Saturday, September 11, 2010

Can't Pay My Tab

I started this post on February 18 (which is when I last went went to see my counselor) but didn't come back to finish it until March 2---for some reason I never posted it...maybe the last part was too revealing for me at the time. I think I have blogged about this issue since then, but I decided to go ahead and post this one too. I have come a long way in this area since February. In fact, I can pretty easily ask for help these friends in town will tell you I don't seem to have any difficulty asking ;-) Just yesterday, a girlfriend and her husband took my two children (along with their 4!) to the fair because the kids had a half-day of school, but I needed to work. I know that I can never pay my tab, but that doesn't worry me so much anymore. I want continue to grow strong so that I can care for those people God places in my path...because there is always someone, somewhere close by, who can use the gifts (our time, skills, or money) we have to offer.

February 18
Well I went to visit my grief (trauma) counselor today. I hadn't been since late September or early October. I really thought when I went in that I wouldn't be there long--that I would just update her and we would chat and that would be that. Ha Ha on me. It is amazing to me how she can zone in on just what the real issues are. She is so helpful in helping me understand things for what they really are instead of the veneer I would like to paint them with. She immediately picks up on every nuance. She is goooooood.

I cried a lot, but I think overall that's a necessary part of this healing process...and anything that works toward healing is really a good thing. I can't stand a wimpy cry...if I'm gonna cry, I want it to be worth the effort. I have had several of those (good crys) this week. I am thankful that even though most of these occurred when I was by myself, that I also know my friends don't scare that easily. I still have issues about being hugged when I am upset, but hopefully that will get better with time. My sweet momma--who, of course, wants to hug me when I am upset--just lets me cry and scream and stomp around (if I happen to be doing it around her) and waits patiently for me to get it all out. Some of you may not know that my mom stayed with me for almost 3 months without once going home...and my sister was also with us for a good bit of that time. I honestly don't know how they did it. I can only imagine it is HARD to be around someone you love who is grieving so deeply and doesn't know how to begin to function like a "normal" person. They were always there, waiting patiently--ready to do whatever needed to be done for me or the kids.

In addition to those above I have already mentioned, there are so many people who have helped me carry this fact, if you are reading this you are probably one of them. God used so many people to minister to the kids and I during those initial months...and although the intense and immediate needs have subsided a bit, most of you continue to help care for my kids and me even after all these months have passed. I almost hate to start a list because sooooo many people helped us and I am afraid I will leave some out, but here goes...

My brother and his wife and children also came and stayed that first week and a half. I don't know what I would have done without them. It was such a comfort to me to know my children were playing with cousins and enjoying themselves as much as they could under the circumstances. They put together a photo album full of pictures of our visits to them in Chicago and Michigan...that was such a gift to me...and they also were just so willing to pitch in and do whatever needed to be done.

My brother-in-law (sister's husband) made several week-long trips to help at Todd's work and around the house. Once again, patiently waiting to do whatever needed to be done.

My in-laws were also awesome. The kids and I lived with them for the first month when I didn't have a clue to which way was up. They took me and the kids in and gave us the best of everything they had to offer...the best bed, the best bedroom, the midst of their overwhelming grief they still found a way to give and nurture and care. Todd's mom helped me with the kids, and his sisters took off the first two weeks from their own work to help their dad close down Todd's business, and that was a job. If it had been up to me, I am pretty certain I would have locked the doors and never gone back. Once Todd's sisters returned to their own jobs, every evening when they got home from work, we would all sit around and talk and there was an understanding of grief that didn't come from words but shared experience.

Our friends, John and Shelia, housed my mom, sister and other family for almost two months so they could be close to the kids and me. They have definitely been given the gift of hospitality. People were always coming and going, and John was cooking great meals every night and often had no idea who would (or would not) be there for supper...sometimes the entire gang, including the kids and me, and sometimes their would be things that kept everyone late and so no one showed up...we always felt they were so happy to see us when we were there and never upset when we didn't make it back at supper time. Shelia keeps a tidy house, but with all the extra guests not once did she ever make us feel we were putting her out in any way.

My doctor (aka my gynecologist ;-) and friend came daily to clean and doctor my wounds so that they would heal properly. Many, many days she made the hour-long drive (each way AND after putting in a full day at work) to tend and care for me. She always tried to make me feel like I was doing her a favor by letting her help.

Thanks to all the friends who just kept texting to let me know they were still thinking about you expected nothing in return for your vigil...just patiently waiting until I could reach out and receive help. There were friends who let me yell and scream and rage in those early days...they knew it wasn't directed at them, but I still think it must have been unsettling.

Thanks for all the cards and letters and thoughtful gifts I received in those first weeks...I have saved every one of those notes.

Thanks to those people--many of whom I will never meet--who prayed for us...many who still continue to pray for awesome you are. on to the ugly underside of my must be acknowledged.

Although I still recognize my need for help in some areas, in lots of others my pride keeps me from receiving the help that would make things go more smoothly--especially areas that have emotional pieces. I say "pride" because I have a stubbornness in me that I don't necessarily acknowledge with words (because I still make sure to say "thank you so much for all your help, friends and family" ) but my actions sure acknowledge it (like I have my hand stuck out in front of me as if to say "don't come any closer--you can help with 'that' but definitely not with 'this' ").

I don't want help in certain areas because

a) I want to prove I can do this (implying "I can do this by myself") which is ludicrous because I CAN'T --it is simply not how we are created, and

b) I want Todd here to help me, and if I can't have him I just don't want anyone--also ludicrous, because I am biting off my nose to spite my face when I won't receive help from those who desire to care for me and are equipped to do so. (What do you bet that Todd wouldn't use the word "ludicrous" -- he would tell me straight up that it was plain stupid. )

It almost seems to me like I act as though there is a time warranty on receiving help, and my warranty has expired...or I know that I can't begin to repay what I have already been given, so I am trying to keep the tab as low as possible. Do any of you ever feel this way?

Most mornings I do start out with a thankful and grateful heart, and it is easy for me to feel hopeful about the day. Now that I have acknowledged this oxymoron status that is at work in me perhaps I will be better at not playing that game. It is a slippery slope in that I do need to do my part so that I don't play the role of the life-long victim, but I also shouldn't stubbornly leave unopened the many gifts that have been bestowed and will continue to come my way.

love you guys,



  1. Just remember, like Don Piper learned in 90 Minutes in Heaven, it's your gift to us to accept our help. Love you! Jen S.

  2. it's interesting to read your list of thanks. i realize how grateful i am to those people you list for being there and doing what was needed to help you when many of us who care about you could not be physically present for whatever reason.

  3. Long live friends, who never, ever, ever give up and are not keeping "a tab".

  4. I looked it up and the warranty on friends says "lifetime". It never expires.

  5. How the rawness of those first weeks just came back and hit me in the face. Not easy to think about!
    I still have a tab I could never repay just because of your never-ceasing generosity of self. Your friendship, wisdom, and love for my family is priceless. THANK YOU!! D