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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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!


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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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Grief Brain…Again

Once again, I find myself blaming grief brain. I know I’m a bit klutzy and spacey regardless, but when it gets ramped up, I finally remember that grief brain is a real thing. Some things will make you chuckle. If you don’t learn to laugh at yourself, you’re in real trouble. Other things make me cry, though. Perhaps people in grief should just be locked up for six months or so. For everyone’s safety…

The dreaded yearly mammogram came and went without incident this year. Well, almost. The happy part was that I didn’t have to go back several times and try not to freak out while I was waiting. I got that carnation on the first go. I took the flower, my purse, my coloring book, my pencils, and my half-drank tea and said goodbye for another year. When I came back the woman smiled and said, “I wondered where you were going.” Now I like those cute pink robes they give you, but thank God I realized I hadn’t put my clothes back on before I fully went out into the waiting room.

Disaster averted, I go to the locker room and get proper. I am again out of hands so I put the half cup of tea in my mouth. I’ve got this. Except the damn curtain wouldn’t open up. I look up to see where it is caught and that does it. Tea right down my nose. And all over my shirt. And my coloring book. I swear, it’s amazing I stay alive sometimes.

I am particularly proud of balancing two months of Dad’s checkbook. I always do it to the penny, but this time I couldn’t believe I pulled it off. I was so distraught about all the memories as I was doing it, that I kept transposing numbers and putting things in the wrong column. A few sniffles later (or a lot) I balanced it. Phew.

Yesterday I walked Taffy as usual. She’s getting old and more anxious. Right before we got back to the car she took off. She doesn’t have the energy to do it much anymore so she surprised me. When she bothered to come back, she was covered in burrs. Her tail had two massive balls the sizes of grapefruits. No, I’m not exaggerating. She just looked at me with guilty but pathetic eyes. She knew she was in pain…and in trouble.

I brushed her the best I good and a great number came off while I was in the park. Then I got home with her and sat in the driveway with the scissors. All was going painfully slowly but well until I saw the blood on the concrete. I yelled for Colin. (Sometimes I wonder what that man thinks of me. Then I realize I REALLY don’t want to know.) Best we could tell, I nicked the tip of her tail.

Now there wasn’t a LOT of blood, but it was everywhere. On the walls, the kitchen floor, the bathroom shower, wherever her tail flung around. She wasn’t crying but we were freaking out. Any mom will tell you that she would rather cut off her own hand than one of her kids. Luckily, one of my walking friends is a nurse. Thank God she answered her phone and came right over. She thought it was hilarious but she had the benefit of knowing Taffy wouldn’t bleed to death. Colin and I were not so sure.

I finally ran to the neighbors and got some cornstarch. We dipped her tail in it and the bleeding stopped. Then we just had to clean up the blood, which had dried by then. Today I finished getting the last of the burrs out with the clippers. Tomorrow she goes to the grimmer who will fix her up. I thanked Colin for not telling our Florence Nightingale about the time I cut his hair and snipped his ear. That was the last time he ever let me touch him.

Nothing terrible came of it, but I was still sick all night. My head just isn’t in the game. It hurts to miss Dad so much. It might sound weird, but I am taken aback by how much I miss him. I felt closer to Mom over the years, but Dad has become part of my tapestry in a way that I can’t describe. I’m closing with one of my favorite pictures of us. What you have to see is the smirk in his face. That nails the dynamics between us right there.

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Now I’m going to try to stay out of trouble for the rest of the day. Wish me luck.

Got any stories to share?