Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Love

“I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
But you won’t, no you won’t
‘Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t”

That is a song by Bonnie Raitt and I realized it was my life song several years ago. It is one of the first songs I ever learned at Karaoke. It is written in the context of a lover, but I identify with it on many levels of relationships. I have spent much too much of my lifetime trying to get people to care about me that don’t, then more time mourning because I’m not loved the way I had hoped to be.

My dad is a stoic German. He isn’t comfortable saying I love you. My sister was always able to be satisfied knowing that he loves us. He is kind, generous, predictable, stable and a provider and so on. But I always wanted (and still do) him to say it as well.

Then I got married in my early twenties. After my husband became an atheist, he also no longer believed in marriage or romance. He told me repeatedly that he had never loved me. He tricked himself into believing in love because he wanted to have sex. We were Christians and believed in waiting for marriage. Therefore, he tried to tell himself he loved me in order to relieve his sexual urges. When I would show him the box of letters he wrote me during our engagement, (one a day, sometimes two a day) he dismissed them as lies.

I dated a guy after Tim died that I thought was a real possibility of being someone I could stay with. He went to karaoke with me and heard me sing my Bonnie Raitt song. When I came back to my seat, he whispered in my ear, “You will never have to sing that song again. You need a new life song now.” My heart soared at the thought. About three weeks later, he left Frankie and I without any explanation or closure.

Later, I dated a guy on/off for about three years. Every couple of months he felt the need to remind me that I loved him more than he loved me, that he didn’t want anything permanent in our future. I didn’t either, but for some reason it had to come up over and over.

Now I have a teenager who I tell I love every few days and I get no response or an “ok” for an answer. Where did that come from? He grew up in a home that has love expressed consistently. Yeah, I know. Normal teenage stuff.

I have a guy friend who doesn’t say I love you to a girlfriend until he is ready to ask her to marry him. Two and a half years of dating but they don’t exchange that phrase.

I have a girl friend who doesn’t think much of saying it at all. Her response is, “Don’t say it, show it.”

Everyone has different perspectives I guess.

The New Testament was written in the Greek language. There are at least three different words for “love” depending on the nuance of the word. That is part of the problem. We only have one word that I know of. It is an incredibly complex subject (love) with millions of meanings, but it is a wonderful thing.

When I say, “I love you,” to someone I met recently but “fell head over heals” for, it means something different from when I feel love for them six months later. It means something different twenty years later. And if I whisper it on someone’s death-bed, it means something different. But it is all love. All of it.

Then there is love as an action or choice. Sometimes we love someone even if we don’t like them very much at the moment. We choose to behave in a loving way because that is just what is needed.

Here is another theme song for me.

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.”

Written by Hal David. Yep, that is also the damn story of my life. I tell all my friends and family, 90% of the time, that I love them. At the end of every phone call. I guess when you have lost lots of people (and some very suddenly) you are very aware how important it is. Sure, I understand that it can become meaningless if it is overused. But can you overuse love?

This is my heartbeat, the core of who I am. But my experience has been the first song. Just the way it is. I am going to keep trying to love, in whatever form it is, no matter the response I get back from the world. It gets really, really hard sometimes, but I am going to try.

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Louis C.K.

I’ve been introduced to a comedian recently, Louis C.K.. He really made an impression because he talked about things that you can actually relate to. He references a thing he calls “white people problems” which I had previously heard referred to as “first world problems.” The idea is the same. The things we complain about in our privileged society are really quite spoiled and ridiculous when you stop and think about them.

I know he made an impression because as I am facing things in day to day life, I often catch myself and say “white/first world people problems” which makes me laugh under the anger and diffuse it a bit. Patience has never been one of my strong suits anyway, so anything I can do to increase my tolerance is a good thing.

Tim Horton’s has been trying my patience lately, although I also have laughed so hard at the stupidity of it, that it has also brought me great joy. When I laugh that hard, I always, always remember my mom because she could make me laugh like no one else can.

There is a billboard off the 190 – yes, a literal billboard – that advertises their $1 frozen drink specials. There are four pictures on it with two lemonade flavors and two iced tea flavors. I confess that once I drove through Dunkin’ Donuts and asked for their dollar special and they politely informed me they have $2 Coolatas instead. Took me a minute, but I eventually drove my embarrassed self off and chuckled at my senior moment.

The other night I went to Tim Horton’s. I was sure it was Tim Horton’s because I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. In fact, it was late and I drove up next to the mighty large sign and read it again under the massive street light. Unfortunately, the lone man that works that at night had no idea what I was talking about. After a prolonged silence over the speaker, I noticed in my mirror that he had walked out, headset on and all, into the middle of the parking lot to read the massive sign up close. I was almost wetting my pants laughing so hard.

After a few more minutes of silence, I finally spoke out. I told him I had witnessed him walking out to the parking lot so he had to admit I was not out of my mind. He still had no idea how to help me. The computer was ringing up $1.51 and that was all there was to it. He just kept repeating the price. Finally, I said I would pay it or else face the consequences of dying of thirst right there at 11:30 pm in the drive-through lane of a cafe.

The next day, I thought it was worth a trip back to speak to a manager. After I explained everything, she finally went to the register and said, “Oh, I see what happened. Iced tea is no longer on sale. It is only lemonade.” I politely walked over to the very, very large sign on the window in front of her and pointed to the two large cups of iced tea on sale. I thought maybe the visual would help her to comprehend the situation. She then said it must be a corporate problem. I politely told her that if they advertise something (especially so prominently, right?) they are really obligated (perhaps legally) to provide that something for the price advertised.

She agreed and thanked me for not yelling at her like most people do when they have a complaint. She also thanked me for bringing this problem to her attention. I paused for a few seconds, thinking she might want to actually show her appreciation by offering me a free iced tea. Maybe she would at least offer me the fifty cents I overpaid the night before. Nothing. Blank look.

Sigh.

There were a few more details that made it funnier than the writing I just did. But seriously, really? It is kind of ridiculous that this required the level of explanation it did to more than one level of employee. Then I remember Louis C.K. and I have to laugh again. This is a tiny blip on the screen of life when it comes to importance. Maybe even smaller than a blip.

Thanks Louis!


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Self-Reflection

Recently, someone told me that I don’t seem to do as much reflecting on myself as I do criticizing others.  For those of you that have known me for several years, I’m guessing you are as surprised to hear that as I am.  I suppose I know a few individuals who interrogate themselves as much as I do, but I honestly don’t think I have ever met anyone who is harder on themselves than I am.

So how would an intelligent person make that observation?

You will find this shocking, but of course this has sent me on a deep dive into the inner recesses of myself in all of its glory and ugliness. It has caused a wide divide in my heart. Part of me wants to lash out angrily and say, “Stop it! You have spent years learning how to be confident in your intuitions. Your therapist (Scott) has literally spent over 16 years getting you to believe your judgements. And he has met many of my peeps personally. Dear Darren has spent the last couple of years convincing you that you are full of love and light, more than you had allowed yourself to believe. You are not perfect, but you do some things extremely well.”

The other side of the divide, is frankly the side that I have spent most of my life on. It’s much more familiar to me, and therefore much more comfortable. It is the part of me that I understand and yet is completely an unknown to me at the same time. It is the part that I mostly loathe. It is the part that makes me second guess every thought that comes into my head. It is a torturous part. And it is fully awakened now.

Even if it is true that I can be accurate often in my assessment of my self and others, what right does that give me to say any of it out loud? Just because I am capable of judging fairly, should I not be trying to curb the human urge to judge at all?

More troubling still, are the times that I find (always in hindsight) that I have overwhelmed someone or scared them with my intensity. I have no idea how I do it, which makes it almost impossible to control. I remember back in graduate school when a classmate sought me out to get me know me better and then I had to listen to her in group therapy talking about how I swallowed her up. All I had done was respond back to her letters she sent me. I don’t really understand it anymore now 20+ years later than I did back then. Seemed unfair to me, but nevertheless, that is how she felt.

There really isn’t any particular point to this blog. Just blabbing about what is going on in my cluttered, troubled head and heart. It’s not so pretty right now. I’m trying to fairly self-reflect without falling down the bitter rabbit hole of depression. It’s good for me to examine myself because I’m far from perfect. But cross your fingers and say some prayers that something positive and productive comes from it, rather than just useless self-loathing.


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Weight Management

If you’ve known me for a while, you know I’ve struggled with my weight most of my life. I look back now at pictures when I was younger and I think, what was I worried about back then for? The last decade or so, I’ve figured out what the biggest problem actually is. Sugar addiction. Really bad sugar addiction.

Once in my life, I met with a dietician and actually lost 25 pounds. First and last time I ever really had a big success to brag about. Since then, it’s just been that roller coaster thing.

I know when I’ve lost control again. The clue is when you are at your friend’s party and her aunt is waiting in line for the bathroom with you and asks you if this is your first pregnancy. I used to have a rule where anytime I am asked that, I have to get rid of the outfit I was wearing. After all, it must not flatter me, right? That rule didn’t last long when I didn’t have any clothes left. Luckily, that night I was with my super great boyfriend. He told me that in a few hours when we were alone, he would be able to reassure me that I was very attractive. We spent the night joking about “the baby being hungry” and other such lines to make a joke out of it.

The next weekend we were out late and ended up ordering dinner about 11 pm. I ate an entire fish fry and then was still a bit hungry. I joked about the baby being hungry again and I watched his face turn white. He stuttered, “Are you trying to tell me something?” and then I reminded him of the joke. It was hilarious. For me, that is. Poor guy.

Today I was with my dad and sister at the doctor’s. I offered to help this sweet elderly lady ride up the elevator. She didn’t want to go by herself. I was feeling pretty good about myself because she and the staff thought I was so sweet. After the doors closed, she looked at me in her kind voice and asked, “How many months are you?”  Sigh. Definitely time to concentrate on losing weight.

We went out to lunch after the doctor’s. Old Country Buffet. Gorge festival. You know the kind of places. You eat  until it is painful. My favorites filled my plate (more than once). Carb city. Mashed potatoes, french fries, rolls, mac and cheese.

I WILL concentrate on being more healthy.

Tomorrow I guess.