If I say I’m fine….I’m lying

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Many memes and many jokes (mostly at men’s expense) have skirted around the fact that if a woman says, “I’m fine”, there is an emotional undertone that means something far beyond being fine.  My experience with the phrase ‘I’m fine’ has completely surpassed that, to the point that nobody in my immediate family uses those two words to describe their current state of being.

Both of my parents were alcoholics and suffered through a myriad number of complications through their later years.  It is an ugly disease with ugly consequences.  The worst part of watching the effects of alcoholism deteriorate a human body is having that person tell you that, while they are suffering numerous symptoms and contrary to every doctor’s diagnosis, they are fine.  Fine is no longer a word I use to describe how I feel and for very good reason – it’s bullshit.

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I sent a text to a friend yesterday to ask about their well-being and was given the response “I’m okay”.   Although it was not the tried and hated response of “I’m fine”, it ranked right up there and it made my Spidey senses tingle.  I knew there was more going on but I also knew not to push.

When you get a text message from someone you know on a very personal level, the inflection in their voice is heard loud and clear above the silence of a text message.  The only thing I can do is be here when they need to vent, to be present when they realize that I know they are not “fine” or “okay” and just be ready to listen.

 

I just called…..to say…….I love you

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I was sent a message by a friend who, like me, has been struggling to find a reason for all the recent losses that our small town has endured.  In a community like ours, you either know everyone or you know them by six degrees of separation, so when someone passes away the ripple effect of that loss reaches everyone.

It is times like these that I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support shown to the families of those who have passed.  And it is times like these that remind me to hold my loved ones that much closer.

My dad was a very emotional man who never shied away from saying ‘I love you’.   He was very demonstrative about his feelings and nobody was ever left guessing about his affection for them.  My mother didn’t start out that way, but she eventually found comfort in sharing her feelings as well.  It wasn’t until after my parents had passed that my brother and I drew much of our strength from sharing that same three-word phrase with each other.

It saddens me that some people feel uncomfortable saying ‘I love you’.  Even though they have the feelings, they are unable to comfortably share those sentiments when, ultimately, that is how they feel.

I don’t want to regret anything in the brief time that I have in this lifetime.  I don’t want people to not know how I feel about them.  Everyone one of you, whether we are family, friends or we have met through this blog, has had a tremendous impact on my life and I love all of you.  Each of you has taken time to comment on or like the thing that I am most proud of, my writing, and I am grateful for that and each and every day.  You all hold a very special place in my heart.

So, if I say I love you and it takes you off guard, just know that I am not trying to make you uncomfortable nor am I expecting you to tell me how you feel.  I just want to know that I took the opportunity to tell you before it was too late.

Grief cannot be fixed, it can only be carried

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I have suffered my share of grief through the loss of many people I held dear.  There was no reason for those losses to occur in the way they did and dealing with those wounds has not made me a stronger person, contrary to popular opinion.

It is tough to find words to say to people after they have suffered the loss of a loved one.  There are no magic phrases to make it all better.  There is no invisible salve to heal the wounds.  There is only comfort in a hug.  There is the ability to hold them when they can’t stop crying.  And there are the moments to share the wonderful memories of the person who has passed.

Loss never becomes easier with time as much as people try to tell you it does.  The only thing that time changes is our ability to live our lives in a new way and deal with the absence of that person on a daily basis.  It is true that some days are better than others.  But it is also true that you can be so overwhelmed by the pain of loss that you cannot leave your house because your tears are uncontrollable.

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There is no right or wrong way to grieve.  Emotion will control you, not the other way around.  The only thing you can do is carry that pain with you and wear it like a badge of honor.  That pain reminds you of the connection you had to the person who has passed.  That grief is the glue that binds you to the soul who has left this lifetime.  And those tears are the reality that make you painfully aware that grief cannot be fixed.  It can only be carried.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes you can’t go back

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Not so long ago, I ran into a person who used to be a friend of mine.  We parted ways after I grasped who this person truly was and I realized that their definition of a relationship was far from how I defined my friendships.  It was an awkward reunion, to say the least, and after the uncomfortable hug was over I left thinking about the many things that had occurred during our friendship that helped me to redefine my idea of a relationship.

I have grown up knowing that a true relationship is born of empathy and that a relationship, in its purest form, receives as much as it gives.  Thus was not the case in this instance.

It is difficult to put a relationship under a microscope and analyze the small parts that make up the sum of those parts.  In the initial stages of that friendship, the sum seemed to make complete sense, but upon further scrutiny, those parts did not add up at all.  It was easy for me to dismiss the signs that our friendship did not compute, but I was unwilling to see the failure in the equation, for whatever reason.  Seeing this person again made me realize that I was right to stand behind my feelings and although there is always the urge to keep a hold on what is familiar, sometimes you can’t go back.

I can’t forgive many of the things that happened in our past and I certainly can’t overlook that this person could never see beyond themselves to put me first, in any situation.  I can’t disregard the fact that my needs never came ahead of theirs, and I can’t ignore the numerous times that I put my needs aside to get them through their next crisis.  I wanted to move forward and so many of the parameters of our relationship needed to be redefined in order for me to do that.

I  will never be sad that I gave so much of myself in that relationship because that is who I am.  I will never regret the time I spent trying to help.  But at some point, I realized that my needs were just as important and, even though there had been many good times in our relationship, the need to move forward was more important that the urge to go back.

 

 

 

The power of the written word

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Words have always been a passion of mine.  I can remember penning poems before my age was in the double digits and I loved to lose myself in books at a young age as well.  Having said this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that words affect many others the same way they affect me but today I was shown a glaring example of how words, my words, had a greater resonance than I ever imagined.

On August 30th, I wrote this poem (click here) about a dear friend who had gone into hospital the previous night.   Writing, especially writing poetry, is very cathartic for me and allows me to deal with my emotion on a level on which I feel very comfortable.  I had given the poem to the companion of the woman who was the subject of the poem hoping he could read it to her in the hospital.

Sadly, a week after she went into hospital, she passed away from a virulent bacterial infection that her body couldn’t fight due to the aggressive chemotherapy she had been undergoing.  I never found out if he had read the poem to her while she was still conscious.

Today, I drove to the city with my friend and co-worker to attend the celebration of life for this dear woman we both had met at the lodge and absolutely adored.  When her companion, Sandy, saw us at the golf club, his eyes welled with tears and we were both met with a warm embrace.    He invited us to sit at his family table and treated us like we were a part of his family.  After a toast to Joan and some funny stories, I found out that Sandy had read my poem at her funeral service.  I was moved to tears.

As I write this post through many more tears, I can take great pride in knowing that my words fell onto the ears of so many others who loved her as well.  One simple night of pouring out my emotion into a blog post turned into a tribute that hundreds of people were able to hear and know how much she meant to me.  Words have connected me to her friends and family and for that I will be forever grateful.

 

 

Take care of me

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Take care of me,

protect my heart

and make me believe in fairy tales.

Love me,

understand my passions

and everything that is a part of me.

Protect me,

especially when I try

to be so tough on the outside.

Embrace me,

knowing

that I just want to be held.

Understand me,

when I want to do things

my way.

Humor me,

when you know my way

may not be the right way.

Laugh at me,

to keep me grounded,

but laugh with me

to keep me sane.

And most of all,

believe in me

because you know

I have the heart of a lion

and I will never give up.