Epic Fail by Plain-Clothed Nuns

Click on the title of the post, as it takes you straight to the site.

How to know that you should steer clear of a community:

If they post a “Former Members Reunion” on their front page.

*facepalm*

Advertisements

Photos from Recent Hike

Since the photos are not working out, go here to see the photos. Or click the title of the post.
4/17 went hiking with the South Bay Young Adults group. We hiked the San Temescal trail to Skull Rock, which from a distance kind of resembles a skull, but I think Peter Pan does a much better job. =)

These flowers were light blue on some bushes and had faded to white, as seen here.

I took this one specifically because of the spiraling of the vine.
I had not noticed this at the time, but the center of the flower is lime green.
Had I known that there was a bee in the flower, I don’t think I would have stuck the camera there.
But these lily/poppy like flowers were along the flattening of the trail leading to Skull Rock. Really pretty.
These are my favorite from the hike, flame orange and yellow.

so little!
Posted by Picasa

Sorrowful unto Death

If you were to know me on xanga, you would be puzzled to see a new blog post. Last week I stated that I would not be blogging until I could find myself in a better mood. My mood is improving, but the real break was due to my life experiences and faith, contrasting with someone’s view.

The blogger wrote she found teens and young adults without God in their life to be lost and depressed. She also implied that people of Faith are not depressed because their hope and light is in Jesus.

I can understand where she is coming from, and to a certain extent, I can agree. As a Catholic, and my born-again experience, I can say that I will never commit suicide despite however depressed I may become in the future. However, as you can see in that statement, it cannot be definitively stated in terms of faith, reason, science, chance, &c that depression will be avoided simply because I have faith and salvation in Jesus Christ.

To say such a thing is to deny the origins of depression: (a)physiology, (b)environment (herein, I clarify that to mean geographical), (c)nurturing (partially contributes to Yours Truly), (d)context (I’d say this is what people would more normally think of being ‘environment’).

Physiologically so many things can be depleted or overcompensated by the brain and nervous system, and while I do not pretend to know many things in this area, when levels are too high or too low for various regions, depression may start (along with plenty of other health and mental health concerns). One example would be chemicals that deplete the brain of serotonin, or organic concerns like a brain tumor.

Environmentally speaking, I look at issues like Seasonal affect disorder (SAD), or living in a region where malnutrition is a concern. Without proper vitamins and nutrients, depression (again, along with other health and mental concerns).

Nurturing: what messages, overt and covert, our parents and relatives instill in us. The patterns of communications, rules, mottos, coping, &c that are part and parcel of the family system. For example, adult children of alcoholics grew up with the unspoken family rule of “do not feel; do not trust; and do not talk” and is all about letting other people perceive a happily functioning family, and never be aware that one (or both) parents are chemically addicted or dependent. Or the patterns of thought that are instilled in children who endure emotional or verbal abuse – messages that say they are never good enough and not worthy of true affection that does not cause harm (or children who are physically and/or sexually abused – that they have physical boundaries, respect and dignity). These messages are terribly hard to undo.

Lastly context, I view as those things that play on any of the above components: how one deals with relationships, martial discord, dealing with a cranky (or for that matter, confrontation-shy) supervisor at work; whatever triggers the critical voice in your mind; stress at work or school; low economic status, struggling to determine the difference between making the water and electricity bill, how to find the funds to pay the child care, &c.

All of these things play together, like separate colors mixing while a 3 year old finger paints. Good luck keeping all those separate! Depression can start from any combination, and further exacerbate any concerns in these areas as well. Faith has little to do with it, except for a life-line, a source of hope. Yet, there is always that chance to suicide, and that is simply being in so much pain that you are willing to seek any end to the pain at all. There, we can only hope God will be just, but I’m not about to do as a fellow blogger did and say that my fellow Christians who suffer from depression, or any other mental illness for that matter, are not truly in relationship with our Lord, nor am I to say anything in regards to salvation.

Revisiting my Illustrious Religious Past

Saturday a girl friend told me about the Bible Study session that she had been asked to teach: a review of the major world religions, and cults. She wanted my input on the cults, and having spent this entire day reflecting and praying about it, I have decided to not co-teach with her on Tuesday evening.

Why would I pass up a moment to teach something that I know like the back of my hand?

Male chauvinist attitudes, emotional immaturity, a perpetuation of stereotypes among some of the most educated people I know, etc.

(a) The man who is in charge of the Bible study is not keen on women teaching, and when we have spoken up at Bible study, we have been talked over, or what we have said has been disregarded (even if we speak from professional authority). When we were discussing the rape of Dinah in Genesis last year, all the women were silent, as it’s a serious matter that may have happened to someone in the group. Several of the men laughed at it, and only a few men (one of them a very good friend of mine) said that he was furious for the behavior of the other ‘men’ in the group who laugh at rape. I have not been raped, but I have been sexually harassed (at school, at internships, and on dates) [once I felt in danger on a date, and if we had not been in a public place I think he would have attempted it].

(b) Stereotypes are perpetuated despite evidence to the contrary. There have been several statements of “Oh, Protestants are ….” when these people in the study are clearly educated and well-aware of what different denominations teach or how they differ from Catholic teachings. Yet, they remain pig-headed. Other times there have been statements about people in cults, and other easily targeted groups.

For this, I drew a conclusion that I did not want to subject myself to such bigotry when I would be a woman speaking on authority from a psychological background and personal experience; nor would I want t garner further stigma from people who claim to be open minded, but are not. I am aware that by withholding information and experience as I do allows the group to stagnate. But who is allowing who to stagnate? Am I at fault, or is it their facade of openness? I’ll probably write up some information for those interested, along with links and resources. But I can only speak to those truly interested in learning, in gaining new ground, and in change.

I have 3 tests this week, I’ll post it in the coming week.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For a quick read on the cult I left in 2004: here.

Masking

Driving home last night from my counseling class, I realized my mask of control has been slipping off a lot more frequently. I’m going to be posting some things on here, which are much more stark and blunt about my life and my personal struggles, than I have posted here on Blogger in the past. You have been given fair warning.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

First, a month-by-Month Play to bring you up to speed:

October was (I can barely remember) okay. I don’t think I got any job interviews during that month, and sitting at home was pretty boring and depressing. The best way I’ve come to describe Oct – Dec is that it was like sitting on a rock in a forest at night, and a heavy damp fog rolls in. And I’m just supposed to sit there and wait for the sun to come and burn off the fog.

November was better, activity wise. I had a few more job interviews, although no offers. I took part in NaNoWriMo, which is a manic writing spree hosted online. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days in a somewhat cohesive manner; to write a novella in 30 days. It was a blast, although in posting my chapters online I got flamed by some people because my characters weren’t all Christian saints – there’s no plot without drama, &c. Needless to say, I didn’t keep those people around, and in currently beginning my second draft, I’m removing some characters as well.

Mom had an episode; not as bad as the one in September where dad had to restrain her and we debated above her yelling, whether to call the paramedics.

December, in an effort to make some money, I was one of those kettle workers/bell ringers for the Salvation Army. I rang a bell for 7.5 hrs/day; for $8/hr. It’s boring, mind-numbing, and depressing. I had to quit, since there came a day where I just lay in bed for a full hour, fully awake but unable to find an ounce of strength to actually get up. I made a call to my spiritual director, and made an appointment with my therapist (who I hadn’t seen since April 2009) which went against all my natural inclinations to just shut away. December was gray.

January
I never did see my therapist; and I found a job through someone I met while bell ringing. Let’s call him “Dirty-Old-Man” (aka, DOM). Why? Because that’s what he is. I was paid $10/hr under the table, a few days per week, in an office in South Pasadena (1.5 hours from home). The $100/wk I made working for him just about covered my gas for the week and food, and sometimes if I played the dollar right, was able to scrimp up a bit for fun nights.

I felt better than I had in December. Except for my boss, who looked at the other women in the office the wrong way – there were only 6 people in the office. I was hired to sort through and organize paper; copy & fax, etc. Well, the things I had to sort through were economic futures and the occasional unsavory email between my boss and women half his age (ick). So, I wasn’t comfortable working for him and do not complain that he ‘fired’ me via email in February. The only thing I miss is having some money.

I had 3 job interviews, some of them looked good. I didn’t land any of them.

I think it was in January, although it may have been February, the Sisters informed me that my acceptance was only good for two years, and if I did not have my loans taken care of by June 1st I wouldn’t be entering. I have been interacting with KoC and other regional Catholic groups in parishes, and none of the groups are able to help much, if at all. I was told that March would be too soon to have any funds raised at all.

Mom had another episode. I’ve since noticed that I get terrible tension headaches and migraines after her tantrums (the kind that 75 mg of Vicodin don’t help with the pain).

February
As I mentioned above, I lost my job with the DOM. I started taking classes at West LA Community College to fill my time, to stay relevant in the field. Plus my parents would not stop bugging me about it. Clearly, I wasn’t getting hired any time soon with 12% unemployment in CA, so I should be back in school again. Funny enough, now they want me to look for jobs instead of studying. I’ve got three classes in the Drug and Alcohol Counseling program. If I actually finish the program, I would have a certification in D&A counseling.

Lent was odd. Some weeks were insightful, and others just dragged in that Lenten way.

I got told by a ‘friend’ that I was abusive, abrasive, and should not speak until spoken to. Then he promptly invited me to help him move out of his apartment. I’m “abusive” but he wants my company? No, that’s not the way it works. I haven’t spoken to him since, which apparently he is fine with.

I think mom had another episode; I had about a whole week of tension headaches and migraines. One of them is the now infamous Vicodin-don’t-work migraine. That sucked; you really have no idea. I say ‘think’ because I’m pretty sure that she did, but I tend to block them (yeah, block them & try my hardest to not listen or remember what she says).

Continued discernment about my loans and vocation. Seems to be less called to the Sisters. Focusing more on what is my experience of the Faith, what I enjoy doing, and why certain Saints come through for me (One of them dramatically shaped religious life; and I’m curious to know why this one Saint comes through for me when so many others with more appropriate patronage do not).

March
About two job interviews, one of which led to a second interview; really excited about this, but down playing it. I’m pretty jaded and ambivalent now about finding a job. A whole year of unemployment, I’m amazed that I still try!

I don’t know. I don’t try too hard to remember the past month, or much of anything. =) I went to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress (it’s as bad as they say it is) but it’s a weekend outside of the house and somebody gave me their tickets. It was cool.

April
Easter Vigil was awesome. Ended running into friends which makes it better, left with standing room only (long narrow church from the 1880s).

Mom decided to quit her job. On one hand that’s good because she’s less stressed and less likely to blow up. And here the other shoe drops – she’s home all day with me: the unemployed, unsuccessful daughter. So, when she’s not busy with other things, which wore off after the 2nd week, I’m her project. She’s signing me up for classes. Pushing for me to enroll in an MBA program, etc.

You say, ‘get a job’? I’m trying!!

You say, move out? I have $323.60 in the bank. If I move out, I have to pay for food, rent (upwards of $900/mo), car insurance, health insurance, gas, cell phone bill, etc. I have no job; no job, no move out. I particularly enjoy hearing from people who say ‘move in with me’ and what, they’re gonna be my sugar daddy?!? I’m not floating in money, I’m floating in debt!

~ ~ ~

If you’re saying, “And the good times?” They’re all in there in between. I stopped attending the Bible study session and prayer meetings for Adoration nights during Lent and Faith sharing dinners with closer friends. I’ll probably continue doing so. There’s multiple issues at play: chauvinist tendencies at the Bible study sessions; prayer meetings are with the guy who said I was abusive and don’t have the right to speak. I go to a potluck dinner once a week with my grad school friends down on campus, which is tons of fun & hilarity.