Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


1 Comment

More Ally McBeal

I’m starting my last season of Ally McThiel. Oops, I mean McBeal. The second to last season is the one with Robert Downey, Jr.. It’s so sad because the childhood love of her life (Billy) dies, and then she meets Robert Downey, Jr. (Larry) and they seem so perfect for each other. I’ve seen the series before so I knew what was coming.

Larry is planning on proposing to Ally, so he starts acting weird. Ally notices his odd behaviors and thinks it is because Larry is planning his exit. She knows that Larry is scared to death of being close to someone, so she erroneously misreads his intentions. Larry gives the engagement ring to a waiter, who stupidly puts it in the wrong dessert and delivers it to the wrong table. (Just added fun fact: that table is a couple where the guy IS trying to break up with the girl. Big oops on both counts.) Larry decides it’s an omen and then does, indeed, leave Ally.

Now, some may watch the show and criticize Ally for assuming the wrong thing. I don’t criticize her at all. She is astute to know that his behavior is noticeably off. If Larry had the ability to communicate with her, she would not have misread it. And in the end? She was correct. He did leave her. He was unable to sustain intimacy.

In an earlier episode, Ally talks on her birthday about how she has dealt with loneliness as one of her most gut-wrenching struggles throughout her life. She made a statement that struck me as I’ve heard other of my married friends say it before. She said being WITH someone and still being lonely, is much, much worse. It’s a whole other level of lonely.

In discussing the show with someone, I made the comment about Larry’s intolerance of intimacy. That really took my friend by surprise because he had never heard that expression before. Unfortunately, both professionally and personally it is a concept I am quite familiar with. Sometimes, no matter what the heart wants, a person (man or woman) finds they cannot sustain intimacy for long periods of time. You can protect yourself from intimacy in a number of ways.

Probably the easiest is to select partners (usually unconsciously) that also can’t tolerate intimacy. There might be lots of built-in ways to keep enough distance. Maybe it’s a job where you travel a lot. Maybe the person emotionally withdraws. But if you stumble upon a partner that IS capable of intimacy, in spite of thinking you have wanted that your whole life, you may sabotage the relationship because you just can’t sustain the closeness. It triggers too much fear.

Anyhow, I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this (seems to be a theme in my blogs lately) but suffice it to say that even on the second run, I still get Ally McBeal. I get what it means to be in a relationship and still be lonely. I get what it means to taste love and then watch it disappear. I understand her. She’s certainly not perfect, but I understand her sad (yet happy), quirky, clumsy self. I get it in my forties as much as I did in my thirties (or was it my twenties?).

Larry made a big mistake walking away. Just saying.

Advertisements


3 Comments

Simplicity

I’ve been labeled (or accused) of being a drama queen several times throughout my lifetime. Then I met with a spiritual director over a decade ago who helped me understand my personality type. I was able to be less offended by it when I realized that I didn’t LIKE drama. I knew I never liked it, but when you think of a drama queen, you think of someone who craves attention and stirs up shit to get it. When I worked with the director, I came to a very sad and painful realization that I required drama in my life because I felt dead otherwise. Empty. Void of life. It’s like an uber version of no self-worth. So I would/could be attracted to people who were problem-ridden because if I could be Super Woman, then maybe I would have the worth of just an average person. I don’t know if that makes any sense to you, but it is really quite startling. I had to be Hercules, dealing with the toughest of things ever that most people can’t handle, in order to justify taking up human skin. Yikes.

Then another shift happened after my mother died. I really started investing more in my sisters and girlfriends. I have awesome ones, more than most people do. None of the relationships are perfect of course, but overall I am pretty damn fortunate. They get me in ways that are very deep, and it is quite healing to have that in your life. Recently, Summer (who I’ve written about several times) and I were having a conversation about life in general. I’m sure I won’t paraphrase her entirely correctly, but she said some people have messy lives because they make bad choices and then have to live with their chaos. Some people have messy lives because they are dealt a hand that is unavoidable- i.e. born with a disability or disorder of sorts, born in a war-ridden country, etc.. And some people have messy lives because the people around them do crummy things to them and hurt them. She thinks I mostly fall in that last category.

With the therapy and spiritual direction I’ve had, I’ve worked hard on minimizing the drama in my life. I’ve learned that I don’t have to save the world. My friend Mike has been pounding that in my head for the last two years. But I try to balance this without losing my generous and loving heart. I still do things (like educate about death and dying) that many people can’t do. I still do things that are too hard for some people. I am actually proud of that. But I try to keep it more manageable.

I’m trying to keep things simple, that can be kept simple. Because loving people, being present with them, being connected is not always simple or convenient, but it’s what you do when you have compassion. I realize some of the growth that I have made when I’m sometimes around people who don’t often keep things simple. In fact, some folks can take the most simplest of things and make them into complicated conflicts. I have less and less patience for it the older I get because my heart and time are busy dealing with things that really do require my attention. It makes no sense to me, but then when I try to see it from a different perspective, I soften a little. Sometimes, people use all that defensiveness and complicating of things to keep themselves from getting close to others. If true love and intimacy frightens you, you will take even the most smallest of things and create a barrier out of them so you can protect yourself. It’s kind of tragic really, if you push people away that are actually safe for you.

Anyhow, I’m being long-winded again. Point is, I will take my punches when I deserve them. When I get too complicated or too drama-ish, I will look inside and adjust myself as necessary. But when I am absolutely not being any of those things, and it is probably being projected on me, I know the difference now. I don’t take those punches or accusations when I don’t deserve them. And I will pull away from interactions that are toxic. Even if they fall in that category of wanting to protect themselves, it is not my place to take punches that aren’t warranted.

One of Freud’s most famous sayings is, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Simplicity. It’s a good thing. And I will seek it out when the important things in life really are complicated and tearing at your heart. I may be slow to learn, but I think I’m heading in the right direction!


2 Comments

Patience

Patience is a virtue. Not sure who came up with that. Google has a variety of explanations offered as to where the phrase originated. I’ve certainly heard it all my life. And most of my adult life I have possessed the self-awareness to know that patience is definitely not one of my better virtues. My passion is often at odds with my patience. True to my nature though, I try to remember that and keep my patience in check when life calls on me to do so.

If you follow my blog, you have probably read a thousand times that I believe everything in life has a plus and a minus, a loss and a gain. Everything. It may not be equal 50/50, but there is an element of both sides. Yes, patience is an admirable quality, but I have also sometimes seen the essence of what it is supposed to be misused. Not everything requires patience. Sometimes asking people to have patience is a fancy excuse for bad behavior.

I took the plunge a couple of months ago (after a two-year break) and attempted to be in a relationship again. The ironic thing, was that we both stated several million times how we both hoped at our ages to not have another failed relationship under our belts. Sometimes hoping just isn’t enough.

We had several conversations about time. I guess when you think about it, time is related to patience. When is the right time for this or that? When is something too early? Or premature? As a relationship counselor, I get asked some of those questions frequently. I’ve watched many friends navigate questions like this while dating. And as a divorced woman, then as a widow, I’ve certainly had my own share of personal experiences to draw from. Like most things in my life, the older I get, I find there are less and less formulas and “right” answers to draw from. People live their lives in various ways. I’ve blogged about that before. The raw truth is, most relationships end. Most people don’t marry the first person they date. Lots of daters stop before they make a permanent commitment. Eventually, some find the person they want to “spend the rest of their life with.” So it’s impossible to decide what is the “right formula” to make a relationship work. Countless numbers of people approach time and pace differently. The statistics are the same for however people approach time in their relationship. Most of them end, some eventually find their lifetime significant other.

Wow, I can really go off on a tangent sometimes. I think that is relevant, but not the point I was making.

It’s my opinion (professionally and personally) that while there are some things we need to make allowances for (absolutely NO ONE is perfect!) and while there are some things that have to be developed over time between two people, there are also things that should be in place before a person really should be in the relationship at all. Asking a person to “be patient” for things most would consider to be just common respect or basic manners, does not seem appropriate to me. That’s not about patience at all.

Expectations becomes a dirty word in psychology sometimes, but I really have rejected that in my own life and in my practice. To me, expectations are part of the human condition. No one is truly capable of being void of expectations. The more healthy question is, are my expectations reasonable? Fair? And again, sometimes the answer to that question can change based on how long the relationship has been existent. And again, sometimes the length of time is irrelevant. Some expectations are reasonable with a total stranger, so how much more reasonable for someone you actually care for?

Anyhow, I don’t really have an end point to this, or a funny story to make you chuckle like I like to do. It’s just some thoughts I’ve been giving a lot of time to lately. In my eyes. From the world according to Darcy. Fortunately though, I’m actually kinda smart about this stuff. Really 🙂


6 Comments

Intensity

There are some things I’ve heard on and off for most of my life- from family, friends, males, females, etc.. I am pretty good for the most part at accepting the reality of who I am- the good and the bad. But even when you have accepted certain things, there are still times when you heave a heavy sigh because you get tired of the same ‘ol, same ‘ol. Here we go again.

What kinds of things am I referring to? Well, let me see. I am intense. I have a very complicated life. I have a very busy life. There is a fair amount of stress in my life. I’ve made very noticeable changes in my life and things are much more manageable than they used to be. But life is dynamic and sometimes you are caught in a whirlwind for a while again because life isn’t always conveniently packaged the way we would like it to be. And even when I am managing and juggling things ok, my life can be overwhelming for OTHER people. I get it. I truly do. But I also want to say, if it sounds overwhelming to you, how do you think it feels for me?

I’m resourceful and capable. I have surrounded myself with amazing family and friends that I can count on. I’m not alone in that sense. Nevertheless, life is full of challenges.

When new people come along, it seems to me like they have a few options with how to incorporate me into their life. After the initial honeymoon period of a new friendship or relationship, you get to know each other on deeper levels. (True of romantic relationships, or any other type of friendship as well.)

Here’s how I see it, written from the other person’s perspective.

Option 1: My life is far less complicated. I like it that way. I like you. I care about you. But I do not want a steady diet of the complicated life that you seem to live. It just isn’t a good fit for me.

Response: I get it. I truly do. Having learned to relax and slow down more, I understand these kinds of people much better than I used to. No matter how much you like someone, sometimes it’s just not a good fit. My lifestyle is not meant for everyone. It just isn’t.

Option 2: My life is less complicated. I like you. But I’m a bit overwhelmed with all you are juggling. I think I need to get to know you at a much slower level. Maybe we can talk just a bit about one or two aspects of your life, but let me slowly digest those and save the rest for later.

Response: I get it. It is harder for me to do, but I can do it when I am aware that I need to. I have tons of support in my life and there is plenty of stories in my life to go around (lol). My tolerance level for my own stuff as well as most people around me (personally and professionally) is extraordinarily high. So I just need to be intentional about holding back because most people aren’t like me. There is some risk involved because that other person may never be able to fully engage with me. But if there appears to be potential, then it’s worth the risk.

Option 3: I’m in. I hear about what you do every day and I am amazed. I see your strength. I can’t help with all you are dealing with, but I can listen and I can admire your tenacity. I get that your intensity is high because your love for people is high. I see you are committed to your family and friends with all your heart. You try to be balanced, but your highest value is other human souls. And sometimes that can be demanding. But overall? I recognize that means you will also value and be committed to me. You will be there in my time of need. You will care deeply and I will be a better human being for it.

Response: Phew. That’s my dream. I’ve never experienced it yet, but I secretly hope that someday I will. My virtues are also my vices. But honestly? I’m proud of my values. I’m pleased that I don’t take the easy way out, even though it might make my life less stressful and complicated. Some days, I get great feedback. Some days, I have to give it to myself. You know what Darcy, you are a good daughter. A good mother. A good step mother. A good grandma. A good sister. A good friend. I sure as hell am not perfect. I sure as hell take on too much sometimes. But I’d rather err on the side of loving too much than turning my back on what I know needs to be done.

Summary? Option one doesn’t work. Option two is workable. Option three is a pipe dream. Probably most of my energy in my life will have to focus on option two. And that’s ok.

That old girl scout song comes to mind. “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” I am an incredibly lucky and blessed woman in that I have some very long time friends and family in my life that get me. My therapist has been in my life for over 15 years and he is one of my biggest cheerleaders. And yes, I am even learning how to support myself. I’m not perfect, but I love hard and I work on myself every day.

That’s a pretty good life!


2 Comments

Drama Free

I have said before that as an author/writer, I have really grown to appreciate those that can write fiction. I can really only write about things that happen in my life. I have no idea how people make up characters and plots from their imaginations. When I have something on my heart, I can whip up a blog in a very short time. It usually just flows easily for me.

Because of my personality type, I am also drawn to the melancholy. That is why I could write a book about death/dying and then grief/loss. Sure, I added humor and hope to it. That is also my personality. But let’s face it, the topic falls on the sad side of the spectrum.

Lately, I have been experiencing a lot less drama than I usually do. Drama free is a bit misleading, because I don’t think life is ever completely free from it. But I have certainly decreased my daily intake of it. Now, of course that is a very positive thing that I am extremely grateful for. However, everything in life has its loss and its gains, no matter what. The downside for me, is that I find it harder to write on Thursdays. When I don’t have any gut wrenching things going on, the writing doesn’t flow very easily. In fact, I sit and stare at a blank screen for a while.

I asked Frankie what I should write about and he said he had no idea. I told him to try and he said he can’t because he doesn’t care about my blog. Then he blabbered off something about how he’s just being honest and honesty is the best policy. Damn teenagers.

There has been plenty of changes and stresses around lately, but it hasn’t really been mine. I’m totally involved, but it doesn’t belong to me. Big difference. We have been helping my dad clean his house out (simplify things), work on his finances, and discussing the possibility of moving to an apartment. I come home from his house with tons of things to do, both physically and mentally. My sister is moving south so she is packing, selling things, and making all kinds of preparations for a very big anticipated change as well. I try to help when I can and be as creative as I can about how to do that.

I’ve been super busy. And sometimes I get stressed out. But overall? Not much drama.

I feel like my blogs have been pretty un-inspiring lately. I am grateful to all you faithful readers who read them anyway. And for those of you who know and love me personally, you can actually be happy that I am writing boring stuff, because it’s the heartache that usually inspires me. So stretch yourself and be glad for blah reading, cause it means I am in a shortage of drama to write about. I like it!