Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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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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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!