Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Things I learned about Fuhrer in therapy

As you might guess, it did seem like the Fuhrer had undiagnosed mental disorders.

In the months following my return home, I was telling my therapist about the things Fuhrer would do and she said pretty quickly, "Sounds like that girl had Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder."  (Different than just OCD)

So naturally, I Googled it when I got home, and what I found was incredibly reassuring because it was spot on!

Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
  • Is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost
  • Shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a project because his or her own overly strict standards are not met)
  • Is excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships (not accounted for by obvious economic necessity)
  • Is overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not accounted for by cultural or religious identification)
  • Is unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value
  • Is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things
  • Adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes
  • Shows significant rigidity and stubbornness

Even down to the hoarding thing- she was SO stingy with handing out Book of Mormons...I was just like, isn't that why were here? And if we run out, we can get more? But no, the fact that we had ONLY 13 to give out every month stressed her out. "We should only give them out if we know they're actually going to read it," she would say. And I would think to myself, isn't that kind of out of our control? What about the whole "flood the earth with the BOM" prophecy anyway? I think we gave away 2 or 3 our entire transfer. Missing the point, much? I suppose.

She did have a problem connecting with people. At the time, I dismissed it in the name of 'professionalism' I guess. In my next companionship (with the nicest girl ever), someone from the ward kind of winked at me like "Oh, you got a new companion" with a knowing kind of look. Another woman in the branch also confided in me that she hadn't had the sisters over for dinner again after Fuhrer had asked her non-member husband point blank why he wasn't baptized.

One day, when I broke down crying she just said "I'm sorry I don't have any experience dealing with someone with depression." (I had previously told her because I got sad a few days before and told her it wasn't her fault, that I have a predisposition) She seemed sincere (as she could be), but here shows the conundrum I have. It bugs me that she might think she's completely justified in her behavior...that I'm 'the messed-up one' since I was the one who had to go home. Not that I wanted to stay, but in a way it seemed unfair that I was the one who had to go home 'because I was sick' when there was so much sickness about her. Like I was the one who was wrong, the mission pariah. The one who served a mission…with an asterisk. (Although to his credit, my mission president (the nice new one-- not the outgoing one who had sided with Fuhrer) told me I was 100% a returned missionary, that there was no asterisk-- isn't that nice?)

But then I'm conflating wrong with being sick. So I don't know…I need to develop that a bit more. Does that even make sense?

She friended me on Facebook and it took me a couple months to decide to accept. When I did, I really let her have it a message. I was careful not to blame her for anything, but I sure called her out on her behavior and tried to illustrate what it meant to me and others that I had to leave early. To her credit, she actually apologized. Whether she really meant it or not, it gave me some good closure, but it's not like it erases the past.

On a somewhat related note, I've been forwarded mission letters from a cousin who mentions in every letter something he has baked that week (we're talking homemade bread from scratch, multiple step baking). I honestly rack my brain because I cannot for the life of me figure out when he finds the time. Because after the chores, cleaning, the errands, doing emails, and writing letters home, you have like 45 minutes of true free time until you have to go back to work at 6pm. As I would quickly find out, P-Day is not really a day-- it's 10am-6pm. I once made cookies for Elders for a meeting and it used up my 45 minutes of free time. I was so disoriented from all the things we had done that day (and the other 6 of the week), I told myself it probably wasn't a good idea to do that again, that I should instead find some alone time (in the apartment) to just be still.

But then my cousin talks about all the people he's teaching and his successes and "great experience" -- in a European mission! Scandinavia, not exactly known for its God-worshipping (to make a broad stereotype).
So then that makes me think rules are not of utmost importance after all since presumably he's breaking some to bake? (Presumably.)
Am I missing something? Oh, yeah, I was 'sick'. But I didn't break any rules! Aha- there I go conflating being wrong with being sick. I guess it's just frustrating for me to just neatly label my experience with that since it was something so out of my control and because I was trying my very best. As if all my effort was for naught since my sadness held the trump card. (Again, does this even make sense?)

Just a glimpse into my thought process.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


As I reflect on my mission experience, efficiency just wasn't Fuhrer's game. She is a work harder rather than smarter person. And I am a kind of person who is always looking for better or more innovative, efficient solutions.

This mentality even came down to in the morning when we were getting ready. 
Our apartment was 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom- a pretty standard American college sized apartment. All our neighbors were students at the local university, or at least their age. One bedroom we slept in (a rule, that you have to be together), the other one we stored our stuff and got dressed. 

She, not speaking to me of course (remember she said nary a word from 6:30-9am. She'd even blow dry her hair sitting on her bed cross legged reading her scriptures or Jesus the Christ plunked in front of her), would walk back and forth between the two bedrooms and the bathroom getting dressed and whatever. As she would enter and leave a room, she would flip on and off the lights respectively. Since they were pretty close quarters and I was getting ready, too, I would walk in a room right as she was exiting one. Room dark, I would then turn on the light again. As I moved between the rooms, I would leave the lights on and she would keep turning them off. On. Off. On. Off. Flip up. Flip down. It became sort of a joke on a subconscious level because it fit her personality: ordered, controlled, measured, following rules to the T down to the one about not wasting electricity. Or so she thought. 

I know from life experience I guess that leaving a light on for a period of time is more electrically efficient than turning it off and on multiple times. I've heard the figure is about 30 minutes-- that turning a light on from off is equivalent to half an hour of it running. So by flipping lights off and on multiple times (every few minutes or sometimes seconds) over the hour minutes or so uses more electricity than just keeping the lights on for that amount of time.

So one day when it was kind of annoying me to keep walking into dark rooms right after she had exited, I brought up this concept of lighting efficiency. 

"Well, I was raised to always turn off lights when I leave a room," she said flatly. 

"I was, too, don't get me wrong, but it's actually more efficient if you just leave the lights on for this amount of time. I mean, we're both moving in and out of the rooms getting ready passing each other back and forth. It takes a lot of electricity to turn on a light initially from the off position."

She just kind of looked past me with this glazed over look like the wheels in her mind were turning, deciding if I was right or wrong. Then she just walked away, not saying anything.

This concept of efficiency reared it's head again as she always insisted we go tracting instead of doing service or visiting less actives or looking back into past investigators from our 'Area Book' (a record book for everyone taught in the area- their progress and such). Tracting is the LEAST efficient method of missionary work-- I think they even told us that, too, being shockingly honest about something for a change -- but I guess to her it felt like she was working the hardest, so tracting we went.

So funny because, I kid you not, probably a week or two after I had been shot down for suggesting we visit less actives, we had a whole Zone Conference about it. I was just rolling my eyes saying "Duh!" in my head the whole time. But I refrained from saying "I told you so" or "See!" or something else on our (silent) ride home because contrary to what these posts might make you think, I really dialed down the snark out there. I was really trying to be meek and humble and forgiving because I wanted to be changed by the experience. I kept it all inside and really only let myself be candid for that one hour a week when I wrote home. I always had this distinct feeling that people were going to get the wrong impression of me, but I also had to be honest about what I was really feeling. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

"We can't count that."

All I do all day is read and write, and present. It's a dream. Or it should be. Sometimes I struggle with it mentally, because it's not exactly what I want to write or I don't want to do the boring computer work it takes to publish and produce the content. When I get home, the battle of wanting to write and not wanting to stare at a computer screen wages, so this is why my posting has been inconsistent.

But I know I can't neglect this, at least for me! The writing I do all day is a completely different style than one I guess I've always been working towards. It's a complete reversal to a middle-school level of writing that ironically sounds the most clear on television. My editing effort goes towards chopping up long sentences and dumbing down vocabulary to sound smoother to the ear. It's funny.

Anyways, I have another story about the Fuhrer. An endless fount of glorious memories, I tell you. But in all honesty, this has been quite cathartic to get them written down. 

Before I do, though, I just have to express how I take pause every day marveling at my freedom from a mission. Every day at some point I get flashbacks to the rules, how you go about your day, or what you can and can't do on certain days and this feeling of gratitude comes over me for my independence. I can do whatever the hell I want, whenever I want, and it is not something I take for granted since my mission experience. Even mundane things like going to the store to pick up just a few items--sometimes I'll catch myself going, "Wow, this would not be ok if I were on a mission. I couldn't 'just do this' or 'just do that', or take breaks from things or just take a break from people. I couldn't just be spontaneous like this, or deviate from an original plan of action. The other day I was lingering a while longer than I kind of planned to in the library, and I just thought, how nice is this that I don't have to worry whether someone else is wanting to leave or that I'm staying too long here. I was in a LIBRARY, and I was so grateful I wasn't on a mission right then. It really happens every day to some degree. 

The worst, though, is when I start judging people for their use of time and re-affirming to myself that how they do things wouldn't fly on a mission. It's a horrible little game when it turns into this superiority game, faulting others. It's a good thing to be reminded not to take things for granted until I inevitably cross the line of remembering how unpleasant it all was for me. 

Anyway, so the Fuhrer and I were tracting machines. Any time we didn't have a lesson to teach we were tracting. I learned with my next companion that this is not how you HAVE to do things. You can do service, for instance. Or go fellowship some inactives. One day Fuhrer and I were driving by a local soup kitchen by a trailer park, and I asked her if we could maybe sometime possibly maybe go volunteer there. I was pretty sure I saw something in the white handbook about that…after all, weren't missions supposed to be about practicing charity? 

She just stared straight ahead at the road and said with a scrunched up face, "Why would we do that?" (It was the same response I got later when I asked if we could go visit some inactive people sometime. Wasn't she great?) 

"Well, I think it'd be a nice thing to do for the community, and we'd maybe meet some people there, too."

"Yeah, maybe," she said, unconvincingly and slightly annoyed (per usual). 

I think I might have brought it up once again in the next week or so, but she just kind of brushed the issue aside and we never talked about it again. I just assumed that doing service was just a waste of time, what with all the really successful, not to mention efficient, tracting we were doing all the time! (That was sarcasm). 

We taught a few lessons here and there, but never any second lessons. Maybe it was the way she made Preach My Gospel into a formal "Discussion" like format, so we'd practice going rigidly section by section. If there was some little detail I'd miss, she'd make sure she said it during her section. And how she'd quickly say what we did wrong after we walked out of someone's door, that I said too much or too little  etc. 

However, more often than not, we'd be at some person's house who was chatting their ear off to us the moment we walked in the door. Southerners LOVE to talk, it's probably the truest thing I learned out there. Sometimes we felt like therapists just listening to their problems, so we would try to steer the conversation back to religion and kind of jump right in with the message we had planned for them, bypassing an opening prayer. Oh well, right? I mean, we always had a closing prayer, but sometimes just not opening ones. 

Well, I quickly learned otherwise from Fuhrer as we were tabulating our numbers for the day. I said something like "Oh yeah, we taught so-and-so... so we had 2 lessons today!" 

Shaking her head, she corrected me. "No. We can't count that."


"We didn't say two prayers. We have to say two prayers for a lesson to count. President said it." 

"Oh! Ok then."

Our numbers were consistently super low and at District Meeting, the Elders would tell us to do better, and I would sit there racking my brain trying to figure out just what ELSE we could have done?! 

(It wasn't until I was on splits with another sister who counted a lesson where we didn't say two prayers that I knew something was fishy. The sister even counted a mini-abbreviated (but nonetheless sincere and thorough, covering all the main points) lesson we gave at someone's door with zero prayers! I was legit shocked, and relieved. #spiritofthelaw)