Category: Relationships

Forgiveness means never forgetting

“Forgive & Forget” That’s what forgiveness is all about right!? Well, I don’t think so.

When someone tells me they forgive and forget, it makes my ass twitch… and I call bullshit on that! Have you ever forgiven someone, and if so did you ever really forget it? The answer is no. Forgiveness is not about forgetting, forgiveness is about not bringing it back up. Once you forgive someone, I mean truly forgive someone, you forgo the right to bring “that thing” up again, ever. You and the other person will never forget “the thing”, that “thing” is a reminder of what you don’t want to happen again, it’s ok to remember it, it’s not ok to use it against the person you’ve forgiven.

If you decide to use “that thing” that you forgave that person against them… then you really didn’t forgive them. So, don’t forgive anyone, unless you truly mean to forgive them. This will help in future arguments.

 

Chip and Honey Toodee.

1.3 Surviving the death of your child.

It took us 15 years to discover we had PTSD. Every year around the anniversary date of our daughters death we would start to feel all kinds of things… Honey would start having sore breast and thought she had cancer, she would forget things to the point that we thought she might have Alzheimer’s. I would start having chest pains to the point of thinking I was having a heart attack, I would “shut down” and not talk to anyone for days. We would both go into a depression and suffer various amount of mental stress. I would feel guilty for being alive and felt like I didn’t deserve to live, I would get angry at the drop of a hat or a towel on the floor…

Every year my wife would end up at the Doctor’s office and she would ask about tests to see if she had breast cancer. One day the Doctor told her that she came in every year at this time to ask the same question? Amazingly enough we would forget that part every year, and on and on it went.

Then one year, our 16 year old daughter told us that we suffered from PTSD, “what ever” was my response… “we don’t have PTSD. We’ve never been to war or anything like that!” Then, she asked us a few questions, like: Do you feel chest pains every year at this time? Do you think of suicide? Do you shut down? Are you angry? Guilty? Sad beyond comprehension? Our daughters had watched us suffer every year, I never even thought about what they were seeing… I was so stuck in my depression that I was blinded by it. “Do you do this on purpose?” she said. That’s when she explained what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was, it was our bodies reverting and reliving the pain of our daughter’s death. The dreams, the memories, the pain, all a response that was out of our control.

We discovered that if we started talking as soon as the symptoms arrived, it would help to ease the weight and side effects. The pain doesn’t disappear, but the symptoms are lighter. Every since then we take the time over a three to four week period to make sure we go for walks and just talk about what ever we are feeling. We also take time with our girls and share what we feel, and let them know we love and appreciate them.

It saddens me to think that we’ve given our daughters their own PTSD from watching us suffer and them having to deal with it. In the past few years we’ve discovered that they would sit together and wonder what was going on with us. Were mom and dad going to split up? Are they mad at us? What did we do? I wish that I could change the past for them, and make things different, but I can’t. All we can do is move on and be there for each other.

The pain is still real, I still cry when I see pictures and on days like today I sob. Today is the anniversary of TC’s death. It’s a day I spend thinking a lot about what we went through, but I also think about those parents who today will walk into a hospital emergency room and discover that their child is not well, and I morn for them, I am saddened for them, I suffer with them. I pray that they will have some form of comfort and support, that they will survive the pain and find ways of healing and coping with a situation no parent should ever see.

 

Chip and Honey Toodee

1.2 Surviving the death of our child.

It’s really hard to remember the first couple of weeks after we left the hospital… just the two of us. I remember waking up in the morning and thinking is was just a dream, then I would walk to TC’s room and find it empty, and then, my heart would sink and my head would spin. I would go and lay down on her bed and smell her blankets and her clothes, I don’t think we washed her stuff for months… we would just sit there at times, holding, smelling and crying.

 

At the time I was taking some college courses, I took 3 weeks off and then returned to school to finish up. I thought maybe, the change of scene would ease my mind and heart. Somehow it did. When I went to school, I fell into some weird sense of denial. It was like I could remove myself from the situation and pretend it wasn’t real. When I came home, I found it really hard to talk to Honey, I would shut down and just not talk, and if I did it was minimal. She would spend most of the day at home crying, and being all alone. I had the luxury of leaving and having people distract me. While at school, I started hanging with this girl, we would spend lots of time talking and joking around and it felt nice not to be reminded of what was real. After a few weeks, and a few coffees together I realized that this relationship was getting a lot more friendly. Every night I would go home and Honey and I would be drifting further apart. Then came the day that I knew something was about to change. I knew that if I met with “the girl”, it would turn into something more that just flirting, it was going to get real…

I had to do something, I had to say something… Every time I came home, I would drop emotionally, I crashed and shut it all down. I would come home, she would still be crying and I was just angry about being there. I knew this relationship at school was going to move to the next level, the following day, I also knew that I loved Honey, and that I loved her enough to tell her my feelings were changing. So, we sat down and I let here know.

“I know that you don’t want to hear this” I began, “but I have to let you know”. I told her about the girl and how my feelings for her were growing and how I just didn’t want to come home anymore. She cried, I cried, we kept talking for hours. Finally I left the house and got in the car. It was over. I sat in the car for a long time, it felt like hours and hours. I sat and thought about what I was doing. Here is the woman I love, and I can’t be around her. Every time I see her face it causes me pain. But, I love her. Then, a small part of me realized finally that she was suffering too. I hadn’t really thought about it. I was so busy dealing with my pain that I no room for anyone else’s pain. I went back in and I think we talked all night. I really don’t remember. I know that over the next few days we talked about the pain, the sadness and that we needed to support each other in what ever we were suffering through.

We compared ourselves to a couple we met at the children’s hospital. C and R, surprisingly they lived up the street from our house, and they had lost their son while we were at the hospital. While they were morning, she wanted to put pictures of her son everywhere in the house, so that she could see him all the time. Her husband on the other hand wanted to get rid of all the pictures and pretend that he never existed. When Honey and I looked at their morning form an outside perspective, we came to the realization that we were morning in different ways too. But, C and R never came to compromise, one that would simply allow the other to morn in their own way. They began to fight constantly, and soon their marriage was over. So, that night  and over the week, we worked on helping each other, and the hardest part was just talking about everything, it was also the biggest part of our healing. It didn’t really ease the pain, it just eased some of the symptoms.

If you’re suffering from a loss, find someone to talk to. If you’re dealing with what we dealt with, find a way to open the communication with your husband or wife. Let each other morn in your own way. Talk, support, love, be there, even if being there means just sitting silently or holding each other. There will come a time when things get easier and you’ll move forward. You’ll never truly move on, but you will move forward. You’ll just have to give each other time. Just remember that talking is your greatest weapon.

 

Next post we’ll talk about PTSD and how it took us 15 years to figure it out.

Chip and Honey Toodee

1. Death of our child.

There are things in life that you simply can never prepare for, and loosing your child is one of them. The pain, the anger, the sadness, the stress, the loneliness, the depression the list goes on and on.

The night before was a little unusual, TC our 11 month old walking almost talking daughter was tired. It was weird because she wasn’t a sleeper. When she was first born, we would have to take shifts walking her outside so we could rest a few hours. I would take her out in the stroller and walk for 2 hours and let Honey sleep, then she would take care of TC a few hours and I’d sleep. The first 6 months, I swear she only slept 3 or 4 hours a day. So the fact that she was pulling us to her room and falling a sleep was weird, but we thought maybe her no sleeping faze was over and we finally tired her out.

She slept through the night. Wow, we got up in the morning at about seven and peeked into her room, yes, she’s still breathing, let’s go and make some coffee quietly and chat. Then, 8 o’clock came around, then 9? I’m gonna go wake her up? Was I crazy? So, off to her room I went, laid down beside her on her little bed and gently started to wake her up. I could see that she was trying to open her eyes and wake up, but couldn’t… man is she tired, I thought to myself. But, soon I realized something was terribly wrong, she couldn’t wake up.

Panic. I picked her up called Honey and we jumped into the car. The day before I was carrying her down the stairs and I fell with her in my arms. I took the beating from the stairs, but I thought maybe she’d got shaken up, maybe, she had a concussion? We went to the walk in clinic and told the lady at the desk that we couldn’t wake our daughter… The Doctor saw us right away, not one minute into it, he looked at us and told us to take her to the emergency room at the hospital, (which happen to be across the street), “they’ll be waiting for you” he said.

When we got the emergency room there was a team of nurses and doctors waiting for us. They took TC and started doing all kinds of tests, pricking her with needles, checking her eyes, blood work and on and on. “What’s wrong?” we asked, “we don’t know”, into the CT scan she went… “Your daughter seems to have an abnormal brain” they said, “what does that mean?”, “We’re not sure, but we’ve called for a helicopter, we’re flying her to children’s hospital”. Within minutes the helicopter was there and Honey jumped on board. I made a call to her parents to let them know what was going on… I dialed the number, they picked up, and I couldn’t utter a word. I couldn’t speak, I tried, but nothing came out, so I hung up the phone. I turned around and by some strange coincidence our friend was sitting in the emergency room waiting with her son. I choked out the what ever words I could, I explained I couldn’t tell my in-laws… “Can you call them for me?” she did

By the time I got to the children’s hospital, TC was in surgery. We found out she had a brain tumour, a very rare one. They took out what they could, and in the end we were left with the knowledge that she a had about 9 months left to live. After spending what seemed an entire lifetime at the hospital, we took her home with dreams of full recovery… there was no way she would die on our shift. We tried to drag out every moment of every day, tried to make them last for ever… but, the day came.

The night before she past away, we camped out in her room. We slept on the floor, and when I awoke next morning, she was not breathing. I jumped up and started CPR, she’s back… “Call the ambulance”. Back to the helicopter, back to children’s hospital, back to ICU. I held her in my arms while she was in  a coma, and Honey held her while she died, and long after she past. If you want something to Fuck up your life for ever, this is it. We went home without our daughter, TC was gone, and we were alone, together.

Now what?

Chip and Honey Toodee

To be continued…

 

How to argue with the one you love.

First let’s make it clear that “arguing” and “fighting” are two completely different things.

 

  • Arguing: to present reasons for or against a thing:
  • Fighting: a battle or combat.

Let’s say you and your loved one are having a disagreement over money. Money is a huge issue in relationships and often the one responsible for some mean-ass shit to be said. When looking at reasons for divorce, they usually come in this list: Infidelity, Death of a Child and Money. So, how does one argue about the subject or almost any subject? Here are a few guidelines.

  • Stay on topic: Wow, this is the big one, don’t jump off topic to something else. Let’s say that your husband is spending all kinds of money playing golf. You’re looking at the budget / bills and realize you’re not able to make the payments; you start to grow frustrated with him because he’s spending $100.00 a month playing golf and you simply can’t afford it. You decide to confront him with your worries about the bills and his spending.

Wife: WTF, we can’t pay the bills and you’re wasting money on a stupid game. What’s wrong with you? Don’t you care about our children and feeding them? NO! Of course not because you’re a selfish person who only cares about one thing… You. You’re just like your dad… I’m surprised you even come home half the time, why can’t you show us as much love as you show your golf buddies?

Husband: Maybe if you quit your bitching I would want to be here… Golf is the only thing I do. You don’t care about me, you’re just like your mother, it’s no surprise your dad left her, maybe you should just move in with her and we’d both be happy.

Wow, what is wrong with this couple? I’m sure that golf is not the only problem here. The wife’s worry is that money is tight, she wants to pay the bills and feels that the husband is spending irresponsibly. But she didn’t argue that very long, she attacked his love for his children, caring for only himself, and compared him to his father, who might not have been that great a guy. He in turn went on the defensive, and attacked her as well.

So, how do we do it? Slowly, this problem didn’t just pop out of nowhere, it’s been brewing for a while. What is the real problem?

  • Can’t pay the bills
  • Spending money on impractical things, like golf

Step one: pick a time when you can be alone. Maybe when the kids are sleeping or out of the house. Step two: prepare for the argument by bringing in supporting material, like the bill statements, income statements and spending habits. Step three: do not attack. Let the husband know that you want to talk, that you are anxious and worried about the spending and the bills and that you want to find a solution together. If playing golf is important to him, you want to help find a way for him to do it and enjoy it without the stress of coming home to an angry, bitter wife.

Don’t expect to solve all your problems at the first meeting. Setup more meetings for the future. Every Tuesday from 9-10 we’ll work on budgeting. Figure out a way together to solve the problem. “I know you like to play golf and I want you to enjoy yourself”. The husband would say something like, “I know we need to pay the bills and I want to help reduce your stress”.  If you spend a limited amount of time, say an hour a week working on the issue, you’ll be less likely to “lose it”. Keep focused on the problem at hand. Find solutions, maybe instead of golfing every week, the husband can golf every second week, or cut one week out. Negotiate and work together.

The idea is to focus on the real problem, don’t bring outside “stuff” into it. It’s not about his love for the children or the wife’s tight-ass attitude. Focus, talk, respect: these are the things you need to work on when arguing. If you love each other, you’ll want to work on fixing things to make your lives better, not worse for everyone involved. Remember it’s not about solving the issue on the first try, it’s about working together day in and day out.

Chip & Honey Toodee

What makes you feel loved?

When you begin a new relationship, everything is so wonderful… For the first few months of new love, we tend to use all the five languages of love.

  • Gift Giving (restaurant outings, making things, buying stuff)
  • Quality Time (restaurant outings, walks, movie watching, playing games)
  • Physical Touch (holding hands, massages, basically touching each other)
  • Acts of Service (massages, doing the dishes, helping clean, fixing things, walking his or her dog, picking them up from work)
  • Words of Affirmation ( I love you, you’re so nice, thanks for doing that, you’re so good at…)

But as the relationship grows, we tend to fall back on the language we prefer to receive and focus on that one, for the other person. The problem with that, is , that it may not be their love language. We would suggest that if you’re serious about the relationship you’re in, that you go and take the online test, and figure out what your love languages are.

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/

Once you know what each other’s love language, you can focus on doing it. That doesn’t mean you avoid the others all together. It just means you know what to focus on. That said, this will not give you the perfect relationship, it’s not a magic cure all. What it is, is a starting point to build a strong and long lasting relationship. In the next few Relationship blog posts we’ll be talking about other skills you’ll want to build to make or keep that relationship moving towards everlasting love.

Some topics we’ll be approaching are:

  • How to argue
  • Fighting, it’s a mental problem
  • Here’s my button… do you want to push it.
  • I’m sorry
  • Forgiveness means never forgetting
  • If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all
  • Kiss me
  • … and more

Come back soon.

Chip & Honey Toodee