Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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The Limits of Unconditional Love

I believe true, pure unconditional love is only capable from God. I think the closest we come to that as humans is the love a parent has for their child. I also think we can try to sift through what true love is (there is the tough love variety and other sorts) and give it our best shot to love as perfectly as we can through our incredibly imperfect selves.

I remember a big aha moment in family therapy. We were having struggles with Matthew who was then in high school. The very painful time came when our counselor talked to Tim about whether or not he should continue to live with us. I remember looking at Scott completely befuddled. I was a counselor too and I knew better, but I just couldn’t see it in my own life. I really thought if I could just love Matthew like my own child, give him that constancy he desperately needed, stability, etc. etc. etc., that he would come around. He didn’t though. He just didn’t. Scott looked at me with compassion and just said that life and people don’t follow a formula. No matter what we do, sometimes people just don’t respond the way we think they should. I knew that in my head, but I was still devastated in my heart. I tried so hard to be a the best mom I could, but it wasn’t enough back then. It just wasn’t where Matthew was. That brings me back to the God-thing. We still have free will. So unconditional love comes with no guarantees.

Thanks to the gender-fluid movement, referring to a person as a “they” is now considered grammatically correct even though it is a plural form used for a singular person. I like it though, because now I can write without defining a gender which helps protect anonymity. Sorry for the sidebar.

I’ve learned a lot in the last few years about sticking up for myself and not being a doormat. I learned that from a lot of sources, but one person in particular had a great influence of me. They are pretty rough around the edges, but with time I did a pretty good job of accepting them the way they were. Whenever they hurt me, I told them so I didn’t repeat the doormat pattern. But I always forgave and I continued to love. I had always hoped they would learn from me as well. Maybe they would soften a bit, learn to be a tiny bit less selfish. Maybe try to care a little for someone other than themselves. I hoped it, and I know their friends did too.

Sometimes though, the opposite happens. Loving like that can create something else that is NOT good – that of just being taken for granted. Even though I showed my friendship in numerable ways with little in return, all it did was allowed that person to take me for granted. And instead of being a little bit better as I grew tougher, they actually sank even lower. They became even more selfish and hurt me even worse. I can write about this because they told me they don’t read my blog because they just have no interest in the topics I choose. It doesn’t matter that I am one of their best friends and I write about what is important to me. That is of no consequence to them because I am not of consequence to them.

The other side effect of learning to stand up for myself, is being introduced to the concept of revenge. It was not something I visited often in my life. It was not usually a struggle. I guess in truth, it still isn’t in the sense that I don’t struggle to not act on it. But I am surprised by my thoughts. I think about wanting to hurt the people who have hurt me. I think about it often with my neighbors who continue to draw out the incident from last year and keep hurting us in spite of our lack of retaliation.

And I think about my friend and how they have hurt me. I can think of a million ways they could hurt. If they could hurt just a tenth of how much they hurt me, I would be satisfied. But then I hit the brick wall and remember that people like them can’t even be hurt. They would have to care in order to hurt. And some people truly don’t give a shit about anyone else.

The crazy thing is, I left the friendship in their court. I said if they could show me respect I would still hang in there. The response was a confident yes, they want my friendship. And then they disappeared. Anyone who knows me, knows ignoring me is one of the deepest cuts for me.

I know the answer I will eventually get to, is that I choose to love because it is who I am. I don’t do it for the reciprocation. But right now, the well is dry. I’m exhausted from caring for others so deeply and having it get me nowhere but more hurt and rejection. Shame on me, right? I will get there, I always bounce back. Because it spite of learning to defend myself, I am still at my core, NOT an asshole. I am NOT selfish. So I will find hope again. But going through the dark road to get there? It sucks beyond description. SUCKS.


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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?