Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


3 Comments

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:

11745754_1140922459257292_8337838804229008389_n

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!


1 Comment

Common Denominators

I recently restarted work with my very first spiritual director. She was my minister before that. We parted ways for a while and then I bumped into her and got thinking about her. She pushes me hard. Sometimes too hard. But the most growth and changes in my life happened when I worked with her. And because I’m tired of my own broken record, I sought her out.

We just got started yesterday. We were looking for the common denominators- i.e. overall patterns that tend to repeat themselves in my life. In other words, I started out with the question, “Why does this keep happening in my life?” Somewhere in the later part of the session, an important shift occurred. I realized that wasn’t the right question. I basically know WHY it keeps happening. What I really want to know is what the hell am I supposed to do about it?

In other words, if I try to change the parts of me that bring some of these things on, I will have two problems. One, is that some things are so ingrained in me, I might as well stop breathing than to try to change it. Secondly, some of those things are good. They can be problematic, but they are part of the things that ultimately I am proud of. They set me apart in some ways.

I could write a whole other book on this topic, but I will pick one small example which isn’t so loaded. One of my gifts and curses (at the same time) is that I can almost immediately walk into a situation and see what needs to be changed or improved. I know how to wait for opportune times, be tactful, and balance it all with love. But I don’t give up easily and will take it to the next level if I think it’s important enough. This is where my SD says I get into trouble. People get triangulated and the drama kicks in.

My small example is this. I am starting my second college semester as a professor. One of my students pointed out that the syllabus said one thing, and the handbook said another. I had caught several of these errors the first semester and they were corrected. But this one was missed. I clarified the information with her, but here is where I take it to the next level. I contacted the main office and let them know. I’m sure students think I write my own syllabus, but school has changed a lot since I attended. The syllabus is written by the department, which makes its decisions based on state licensing requirements. I contacted the right person and they said they would work on the correction.

I hear a lot of feedback about how other supervisors don’t catch things or point them out and they appreciate my taking the time to do so, which makes the program stronger in the long run. Now don’t misunderstand me. I do not think there is anything wrong with the other supervisors. Absolutely not. I think they probably clarify with the students and then leave it at that. But without even thinking about it, I go to the next level and try to make it right and improve the future.

Sounds good, right?

But here’s the pattern. Eventually, people don’t want to hear what is missing anymore. At some point, the game becomes shoot the messenger. I become the annoyance rather than the help. And I hate it. Because my heart is in the right place. I’m not trying to be arrogant. I don’t think I know everything. I’m not trying to put anyone down. I just put the extra effort in to make things better for the future.

Anyhow, I’m just starting down this new self-improvement road with my SD. I know it is going to be really, really tough. But I really don’t know how to appreciate my strengths and honor them, without going up in flames later down the road. Until I figure that out, no more new ventures for me. No church for sure. I can’t sustain any more loss right now so I need to figure it out. So pray for me, and really, really beg God to guide my SD cause she has her hands full…lol.


6 Comments

Frustrations

I had lunch with a friend today who said sometimes she doesn’t want to read my blogs because they make her sad. It’s a Catch-22 because she knows I speak the truth about my life and wants to know what is going on, so what to do? I really do try to develop positive mindsets, but I guess the blog-worthy stuff tends to be the more difficult things…

I don’t have a great topic today. I have spent the last 24 hours dealing with cell phones. Mine hasn’t worked properly since January. When I say that, I mean it totally stops making phone calls or sending texts. It’s as useful as a paperweight. My dad was eligible this week for an upgrade.

I know I have mentioned before that the age of consumers is close to dead. I’m an intelligent woman with four businesses and a Master’s Degree. Yet I think you need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the hell is even going on nowadays.

First, let me say that seeing a Verizon logo on a store does not mean that the store is a corporate store. That is the first thing you need to know. How do you tell the difference? The only way I can tell is to call the Verizon number and ask. An authorized Verizon retail store is still not the same as corporate. They don’t have the same information and services, but they certainly want you to think they are all alike.

For example, yesterday I took Dad in. He wants a simple phone. No touch screen. No internet. Eligible for an upgrade. I ended up paying $108 for the phone, and will pay a $40 upgrade fee on my bill as well. They make it sound great because you get a $50 rebate eventually. I still thought it seemed like a lot considering it is only a basic phone and he was entitled to an upgrade.

This morning I called Verizon because I was having problems with his texting. In that call, the wonderful woman on the other end said she noticed I’ve been a Verizon customer for over 15 years. What do I think of them? I told her I was trapped. Verizon has the best actual phone service out there. But their customer service has sucked the last few years. After we talked for a few minutes, I was already in my car driving back to the store before I got off the phone with her.

Turns out my dad’s phone should have only cost 99 cents. Yes, you read that correctly. If I wanted to buy the phone outright, it costs $89. That joker told me yesterday if I bought the phone it would cost $349.

I could go on and on and on with all the explanations and excuses and reasons I’ve been given today. In the end, I don’t care. I understand businesses have to make a profit, but PLEASE. This was ludicrous.

Literally four hours later, Dad and I both have new phones and paid reasonable amounts after going to a CORPORATE store. But now I’m back in idiot mode. I couldn’t even figure out how to answer the damn thing. I have a long list of questions that I have to figure out. I’m sure I will spend many more hours on the phone and computer trying to set up the phone and use it properly.

On a good note, while I was blogging, the woman I spoke with on the phone actually called me back to see how things worked out. She gave me her email address to contact her, and has set up follow-up appointments to check in with me. I told her she gets a special paragraph in the blog 🙂  So customer service isn’t dead, but it is barely breathing. It is now 5:15 and I’m well aware that I have lost another almost entire business day just trying to get things to work that are supposed to work.

Yikes. Sigh. Eye roll.

Tomorrow is another day.


1 Comment

Engaging in Life

Sometimes engaging life means being willing to engage in pain and loss. If you are going to be genuinely connected to others, that is going to mean being willing to face their difficult challenges as well.

I’m sure that life is full of happiness and wonder and surprises and goodness. And sometimes life just seems full of unfairness, injustice, inequity, suffering and agony.

A dear person in my life went through a difficult miscarriage. Then she went through a year of difficult infertility. Then she finally got pregnant with twins. Her pregnancy was turning out to be quite difficult with incredible sickness. There were days she wanted to rip her hair out but then she would tell herself with every vomiting spell that the babies were alive and well.

And then she delivered twin sons at 16 weeks and lost them both. She and her husband were able to hold them, name them, cry with them, and say goodbye to their sweet babies. Talk about gut wrenching loss.

An older friend of mine was in tears on the phone yesterday as she talked about two of her grandchildren getting a life education about loss at their young ages. Her 15-year-old grandson lost a friend and teammate when he went on a hike with his family and fell to his death heading to the Eternal Flame. Her nine-year-old granddaughter lost a dear friend who was driving with her family and was hit by a drunk driver. Stories aren’t matching up. He may not have been drunk but on some kind of medication. Either way, he is in jail, and the family weeps over their loss. And young kids try to make sense of loss the same way my Frankie did when he was eight and his father died.

Cripes.

I had a quiet night with a couple of friends sitting by a fire. I commented that I love fires, and I’m having one in my beautiful yard outside of my beautiful house. I was sitting with friends. So why the heck aren’t I happy? I get so terribly frustrated with myself that I can’t be happy, content, or whatever. I just feel empty most of the time. And angry more and more often. One of the people sitting with me is a neighbor who I haven’t seen in quite a while. She has buried TWO husbands in her lifetime. She told me again, that in her experience and her reading, her guess is that it takes about ten years after you lose a spouse to really, truly feel like you are living again.

Cripes.

I told her we are approaching five years. When I talk to others about grief and loss, I always preach about there not being any time tables. That everyone is different. You know the drill. But when it comes to myself, I think that five years sounds like an eternity. Every year that passes I think I should be further along than I am.

I guess partly it is hard for me because it doesn’t always feel directly related to my loss. It often feels connected to being alone, but sometimes it’s not even that. But what other reason do I have to feel so lost and angry and empty and unhappy and unfulfilled and cranky?

I will keep being there to be a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, and I will even weep with others. I’m not afraid of anyone’s pain or suffering. I just wish there were more moments of the other end of the spectrum to balance things out more often.

Maybe tomorrow.


3 Comments

Pharisees and Gay Marriage

It’s Thursday. I’m not into choosing controversial topics to blog about, but this seems to be a theme I keep bumping into. My writing mind won’t let me go anywhere else. My point today, is not to make a definitive opinion on the topic, but to talk about talking about it.

Two weeks ago, I resigned from my church and the worship band. There has been a lot of things that have gone wrong over the last two years, but there was finally the straw that broke the camel’s back. I walked into a conversation in progress. Twenty something year old was discussing his confusion and struggle with the concept that God disapproves of gay love. It feels wrong to him, goes against his instinct. But he has been told that the Bible clearly is a thumbs down, and if you can’t take some of the Bible, well then you have to chuck the whole concept.

Enter forty something year old who has studied a little bit on his own. For me, these are the people who I find most difficult to deal with. A little bit of knowledge can be a very dangerous thing. He started spouting off a bunch of canned clichés (in my opinion) that I heard twenty years ago. I could give the arguments he was giving almost verbatim. I listened patiently for a few and then tried to enter in.

My point was not to say homosexuality was right or wrong. I try to respect the fact that I was attending a very conservative church and it isn’t my place to contradict their views. But if I can tactfully open their minds a smidge, that could be a very good thing. I suggested that perhaps there are other options besides the black and white ones. Perhaps it’s not just right or wrong, perhaps you can struggle with the Bible without chucking it or swallowing everything at surface value. He said, “But that’s what I’ve been told to believe,” and I suggested to him to never let anyone TELL him what to believe. He should always keep wondering, thinking, sorting it out.

But I couldn’t make my point. Young guy has ADHD so he interrupts by nature. Older guy interrupts because he’s a fundamentalist and can’t listen. I finally got angry and lost my composure. I said that my frustration with talking to people with that mindset is that you actually can’t talk to them. I told him he was talking AT me, not TO me. I didn’t appreciate his interrupting and the way he wasn’t even listening to WHAT I was saying. He was too busy spouting out his position. He then made the mistake of suggesting that I should try reading the Scriptures. I promptly reminded him that I went to a Bible college and formally studied the Bible for three solid years in a scholarly institution.

Upon hearing that I resigned, his comment to the group was, “well, it wasn’t my fault.” Nice. Kinda missed the point of what biblical knowledge is supposed to be all about. LOVE.

The next week we attended another conservative church for a family baby dedication. This one had a drawn out section of time dedicated to praying for our decaying society and the atrocity of legalized gay marriage. I actually got up and left the room for a while. It literally made my stomach hurt to hear it. On the way home, I asked Frankie (age 12) what he thought. He said that if there was a kid in the church who is gay, he would probably go home and commit suicide after that. I had to agree. Again, the church missed the point.

There are plenty of godly men and women who are much smarter than I that can make a case for biblical disapproval of homosexuality. But there are an equal number of brilliant and godly men and women that can make a compelling case for the opposite view.

My point is this. If you read the gospels and follow the life of Christ while He walked the earth, one thing is very, very clear. The only people He came down on- and came down hard- were the Pharisees. Who were the Pharisees? The religious leaders of the day. The holier than thou people. The most “godly” people of the day. Christ ripped them up and down on several occasions for missing the entire point of Christianity.

One of the most famous stories in the New Testament is when the woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus and the religious leaders. ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE, she should have been stoned to death. Jesus told them, “He who has no sin should cast the first stone.” And what happened? Everyone left. Jesus, the only perfect human, the only one with a right to condemn her, said He would not condemn her. He did tell her to sin no more, but He did not condemn her.

Over and over, Jesus made the point that the religious leaders were using Scripture for the wrong purpose. The bottom line is, until you are perfect, focus on yourself. Worry about yourself. And ain’t no one ever gonna be perfect, so the point is, back off. Get the log out of your own eye. The Bible is not meant to be a hammer.

GOD IS LOVE, FORGIVENESS, GENEROSITY, CARING, and any other love-filled word you can think of. I know I’m being judgmental myself, but I think there are plenty of religious people today that remind me of the Pharisees of old. And I think Christ would be equally as unhappy with them as He was 2000 years ago.

It doesn’t matter what you think about gay marriage. Work on being the best person you can be. Focus on improving your own life. Let other people figure out their own relationship to God and each other. And for God’s sake, if you don’t believe that and find yourself talking about it with others, at least have a little grace and tact. You might do more harm for the kingdom than you will be helping it.