Friday, February 22, 2013

Not an Uplifting Post, But This is Reality

I know that I'm going to appreciate the new experiences and learning opportunities I'm being given while living here in Steubenville- someday. But while I'm in the middle of this stretching and growth period it's just plain uncomfortable. I feel incompetent, easily overwhelmed, and really lonely without the support system I had grown to love and rely on back in Cincinnati.

Being Primary president is full of challenges that I feel so unqualified to tackle. From teaching nursery (major fail, although I'm good at playtime!) to trying to create some semblence of order during singing/sharing time, to trying to make sharing time interesting and engaging- none of these fall within my strengths and sometimes it feels like I'm on a constant uphill climb with no peak in sight. I know that the most important things are to love the children and to help them feel the spirit and know of God's love for them, but I also know that children need routines, some order, and a lot of creativity to keep their attention and ward off boredom. Needless to say, this experience is teaching me a lot, and I keep trying to tell myself that I'll feel better after I've been stretched (just like after working out, right?)

It probably wouldn't be so hard if I hadn't been struggling so much with depression and anxiety again. My basic personality as an introvert with the added stress of social anxiety disorder mean that I don't deal with change very well. I have a really hard time making friends and connecting with people and that becomes obvious when I'm thrown into a place where the only people I know are my husband and daughter. My friends in Cincinnati (and those who had moved away) knew me, loved me, and accepted me as I am...even when I wasn't social at all. I'm not sure they realize how much that means to me. But now I'm in an area where my social contacts are limited even further by being in a small ward where everyone lives far from everyone else and almost all the members are related and busy with their families and not really looking for new friends. To be the new kid on the block is one thing, but to be that while moving into a place where everyone has lived there for years and years and has no need of new friends....that's hard. Even though I'm not a very social person I still miss having friends. I miss having people over for game nights (everyone here is usually too busy) or having book group once a month (I'm debating whether or not to put the effort into trying to introduce that here again) or going to Relief Society activities where I know I'll have at least one friend to talk to. I was hoping that serving in a presidency would help me make friends- after all, that's what happened during my entire time in Relief Society. But so far, not really. I love my counselors and appreciate what they do (more than they can imagine!) but it feels like this is just another assignment to them and not an opportunity to get to know each other better (which they wouldn't need to do because they've lived here a long time.) If I had to sum up my time in Steubenville so far in one word I think it would be lonely.

I'm trying to hold onto hope that things will get better. I have to believe that God brought us here for more of a purpose than Aimee finding her future husband. Surely there's something good for us here too, right? Please tell me that God didn't plop us down in the middle of nowhere so that David can struggle with yet another crazy employment situation (yep, it's turned out that he was lied to about 90% of what he was told when he hired on and rather than being the great opportunity we thought it would be, it's turned into a miserable trap.) It doesn't help that David is required to stay close to town 24/7 in case of emergency calls- there's no one else experienced who can respond- so we can't even go over to Pittsburgh and check out all the stuff there is to see and do there. And after our one missionary couple leaves next month I won't be able to go out of town because there's not even anyone willing to help take care of our cats while we're gone. I guess now you can see why I haven't bothered blogging as often. There's not much to write about and I hate dwelling on the negative. But this is the reality for us and I'm trying hard to find the silver lining at this point.

That's not to say that there isn't any good here. I do feel blessed to be in the ward we're in because there are a lot of really great people in it. I'm often amazed by how much they do and how strong they are. Being in a small ward has meant that my calling isn't as overwhelming as it could have been, and I recognize the immensity of that blessing. I've enjoyed volunteering at the genealogical society (probate records are fascinating!) and I've been able to get more experience working with David occasionally. I just wish it wasn't so boring and lonely here.

Now I'll move on to a new post so that I can share some good news without it being quite so tainted by all this negativity.


Jennifer Andersen said...

I miss you, Patty! I'm sorry it's rough. I should call you sometime. What's your phone number there? Message it to me. It's hard to get to know people in the ward when you're in the primary. That's where they put me when we first moved here. Hang in there, friend!

Brian and Becky said...

Wow, this almost made me cry, because it sums up many of the feelings I've been struggling with for the past 8 months living here. I've also been extremely lonely, missing Cincinnati,feeling like nobody wants to be friends with us, not enjoying our callings, like we're in the middle of nowhere (it's bigger than where you live, but still pretty small). It's just been a struggle, especially with Brian working 70+ hours per week. I wish I could give you a big hug! We think of you guys often & wish we lived closer so we could have a game night. Hang in there! *hugs*

Mama D said...

I hear echoes of our move from Ohio to Missouri. It was a TOUGH move. Even though we knew we needed to leave and it was an answer to prayers, we didn't *want* to leave.

Add that emotional upheaval, and me trying to be strong to make it easier for my kids, and the same "outsider" mentality for anyone not born and bred there... it was horrible! Truly ugly for me. Lonely and depressive are apt words.

Our ward was wonderful, but we lived 40 min away, so I get the distance thing, too. It's just harder to get to church activities or get together with new friends.

Our NV move has been easier, but it is still hard to move and re-establish routines and friendships and comfort zones. I am comfortable here, but don't have a Patty or Mayde or so many others. I miss that!

Hang in there, Patty. It will not be easy, but it will be survivable. Sometimes we don't see the "why" or the disguised blessings until long after the fact.

Love you!

Stephanie Turner said...

It's amazing to me how soon it was after this that you and I got to know each other. I keep wondering and wondering where I was and where my brain was during all this time. Yes, I know I was in the throws of graduate school. But still.... I went to church...regularly. I was stuck in primary all that time, so I probably didn't even know you existed until you were called into primary.

I understand the woes of being an outsider in this area, where everyone is either related or lived here for eternity. It made meeting and becoming friends with you all the sweeter. You know what it was that first tipped me off that you would be a friend...a real friend? It was that when you called me as the music leader, you recognized how in-over-my-head-with-writing-a-thesis I was, and immediately offered for Aimee to continue filling in for a few more weeks until I could take over. I had never known anyone to be so observant or empathetic to someone else's needs. You are truly amazing.