Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Failing, Failure

The last couple days have been tough. There is nothing monumentally wrong that most families and relationships don’t typically go through. But when I feel like everything around me (or 80%) is failing, I end up feeling like a failure.

My sister was her supportive self today when we talked. She gave me her opinion that I am one of the most capable people she knows and far from a failure. Thanks sissy! Deep down, I guess I know I’m not responsible for everyone else’s choices, but it’s hard when stress can feel unrelenting.

I got talking to a client today and it reminded me of research I read years ago. It said that females in particular tend to be prone to an “internal locus of control” which, like anything else, has its good and bad points.

When a woman is faced with a problem or hurt, she usually asks herself what she did wrong and looks for how she can fix it. An external locus of control would assume someone else screwed up. The good part of the internal focus is that it can lead to empowerment and change. The bad part is that it can lead to over-responsibility and unnecessary self-blame.

Generalizations almost always get you in trouble so please understand these thoughts don’t apply to every single person in every single situation. As an observer of human behavior and relationships, I have to say that it does seem to often be the case though. Women are often the “emotional thermometers” in relationships. It’s almost comical when a couple sits down for session and the man briefly declares things are ok. The woman wants to know who he has been living with because it apparently isn’t their home. As she recounts the week’s activity, the man will eventually nod in agreement. “Oh yea, I forgot about that,” or something similar.

Anyhow, when you intensely love and care for people around you, it can be heartbreaking when you are disappointed, worried, concerned when you see those around you making choices that hurt you, or worse hurt themselves. Probably the most intense pain is around the love and concern a parent has for their child. A child of any age, no matter how old he/she gets.

I’m doing ok tonight. I’m exhausted and feel like a wet dish rag. But talking to people who care and an unscheduled call to Scott (my trusted therapist) reminds me that these things too shall pass. They hurt like hell, but I don’t need to fall into the abyss or anything. Tomorrow will come and I will just do the best I can again. I’m usually the only one that asks more of me than that.

Hope all is well in your world, wherever you are. Take some time for self-care, but stay engaged in life and people. It’s worth it, even when you’d rather punch them all…LOL.


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Closure

For those of you that follow my blog, you might remember last year that my dear, elderly friend Ed died. Due to a bunch of misunderstandings and folks who were unable to cope with what was actually happening (the dying process) I was unable to be there or participate in any rituals after his death. Sometimes life has a way of circling things around.

In our quest to continue to purge and keep paper to a minimum, I cleaned out a couple of my memory boxes. While I was sorting, I had a couple of moments that were painful but beautiful with the men in my life. The first was a birthday card from Ed.

It wasn’t my imagination. He called me his best friend. He cared for me like I cared for him. He didn’t have control over his family at the end. I may not have been able to attend his funeral, but I spent some time with his card and felt connected and like I was able to say goodbye more properly. What a gift!

And for those of you who read the eulogy I wrote for my dad, you might recall the lifelong saga of Dad not feeling comfortable saying, “I love you.” As the holidays keep unfolding, I have felt very badly more than once or twice that least year Dad was in the hospital on Thanksgiving, and then again until Christmas Eve. I can’t tell you how much I hate that his last holidays were spent like that.

My second gift was from Dad. I had totally forgotten about this, but he always gave each of us money for Christmas. Last year he wasn’t feeling too hot so I was in charge of getting the cards and sealing them for him. When we got to mine, I asked him to write, “I love you” on it. We chuckled a lot over it, but he did it. I think I told him not to sign that on my sister’s so I could harass her about it.

She got the verbal words from him the week that he died. I wasn’t jealous, I’m glad she heard it. But when I found this card, I felt like he was yelling it from the treetops to me. It was a beautiful moment of closure for me.

I continue to miss him like crazy. You know how holidays magnify grief. It stinks. But I already got the best Christmas presents ever, especially from my daddy…


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Progress

I have been enjoying working with my lady and the organizing we have been attempting to. Here is one of the before and after photos I have:

I’m not sure what you think about that. Is it like, wow! What a huge difference!  Or is it like, big deal! It’s just one small wall.

I guess both statements are true. This job has gotten me thinking more about the dynamics around hoarding vs. disorganization. Usually when I go to a typical home where things have gotten a little out of hand, folks are just overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Once we get going, they pick up momentum and catch on to my method. Next time I go there, I find they have been working on their own and making great progress.  Most people love feeling more free and less encumbered.

With hoarding, or on your way to being one, it seems to be a different dynamic. It usually develops over many, many years. I think people become completely unaware of how their environment has affected them. This lovely lady I work with sits quietly when I get excited about the finished section. I will tell her how great it looks and she will say calmly, “Whatever you say. I thought it was fine before.”  And I believe she really feels that way.

I am hoping with time she will develop some intrinsic motivation. If she doesn’t, I know what will happen. Things will just return to the way they were, which will put her at risk with the building managers. Keep your fingers crossed and say your prayers for her.


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More Rules

Upon discussing some of the things that went sideways where my dad was living, the corporate folks pointed out that sometimes people get so fixated on obeying rules, they stop using common sense. I’ve been aware of that dynamic for a while and spot it in so many settings. Last week someone on the phone just spoke to me like a robot because she couldn’t stray from the script long enough to answer simple questions from me.

Today was another incident that had me seeing red. Dave was supposed to have his first ever indoor track meet today. It was at Buff State, about 25 minutes away. I was supposed to wake him at 5 am so he could catch the bus at 630 am. I didn’t notice that I set the alarm for weekdays, so it didn’t go off as it is Saturday. Oh no!

I woke up at 630. We told his peers we would have to drive there and off we rushed to get there. We weren’t going to be late, but it turns out there is a rule that students need to ride the bus or they can’t participate in the sport.

I called and pleaded with every source I could, all to no avail. They wouldn’t let him race. I had to drive back and pick him up. I even spoke with our counselor who is also on staff at the school. I understand why they have such rules, but you should still be able to use common sense. In other words, no parent (single or partnered) can ever, ever make a mistake or an error without their child being punished. There will never ever be a circumstance where exceptions should be made to the general rule. That’s ridiculous.

We also talked about how I have always been hard on myself for being less than perfect, and things like this trigger me like crazy. This is why you have to be perfect. The system doesn’t allow for being human. And it’s a million times worse when your kid suffers instead of you.

Follow the rules for the sake of following rules. Turn your blinders on. 

I know that David didn’t die because he couldn’t race today. Worse things can happen in life, I know. But it was still a very stressful, exhausting and disappointing morning with an already difficult season upon us.

Please feel free to share any thoughts you have and/or repost this on your page. Wish me luck as I continue on my Mary Poppins goal… Practically perfect in every way. 🙂


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Paying Forward

We got a new carpet this week. A crew of three came to rip up the old and put in the new. One was a female. The guys told me they love working with her because she works harder than 95% of the men on their crew. (No offense men, but that really isn’t surprising!)

She complimented the house and we ended up chatting. Found out she was struggling a bit. She lives in an apartment and is raising her granddaughter. Unfortunately, that usually means her child is either a drug addict or has a serious mental illness. I didn’t pry.

Turns out she could use some of the excess small tables I had that I was going to post and attempt to sell. I told her I would be happy to give her them which saves me the hassle of selling. She was very grateful but didn’t drive. Her boss picks her up every morning and takes her home and she didn’t want to put him out any further.

I went out to talk to “the boss.” I told him I was going to “bat my eyes” at him and he asked what it was I wanted. He had no problem taking the items for her. She was so thrilled. I mentioned that one of them had belonged to my dad. She saw a picture of him on the wall and said he looked kind. She also said she would say some prayers in his honor. It was a lovely and seemingly sincere moment.

She was hesitant to take it at first because of it belonging to him. I told her that keeping it would not bring him back, but it would make me happy to know that someone so kind and appreciative was using it.

It was a lovely day in spite of all the stress that house remodeling brings. For those of you that haven’t been here in a while, you should stop in and see the new bathroom and bedroom. Tim and I have made a great team and things are looking spiffy!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, especially those experiencing the loss of someone they care about. Holidays always seem to multiply the grief. 

And please share my post if you are able. Always trying to boost interest in these topics and hopefully expose my business. Love to all of you!


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Blue Thanksgiving?

This week I was cleaning out my closet to continue my efforts to purge and minimize where possible. It brought me to my two memory boxes of Tim. Every once in a while as I go through them, time passes and I notice that some things that seemed important to keep at first, don’t seem that important later. I think that is a natural part of the passing of time.

This time, I found myself looking with the perspective of having tried to become as paper-free as possible over the last year. This led to a boatload of scanning. I had over 80 scans by the time I was done, the largest one being 25 pages. (Thanks Stef for showing me how to top-load documents!)

Overall, as the days passed, I knew I was melancholy and sober. It wasn’t just reliving my husband’s death, it was reliving the loss of my church family as well. But the deepest wound by far, was finding one of Tim’s treasures he had saved. He had a couple of Christmas tags in Mom’s handwriting that said, “To Tim, From Mom and Dad.” A wave came over me as I said in a whisper, “My God, all three of them are gone, completely gone.”

Today I had to go to the Hospice campus for something. They have done lots of remodeling. Their already nice facility is even more beautiful and more convenience-friendly. But I didn’t even make it back to my car without calling Michelle back and dumping a whole bunch of tears on her.

She asked how I am overall. Lost. I feel lost and orphaned. Both parents gone, a spouse gone. Geeze, I know lots of people are in the same boat, but I’m super in touch with my own grief right now. It’s mine, and it’s intense. Why does this stuff always happen around the holidays? That familiar stomach ache. That familiar hollow feeling I know so well. Only it is carved even deeper now. That feeling like this death aged me another ten years ahead of my time. 

I laugh when I job hunt and I hear dumb things like I don’t have experience with some of this stuff. The hell I don’t. I have gobs of it. Not as much as some, but more than a lot of people. I’m not feeling a pity-party at the moment. Just letting folks out there know that if you are in grief, don’t let anyone tell you there is a time limit to it. You’re allowed the rest of your life. It’s okay if the holidays are bittersweet at best. That about sums up life in general anyhow. Let yourself show the courage to taste both ends of the spectrum.

It can still be a Happy Thanksgiving, even when you’re shedding some tears.


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The Christmas Queen

This time of year, I’m known as the Christmas Queen. I hate the thought of Christmas presents, but I love the media stuff. Thanks to my OCD, I am also known more as the Christmas Nazi. That is because I HAVE to do the following every year:

Read every Christmas book I have
Listen to every Christmas record I have
Watch every Christmas movie I own
Listen to every Christmas CD I have
Play every piece of Christmas piano music I have

My friend Darren knows this about me so last year he sent me an external drive with his Christmas collection. This year I got it open and let me tell you, he makes me look like a Christmas Scrooge. He sent audio books, dozens of movies, and about 4,000 Christmas songs!

You can see why I had to start at the beginning of November. There are several things that I enjoy, but wouldn’t particularly want to visit again every year. And I’m learning lots of things, probably only interesting to me.

1- When it comes to audio books, I prefer actual readings vs. additional voices and sounds to dress it up. Patrick Stewart’s reading of A Christmas Carol is awesome, which is of course followed up by watching the movie with him as Scrooge. The exception is The Grinch. Having those fun songs throughout the reading is a definite bonus.

2- When it comes to movies, I was surprised by a few. Curious George and The Smurfs actually have repetitive worthy specials that I thought for sure were going to be on the one-time only list. Tim was particularly unhappy when he came home last week to my announcement that we needed to talk. I told him I still loved him dearly, but my heart has expanded and I am also in love with another man as well. ANDY WILLIAMS! My, what a heart-throb. He is so dang handsome and has the most beautiful eyes. (Well, so does Tim for that matter!) Tim pointed out that he is old as dirt and I pointed out he is still pretty damn handsome with his salt and pepper hair.

3- As for music, I found I am not quite as eclectic as I thought. Darren has brought my attention to all types of genres that I didn’t even know were out there. I found the B.B. King file and figured I would love him but discovered I didn’t care for his style at all. The big surprise was Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, who I had never even heard of and would have thought would have been a big no. Turns out I loved them. Lou Rawls voice is as hot as they come. And my favorite find so far, is Julie London, who I also didn’t recognize. She does a song called, “I’d Like You for Christmas” that is so sexy and sweet, I almost woke Tim up at 2 a.m. to dance with me. He said he appreciated my wisdom on not following through.

While you might think this a monumental waste of my time, I have found a way to make this useful. If Darren can put movies on a disk, then I can too. I can add to the drive and dispense of my DVDs which is consistent with my desire to keep getting rid of “stuff” in any way possible. Plus, any books on audio, I can get rid of those as well. See? It’s such a good use of my time 🙂

This was an indulgent blog about my own quirks, but a non-depressing theme is ok once in a while, isn’t it?