Maribeth Doerr

Shades of Healing ~ Creating a Wholehearted Life

Please Don’t Run Away

Way back a gazillion years ago, my son was born with severe asphyxia due to birth trauma and died at 5 ½ days. He was my second baby, my first was stillborn at nearly 20 weeks due to a variety of pregnancy related issues. I was fortunate when Mark died to have access to a wonderful support group in San Diego called Empty Cradle. I went to the monthly meetings for about a year until I realized all the parents who had started when I did were pregnant again and some had already had a new healthy baby. I was still losing babies and my marriage with it so I started to feel like the group freak. No one else at that time had experienced multiple losses, and I could see eyebrows raising and eyes looking away when we started the meetings by introducing ourselves. People didn’t want to hear my story; in a nutshell, I was scaring people. No one wants to think it could happen again and I was proof that it could . . .

At that time in my life (I was 23), that was cause for a pity party. Whooooo baby, what a pity party! I’ll spare you all of those sordid details today (I’m sure they’ll come forth at another time) but eventually, when I remarried and conceived again, I knew I needed support and I wasn’t going to be pushed away from it because people were frightened of my story. So, I created my own support group that was nationwide and international where I matched parents together by the types of loss they’d had so they could write to each other for mutual support. This was before the internet and people actually wrote snail mail letters. Lo and behold, there were hundreds (probably thousands) of people out there who had had multiple losses, some never able to have healthy babies of their own. They were all feeling like freaks too, and like me, looking for something better than the pity party routine. Just knowing there were other people out there like ourselves was wonderful; we really weren’t freaks and all alone.

I didn’t mention that to toot my own horn. Pen-Parents worked because so many people contributed to making it work; it was a team effort from the beginning. I mention it because it’ an important reminder to me that when my story gets overwhelming for other people, there will always be folks out there with a worse one. And there will always be someone out there looking for support or with support to give that will connect with me. I just have to get out my own way and reach out for it.

In 2006, we had another one of those overwhelming years. My brother Michael (last remaining sibling having lost my brother Mark in 1999) was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He fought it HARD and in the middle of his struggle, my youngest son went through some scares. In February, he was hit in the face with a baseball during practice which broke his sinus cavity and crushed a lot of cartilage in his nose. Two weeks later after making the varsity team, his teammates shaved his head and found a lump on his head by the ear. After a few more doctor visits, we were referred to an ENT mostly for his nose because the pediatrician thought the lump was just a cyst. Long story short, the lump was a tumor and the ENT thought Chad had lymphoma and scheduled him for surgery the next day. It was terrifying especially given my brother’s diagnosis. The surgery went well although the tumor had grown quickly into the shape of a thumb and was invading the neck muscle and ear canal. The diagnosis was a dermoid tumor (benign), most likely remnants of Chad’s twin who died in utero.

It was the second time a doctor thought this child had cancer and it was traumatizing for all of us. I’ve lost five babies; I don’t want to lose any more children! (I know – who does want to lose a child?!) I was trying to move past that while helping my parents prepare to lose their last son and so I was off my game when it came to work (and most things honestly). I was distracted, slower than molasses and my decision making skills were not their best. I was dubbed Martyrbeth during this time – and that’s a story best left unsaid – but there was a lot of pain and sadness attached to that. Why couldn’t people empathize with what I was going through? Had they not lost someone they loved or been traumatized in some way that paralyzed them for a time (and how blessed they were if that was the case)? What kind of society is this that can’t relate to someone grieving or someone going through a difficult time? If you whine about getting ripped off at the grocery store, people jump up in righteous indignation with you. Complain about gas prices or the horror in Somalia and they’re right there with you. Cry about losing a brother and they wonder why in the hell you aren’t over it (in 15 days or less).

Fast forward to 2011 – my mom has died, my dad with early dementia has moved into my house, my husband hasn’t had a paycheck in a year, I need to finish sorting out my dad’s house to put it up for sale and in combining their house with mine, my house looks like a candidate for an episode of Hoarders. I need to find time in there to work to keep my business going. It’s a lot and there are times when it’s overwhelming like Friday night when Dad asked me where my mother was. And now . . . I’m beginning to scare people away again. Some people are avoiding me, and some only respond to the positive tweets and Facebook statuses. A lot of people are staying away from this blog now after loving the first few grief entries. Sorry folks; I can’t always be positive, and it’s not my job to make you feel better right now.

I’m not taking it personally this time and if someone wants to dub me something stupid like Martyrbeth, that’s their prerogative. That kind of thing reflects more on their state of mind than mine. Instead, I’m embracing those who aren’t scared of my story, those who have gone through much worse than I could ever dream of surviving, and those who will take my hand no matter what. I’m not the only one with a lot on her plate, and I’m not sitting here having a pity party. I’m putting one foot in front of the other and doing the best I can. And that’s certainly good enough for now.

So please don’t be afraid of me or my situation . . . and please don’t run away either. Let’s sit together for awhile and just be.

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Gratitude Month – Day 26 –The Love More Project

Over the summer, I was looking through the shows on Blog Talk Radio and found one on eating intuitively.  I clicked it on and was so impressed with honesty of the hosts.  When the show was over, I looked at the host information and discovered The Love More Project.  This simple discovery was Angel-sent . . .

Several years ago when I was the director for Pen-Parents (a support network for bereaved parents), it was common for members to send me gifts of angel statues, ornaments and books.  I started reading a lot about angels and was fascinated with books by Joan Wester Anderson and Terry Lynn Taylor.  When I moved on from Pen-Parents, the angel gifts stopped and as I got busy as a work at home mom and StorkNet, I moved away from the fascination with angels.

I’m certain now that my angels have been trying to get my attention for years, and it was their guidance that brought me to that radio show on a hot summer morning when I was procrastinating something I needed to do.  That show wasn’t even about angels although the hosts—Megan Gala and Gabe Hanson—certainly mentioned angels.    When the show was over, I noticed that it was produced by The Love More Project and that they hosted several shows throughout the week.  I had to know more.

The Love More Project was founded by Megan Gala who is an Angel Therapy Practitioner® certified by Doreen Virtue, Ph.D.   The Love More Project radio channel on Blog Talk Radio is just one aspect of The Love More Project.  Check out their website and read their monthly magazine.  They have a page on Facebook, and other offerings.  It’s all truly beautiful, and wouldn’t you agree the world needs more love?  LMP is working on just that by helping us love ourselves more so we can spread that love around.

The early morning show Monday through Friday is called Angel Awakenings, and we are blessed for 30 minutes with Tana Newberry.  My husband calls her the Angel Lady and if I oversleep, he brings me my laptop so we can listen to her show.  We’ve gotten into the habit of dedicating our day together as Tana instructs her listeners and the end of the show.  It’s amazing what a difference dedicating your day makes, and it’s become something special and even intimate for my husband and me. ♥

At 11am, Megan hosts a variety of shows, (currently The Healing Perspective with Sunita Newberry, Everyday Wisdom, Updates from the Realms and The Angel Hour with co-host Tana Newberry).  I have learned so much from these shows and I’m so grateful to be back in the warm embrace of my angels, this time with my husband sharing that embrace.  I could go on and on about what a difference this has made in my life!

And I have to give a big shout out to the LMP radio channel chatters.  It is THE best chat room on Blog Talk Radio with warm, compassionate, funny and amazing listeners.  There is truly nothing like it on the internet!

Thank you Megan, Tana, all the other LMP radio channel co-hosts, and the amazing chat room chatters.  Your love and compassion is making the world a kinder, gentler place. ♥

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51 Things . . .

Mari Unplugged

Mari Unplugged – no makeup, wrinkles showing, the REAL me

As my way of being authentic and opening up my voice, I decided to follow the lead of several bloggers who have taken their age and used that to come up with that number of things to tell people about themselves, either things they’re too shy to tell you in person or things you probably don’t know about them.  I thought it might be fun until I realized I’m older than these incredible bloggers so my list is longer and more boring!

And yes, I’m a boring girl.  I haven’t done a lot of exciting things but I don’t aspire to.  I find joy and delight in simple things; I don’t have to travel far and wide for excitement.  So, here it is in no particular order of preference . . . my list of 51 things I’m too shy to tell you or things you may not know about me:

  1. I am shy and introverted.  I have about a 3 hour limit of being with a lot of people and then I have to be alone to recharge my batteries.  I’m somewhat of an emotional empath, and according to the Myers Briggs testing, I’m an ISFP – introversion, sensing, feeling, perceiving – which seems to sum me up quite well.
  2. I’m neither left nor right brained; I’m down the middle which explains why it’s hard for me to make decisions at times when my logic and intuition do battle.
  3. I am hearing impaired and may be completely deaf at some point.  I also have constant tinnitus in both ears.  It’s a real trip when each ear is playing a different tune!
  4. I was married the first time at 19 and a virgin – I don’t recommend either (getting married that young or being a virgin).
  5. I gave birth to a preemie stillborn son one month before my 20th birthday.  I gave birth to an overdue son 3 years later who died at 5 1/2 days.  It took me 8 years to have a healthy baby.
  6. I was a baby sister with two older brothers who have both died.  I hate being an only child after being the spoiled baby for 40 years.
  7. I’ve had a near death experience.
  8. I find something to be grateful for every single day.  I’ve experienced a lot of loss and struggles in my life.  The best way for me to go on is to be grateful for all that I do have rather than dwell on what I don’t.  Life can be very hard at times, but it’s also very very good!  Yin–yang!
  9. I went to 5 different grade schools, 2 different junior highs, and 1 high school (although we moved to a different house while I was in high school).  All of this moving disrupted my ability to make and enjoy friendships.  I vowed not to do this to my kids.  My sons have gone to 1 grade school, 1 middle school, and 1 high school and lived in the same house during that entire time.  Mission accomplished!
  10. The first time I saw my 2nd husband, a voice in my head said I would marry him someday.  We were just passing by in a courtyard at work, and I had no idea who he was.
  11. My parents didn’t give me a middle name.  I always felt weird without a middle initial so when I got married, my maiden name became my middle name.  My middle name is Wilder than yours 😉
  12. I hate talking politics and religion with anyone, including my family.  I’m registered non-partisan just to prove my point.
  13. I was born on my mother’s 31st birthday and every now and then, our birthday falls on Mother’s Day.  My poor dad living with two Taurus women!
  14. I’ve had a crush on Al Pacino for years.  YUM!  My nephew used to tell my husband when I had a bad day that Aunt Mari needed a margarita and an Al Pacino movie!
  15. My biggest regret – I never finished my Bachelor’s Degree.  I have an Associate’s but big whoop.  I do have to admit that not having a Bachelor’s hasn’t held me back in any way.
  16. At age 10, I prayed to God that I would wake up a boy.  The first time I wore panty hose, I climbed a tree and ripped them to shreds.  No wonder I ended up with all sons!
  17. My husband and I were married at Waimea Falls, Hawaii with 200 people watching.  We didn’t know any of them; a tour bus stopped as we were saying our vows and they all got out to watch.
  18. I started a non-profit organization for bereaved parents in 1988.  I matched parents by the types of losses they had.  I was the director for 8 years and during that time, we had separate groups in Canada and Australia.  In my group we helped over 2000 grieving families.  It’s the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.
  19. I used to do a lot of public speaking.  Yes, this shy girl!  I once gave a speech at the National Black Nurses Association’s annual conference.  It was an amazing experience.  I’ve also spoken at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC – another amazing experience.  I was also interviewed on the old Home Show with Gary Collins and Beth Ruyiak which was just weird.
  20. I’ve never broken a bone.  I’ve cracked my tailbone and sprained a few things but never broken anything.
  21. I was a band geek!  I played the flute for 7 years in school and was in the high school marching band.  I wish I had continued playing in college.
  22. My favorite Mother’s Day activity is driving to Oakland and going to an A’s game.  See how lucky my men are 😉
  23. I’ve been a Denver Broncos fan since I was a teenager.  Long live John Elway!  I may be a calm quiet girl until I watch the Broncos – then I’m LOUD.
  24. One of my sons is named after Eric Clapton and a Hall of Fame baseball player.
  25. I have two butts . . . according to my sons when they were little.  My cesarean scars run from belly button to pubic bone, separating my stomach muscles so it looks like I have a butt in front.  My poor boys thought that’s how all women were made.
  26. I had a hysterectomy at 32, and that scar runs from hip to hip.  Now it looks like I have an anchor on my stomach or the cross, depending on which angle you’re looking from.  It’s easier to take if I think of it as the sign of the cross (or a blessing as a nurse once told me in a Catholic hospital).
  27. I make the best chocolate chip M&M cookies in the world.  I hate to cook but love to bake and those are my specialty.
  28. I tear up every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner sung live.
  29. I was addicted to pepsi and coke until 2004 when I developed pancreatitis and was the sickest I’ve ever been in my life.  I haven’t had coke or pepsi since and my teeth are thanking me.
  30. I’ve had long hair for the last 15 years and I don’t care that people say women over 40 shouldn’t have it.  Pfft to you.  Sure, I’d look younger and more hip with a short do but it’s too much fuss for me.  Long live my ponytail and French braid!
  31. I’ve lost 40 lbs two different times in my life.  It’s probably time to start on #3!  I’ve had eating disorders for a good chunk of my life and was addicted to exercise for awhile.  Hard to find balance!
  32. I love road trips but hate flying.  I haven’t flown since 1999.  Hubby and I hope to travel the country with a camping trailer when we retire.
  33. I have a zany sense of humor and love to laugh.  Life is too short to be cranky all the time.  I’m blessed to have a silly family!  I love hearing people laugh and noticing how unique everyone’s laugh, and even giggle, are.
  34. I believe one of the keys to good parenting is respect – you have to respect your children as the unique individuals they are instead of trying to make them into whatever you think they should be or clones of yourself.  Respect your kids and they’ll respect you!
  35. I envy people who can pick up a pencil and draw.  I used to be able to sketch quite well when I was a teenager and somehow along the way, I’ve lost that completely.
  36. I love to spend rainy days curled up with a quilt and good book.  Love to read!
  37. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving – family and food!  I always cook and for 2 days, my house is clean and the fridge full.
  38. I was a waitress for 5 long days in high school.  I was terrible at it.  After trying to make a milk shake and having the metal container fly off the machine slopping chocolate shake all over a table of customers, I left and never tried it again.
  39. I’ve lived in the same house for 20 years (after moving constantly as a child and in my 20’s) and I hope I never have to move – EVER.  My house is old, cluttered and falling apart but I’ve raised a happy family here.  It has good vibes to it.
  40. I am an obnoxious gum chewer.
  41. I’m a fabric fondler.  Anyone who quilts knows what I mean.  🙂
  42. Yoga makes me feel new.  That’s a damn wonderful thing when you’re 51!
  43. When I get hungry, I have to eat NOW.  My youngest son wants to get a bumper sticker for me that says, “It’s not road rage; she’s just hungry.”  My husband used to carry crackers in the car for emergencies and called them anti-bitch biscuits.
  44. I love techy gadgets but no iphones, smartphones or whatever for me.  I have a cellphone for emergencies and I usually forget to turn it on.  I’m just not a phone girl!
  45. I have to live in an area with mountains.  I actually feel panicky when I’m in flat places and can’t see hills or mountains.  I need something to visually break up the elevation for some weird reason.
  46. I collected TV Guide covers from 1972 until 2004 – 32 years worth of covers.  I stopped when they went to the larger size and it was more of a magazine.  I have no idea why I started this bizarre collection.  The funny thing about it now is I rarely watch TV.
  47. I don’t watch the news or read newspapers – too depressing.
  48. My favorite reason to go to the movies is to eat tons of buttered popcorn.
  49. I taught Sunday School to 3 & 4 year olds for 5 years in a Lutheran church.  Taught is probably not the right word; we did a lot of craft projects and eating snacks.
  50. I love to plant container gardens in pots.  Mixing different flowers and plants makes me feel like an artist.  I had 120 pots one summer.  I like to dig in dirt!
  51. I hosted an internet radio show for StorkNet Family for 7 months in 2007.  It was exhausting but fun.  I really loved it!

So there you have it – Mari unplugged.  It’s a huge leap of faith to write all of that, baring myself so that you all know how boring I am – but I’m a happy person and one of my next posts will be about finding delight.  I’ve been inspired by Jen Louden‘s August topic in her Comfort Cafe.

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