Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Madame Secretary

I only watch two TV shows- The Big Bang Theory and Madame Secretary. Pretty opposite ends of the spectrum. I don’t usually get to watch either one of them when they air, but “on demand” works fine other than having to sit through the commercials. (Yes, I am the only woman in America that does not have a DVR.)

This morning while Frankie was getting ready for school, I was finishing watching this week’s episode of Madame Secretary. They are all usually pretty riveting, but this one was an especially dangerous story line. There was an explosion I wasn’t expecting so I jumped and let out a small scream. Then I was teary-eyed. Frankie thought it was hilarious. He’s such a guy. “Mom, it’s just a TV character. It’s not real you know.” Simple for him.

He got on the bus and the next ten minutes I full-out cried for the rest of the episode. Didn’t even bother trying not to, I was just so moved by the story and the characters.

I love that show. Mostly, it’s because I love Elizabeth. She is the Secretary of the State. Now I know less than nothing about politics, but I find it fascinating anyhow. The politics are interesting, but the real snag for me is her persona. She is a brilliant- I mean brilliant- kick ass woman. She takes no shit, thinks outside the box, and comes up with solutions that are no less than genious. Yet, she is still somehow completely feminine and warm.

I love her marriage. Her husband is total eye candy. (That never hurts.) But they have the coolest marriage. They are total partners. They can completely disagree sometimes, but most of the time they are on the same page and they back each other.

I love their kids. They have three and one of them is usually in some sort of crisis. But I love watching the five of them mill around the kitchen. In this episode, she was saying goodbye to them. No one but the husband knew that she was going on a dangerous, life-threatening mission. He stood in the corner, watching his wife kiss her kids goodbye, knowing full well that she knew full well that it might be her last interaction with them. It was ridiculously intense.

It was nothing crazy. But the way they walk by their kids and just touch them, the way they can give them a hug… I’m so incredibly jealous. I wonder if Frankie even has a thought in his mind when he watches a scene like that. I wonder if Colin ever thinks twice about it. Because I do. Our home is NOTHING like that. There is hardly any interaction, no family time, and most certainly no touching or affection. If I even brush up against Frankie, you would honestly think I burned his skin.

Now in a way, this show is so totally unrealistic to 99% of the population. We don’t work in the White House. We don’t work in the CIA. And yet, I feel like I’m totally at home watching them. They all seem so completely normal. Not perfect, because that would just make me mad that another media message is going out to sell the impossible dream. They all fight, have conflict, etc.. But at the end of the day, you totally respect the adults, and their kids respect them too.

This particular episode, our heroine survives (of course!) but what was moving was watching all of the different characters see her come safely home. There were no words, just music. But words weren’t needed. Her beloved staff sank into relief. Her husband gets the phone call that she is safe and he breaks down sobbing with his kids. Shit. I’m crying again, writing about it.

There are lots of good people in the show. She isn’t the only one. But seeing the impact she has on everyone around her, knowing how highly respected she is, knowing how deeply loved she is- she is a worthy heroine to me.

I think that is why I love it. In one way, it touches a deep sadness inside of me. But in another, it makes me want to keep fighting. Damn it, that is possible. And I want it. A truly loving partner, kids that love me, the respect of my co-workers and peers. Knowing I make an impact on the world. I may not ever get it, or maybe just not all of it, but I’m going to go down trying! That’s the kind of woman I aspire to be, the kind of life I seek to have.

Great show… you should watch it.


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Knights in Shining Armor

This week’s blog is inspired by a comment that was made on my last blog “Sisterhood.” The comment was “we can’t believe there’s a knight in shining armor that will come swooping into our lives and take all of our stress away. I think if we believe that, no man will ever have a chance or be capable of providing that to a woman.”

I couldn’t agree more and I thought I had kind of indicated that in my blog about my widow friend. She still grieves and aches, even with a special guy in her life.

One of my strengths is that I’m pretty self-aware and honest about where I am. I can be brutally honest and hard on myself, which then becomes more of a detriment than a strength. Anyhow, throughout my life in my quest to experience love, I generally haven’t suffered from looking for Mr. Perfect. I’m relatively realistic about people and relationships. I have no misguided aspirations of someone swooping in and I certainly have no vision of having a stress free life. If there isn’t a man in my life, it isn’t because I have held up impossible standards that no man could possibly live up to.

Having said that, it is possible for a loving man to relieve some stress though, and most particularly the stress of loneliness. When examining many of the failed relationships I’ve had throughout my life, and especially those since Tim’s death, there are always those “hindsight is 20/20” things that stand out. For Frankie, there are two that stand out to him and every once in a blue moon he opens up about them.

The first man who touched his life, was the first guy that I dated after Tim’s death. Here is how some of that conversation goes. “Frankie, he definitely loved you. The two of you had a great relationship and he was really good to you. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very good to me. As much as I loved him for you, I couldn’t stay with him for that reason.”

Then there is guy number two. He was only around six short weeks, but they were powerful ones. That conversation goes a little differently. “Frankie, he definitely cared about you. You had a great relationship with him and with his son. He was good to me, too. He fit in with our family almost perfectly. But he left us. We don’t really know or understand why, but he didn’t stay with us.”

Other conversations with Frankie reveal more of the pain he feels. He talks about how he doesn’t want to know anyone, male or female, because people just end up leaving. That’s when I want to punch that guy. No one can blame someone for not wanting to stay in a situation they are unhappy in. No matter how happy Frankie and I were, I would have never wanted someone to stay with us that didn’t want to be with us. However, there are better ways to leave than others.

In reality, he was like that knight in shining armor. Not because we were living in an unrealistic cloud nine state. Things were just smooth and they fit. We felt grounded. I experienced contentment, possibly for the first time ever. The problem I have, is not having a clue as to why he left. And even more bizarre to me is there was no attempt to try to correct whatever it was that was bothering him. He just ran. No real explanation. No real goodbye. But even worse, there was no goodbye to Frankie. There was no goodbye between Frankie and his son. His son was probably fine with it. But then his son has a living father and mother.

That doesn’t seem like an unreasonable standard to have for someone. Is that not something that a man should be capable of providing for a woman? If you are going to enter into our lives, then at least have the decency to leave with some sort of closure. After what Frankie and I have been through, a loss like that was cruel.

In my mind, the knight in shining armor became much more like the cowardly lion. How disappointing.


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A Day in My Life…

On Monday, I noticed an odd spot on my breast. Looked like a bruise, but then not quite. I went to my friend’s house who is a breast cancer survivor and asked if I could show her. (I can’t imagine men being comfortable showing each other a concern- ha ha!) She thought it was strange but was more concerned whether there was a lump. We were both unhappy to discover there was a very distinct lump. She told me a few reasons why it probably wasn’t anything serious, but I definitely should call the doctor in the morning. The rest of the day it was in the back of my mind (of course), but I managed to keep it at bay knowing it was probably not serious.

Tuesday morning, I called the doctor first thing. They fit me in early afternoon. I had my usual full day ahead of me so the first couple of hours I just pushed along. Then I went in the hot tub to try to relax a bit before my clients started coming. I started to get that panicky feeling and my breathing was getting choppy. I talked to dear Summer, knowing she would give me a rational smack in the head and I would be fine. Instead, the flood gates opened. I was scared. Really, really scared. She offered to go to the appointment with me. In between sobs, I told her that wasn’t necessary and I knew she was as busy as I was. But of course she came and of course I needed her.

I had to pull it together to keep working until my appointment, but between clients I was bombarded with thoughts and fears. To be fair, they really weren’t irrational. I know better than most that a simple, small thing can alter your life forever. My first thought was Frankie. This just couldn’t possibly be anything because that 11-year-old kid couldn’t possibly be asked to have no parents at all. Even if I could be treated and beat it, that poor boy does not need to endure watching the process all over again. Treatments, vomiting, schedules being thrown out the window. Watching someone visibly change who is supposed to be your tower of strength. He just can’t be asked to do that again, right?

Then I started thinking about my life in the last couple of weeks. I have been re-evaluating my life very intently because I have been working too hard. I have been burning the candle at both ends. I have been exhausted at the end of every night and know I can’t keep it up. I have been trying to make changes, but have struggled with what changes to even make. And then I really panicked. Holy shit! What if the universe/God has been on my case about it because I need to make room for treatment? Is that what this has really been about? Summer and I were just talking this weekend about how with all the interactions we have with people, if we ever got cancer, we wouldn’t go to Roswell (our local cancer hospital). That would mean regular trips to PA or Ohio. Overwhelming thought. Breathing is getting tough again.

I take a shower before I go to the doctor. While I am in there, another related thought crosses my mind. I absolutely know what it takes to fight cancer. I know the stamina you need. I know that a positive attitude is mandatory for success. I know that I have to muster up the strength that I know I possess and I will have to figure out how to access it. And then I found myself sitting in the shower seat sobbing, just like the day I found Tim in there when his daughter came to surprise him for Father’s Day. Because I knew that I just couldn’t do it. I’m too depleted. I will end up dying because I’m not the woman I was before taking care of my terminal husband. Even though it has been three years, I’ve not recovered.

I know my friends will shore me up. I know it. But Christ, Frankie won’t even have a step-father who loves him after I’m gone. Tim’s kids had me and I don’t love them any less since he has been gone. I know that Tim had peace about that. I failed Frankie in that respect. Utterly failed.

Brigette was home with a sick child, but she kept in touch with texts. She told me she didn’t remember the last time she prayed as hard as she was praying for me.

We arrived at the doc’s. I love Dr. Grace. Tell her everything, trust her implicitly. She looks at my mark and looks puzzled. She hasn’t ever really seen anything like it before. (Why does that always happen to me? I’m always like a freak show for doctors!) BUT… she knows it definitely does NOT look like cancer. I love her because I never have to explain anything to her because she remembers every detail of my life. She thanks me for not waiting and says she is grateful she can trust that I won’t mess around with anything medically. And without being told, she knows it is because I can’t possibly take risks because Frankie needs me. She is glad I get that all on my own and she doesn’t have to pound it into my head. Even though I feel better after seeing her, she promises me by the end of business day I will have answers. She works her magic and I am able to leave her office and go directly to the radiology center.

Off we go. First the mammogram. You know the drill, ladies. First set of pictures and then you sit in the waiting room. As suspected, I get called back for more. Now they see something in the other breast they are also concerned about. Great. She has to smoosh them further for the second set. Then they ask you to hold your breath while they take the image. I try until I finally gasp because the pain is too much. She tells me ever so nicely that she hopes she doesn’t have to retake them because I yelled out.

I go back in the waiting room and tell Summer I can’t believe with all our modern medicine we haven’t figured out anything better than putting our delicate breasts into a vice grip. She laughs and tells me if men had boobs, there would have been an answer years ago. I laugh at that. (Yes, Gary, I admit that is a sexist comment, but cut me some slack!)

Next the sonogram. She tells me she thinks it is a cyst. Doesn’t know why or how it would get there, but possibly it was pinched somehow. Phew.

I tell my step-son Colin about my day. He just looks at me. I told him that I didn’t think our family could go through it again. I told him I didn’t think we would be able to pull off the great job we did with his dad this time. He just nodded his head.

Later, my doc’s office calls and say they agree it’s a cyst. They want me to put the hottest compresses I can stand on it, as many times a day as I can manage it. (Apparently they don’t know I am already burning the candle at both ends and don’t even make time to eat half the time!) If it doesn’t go away in a month, then I have to see a surgeon. Bottom line is, it may not be cancer, but it is still not right and not supposed to be there.

So I spent the night rejoicing. I spent the rest of the night being super grateful that I don’t have cancer.

Wrong.

I spent the night continuing to have a hard time breathing. Being the lucky woman I am, (no, that is NOT sarcasm) male and female friends called to check on me or just to say hello (because they didn’t know what was going on). And every time I said hello, I would burst into tears again. I wanted to be happy, but I felt like a wrung out dish rag.

Everyone got it. No one judged me. They all told me that my fear was perfectly logical, understand, reasonable, not irrational. My daughter Emily called me about 10 PM and we talked til after midnight. She told me that if I ever got diagnosed, she would move up here and help take care of me. She said she didn’t do that for her dad but she would do it this time. I read between the lines and thought she must have regrets about that with her dad. I made a mental note to talk to her in the near future because I don’t want her to be plagued with that.

I watched a movie recently. The girl looked at the guy and said something like, “You weren’t there when I needed you. In the end, that’s all relationships are. It’s being there for the big stuff.” I thought it was an excellent summation. I’m lucky enough to have people who ARE there. Summer left work to go with me because she got it. Anyone who happened to know I was worried about a lump would have done what they could to support me because they get it. If you lived through Tim’s cancer with us, or if you read the book afterward, you get it. If you love me, if you know how to feel compassion, you are there by my side.

Today is a new day. Now I am starting to feel that relief I thought I would feel last night. Today I am breathing easier and emotionally feel the gratefulness I understood intellectually yesterday. Again, thanks to my amazing support system. You know who you are. And for those of you who are reading and wondering why I didn’t tell you, don’t. It all happened fast so don’t be mad at me :).

I wonder what today will bring?


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Can People Really Change?

You know that old joke. How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb? One, but the light bulb has to want to change. Yep. It’s true.

People talk about this a lot. I hear conversations and debates every so often on this topic and found myself in one just this week. Most people say that people don’t really change. Not really. At least not the core parts of themselves. Part of me agrees with that. But a bigger part of me has to disagree with that. I couldn’t be a therapist if I didn’t believe people could change. My biggest argument is always Tim. He changed significantly at the end of his life. It was facing a terminal illness that rocked our worlds, but he (we) definitely changed.

When it comes to being a significant other, I always thought it would be a really great honor to be the catalyst for someone else’s changes for the better. Have you ever heard people testify about how their partner’s patient love eventually broke through? I think I can think of some examples of couples I’ve helped changed for the better as a professional. That’s pretty humbling and amazing to witness. But as for the personal relationships? I’ve not experienced that one yet in my life.

I met a guy who knew himself pretty well and was very honest about what he was looking for. You do your thing, I will do mine. We can hang out. But no close relationship. Not interested, don’t expect it. I knew if I chose to date him, I would have no one to blame but myself if I got my heart broken. I did fall for him. I did get my heart broken, but it was a very short encounter. We stayed friends and we would have a drink and chat every once in a while. We would have the same kind of conversation about his philosophy of life and relationships. Two weeks after one such talk, I received a text that he was “officially with another.” We talked and he told me he fell hard for someone. Got swept off his feet. I had to admit, ouch! Someone broke through. It wasn’t me, but he changed. 

I met another guy who was also reserved and doubtful of ever being able to trust again. I was skeptical that his marriage was all he claimed it to be, but eventually when I met his family, they confirmed what a loving husband he had been for many years. His abrupt divorce was traumatic for him and he just never recovered. He changed. So could love open him up again? Change him back? I don’t know. I know that I wasn’t that person in his life. We also have remained friends and he has been dating someone new. His heart doesn’t seem to have melted though. Not such a big ouch, but still sad.

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a conversation with my friend’s boyfriend. Really nice guy. He told me that after his last significant loss, he developed a mindset of not wanting to be close to anyone again. He was going to be selfish, just do the things he wanted to do, not answer to anyone, blah, blah, blah. Then he met my friend. He told me without any embarrassment that she stripped that all away without even trying to. He loves her and she has changed his life. He changed. My friend is a great woman so he is absolutely right about her. I wonder how it makes her feel to be that kind of positive catalyst in someone’s life. I can only imagine how deeply satisfying that probably feels.

Now most men would say that is about power and control. Most men resist being influenced by women because their sense of independence is crucial to them. It’s brought up over and over again in the therapy room. In my opinion, it’s one of the biggest misunderstandings between genders of all time. Most women are not motivated by power or control. We just want connection. Intimacy. We love to see the men we love happy. There is nothing better than being the one that can put a smile on your lover’s face. Nothing. It is NOT about controlling their time, energy or finances. It is about being loved. Wanted. Chosen. CHOSEN. Desired.

I will continue to be proud of the work I do helping other couples. I don’t know if I will ever experience that kind of thing in my personal life. It may just not be what is meant to be for me. Maybe it’s just not my path. But I will keep looking for light bulbs that want to change and put my energy there (no pun intended). When I do that, I end up being the one that is changed for the better!Image


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Cold Water in the Face

Life has been busy. My clients have required a little extra T.L.C. (meaning more phone calls between sessions, collaboration with parents, psychologists, addiction specialists, schedule changes, etc.), all of which I absolutely don’t mind. But it’s funny how it seems to come in waves.

Then add in repairing/painting the kitchen. You know how house projects are. Way more complicated, expensive, and time-consuming than you originally imagined. Dry wall dust everywhere. People in your house morning, afternoon, evening. All your regular up-keep is shot to hell. Feeling a bit guilty that everyone else has also turned their lives upside down to help you.

A dear friend who is depressed and struggling with so much. I’m not doing much to help.

And just normal life working, parenting, church…

You might have read last week that I had a chance to be on the radio. Slightly under five minutes of air time, but a wait of over 80 minutes to get that. There are times when my house is a circus and last week was one of them. My dad was here because it was Wednesday. Colin and Frankie were here because, well, they live here. My boyfriend’s roommate was here because he was working on the kitchen walls. My graphic artist was here because we were working on my daughter’s book. Then my client and his son arrive because, well, they had an appointment.

Are you keeping track of how many men that is? A whole house full of them. I was still on hold, thinking I would be on any second and it was an excellent chance to talk about death/dying. And let’s face it. It was a great chance to promote the book.

So my clients came into the kitchen and waited with us on hold. Any second turned into minutes. The entire hour of their session they sat and waited. I asked them if they could come back same time next week and they said, “Sure.” I told them I’d give them a freebie for all their trouble. Now I wouldn’t get away with that with just any clients. These guys? I’ve seen them (there is another son as well) since 2002. Twelve years. We’ve known each other a very long time.

Yesterday comes and again my house is a circus. Then I get a call and everything stops and spins.

My client’s son calls me, I assume to confirm their appointment. He calmly tells me that his father, barely over 50 years old, died the night before. Just out doing yard work with his boys, feels sick, starts vomiting, and falls. They call 911. They run tests. They say he has blood on his brain. He dies a few hours later.

WHAT??? I am in shock. I start sobbing. I tell him I know I’m the therapist but he is doing fantastic handling things and I am falling apart. He says quietly, “I know, it’s ok.” Thankfully, someone who loves me is here in my kitchen when I hang up. He asks, “What can I do?” I tell him exactly what he is doing. Just keep hugging me and let me cry.

I know this song and drill far too well. Yet I still get shocked. And I start second guessing myself.

I missed my last session with this guy to advance my career. I know that it’s not necessary to guilt myself but I feel terrible anyway. But then I remember my career is about helping others and I feel a little less bad. Then I talk to my artist and he reminds me that we had a great time together on hold for that hour. We laughed together and enjoyed ourselves. He said that was probably a much better way to spend an hour together than talking about problems. I feel a lot less bad now.

I’m still up most of the night. With all my lecturing and speaking and writing, did I ever think to discuss end of life issues with this particular family? I can’t remember. This is a family that has dealt with extreme loss. Did he have a will? Life insurance? What are his two sons going to do on their own? Do they know what his wishes are?

Regrets. Worry. Caring. Wondering. Caring deeply. Love. That’s what’s important. Talk about it all the time. I mean, all the time. But it still is a splash of cold water in the face. Life is fleeting. We are mortal. Try to make the most of every moment. Really!


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Opinions and Such

The older I get, the more I feel like there is very little I know. I’ve been saying that for a few years now. The paradox is, I’m more and more sure that I’m not sure about much of anything. The more I live life, the more aware I become that there are very few formulas in life about how it should work and how it should be.

I’m a therapist. Relationships are my “specialty”. And yet I am more and more convinced that what makes a relationship successful and happy is unique to each couple. There really are few “rules” to follow. One couple can do things similarly to another couple, and one ends up together and the other ends up divorced. Why? Who knows.

I become more aware every year that my role as a therapist is not to provide answers, but to provide company on the journey. I help people sort out their own way.

When I do a speaking engagement, I often talk about how spiritual growth can occur through learning to hold opposing and conflicting thoughts and feelings at the same time. Relationships are not really any different.

While my entire life is dedicated to understanding relationships and how they tick, there are sometimes spurts in the intensity level of how that happens. The last few months, I have had countless philosophical conversations with people- males, females, singles, married people, clients, dates, family, friends. All kinds of sources.

Dating today is so different than it used to be because of the internet. And yet it is still exactly the same. Personally, I found dating difficult when I was in high school. And college. And as a divorced woman. And as a widowed woman. No matter what age or set of circumstances, dating is a difficult endeavor. I don’t think I’m alone in that. How many people in your lifetime have you heard say “Man, I love this dating thing!” ?? Not many I bet. Heck, my father is in his eighties and it hasn’t been a picnic for him either!

Hindsight is a dangerous thing. I find that people are very confident offering their opinions and advice after something goes sour. If a relationship ends, it’s easy to say that whatever choices were made, obviously something else should have been done. But I think that is dangerous. When you think that, you just create another set of “rules” that you think apply to everyone.

Match.com is a fascinating social phenomenon. I swear there is a book to be written about people’s experiences. Again, I hear and listen and feel so many things that all seem true, but yet they are contradictory. How can that be? Well, because it just is.

For example, let’s take pace. Most people would say that there is a certain time frame that should occur for relationships to be healthy and successful. I admit that in years past, I would have my own internal judgments if I was working with a couple that moved “too fast.” You hear the history and think, “Well, of course you are having problems. You started living together two weeks after meeting.” But you really can’t say that.

Have you ever met someone who experienced love at first sight? I have not personally ever felt that, but I have met people who have. And they are happily married for years and years and years. There are plenty of divorced couples out there that dated for years, got engaged, and followed all the social “norms” for relationships. And yet the relationship failed.

Just in the last couple of weeks, I have talked personally with people who moved in with their partner within two months of meeting. Both couples are very happy, seem very healthy, and have maintained their relationships over an extended period of time. So they end up being “smart.” And lucky. If their relationship went up in flames, then we would be quick to say that they were unwise and impulsive.

One person on Match talked about how they were learning what they liked and didn’t like. They get a sense almost immediately of whether there is a spark or not. They don’t want to waste their time or anyone else’s so they cut things off as soon as they know. I listened to him explain all that and I thought “Right. That makes total sense. Seems wise to me.”

The next week, I talked to a person who said they were frustrated sometimes with the Match process. He said that it seems like people don’t know how to work on relationships anymore. If there is not immediate magic, there is no effort to get to know someone. No chance to spend some time and seeing how things might develop. I listened to him explain all that and I thought “Right. That makes total sense. Seems wise to me.”

So the moral of the story is, I don’t think there is just one right way. Or one right pace. There are all kinds of ways for people to connect. And disconnect. And reconnect. Who is to say? Perhaps we should hold our judgments.

Do your own internal inventory. Do you have opinions about how many days you should wait after meeting someone before you call them? Should women call men or should men always initiate? Who should pay for dates? How long do you wait before a kiss? How long do you wait before having sex with someone? The list goes on and on. And most of us have our opinions about what we think the answers to those questions should be. If someone doesn’t behave the way we might, then there is often judgment.

Kids are another issue where people seem to know what is the ideal way to handle dating. I used to be one of those people too. When should your kids meet a potential partner? Many say not until you are almost certain about your relationship. Some say their kids are a deal breaker because they are part of the whole package. So why not get to know them right away? How do you get “solid” with a person if you don’t know how they interact with your kids? And I can personally say that it is much more difficult to navigate that as a widow because your kids don’t go off every other weekend with your former partner. There is no alone time or off duty time. Ever. Yet the collateral damage can be worse for them. Your mom breaks up with a boyfriend you like, you can always rely on that relationship with your biological dad if your parents are divorced. But what if there is no other dad?

This is another area I’ve had to admit that I just don’t have the answers to. I honestly think that a huge part of the equation is the personality of your kid(s) and how they handle things.

Do you only date one person at a time? Or do you date several people at the same time? Again, I have heard well thought out arguments for both sides of that. I have heard well thought out criticisms of the other side of the fence. And they all have good points. So what to do? Personally, the only “rule” I’ve figured out for myself is that I have to be honest with whatever it is I’m doing. You have no control over whether the other parties in your life are honest back, but you have to hope they are.

So… no answers. Just lots of opposing ideas that all seem to contain truth. I will venture out though and offer some unsolicited advice. 1. Try not to judge other people. 2. If you have a relationship, work hard at it. It’s not all that easy to start over. The grass is definitely not always greener on the other side.

I’m sure I’ve said things you agree with, disagree with, or may have infuriated you. I am just figuring the world out like everyone else.


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Catch 22’s and Other Quandries

I was kind of dreading blogging today. It is the new year and I made all kinds of deals with myself about choosing happiness and choosing to leave the past behind. I really do believe some of that is in our power to choose. So I wanted to blog today about my enthusiasm and the bright start to the new year.

The only problem is, it didn’t quite go as I expected. In spite of my best efforts, I found myself weepy on New Year’s Eve. But it was brief and Frankie and I partied as planned and enjoyed ourselves. New Year’s Day? I had some excellent sessions with clients, but I knew before I went in I could feel my insides breaking down. By 8:00 PM, it overcame me. Sadness, pure and simple. In spite of any choices I attempted to make, the sadness was overwhelming.

My amazing friends supported me like they always do. I got a little snarky (which I don’t always do) but I had myself a full-out cry. Then I talked to another friend and she was able to verbalize some thoughts that helped me wake up this morning with a clearer head. Still some sadness, but not as overwhelming.

I can’t say it was anything particularly new in concept, but it was new words. New phrases. And for whatever reason, that really comforts me. I like when I’m finally able to capture the swirling emotions and label them. And I like it when someone else understands it.

Trying to sort out how a relatively short relationship could have such a tremendous impact on me has been baffling and frustrating to say the least. My friend Grace was able to say some things that hit me square between the eyes. Why is the hole bigger than before? Because I tasted something for the first time in my life. Something that made me feel like “Ah, this is what it is supposed to be. This is home.” She said that no one has ever craved chocolate before they tasted it. It’s knowing what it is that makes you crave it. Now I’ve tasted what I’ve been looking for for so long, so I just want it back, plain and simple. That is why the hole is bigger. Before I was just imagining what life could be like.

This next sentence put a lump in my throat. “The gift you got this Christmas, was loneliness that you never even knew you could feel.” Crap. I’ve felt some pretty intense loneliness before, but I think she was right. Crap. Merry Christmas. That’s quite a gift.

Here’s the next tough concept. “You want it in your life. But the very thing that brought you happiness, brought you intense pain. So you will look for it, but then you will want to run from it. Now that is a nasty Catch 22.” Yep. I think that’s why no matter how many times I reach out, it still feels empty. I wonder how long that will last.

I am smart enough to know that nothing magical happens at midnight on New Year’s Eve. I don’t bother with resolutions anymore. I just try every day to be the best person I can. Sometimes I get in more motivated spurts than others. But I also know I am the captain of my own ship so I was simply going to choose to move on.

I will. I know I will. I always do. But it is going to take a lot more time than anticipated. The standard is now higher than ever. I know what I am looking for and what relationships can feel like. Grace also reminded me that the relationship I had was great because of my contribution to it, not just his. I have had a self-image for so long of being sad and lonely, I wondered sometimes that if happiness slapped me in the face if I would sabotage it or not even recognize it. But I didn’t need to worry. I embraced it when it came. And I could have sustained it. I didn’t create the ending. I have to live with the ending, but I didn’t choose it.

There’s so many more blogs left inside of me about all this philosophical stuff. But for this one, I will just say that every day has to be a possible new start. And if it blows up in my face and I find myself in tears, that is ok too. Because the loss I feel is profound and has a new dimension to it that other losses have not. So I am trying not to be too hard myself, but also choosing to get out of bed every day. I’m trying to smile, but sometimes it just isn’t there. But I will try. I promise.