Monday, December 31, 2012

Taking Criticism with Love: A Bitter Pill to Swallow

I was given some criticism yesterday that hurt me to the quick.  Brothers and sisters, I'm trying my very best to be gracious, and to realize that what was said was done so out of love.  I'm also trying to get beyond myself and get to the kernel of truth within the criticism.  Maybe you can help.  Here is what was said, as best as I can remember it:

"Sister McGinnis, why do you think you have so much trouble with the jobs you undertake?"

What I heard:  Sister McGinnis, you are lazy, and you complain too much and make up too many excuses.

The truth:  Ever since I resigned from the program I was working for when I first moved here, I've had to take the first jobs that came along.  I accepted the hospital job because it was close to home and the pay was better.  I wasn't very good at it though; I knew it, and so did everyone else.  Going to work made me so nervous that I developed IBS, and jumped every time someone called my name.  I never quit that job, just transferred to Dr. Feder's office... and life was so good there.  Doc was kind and patient, and constantly looked out for the health and happiness of his staff.  When he had a stroke, I cried for a week.  I applied for no less than 30 jobs, between doctor's offices and hospitals.  OMG! was the only retail application I put in, and they are the only ones who called me back.  Thus, I am a retail manager.  Considering the health issues I'm dealing with, between the MS, the fibromyalgia, and the chronic headaches caused by hydrocephalus, isn't it obvious why I would have issues with standing for 8 hours at a time and trying to motivate teenage workers who just want to stand there and look pretty?

"I've dealt with some of the people you've dealt with, and I don't get the same animosity from them that you do."

What I heard:  You are oversensitive.

The truth:  Yep,  I am, and I know it.  But show me one abuse survivor who isn't.  Show me one who doesn't run from confrontation.  I cannot stand to be yelled at, disapproved of, or talked down.  When I asked my husband about the person in question, he said "I've heard it.  She's nice to me, but there's a tone in the back of her throat that says 'I was just a total B to your wife, but I'm going to tone it down for you because I can't push you around like I can her.'"  To the brother who said this to me:  OF COURSE she doesn't talk to you like she talks to me... you're the one writing the blessed check. 

So I'm a doormat.  Sorry.  I'm working on it.  I've been working on it for years.

"Sister McGinnis, we can give you a calling.  But what's to say that in three months, you won't be miserable again?"

What I heard:  Sister McGinnis, if we give you a calling, what's to say that you'll actually show up and do it?

The truth:  Yes, I am unhappy here.  But not having a place in the Church is only making my unhappiness worse.  This last year has felt like 365 days of headache and heartache and bad luck.  I feel as if I didn't pray enough before I came home; that I did what I wanted to do, and didn't listen to Heavenly Father's plan for me.  Though I wasn't terribly happy in Michigan, things were turning around.  I was working in the temple and being blessed for it.  I had found a wonderful riding instructor and friend with a kind and healing band of horses to love.  I had finally found my place in the Grand Blanc ward.  We should have stayed.

But now we are here, and I have to make the best of it.  I have to find within myself the strength to hand it over to my Father and say "I've made a terrible mess.  Please fix it.  Please fix... me."  I don't do well with being so far from a temple.  It's as if a life-giving source has been taken from me.  I pine for the peace that I could always find within those walls.  I believe that I'm meant to be a Utah Mormon, with a temple in my back yard.  Does that make me a bad person, because I don't function as well or as happily without regularly participating in those sacred ordinances?  Really?

To anyone who feels the same way about me as this brother:  Please accept my apologies.  I have not been doing my very best, and for that, I am sorry.  I hope I have made myself clear, and I acknowledge that no harm was meant.  I look forward to proving you wrong, and hope that you do, too.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, all I have been able to do is pray.  I can't begin to understand the depth of the grief and loss  that so many parents and loved ones are experiencing right now, but I come to the table with the perspective of one who has suffered with mental illness for a great many years.  It's not something I like about myself, but it is something I have learned to live with, if not control. 

At it's best, my illness manifests in small quirks:  OCD-type eccentricities that don't really get in the way of my life, except to make me waste time.  Middle ground is where I'm usually standing, more stressed out than I should be, and more fatigued than anyone ought to be.  Even then, there is a sane part of me that reminds me I ought to get back to school for a new career, or keep looking for something less stressful than retail management.  My family and friends keep me in check, and if I don't get too panicked, I'm generally okay.

At it's worst, however, my illness is a terrifying thing.  It has lead to self-mutilation, self-medication, hospitalizations, shock therapy, and suicide attempts that left my parents wondering who would care for me when they were no longer of this world.  Thankfully, I have not been there in a long time.  Hopefully, I will never be there again. 

I have never been able to understand homicidal tendencies.  I have always turned my anger in on itself.  The only person who has ever had cause to fear me... is me.  It has taken me  a long time to learn to love and accept myself, but perhaps it's because I have struggled so much to gain that love and acceptance that I can't begin to understand where this lack of respect for the sanctity of life is coming from.  I don't care what kind of problems you have, there is always a way out that doesn't involve violence against yourself or anyone else. 

I can remember what it feels like to lose my mind; to feel like reality was going on somewhere else, somewhere apart... and without me.  Even with that realization and understanding, there is no level of insanity so deep as to justify the crimes that have taken place.  All that is left to do is pray for those who have lost loved ones... and to pray for each other... that we might try to help each other out a little more... that we might try to be more caring towards one another.  Are we not all just looking for reasonable happiness in this life?  Can we not be more kind, and in so doing, make that reasonable happiness all the more attainable for each other? 

Or have we fallen so far from grace that we only care about ourselves?