Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief

Fence Posts


If you read my first book Bitter and Sweet, you might remember reading about the day a small army of men came and put up a large section of privacy fence for us. Tim’s bucket list was small and simple. He wanted to finish our pool remodeling and that included the required fence. Tim had put fencing up all over our property throughout the years. He just didn’t have the strength or stamina to finish it that summer.

It was a great story. It was a 90 degree blazing hot day, and those men put in over eight hours. We’ve included some of the footage in the second book trailer too. It’s a great human interest story.

Fast forward to our crummy, never-ending winter, four years later. Our house took a hit, like many, many others in the area. One of the items? That fence.

Turns out, those well-meaning men didn’t put the fence in correctly. You have to dig the posts a foot below frost line. They were not deep enough. To add to things, this winter the frost line was a foot lower than normal. Double whammy. Third strike? Last summer I purchased white marble rocks to put between the concrete and the fence because the weeds were so out of control. The weight of the rocks was making the fence panels bow in the middle. Without the first two conditions, it probably wouldn’t have been an issue. All three together? Well, let’s just say I had to pay a pretty penny to get 21 posts redone.

Doesn’t change the hearts of those guys who helped us while Tim was sick. They were awesome. But I have to admit, it does put a little damper on the amazing story. Makes me chuckle a little, though. Bitter and sweet.

I did discover one good thing that came from it. I was in session with a couple the other day and it made for an awesome analogy. This guy is approaching his first year of sobriety. Unfortunately, being clean has been less than pleasant for him. He’s been really struggling with finding a reason to keep going. We were discussing the whole alcoholism is a disease debate, and is there a genetic link? Well, he decided that he wasn’t fond of the concept. Makes him feel like he’s a hopeless case then. Why try?

The fence story hit me and I shared it with them. I have no idea if there is a genetic link to alcoholism. I’m not an addictions counselor and it’s not my area of expertise. There are compelling arguments for both sides. But I decided that if there is a “gene,” or at the least a “genetic history,” it is kind of liking having fence posts that aren’t dug deep enough. It’s not “right,” but does that matter? Those fence posts might have never come up. But start with the faulty foundation, add a bad winter, then pile on the rocks. Boom. Now the fence structure is no longer stable and a couple grand later, it needs to be repaired.

Hopeless? Absolutely not. But if you have a family history of alcoholism, then you add some life trauma, sprinkled with years of coping with it by drinking, wa-la! Addiction.

As I’m writing this, it is hard to capture the nuance. But when it was coming to me in session, it felt very powerful. Like I really got it. I think (and certainly hope!) it had an impact on the clients. At least they said it made sense to them.

A lot of times I’m ticked at the “universe” for some of the crap. But this time, the timing of it was perfect. The analogy became something good that came from a costly construction error. I can genuinely say, “thanks”!


Author: helpforhealing

Darcy Thiel, MA is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in NY State. She earned her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. Ms. Thiel has been a couple and family therapist in West Seneca, New York since the mid-1990’s was formerly an adjunct professor at Medaille College in Buffalo, NY. She is also an accomplished speaker and presenter on various topics throughout the Western NY area. She is the proud author of Bitter and Sweet: A Family’s Journey with Cancer, the prequel to Life After Death, on This Side of Heaven. To learn more about Ms. Thiel and other exciting books from Baby Coop Publishing, LLC, visit her website at or Copyright Help for Healing by Darcy Thiel © 2012-2018. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “Fence Posts

  1. Real life is always more interesting & complex than fiction…but everything happens for a reason…at the right time. Sorry about the fence – but love the story & how you used it with clients…giving hope & comfort at the same time!

  2. Sorry to hear about the fence; love the analogy. Hope your foot is feeling better! 💕

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