Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Return Guest Author Jennifer Scott

Image via Pexels

“Jennifer Scott is a lifelong sufferer of anxiety and depression.  A single mom, she writes about the ups and downs of her mental illness on SpiritFinder.org. The blog serves as both a source of information for people with mental illness and a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can come together to discuss their experiences.”

4 Ways to Navigate a Significant Life Change with Your Significant Other

Anytime you and your partner go through a major shift in your daily routine, it can be challenging for your relationship, as well as your individual lives. However, it’s also one of the best opportunities you will get to make your relationship better. Not only does it give you the chance to know each other more deeply, but it also allows you to learn ways that you can better show your commitment to one another.

So, whether you’re self-quarantined for the next few weeks, moving in together for the first time, or going through some other significant change, here are some tips and resources to help you turn it into the best thing ever for your relationship:

1. Get Healthy Together

Now is the perfect time to think about making healthy changes together. This could mean preparing healthy meals, boosting your workout routine, or seeking therapy.

Cooking for Two: 33 Healthyish Meals for You and Your Boo

Use Fitness Trackers to Enhance Your Workout Sessions

12 Ways to Make Your Home Healthier

Reach out to Help for Healing for Compassionate Counseling

2. Make Time for One Another

No matter how busy life gets, it’s crucial that you make time for each other. Here are just a few methods you can try.

Tried-and-Tested Strategies That Busy Couples Use to Spend More Time Together

The Key to Communication in Relationships

Watch a Movie Together To Improve Your Relationship

3. Have Fun

When making plans to spend quality time together, think about activities you both enjoy, or try something new. These resources offer fun ideas including games and hobbies.

Why Laughter Is The Most Important Thing In A Relationship

Top 17 Fun and Romantic Games for Couples

15 DIY Projects for Couples

100 Hobbies For Couples To Do Together

4. Honor the Need for Solitude

Taking some time to yourself is just as important as being with your significant other. If you’re not sure how to go about this, refer to these suggestions.

The Art Of Solitude In Relationships (And Why You Need It To Thrive)

How to Get Better at Spending Time Alone

Things To Do By Yourself

8 Things to Know About Meditation for Health

A significant life change can be the best thing ever for your relationship. Make a point to get healthy together, spend time with one another, add fun to your relationship, and prioritize time in solitude. And if you need some outside assistance, consider taking up couples counseling, offered by Help for Healing. Not only will you be a stronger couple, but you will also be happier individuals.

Thank you Jennifer, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


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Core Life Issues

A professor once said that our core issues are always our core issues. They cycle around as our life cycles around. Mine has always been not having a partner that loves me.

When I was looking at the video of my first marriage back in 1988, I remembered the years before the divorce. He told me he had not ever really loved me. I would pull out this box of letters from the summer we were engaged but not able to be together.

He wrote to me every single day. Sometimes, he wrote two letters. Seriously, would a guy really do all that if he wasn’t in love?

During the wedding reception, there was footage of our first dance together. You can see us talking but of course, you can’t hear the conversation. But I saw the non-verbals. He gave me a look and then squeezed me a certain way.

HA!! It had “I love you” all over it. You can deny it mister, but you did love me.

But the bigger AHA moment came after that. It was a present AHA as I sat on the couch. My issue isn’t that I’ve never had the love of a man. I absolutely have. More than once, actually. The problem is that love hasn’t endured. It has always changed in some way.

It got me thinking about all the messages I believed as I was growing up.

If love is true, it endures.

True love is perfect love.

Real love doesn’t leave.

I think those are dangerous myths to walk around with. If for no other reason, love can die because your partner dies. I’ve learned that too. Yes, love continues on in some ways, but let’s be honest. It’s not the same.

For another thing, only God is capable of perfect love. And even God turned away when Jesus bore the sins of the world on the cross.

My professor was right. Our core issues revisit it throughout life. But that doesn’t mean they don’t shift as our knowledge and experience grow. I’m working on watering mine and seeing how it develops.


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Enduring truths

Kathy, Oscar; photo courtesy of author

There are studies that show that sometimes even our strongest memories are inaccurate. We could swear such and such but if we had an actual recording, we would be surprised that things aren’t as we recall.

For years, whenever I was asked how I decided to become a therapist, I would tell them the way my story went in my head. I was going to be a missionary. Then I got married and my marriage went south. We started counseling. I was fascinated by the process I went through and what I learned about myself.

Plus, the missionary boards I had researched and chosen no longer wanted me because I was “divorced.” The big D. Also stands for “damaged goods.” Psychology made sense.

Then one day when I was scanning photo albums, I came across a newspaper article that was written about me when I was chosen to be “student of the month” in high school. In that article, I said that I intended to become a counselor.

Huh.

I could swear that went differently.

Now, remembering my story inaccurately is part of my story.

When I was recently watching home movies, I started with 1988 and my first marriage. Most of us girls dream about our wedding day from birth on. And choosing a lifelong mate is certainly an event of paramount importance. We all expect it to be our one and only wedding.

That’s why it cracked me up when I was shocked to find the video. I thought it had gotten lost, through no fault of my own. The minister who performed the ceremony asked to see our only copy of it and he finally came forward, embarrassed, to say he lost it.

Guess I remembered that story wrong because here I was watching it.

After the reception video was done, the wedding video started over again from another view. Oh yeah! We had two videos of the wedding, not one!

Then I had the “correct” memory.

It was my SECOND marriage video that got lost, not my first one.

Had to laugh at my own aging brain. It’s hard to keep all those marriages straight!

Some truths do last a lifetime.

For instance, truth be told, John (husband #1) was handsome back in the day. I had the chance to see him last year and he is still handsome 30 years later. He aged well.

John’s best friend Oscar gave the toast at our reception, just like tradition goes. Oscar was a close friend of mine as well and was the husband of my best friend Kathy.

I couldn’t believe how his toast nailed it. The enduring truths.

“John, you have a love for truth.” This was in the context mostly of faith and Christianity, which he later abandoned because it no longer seemed truthful to him. But Oscar was right. He searched for understanding. And he rubbed off on me. I take some of that passion with me to this day.

The other half of that toast was about me.

“Darcy, you have a love for people.”

Yep, still 100% true 30 years later. I would add that the next logical step is you love being able to help people and make a difference in their lives. It’s just natural when you love them.

Excellent job on the toast, Oscar.

And by the way, another enduring truth. Kathy and Oscar are still two of my favorite people in the world. They still get me in ways most people don’t. I treasure your continued presence in my life, you two!

(Not that they ever read my blogs…LMAO!)


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Guest Blogger: Sara Bailey

Thanks to Sara for this wonderful article:

How to Plan a Sabbatical as a Couple

Are you and your partner in need of a long-term getaway? When routine starts to feel rote and squabbles turn into shouting, a sabbatical can be just the ticket for refreshing your perspectives. Just as many people take sabbaticals as an opportunity to destress, recharge, and avoid career burnout, a sabbatical can help you avoid relationship burnout. Without the strain of daily life weighing on you both, you and your partner can remember what brought you together, and face your relationship problems as a team.

Avoid financial strain

The first thing anyone asks when sabbaticals come up is, “How could I possibly afford it?” It’s no wonder why. When so many families live paycheck-to-paycheck, time away from work seems like a far-off dream. But other people have done it, and you can too.

The main thing is to develop a baseline budget. This may be lower than your current budget if you plan to live simply during your sabbatical, but some expenses, like food and health insurance, will remain the same. Then aim to keep costs low while on sabbatical. Consider traveling to a country with a low cost of living, moving into a small apartment, or even trading your home for a tiny home or camper van.

Home sweet home

You could stay home during your sabbatical, but when the point is to step outside of everyday life to gain perspective, it’s logical to say goodbye to familiar surroundings and head somewhere new. An option is to sell your home and use the proceeds to fund your sabbatical, but that’s a lot of work and stress you don’t need right now.

Instead, it makes sense to list your home as a rental. If you own a home in a desirable neighborhood, turning your home into a rental could cover your mortgage with money to spare. Before renting your home, you’ll need to create a lease which will include terms such as length of stay, security deposit needed, and landlord and tenant responsibilities.

What about pets?

It’s generally best to take a sabbatical before having kids or after they’ve left the nest, but what about pets? If staying stateside, BootsnAll notes your pets may be able to come with you. However, if you’re traveling overseas or taking your pets simply isn’t feasible, ask around to see if someone you trust is willing to watch them. If no friends or family members are able, leasing to a tenant who is willing to care for your animals in exchange for reduced rent could save you money over the cost of long-term pet sitting.

Add some income

Decide if you’ll work part-time during your sabbatical or stop work completely. You may find it refreshing to log a few hours doing flexible freelance work, giving yourself a financial cushion in the process, or prefer to stay off the grid entirely.

Once you have a sense of your income and expenses, calculate how much you’ll need to save for a sabbatical. Then, add 20-30%. If you’re not guaranteed a job when you return, you may want to save an even larger buffer — TransUnion recommends saving a year’s salary for a six- to nine-month sabbatical so you don’t rely on credit if you can’t find a job right away. It may take a while to save up as much as you need, but you can speed things up by living minimally in preparation for your gap year.

Making it work in the age of COVID-19

With the world in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may wonder how, exactly, you can get away safely. Fortunately, there are ways you can plan a getaway while taking precautions for your health and security. For example, Business Insider recommends booking a stay at a socially distant hotel or planning a vacation at a privately owned home through a website such as Airbnb. If you want to avoid flying, you and your partner can plot out a road trip that takes you through parts of the country you’ve never explored, all while practicing good social distancing etiquette. The most important thing is to plot out these excursions carefully and plan ahead as much as possible to ensure you follow local guidelines.

Taking a sabbatical isn’t a decision you make overnight. It can take months or years of planning to pull off a sabbatical, especially for a couple. However, when you’re in a relationship for the long haul, the planning is a blip on the radar. The result of your time spent together, on the other hand, will last for life.

Image via Unsplash


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Reflections

As January settles in, I have started my annual task of going through my filing cabinet. This not only accomplishes purging, but I also prepare for my taxes as I go along. It usually takes most of the month. This year, there is an added element to it. I am trying to go paperless as much as possible. That means do a lot of scanning, which can be time-consuming.

Today, I came across a folder that I basically forget about until January every year, the divorce papers from my first marriage. I have no contact with my first husband, but there are no ill feelings between us. I was thinking about him this year more than usual because I am dating someone whose middle name is the same as my first husband’s last name. Back in my twenties, I changed my name to his so I bore that name for six years as well.

It was a 16 page document, which is crazy because we had the simplest divorce ever. No property, no money, no kids, yet it still required 16 pages of legal jargon. I scanned all of it and shredded it. New years are always a time for reflection so this morning was no different. Never in a million years did I think I would ever be divorced, but then probably no one ever gets married thinking that it won’t last forever. It made me terribly sad. Not bitter, just solemn.

Of course that led my thoughts to my second marriage. Never in a million years did I think I would ever be a widow. That is irrational, because if we had lived together until old age, there was a 50% chance that I would be a widow at some point, unless I died first or we both died at the same time for some crazy reason. Yet it never occurred to me. I suspect most people don’t think about that much when they get married. But I certainly didn’t think I would be a widow in my forties.

I mentioned in a previous blog about being at Emily’s last month with her now eight kids and thinking about how when I married the first time, we planned on six kids. We had zero. But in my marriage to Tim, I had one biological child but gained three step-kids. Four is a lot closer to what I thought my life would look like. If I marry again to someone who has two kids, that would make the six I originally thought I would have.

Life is like that lots of times. Maybe even most times. I think if we polled a bunch of people in their fifties, the majority would say their life doesn’t look the way they thought it would. What’s that famous saying? Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. I keep thinking about Jennifer Aniston in the movie Marley and Me. Her husband is lamenting this very thing and she comes back with a confident statement about how much better their lives are than anything they ever could have imagined.

Makes me wonder what the future holds for me. What will life bring in the next chapter? What will 2018 hold for me? And will I lament or celebrate how differently it all came out? I vote for the latter!


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Patience

Patience is a virtue. Not sure who came up with that. Google has a variety of explanations offered as to where the phrase originated. I’ve certainly heard it all my life. And most of my adult life I have possessed the self-awareness to know that patience is definitely not one of my better virtues. My passion is often at odds with my patience. True to my nature though, I try to remember that and keep my patience in check when life calls on me to do so.

If you follow my blog, you have probably read a thousand times that I believe everything in life has a plus and a minus, a loss and a gain. Everything. It may not be equal 50/50, but there is an element of both sides. Yes, patience is an admirable quality, but I have also sometimes seen the essence of what it is supposed to be misused. Not everything requires patience. Sometimes asking people to have patience is a fancy excuse for bad behavior.

I took the plunge a couple of months ago (after a two-year break) and attempted to be in a relationship again. The ironic thing, was that we both stated several million times how we both hoped at our ages to not have another failed relationship under our belts. Sometimes hoping just isn’t enough.

We had several conversations about time. I guess when you think about it, time is related to patience. When is the right time for this or that? When is something too early? Or premature? As a relationship counselor, I get asked some of those questions frequently. I’ve watched many friends navigate questions like this while dating. And as a divorced woman, then as a widow, I’ve certainly had my own share of personal experiences to draw from. Like most things in my life, the older I get, I find there are less and less formulas and “right” answers to draw from. People live their lives in various ways. I’ve blogged about that before. The raw truth is, most relationships end. Most people don’t marry the first person they date. Lots of daters stop before they make a permanent commitment. Eventually, some find the person they want to “spend the rest of their life with.” So it’s impossible to decide what is the “right formula” to make a relationship work. Countless numbers of people approach time and pace differently. The statistics are the same for however people approach time in their relationship. Most of them end, some eventually find their lifetime significant other.

Wow, I can really go off on a tangent sometimes. I think that is relevant, but not the point I was making.

It’s my opinion (professionally and personally) that while there are some things we need to make allowances for (absolutely NO ONE is perfect!) and while there are some things that have to be developed over time between two people, there are also things that should be in place before a person really should be in the relationship at all. Asking a person to “be patient” for things most would consider to be just common respect or basic manners, does not seem appropriate to me. That’s not about patience at all.

Expectations becomes a dirty word in psychology sometimes, but I really have rejected that in my own life and in my practice. To me, expectations are part of the human condition. No one is truly capable of being void of expectations. The more healthy question is, are my expectations reasonable? Fair? And again, sometimes the answer to that question can change based on how long the relationship has been existent. And again, sometimes the length of time is irrelevant. Some expectations are reasonable with a total stranger, so how much more reasonable for someone you actually care for?

Anyhow, I don’t really have an end point to this, or a funny story to make you chuckle like I like to do. It’s just some thoughts I’ve been giving a lot of time to lately. In my eyes. From the world according to Darcy. Fortunately though, I’m actually kinda smart about this stuff. Really 🙂