ties were broken, I was 13, alone and utterly confused about what person I was supposed to be.  

Then there's the time when I wouldn't give into that one demanding customer.  "This is the worst service I've ever received" he yelled.  "Well you can go somewhere else then, sir". I still don't regret that retort which adds to my dilemma.  But after that, I felt that my position at work was degraded a bit.  What kind of assistant manager responds to people like that?

Finally, there's that one moment when Graydon told me to be patient about starting a family.  All around me friends, coworkers, relatives and neighbors were having kids.  I was quickly turning 23.  Oh no, married for 2 years and no kids?  Then came 25.  I was still lagging.  I cried into my pillow and put myself down for not being like everyone else.  Shouldn't I have 2 kids by now?  The emotions were building up, the sound of someone else's happiness sent me into a whirlwind of despair.  I bought baby necessities...maybe pretending would yield a faster result.  

Eventually we got there and here I am, staring at a picture of my baby.  

I need to put an end to my stubbornness.  All it has ever done has gotten me into trouble.  Maybe I should be persistent instead?  Grady is a great example to me.  He has his moments when those molars are cutting through or he hasn't had enough sleep.  But overall, he is understanding when things are supposed to be a certain way.  He doesn't give up, but he goes with the flow.  He accepts the circumstances and moves on with a smile on his face.  I tell him "no, you can't play with that electrical outlet." He flinches, nearly tries to touch it again, but decides he'd have more fun playing with something else.  "Eat your dinner, Grady" gets me a shake of the head and then a gentle push of his plate, meaning he's done.  If that were me, I'd be screaming my head off "NO I DON'T WANT TO EAT" or "WHY CAN'T I PLAY WITH ELECTRICITY?"

I've come to the conclusion that I'd be much happier if I tried to see things from a different perspective, move on without dwelling too much on the past.  Seeing beyond the here and now has always been difficult for me.  Ever since my little Grady came into my life, I've noticed that it's been easier for me to lighten up a bit.  I think I will always be grateful for my little guy in more ways that I can count.  Who would've thought that Grady could teach me so much in so little time?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Grady update!

Grady is 15 weeks old! I can't believe how much he has grown. It's been an amazing 3.5 months with my little man. I never thought I could love my baby this much. It certainly hasn't been easy, but all the late nights have been so worth it. Of course, there are still many more to come.

Grady has been such a joy. He just recently became more vocal. Grady loves to coo. When he's on his playmat, you can hear him repeating "" while he swats at his toys. Sometimes I think he's talking to his toys or maybe he's just annoyed to be on the floor with three random trinkets hovering above him by little ribbons. In either case, he loves to talk. At times when he's extremely fussy I sit him down and ask him what's bothering him. We will proceed to carry a "conversation" as he responds to my questions with exasperated coos and other sweet noises. I swear he is saying "wingding". You know, like the font. He's probably just making that dipthong sound.

At this point in motherhood, I still don't feel like I know what I'm doing. I hope no one ever asks me for advice. However, I also prefer not to receive any either. I think I'm just being too prideful to accept it. I love being a mom. I'm so glad it happened when it did. Grady is so lucky to have so much family around.

Well I could go on about how tall Grady is and how much he weighs but I don't think it matters. I think the best update I could give you is that he is happy and loves to smile. There's not much else that can make sleeping two hours a night satisfying but his smile sure does that. Of course he is sleeping more but life is unpredictable and stuff happens. I'm just glad to know that my little guy will always have a smile saved for me despite how tired, hungry or sick he is.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Little Grady is here!

I can't believe he's here! All those days talking to my belly, feeling him kick and daydreaming about what he'd look like are over. Now I have a little bundle of love. Today I'm writing about Grady's birth story (you've all been warned). I am always extremely interested in others' experiences so I thought I'd share mine. Also, when Grady isn't nursing I need something to do!

 Grady's due date was July 13, 2014. Since Graydon works a 7 on/7 off schedule at work, we were nervous that Grady was coming on a work week. Because of this, Graydon continually talked to Grady in my belly. " come early little guy!" Every morning and every night for a week or so he did this. I just laughed it off, enjoying the moment. On July 4th, Gray and I had slept in. The night before we had enjoyed Thai food and a swim at the gym. We were so relaxed and happy, just daydreaming about the sweetheart in my belly. That morning we were laughing and enjoying the fact it was a holiday with nothing for us to do. Gray turned to my belly and again reminded him " you need to come today, bud. We want to meet you." With dreamy eyes, I smiled and rolled over on my side, started to drift back into a lazy slumber when POP! Ouch. It felt like a balloon popped inside me. Then a contraction, my first one ever. Soon the fluid flowed and I knew that Grady had listened to his daddy. My water just broke!

 We didn't rush to the hospital. I was still feeling good. We showered, I gathered my packed bags, then suggested going to eat before going to the hospital. I thought labor would be at least 12 hours. Once we got closer to Arby's, the contractions grew closer and more intense. I started to get snippy. " why are they taking so long with our order???" I felt guilty later because they ended up being the nicest Arby's employees ever when I looked back on it.

 Finally, we arrived at the hospital. I could barely walk at this point and it had only been an hour since my water broke. The nurses were understandably skeptical about my being in active labor and whether or not my water broke. We were immediately escorted to a room where I was told to change into the hospital gown. I couldn't do it because of the pain and the feeling like I had a horrible case of food poisoning. I just sat on the toilet, saw blood and immediately tried to get on the bed. I had no idea how they expected me to give them a urine sample at this point. It felt like forever before a nurse came in.

In the meantime I used deep breathing techniques to work through each contraction or "surge". It helped but I didn't want to do it for hours. I thought it'd be a long labor. When the nurse came in to check me, she said "8." Immediately the whole dynamic changed. People were paged and equipment was being rolled in. "Are you sure you don't want to do this naturally?" My nurse was kidding but a contraction had been coming on so I didn't feel like laughing. They hooked me up to an IV and the epidural was quickly and thankfully administered all within about 45 minutes of me checking in. I couldn't believe I was at an 8. I had seen my OB just the previous day and I was a 2, which I had been for about 3 weeks. Here I was, ready to have a baby on this day. Independence Day!

 I was the happiest person after the epidural kicked in. I was laughing and alert, completely involved in conversations with my parents when they visited. I could feel tiny pressure, like my stomach was growling for food but not much else. At 2:30, we started the pushing process. I was warned that it'd be difficult with an epidural but I didn't care. I didn't want it risk having a painful and miserable experience with my little guy that was coming so quickly. I did ask for a mirror though. I always like watching when I get shots, blood drawn, my dad drilling and extracting teeth so I thought why not. Also, it helped me focus my pushing.

 After an hour and a half of pushing (I was so glad I worked out three times a week during my pregnancy!) little Grady was born! He had beautiful dark hair and chubby cheeks. When they placed him on my chest, I fell in love immediately. His tiny hands with super long fingernails made me laugh and his button nose melted my heart. Graydon cut the umbilical cord and I continued watching as they cleaned up our bear cub. Was it really possible that just 6 hours ago we were dreaming about this guy? Here he was, perfect and sweet. I will never forget the feeling of becoming a mother. I also loved watching Graydon become a dad. He was so quick to catch on and know how to help. Love emanated from his eyes as he rocked Grady. We looked at each other and cried. We fell more in love with each other on Grady's birthday. Like I said, I am so interested in birth stories. People have completely different experiences and learn different things from it. I know that my first experience delivering a baby wasn't perfect but after it all happened, I felt like I just experienced the most perfect day of my life. I look at Grady now and just feel so overwhelmed with love and emotions (of course). I also look at Graydon and am so thankful that he is mine and I am his. There is no other person that I could imagine sharing such an amazing experience with.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Homemade sorbet

Make this the next time you feel like having a lighter dessert and really want to impress dinner guests. Nothing gives you more compliments than making your own sorbet after a delicious dinner!

4 cups of frozen assorted fruit (preferably strawberries, peaches, pineapple, and mango)
1/4 cup of lime juice
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4-1/2 cup of water (if needed for easier blending)

Use a food processor or blender and combine items. Add 1/4 cup of water if consistency is too stiff. After sorbet mixture is complete, place in air tight container and freeze for up to 4 hours. You can also use an ice cream maker if you have one on hand. Scoop, garnish with mint or fresh fruit, and impress your guests!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Treading water

So, it's January 2012.

I would be lying if I said this last year has been perfect.

There were mornings that I woke up feeling hopeless and empty. The sunlight coming in through the blinds bothered me and the cheerful radio voices on our alarm enraged me. I'd cling to my sheets as if some imaginary hands were pulling me out of bed. I slipped under my covers and hoped the day would pass, realizing it would go on regardless if I decided to get out of bed or not. These type of mornings became routine. If I got out of bed, I couldn't look in the mirror. I'd brush my hair and teeth and pull on crumpled clothes. The days always seemed to last longer and longer. My neck and back began to ache. My chest had a constant weight on it. I found myself turning off the radio. The thousands of songs on my itunes were becoming nothing but whiny. Not comforting like they used to be. My own puppy gave up trying to drop her stuffed toys at my feet. She knew I had no intention of taking my eyes off the television.

I would be lying if I said that Graydon isn't perfect.

His face so close to mine, his eyes trying to sort out the pain I was feeling. "You must feel like you're drowning, don't you?" Comforting arms wrapped around me, I nodded and sobbed into his chest until I ran out of tears. "I feel like I can't breathe."

Our summer on the Mediterranean cruise: one day we strapped on snorkel gear, climbed into a tiny boat, and dived into pristine waters surrounding Majorca. "We are diving into an underwater cave" we were told. The water, so beautiful and seemingly harmless, crashed me up against a giant rock. Again and again my hands smashed against its jagged surface, my hands punctured and bleeding. Salt water forced itself into my lungs, I clung to Graydon's shoulders and hoped no one else noticed my intense fear. "You have to let go" he said, "I'll wait for you." And he did. When I emerged from the cave he was treading water, I could see his tired eyes, red cheeks but a hopeful smile. I couldn't stop thanking him for waiting for me.

So it seemed for awhile that Gray was treading water, waiting for me to emerge. Constantly holding my hand, stroking my hair and talking me through ever thorn that was embedded in my heart. He talked me through going to the doctor. He talked me through telling my family. He talked me through my first pills, my first visit to the therapist, and my admission that I couldn't do it all on my own.

One day I noticed I was laughing again. Not the petty laughter that one offers at a simple remark but an actual sincere laugh. My chest lightened up. I danced, I sang and kissed my Graydon's cheeks. "Welcome back."

I wear coral lipstick now and paint my nails. I brush my hair and cuddle with my puppy more. Cooking has become my reprieve as well as tending to my house plants. I don't feel perfect and know that I will never come to that. Graydon inspires me every day to live. He spends hours working and even more hours taking care of me. I love him. I also love my family for taking care of me. For helping Graydon take care of me. For loving me and hugging me as if I were still a little girl. Sometimes I still need those type of hugs.

I'm looking forward to this year. Who knows what will happen? All I know is that I'm turning 24 soon and I still feel like I'm 18, twiddling my thumbs waiting for something to happen. Little did I know things have been happening all along and it wasn't until just recently that I realized that I need to play a bigger part in my own life. So here I go. I'm putting one foot, no two feet forward and making my way into the unknown.