Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Julia Cameron: Freedom

Today’s gratitude card is “freedom: I cherish my freedom to act, think, feel, and choose as I wish. I celebrate the choice which lies for me in every moment. I accept the responsibility which comes with freedom. I embrace my liberty and use it to create an abundant and meaningful life.”

This is one of the those cards (well, let’s be honest; MOST of these cards this applies to) that is more like an affirmation I am saying, trying to will it to be true. This particular card has a twist though. I think it is true just as written for the most part. The problem with me has always been that I want everyone else to be happy with my choices too.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted people to approve of me. For as long as I’ve been in therapy, we’ve talked about this. And for as long as I can remember, my therapists have always thought I’ve been surrounded by a fair number of people in my life who don’t approve, or who feel quite comfortable making their criticisms known to me.

I suppose it is true that almost all human beings want people to approve of them. I think our particular personality type is what moves us along the intensity continuum.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve figured out how to seek more people in my life who do approve of me. I don’t mean they agree with me 100% of the time. But most of the time, they think I rock. Most of the time they trust my decisions because they believe I think through things and generally have a pretty good head on my shoulders.

It’s funny. Those people who know me on the deepest level, know that I am actually quite open to criticism and feedback. More than most, I seek out help and advice from professionals and from family and friends.

I like affirming my freedom and choosing to act. I even think I do a pretty good job of accepting the responsibility that comes with it. And I usually try to create a meaningful life, not just for myself, but also for others. My biggest problem is I DO give a rat’s ass about what other people think.

I don’t want to be the person that stops caring altogether. People who are like that, tend to be selfish and unaware of how they affect others. I don’t want to be a rock with no feelings. But I also don’t want to be the one who gets crushed like a bug so easily.

I am going to Florida next week. I decided I was going to crack if I didn’t get a break, if I didn’t get some rest, and mostly if I don’t feel some sun on my face soon. I found a reasonable flight and I just booked it before I could change my mind. I’ve been saying that I never do things like this for myself so I feel totally justified. But then I remembered that last September I went to Vegas for a couple of days. I need to stop saying I “never” do things for myself. I do. I am learning how to take care of me. And that should NOT be a bad thing.

One of my support people told me that people are going to be thinking that in their heads when I tell them about my trip- that I just went to Myrtle Beach in February. So I guess I’m saying they can think whatever they want. It was 25 degrees there the week we were there. It was very cold and I couldn’t walk on the beach without feeling sick. I need warmth. And I work my ass off most of the time so I’m going.

OH AND…

I don’t care if I eat too many carbs. I will work on that when I can. I will choose the best things I can day to day and that is good enough for me.

I don’t care if my schedule sucks because I try too hard to help other people. I will choose to do as much as I can every day to be the best person I can every day, and then I will complain about my legs hurting when I go to bed. That doesn’t make me a bad person because I’m exhausted at the end of the day.

I don’t care if I take too many vacations. I only go for a brief time. Sometimes I ache to see my grandkids. Sometimes I just want to not have to take care of anyone. I am ok with those choices.

Now I am working on not caring what you think about all that stuff. Now I am working on not caring if you disapprove or disagree. The truth is, I care deeply, but I am working on changing that. At the end of the day, I am looking to surround myself with voices that think I’ve been amazing even though I haven’t been perfect. The first voice has to be my own. The second voice I have to recognize is God’s. After that, I have to be selective.

This wasn’t one of my better blogs. I didn’t start out with a solid idea. It hasn’t flowed the way I want it to. My humor hasn’t shone like I like it too. But hey, maybe this is the start. I choose to write a less-than-perfect blog. And I’m fine with that. If you don’t like the tone, or the negativity, or the message, I’m fine with that too.

Well, not really. But I’m a work in progress! 🙂


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It’s Official: Customer Service is Dead

We all need vacations or getaways to stay refreshed and keep perspective. I remember after Tim died, two of my friends took me away for a night. We went to Skaneateles and did a spa day. It was just what the doctor ordered.

If I ever needed a break, it has been in the last couple of months. My vacation to Virginia Beach fell through which was like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Except, just when you think you can’t take anymore, something else happens…

My consolation prize was a night away in Lewiston, NY at the Barton Hill Hotel. It’s not the beach, but I figured it would at least give me a breath of much-needed fresh air. The package came with a massage. I ordered the groupon deal after calling the hotel to be sure it had the services we wanted. Then came the first blow. After purchasing it, I called to make the massage appointment. Oops. No appointments available until after we check out of the hotel. Yes, you read it right. I checked with them before I purchased the thing. But you know how it is. The hotel desk is a few feet away from the spa desk. They can’t possibly actually know what they are talking about, even being in the computer age.

I’m a reasonable woman though, right? So they said they would give us late checkout so there would be no issue with getting the massage, being able to shower and then leave the hotel. It wasn’t the best, but it was a pretty close second. I got through the beginning of an exceptionally tough week (more serious issues than the norm like suicide and rape) by counting down the days til my getaway.

Here’s the short version of what happened.

Check in at hotel. Drag all your stuff up to the room, only to find the keys don’t work.
Drag all your stuff back down to the lobby and wait for new keys to be programmed.
Get to the room, discover the clock/radio doesn’t work. No music. It gets replaced.
It takes FOUR trips to the lobby to actually get the towels that were requested.

MOST DISTRESSING ISSUE OF ALL: the door to the room doesn’t even actually lock. It can be pushed open. All our stuff is in there and we are leaving for the day. Back to the lobby AGAIN. We are told that it is a humidity problem (which we suspect isn’t true) but are told they will check on it immediately. When returning to the room after dark, of course our door still was open. Luckily, nothing was stolen.

Now I have to admit to myself that I guess I’m not a reasonable woman after all. I mean, who expects their hotel room to actually be secure? Most places you go to, even the shadiest of motels, don’t have a locked door. That is just too crazy of a thing to hope for when you travel. Right?

After traveling to a different floor for ice buckets and ice (because they are not easily accessible), I wake up in the morning to discover the bucket had leaked all over. My cell phone was laying in a pool of water. Nice.

But hey, look at the bright side. We go for our complimentary breakfast on the terrace at this “beautiful” inn (that is if you don’t mind all the water damaged ceilings and other run-down aspects) and are pleased to find that it consisted basically of cereal and toast. I’ve stayed at cheap motels with better breakfasts than that.

The kicker? We go for a walk in the morning and decide to just double-check on the arrangements for our late check out time. Even though this was literally the FOURTH conversation I have had with the staff about this, suddenly there is a huge problem. They are booked for the weekend so they can’t possibly accommodate us. In fact, it appeared from the looks on their faces, that we were crazy for even thinking that was a possibility. Check out time is literally in the middle of the massage time and that is too bad for us.

A manager? I want to speak to a manager? Silly me. There is none on the premises. Of course not. Literally every employee we talked to looked like they were in high school or barely graduated. No idea how to handle a business, much less one fraught with problems.

In disgust, the massages were canceled and we checked out EARLY.

Now, everyone is allowed to make mistakes. I make enough of my own so I try to be gracious to others. But what I can’t stand, is when a person(s) doesn’t take responsibility for it.

After countless phone calls, emails, and other such follow-up, here is what happened:

Nothing.

The hotel offered a free night. Are you kidding me? I’m no dummy. That doesn’t cost them a cent. I kindly explained that we have no desire whatsoever to ever set foot in the place again. I want my money back. I work freaking hard to be able to afford a getaway. I needed to be refreshed and instead I paid for a stress-filled 24 hours. So the hotel says, sorry. We would love to give you your money back, but the deal was through groupon so their hands are tied (which is also a lie, but I’m willing to work with it).

Groupon? I could have fell over when they told me that… guess what? The hotel refused to allow them to give me a refund. So they gave me money off my NEXT groupon purchase. Not much better than the hotel offering a free night. I WANT MY MONEY BACK, or at least a portion of it. Disgusting. Like I want to purchase another groupon offer in the near future.

I shouldn’t be surprised. The old me would have shrugged my shoulders and made the most of it. The new me isn’t wired that way anymore. I’m pissed off and can’t seem to help it. I needed to do something for ME after exhausting so much energy day after day helping other people. I just want what I paid for. Is that so crazy?

So it is official. The age of the consumer is no more. I’ve already wasted enough energy on this. The Better Business Bureau lists complains similar to mine. In the end, the hotel just refuses to do what’s right, so what’s the point?

Anyhow, I’m trying to find something clever and funny to end with. My creativity seems to be lacking. Must be because of the lack of soul refreshing that was sought after and not found…lol.

Moral of the story? GO TO VIRGINIA BEACH!!


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Smatterings

I don’t have one topic today, so I think I will just have a smattering of paragraphs regarding different topics in my life.

Last weekend, a 7th grade roller skating friend found me on the internet. I was surprised and thought it was great fun to hear from him. He is quite successful- career/financial wise, but also has two great kids and a wife he still adores after 25 years. Anyhow, he wrote this to me after reading some of my blogs: “Your blog (so far) doesn’t read like menopause… almost more like ‘coming of age/wisdom/power.’ Like you are a whole person now… not shying away from those other less comfortable modes and feelings. And from what I see, still quite a unique and lovely person too.”

I liked that, of course. Made me feel great. Coming of age/wisdom/power. Is it one of those paradoxes in life I always talk about? The less wise and more powerless I feel, maybe the opposite is actually true? Nice thought. So I’m not going to tell him that twice this week I woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. That’s the first hard “evidence” of the dreaded “M” word so let’s not tell him, ok?

So, what else? Haven’t really been dating anyone new. I haven’t been on the Match site at all. I’m still lonely, but I think I’ve finally called “uncle” for a while. Who knows when that will change? I just don’t see much point in it. Everyone looks great on paper. They all seem nice for the initial meetings. But in the end, it doesn’t mean a hill of beans, so why bother? Hey, maybe I really am getting wiser! 🙂

On the home front, well, that isn’t so pretty. I will probably regret writing this for the world to see, but I had a really, really bad day this week. I actually SOS-called Summer this week. I was having visions of taking a baseball bat and destroying our 54 inch TV screen. I wanted to bash in the WII system, Kindle, and laptop while I was at it. It scared me. That is REALLY, REALLY not like me. I didn’t do it, or course. But I was scared I would.

Why? I was sick of parenting. I didn’t care if Frankie is “grieving,” or “going through normal pre-teen stuff,” or whatever other reason there might be for his behavior. He can just be so mean and hurtful to me, and because I am who I am, he knows exactly how to do it. He knows how to push my buttons. And he does it by rejecting me. By letting me know that he doesn’t like it when I’m around, or even in the room for the matter. He recoils when I touch him. And after taking him to the Bills’ Training Camp and then throwing him two birthday parties, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I just didn’t have the stomach for it.

Today is a new day. I hold my breath every day that it will go better. So far, so good. We are heading to a baseball game and I’m willing it to be fun for all of us.

I am hoping to take a vacation next week. I don’t know if it will fall through or not, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I NEED A VACATION!!

I usually get worried feedback. Don’t worry. I’m hanging in there. I even plan to smile today 🙂


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More Ups and Downs

So I’m on my dream vacation and I meet my daughter and her family for brunch in South Carolina. Frankie has been with them on vacation for nine days, the first time we’ve been apart that long. Reports were that he was the hit of the week-long family reunion they were at. He was dancing with 75 year old women when no other men would, so he was well loved and made a big deal of.

Then he hit the brick wall. By the time we met up in South Carolina, he was in tears and beside himself. Said his back hurt and that he hadn’t been able to eat. He did a great job trying to figure it out with me. “How do I know if I’m homesick? What does my stomach have to do with being homesick? Why is this happening?” He decided he wanted to come home. The only thing is, I couldn’t logistically pull it off. For dozens of details, I won’t want to bore you with, I couldn’t keep him in South Carolina with me. He got in the car to head back to Georgia and was a good sport about it, but I cried the minute he drove away. I am his mom. I am supposed to make everything better.

I told him we would get him out on Monday morning and back home, two days earlier than he was supposed to come back. That seemed to help him. However, then the nightmare of phone calls started and I discovered in spite of paying the extra money for trip insurance, they wouldn’t help me in the slightest. It would have cost me another $800 to get him and my grandson back. Another tough phone conversation. I let him down again. And again he was a good sport.

Wednesday, they were scheduled to arrive at 12:45. I worked til noon then hopped in the car. I had this dreaded feeling that I was going to be late. I was frantic. The check-in lady told me the plane hadn’t landed yet when I got there at 12:20. I get my boarding pass and headed to security. When Frankie flew to Georgia, I nailed my son-in-law about making sure he was there on time so when he got off the plane he immediately saw a face he knew. And he was there. On time.

While I’m in security I get a phone call. It’s Southwest. The plane had landed almost a half hour early and the flight attendant was waiting there with the two boys. I told him I was stuck in security and he told me to wait and he would bring the boys to me. A million things flashed through my mind. This 10 and 6 year old were brave enough to fly across the states. I only had to be there on time so they didn’t get off the plane and feel even a second of panic. Now I know the plane landed early, but still. I felt AWFUL. Let Frankie down. AGAIN.

When I saw them come around the corner, we all hugged, although Frankie is still not fond of that. But right there in the middle of the airport, he opens up his suitcase. He bought me a necklace with the word “LOVE” on it and he walked over and chained it around my neck. Right there in the middle of the airport. He couldn’t wait to give it to me. I was filled with love and tears. He’s a champ. He’s forgiving. He lets me be human. He’s the love of my life.