“You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.” ~ Rocky Balboa

So, it’s one of these weird ‘things’ that I’m struggling with and obviously a situation for which I have no experience. I have been dating a guy for the last 5 weeks and am crazy about him. But…and there’s always a but…I am feeling a bit addled because of my conflicting emotions.

First, I honestly don’t know what to call this guy. Boyfriend sounds sort of juvenile to me…when I used to say partner about someone, people looked at me askance and asked if I was gay (which always made me think about how in love I am with Lady Gaga😳)…when I say ‘Significant Other’, I think that could be near about everyone in my life since they are all significant to me…and the ‘l’ word (i.e. ‘lover’) makes me gag simply because it was ma’s favorite word and made Terri and I cringe every time we heard it 🤢. We staunchly maintain, even today, that ma never ever ever had sexual relations, much like Clinton’s stance regarding Monica Lewinsky. So, for the sake of brevity, I’ll call this guy ‘the guy’. Easy peasy. 😀

In any case, he’s bringing happiness into my life and he’s doing this during a time when I’m missing ma so much that it physically makes me hurt. And that’s the quandry. I feel like my emotions are a rubber band being pulled in opposite directions and no matter what side I let go of, I’ll feel that stinging snap we’re all so familiar with.

The guy and I have so much fun going out together. We already have a favorite restaurant and special things we like to do. Watching movies with him is a blast…particularly all of the ‘Rocky’s’ since we both know the scripts by heart. And without trying to cause him any disrespect, I will say this: my “Yo Adrian” is just a tad better than his. We’re both fitness nuts (shutty 🙄) and spend tons of time in the gym, plus we can talk for hours and never run out of things to say. But honestly, here’s the thing that makes him stand apart from everyone else I’ve ever been with: his compassion.

After ma died, I was quite taken aback by the fact that O’s dad and my ‘exes’ never reached out to me. Ma treated EVERYONE that Terri and I have loved very well…she was never not kind or generous or supportive. Ma was ‘mother in law’ to O’s dad for 13 years and to motorcycle ex for 10; for them to not acknowledge her was rude and uncalled for. Plus, she always was amazing to men I dated that she pretty much abhorred…simply because I loved them at the time. Terri and I are always saying that ma was truly a class act.

The guy never knew her but has listened to me cry…vent…reminisce. He’s looked at umpteen pictures of her and sat through the stories that are behind all of them. And every single day, he texts me in the morning to see how I slept and if I’m feeling good about the day or not. It’s very different for me to have someone be that concerned about my emotions (in terms of guy…not my family!). One time I was telling him how amazing ma genuinely was and started bawling. After blowing my nose on his t-shirt (which actually makes him even that more attractive to me since it’s my mucus on his workout gear 😐) I apologized for yet another cry session. And here’s what he said: “Kristi, If I were to go into your kitchen and spill some milk, would you be mad? Would it be OK?” I was perplexed by the randomness of this and the thought of him being a ‘bit off’ briefly crossed my mind. I said: “Well of course not…I’d just mop it up with you.” Then he said: “Should I beat myself up over having had an accident?” And I said: “No! It happens to everyone.” And he said: “right.”

He told me how it was OK to ‘spill the milk’ – to break down and to be sad and angry and confused and everything else I’m feeling about my mom. He said that of course it happens and apologies aren’t needed…he just wants to be there to help ‘mop up the spill.’ In other words, he doesn’t want me to ever be sorry for mourning ma. Is he a winner or what? 🙂

But honestly, it’s the start of something new and I do feel guilty when this happens. I realize my situation is different from most relationship ‘starts’ and that I’m walking into something with a heart already shattered, but feeling bad at a time when I would normally feel good in a relationship makes me think I’m doing something ‘wrong’ to him.

However, we have the flip side. He makes me laugh…really laugh…and smile and whistle and hum…all of the things I always used to do before last August. And the problem? Feeling guilty for not being sad all of the time over ma. How can I laugh and joke when ma died? How can I ever allow myself to feel good things when the worst thing in my world has happened? Am I dishonoring ma by having this positive in my life? Am I not grieving for her as deeply as I should?

So no matter what, I feel bad. I feel bad when I’m happy in terms of disrespecting ma…and I feel bad when I’m sad in terms of burdening the guy. It’s a catch 22 at it’s finest. But I also know this, ma wants me happy. She wants Terri happy. In fact, that’s really all she ever wanted in her whole life…for us to know we were loved and that no matter what, she’d be there cheering us on in whatever we chose to do.

I talk to ma every night. Actually, I talk to her throughout the day but nighttime is our special time. After I talk to God, I look out my window and say “Hey ma” (the beginning of all of our phone conversations 😔) and chat about my day, and I swear I can hear her holding up her end of the talk. The loneliness I felt after she passed was horrible and having to grieve alone in my house with only Edward to hug wasn’t easy. So, I started asking her this: “Ma…you’ve always known what’s best for me. If you come across someone that you trust will be good to me, let me know.” I also asked her to get God’s input as well.

After about a month of this, I was compelled to check out a gym I had never even considered going into before. I swooped in the parking lot and was actually wondering why in the hell I was there. It’s more of an ‘old timee’ gym with no fancy frills – just weights, machines, sweat and tears…much like Mick’s gym (that’s a Rocky reference.). It wasn’t me. I like color coordinated walls with matching machines…carpet runners…fancy schmancy locker rooms…and people who look like they stepped out of Shape magazine. Instead I saw real people working out and a camaraderie I had never experienced in any gym before.

Then the man behind the desk asked if he could help me, and when he did this, he smiled. At that moment, I smiled…truly smiled…for the first time since August 2nd. After we’d gotten close, he said something that really resonated with me: he said that I bring him peace (ok ex-partners, quit rolling your eyes in case they freeze that way 🙄). I realized that I was at peace with him too. There are no games. No insecurity. No nervousness. No distrust. For the first time in a very long time, there’s peace within me too.

And maybe that’s why he was the one that entered my life. When ma was dying, she told Terri that she wanted me to be OK and for Terri not to worry. In other words, she wanted us to have peace in our lives. To have contentment. To have security. She wanted us to have exactly what she had always given to us herself. I know Terri has this with Dan and to be experiencing this with the guy is a gift right now.

Love you ma. Love you more.

Kristi xoxo

Author: Kristi

Just a bipolar Professor working to end the stigma of mental illness.

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