Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Re-connecting

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to have not one, but two birthday parties. I mean hey, 50 is a big deal, right? The first night was at my favorite Mexican restaurant and we had about 25 people come for dinner. After we went to a bar that had a dance band. My friend laughed and said I was one of the youngest people there but we had a great time. That night, someone came up behind me to wish me a birthday and I had to stop and think. She reminded me she and her partner used to be clients of mine. I was so very happy to see them. I was honored they would take the time to come up to me, and I was truly thrilled to see they were still together. Later, I watched them dance together and they were just delightful to watch. Made my heart warm.

Darcy's 50th birthday-Darcy, Catherine

Darcy's 50th birthday- Michelle, Darcy, Cathy, Catherine, Onalee, Carla

Darcy's 50th birthday-Catherine ,Missy, Michelle, Onalee, Darcy, Karen

Toward the end of the evening, one of my students from the master’s program showed up. I know she drove a long way. She couldn’t even stay, but she wanted to say hello and give me a hug in person. I couldn’t believe it.

The second night, I had an informal gathering back in Niagara county where I grew up. Almost 25 people came that night too. This group was my family, friends, and mostly high school friends. It was a mini-reunion of sorts. I figured most of them will be turning 50 this year too, although some of them had already beat me. Most of the night was filled with people I don’t get to see very often. One of my closest friends from high school (although she went to a different high school) totally surprised me by coming. I haven’t seen her since… well, I don’t exactly know when. It’s been a very long time. She looked EXACTLY the same, hadn’t aged a bit.

A couple of the girls I was a cheerleader with. That brought some laughs and eye rolls. One girl was a year older than me and I was pleasantly surprised to see her as well. But the real shock came when she told me she reads my blogs and loves them. She said I write with honesty (or something like that). I had no idea she even read them or knew I had a blog. I was so humbled by that. And today when I was weary and didn’t feel like writing, I remembered her comment and it brought a huge smile to my face and enthusiasm to write.

Another girl I didn’t recognize at first. She reminded me she had moved in our later years of school. I had plenty to drink throughout the night, but I was aware enough to remember several comments she made throughout the night. She was truly grateful to have connected with me on Facebook and then be invited to our get together. She had such kind things to say about me and how I behaved in high school. There are actually some traits I seem to have carried on into adulthood and they are actually GOOD ones. So many things we hope we grow out of. She also made my heart warm to think that I could make others feel good without even knowing I was doing it.

One of my friends organized most of this. Created the event, bought cupcakes, you know the drill. She has been having a really tough time lately, but in spite of that, she made sure I had a great birthday. I hope to return the favor soon when her birthday arrives. I love you girlfriend!

I could go on and on. My deepest thanks to all of you who sent cards, gifts (even though I said no gifts!), drove out in the snow, or drove a long way to be part of my milestone birthday. Whether I see you often or once every few decades or so, I appreciate you. I love people, I invest in people, people are my priority. Whether I mentioned you specifically in this blog or not, I was humbled by all the outpouring of love and friendship. Don’t ever think when I fall into the abyss here and there when my depression gets the better of me, that I have forgotten the treasure of friends. I don’t. I swear, I don’t, not even when I’m down and out.

Hugs and kisses to all!


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Laughter

One last commentary on my high school reunion.

About an hour before I was leaving to go, I was getting ready and I suddenly felt my eyes fill up with tears. I remembered that Tim and I went briefly to the reunion five years earlier, but he had been diagnosed and wasn’t feeling well. It was great to see everyone, and many of my friends came to his benefits and stayed in touch with us throughout the rest of our journey. It started to hit me that an awful lot of life had been lived in the last decade. Not just for me, but for many others as well. I wondered if I would see them and just burst into tears.

What I found, was that indeed, many of us had changed. We had been through the fires of life. But the beauty of it was that instead of being beaten down, there was an appreciation for life and laughter and new priorities. It was unspoken, but I felt it.

One of my classmates had lost her mom. I remember when it happened. She had reached out to me and sent one of those apologies that basically said she had wished she had been more supportive when Tim was sick. Until you go through it, you just don’t realize the impact that cancer has on your life. I assured her she was plenty supportive and we had an entire community around us. But I felt for her and the tremendous loss she was suffering.

While we were hanging around at the reunion, she got telling a story about the funeral. She was able to laugh about it and had all of us cracking up. The gist was something like this: “So how the hell does a person know what the protocol is for a funeral home? I give this guy my mom’s dress and her wig. How weird is that?  Here’s my mom’s clothes and hair. But then he asked me where her bra and underwear was. I had no idea I was supposed to bring that stuff too.” Only she was much funnier than I am re-telling it. Being the anti-bra woman who I am, I advocated for letting the poor woman be free without the damn thing. But the point is, being able to embrace the story and even smile when doing so.

Later, two of my friends that have survived breast cancer ended up sitting at the picnic table together. One of them was the definite life of the party I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs. She started this thing where she would point to our friend and say “cancer”, point to herself and say “cancer”, and then point to me and say “grieving widow.” Then she’d look at the poor sap sitting next to us and say, “So what have you got?” Invariably, they would say something like, “I got nothing.” and she would quip with, “Aw, maybe by the next reunion you will have something.” Again, it doesn’t translate well in writing, but while we were there, we were all drowning in laughter. She found a way to talk about the elephant in the room. She fully embraced it, found the sweet with the bitter, and we were all better for it.

The girls got telling stories about how they torture their sons with it too. One has three boys, the other has two. (Remember the hand sanitizer blog?) Boys, can you help with the laundry? Grumble, no. But I have cancer!  MOM!!! They said it worked wonders with them.

When we were leaving, my dear friend reminded me that I really needed to call her and stay in touch. I lovingly reminded her that I have called her several times over the years and she rarely calls back so I stopped trying. She looked at me, cocked her head, and said ever so sweetly, “Oh… but I have cancer.” I called her a witch and we hugged goodbye.

Perhaps you think this is all morbid, but if you think so, it may be because you haven’t experienced it up close yet. I find it completely refreshing and I couldn’t have been more proud of all those strong, beautiful women I have a history with. You go sistas!

Roy-Hart 30th reunion- Cyndi Barker, Todd & Dawn Arnold

Roy-Hart 30th reunion- Chrissy Ball and hubby

Roy-Hart 30th reunion- Melinda Keirsblick, Darcy


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Scars

I mentioned the fun of my high school reunion last blog. It was a blast and I laughed til my stomach hurt. But you know me, no sweet without the bitter. I wouldn’t actually say bitter this time, but being the psychology person I am, I can’t help but watch social events and catch all the nuances going on.

It actually makes me feel a little better. I remember things from elementary school on and scold myself often with, “Let it go, it was ___ years ago!” And I have let things go, but I still remember. And I still know they had an impact on my life. But I heard several stories and comments those evenings at the reunion that made me realize I’m not the only one.

I brought up our fifth grade teacher who sticks out to me as someone who should not have been teaching. He was known for picking his nose which about 98% of us remembered. But what I didn’t mention is how he embarrassed me. We had to write a personal essay and I chose to write about two of my friends that had ganged up on me and made fun of my sneakers. It hurt my feelings. So lovely Mr. Hyde read my paper, then called up the two friends I wrote about and at his desk he whispered to them. They were pointing to shoes and clearly making fun of me again. He was an asshole in my opinion.

One lovely friend brought up our fourth grade teacher. He actually spanked students on their birthday. Can you imagine anyone attempting to do that nowadays? But that wasn’t even the bad memory. The bad memory was the nicknames he gave students. He called me “Duckie” because my last name is Thiel and a teal is a duck. But he called my friend “Slim” because, well she wasn’t exactly slim back then. I’m sure that hurt. By the way, she is in her 40’s now and beautiful as hell. She is much thinner than I am too!

One friend talked about sixth grade and being absent from school one day. When she returned everyone had stopped talking to her. The funny thing was (which I did NOT bring up) that I have the same memory, also in sixth grade. And she was one of the girls that stopped talking to me. It is very traumatizing to some to be excluded. Apparently six grade girls are brutal when it comes to that stuff.

And then there was our sixth grade teacher that we all talked about with regret. We tortured her. She was not able to control the class and we took advantage of her. Plus we all ate jello mix all day so we were charged up with sugar to boot. The funniest time was when one kid took his desk and chair and moved it out to the middle of the road. It was an extremely busy road for those parts, and she didn’t notice right away. If she was still alive, most of us would probably call and apologize to her.

Another dear friend, and an instrumental person in organizing our reunions, had the biggest story of all. Remember all those things you would vote on? I was voted most likely to become president of the US. Ha, we all missed the boat on that one. I was also voted most generous. I had forgotten that one. I went over to the male most generous and reminded him. He said he had already been reminded several times during the night. Once the word got out, everyone asked him to buy them a drink! LOL!!

But one of those categories was most conceited. My dear friend, while we were all sitting at the picnic table together, reminded us of our vote. She loudly said she had two words for us. She enunciated both words quite clearly and had two hands with finger gestures to make sure the message was loud and clear. We all laughed our asses off. I reminded her that I was most generous so I probably didn’t vote on that one. 🙂

Let it go? Sure. We all had a sense of humor. But really. Why is there even such a thing as most conceited? Why do people even want to go for things like that? Label people. As it turns out, she is one of the least conceited persons I know. She’s a lovely human being. I’m sure she knows that, but it must still be an ouch in her memory.

I guess it’s all part of growing pains. We all do things as kids we regret. But let’s face it, we’re kind of dummies as adults too. We all say things we shouldn’t. Some don’t say anything but can shoot a piercing dirty look that is just as deadly. Or maybe we just disengage from life altogether and shut people out or not let them get too close.

So let’s give ourselves a pass on our childhood scar-making. But let’s straighten up today and be a positive force in the world.

Love all you guys, but a special kiss and hug out to the 1985 Royalton-Hartland class 🙂 Not a bad-looking group for our late forties!

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Aging…

Last weekend I attended my ten-year high school reunion. Ok, I mean 20. Ok, no more lying. It was my 30. 30! How can that be when I am barely even 30 years old? LOL…

There was a big difference between the 20 and 30, at least in my opinion. Two days before the event, my high school friend from Florida called and left an excited message. Am I excited? What am I going to wear? I chuckled and called her back. I am one of those people who absolutely loves these types of events. I knew I would have a great time. I knew I would talk to every single person that attended. That’s what I would do because that is just who I am. But what am I going to wear? Ha, I had no idea.

I was part of the committee for the 20th. We met for months planning every detail. And they took me shopping. I’ve never been a clothes/hair/nails girl so my peeps took me out for a makeover. We even picked out the jewelry. Planned for months.

But life changes. I knew months ago I would never lose weight. I’d figure out what to wear a half hour before I got in the car to leave. And I would hope I had some decent choices that were actually clean. I did splurge on a pedicure. I had gotten a gift certificate at Christmas and had saved it for this very week. It wasn’t because I wasn’t excited about the reunion. I was. But I had other life to live right up until I got in my car.

The first night was at a bar. It was hilarious, watching us all. We all greeted each other and proclaimed how the other hadn’t aged a bit. And some of us really didn’t age much. But let’s face it. We are all a little more wrinkly, a little heavier. Oh yeah, and our memories are failing us.

When you aren’t in a private bar, that meant anyone that walked in was fair game. We would all talk under our breath. Is that someone we know? Did we go to school with them? One of us would recognize someone and the other would frantically say, “Name?” and so the other would loudly say hello, announcing that person’s name so everyone else nearby knew who the hell they were.

One couple walked in and I recognized the woman as a relative I barely know. I walked up to her and asked if she was here because of the reunion and she said no, she was just out with her date. Ok. So I tell everyone nope, we didn’t graduate with them so take them off the radar. Then I found out later in the evening that her date DID graduate with us. Duh. She could have said that.

Another couple walked in and all the whispering started again. Someone said they recognized the guy and he was someone who was a year ahead of us. But that meant he was married to one of our classmates. And it didn’t look like her. Man, had she changed. But we all had enough doubt that I finally just walked up and asked. The guy was the guy’s brother. So the wife wasn’t our classmate. We were wrong on both counts. I told them it was very cruel to be present at a high school reunion where we have all already lost half of our minds and our memories. Showing up and looking like someone we know was too much to wrap our brains around. They laughed of course.

The funniest part of all, was watching how many of us- men and women alike- can’t see a damn thing without our cheater glasses. People were trying to read their phones and had them held so far away, they may as well have put them on the ground. Everyone was sharing their glasses to look at photos on phones of kids or grandkids.

The big joke of the night, was this:

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Our life of the party classmate, had this hand sanitizer that came out during the night. She said she has three teenage boys in her house so she is so no dummy. As if that wasn’t funny enough, it got passed around throughout the night. But no one could read the damn label without reaching for their glasses. So I just watched it get replayed over and over again and cracked up every time.

The best time, was when a bunch of us girls were sitting on the patio picnic bench. There was a screen that you could see through into the bar. The bottle got tossed into the group of guys at the bar. One of the wives told her husband to look at it and we were all laughing. So he started laughing. His wife said, “He has no idea what it says. He doesn’t have his glasses on but he’s pretending he can read it.” Sure enough, the next guy gets his glasses on, reads it, cracks up and then hands his glasses to the hubby. Now he reads it for real and about falls over laughing.

I don’t know if this all reads as funny as it really was. Sometimes you just had to be there. I told my classmates at the end of the night that they have given me blog material for months. So stay tuned!


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Ridiculousness

Have you ever seen that show “Ridiculousness”? It’s kind of like an MTV version of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Frankie loves it. He laughs hysterically when he watches it. I was laying in bed tonight when my head started blogging. Ridiculousness came to mind. I knew it had to be the title. Not because it’s funny. It’s the opposite. It comes from a very, very dark place.

Every once in a while I fall into this black hole. Intellectually I can totally dismantle its validity. In my mind I know it’s unhealthy junk. But emotionally I just can’t help myself. Twenty years of therapy on and off and I still battle my dark demons. Ridiculous.

I’m not sure what to call it. Depression? Probably in part. I hate it. It actually embarrasses me because it’s so pitiful and lacking in self worth. Definitely sadness. Can’t stop crying when I’m in it. On the surface, I am a pretty confident, outgoing woman. I’m relatively realistic about my strengths and weaknesses. I am aware I have much to offer the world. I am aware that in my own little corner of it, I have indeed offered the world my heart and soul and others have benefited from it. But in that dark place, I am scared- no petrified, that most people hate me. In a phrase? I’m unloveable. What is possessing me to write about it for others to see I have no idea, but I’m going with it.

About 15 years ago, I was working at a place and was getting ready to leave to dive into my practice. I was an email buddy with my co-worker’s husband and one time I felt like he pushed the writing a little too far and I told him to back off. Soon after that he excluded from his wife’s surprise party and then proceeded to let me know that it was intentional. He said I was a “liberal weirdo” and that everyone at work hated me and I was too stupid to realize it. Now, I had several co-workers assure me that wasn’t the case. And I knew he was lashing out because he was embarrassed that I called him out on something. But did any of that logic matter? Nope. Bingo. He hit me it my darkest fear. I was right, I’m not loveable.

The other night I had a very vivid, long, detailed dream. It was one of those non-sensical ones that is bizarre in details but crystal clear in meaning. I was with a group of people and I think we were actors of some sort. I had the distinct feeling that no one liked me and eventually people started to verbalize it. Then this mandate came down that every person had to find a twin to wear an identical costume with. It was obvious this order came down for one reason- to show me in a very tangible way that no one wanted to be my partner. I verbalized this to everyone. “Oh, I see. The purpose of this little exercise is to prove to me that I am alone.” They all jeered and laughed because it was true. There was one actor there (the guy from Mall Cop, go figure!) who I somehow sensed felt differently about it, but I couldn’t prove it. He was pouring drinks for everyone as they were having a celebratory toast. The occassion? Making me realize how disliked I was. However, I soon had the last laugh because I told them they were wrong and this guy did value me because he poured bitter liquid in their glasses. They were all spitting it out. I told them that he knew everyone of them would drink it but me.

I have no idea who that man was supposed to represent… God? And in a sense it was a positive ending. But I didn’t wake up feeling positive. I thought it was a horrible dream. Just awful. And I was even disgusted because I think I have it more together than to have that kind of deep seeded lack of self love to generate such dreams.

I’m sure there are many layers, but on at least one level, I think the “twin” represents a partner to me. In high school, I rarely had boyfriends. I met my first husband in Bible College. We divorced and then I spent seven years alone. Then I married Tim and we were together just a decade before he died. Here I am at 45, facing a birthday next week, and alone again. Dating, maybe, but not partnered.

I leave Sunday for my 25 year college reunion. It will be awesome. But I think it is part of the turmoil of my sleep. I remember attending the 10 year reunion, freshly divorced. I knew everyone was aware that my former husband was the one people were talking about because he became an atheist after our marriage. Tim and I attended my 15th reunion and for a brief, shining moment, I had a husband and baby by my side. Now I will attend my 25th. Alone again. Naturally.

No twin. No one that loves me so much they want to world to know by making me thier wife. I hate being a widow. I hate being a single mom. My loving friends point out that probably no one else will be able to say they are publishing a book. And I’m publishing a GREAT book!! I truly am proud of it. But I also realize that the ache in my heart isn’t about acheiving something extraordinary. It’s about being in the norm- having a significant other. I think that is part of my roller coaster of emotions about the success of the book. I want to revel in it, but I still haven’t acheived what my heart aches to- feeling loveable. Being someone’s favorite person. Being someone’s twin.

It’s ridiculous because I have more than one amazing person in my life. I am truly lucky and blessed to have family and friends that are astounding in thier loyalty and kindness. I know it frustrates them to some degree to know how much they care about me and extend themselves to me, yet I still fall down the rabbit hole sometimes. I truly love and appreciate them. And they fill a very real need and void in my life. But there is a void no friend or sister or father can fill.

I hate how pitiful it all sounds. And I intellectually know better. But for today, Thursday, my heart has fallen into the abyss. I won’t stay there. But it’s a dark night and I am truly praying for less ridiculous dreams tonight. Don’t give up on me, though. The positive Darcy will emerge again soon 🙂