Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief



I am on a new depression medicine, prescribed by an actual psychiatrist. So far, it has been pretty good with the exception of not being able to sleep. I saw the doc today and she says the insomnia is a short term effect, which is good news. If I have my druthers, I would go to sleep by 9 every night and sleep til 7 the next morning. Once this week I was still awake at 4 AM!

Now what does that have to do with food? Well, I’m glad you asked. You also know I’ve been doing this pre-diabetic lifestyle change. Good news, no great news, is that I’ve lost 12 and a half pounds so far. If you know me well, you know that’s a miracle.

I was told once by a nutritionist several years ago that eating at night is like doubling your intake. So if you eat 3 cookies, it’s as if you’ve actually eaten 6. That, of course, is not good.

I do pretty well eating healthy throughout the day. But if I’m home at night, that is my weakness. And if I’m staying up til 1, 2, 3, or 4 AM, that is definitely a long time for me to try and stave off my cravings.

Yesterday morning, Frankie asked me where the Lucky Charms were. He said he could swear we had a box in the basement. I told him I opened them and they were definitely in the cupboard. He couldn’t find them so I looked. The box was gone because there was only a little left in the bag. The bag was there with a tiny bowl of cereal left. Frankie said he just didn’t remembered eating them. I had to confess that it was me. Ok, so one of my late night cheats was a bowl of sugar cereal. I mean, like 4 bowls. Oops.

But the worst happened the other night. Colin bought a bag of Munchos potato chips. If you haven’t ever had them, you really should try them. They are my favorite. Pringles are a close second, but these are the best. I saw the unopened bag on the counter in the kitchen and I resisted the whole day. The entire day I walked by them.

About 1 AM, I couldn’t take it anymore. I got up to get them, and discovered they were no longer on the counter. Damn it! I realized the boys had taken them up to their room, but surely I am the only one in the house that would eat an entire bag in one sitting. (Or leave just a little left like I did with the Lucky Charms!)

So I got my cell phone and turned the flashlight on. I crept up the stairs as silently as I could and walked in the bedroom. I eventually found that stupid bag of chips. Most of the contents were still in there, thank goodness. Getting the bag out without rattling the paper was very difficult. Colin stirred and rolled over. I snuck out on tiptoe.

I asked him the next day if I woke him up. He said he thought it was Frankie but realized I was too tall. Then he just assumed it was a burglar or monster of sorts but he was too out of it to respond. Then it hit him. He knows me. He knows I love Munchos.

I did leave a small amount in the bag. I was thrilled when I got on the scales and discovered I had still lost some weight. I couldn’t help thinking how much lower the number would have been without those late night feeding frenzies.

When you say your prayers for me, ask them I get back to sleeping better. My weight depends on it!

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Here are the responses I asked for. Hope you enjoy them!

A college student shares her struggles which are complicated by angst and other anxieties:

“Well, not only did I fail one difficult science class, I got an incomplete on a second science class. I never did the final research paper. And then I ignored my professor’s emails because I was so shamed of myself for not being able to pull myself together for anything. My professor was a nice enough person to be genuinely worried about me and contacted behavioral medicine at the college. They called me over break basically asking whether I was stable and if they could let my professor know I was ok. I said yes of course.

I am so nervous that I’m going to do just as poorly this semester. While I was studying in the library in between classes the first day back, my hands started shaking. I would like to point out I do just fine with any authority figures I don’t like. It’s those that I have respect for that I am terrified of a little bit. I feel very unintelligent compared to you because I’m incapable of communicating my feelings. I don’t do well when pople are gentle or caring with me because I instinctively assume it will be used against me at some point or another. To summarize, my level of sass correlates to the amount of fear I have.”

(My comment: You just communicated your feelings quite beautifully, my dear. Bravo for being brave enough to put it down on paper!)

A 40 something women’s reflections:

“Meeting and dating someone who’s schedule and general lifestyle is so completely different from what you know. Is it worth it?  I still don’t know.

For the first time in my life, I’m really challenging myself to give something/someone very different a shot. The way I see if, even if it doesn’t work out, it will have been worth it to try. In a very weird way, I am already stronger. I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to let it go and let it be. For a planner, this is the hardest thing to do and goes against all I know.  Ultimately,  it will end up just the way its supposed to. It’s like a line in the poem Desiderata:

‘And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. Max Ehrmann'”

(My comment: Another example of bravery. You go, girl!)

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I try to blog every Thursday. Usually something happens that is on my heart that I blog about in my head and it’s just a matter of getting it out on paper. But some Thursdays I struggle. And when I don’t have something clear in my head, I don’t usually write all that well.

I have a lot on my heart and in my head, but it isn’t really anything that I can write about yet. I am in a holding pattern. I could probably write a book if I was free to, but I’m not. (By the way, this isn’t one of those legal issues…lol!)

So here is your chance. Got something you want to write about? Vent about? You are free to comment, or you can send me a private email and I will cut and paste your story. I know at least one of my readers is working on being more vulnerable. Perhaps he/she will use the opportunity to express some things. It can be just a paragraph or a sentence or two. Let me be the reader this time while I am in the world of waiting.

Here is an author I read recently that might inspire you, David Whyte. “Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another… To be courageous is… to live up to and into the necessities of relationships that often already exist, with things we find we already care deeply about: with a person, a future, a possibility…”

Ok Lions, live into your courage and send me some stuff.


They Come in Three’s?

I’m sure you have heard it said that bad things come in three’s. I’ve heard it with regards to people dying, getting sick, things breaking. You know, just about anything applies.

I’m here to disagree. Sometimes, the universe just doesn’t add correctly. I prefer to think that rather than wonder if I’m just starting another set of three. Wouldn’t you?

Let’s see. Last week, my hot tub stopped working. I usually close it in the winter, but this year I kept it open. It was warm out until the last week in December so I just kept using it. Now it doesn’t make sense to pay almost two hundred dollars to close it when I will just open it in three months anyway. So I went out to do the weekly chemical check and discovered the water was cold as there was no power going to it. No worries, I know what to do. I flip the outlet/reset switch. That doesn’t work. I go to the basement. The breaker isn’t tripped, but I click it back and forth just to be sure. Nothing.

Luckily, it was not a costly or difficult repair. I was initially panicked because I could see the pipes freezing and exploding. It needs a new breaker in the spring, but for now, the problem appears to be there is a leak around the breaker so water is getting in. Then it freezes and you can’t reset the breaker because it’s frozen inside. So far, so good. It hasn’t frozen again.

Number two was waking up Friday morning to discover the fridge wasn’t working. THAT is not good. I helped Colin move all the food as quickly as we could. We have a small freezer in the basement and we were able to fit everything in like a puzzle. For the fridge stuff, we have a small beverage fridge. Colin got everything in there but I truly don’t know how. I opened the door and quickly closed it again. If someone breathed on it, everything would have fallen like dominoes.

Of course this occurred on a day when I had a two-hour meeting, a four-hour class, and another hour and a half meeting. I was trying to find service people in between everything from the car or wherever I was. After several phone calls, I found someone to come out. I figured it had to be cheaper than paying the $580 for an extended warranty. Colin kept in touch by text and said it was fixed. It cost $180 and he moved all the food back to the fridge and freezer.

Phew. Until I got the next text. He said the fridge had stopped working again and he had to move all the food out. AGAIN. Now I’m panicked. It’s Friday afternoon and all the folks I called said they don’t work on weekends. I am out the money now too. Eventually, my friend was able to come out and check. We were relieved to know the fridge was indeed fixed. When you start to put food back in, the temps will go all over the place. I didn’t blame Colin. I would have thought it was broken too. That was one stressful day, but all in all, $180 wasn’t so bad.

Bad luck comes in three’s so the next day my car started having problems. I thought I hit something big in the road because of the jolt and noise the car made, but I could find nothing in the road. The next day, the car did it several times. The hockey parents said it sounded like the transmission. Crap. I prayed I would get us home safely and called the dealership the next morning.

Good news, it wasn’t the transmission. It was the four-wheel drive trying to adjust and it “hops” when doing so. This is due to the flat tire I had a couple of months ago and uneven tread. But of course they find another problem as well. A $140 later, I had my car back. A lot of aggravation and time, but again, not so bad financially. And I got my three things over with in the same week so I’m good for a while.

Wrong. Today I went to ride my new exercise bike. I got it mid-November because of the pre-diabetic diagnosis. I’ve been riding it every other day faithfully, slowly building up my time. I was up to 18 minutes. Today I went to get on it and it was making a weird sound. I also could barely pedal it. Are you kidding me? It’s still like new! And didn’t it get the memo? I already had my three!

As I’m typing, I’ve been on hold for 29 minutes with Nordic Track. No one has even answered yet. That’s ok, cause I have nothing better to do. LOL. I prefer to think my Murphy’s Law is in a series of four. Otherwise, I have two more break downs coming this week and I really, really don’t want that to be the case.

And of course, one of my best friends- the one I usually call first for EVERYTHING is out of commission for the entire month. I am proud of myself for managing on my own, but I definitely miss his wisdom. Sigh.

I would go make some hot cocoa while I sit on the phone for another hour, but I can’t have the sugar. I will have to settle for a rousing game of solitaire. If I ever get off the phone, maybe I will attempt to use my snow shoes seeing as I can’t exercise on the bike. Good motivation!


The Dancer’s Husband

This week I got groceries. It’s not one of my favorite tasks, but I do it when necessary. I got home and Colin helped me unload like he usually does. I sat down at the computer and I could swear I heard Tim’s voice say clear as day, “Oh, it’s grocery day? I love grocery day, Mama!” I haven’t had a memory like that in quite a while. It was vivid and it made me smile, sadly. Everyone loves grocery day. The cupboards are full. Everyone has their favorite foods again. And most times I would get that extra something or two that no one was expecting. (Of course, that was before the pre-diabetic days because now I try not have anything that I shouldn’t have in the house.)

Just about one year ago, I wrote a blog called, “Ode to a Dancer” when I wrote about the loss of a woman who died too soon. Now, it is almost time for the year marker date. I find myself thinking about her husband a lot lately. They were married over 50 years. I think of her son too. I can relate to both of them, having lost my mother and also my spouse. But I especially think about the husband. I can’t even fathom spending 50 years with someone every single day and then having them gone.

Time is a bizarre concept. Probably anyone who has lost someone will identify with that. In some ways, every day is excruciatingly long. It feels like life will never move forward. All there is, is the sting of your loss. Then one day, you realize that one year (or five years, like me) has gone by and you wonder how that could possibly be? It seems like that is such a long, long time, but when the memories come, it is just like yesterday. Fresh as can be.

I don’t know this husband all that well, but I did send him a Christmas card which I know he appreciated. I will send him a card for this anniversary marker too. I will most likely write about how he is probably experiencing that bizarre sense of time- how it is so slow and so fast at the same time. He is doing very well by all counts, but I just know in my heart that he still has those times when the ache is overwhelming. He still has times when he lies in bed and feels the tears on his cheeks and wonders if maybe it all isn’t true. Maybe she will walk out of the bathroom and climb into bed.

Life marches on. We all know that. Faster than we want. Slower than we want. We just keep going. But I will take some time to pause and remember this Dancer’s husband and let him know people are thinking of him, hurting for him, identifying with him. There is nothing quite like the loss of a spouse.

And there is nothing quite like the loss of a mother. It has been almost nine years since I lost mine. I know my siblings still miss her. I know from all my friends’ posts on Facebook that the ache never quite leaves with that loss either. And I know the Dancer’s son will be remembering his mom. I never missed my mom more than when I was watching my husband fade. I longed to put my head in her lap and let her twirl my hair like she used to.

So here to memories. And to markers. The epitome of bittersweet. To myself, and to all of you who mourn the loss of someone you love, you are not alone. Find comfort in your memories, treasure the living.