Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Journey

Even though I’m a trained musician, I’m a big nerd when it comes to music. I know songs, but I don’t know the group that sings them. I might not the name of a music group, but I won’t know the names of the singers in the group. And I rarely listen to anything current so I’m massively outdated.

When I sing at Karoake, I don’t sing anything current. How could I? I don’t know anything.

When my friend asked me if I wanted to go see Journey and The Steve Miller Band this week, I jumped at the chance. I haven’t been to many concerts in my life. In high school, I saw Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin. (Hey! That’s one name I actually know!) Later in life I saw Billy Joel. When Tim was sick I flew to Chicago to see Carole King and James Taylor.

I was getting ready to go to the concert on Tuesday and told Colin about it. I told him I had no idea what The Steve Miller Band played but he told me I would recognize a bunch of songs once I got there. He was right, I did.

I haven’t been to many concerts so I can’t compare. But I had the time of my life. After I got over the shock of having to pay $11 for a single beer, the rest of the night was easy.

Of course, I can’t shut off my sociology mind, even if I want to. I found it fascinating (and fun) how you can interact with total strangers because you are connecting at some event. I mean we were high-fiving and yelling at the top of our lungs, acting like we were all best friends. Then the last encore is over and everyone walks quickly to their car without even a backward glance. Not even a goodbye. Cracked me up. Good fun.

There were some of those not so shining moments. One of the guys in our row (of course, even with how “close” we all were, I didn’t even know his first name) leaned over to yell something and poked me in the forehead. Even broke the skin. He gave me a slurred apology, but I still have a small mark in case I forget the great time I had there.

A while later, I was standing with both hands high in the air singing at the top of my lungs. I was holding that 11 dollar beer in one of my hands when suddenly, SWOOSH! It was gone. In a flash. Same nameless forehead poker wacked my beer out of hands and sent it sailing down the row. I got another slurred apology. I looked around and saw some people looking shocked at the spilled beer on them and asking each other where the heck it came from. I yelled down to them and apologized. But you know how friendly concert folk are. The lady gave it back to me because it wasn’t empty. Hell yeah, I drank it! That damn thing cost 11 bucks!

Mostly, it was just a blast to know all those songs and remember what it was like when I was young and listening to them. I was saying that Frankie even knows a lot of Journey songs. The guy ahead of me asked me how I got him into it because he couldn’t get his seven year old daughter to get into it. I told him Frankie hears it in school during gym class. I am quite positive if he knew how much I loved them, he wouldn’t have gotten into it so much…lol!

Great night. Singing “Open Arms” and “Don’t Stop Believing” along with dozens of other songs was just a blast. So next time you want to go to a great concert, don’t forget to invite me! (P.S. I will let you pay for the beer!)


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Anger- the New Sadness?

Is 47 the proper age for a mid-life crisis? Is 47 the proper time for menopause (which means hormones and changes that are out of our control)? I hear 50 is the age that women make lots of changes and just stop taking things they shouldn’t take anymore. Is that me?

I wish someone could explain it to me. As a person who has struggled with depression most of my life, I am somewhat comfortable with it. I know that sounds weird. It’s true, though. I am familiar with crying regularly, know what despair is like, and all that jazz.

When Tim got sick, I remember there being a switch to anxiety. I could count on one hand how many times in my life I had experienced an anxiety attack before that day in Roswell when we got the diagnosis. After that, I found myself passing out, nearly passing out, breathing into paper bags, etc.. That hasn’t been the norm over the last couple of years, but lately I’ve been teetering on the edge again.

I have a friend who, well, let’s say his primary emotion is anger. I’ve heard him F-bomb everything and everyone in sight. I’ve watched his face turn red. I’ve worried about him often, wondering if he will have a heart attack before he’s 50. He defends his positions with confidence, but I wonder if his life is any better than mine. I strive to “be the bigger person.” Angry or sad? Neither one seems like a great quality of life.

This week I’ve found myself angry. Instead of responding like I usually do, I’ve been angry. Red-hot angry. Throwing around my own F-bombs. Deciding I don’t need to be so damn forgiving anymore. I don’t want to be bitter or hateful, but do I really need to put myself out like I do? It’s like some magic number got reached inside of me and all my cheeks are used up. I can’t turn the other one anymore.

Before I could even finish writing this blog, I found out my GPS got stolen out of my car last night. I have been locking everything since the money was stolen from my house just two weeks ago. How the car happened to be unlocked I will never know or understand. Can you believe that? The police came right away. I think they are getting used to me by now. The good news is, they already caught the guy. They said it was dumb luck, but they caught him. He went up and down our street and stole a bunch of stuff, including someone’s car. The police came back with my GPS cover. Yep, that’s mine. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find the GPS but they are still looking. Sick feeling, angry beyond belief. The last thing I F$%^&*G need right now is to spend money on another GPS. I’m broke. I signed a statement and you bet your ass I will press charges. Where is the person that would give you my pants if you stole my shirt? She’s left the building.

A couple of days ago, I discovered some people were accusing me of purposefully changing my stepdaughter’s last name in the paper to benefit myself. I couldn’t believe it. First of all, it was a ridiculous thought. It would have served ZERO purpose to do such a thing. But more importantly, I’ve taken crap from these people for 15 years. I’ve done nothing but be the “bigger person.” Decided I’m done. No more. I’ve gotten phone calls from people who will try to make it right again, but I’ve refused to call back. I just don’t have it in me. Too angry. Just too damn pissed off. No more cheeks to turn. The first 40,000 times they insulted me without reason I was forgiving. Can’t do it anymore.

I still cry. I can cry at a mere word. But mostly, I’m just angry. I feel like my chest hurts. Last night I had to call a few friends to talk me down from a full-blown panic attack. I could feel it coming on- like soon I wouldn’t be able to breathe.

I received an email this morning from an old high school friend. He talked about how nice I was all those years ago. I responded with how I am suddenly questioning if it’s been worth it. I’ve hurt people and made mistakes in my life, without a doubt. But mostly, I have been NICE. Not stupid, but nice. Not naive, but nice. (Well, maybe naive sometimes.) I’m not an idiot; I’ve just chosen on purpose to respond with kindness. Where has it gotten me? For years, it was the internal satisfaction of feeling like I’ve done the right thing. Why, all of a sudden, is that not enough anymore?

Anger or sadness? I know they are both part of the human experience, but I don’t like either one of them. I’d like to try happiness on for a change. If anyone knows how to get some of that, let me know. I’d do just about anything to trade in this crap I’m feeling.

I know you probably expect more from me than this. Maybe that other woman will come back soon. But right now, I don’t have anything inspiring to offer. Just pure human nature. At its worst.


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Acceptance

I saw Ellen, my spiritual director, yesterday. Sometimes we have conceptual type conversations. They are intriguing and thought-provoking, but I’m also a nuts and bolts girl so I want to know in the end what it all means in practical terms.

We were talking about pursuing. Pursuing _____ (fill in the blank). Pursing whatever it is you want, desire, are trying to accomplish, etc.. Pursuit requires drive and energy. In and of itself, pursuit is not a negative thing. BUT… what happens when pursuing becomes the end vs. the means to an end? Ellen said sometimes we get stuck in the pursuit. If we pursue something for long enough, we don’t even remember how to actually get there.

The end of pursuit is acceptance. In this context, acceptance is more like receiving. How do I receive what I am looking for? If all of my energy is in the pursuit, where is the energy I need to accept what I’m looking for?

This ties in to being aware of accepting what you already have. Being aware and receiving what is in your grasp, even if it’s not the thing you are or have been pursuing.

I think (and have been affirmed by many over the years), that for the most part, I do a pretty good job with awareness. I don’t usually forget how lucky I am with so much of what I already have at my fingertips. But it can’t hurt to make a more conscious effort, right? Another well-known phrase for this is, having an “attitude of gratitude.”

So I’m taking today’s blog to think about accepting some of the gifts I already have. I’m setting pursuit aside and going into “reception mode.”

I am very grateful for my kids. Frankie gives me gray hair on a daily basis as I worry endlessly about not balancing all the things I need to help him be well-rounded. I want him to be carefree but yet responsible. I just got another email from a teacher again today. He talked about how Frankie is truly one of a kind. He stands out. And he does. And I beam with pride every time I hear it.

My other kids are great too. They are all adults now and starting to raise their own kids. They have all changed and grown so much over the years. I can’t imagine my life without them and my beautiful grandkids.

I am blessed with health. Other than struggling with weight (for my entire life), my aches and pains are pretty minor now that I’ve seen what can really happen to a person’s body. I might complain about my aching muscles, but how lucky am I to have the energy to exhaust myself every day?

Having witnessed for many years how other families interact and operate, I am most grateful for mine. With all our idiosyncracies aside, we love each other and try to do the right thing for each other. When one of us is down and out (and it seems like it’s usually me), we are there for each other.

I am told on a frequent basis that I have an exceptional amount of exceptional friends. I know it is absolutely true. Some of my friends have been around for ages. Some are newer. Some have recently been re-kindled again. I just had visitors today from Chicago that I hadn’t seen in a decade. All of them warm my heart, and on a very, very deep level.

My publishing company rocks. We work our butts off. We haven’t figured out how to make a lick of money, but the three of us all bring unique talents to the table. Our company just wouldn’t work if one of us wasn’t there. We need each other, and we are skilled and gifted. Not everyone gets to say that about their work.

My clients bless me. Honestly, most of the time I feel like I benefit more from knowing them than they do from knowing me. I love when people are trying to make their lives better, their relationships closer, etc.. And I get to be a part of it. Amazing.

So… I publicly declare to put more and more effort into acceptance. Pursuit is not evil, but I promise to put less and less effort into my driven nature and relax more into receiving. Try it, you might like it too. 🙂


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Last Call

This is a follow-up blog to last week’s blog called “Begging.”

The detective came to our house last week. The first thing that happened, was that he saw the family picture of us from Tim’s last Father’s Day (the one on the back of Bitter and Sweet). He immediately recognized Tim and said he went to grammar school with him. I think that has motivated him to try harder than normal to figure our case out.

He has taken DNA samples from Colin and I. He also took samples from the cupboard shelf where the money was stolen from. Horrible circumstances aside, it was kind of cool to watch. He told us we wouldn’t have results by the next commercial, though. 🙂

The plan is to get samples from the people who were at my house that weekend. It’s amazes me what they can find out from a little cotton swab. I believe there will also be a lie detector test available to us if need be.

To my surprise, the detective was quite optimistic about nailing this down. So here is my last appeal. Whoever you are, you still have a little bit of time to come to me and tell me what happened. I won’t press charges and we will figure out where to go from here. If this drags on and the detective has to find you, it won’t be so civil. I have been praying, as have many, many others, that your conscience will nag at you incessantly until you come forward. Trust me, you don’t want to live with this hanging over your head. Do us both a favor and do the right thing. Today.


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Begging

This blog is a little bit different. It has a specific agenda in mind. And it is written to one person. I do not know who that person is. Only that person knows who they are.

If you know me, you know I pride myself in being hospitable. I love having swim parties and campfires. I have them often and everyone knows you can call me and invite yourself over anytime. I’m social, and more than anything I want people to feel comfortable here.

If you know me, you also know I am meticulous about my finances. I think it’s a combination of my father drilling it into my head growing up, and that of having certain times in my life when I was very poor and limited. I’ve learned to be a master of budgeting and living within my means. Comes in handy when I give financial counseling to clients too.

For years, I have used the “envelope system” to budget. It means paying for everything with cash. The concept is, if you don’t have the cash, you don’t buy it. That’s why I have no credit card debt. There are repetitive expenses like groceries and gas, and once a year expenses like snow plough service and season Sabres tickets. It’s worked extremely well. Until this weekend.

Where is all this leading? Somewhere between 8:00 PM on Saturday night and 9:00 PM Monday night, someone stole all of my envelopes, container and all. All of it. Every penny I have for an entire year’s budget. Gone.

Without getting into tedious details, let me just say because of certain factors, it has to be someone who is extremely close to me. They had to know exactly what they were doing. Someone I love dearly, someone I trust. Someone who has broken my heart in two.

When I filed the police report, I had to list everything out. I was shocked at the total. Even I didn’t realize how much it was. Are you ready? FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS. Cash. No way to trace it.

I truly think I would rather have had some street scum break in and take everything. I can’t even fathom that any of the people who were at my house during that time period would do this.

It changes everything. I don’t even need to tell you the financial devastation of an amount like that. I’m a single mother that works four businesses. You guys get that. Without minimizing the impact that has on me and my son, that’s not the most important thing to me.

I don’t even know how to wrap around this. We are keeping our doors locked now. All the time. I don’t know if I can stomach having another swim party. If I do, I will probably keep all the doors locked. I will have to let people in to use the bathroom. How do I trust?

I can’t suspect even one person that has been at my house. And because I can’t, I have no choice but to suspect everyone. That goes against everything inside of me. I don’t want to think like that. I don’t want to live like that. And I certainly don’t want to feel like that.

So this time I am writing to one person. I am writing to whoever you are that took my money. The thing is, I love you. I would have loaned you the money if you needed it. You know I would have. Hell, I would have given it to you if you truly needed it bad enough. Please, just give it back to me. Send it in a box or something. Just give it back. I just want some peace in my heart. I want my heart rate to go back down to normal.

If you come forward, all will be well. The detective comes tomorrow and then everything changes. If the detective finds you, there will be charges to be pressed. Don’t let that happen. I AM BEGGING YOU. Please, please, just make things right again. PLEASE.