Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Ex’s and Formers

I’ve never really liked the word “ex” so I try to use the word former. Lately, I’ve been challenged about the “formers” in my life so of course I challenged myself and even dedicated a good part of a counseling session to it.

I like the fact – well, I am actually proud of the fact that I have remained cordial, and in some cases even close to my former boyfriends. Part of me feels like when you love someone, there is always part of you that loves them and wishes them health and happiness. That is genuine.

I also know that part of me (as was pointed out to me again recently) has a strong need for everyone to like me. It really eats away at me when someone doesn’t like me and I will literally spend years trying to figure out how I should have improved myself to be more likeable.

My therapist pointed out that some of it goes back to family of origin stuff- specifically my dad. I always searched for evidence that he was proud of me. I’ve known that for years, but it surprised me this weekend because Dad is gone now and I felt deeply resolved with him before he left us. We never had that healing conversation, but I know how he looked at me to help him. Even though that was also painful, I realized how much he needed me and counted on me. When I think of him now I just miss him terribly. The other parts are just healed up.

Anyhow, Tim and I recently went to Seattle/Friday Harbor for vacation. The main draw was my friend Darren who I have blogged about relatively frequently. He was my 7th grade rolling skating boyfriend and he found me online a few years ago when my book came out. He and his wife were two of the most generous hosts we have ever experienced. That could not possibly have been kinder to us.

The big surprise that was unplanned, was also getting to have lunch with my first husband and his wife. I have been surprised by how many people have responded with, “Why would you want to see him?” It catches me off guard because I think, “Why wouldn’t I?” Sometimes we don’t even realize we could use closure and healing. I think John felt it too because he hugged me goodbye and thanked me for making it happen. The next day he texted a photo of the four of us and said it was a memorable lunch. No big discussions, no rehashing, just a chance to feel warm toward someone who was a tremendously important part of my life at one time.

Maybe all my motives aren’t perfect, but I stand by my position. I am proud of the healing that has happened in my life. And even though I have made some very, very big mistakes, I’ve conducted myself well enough that people find a way to feel warmly back.

Thanks to John and Darren for being part of my life. And mostly thanks to Tim for being by my side and trusting our love and commitment enough not to find it all too weird!


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Exclusive Rights

When I was guided through learning my personality type in the Eneagram, I discovered one of the worst things that could happen to me emotionally was to be excluded from something. I could give you several stories from my life where that happened. I get crushed when I find out I’ve been left out. Knowing it’s a personality thing helps soften the blow a little, but overall I still get bummed.

Last week I had to go to a funeral on Tim’s (my husband) side. It was a Catholic service, true to family tradition. I asked about whether it was appropriate to take communion and I was told that the priest will announce whether you need to be Catholic or not. If there is nothing said, it is ok, even if you are Protestant. The announcement came so I didn’t partake.

This week I had to go to a funeral on Tim’s (current partner) side. It was a Catholic service as well. I waited and sure enough the announcement came. There was also a lengthy explanation about Polish Catholic vs. Irish Catholic ritual and how to appropriately walk with your hands for the Eucharist depending on your background. I abstained again. Tim wasn’t really listening (lucky) so he went up anyway. His heart was in the right place.

I remember when I was in college at a fundamental Christian college, studying to be a missionary. When I came home on break and went to church with my family, I wasn’t allowed to take communion there either. They said if I was currently attending a Lutheran church, I couldn’t take it, even though I was baptized and confirmed there. Sigh.

I struggle with the whole thing. I feel like it is a good and polite thing to respect traditions. My heart isn’t interested in offending anyone, especially in a place where love is taught. Men don’t sing in the Buffalo Women’s Gateway Chorus. That’s exclusive to women, right?

I have to admit though, it feels a tinge different. For me, church is a place where God (and often Christ) is preached and the basis is love. Love with a capital “L” and in bright shining lights. Why would anyone want to discourage another human from participating in a ritual that brings our souls closer to God?

I remember in my years with more fundamental churches and being afraid sometimes to take communion. It was between God and the person, but the pressure was even worse. There was emphasis on the Bible verses that talk about how “some have gotten sick and even died because they took communion in a manner than was unworthy”. Holy cow (pun intended)! That’s enough pressure to keep the most saintly person from participating. I could get cancer or even fall over dead if I didn’t participate the RIGHT way.

Yikes.

I guess for now, in my 50’s, I feel like I’m on a good track. God is about inclusion and love to me. Come and share in the bounty. For those that believe differently, I will respect their wishes. But next time I think I will choose Tim’s path. If I don’t hear the restriction, I can take the bread and wine in good faith (pun intended) and enjoy the ritual that has meant so much throughout my lifetime. Alas, ignorance really is bliss sometimes.


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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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Agony of De-Feet

I have been told throughout my life that I have very pretty feet. It’s a consolation for having a stomach that makes everyone and their sister ask me if I’m pregnant. At least my feet are nice. I have to say though, they definitely have taken a beating.

Remember this from 2012?

Darcy's foot xray

That picture was worth re-posting. That was David’s 10th birthday when I stepped on a nail when doing yard work. (No, I obviously didn’t have shoes on. Did you have to ask?)

Two weeks ago I had a second foot surgery. My doctor asked me if my surgeon knew how I was. You know, never stopping or sitting down. I told her of course he did because he did my other surgery. Besides, I’ve slowed down a lot over the years.

Today I went in to get my stitches out. I knew it was going to be ugly because I know what a baby I am. What I didn’t expect was how awful it looked. I had Tim take a picture because I knew you would want to see it too.

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First of all, it makes my foot look ginormous. They are actually not very big. The marker is from the doc when he did the surgery. All the purple though, is bruising. No, it usually isn’t that bad for most patients.

I don’t mean to be a bad patient. I really don’t. I’m not trying to be a hero. I don’t want any more damage to be done. I was pretty proud of myself for being as still as I have been the last two weeks. But the more we talked, the doc just kept shaking his head at me. He wondered why I didn’t actually follow the written instructions he gave me.

The second week, I just assumed things were “as needed” (even though it wasn’t written that way) so no, I hadn’t been taking the anti-inflammatory medicine three times a day. No, I haven’t been icing twice a day. I wonder why the foot is swollen and inflamed?

Yes, I did go to Dave’s cross-country meet by myself, on crutches, in the rain where it was so muddy and slippery people were falling. But I couldn’t miss it, right? And yes, Tim and I painted the bathroom last night and Tim doesn’t do trim so yes I had to be on the ladder.  Oops. Ok, I guess I didn’t do as well as I thought.

By the way, I was only using one crutch for the last week because it was easier. Turns out I was using it under the wrong arm. Duh. I honestly had no idea. That one wasn’t my fault. And it’s just unfortunate that I was using it under the shoulder where I am already in Physical Therapy three times a week for it. But hey, I stopped going to therapy so I could take it easier these last couple of weeks.

Sigh.

I admit it. I’m not the model patient. But if they only knew how good I thought I was being because of all the things I DIDN’T do!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Tired Out

I had surgery on my feet last week so I’ve been on crutches. Mostly, there isn’t much pain. The thing that has surprised me is how much I am sleeping. I can sleep for hours. As I slowly increase my activity, I find after an hour or two I need another nap. Someone pointed out that once I stopped, the last few months may have just caught up with me. I’ve been crashing hard.

My first time driving again, I went to a building complex for folks 62 and over. I have two jobs there I will be starting where I am helping the resident clean the built-up clutter in their homes. Both apartments are going to be quite a challenge. The conversations with the two women in their mid to late 70’s were amazingly similar.

“I’m tired.” Both ladies repeated that again and again. Tired with a capital T. Tired of taking care of themselves. Tired of taking care of other people, which is definitely what most women do for most of their lives. Tired of all of it.

One woman made it clear that she was not referring to “giving up” because there’s a big difference. It brought back floods of feelings and memories of Dad. I spent the last year or so trying to explain to others that exact sentiment. Dad was tired. He was done. But I saw that as completely courageous. There was no giving up, it was an acceptance. Done here. Ready for the next.

I don’t think the women I saw today were necessarily referencing the end of their lives. They are just ready for a change. Needing to simplify. Needing to stop and slow down. Wanting to be taken care of a bit which is the biggest change of all. “I’m tired.”

Later I spoke with one of the managers who asked if I had an initial assessment. I said it was too early to know for sure, but my gut feeling is that neither of them had a mental health issue of concern. They are both just tired. Tired with a capital T.

I’m aware that this week held one of those realizations that once again, God, the universe has brought my life experiences to dovetail beautifully with my work. I was able to understand and relate to them in a much deeper way more quickly than I would have a few months ago. Thanks Dad. It felt really soul-satisfying to hug one of them at the end and hear her say, “You are the only one that is listening. I could kiss you right now.”

My approach to these organizing jobs will have a slightly different slant. I will be emphasizing that peace is coming their way. They can sit in their chairs and direct me and I will do my best to give them rest. The soul kind of rest they desperately need.

My sleep has been more physical, just recovering from surgery and lots of stress. That kind of fatigue is important to respond to, but these women are tired in a much deeper, wide-reaching way. Send prayers for us as we begin our work together that the outcome will be much more significant than a clean apartment. This feels more like a ministry. I’m so glad for the opportunity!