Saturday, September 24, 2016

I've Stopped Making Plans

When I was in my late teens through early 20s (20-21), one of my best friends and I had a running joke that we couldn't make plans because "the universe" always messed them up. (Side note: this was before my reversion which is why I blamed "the universe.") It annoyed me that our plans started falling apart almost immediately after we made them. The closer I got to my reversion, the worse it got. Of course, I didn't know I would eventually revert. All I knew is that it was a drag that I couldn't see my friends and go out as often as I wanted. I started getting sick. My dad would get sick as well. My anxiety became a pain to deal with. My friend and I had transportation issues; this was before either of us had cars or even driver's licenses. You name a reason for why we couldn't go out -- it probably happened to one of us... and usually to me. Little did I know that this would set the trend for the next decade.

I'm a social introvert. Yes, we exist and it's not an oxymoron. I genuinely love spending time with my friends. Quality time is, after all, my love language. Of course, after spending time with friends I need my time to recharge. As soon as I've recovered from an outing, it's time to make new plans to hang out. That's how it worked for me when I was a teenager right until my reversion -- I made plans with friends to go out and we went through with them. That usually meant we'd go to a concert, to the beach, out to eat somewhere, or on a mini road trip around the city (L.A. is huge and spread out). At the end of the day I was exhausted and took the next day (or three) to recharge. I had no idea it was because I'm an introvert but I knew it was what worked for me. After "the universe" (as my poorly catechized, pre-reversion self used to say) started foiling my plans, friends stopped wanting to hang out and/or, at least, making plans with me, because we never knew if I would be able to go out due to x, y, and/or z.

Looking back at it, it was a massive blessing in disguise. It forced me to stop hanging out with people who ended up being incredibly toxic, false "friends" who -- even years after my reversion -- did all they could to drag my name and reputation through the mud with gossip and lies. It also changed my path in life. I stopped being more preoccupied with things that were hurting my relationship with God (not that I even had one at the time) and I ended up reverting. See? Huge blessing. Still, I didn't see it like that way back then. I just saw it as an unfair "system" that kept me at home. Why couldn't I go out? Why couldn't I have fun? Cue the tiny violins.

If I hadn't stayed home all those times, I would've probably never reverted... or, at least, not as soon. I would've never spent as much time with my father when he was still healthy (during his remission years). Who would've guess that I'd lose him when I was 24? I certainly didn't. I planned on him being around long enough to play with my future kids. As I learned more about suffering and letting go from a Catholic perspective, not going out and hanging out with friends was easier to deal with. Having most of my friends either move away from L.A. or disappear because they didn't like that I was becoming "more religious" helped make the transition easier on me.

Fast forward to a decade later: I still can't make plans. In fact, I've pretty much given up on making any long term plans because it's obvious that I haven't learned to give up trying to control things. Yes, that's the conclusion I came to this weekend; things don't happen like I want them to because I'm still trying to have too much control over them. I'm still being taught that lesson. Now how do I know this? I'm not 100% sure, of course, but I came to the very painful but eye-opening realization that as much as I say "God, I trust in You" and "You show me what You want me to do" I still try to do things my way. Old habits die hard, folks. Not to say that I don't trust God, because I do, but I'm also selfish. I want things to go how I want them to, when I want. I want to have an idea of what the future is going to hold for me so that I'm not surprised. Blame it on dealing with anxiety and PTSD for half of my life.

This week there were plans to finish all my exams early. Even though I got no time to study for a couple of weeks due to health issues, hospital visits, and then a number of other things that popped up, I just wanted to get them over with. I was able to go back to my alma mater (oh, I'll blog about that soon) and take one of the three exams on Thursday. My anxiety was horrendous because I hadn't studied but I still managed to pass the exam. I was scheduled to go back on Friday (yesterday) to take two more exams.

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling more relaxed despite not having studied much for either exam. I ate my usual breakfast, got dressed, and waited for my ride to pick me up. While waiting for the ride I thought "I'll go apply some holy water to my forehead; I can use all the help I can get today." Almost immediately afterward I started feeling stomach cramps. "Nerves," I thought to myself... until they got worse. I had a feeling I would not make it through morning rush hour traffic on the 405 (that's a freeway/highway for you non-local folks) so I decided to stay home. The phone rang; my ride was waiting outside for me. Nope, I wasn't going. My stomach cramps got so painful that my heart started racing. It didn't last for more than maybe an hour or so (chamomile tea FTW!) but I had to reschedule my exams for Monday. Thankfully my proctor was wonderful about it and said it was no problem; to feel better and go in on Monday. Did I mention that this all happened at 5-6 a.m. and I was scheduled to start my exams at 7 a.m. so it was really last minute to make these changes on my proctor?

I originally planned to finish college in 2006-2007; I received my first Bachelor's in 2012. I'd planned to go to college in England; I stayed in Los Angeles for school. I planned to finish this second Bachelor's degree the Spring of 2015; I had to withdraw in November 2014 for health reasons. I went to grad school and planned to finish my MA in Biblical Theology in Spring 2017; I left Summer 2016. I planned x, y, z weeks or even months ahead of time... and plans changed, sometimes at the last minute. Stop trying to make long-term plans, Emmy. ;)

So why am I sharing these stories? Well, like I said, looking back at them I've realized that I need to stop making all these plans that give me the false illusion that I have complete control over parts of my life. I firmly believe that I keep going through this because I haven't learned my lesson. I haven't relinquished my desire to have full control over parts of my life and I really need to. God knows better than I do what needs to happen and when. Me? I just want to get from point A to point B as fast as I can. I don't enjoy life this way because I'm rushing through it. I don't rely on God because I think that I can do things on my own. Also, I live in the future, not in the present. I only think about what will happen in the future but don't pay too much attention to the present. Poor little fool. I have a feeling that, until I stop trying to be so controlling over things and start being more present, the cycle will continue to repeat.

Yes, I'm totally one of those people who believe that everything happens for a reason and this is the reason why I think I'm in this endless cycle of failed plans. That's not to say that I'm never going to plan anything again ever. Short term plans usually work out for me, especially if there's a flexibility to them. I need to go more with the flow and not make so many rigid long term plans until I learn to not want total control over those plans. I planned my exam schedule weeks in advance and look at what happened. Some of the best things that have happened to me have been done last minute or when I've given up total control over it. What's that? God's will and not mine? Yep, that needs to be repeated in my mind more often.

Anyway, just wanted to share these thoughts with y'all. Have any of you been stuck in a similar cycle; where you plan on something but something else happens? When did things change for you?

I think that's enough procrastination for now. I have a quiz due in 4 hours but I'm going to go ahead and do it now. Better to do it when I can than to plan to do it later when it may be harder to finish, right?  ;)

I hope y'all are having a lovely weekend thus far!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

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