Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Waiting

I’m not exactly a patient person. I hate waiting. Lately, my days have gotten cluttered and even chaotic at times. I feel the tension in my neck and shoulders. Lots of things aren’t in my control and I have to wait for others. I can literally feel the nervous energy waiting creates in me.

The weather has been all over the place and that doesn’t help either. A lot of the things that I am waiting for relate to assistance with my house. And those depend on the weather. I can’t plan anything because I never know who is coming when. For example, at the moment, I am waiting for my college student that does weeding/mulching and she is waiting for it not to rain. I am waiting for the concrete guy to come and stain my patio and seal it. He is waiting for a break in his work schedule and then it needs to not be raining at the same time.

I am waiting for the plumbing supplier to bring me some parts, and he is waiting for the parts to get shipped. I am waiting for a pool guy because the vacuum isn’t working so we can’t get the pool clean, and he is waiting for a second in his schedule and for the rain to stop at the same time. I am waiting for two able-bodied men who are cutting up an entire tree that was taken down, but they need time and no rain. On and on and on. I’m tired of listing all of it so I will spare you the rest.

But my friend has another kind of waiting. So much harder, so un-imaginable. Her 21-year-old son had a stroke during a brain procedure. There is nothing to do but wait. Wait to see how bad the damage is. Wait and see how much recovery there will be. And the nature of strokes? Well, from what I understand there is no rhyme or reason. Could take days, months, years. Things can shift anytime. Or maybe they won’t. I can’t even fathom what that kind of waiting must be like.

My clients have another kind of waiting. After years of dealing with infertility, they are waiting to see if they are getting a baby they want to adopt. The birth mom has five to seven sets of parents to choose from. Wish I could talk to her. I would tell her how amazing this couple is and what a lucky baby she would be to have them for parents. They can’t do anything but wait for the phone to ring. Fulfill a lifelong dream? Another heartbreak?

All waiting is not created equal, that’s for sure. I do know that myself, and the people I have mentioned have loads of people who love and support us. I know you all send positive energy and heartfelt prayers for whatever is going on.  Tom Petty comes to mind, “the waiting is the hardest part.”

Well, I’m not sure if it is actually the hardest part, but it sure as hell is hard.


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Frustrations

After twenty plus years with the same email address, Verizon is not supporting their email anymore. The process to switch over is relatively simple, but I thought this was a good time to try to wean away from Verizon anyway. Sending everyone an email and saying “use this address instead” is simple enough. But you can’t possibly imagine how many websites I’ve signed in on over a couple of decades. And the book? Well, I have an entire spreadsheet of websites and passwords from anything to production to marketing.

Every day, instead of deleting most of the emails I get, I’ve been reading them carefully. I click on the website and then search for a place to click where I can change my email address. Sounds simple enough, right? Holy crap…wrong!

One of the most difficult sites to change was Facebook. I had to google several times how to do it, and believe me it wasn’t easy. The worst one? You’ll never guess. Verizon! I spent God knows how long pouring over the website and couldn’t find anyplace to change the address. I then spent over 30 minutes on the phone with them. I got transferred four times. Finally, “Brian” completely understood what I was trying to say and it took him 45 seconds to fix it. I explained it the same way every time, but somehow, only Brian had the ability to understand. Over 30 minutes for a less than a minute fix. So frustrating!

Then came Apple. I’m not an Apple person, but when my first book came out, we had to develop the ibook format and set up an account. I spent hours on-line but couldn’t change anything because I couldn’t get past the security questions. On the phone forever. Got sent to a Senior Analyst. Spent two days with her until she broke the news there was nothing they could do for me. So I set up a schedule for myself. I could try every eight hours to get in and then it would get locked. I made a list of every possible answer to the security questions and kept a typed list of what I had tried.

Question was, what is the first thing you learned to cook?

If you know me, you will chuckle at that. I CAN cook, but I DON’T cook. At least not very often. Faithfully, every day, I tried to break through the damn security.

mac and cheese

macandcheese

macaroni and cheese

macaroniandcheese

mac & cheese

mac&cheese

macaroni & cheese

macaroni&cheese

Do you see the frustration? Hitting my head on the wall, day after day after day. The only response I would get is, “That answer does not match our records.”

Then today, I almost passed out. I actually answered the question and was able to get into the program. Guess what the right answer was. Come on, guess!

eggs

I’m going to invest in a helmet to cut down on injuries from banging my head on the wall.


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White Magic

I’ve been reading a book that has been challenging me.  The challenge has been that it is a book that I thought I would totally identify with, but I find myself being quite uncomfortable with the ideas presented. My question is whether I am uncomfortable because the words are hitting a nerve and I need to make some changes, or if I just fundamentally disagree with some of the concepts.

Reading this book led to one of my heart-to-heart conversations with Darren (see past blogs if you want to know more about him).  We were talking about various philosophies we have both tried throughout our lives in order to achieve a higher level of whatever. For example, we both have “tried” positive affirmations. I remember coming up with a whole page of them after my divorce (in my twenties) and faithfully reading them day after day, month after month. Didn’t really make a noticeable impact.

After Tim died, I read a book about the Law of Attraction philosophy. I had a big ritual with a dozen or so of my girlfriends. We burned all of my negative thoughts into the air, and then lit up the sky with Chinese Wishing Lanterns, releasing my positive intentions into the universe. Didn’t really make a noticeable impact.

I told Darren I didn’t really believe that wishing for a parking spot when you need one could really produce one. He made some elusive but provocative statements that indicated that he did believe such things could happen. There is White Magic and Dark Magic and stuff in between. But after getting the desired outcome, he had to sit and wonder what he had actually accomplished. Then he said the nicest thing. He said that I am so purely Light in who I am, so about Love, that he would find it surprising if I did attract anything that was self-serving. He knows my deepest transgressions and the skeletons in my closet. I can’t imagine how he could think that of me so positively, but the comment touched me very deeply never-the-less.

I have to say one of the biggest “discoveries” I made, was when I was doing Spiritual Direction and was introduced to the Enneagram. It is a paradigm to understand personality and I learned that I am a “four” and read descriptions of my personality that floored me with accuracy. It was then that I switched my therapy goals from trying to change myself to understanding myself. Once I did that, I could manage my personality type more effectively. A deeper understanding of that helped me to maximize my strengths and minimize my weaknesses with better results.

At the conclusion of our conversation, he said that he has a tiny pile of “stuff” that has helped him in his life, that has passed through the fires and stayed on the short list of things that actually are useful in life. It made me think about whether I had a pile.

I decided I really don’t. I don’t mean this in a cynical way. I really don’t. It is just an honest and genuine statement. The only thing that I have found that has lasted, is simply to just “get up every day and keep trying.” That’s it. Nothing sexy. Nothing catchy. Nothing that promises happiness or a perfect universe. Nothing magical. Just keep doing it, even when your head and heart ache so much you think it isn’t possible. Even when life is sometimes horribly hard and unrelenting. Get up anyway.

 

 


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Mother Teresa

Once a week, I try to post a quote on Facebook. It’s just something to keep things active on my business page and I hope it will generate some thinking. I really loved this week’s quote. It came out of a book I was reading called “Hope Conquers All” which is full of CaringBridge stories.

“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.” Mother Teresa

Love, love, love that. We need to love without getting tired.

I am the first to admit that I get tired. Often. I remember once at a spiritual direction session when Tim was still alive and I was dealing with a host of blended family problems, I was asked to move seats for a technique she was using. I don’t remember the actual intervention, but I do remember her saying afterward that she had an aha moment when she realized I was just completely exhausted. A simple thing like moving my seat became a burden because I was so emotionally tapped out. Tired.

I try not to complain, but when I do, I know I hear myself saying I’m tired. Tired of being alone. Tired of being the strong one. Tired of being the one people depend on. Tired of being responsible. Tired of being alone. Tired of being alone.

I was in a session yesterday with a lovely woman who has had a lifetime of burdens to bear. Family and significant others in her life have had hosts of issues like mental illness, severe addictions, etc.. She is tired. She just longs for someone to take care of her for a change. My heart ached for her. She is so worthy of being rescued, but there is no genuine promise to offer her that someone will eventually do just that.

Mother Teresa’s quote is profound. We need to love without tiring.  We don’t need miracles, we just need to stay the course. No fanfare, nothing fancy. Just keep at it. Keep going, keep trying.

And I don’t think it’s wrong to also hope to find someone in life who will love us without tiring as well. It’s ok to want it back in return.

I talked with my client yesterday about how she probably would identify with my fantasy for a significant other. My ideal isn’t being swept off my feet, or some fabulous vacation. The vision is in my kitchen, with someone who just says, “I’m here.” And then they stay. They love without tiring.

Thanks for your amazing life and example, Mother Teresa. And thanks for that profound statement. When I feel my fatigue, I’m going to remember that statement and let it inspire me to keep loving.


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Love Hurts

I’ve had another down week, but when people ask me how I am doing, I am saying, “fine.” I guess that’s because I am. There is nothing in particular wrong, but sometimes depression takes the form of a dark cloud that just kind of hangs over you. I’ve decided after reflecting on events, that is comes down to the fact that when you choose to be invested in people, (I mean REALLY invested) that pretty much guarantees that you will experience some gut wrenching pain at some point (or several points).

I’ve been told more than once (and recently reminded) that I just care too much. I know it’s true, but I don’t think it is something that will ever change about me. Sometimes it’s the maddening romantic love where you care about something that hurts you. You wish you could stop caring, but it seems beyond your control. It reminds me of the movie “Bruce Almighty” where Jennifer Aniston lays in her bed at night and just weeps with the prayer, “Please God. Please let me stop loving him.”

But there are many other loves. Loving your child, loving your parent, a friend, a client. Could be anyone. Sometimes there is love you cannot walk away from. No matter what happens, you are committed. Often this is family. On our wedding day, Tim and I wrote our own vows. I hadn’t had Frankie yet, but my vows talked about how I knew there would be a difference between any biological children I had and my step-children. But I vowed that as much as I was humanly capable of, I would minimize that difference to the best of my ability. Tim’s death never changed that commitment to me.

This week I have just had to listen and see and observe people around me who are hurting. Sometimes, people choose a path of destruction that is miles wide. Sometimes it does no good to try to intervene. Maybe an attempt would actually make things worse. Let me just say when you love someone, it hurts and aches deeply to be aware of how much they are hurting themselves and those around them, but remain powerless to stop it or do anything about it. Your heart just breaks as you watch.

My brother, Dad and I had another appointment this week. This time, there were no jokes and giggles. Dad was having a bad day. Sometimes the Parkinson’s just gets to him. It’s not life-threatening, but every once in a while I get hit between the eyes when I realize just how much he has changed. This predictable, stable, larger-than-life man now shuffles his feet. He may trip on the stairs. He may be dizzy, confused. And the worst is when he realizes it and just looks at me and says something like, “I just don’t feel right today.”

I wouldn’t trade this part of me for anything. I want to love deeply. I want to care too much. But sometimes I just have the need to also cry or yell out that it really sucks. Those moments I think erroneously that I would give anything to trade in my soul for someone who is a bit more calloused and selfish. Wish I could just not care and wash my hands of responsibility.

Those moments fade. And I take the whole package. I will love and care. And I will hurt and ache. It’s the price of connection and I am willing to pay it. Maybe it’s not that I’m willing. I doubt I could be anything else. It’s as involuntary as breathing for me I think.

Hmmm… I guess it’s another example of the paradox of bittersweet.


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Re-connecting

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to have not one, but two birthday parties. I mean hey, 50 is a big deal, right? The first night was at my favorite Mexican restaurant and we had about 25 people come for dinner. After we went to a bar that had a dance band. My friend laughed and said I was one of the youngest people there but we had a great time. That night, someone came up behind me to wish me a birthday and I had to stop and think. She reminded me she and her partner used to be clients of mine. I was so very happy to see them. I was honored they would take the time to come up to me, and I was truly thrilled to see they were still together. Later, I watched them dance together and they were just delightful to watch. Made my heart warm.

Darcy's 50th birthday-Darcy, Catherine

Darcy's 50th birthday- Michelle, Darcy, Cathy, Catherine, Onalee, Carla

Darcy's 50th birthday-Catherine ,Missy, Michelle, Onalee, Darcy, Karen

Toward the end of the evening, one of my students from the master’s program showed up. I know she drove a long way. She couldn’t even stay, but she wanted to say hello and give me a hug in person. I couldn’t believe it.

The second night, I had an informal gathering back in Niagara county where I grew up. Almost 25 people came that night too. This group was my family, friends, and mostly high school friends. It was a mini-reunion of sorts. I figured most of them will be turning 50 this year too, although some of them had already beat me. Most of the night was filled with people I don’t get to see very often. One of my closest friends from high school (although she went to a different high school) totally surprised me by coming. I haven’t seen her since… well, I don’t exactly know when. It’s been a very long time. She looked EXACTLY the same, hadn’t aged a bit.

A couple of the girls I was a cheerleader with. That brought some laughs and eye rolls. One girl was a year older than me and I was pleasantly surprised to see her as well. But the real shock came when she told me she reads my blogs and loves them. She said I write with honesty (or something like that). I had no idea she even read them or knew I had a blog. I was so humbled by that. And today when I was weary and didn’t feel like writing, I remembered her comment and it brought a huge smile to my face and enthusiasm to write.

Another girl I didn’t recognize at first. She reminded me she had moved in our later years of school. I had plenty to drink throughout the night, but I was aware enough to remember several comments she made throughout the night. She was truly grateful to have connected with me on Facebook and then be invited to our get together. She had such kind things to say about me and how I behaved in high school. There are actually some traits I seem to have carried on into adulthood and they are actually GOOD ones. So many things we hope we grow out of. She also made my heart warm to think that I could make others feel good without even knowing I was doing it.

One of my friends organized most of this. Created the event, bought cupcakes, you know the drill. She has been having a really tough time lately, but in spite of that, she made sure I had a great birthday. I hope to return the favor soon when her birthday arrives. I love you girlfriend!

I could go on and on. My deepest thanks to all of you who sent cards, gifts (even though I said no gifts!), drove out in the snow, or drove a long way to be part of my milestone birthday. Whether I see you often or once every few decades or so, I appreciate you. I love people, I invest in people, people are my priority. Whether I mentioned you specifically in this blog or not, I was humbled by all the outpouring of love and friendship. Don’t ever think when I fall into the abyss here and there when my depression gets the better of me, that I have forgotten the treasure of friends. I don’t. I swear, I don’t, not even when I’m down and out.

Hugs and kisses to all!


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Turning 50

Yesterday I was talking to a client and mentioned being 49. I gasped and said, “Oh! Crap, I forgot. I’m 50!” I’d been dreading turning 50 for about six years. Who knew that it would be one of the best birthdays ever?

For about a year, I have been trying to plan a trip away. I mean a real trip. Not visiting relatives or friends (although I love those trips too) but someplace warm and sunny. Punta Cana was the ticket. I had three friends go as well, all from different states. Closest thing to paradise I have ever seen. I was only gone Friday-Tuesday, and two of those days were mostly traveling, but I think we made the most of it.

My friends made sure most of the places we had dinner knew it was my birthday. The whole weekend felt like my birthday and it was a blast. First, there are the swimming pools with the swim-up bars. Who wouldn’t love that? img_20170203_151847232

Isn’t that ridiculously gorgeous?

On my actual birthday, there were only three of us left. We weren’t going to do excursions, but we decided to do the party boat so that we could go snorkeling. They take you out to the ocean and feed the fish so they are swarming. I didn’t really have anything to compare it to, but I was delighted. I obviously couldn’t take pictures of that part, but here we are on the boat. (By the way, there was plenty of music and dancing on the boat as well.)

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The surprise came when we headed back. I thought we were finished but instead they parked us in shallow waters with about ten other party boats. Everyone got in the water along with a raft floating in the middle with alcohol and food. It’s hard to see in the picture, but there were gobs of people all over the place partying IN the ocean!

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I mean, what a riot!

We got back to our resort exhausted, more than a little tipsy, but feeling like we had the time of our lives. As if that wasn’t enough, I went back to my room to shower and change for the evening and found this:

img_20170206_175539673

I couldn’t believe my friends had brought all those things on the trip with them (balloons, banners, cards, gifts) and then somehow arranged to get into my room and surprise me. I was like a five-year-old again. I meet people all the time who aren’t stressed about their age. I’m not in theory, but in reality I do usually get depressed. I think it is because I am not where I think I was going to be. And unfortunately, thanks to depression and some unexpected hardships, I’m not always happy about where I am.

This year was a blast. I was literally in paradise with perfect weather, socializing with people from all over the country and world, and some of my dearest friends. This weekend I will not be in paradise, but I will be with many more of my dear friends celebrating and I’m sure that will be lovely as well. Welcome the big five-zero! Happy birthday was literal this year… happy, happy, happy. Love you all!