Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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The Pen is NOT Mightier Than the Sword

I have been avoiding my blog all day.

In spite of being careful with name changes, etc., my writing sometimes gets me in trouble. This time it was pretty massive. While I find writing cathartic and healing, I have to not post some things for fear of retribution.

There are still kind people left in the world. Seems like they are less and less every year, but they are still out there. I still brush shoulders with them once in a while. I consider myself to be a kind person most of the time. But I’m also famous for going the extra mile. I go beyond ordinary kindness. I choose to because I feel like it is the way my heart and soul are wired. I must admit though, the last few years have really made me doubt my philosophy of life.

I’ve always struggled with people not reciprocating. My mom told me that when I was still in elementary school. She said I love with my whole heart and when people don’t love me back the same, I get crushed. That part I’m somewhat used to. It still hurts every time, but I know the deal. I don’t love the way I do in order to get something in return. But recently, there was another new dynamic for me to grapple with. I went the extra mile- way beyond- for the sake of another family. Later, because of my choices, my own family suffered a great deal. Now that haunts me. It probably always will.

One of my friends said that I can still be kind, but just stop going the extra mile. I’ve given that a lot of thought. That is so terribly hard for me. The extra mile is my version of kindness. I’ve lived that way for 48 years. I’m sure there has always been injustice to contend with, but I confess since Tim has died, the injustice feels triple and quadrupled. I’m not just wronged now, but it is also like, a widow and a single mom has been wronged. And a kid who has suffered more loss than he should have to has been wronged. It just feels like more than I can swallow.

Some always say, “Don’t ever change.” But how can I not? My extreme kindness actually ending up hurting my family. There are trustworthy people out there, but how can I tell? The only answer to me that makes any sense, is to stop putting myself out there to begin with. If anyone can turn on you, why invest to begin with? After a while, isn’t it more like stupidity than a quality to be admired?

I wish I could write details because it would be so much easier to explain. But I live in fear now. The ramifications can be too great to risk. So I will be censored. I have been told a thousand times throughout my life that I have amazing resilience. I just get back up every time I get knocked down. I’ve done it for decades. I might stumble a bit, but hell, I also get back up.

Eventually though, don’t you just get used up? Don’t you get too broken to ever be fixed again? That time the $5,000 got stolen really shook me up. It was someone close to me and I never did find out who did it. Now my entire family has been betrayed again. I never thought of myself as naive, but I guess I am because I still get shocked when people do evil things. And I just plain stop sleeping and live with a sick stomach every day when people do bad things to my son who has suffered so much.

I’m really trying to hold on to my heart. To my kindness and generosity. But the anger and the sadness are eating away at me. I have felt like my threshold has been reached several times over the last few years, and then a new blow comes and I realize that I had managed to get back up again only to be knocked down.

I’m not sure if it sounds like it, but this really isn’t meant to be a pity party. It is truly a philosophical, existential crisis of trying to figure out how to approach the world. My head is screaming out at me to wake up and smell the real coffee. But my heart is broken in two. It doesn’t want to live and relate to the world I’ve come to know. I don’t know if I have the strength to admit what I see. I want to close my eyes and pretend that people aren’t as ugly as they really are. I’ve been on stage recently and actually did a decent job. But this may require acting that I’m just not quite capable of.

I finally put a Christmas card together. It says we Thiels and Colvins are tough as nails with all we have been through. Yet, we are still like butter on the inside. That’s why it still hurts us when people wrong us. What is the answer?

What is the answer?

What is the answer?


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The Extra Mile- Is It Worth It?

Henri Nouwen said the following:

“Do not hesitate to love and to love deeply. You might be afraid of the pain that deep love can cause. When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love ever more fruitful. It is like a plow that breaks the ground to allow the seed to take root and grow into a strong plant… Yes, as you love deeply the ground of your heart will be broken more and more, but you will rejoice in the abundance of the fruit it will bear.”

This has always been my philosophy. I may not have been able to articulate it as such, but I think it is the way I have usually lived and conducted my life. Several years ago when I was introduced to the Eneagram and discovered I was personality type number four, I was given another layer of understanding. Fours will take agony over nothing because it makes you feel alive and not invisible. I had more words to articulate my personality and philosophy.

The last couple of years though, I find myself questioning whether or not I want to continue to make decisions based on the “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” theory. I’m not talking only about romantic relationships, but the way I have approached every aspect of my life. Give with all my heart because that is who I am. That is how I am wired.

Truth is, I love living my life that way. I’m actually proud of it. I got the extra proverbial mile. Okay, let’s face it, I go thousands of extra miles, as a mom, step-mom, therapist, family member, friend. When I was very young, I remember my mom saying that I give so much of myself, which is fine until I expect others to give back the same. When they don’t I get crushed. She understood me from the very beginning. And it’s the line in Henri Nouwen’s quote about being rejected, abandoned, or left by death that gets to me. I love giving passionately. That is, until it hurts. Then I question the whole way I conduct my life.

In my practice, I have often gone beyond the normal expectations. I will do a home visit if someone has lost their license, has a bad back, or suffered a particularly difficult trauma. I have given several free sessions for different circumstances. I have attended weddings, funerals and other meaningful events when requested to do so. I don’t charge for those extra phone calls between sessions or for letters to be written. And I do it because I want to. I do it because it is how my heart beats. Then I do something- less than perfect, or not what is anticipated, or whatever it may be, and the client gets angry or upset, and drops out of therapy. It may or may not be accompanied by a torrent of harsh words. I know professionally that this happens. But regardless of any intellectual knowledge I have, it still knocks the wind out of me. Years of going out of my way and doing all the extras are forgotten because one ounce of upset negates several tons of love and compassion.

Or perhaps it is my family. As a step-mom, I vowed on my wedding day to seek to love my non-biological children as much as any biological children I had. I know there is a difference, but my goal was to minimize that difference as much as was in my power to do so. And anyone that knows me, knows I have kept that vow. Of course I’ve made mistakes and I’m far from perfect. But I have been there. I have sacrificed and interrupted my life innumerable times. I have given on some occasions, far more than any biological family members have given them. I have opened up my home dozens and dozens of times to my husband’s FORMER wife and her family over and over again in order to make things comfortable for the kids. And I don’t mind… that is, until I get hurt or attacked or whatever. Then I wonder if I should make different choices.

I could go on and on but you get the point. I am challenged all the time by my professional peers, counselors that care about me, friends that love me- that perhaps I need to not always go that extra mile. Disappointment and hurt are part of the human condition and are inevitable. But is it possible that it might hurt a little less if I haven’t gone so far beyond the call of duty when it happens?

I don’t have any answers. I just keep wondering and thinking and wondering and thinking about it. But part of me also wonders if it is a futile exercise. The bottom line is, I don’t know if I am capable of living any other way. Sure, we can tweak things a bit, but overall? I’m not sure I know how to relate to the world in any other way but the intense way in which I do. I can provide evidence of ways that I have been a bit more self-protective and held back a bit so as to learn from the lessons I have encountered in my life. But overall? I will probably always love deeply like Henri Nouwen says.

I have met a few people who have chosen NOT to allow themselves to love deeply. They will not risk it. They just won’t. I adore them, but know I will be kept at a certain distance. It makes me sad, but then I have to admit, they seem happier than I am on a consistent basis. They are more alone, but they also don’t experience the aggravation and hurt as often. If I am totally honest, part of me is even envious of them. I wish I could distance myself and protect myself more.

Again, I’ve made some progress. I’m slowly, slowly learning how to be slightly more judicious in how I put myself out there. But the bottom line is, you never know when you invest how it is going to end. Just like with being an advocate, you don’t know when you will be successful so you just have to keep trying. And I will keep trying to take better care of myself, but in the big picture, I will probably keep loving deeply and keep praying for that fruit to show itself. Sometimes I just need a different perspective to see the fruit that is there, but sometimes there just isn’t any there to see. Somehow, I will seek to love deeply, but maybe more smartly too.