Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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He WAS there!

It’s funny how sometimes the “facts” of your life can change as your perspective and experience grows. Maybe a little growing up too. I remember when I was initially immersed in therapy in my 20’s and I was doing the whole evaluating my family of origin thing. Mom and I were in a lot of conflict at the time. I had this “aha” moment when I realized that I disagreed with her a lot, but it was because she was “there.” Dad just wasn’t. At least that is how it felt at the time.

I’ve mentioned before that Dad was a good, stoic German. He was not very demonstrative with his emotions or affection. It made him uncomfortable. That’s why there are lots of pictures of me sitting on his lap or my sister and I kissing him when we were older because we just kind of forced it on him (lovingly). You see his smile though, he liked it!

Progressive-Lisa, Dad, Darcy

But I was laying in bed the other night and one memory after another popped into my mind. I am rewriting my story. Dad WAS there.

The first time that comes to mind, I’m not really sure how old I was. Maybe five or six? Dad played softball at the fire hall. I think he was the pitcher. I was sitting on a blanket on the sidelines. Don’t know what family I was with but it wasn’t my family. All of a sudden I got hit hard in the head with a baseball. I was dazed. My vision was blurry but I looked and saw Dad running to me. He was there. I remember being home that night with ice on my face and Mom saying, “Poor baby.” But Dad came running, literally, when I needed him.

Next, fast forward to fourth grade. My grandma died. She and I shared a bedroom so I was very close to her. We had this ugly, brown, upholstered rocking chair, but we had it for years and years. I remember being curled up in Daddy’s lap in that chair and just crying. He didn’t say anything, just held me. He was there.

Right after I graduated high school I went on a mission trip to Europe for six weeks. I was in the driveway saying goodbye to mom and dad and we were hugging. I remember looking up and being shocked to see Dad crying. I mean tears, streaming down his face. He didn’t say a word but he didn’t have to.

In 1990, we had a huge tragedy in our family. My niece was killed in a car accident at only 10 years old. Dad was directing traffic as a firefighter and had no idea who was in the car. That tore him up. I remember him talking about it. And I remember our family going to the private viewing at the funeral home before everyone else arrived from the public. I am pretty sure it was him that stood next to me with his arm around me as we all sobbed.

In 2010, Tim was diagnosed with cancer. Our cat was too. Oreo was put on steroids and had another month where he functioned normally. Then the day came when he couldn’t walk and we knew what had to happen. Of course, the irony of knowing what lay ahead for Tim didn’t escape any of us. We were all in the bathroom as that was where we found Oreo unable to walk. It was Tim, David, Dad and me. All four of us cried. Dad was right there with us. No words were necessary.

I will never forget October 14, 2010 as long as I live. After his five month battle with cancer, Tim died at the Hospice facility. The room was full of loved ones, but it was Dad that stood next to me as the nurse examined him and looked up at us to tell us he was gone. Crazy thing about a terminal illness. You know the end is coming. You wait for it. You plan for it. But when it happens, you are shocked anyway. My knees literally buckled underneath me. Dad caught me. He literally held me up because my body wasn’t capable of it.

My story is rewritten. I had two amazing parents. As we all kept vigil as Dad was living out his last two weeks, my boyfriend Tim carved out some time alone with Dad. He told him that I wouldn’t be alone anymore. He promised to take care of me. He promised to take care of David. Even though he wouldn’t articulate it to me, I know that helped Dad to let go more peacefully.

As I had foot surgery this week and have had to sit still (which is almost impossible for me), Tim has kept his word. He has held me up, literally and figuratively. I remember him telling me that he knew he would never replace Dad, but he would do his best to be there for me.

Thank you, Dad. Thank you, Tim. And thank you God for all of them.

Graduation June 22, 1985 (3).jpg


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Month-Aversary

This last week I celebrated my six month anniversary with my boyfriend. It is hard to believe it has been a half a year already. When I woke up that day, I found a text with a poem that he wrote at 3 am. He said I could share it, but I hesitated because then everyone will know he is actually a better writer than I am…lol.  Anyhow, I think you will see that some things are worth waiting for. I am indeed a blessed/lucky and grateful woman.

Six months ago,
You appeared.
Six months ago,
Our eyes met.
Six months ago,
You touched my hand.
Six months ago,
Our hearts met.
Six months ago,
We shared a little kiss.
Six months ago,
Our voyage began.
Today,
I absolutely love you.
Six months from now,
I will absolutely love you more.
Six years from now,
I will unconditionally love you more than more.
Sixty years from then,
My heart will always be with you.
I love you Darcy.
Darcy, Tim


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Proper Priorities

I have recently become a contributing writer to Totally Buffalo. I will be blogging every 3 weeks or so on this site. I am cheating and posting a link here on those weeks so welcome to my first official post! It’s entitled “Your Relationship is the Priority, Higher Than Any One Person’s Individual Needs.”

Totally Buffalo Lifestyle


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Janet

My sister Janet is eight years older than me. I have some memories of her as a kid, but mostly there was a big enough age difference that we didn’t steal each other’s clothes or boyfriends so there wasn’t a lot of conflict.

She is the middle child, but for years we also called her the Perfect Child. As adults, I found out that she always hated that so I stopped saying it. I also call her Dad’s favorite daughter and I haven’t stopped saying that. I joke around about it, but it doesn’t seriously bother me because she is truly one of the kindest women I’ve ever known in my life.

I was just talking with a client yesterday who has a family member with cancer news. I remembered when we starting testing Tim and suspected it might be cancer. Janet lived near Rochester so she was an hour-and-twenty-minute drive away. I was on the phone with her when she said, “No matter what happens Darcy, you won’t be alone. We will be there every step of the way.” And she was.

Twice during Tim’s five months of illness, she took an unpaid leave of absence to come and help. I never forgot that because there were other relatives/friends that lived closer and were more close to Tim than she was, but she was the one that didn’t bat an eye. She just took the financial hit and came.

One memory that particularly stands out was when the decision was made for Tim to go to Hospice to try to get his sleep regulated. I called her to tell her and she made all that distance and got here before the transport car came. She and I took Tim around the property in a wheelchair to give him a chance to look at everything, reminisce, and ultimately say goodbye.

She has been here again, this time for Dad. She arrived the day before New Year’s Eve from Tennessee. And she is still here. She leaves Saturday which means she was here a full three weeks. Dad required 24 hour supervision until this week so she literally spent the whole time with him in his assisted living apartment.  I can’t even begin to express what a massive relief that was to me.  I know Dad is going to miss her terribly, as will I.

I enjoy her company immensely, but I was in a catch-22. She was here to take care of Dad, which was my chance to get a break. I wanted to visit with her, but I needed some distance from the situation at the same time. Thank goodness she completely understood that.

Even though she lives in Tennessee now, she still had a job where she had to take an unpaid leave of absence to be here. To take a three-week cut in pay when you live paycheck to paycheck is an incredible sacrifice. She makes it without blinking an eye, without a question. If I asked her to stay even longer she would.

Her husband supports her being here, even though I’m sure he misses her. Her daughter supports her being here, even though Janet misses her little grandson so much I’m sure her heart aches. So thank you to all of her family who let us borrow her capable hands and her ever-giving heart.

And how do I thank Janet? I couldn’t possibly. But deep down, I know she knows. She loves me too, and came to support to me. Mostly though, she did it for the deep love she has for our dad. He’s not an expressive man, but I know he appreciates her as much as I do.

IMG_20180109_101722452_HDRThank you dear Janet. You truly are perfect!


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Reflections

As January settles in, I have started my annual task of going through my filing cabinet. This not only accomplishes purging, but I also prepare for my taxes as I go along. It usually takes most of the month. This year, there is an added element to it. I am trying to go paperless as much as possible. That means do a lot of scanning, which can be time-consuming.

Today, I came across a folder that I basically forget about until January every year, the divorce papers from my first marriage. I have no contact with my first husband, but there are no ill feelings between us. I was thinking about him this year more than usual because I am dating someone whose middle name is the same as my first husband’s last name. Back in my twenties, I changed my name to his so I bore that name for six years as well.

It was a 16 page document, which is crazy because we had the simplest divorce ever. No property, no money, no kids, yet it still required 16 pages of legal jargon. I scanned all of it and shredded it. New years are always a time for reflection so this morning was no different. Never in a million years did I think I would ever be divorced, but then probably no one ever gets married thinking that it won’t last forever. It made me terribly sad. Not bitter, just solemn.

Of course that led my thoughts to my second marriage. Never in a million years did I think I would ever be a widow. That is irrational, because if we had lived together until old age, there was a 50% chance that I would be a widow at some point, unless I died first or we both died at the same time for some crazy reason. Yet it never occurred to me. I suspect most people don’t think about that much when they get married. But I certainly didn’t think I would be a widow in my forties.

I mentioned in a previous blog about being at Emily’s last month with her now eight kids and thinking about how when I married the first time, we planned on six kids. We had zero. But in my marriage to Tim, I had one biological child but gained three step-kids. Four is a lot closer to what I thought my life would look like. If I marry again to someone who has two kids, that would make the six I originally thought I would have.

Life is like that lots of times. Maybe even most times. I think if we polled a bunch of people in their fifties, the majority would say their life doesn’t look the way they thought it would. What’s that famous saying? Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. I keep thinking about Jennifer Aniston in the movie Marley and Me. Her husband is lamenting this very thing and she comes back with a confident statement about how much better their lives are than anything they ever could have imagined.

Makes me wonder what the future holds for me. What will life bring in the next chapter? What will 2018 hold for me? And will I lament or celebrate how differently it all came out? I vote for the latter!


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Same Old

Hate to be negative, but I write best when I write about what is genuine inside of me. Unfortunately, for those of you that prefer the glass half full, I have struggled with depression for years.

I woke up twice last night with hot flashes. It made me wonder if menopause is adding to my decline. I know that the older I get, the less I seem able to cope. You would think that with age comes wisdom and experience. For me, it seems like I just carry the accumulation of blows without ever fully healing. Nothing has changed drastically in my life, I just don’t cope as well anymore.

The last couple of days have been bad again. Yesterday I couldn’t force myself out of bed until 11, and then by 1 I had a full on crying spell. I panicked. I was so scared that I was having another breakdown like I did in August. And I promised myself I would never go there again. What happened?

Unlike lots of depressed people, I don’t isolate when I tank, I reach out. I followed my gut and turned to an interesting trio of people. One was my doctor. The upshot of that, is that we are going to mess with my meds a bit. I am waiting to hear from her today to figure out which option we are taking. I only want to try one strategy at a time so you can know what and if it works.

The second person I called was my former pastor. I don’t have contact with him anymore and I have no idea what made me reach out to him. He called me back relatively quickly. The upshot of that is that he is going to meet with me sometime in the near future. Quite honestly, there really isn’t anything to say that is going to make things better. Yet the alternative is to do nothing but live in the hopelessness. So I am waiting to hear back on his schedule.

The third person I called was my former spiritual director. I haven’t seen her in years. I expected to leave a message but she answered. I found myself unable to spit much out verbally. She told me to come right over.

In the end, she said what I suspected. There really aren’t any words of inspiration to offer. But she was willing to try to help me on an energy level which she did. The conversation did yield one shift in my articulation of how I feel. I have no idea if it is an important shift or not, but it is all I have.

The bottom line is this. I don’t want to exist. Suicide is not an option. Now what?

The trigger has been the same for almost four decades now. I keep describing it the same way. I hate being alone. I am very capable of being alone, just don’t like it. Can’t seem to accept it. But after talking with her, I wondered if it is more accurate to say this: I hate knowing there is no one out there in the world that loves me in the way a healthy significant other loves. Then I realize I sound like a child having a temper tantrum. So I can’t have what I want. That is everybody’s story. Why does it crush me in a way that seems to be so different from everyone else?

I have no idea.

The other thought we touched on, was that maybe fleeting moments is all there is to experience. I had two months with Jay. I had six weeks with the salesperson I dated a few years ago, and I had five months with Tim during the time when he was dying. The most powerful connection was definitely with Jay. That doesn’t seem like much time in a life of 50 years, but maybe that is more than most people get?

I’ve been pondering on that, but the end result doesn’t really change much. I’m still left with where I am at. Which is where I am usually at. Where I have been at most of my adult life. This thing I am missing in my life seems to be larger than the big picture of my life. I see it happening but I don’t know how to change it. I have pockets of good times and experiences, but the rabbit holes are just a matter of time. And the older I get, the less time I have in between the episodes. The episodes result in going to sleep and praying that I don’t wake up the next day.

It’s no way to live, but what choice do I have?


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Running Amok

First, before I start my blog, please notice the “badge” on the side of your screen. I didn’t even realize it was a thing, but I made #62 out of the top 75 blogs on the web that focus on healing of some sort. I am honored to be a part of this! Thanks to my small but devoted readers who are making me visible out there.
Scott, my therapist, talks about “the perfect storm” that I seem to find myself in often. You know the kind. Your boyfriend breaks up with you the same week that your kid has a birthday, your dad has surgery, and you have two funerals to attend after just attending one last week. The thing is, I am actually kind of a pro at this kind of thing. I have perfect storms somewhat regularly in my life. I get stressed, have my intense reactions, but always power through. So what the heck happened?
The only thing that makes sense to me is this. I have heard for years now about how strong I am. “One of the strongest women I know” is something I hear often. I know I am strong. I know I’ve managed several perfect storms in my life and handled them pretty well. I’ve been to hell and back a few times. “You’ve been through so much” is another thing I hear often. Why the breakdown now?
If I could talk to Jay one more time, if someone I knew could run into him, what I would communicate is this. You did it, Jay. Something we didn’t think was possible. You broke her. One of the strongest women around.
Yep, that’s how I feel. Fair or not, my relationship with Jay broke me. Granted, I’ve been chipped away at for years. Every break-up, every jerk, the years of taking care of Dad, the years of being a single parent, being a business owner… I’ve been slowly chipped away at.

What was left of me was crushed.

When I went in for my emergency session with Scott, he told me about a book he had been reading. It studied a tribe/culture where when people reached their threshold, they would take off all their clothes and really let it rip. They would cry, scream, yell, and run around naked for as long as they needed. They called it “running amok.” Then guess what happened? They were done. They would be fine.

When I “lost it,” both Scott and I knew what happens in our culture when you run amok. You get hospitalized. And we both know what happens then. They sedate you. That’s about it. While a rest would be welcome, not much else good comes from it. Then it is on your record and God knows what ramifications that could have. When I reached my breaking point, I knew that I had to find a way to help myself without going to the hospital. Crazy without going to the loony bin. My goal.

For me, I needed rest but that never means being alone. Alone is the last thing I need when I hit bottom. Not that I’ve ever hit bottom like this before. This is unlike anything I’ve been through. Like I said, I was broken.

My peeps started a babysitting schedule for me. I didn’t know what else to call it. I just needed someone to be with me, come whatever mood swing would happen. I have a ton of amazing friends and family, but it was still extremely difficult to pull that off because everyone has very busy and difficult lives of their own.

I’m sure I will write about this in weeks to come as I’ve by no means fully recovered. I will just tell you about the worst of it. That was day two of running amok. I had just answered a brief phone call from a supportive friend while lying on a chair. The next thing I knew, I couldn’t breathe. I knew it I was hyperventilating but I couldn’t stop it. My friend had experience with this from a family member so thankfully she knew what to do. Not sure I would have know how to handle it. She sat me up and then literally sat under me to give me physical support. I was worse than a wet noodle. I had no strength and my body was completely limp. At times I would stop breathing. At first, she just kept encouraging me to breath in a soothing voice. It was scary as hell. I would gasp for air and then found some muscle movement because I gripped her arms that were around me fiercely. I was so frightened.

Eventually, she led me through some beach imagery which got my breathing regulated. Then the sobbing started. I sobbed from the bottom corners of my very being. It was like wailing. I couldn’t stop. She mentioned in her soothing voice that I would get through this. That set up the vocalization of what was gripping my heart. I don’t want to get through this. I don’t want to survive. I don’t want to exist. I am tired of being at this place in my life. Not being loved by another. Not having anyone to give my love to. Suicide is not an option but I just wanted to be dead. Please God, have some mercy. I was horrified at what I heard myself saying but I couldn’t stop it.

She mentioned all the people who love me. All the people who need me. All the people who have a better life because I am in it. That started the anger pouring out. I know I help people. Who the fuck is going to help me? When is it my turn? Nope, don’t want to live like this any longer. Tired of trying to fix it. I’m broken. Just shattered.

Eventually, it all stopped. Then I was just exhausted beyond belief. Between the hyperventilating, the sun, and not taking my medication, I couldn’t walk well. I was very dizzy and off-balance. But we came up with the brilliant idea of settling me in my office. It was apart from the house which was my greatest concern. I didn’t ever want Frankie to witness any of that. Not one second of it. He doesn’t need that. My office became a place to escape to, and still is. Things have not gotten as bad as that one day, but it is a very slow climb back to a functioning life.

I’m not used to that. The way I’m wired, I feel things very intensely. It’s magnified and painful. But the upside, is that I’m done with it quickly. Break up with me on Monday, I’m back on Match by Wednesday. Not this time. Just not bouncing back this time.

The most maddening part of it, is that even though I’m furious at Jay for the way he played with a heart that has been through so much suffering, I still think about seeing him again, talking to him again, wanting to re-connect the deep way that we did. I want him to know how badly he hurt me because I know he has no concept whatsoever. But then I want him to fix it. Not feel bad, but come home to me. Whatever that might look like to start again, but let’s figure it out. Just give us a try.

I promise, love is worth it.