Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Crying Uncle

For those of you that are not wired intensely, I am sure you read things from writers like me and roll your eyes. Why doesn’t she just chill out?

It’s hard to explain how my brain and emotions work. When people say, “Don’t over-analyze,” they don’t realize they are asking me to stop breathing. It’s involuntary. It’s second nature to me.

When an intensely wired person pairs up with another intensely wired person, the dynamics are… uh, well… intense. Shocking, I know. Truthfully, there is usually just an overwhelming sense of relief and connection. Oh my God, I am not a total freak of nature. He gets me. He feels and thinks this stuff too. The aching loneliness that ranges from dull to raging is finally over. It is glorious. It is euphoric. It is surreal. You pinch yourself often to make sure you aren’t dreaming.

Of course, you know the reality of bittersweet and ying/yang and all that jazz. That also means the heartache is equally as overwhelming. As life unfolds, you will naturally find yourselves disagreeing about things, maybe even at odds. Maybe at opposite ends of the spectrum. So you intensely get disappointed and then start trying to understand. You talk. And talk. And discuss. Two steps closer to understanding, three steps back. Five steps forward, one step back. Then a grinding halt.

I think life at 50 though, is so much wiser than earlier. At least it should be if you have spent some of those 50 years working on growing your emotional intelligence. When you work at improving yourself, understanding who you are, how you are wired, you gain some insight and awareness that helps you.

A decade or two ago, I would have never thought that anything less than a perfect resolution would ever be acceptable. I would have never believed that one strategy would be to simply cry, “Uncle!” and that would be incredibly effective. I would have been shocked to know that I could actually sit back after all that intensity and tears and say, “Jeeze, Darcy. Lighten up. Don’t take yourself so seriously.” Now, I have to admit, that message (for the most part) probably has to come from me or a very, very trusted source. I most likely wouldn’t take too kindly to someone tossing that out to me. But when I arrive at that place on my own or from another intensely minded person? It seems like brilliant advice.

And then life is beautiful again. You can be mindful of the connection that you cherish beyond words. You can just be close again. You don’t need perfect resolution. It isn’t even important anymore. The connection and love resumes it rightful spot. It’s the priority, rather than solving the world’s insolvable problems.

So often I have wished that I could be rewired. So many, many times in my life I have wanted to not be me so that I wouldn’t feel so lonely on the planet. But then other times, like now, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Those moments of connection are worth every second I’ve waited for it.

Remember this lesson, Darcy. Honor your thoughts and your agony, but then just cry, “Uncle!” and lighten up. Life is too short. And love is too amazing.


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As It Should Be

If you  have followed my blog over the last couple of years, it is no secret that I find dating to be a nightmare. Navigating and balancing all the dynamics is not for the faint of heart and I could give you names of thousands that would agree. When someone asks me what I am looking for, I used to say a full-time partner. Now I just say someone who I might want to go on a second date with!

We (those of us in the dating world) do a boatload of mental gymnastics in order to make sense of the nonsense that occurs regularly in the that world. Some of that is necessary because we all need to adjust our expectations sometimes. But every once in a while, something GREAT occurs and you have to shake your head at all the months/years of the stuff you put up with, thinking you were hoping for too much. Seeing as I tend to blog about the negatives, let me share some of the very refreshing things that I have experienced lately.

For example…

1. When you send a text to let him know you are thinking about him but you are worried maybe you shouldn’t have.

What you expect: You usually don’t get a response for several hours. Maybe not for a day or two. Or maybe they never text you again. Ever. Or you might be seen as needy, over-anxious, desperate, pushy.

Instead: He sees your text and he calls you because he wants to connect with you.

2. When you say something sappy like, “Happy Anniversary” and are worried maybe you shouldn’t have.

What you expect: “I don’t do anniversaries” or you might be seen as needy, over-anxious, desperate, pushy. Or they outright laugh at you.

Instead: He says thank you and tells you how much he has enjoyed getting to know you. He even talks about how much he is looking forward to continuing the journey with you.

3. When you tell him you wish you could see him more.

What you expect: He doesn’t feel the same way. He thinks you’re smothering him. He ignores you and continues to make you feel like you aren’t a priority.

Instead: He tells you has the desire to be with you, even if the schedules don’t allow it. But he “embraces the emotions” that you obviously both have that are causing the desire to see each other to begin with.

4. When you go to his house and hope maybe you can stay over (even though you can’t because you have a son at home).

What you expect: “I can’t share my bed with anyone. I can’t sleep if someone is here.” Or “I haven’t had anyone spend the night here in years. It is going to take me a long time to be comfortable with that.”

Instead:  He says, “You know, you can stay as long as you want. I just want you to be comfortable.”

I could write pages more of examples, but the point is, the “instead’s” are as it should be. I think I am finally at the point that I would rather have one week with someone like this, then weeks or months with someone who isn’t. That may sound like common sense to you, but there were times when the loneliness was so bad, I would have taken the bad over having nothing.

You don’t ever know how long something will last, but for this moment? It’s as wonderful as I have always dreamed it would be. Knowing I am respected and wanted does amazing things for my ability to get through the hard days. There are never guarantees for “forever” so you just relish each moment and day, and hope there are more. And more. And more.

 


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Darren

Four years ago when I started writing, Brigette told me I had to get on social media. I didn’t even know what a blog was. I had no Facebook page. Twitter. LinkedIn. Yikes! I’m still not up on everything and I’m sure I don’t use them as effectively as I could. One of the coolest results of that though, is being in touch with people I would probably never have been otherwise.

One day a couple of years ago, I got a notice from Darren. He wondered if I was the Darcy Thiel that was his roller skating girlfriend from seventh grade. I immediately remembered his name and that whole time period came rushing back. We used to ride our bikes to meet each other because we didn’t go to the same school.

That was about thirty years ago. We had a brief relationship (under six months I think) and then no contact for thirty years. Slowly, our contact began to increase. It was absolutely amazing that after all that time, our friendship picked right up like we hadn’t skipped a beat.

He’s on the West Coast now, married with almost grown kids. Every once in a while, I have a moment of feeling completely baffled by something. I have lots of close, intimate friends. Some of them know me extremely well, and almost all of them are supportive and loving to me. Sometimes though, I just think in some situations, no one completely understands what I am saying. Then I remember Darren.

He does monumental things for my self-esteem. It appears that he and I are emotionally wired in almost the same way. He has achieved a different kind of insight than I have, and seems so very, very wise. He truly believes, without an arrogant bone in his body, that we have a wildly intense, but insanely deep emotional connection to ourselves. (Jeeze, I hope I am being accurate. If I misquote you Darren, forgive me!) While this is a massive gift, it also leads to incredible loneliness at times because so few people relate on the same level.

This intensity has always felt to me like a blessing and a curse. But when I talk to Darren, I feel so incredibly special. It feels so much more like a rare gift than when I am left to my own inward devices. He will tell me that he admires my tenacity, especially when it comes to the dating world. He assures me when I am pounding my head on the wall in confusion, that I have articulated my feelings, needs, desires, (whatever!) in a completely sensible, accurate, clear manner. It is just the listener who is a bit handicapped to catch what it is because of their own level of self-understanding.

One time he recently told me that I have a rare ability to feel intensely, but manage to keep things compartmentalized and in order. Whether it is familial relationships, sex, friendships… I am able to separate layers and levels and know what they are about for me.

None of that, of course, changes our inability to connect sometimes with others. But at least, for a few moments, we have connection with each other.

Now don’t get me wrong. I still have moments where I think that maybe he and I are just both neurotic and crazy and have concocted all this nonsense to feel better about ourselves. Even if that’s true, I can accept that…LOL.

But it explains so much. It explains how I can be effective as a counselor, even when I am falling apart in other areas of my life. It explains how I can be crying in the parking lot and then walk into a venue and give a moving lecture like the professional I am. It explains how I can be heartbroken over some guy that I haven’t even known that long. It explains how I can be so heartbroken but get back on the horse and try again a few hours later. All of it is genuine and 100% me, but I move in and out as I need to.

Anyhow, thank you, my friend. I appreciate you (and all your many parts) more than I can express in words. Your faith in me always rescues me in my weakest moments. Someday, I hope I can return the immeasurable favors.


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Yay!

In a month that has been filled with a lot of difficult situations to deal with, I am also grateful for some sweet moments as well. There has been a mending of relationships which has made my heart smile broadly, which I could desperately use more of these days.

Sometimes the relationships don’t look exactly the same as they did before, but you can experience healing none-the-less. One was a more recent experience that occurred about six months ago. It was a professional relationship. It took some time, but eventually heartfelt apologies were offered and things are going to eventually resume on a professional level when some logistics are taken care of. I had been hopeful this would eventually happen and I am glad to say it did.

The other was of a more personal nature. There was a professional component to it as well, but the real nature of the wounds were quite personal for both parties. This one has been a bleeding wound for over six years. Sure, time made some of it heal, but every once in a while the scab would get agitated and the pain would resume. I wasn’t sure this one would ever get better.

For a couple of years, I thought it would be impossible to feel better unless there was a complete acknowledgement of every piece of the infraction between us. I didn’t think I could ever move on unless I got some sort of assurance that I had been deathly wronged and there was deep regret on the other’s part.

When I asked for this meeting, I was greeted with a polite, “I don’t think it’s a good idea” type of answer. I knew though, that after six years I was in a much different place. I wanted desperately for us to be able to move on without re-hashing everything, without apologies for things we really couldn’t apologize for in a genuine manner. I don’t really think you can forgive without “repentance” entirely, but I do think you can heal regardless.

I knew the risk. Meeting and trying could make it worse. It could do the opposite of provide closure. It could make the original wounds even worse. But deep in my heart, I knew it was a risk I had to take.  The relationship we had before the rift was of such high value to me, it was a greater risk to leave it unhealed without trying.

Six years of waiting. That part of our conversation, actually probably only took about 20 minutes. I set the tone by reassuring him that I had no desire to re-hash the past, I just wanted to move forward more comfortably. I knew we would never have the same relationship again, but I was hoping that somehow it could be better than it currently was.

He admitted that what I had intuited over the years was indeed accurate. I just didn’t understand fully why. He explained that I hurt him as well. He explained why he stopped trusting me. Once I heard him out, it made sense to me. Not to over-simplify a complex situation, but in some ways it was truly a misunderstanding. He thought I meant “A” and in actuality, I meant “B”.  In fact, “A” couldn’t have been further from the truth.

I think the corrected perception helped immensely, but we both knew it didn’t change the hurt it caused when it originally happened. And it didn’t change the last six years when that perception remained in place for him. At the end of the conversation, he actually thanked me for intiating the meeting. Big shift from being hesitant to even talk to me.

The future will tell how much healing occurred between us. I do know that for me personally, a very heavy burden was lifted. There are still scars. Those don’t go away. The relationship is still forever changed. But some of the very significant pain has been altered in a favorable direction.

Life doesn’t always go this way, but it confirms the challenge to myself and to all of you – I want to stay invested. I may need to invest more wisely in my life at times, but connection, love, relationship, respect, care… they are worthy of our time and effort. Tonight, I will breathe just a bit easier, with six years of weight significantly lessened.

Big, big sigh. Not of annoyance, but of relief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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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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Disappointment

I am a slow learner sometimes. In fact, sometimes I don’t learn, period. Today’s blog is evidence of that. I have found myself embroiled in conversations about politics this week and have ended up crying every time. So what am I doing? Blogging about it. Talk about opening yourself up for more criticism and never learning your lesson. But I write about what effects me deeply and today’s blow got me riled up again.

I am not saying anything new when I say that never before in my lifetime have I ever observed an election causing so much passionate ugliness and divisiveness. Here is my vulnerable confession that I shouldn’t be making “in public” but here goes: I don’t vote.

I am not proud of it, so I don’t advertise it. I am also not ashamed of it either. And I have come to the conclusion after this week that I absolutely deserve to be respected for my decision. I did not come to it lightly or without agonizing. (Those of you that know me, when I have ever done anything in my life without over thinking it and feeling painfully responsible to the point of lunacy?)

When I was in my 20’s and a new voter, I voted by topics I was passionate about. Specifically, the issue of pro-choice and pro-life. And no, I won’t say what side I fall on. That’s not what this blog is about. But eventually, voting that way did not sit well with me. The election that year was between Dukakis and Bush. I determined to make an intelligent vote so I did what I usually did- I poured myself into it with all of my heart and passion.

Every single day I watched the McNeil/Lehrer news hour because they were so educational in their approach of news reporting. They also would have debates regularly of any topic they were covering to provide all sides of an idea. I read the “US News and World Report” from cover to cover. Every single week. It was incredibly time-consuming. The more information I got, the more confused I got. Not only was there abortion to consider, there was education. And warfare. And health. And economics. And environment. And. And. And. And.

And that was just the presidential election. There are numerous names and positions on a voting ballot. I was overwhelmed. I was beyond overwhelmed. In fact, I felt sick. I could not vote with any type of personal integrity whatsoever. I felt like if I couldn’t figure it out, I couldn’t vote. I didn’t like it. I know intelligent people vote. But I couldn’t grasp it.

I made two vows to myself. One, was that I would try to be the best human being I could being every day of my life. That includes being the best American citizen that I was capable of being. The second vow, was that I would not complain about my government or country. If I wasn’t going to vote, I wasn’t going to be a hypocrite.

The truth is, how do I say this ever so nicely? I think there are countless Americans who vote that are not educated or intelligent regarding the issues. They don’t give much thought to politics or go beyond the surface of the issues. Frankly, they have no idea who or what they are actually voting for. Are they a better American than me? I think not. I think absolutely not.

What I found incredulous, is that being a person without almost no political opinions, I found myself beaten up this week. My friends don’t yell or belittle me with angry tones. But two of my dearest friends made it crystal clear to me that they were disappointed in me as a person. Interestingly, one voted for Trump, the other voted for Clinton. There is almost nothing more devastating to me than disappointing people I care about. While I cried my eyes out, I also find myself extremely angry.

IT IS MY RIGHT AS AN AMERICAN TO DECIDE NOT TO VOTE.

And I believe I should be respected for that decision. I have not spent the last 20 years of my life going around telling people who vote that I think they are stupid. Or disappointing. It is a personal choice. The things that were implied about me- that I am lazy, thoughtless, not as intelligent as I was thought to be? How dare anyone say those things about me. Nothing could be further from the truth. I CAN BE EVERY BIT AS INTELLIGENT AS YOU, PERHAPS EVEN MORE SO, BUT ARRIVE AT A DIFFERENT CONCLUSION THAN YOU DO.

I went to a meeting today with some highly educated folks today. Of course the conversation turned to the inauguration. Again, I didn’t learn my lesson. I told them about the upsetting day I had yesterday and how astounded I was that I was defending myself to people who have known and loved me for years. I joked with them that if they were disappointed in me, they needed to be smart enough not to say so. Then I realized that one of two didn’t need to say a word. She made her disgust and her newfound lowering of respect for me quite obvious. I drove home crying again. Angry as hell again.

I have a responsibility to be a lot of things. And I fail at many of them every single day. I am human and make no apologies for that. I try more than the average bear to be the best I can. I can’t possibly be good at every single thing in life, but I dare say I am pretty proud of how I conduct myself in general with regard to the world of humans around me. And may I be bold enough to say that I even do a better job than a lot of people who vote.

This may be my hurt talking, but I also say to all of those that have felt the need to judge me this week, that I am equally or even more disappointed in you. I expect more respect from those who I have “proven” myself to. Those who know me and the evidence with which I live my life might be surprised about my stance on voting, but I see no reason to be disgusted or disappointed with me. I would rather have them say, “Wow, that’s so interesting. I didn’t know that about her, but if she has made a decision, I know her character and she has made it for good reason, regardless of whether I made the same decision for myself or not.”

I’m not perfect. And I’m sure many more of you will be disappointed in me now too. But I hope to God that more of you can respect me and the choices I have made that work best for my life. I’m pretty sure that is how I treat you. Hell, I’m going to contradict myself. I AM proud of my choice. I take pride in making a decision not to do something if I don’t feel like I can do it well enough. My life speaks for itself.