Saturday, September 10, 2011

Feeling freaking amazing, stone ceremonies, and graduating

Today was my very last day at my partial program.  I have been in the program for a very long time.  The average stay is six weeks.  I've been there for five months.  While I'm nervous about not having a program full of structure and people to go to, I feel ready to try to manage on my own.

When people leave the program, or "graduate" there is a "stone ceremony."  The person that is leaving picks a stone from a basket and passes it around a room full of all the patients and staff.  Each person who has the stone says something about the person that is leaving, either wishing them luck, or something more.  I really did not want to have one.  I thought no one would want to say anything about me.  I was terrified of what people might say.  I was terrified of what people might not say.  I was terrified of the attention.

I picked out this discolored, imperfect little stone with dents, and scrapes and passed it to the person sitting on my right.  My anxiety was almost at it's boiling point of a panic attack, but I sat and listened to this patient named Ruby, someone who has been in and out of the program the whole time I've been there.  She said that she was glad she got to know me and that she hopes someday that I realize that I deserve to be happy and feel good about myself, then she passed it to the next person who said kind things to me.  It went on and one that way.  I was so amazed at how many meaningful, deep, sweet things people said to me.  My case coordinator said a lot of really sweet things too.  She said she's honored to have been my case coordinator (my social worker).  "I think you are just amazing and have come such a long way.  You are so resilient and so strong.  I hope someday you can see what we all see in you.  You are bright and articulate, and deserving of good things in life.  You are worth fighting for.  You also have such a beautiful smile that lights up the whole room and I'm so happy that we've gotten to see it more and more."  She said quite a lot more, but to be honest it was so much I tuned out a little bit.

One of the most touching things someone said to me was:  "You are a really quiet person and I think it takes a while for people to get to know you, but I have to say, it's worth the wait."  It came from such an unexpected person too.  I wanted to cry. 

I made a really good friend while in the program named Stacey.  Stacey graduated last week but she came back so she could be in my ceremony.  She said that for the first few months I was so quiet and withdrawn but she's happy she got to know me and become friends with me.  She said that I'm hilarious and witty.  She made this really beautiful box for me shaped like a little suitcase.  She said it was inspired by something I said in group when I first started to open up.  It was about always having to pack my stuff in trash bags.  She wrote in the box:  "To help carry you through... or a place to put all of your shit."  It's sweet and hilarious.  I love it.

So many other people said such amazing things.  One staff member said that she thinks I am beautiful, a talented artist and that she loves my dry sense of humor.  Another staff member said that he'd describe my sense of humor as dark, not dry and that for the first few months he really thought I was going sideways but that this last month I really seemed to be going up and getting better.  Other staff members said I really challenged them in "refreshing" ways and that I really kept them on their toes by always being honest and asking good questions that challenged them.  The recovery therapist gave me a chip for not cutting in 3 weeks and 5 days (something I'm proud of).  The nurse said, "I'm really going to miss your beautiful face and all your other parts too."  I burst out laughing and she said, "You can take that anyway you wish."  She really meant the non physical parts.  LOL

Other people commented on my art and my smile and my sense of humor and almost everyone mentioned that they hope that I can see that I am a good person worthy of love and happiness.  This woman named Maryanne said that she never told me but I'm the person she identifies with the most and that she really hopes we stay in touch.  She cried.  It was all so intense.  I really wanted to cry, partly because it's so hard to hear nice things about myself, partly because it was too much attention, and partly because I had no idea everyone had so many things to say about me.  I really expected people to just say good luck and pass the rock over.  When the stone ceremony was over I said, "When I first came here I was meek, scared, resistant and I just thought I wouldn't be able to relate to people here.  I wouldn't learn anything from this program.  But I made so many friends here that I wouldn't normally, I don't want to say in real life because this is real life but I made so many friends that I just wouldn't have outside of this place like a nun, middle aged men, Stacey (a joke).  And I did learn a lot.  I have so much more that I need to do, but I just want to say that I'm thankful this program is here because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be if it wasn't."  And then it was over.  20 minutes of intense attention and positive energy.  I was kind of high afterwords.

Other things that I'm feeling pretty good about are art projects and house projects I've been working on.  About 60 percent of the furniture in my house/apt has been built and designed by me (or inspired by things I've seen on TV or design websites).  I have been collecting free plants off craigslist and have accumulated so many plants in my yard.  I threw a bunch of grass seed on the ground and some if it is really growing fast.

I found a free purple door on craigslist.  Somehow I got it to fit in my tiny Honda and drove it home.  I tried to use it to put a doggy door in, but the door didn't fit the frame, so I cut the door in half and put some $3 legs on it and that's my outside table.  I also got free chairs and spray painted them.  The whole thing cost me like 12 dollars.  I painted a mushroom at a pottery painting place with Stacey and I put that in one of the potted plants.  I love my yard.  I spend so much time out there.  I love being outside surrounded by flowers and succulents and things I've made.

I also built this shelving unit which I'm kind of proud of.  I am really into modern design.  I made it with pipes and free wood planks which I stained.  Ignore the giant TV my GF's dad bought her.  I hate it, but she loves it.  Building furniture, planting flowers, and searching for free stuff I can manipulate is how I've been spending my time.

I've also been searching online for free mindfulness meditation groups on, as well as some more fun groups like board games, hiking, etc... 

Tonight ended with dinner at this amazing thai food place and a movie.  We saw "Our Idiot Brother" which I actually really liked.  It was cheesy and kind of predictable but I still really liked it and thought it was funny.  Tomorrow I'm supposed to go play laser tag with four or five people from group.  We didn't do it last weekend because it was so far away, but we're supposed to do it this weekend.  I hope it works out.