Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Safety Precautions

I’m not very good at protecting myself. Emotionally I’m definitely a risk taker. Physically, I’m more cautious, but still not so much.

I remember when I was single and owned my first home. All the neighborhood kids hung out at my house. One of the kids that I was closest to, stole some money out of my desk. I went to his parents and he gave me the money back. That was the first time that I remember having to make a choice. I could start worrying about everyone who came in, start locking my drawers, hiding assets, etc. but I decided that I didn’t want to live that.

I’ve had that theory tested since then. You might remember the blog where someone I knew stole an entire year’s budget out of my house after Tim died. They did it while there was a big pool party going on. For a while we pursued it with a detective but we got no where. I found myself questioning my own family and the very best of my friends trying to figure it out. I had to decide to let it go. I couldn’t bear to let a wedge come in my life, especially without knowing who it was for sure. I did start to lock up my money though.

This week, I was out at my pool with a few friends. A young college student came up to the gate and I could tell he was in sales. Sure enough, he said he was selling educational materials for all age groups. We chatted a bit and I said I would talk to Frankie and be ready with an answer later in the evening. He then surprised me and said that he was having a contest with the other interns to see how many pools they could jump in with their clothes on. Could he jump in mine?

I laughed and told him of course he could! As I reached up to open the gate, I had a moment of, “Oh my Gosh! What if he has a gun and he’s going to kill us?” I didn’t even used to have those thoughts but now I do. I instantly resisted and again consciously said that I will not live that way.

He came in and jumped in the pool. We all had a great laugh about it. I wish I had a picture to show you. When he came back later that night, I told him he wasn’t getting a sale. He did not pressure me at all. Instead he just said he was able to jump in one other pool that day so he won the contest.

Well, at least there is one other person in the world who is as crazy as I am!


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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.


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Scary

I was talking to my friend, Trish this week. I may have mentioned her before. She found me after she read my book. She is my age and also widowed, but she has SIX kids. I tell her she’s my hero all the time, and she tells me the same. We often vent to each other because there are some things only another young widow with kids can understand. I was telling her about my latest fears and she got all pissed off. She lamented about how unfair it is for us and our children. Whenever we get sick, there is this instant panic about cancer and dying. No kid should have to worry about that, but our kids do.

I certainly could identify with the recent breast cancer scare I had. But any mother will tell you, we would rather give up a limb (or anything else for that matter) than have our kids suffer in any way.

I am known for keeping my head on straight in a crisis. I usually fall apart afterward when the danger has passed. When Tim was alive, that was the way things played out when the kids were younger. He kind of froze and I had to handle everything. Make the calls, make the decisions, and pretend to be calm while it was happening to keep everyone else sane. Tim was there and supportive, but he was on the sidelines.

But in the land of almost four years into grief, I don’t handle much of anything like I used to. My rational head has grown even further away from my emotional heart.

Frankie came to me about a month ago and said he had blood in his urine. Slight panic, but I got him in to our trusty Dr. Grace immediately. She put him on antibiotics for a suspected UTI and off we went. On Monday, Frankie came to me and told me he wasn’t better. It had come back.

Slightly more panic than last time, but I just make the call to trusty Dr. Grace again immediately. The office calls back and says “Grace wants you to see Dr. So and So, a urology specialist within 48 hours. What’s your schedule like?” So while I still have my rational brain, my emotions start freaking out. There is no more “calm until the danger is passed.” I just lose it immediately. The worst part of it? Frankie admits to another person that he is scared too. Of course he is scared. His dad died from something that was supposed to be simple. This is where Trish starts bitching about how unfair life is for our kids. They panic more than other kids because of what they have witnessed firsthand. But truth be told, I panic too.

Why the rush to get in within 48 hours? That’s the scary part. They can’t get him in until Thursday morning but they are doing the best they can. On Tuesday, the office calls and says they want to do a history on Frankie. I know it’s routine. But she asks this question: “Does Frankie have anyone in his family line that has had any sort of cancer in the stomach/bladder region?” I started crying and couldn’t even answer her for a moment. Hell, yes. HIS DAD DIED FROM GALLBLADDER CANCER AT A RIDICULOUSLY YOUNG AGE. And now we are scared to death too.

Frankie does not want to go and have some male doctor look at his body. He is most nervous about that, at this point. I do the best I can to allay his fears. But inside I’m angry. Why isn’t there a man in his life that can talk to him about this stuff? That would have been very helpful to have had a guy with us. Especially if there was a guy who had some experience with urologists or whatever to help Frankie be less anxious. But there is just me. As usual. A woman, who Frankie has decided to be very angry at and distanced from. I’m all he’s got, but I’m not what he needs right now as a 12 year-old boy.

We go in and register him. I realize I’m shaky and nauseous, but I deserve an award for appearing calm to Frankie. Thankfully, the doctor is young and has three young boys. He wants to examine him and so Frankie gives the usual demand that I leave the room. I come back in after and the doc says he wants Frankie to have a renal ultrasound.

We go to check out and the woman reads the notes and scrunches her face. She makes a call and says she doesn’t understand. Why are there two requests? And does he really want the tests done immediately? She is just doing her job, but every expression and comment makes me more and more concerned. I truly am worried that I am going to hurl all over her desk.

We go and get the ultrasounds and they direct us back to the doc’s office. They said the doc would have the results right away. We get back to the doc’s and the woman tells us the doc doesn’t want to see us for a week. I asked if we would be getting the test results and she says not til the appointment next week. I ask if he’s going to do anything to start treatment til then and she says no. I give Frankie the keys to the car and say to her quietly, that we are both very worried. His dad died of cancer, you see, so could someone call us today and let me know that nothing crazy is going on? She agreed to put a request in and then said some people have blood in their urine all their lives and it’s not a big deal. That actually made me feel a little better, but I don’t really know if she was qualified to say that. But it was the first not so scary thing anyone has said to us.

Frankie is visibly less worried now that the appointment is over. I am starting to calm down. But I can’t even begin to express the anxiety I have felt the last couple of days. I just want to scream, cry, hit someone or something, run away, throw up, or check into a hospital for myself. I am less and less in control of my emotions and fears at a time when Frankie needs me to be the rock I used to be in B.C. time (before cancer).

You don’t need to send comments about what a great mom I am. It doesn’t matter right now, because Frankie thinks I suck at it. And right now, that is all I can hear and process. This is only going to get worse as he hits puberty and needs a male in his life more and more. Just pray hard that I get it together soon. I’ve got to stop crying all the time. I may not be a father for him, but I damn well better start being a strong mom. I am doing the best I can, but he needs more than that. So pray hard. We need you!


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Scary

I was talking to my friend, Trish this week. I may have mentioned her before. She found me after she read my book. She is my age and also widowed, but she has SIX kids. I tell her she’s my hero all the time, and she tells me the same. We often vent to each other because there are some things only another young widow with kids can understand. I was telling her about my latest fears and she got all pissed off. She lamented about how unfair it is for us and our children. Whenever we get sick, there is this instant panic about cancer and dying. No kid should have to worry about that, but our kids do.

I certainly could identify with the recent breast cancer scare I had. But any mother will tell you, we would rather give up a limb (or anything else for that matter) than have our kids suffer in any way.

I am known for keeping my head on straight in a crisis. I usually fall apart afterward when the danger has passed. When Tim was alive, that was the way things played out when the kids were younger. He kind of froze and I had to handle everything. Make the calls, make the decisions, and pretend to be calm while it was happening to keep everyone else sane. Tim was there and supportive, but he was on the sidelines.

But in the land of almost four years into grief, I don’t handle much of anything like I used to. My rational head has grown even further away from my emotional heart.

Frankie came to me about a month ago and said he had blood in his urine. Slight panic, but I got him in to our trusty Dr. Grace immediately. She put him on antibiotics for a suspected UTI and off we went. On Monday, Frankie came to me and told me he wasn’t better. It had come back.

Slightly more panic than last time, but I just make the call to trusty Dr. Grace again immediately. The office calls back and says “Grace wants you to see Dr. So and So, a urology specialist within 48 hours. What’s your schedule like?” So while I still have my rational brain, my emotions start freaking out. There is no more “calm until the danger is passed.” I just lose it immediately. The worst part of it? Frankie admits to another person that he is scared too. Of course he is scared. His dad died from something that was supposed to be simple. This is where Trish starts bitching about how unfair life is for our kids. They panic more than other kids because of what they have witnessed firsthand. But truth be told, I panic too.

Why the rush to get in within 48 hours? That’s the scary part. They can’t get him in until Thursday morning but they are doing the best they can. On Tuesday, the office calls and says they want to do a history on Frankie. I know it’s routine. But she asks this question: “Does Frankie have anyone in his family line that has had any sort of cancer in the stomach/bladder region?” I started crying and couldn’t even answer her for a moment. Hell, yes. HIS DAD DIED FROM GALLBLADDER CANCER AT A RIDICULOUSLY YOUNG AGE. And now we are scared to death too.

Frankie does not want to go and have some male doctor look at his body. He is most nervous about that, at this point. I do the best I can to allay his fears. But inside I’m angry. Why isn’t there a man in his life that can talk to him about this stuff? That would have been very helpful to have had a guy with us. Especially if there was a guy who had some experience with urologists or whatever to help Frankie be less anxious. But there is just me. As usual. A woman, who Frankie has decided to be very angry at and distanced from. I’m all he’s got, but I’m not what he needs right now as a 12 year-old boy.

We go in and register him. I realize I’m shaky and nauseous, but I deserve an award for appearing calm to Frankie. Thankfully, the doctor is young and has three young boys. He wants to examine him and so Frankie gives the usual demand that I leave the room. I come back in after and the doc says he wants Frankie to have a renal ultrasound.

We go to check out and the woman reads the notes and scrunches her face. She makes a call and says she doesn’t understand. Why are there two requests? And does he really want the tests done immediately? She is just doing her job, but every expression and comment makes me more and more concerned. I truly am worried that I am going to hurl all over her desk.

We go and get the ultrasounds and they direct us back to the doc’s office. They said the doc would have the results right away. We get back to the doc’s and the woman tells us the doc doesn’t want to see us for a week. I asked if we would be getting the test results and she says not til the appointment next week. I ask if he’s going to do anything to start treatment til then and she says no. I give Frankie the keys to the car and say to her quietly, that we are both very worried. His dad died of cancer, you see, so could someone call us today and let me know that nothing crazy is going on? She agreed to put a request in and then said some people have blood in their urine all their lives and it’s not a big deal. That actually made me feel a little better, but I don’t really know if she was qualified to say that. But it was the first not so scary thing anyone has said to us.

Frankie is visibly less worried now that the appointment is over. I am starting to calm down. But I can’t even begin to express the anxiety I have felt the last couple of days. I just want to scream, cry, hit someone or something, run away, throw up, or check into a hospital for myself. I am less and less in control of my emotions and fears at a time when Frankie needs me to be the rock I used to be in B.C. time (before cancer).

You don’t need to send comments about what a great mom I am. It doesn’t matter right now, because Frankie thinks I suck at it. And right now, that is all I can hear and process. This is only going to get worse as he hits puberty and needs a male in his life more and more. Just pray hard that I get it together soon. I’ve got to stop crying all the time. I may not be a father for him, but I damn well better start being a strong mom. I am doing the best I can, but he needs more than that. So pray hard. We need you!