“I am woman, hear me roar…” ~ Helen Reddy

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Photo by Nadine Wuchenauer on Pexels.com

So, I’m very confused.  Yes, I know it’s not a new state for me to be in so maybe I should have said that I’m confused even more than usual.  However, that’s a very confusing sentence and I’m confused about whether or not I should have stuck a comma in there somewhere, but anyhoot, confused is what I am.  😀

Answer me this:  why are we constantly being bombarded by ‘motivational quotes’ and people’s posts that say we’re all beautiful and wonderful and talented and special, etc. but then when we say it about ourselves, we’re called narcissistic?  In other words, I’m supposed to ‘think’ I’m all of these incredible things, but if I say that I’m any of these things well then by golly, I’m being conceited.  Really peeps, does that make sense to you?

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When did it become such a bad thing to say good things about ourselves?  I always give compliments to people and I mean every one of them I say.  I tell my students how amazingly wonderful they are (which they really are…funny thing:  every single semester for 25 years I have gotten the BEST students in the college in my classroom 😃)…I tell my son how incredibly talented he is (his photos blow me away 😮), I tell ma how beautiful she is (and she is…except for the way she does the sides of her hair…”Ma: for the love of all that is holy, don’t comb them back, just scrunchy them and let ’em go.  Just sayin’ 🙄), and the list goes on.  But if I compliment myself?

Look at what we say to people who do:  “Well, you must think a lot of yourself!”  “You’re full of yourself, aren’t ya?”  “Who do you think you are?”  “Don’t get above your raisin!”  “Remember, pride goeth before a fall!”  “Gee…you’re so self-centered!”  And on and on and on.

What the hell?  So, let me get this straight:  I’m supposed to take in the messages that I’m beautiful in my own way, understand that I have talents and things to offer, feel good about myself and have high self-esteem, but if I SAY any of these things are true, I’m pretty much looked at as an egotistical maniac?  Okey Dokey.

C’mon peeps.  I’m here to tell you something you might never have heard before.  Are you ready?  It’s OK to have pride in yourself and to talk positively about yourself and feel good about yourself.  So there.  Got it?

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I’ll start it:  I’m beautiful.  Well wait a sec…let me rephrase that:  I’m a 6 out of 10 after I take my shower, wash my face with micellar water (the freaking best thing ever…I’m going to buy stock in Garnier 😳), blow dry my shampooed/conditioned/twice rinsed/gelled hair…curl it up with my curling iron…apply my ‘blur’ moisturizer to lessen the looks of my laugh lines (a.k.a. wrinkles)…put my mascara on with a double coat and then use my eyelash curler which looks like a little S & M device…put oil absorbing powder on my face since I’m a shiny person…put on my all day lipstick (L’oreal  #50)…slather gloss over that…pick out my clothes and make sure I have something on that’s dark because I’m a ‘winter’😳…and there.  I’m beautiful.  Sorta.  🙄 (Now…I’ll bet you each a donut that ma writes a comment to me on FB saying how beautiful I am just because she’s so freaking sweet ♥).

So please Pinterest, quit telling me I am every time I open your app.  I’m average (or a tad under) but I’m OK with that.  I’m ok saying I look ok instead of saying I look like crap when someone compliments me:  “Hey Kristi…looking good!” (I heard that once…a LLLLOOOONNNNGGGG time ago but I digress).  “Hey, thanks!”  So many of us women will say:  “Aww, no I don’t!  I didn’t get much sleep last night!”  Or, they’ll point out specific things.  “My hair just won’t do anything today!”  It’s almost a given to counteract a compliment instead of agreeing with it.  BUT, we’re told that we ARE beautiful so what are we to do?

Another one:  I’m talented.  Not in the way I want to be:  on stage singing and dancing with Taron while he whirls me across the floor at Carnegie Hall, but in other ways.  Like, I’m a talented professor.   “OMG, Kristi…quit bragging!”

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Why?  I’m a really fucking great teacher (sorry ma, but remember that I said how sweet you are 😳).  It’s what I’ve wanted to be all of my life and I’m very very proud of going from being a high school ‘D’ student who barely graduated, to a Professor who earned her Master’s Degree while being a full-time mama to a 1 year old son and maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA.  School is my thing, peeps, and I’m really good at it.  📚

Is that bad for me to say?  Why?  Aren’t we supposed to have pride in what we do?  You know, I was a really fucking great waitress too while I was in college.  I didn’t have the boobs to help me get better tips, but my service was great.  Hello!  I’m bipolar and being a manic waitress is awesome!  Water glasses were filled immediately…I could handle 10 tables at once…I was quick to bring extra ranch dressing (everyone always wants more ranch…Hmmm.), etc.

And on another note…why is it wrong to be self-centered at times?  My sweetie neighbors are wonderful.  WONDERFUL.  (R, if you’re reading this, I have another succulent cutting for you 🌵).  The guy has been working hours and hours restoring a car and he’s an amazingly talented man…the car will be perfect!  We were yakking over the fence the other night and he said he felt selfish restoring this car for himself because of all the time it was taking.  I said:  C, it’s not selfish to do what you want!  To work on something that’s so important to you.

And it’s not!  What’s selfish about pursuing things you want to do?  Eating what you want to eat?  Saying no to commitments you don’t want to go too?  I’m not saying you should be so self-absorbed that you are shutting out other people, but I’m tired of treating others better than myself.  Tired of allowing them the leeway I don’t give myself.  Guess what?  I’m going to start being a bit more selfish.  And I think that’s healthy!

Look my sweetie grasshoppers, I’m not saying you should be an egotistical asshole.  But I do think you should have pride and self-assurance and a sense of being pleased about who you are and what you have accomplished.  I think it’s OK to be your own cheerleader.  To be your own support.  To be your own fan.  (I bought a fan the other day and was blown away by the price.  Get it?  I’m funny too! 🙄).

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I saw this quote on Pinterest:  “The more you like yourself, the more other people don’t.”  What the fuck?  You told me to love myself!  That I’m wonderful!  BUT, if I LIKE myself, others won’t?  So, using my deductive reasoning skills: if I actually LOVE myself, others will hate me.  Right?  Sheesh.

Why are we like this?  Why do we preach to others about how important it is to build up a high self-esteem and feel worthy and have pride in ourselves, but then put people down when they achieve it and show it?  I’m done doing that.

Look, I’m 53 years old (blech 👵) and it’s time I started saying I’m a pretty cool person.  No, I don’t think I’m awesome or amazing or the ‘best’.  But I do think I have a lot to offer…have some talent…have some things about me that are pretty boss (like my use of groovy slang and emojis) and by golly, it’s time to be proud of who I am.  For all of us to be proud of who we are.  Out loud.  🎺

Kristi xoxo

 

“The things we fear the most have already happened to us.” ~ Robin Williams

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Dear Robin,

So I’m writing this to you smack between the day you were born and the day you died since I couldn’t decide which one was more appropriate.  Maybe neither of them are, but I always think about you around this time every year and wanted you to know it.

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I remember the first time I saw you; my sis and I loved watching Happy Days together and while she was crazy about bad-boy Fonzie, I was a Potsie girl (I think I’m more of a Fonz gal now and sissy is definitely married to a  Potsie 😳 ).  One night someone new was on the screen, Mork from Ork, and I was suddenly besotted with an alien who had an adorbs face and a twinkle in his eye.  Sayonara, Potsie…I’m going another way.

Anyhoot, I became a fan immediately and loved loved loved following your career throughout my life.  When Mork and Mindy came on, I wanted to be Mindy so bad!  She had this great apartment, LONG shiny hair, and you.  That was the best part.  You made her laugh and love and cry and I thought that’s the kind of man I want.  Someone who can make me feel good no matter what else is going on (plus, I really loved your hairy arms 😉).

When you started showing up on the big screen, I didn’t miss any of your movies.  Seeing you portray Adrian Cronauer who made Vietnam soldiers laugh was amazing and there were so many times I held my breath while you worked to make catatonic patients feel alive again by playing Dr. Sayer.  As a fancy-schmancy professor, I really found myself drawn to Dead Poets Society and I watch it periodically to remind myself of the influence I can have in my sweetie student’s lives.

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Even though so many people loved your performance in Mrs. Doubtfire and think it’s your best, I don’t and here’s why:  I hated the entire premise of that movie.  I watched it once and cried after others had told me how funny it was.  So, I watched it again and cried again, and won’t even consider clicking on it when I’m perusing movies on amazon.  I thought it was tragic how a dad of your caliber who clearly loved his kids and made a fun, comfortable life for them had to resort to being someone else to see them.  It royally pissed me off and I thought it was a horrible premise for a comedy.  I know, I know…I’m a party pooper 💩.  No surprise there.

And even though I didn’t want to watch One Hour Photo since you were playing a sociopath, I finally did and came away with a much different view.  I didn’t see you as villainous at all.  I saw you as a mentally ill, lonely man who desired a family so badly you resorted to anything you could to feel that connection and believe you belonged.

Finally, here’s a confession about your movies:  I still can’t watch Patch Adams.  Still.  Seeing you so vulnerable after your love was murdered is something I can’t bring myself to watch because after what happened to you, it hits too close to home.  See, I think you were murdered too.  It wasn’t a psychopath or a serial killer (I guess that’s pretty much the same, huh 🙄), but a monster named depression and that son-of-a-bitch is relentless.

It’s common knowledge that you suffered from bouts of depression but many professionals believe you actually had bipolar disorder which many creative people have.  Those bouts of high energy and racing thoughts and fast thinking are evident in your stand-up comedy and whenever I have watched your performances, I feel an almost a frenetic vibe.  So much of your ‘acting’ was improvised and I can actually see in your eyes that you aren’t just trying to make people laugh…you are channeling this avalanche of energy into something you have an obsessive need to accomplish:  laughter, acceptance, applause.

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You never came out and said you were bipolar and I understand that because it’s so fucking stigmatized in our society…right up there with schizophreia (sorry, ma.  My ma hates that word and my guilt using it makes me apologize every time 🙄).  See, I have bipolar myself and it took me almost losing my life before I wanted to admit it.  Please don’t think I’m being cocky here, but I see a lot of me in you.  There were so many times growing up that I didn’t know how the hell (ma doesn’t mind that one…it’s in the Bible) to channel all that was in my head.  I’ve tried time and time again to explain to others what it feels like but I can’t.  How do you explain this tornado?  This storm?  This incredibly huge amount of ‘something’ that you have to direct or you feel like you’ll blow up?  It’s such a frantic feeling and when I have it (which is actually now…I’m in a manic state right now and work on my house 12 hours non-stop a day but can’t sleep), I’m almost delirious with the energy.  In so many of your performances, I see this delirium in you as well.  To be honest, it breaks my heart.

But underneath this, the fucking (I’m a rebel 😎) darkness remains.  How did you act so happy and make so many people laugh and feel good about themselves when depression was still dragging you down?  Most people believe that when someone is in a manic phase, their depression is buried.  Bullshit.  The depression is always seething under that intensity…it’s just biding it’s time until it shows itself fully again.  I think that’s why those of us with bipolar are always being asked if we’re OK.  See, our eyes give us away and as much as we think we hide it well, our eyes tell the full story.  As my mentor would have said:  the little bastards.

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That depressive fucker showed itself to you one last time, didn’t it?  And when I read that it had won, I was devastated.  After you committed suicide (I don’t believe in sugar-coating stuff by using euphemisms) you wife said you were killed by the ‘terrorist’ inside your brain.  What a perfect way to put it.  You didn’t commit suicide.  Your depression killed you.

I remember how quickly sentiment about your death turned from grief and sympathy to being judgmental with people saying things like ‘he was so selfish to do this.’  OK…that might be one way to look at it and if I ever experience a suicide in my family, I can only imagine how incredibly angry and lost and confused I’d be.  But I also know this:  when you are in the state where you want your pain to end because it’s finally too overwhelming to bear, you don’t see anything but the dark hole you’ve been bull-dozed into.  Nothing.  Robin, I know you weren’t being selfish because I understand how you were no longer able to fight the depression beast any longer.  I’m so sorry for that.

I love what you say to Matt Damon near the end of Good Will Hunting when he’s trying to come to terms with the abuse in his life: “It’s not your fault.”  What a powerful statement that is.  Four little words but an impact that can’t be measured.  How often I’ve wanted to hear those words myself and when you say them in the movie, I think there are a lot of people who respond to them like Matt does.  And Robin?  Just for the record, it was not your fault.

So thanks for the memories, Robin.  Nope, I didn’t know you personally but you impacted my life a great deal and I’m so grateful for the time we spent together.  You once said that if heaven exists, it would be nice to know there was laughter…to hear God say, “Two Jews walked into a bar…”.  You know what I think?  I think heaven is real and I also believe that because of you, there’s laughter there.

Kristi xoxo

 

“Positivity isn’t always so great.” ~ Prof K

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So, would it sound really bad if I said I hate toxic positivity?  Like, really hate it? I know the word toxic is in there and that’s never good, but positivity?  Can you hate positivity?  Uh…yeah…you can.  But do my sweet peeps know what ‘toxic positivity’ is?  In a nutshell, the term refers to being constantly told by society to ALWAYS BE HAPPY!  No. Matter. What.  Do you know what I say to that?  Blech.

61DJR04g9tLLook, I know we are living in hard times and I get that.  People want to be happy.  But why are we being ‘forced’ to be happy all of the time?  At all costs?  Why are negative emotions seen as so horrible?  “Don’t get mad!”  “Turn that frown upside down!”  “C’mon…smile…things aren’t so bad!”  Heh?  Why can’t we get mad?  If someone hurts us or we almost get in an accident or we get swindled by a deal on e-bay, why the hell can’t we be mad?  Isn’t it just common sense that we would feel that way?  If I get cut-off by some boob in a speeding car, I’m not going to smile and say everything is peachy.  I’m going to be pissed and I think that’s a-okay!  If I want to frown because of something I read or heard or saw, I’m going to do it.  I’m not going to ‘turn it upside down’ and pretend to be happy, especially when reading the ending of “A Prayer for Owen Meany” (Note:  love ya, B &#10084)  And for fuck sakes (dammit…sorry ma… 🙄), if I buy a plant from e-bay and the pic shows something from the Garden of Eden, but when I open the box I get a blade of grass, I’m going to probably say a lot of things ma would wash my mouth out with soap for.  And why not?  Sheesh.

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So why am I talking about this now?  Y’all know how much I love Pinterest.  If Pinterest was a guy, I’d kidnap him and force him to marry me because I know it would be heavenly and that the marriage would actually last (this time 😳).  Anyhoot, I am always seeing motivational quotes and I started thinking that they were actually pretty insincere and just…well…plain stupid.

“Life is too short to be anything but happy.”  Okey dokey.  🤨  C’mon.   We need to be happy for our entire life?  So…when my grandparents died, I should have smiled and been happy?  No!  I did not feel happy during these times…I felt like crap.  Yes, I know they went to heaven but that didn’t take away my sorrow at the time.  What about people who were living through the Holocaust?  The Great Depression?  WWI?  Were they supposed to be ‘happy’ because life is too short?  Doesn’t that sound like a crock of shit to you?  (And ma…don’t get mad at that one…you say it ALL of the time 💩).

“Hey Kristi…you know the quote isn’t quite as dramatic as you’re making it.”  It isn’t?  Uh…yeah it is.  It doesn’t have a disclaimer about times when you are allowed to be sad.  The sentence stands alone (like me 🧀).  Doesn’t it?

How about this:  “Make today AWESOME!”  Hmmmm…OK.  I personally think there are a lot of words being overused in our language these days, and awesome is one of them.  The word literally means ‘awe-inspiring’, ‘magnificent’,  ‘wondrous.’  Peeps, working on my classes, folding my laundry, picking up poop in the yard before Dottie and Eddie can have a nibble, and scrubbing my bathtub does not make for an awe-inspiring day by any stretch of the imagination.  Moses parting the Red Sea was awesome.  See the diff?  But if I don’t make my day the most majestic I’ve ever experienced that would awe the poop out of you, I’m falling short.  Right?

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Rachel Hollis is an author and motivational speaker (which is what I want to be! 🤓) and wrote the book “Girl, Wash your Face!”  (I tend to wash everything…just sayin’).  Anyhoot, she has come up with some goodies herself:  “If you’re unhappy, that’s on you.”  What the fuck?  If I’m depressed because I’m bipolar and cycling down, that’s on me?  ME?  She’s blaming me for that?  Well, spank me hard!  I didn’t know I could control my clinical depression from a disease that affects my brain chemistry and functioning.  So, to all of you grasshoppers out there who have depression, cheer the hell up!  It’s on you if you’re down.

Here’s another gem from Rachel:  “You are in charge of your own happiness.”  Look lady, if I was in ‘charge’ of my own happiness, I sure as shit wouldn’t be 3x divorced and living alone with 2 dogs and 30 plants who are my only company most days.  Hey…there’s only so much YOU can do to be happy because our circumstances dictate our moods as well!  If I would happen to get Covid (God forbid any of us do, but I’d much rather get it than my folks), I’m not going to be happy no matter how much I ‘charge’ myself to be.  Blech again.

Now, before you start thinking I’m a huge downer and am bullying Rachel, I’m not!  I just think that the toxic positivity she often spreads does more harm than good.  I cannot make everyday awesome.  I can’t always be in charge of my happiness.  I can’t always force myself out of a down mood.  NO ONE CAN!  But hearing these little nuggets can make people feel they SHOULD be able too!  And when we ‘fail’, we feel shittier than we did in the beginning.  Thanks for that, Rachel.

Here’s a quote I think we’ve all heard at one time or another:  “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  Heh?  So, if I don’t DIE from the horrible-ness of something that could in fact be fatal (according to the quote…very inspiring), I’ll be stronger?  Dead or strong?  Talk about Russian roulette. 😲

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“Cupcakes are muffins that believed in miracles.”  Seriously?  Read that again peeps, and then tell me honestly you didn’t roll your eyes so far back in your head that you now need to take a Tylenol.  A muffin believed in miracles and changed itself into a cupcake.  OK.  I’m gonna let you in this:  if I ever…EVER…see my muffin start growing icing and sprinkles, I’m going to check myself into a facility.  Quickly.

And my all time favorite?  “Never give up.”  C’mon.  Sometimes you have to stop trying…you need to give up.  Like Kenny Rogers said:  “You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em…know when to walk away, know when to run…” (as I typed that, I was singing it at the top of my lungs and Dottie got up from my side and hobbled into the other room.  Huh.  😐).  Ssssoooo…J wanted to end our relationship.  I didn’t.  Therefore, I should have kept calling and calling and calling and not give up until the result I wanted was met even though there was a snowballs chance in hell it would be.  My dear grasshoppers, that’s called stalking.  It’s OK to give up on some things…it really is.  It does NOT make you a failure or a quitter.  Sometimes, things are just not feasible to do.  Take me:  I’d like to get my doctorate.  However, the cost and time is something out of my reach right now, so yes, I’m ‘giving up’ on that.  Not because I’m a big loser, but because I don’t have $45,000 to pay for it and 40 extra hours a week to work on it right now.

This toxic positivity has seeped into everyone’s life.  Every so often, I see someone posting a really sad situation on FB and their ‘friends’ will say things like:  ‘It’ll get better!”  “Focus on the good!”  “Don’t let it get you down!”  Maybe what they need to hear is: “I know this is hard for you, what can I do to help?”  or “I’m sorry you are feeling so bad.”  Forcing someone to be happy when they aren’t minimizes and belittles the true feelings they are experiencing.  Look, God gave us the capacity to experience a WIDE range of feeling.  Both good and bad.  Why do we suppress half of what we have inside of us?

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Why do we feel like we have to wear a happy mask in this world?  Why do people post only HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY on their social media, instead of posting REAL REAL REAL?  Why are we living such fake lives in this regard?  Why, in the name of all that is holy (note to my sweetie students:  you know how to say that 😉), do we have to wear a smiley face mask constantly?

Today, 1:5 people experience anxiety and diagnosis of  major depression has risen over 30%Our World in Data shows that from 2010-2013, Facebook saw a 126% increase in users and Twitter grew 417%.  In 3 years!  And the numbers continue to skyrocket:  from 2010 to NOW, FB has grown 359% and Twitter, 663%.  Hmmmm.  So the more people on social media, the more anxious and depressed we are.  Take a look-see at this:

“Natalie Hendry from RMIT University’s School of Media and Communication says social media is a breeding ground for toxic positivity, because the face-tuned picture-perfect lives can leave us feeling like we have to be happy – all the time.  ‘Struggle, pain, confusion, boredom, distress – all things that are just as human as happiness, joy or feeling fulfilled – are shut down by overly positive messages,” Dr. Hendry says.” Kelly Scott – ABC Life

Peeps…I’m not saying you shouldn’t post happy and positive experiences.  Not at all.  But what I am saying is this:  it’s OK not to be happy all of the time.  It’s OK to feel sad, mad, aggravated, exasperated, angry, fearful, bored, jealous and any other ‘negative’ emotion out there.  We’re only human and to have the expectation that we are made up of glitter and rainbows who poop out unicorns is unfeasible, to say the least.  We should NOT feel guilty for not being OUR VERY VERY BEST(!) all of the time, because in reality that’s never going to happen.  Reality can be pretty icky for all of us at times, and it’s ok to admit that.  It’s ok to feel that.  It’s ok to experience that.  Even Rachel is facing this right now:  she and her hubby of 18 years are divorcing (and how horrible for them and their beautiful kids 😟), and I know (all too well 🙄) how terribly devastating this is.  But when you’ve posted again and again about your wonderful, happy, super duper marriage AND scores of people paid big bucks to go to workshops where you and your ex-hubby touted your marriage as an example for others to live by (while you were struggling with it in ‘real’ life),  it shows how things aren’t always as they seem.  She once said this:  “We don’t want a good marriage, we don’t even want a great marriage.  We want an exceptional marriage.”  I’m wondering if by saying this, she kind of set herself up for failure by reaching for this unattainable star.  Phenomenal marriages aren’t out there, sweetie.  Two imperfect human beings cannot have a near perfect life together and to be honest, your readers would probably take comfort in knowing that.

Maybe this over-expectation was an issue.  Maybe it’s an issue so many of us face.  Hearing about how wonderful and exciting and happy and beautiful and…well…perfect our lives are supposed to be can often make us think we aren’t doing something right.  Here we are poking the remote while we should be reaching for a star instead.  Here we are being upset about our struggles right now but are told to ‘just be happy.’  People preach to always try harder…expect more…be more.  But you know what I think?  Maybe just doing the best you can is enough.

Kristi xoxo

“We don’t want no devils in the house, God…” ~ Kanye West

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Dear Kim,

So, I’m going to be honest right from the start and I hope you understand but I’m not a big fan of yours.  I’m sorry, it’s just that I try so hard to teach  my sweetie students that their beauty and worth comes from within, and then for them to see you on Instagram wearing corsets, in make-up that looks to be as thick as a steak, and then photoshopped to where you have no hair follicles kind of confuses them.  But anyhoot, I digress (which is very common for me to do 🙄).

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Look, your husband needs help.  And he needs it now.  It’s true Kanye and I have very little in common.  I’m white and he’s black.  I’m a woman and he’s a man, I’m a middle-class professor in a smallish city in IL and he’s a star that jet sets across the world, and I’m not running for president (yet…but a gal at Hobby Lobby told me I should…what do you think 😳?).  However, we both have bipolar disease and that connects us more than anything else could.

I know you are well aware of his mental illness, but I don’t understand why you haven’t helped him get the long-term treatment that could benefit him tremendously.  Yes, he was in a mental health facility for a short while in 2016 which led to his diagnosis, but that was only a band-aid on what he really needs.  I know he doesn’t want to take medications in case it ‘stifles his creativity’ (I like to macrame 🤨) and in his line of work I get that.  But you need to realize that Kanye suffers from something called anosognosia which is an inability for him to realize he sick.  You have to be his ‘eye’s for him right now.

And Kim, he is very sick.  Look, if your hubby was suffering from appendicitis and needed to go to the ER, you’d take him in a flash (or your chauffeur would…I have one too I can call on: I call her ‘ma’ 🙄) even if he said it was just gas.  By the same token, people with mental illness often don’t ‘see’ what’s happening to them and if they do, they’ll deny the fuck out of it (BTW, does your ma get pissed when you say ‘fuck’…I know mine does.  Maybe they could chat sometime about that.  Also, I’d like to ask Kris to show my ma how to style her short hair in different ways…I think she’d like that 🤔).  I know this because I’ve done the exact same thing.

A lot of people don’t realize that some of us with untreated bipolar can become psychotic, and in my humble opinion (it’s actually not humble…I’m kinda smart about stuff like this since I’m a psychology professor…just sayin’) your hubby is experiencing pretty severe delusions which puts him in this category of symptoms.

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Look, he’s compared himself to Picasso, Walt Disney, Andy Warhol, Michael Jackson (I wouldn’t be too proud of that one…just sayin’) and Shakespeare.  The most egregious one though?  Jesus Christ.  Honey, these are humongous signs that Kanye NEEDS meds in order for him to have a better grasp on reality.  He’s also admitted to being ‘hyper-paranoid’ which shows even more psychosis.

This all has to be hard on you and your adorable kids and having a daddy that’s mentally ill is something that all the clothes and toys in the world won’t fix (BTW, I wear a size 6 and would love any hand-me-downs 🤩).   Kids need their daddy to be ‘there’ for them and not just physically, but mentally too.  Your cutie boys, Saint and Psalm (I named my little guy – he’s 26 – Oliver and I thought that was a bit edgy) need a strong and stable male role model.

We all know how people laugh at your husband.  They call him crazy.  Ignorant.  Stupid.  Insane.  Psycho.  I don’t think he’s aware of this and if he is, doesn’t take it seriously.  But  I do know this has to hurt you because it’s hurt me and my ma when I’m called bad things too (another question, do you ever call Kris ‘ma’?  I just can’t picture that for some reason 😵).  Over the years I’ve been called crazy, psycho, a liar, and an attention seeking bitch just to name a few.  And every time I hear words like this, it’s like my heart is being pierced again and again.  The hurt is unfathomable.

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It’s funny how most of us use the correct rhetoric in TALKING about mental illness, but so many people don’t try to UNDERSTAND it when it shows itself.  If I have a very high fever and start babbling incoherently (which I do most nights after 9:00 p.m. which is my bedtime…I’m a real party animal like yourself 😎), no one will take the words seriously (which is very true right now since I’m single.  BTW, do you know Taron Egerton?  Just askin’).  Right?  By the same token, I wish people accepted the fact the mentally ill will say and do things their disease/disorder is directing.

Kimmy (can I call you that?), getting your hubby help can do more than stabilize him…it could save his life.  MentalIllnessPolicy.org  reports that at least the 5,000 suicides per year that are committed by people who have schizophrenia or bipolar could be prevented if the people get adequate psychiatric treatment.  And Dr. Ken Duckworth (NAMI) states that at least 90% of all suicides are by people who have an untreated or under-treated mood disorder.  See, we aren’t just talking about his mental well being here, we are talking about his survival.

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I can tell you this, Kim:  having bipolar sucks balls.  Bad.  Having so much swirling around in your head and going between being so happy and so depressed is like riding a roller coaster that never ends.  I actually don’t know what it’s like to have a ‘normal’ functioning brain and if I contemplate it too much, I get over-whelmed.  I really do.  You know, not much scares me in the world.  Yes, I have concerns and live my life with some caution, but my fucking brain and emotions are the most scary thing I have to encounter.  And I get to face it everyday.  Every single day.  As I’m writing this paragraph, my stomach is turning and my eyes are tearing.  It’s like a boulder sitting on my shoulders and some days it’s a bit lighter and on others it’s heavier.  But the damn thing is always there.  Always.  This boulder has made people back away from me…dump me…treat me differently…and affect how my co-workers see me and my contributions even though I’m a fucking amazing professor (yes, that’s bragging, but why can’t we toot our own horns sometimes?  That’s going to be another post so stay tuned! ✎).

Kimmy, get your hubby help. Silence his freaking YES MEN and screw what others say.  Please.  I know this is a monumental task and that you can’t force him to take the help that’s out there. But you can put consequences in place if he won’t…like distancing your little sweeties from his instability.   Please don’t make him suffer anymore.  He needs you right now to forcibly guide him in the way you know he needs to go.  Now.

Kristi xoxo

I’m not always annoying…sometimes I sleep.

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So, my family is going to be dumbfounded by this as will the many many husbands I have had.  It’s extremely humbling for me to admit this but I’m a big girl and I need to come clean.  Now that I don’t have ‘roommates’ anymore I’m starting to find out how annoying I am.  You see, there’s no one else here to bug me.  No one to roll my eyes at and sigh at and say “OOOKKKAAAYYY” too.  Instead, I am getting on my own nerves which is quite surprising to me since I’ve always thought I was really easy to live with.  I mean HELLO.  Just ask my husbands. 😳

I don’t know if I’m alone in my eccentricities or if everyone has them, but I think I might have an awful lot of them I never recognized before.  Take brushing my teeth.  For some reason, I simply can’t bring myself to do this with my glasses on.  I’ve tried…and I can’t.  I’m really not sure why this is but I’m convinced it’s not the fear of getting toothpaste spittle on the lenses since my glasses are pretty gross anyway.  But anyhoot, the glasses have gotta come off before the brush goes into my mouth (I could make some naughty jokes right now, but I have a feeling ma would call me and yell at me, so for the sake of a headache I don’t feel like having, I’ll refrain.  However, you all have fun.).

And another thing with tooth brushing is that I love to do it in the shower (another opportunity for a joke…I’m not going to be able to hold back much more, ma 😏).  For some reason, they just feel cleaner when I do.  I brush and brush and brush with my Hello Kitty toothbrush since I need a super soft one and I can’t find one like that for adults here (actually, I haven’t really tried since I like Hello Kitty anyway) and after I’m done brushing it feels sorta good to spit it out all over my feet.  Go figure.

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Another shower secret?  I have a very strong feeling (I am a bit psychic but let’s save that for another post) y’all do this too but might not want to admit it:  I love to pee in the shower!  I don’t know why.  I think it’s because when you’re a girl and you have to pee outside, you have to either bare your butt behind a bush or scootch your undies out of the way and pray you don’t pee on your hand, soak your jeans, or squat in poison ivy.  And, no matter how careful we are, things can ‘go wrong’ since we can’t ‘direct’ our flow quite like guys can.  Confession:  I’ve always wanted to pee my name in the snow…sigh.  Anyhoot, maybe peeing in the shower is my way of saying “See you guys, I can do it too!”.  What an accomplishment.  (Ma…how proud are you right now? 🙄)

I’ve also come to realize how ‘picky’ I am and I know my son and ma are muttering something under their breath to the tune of “No shit, Sherlock” at exactly this moment.  I can’t STAND a dirty counter or table.  If there’s a tiny sticky spot, I’ll clean the whole damn thing.  Sticky things are my downfall.  I can take some grime…some smears…some splotches…but sticky stuff?  Huh uh.  It’s gotta go.  Along the same lines, I hate to see dishes piled up in the sink, and even though I could wash them once every night after my dinner, I can’t bring myself to do that.  I have to fill that sink up to my elbows and scrub away after every meal.  (My house is over 60 years old and there’s no room for a dishwasher 😐).

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Another icky thing I can’t stand is dirty windows; unfortunately, Edward can reach almost every window in my house and there are constant snotty dog smudges for me to see.  I’m actually thinking about buying stock in Windex since I use a boatload every week (it’s gotta do better than the bitcoin stock I bought 🙄).  The other day, I was washing one side of the glass door while the dogs were smearing the other.  Then, being the brainiac I am, I worked on the dirty side after letting the pooches out which meant they could smear the clean side while I was wiping down the dirty.  It was like a never-ending window washing nightmare and it took me a few times to realize to keep the damn dogs on the side I’m washing.  Look, as my ma says:  “Kristi, you are so smart…what the hell?”  And I say: “Ma…my fucking Master’s isn’t in common sense for piss sakes!”  I won’t tell you what her reply is.  Let’s just say it’s not meant for all ears.

You are going to be gobsmacked to hear this one, but I love to talk, yap, gab, and chatter.  And, since I’m alone with 2 dogs?  I’m yacking to them all day long which is actually working out quite well since they can’t interrupt or judge me for the inane things I like to say.  Hubby 3 would bet me $50 I couldn’t be quiet for 5 minutes straight.  I’m not lying when I say I usually couldn’t last for a minute.  It was like I was running out of oxygen or something, but I would have to say something.  So why is this all annoying?  Well…because I like voices.  NO!  Not voices in my head for fuck sakes…but using voices when I’m talking.  I have a voice I use for Dottie (and she talks back in a voice that only I’m capable of since she can only bark but I always know what she wants to say.  More proof of my psychic abilities 😱), a voice for Eddie, a song I sing when I let them outside, a song I sing when I see them in the morning, and the list goes on.  Look, if I was living with someone else who was doing this I’d probably take a swig of Ny-Quil every afternoon and pray for a 3 hour nap.  Now, can this get even worse?  Of course it can!  ANYTHING can be worse when you’re bipolar.  Anyhoot, I have a ton of plants.  A ton.  My house looks like a jungle or the set of Gilligan’s Island and I talk to them as well.  I swear I think they are so healthy because I do this (of course it might be the water, sunshine, and fertilizer I provide but I’m pretty sure my melodic voice has something to do with their greenery).

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And I love love love to sing!  LOVE it!  My dream is to be on America’s Got Talent (which I don’t have), belt out “I Never Promised you a Rose Garden” (which no one knows anymore) and get a standing ovation from the audience (hell would have to freeze over first).  Two of my hubbies were quite mean about my singing.  I think one called it ‘caterwauling’ and another said something about how it made his skin crawl, but Hubby 3 loved it.  He would ask me to sing something, tell me how good it was and how talented I am, and then we’d end up in the bedroom doing something very naughty.  Some might think he was ‘lying’ to me to get me in the naughty room, but I truly believe, with all of my heart, he just had an ear for beautiful music.  Note:  now that we’re divorced, he has never asked me sing again during our weekly conversations.  Hmmmm.  🤨

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My ‘straight’ bangs.  And this is a GOOD cut. 🙄

Messing with my bangs is something else I do which is probably very aggravating to others, but I blame my ma for this and I know my sissy will back me up.  When T and I were little, ma would literally take a piece of freaking scotch tape, stick it over the hair on our foreheads, cut the damn thing off, and voila…we had our bangs cut.  OK…couple of problems with this:  ma had no idea how to level the fucking tape so my sister and I went through the first 10 years of our lives thinking our bodies were slanted.  Ma thought ‘short’ bangs were fashionable, so T and I looked like a merchant marine from the front.  And finally, even though ma only had to make a ‘straight’ cut, she always forgot a chunk and we looked like we were inbred.  So yes, I fuck with my bangs as does T.  We trim, snip, thin, and cut until there’s nothing left and then we cry to each other about how we are not going anywhere in public until they start growing back.  To be honest, it’s hell.  Every husband has thrown away my scissors and J even did too.  But every time the scissors were gone, I simply trotted down to Walgreens to buy some more.  So there.

My lord, as I’m reading through this to proof it, I’m realizing why I’m living alone with plants and dogs.  I’m sorta understanding why my hubbies decided to part ways and why, to this day, all of them still are a bit shaky.  I’m a freaking nightmare to live with, and I just pray Dottie and Edward never learn to push the back door open.  After all, what would I do then?  Buy more plants?  Hmmmm.  I’d probably have too.

Kristi xoxo

“…cause that’s a hugging good.” ~ Bonnie Tyler

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So, my son grew up with a girl who lost her mama and gramma when she was a teen and she has no relationship with her dad.  I adore her completely and she’s like a daughter to me.  Actually, let me rephrase that:  she IS a daughter to me.

Anyhoot, we were supposed to have a movie night yesterday with another one of my sweeties but storms made driving dicey and we decided to postpone.  When we were messaging though, we both realized the other had a crappy day so she came over later just for a hug.  As per our custom, we ended up having a good natter for at least an hour.  I know…I know…it’s so hard to believe I can yack more than I intend too 🙄.

We are both single and have been feeling pretty lonely lately, and as we were talking we realized that we both have very strong needs for affection.  S asked me if there was something wrong with her for wanting and needing affection so badly.  I told her no because I have the exact same needs.  We were both also realizing that we’re the oddballs in our families.  There’s only 1 family member that S sees on a regular basis and she’s…well…pretty much a bitch to her (don’t get mad at me for saying that ma…it’s true …she’s not a sweetiepie like you!  And, by the way, I think I lost that tupperware you loaned me 😲).

My family is wonderful but I’m really the only touchy-feely one in the bunch…they just aren’t huge huggers but my grandma and grandpa took care of a lot of that when I was growing up.  A few years ago I finally said to ma:  “Ma…I need more hugs and more affection.  And if you aren’t willing to give it to me, I’m going to find another ma who will!”  She replied:  “Well…what the hell…even an old dog can learn new tricks.”  Ma has such a great way of putting things.  Even my son isn’t affectionate (outside of his girlfriend and chihuahua 😐).  Here are his rules for me:  I get to kiss him on top of the head for no more than 1.34 seconds, hug him for no more than 12.9 seconds, and if I touch his face because he’s just so doggone yummy to me, I get a scathing look as he jerks away as if I used a stun gun on his ass.  And believe me, this is monitored.

So, here’s what I told S:  I believe we all have an ‘affection reservoir’ © that’s different for everyone.  Mine is as deep as the fucking ocean.  The deepest part of the fucking ocean.  Just sayin’.  And…did you notice my copyright symbol?  I think that phrase could be turned into a book.  🙂

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I’ll be honest, it takes a lot to fill the damn thing up and I know that can be hard on people I have had relationships with.  Hubby 3 (shutty) once said that he could never give me enough affection…I’d always want more.  Ya think?  Duh.  It’s not like you fill up a reservoir and that’s it.  The water evaporates and leaks out and then it needs to be filled up again.  It’s like saying why do you need to eat everyday?  You just filled up your belly yesterday.  Okey dokey.  Let’s see how that works for ya.

Maybe people who have puddles for reservoirs have a hard time understanding this.  Sometimes I have a tough time getting it myself.  I like living alone for a lot of things:  eating when I want…sleeping when I want…running around in boxers and Red Sox shirts (note to S.J. – Sorry) with strawberry stains and Edward’s fur on it…my mouth not seeing lipstick for weeks…etc.  But I miss the affection.  I get downright lonely not having that in my life.  Edward is a big cuddler…he’s the most affectionate and sweet dog I’ve ever had.  (Note:  Edward is part Rhodesian Ridgeback / part Coon Hound.  When my son and I looked up this mix, the site literally said these dogs were dumb but sweet.  That’s our Ed in a nutshell).  But Edward’s cuddles aren’t the same.  I love laying on him when I nap and having him doze by me when we’re watching another horror movie, but it ain’t enough.

My sis is the best grandma ever.  She really is.  Our grandma and grandpa (I’m referring to ma’s folks) were awesome grandparents.  They only had me, sissy, and our cousin and that was it.  So we all got a LOT of attention and never did they raise a voice to us, tell us anything negative, and not support us;  I know my sis learned to be a grandma from them.  Anyhoot, she gets her affection needs met by her grandkids.  Lots of lovies and huggies.  Ma gets her affection/social needs met by her besties (they are so adorbs…she calls them her ‘lady friends’ 🙄 ).  They go out to eat every week (and complain about the service 😐), have parties at each other’s houses, go shopping, make quilts together, etc.  It’s plenty for her.

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But my reservoir is running really really low.  Like a freaking drought.  I do need more and I think it’s OK to admit that.  But for those of you who aren’t 53, thrice divorced, bi-fucking-polar, not the prettiest by any stretch of the imagination?  The pickin’s are pretty slim.  Trust me on this.  And no, I will not online date again, so you don’t have to start filling out a profile for me.  That was the biggest nightmare of my life.  In fact, I’m going to try to get in touch with Stephen King to see if he wants my experiences for a new book.  I’m just worried it might too horrifying for him to write about though.

J’s kids really really really filled this need during our 3 year relationship.  They are both so affectionate themselves and they would literally wrap their bodies around mine while we talked or watched a movie or dozed.  I could give to them what my son never let me give to him and I loved it.  So so much.  I think it’s hard for some of my family to really get that I loved them as if they were my own.  Still do.

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You know, for a long time I thought something was wrong with me in terms of wanting affection.  I needed it so much more than anyone in my fam, and I’ve had family members tell me not to hug them because it makes them uncomfortable.  When I hear things like that…or feel my son pull away so quickly…or have to ask for a hug from my ma…it makes me wonder why I’m so un-huggable.  It actually makes me feel unloveable.  J’s kids changed all of that for me.  They made me feel so good…I could give and give and give…and they would give back and give back and give back.  Truth time:  not one night has gone by since J and I broke up that I haven’t cried over the kids when I’m laying in bed at night.  Not once.

I don’t know.  Maybe I’ll find someone to fill my reservoir.  To make me feel huggable and lovable.  To help me see that what I’m missing is OK to miss.  Maybe there’s someone out there looking for a 53 year old gal with glasses and mousy brown hair who doesn’t always shave her legs and uses deodorant sporadically since there was an article that said it could cause cancer.  Until then?  Edward…you’re it.

Kristi xoxo

 

 

“Don’t Ask me to Choose” ~ Fine Young Cannibals

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So, I’m going to be honest with my sweetie peeps:  I’m horrible at making choices and decisions.  HORRIBLE.  Even on little things I waver and ruminate and am wishy-washy over what I want to do (note to self:  start some laundry 🙄).

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I see a shirt at Kohl’s and I have my 30% coupon and $10 Kohl’s Cash and I grab the shirt I see and promise myself that’s all I’m going to get.  Along with the coupon, my ‘cash’ pays for it, and I don’t need anything else.  I’ve picked out what I want.  So, I totter over to the cashier (one of them tries to save my soul whenever I’m in and even though I tell her my soul is nice and saved, she doesn’t believe me.  Go figure 😳) with shirt in hand.  BUT, as I am crossing the store another display intrigues me…and then another…and then another.  And before you know it, the shirt I loved is buried in my arms under a dozen more.  Now, I could just get that initial shirt…easy…right?  OR…I could whip out my Kohl’s card, spend $60 above the ‘cash’ and not have to make a choice.  AND, since I get MORE Kohl’s cash, I’m actually ahead!

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I think my reasoning is like common core math.  If I scootch around the numbers enough in various columns, I’m actually spending less than I intended.  Yeah.  (Ma doesn’t understand why I wasn’t a math major even though I have to call her to figure out what 20% off of $25 is 🤪).  Hubby 3 never understood the concept of the more you spend, the more you save.  It makes total sense to me.  Sheesh.

See…I’m horrible at choices.  And we face choices everyday, don’t we?  You see people at McDonald’s (I’m an epicurian) stare at the menu for 10 minutes even though they were in there literally a day ago.  “Gee…should I get the quarter pounder or the Big Mac?”  It’s not like the choice you make is going to be life-changing, but still we hesitate.  By the way, if you choose a Big Mac everyday, that may not be a ‘good’ choice for your health.  Just sayin’.

Anyhoot, big choices and decisions are hard for me.  Very hard.  If you think I have trouble with shirts, you should see me with relationships (🙄).  I’ll be honest, I’ve made some bad choices in this area…and I’ve made choices I’m not proud of.  Haven’t we all?  But why?  Why can’t I ‘rationally’ look at the choices…list the pros and cons…and come to a decision in a logical way?  Well probably because I’m fucking bipolar (sorry ma).  That’s why.

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I was reading an article the other day and the author said that to make good choices, you have to get out your feelings and put them aside, and then allow your brain to be the one that talks to you.  Okey dokey.

How the hell do you “get your feelings out?”  I hate it when people say that!  It sounds like feelings are simply things you can put in a pitcher and pour down the toilet.  Like there’s a compartment in your heart away from the ‘feelings’ and you can lock them up there and hide them from your mind.  People will say things like “Go run off your anger.”  Well…I’ll do a 5 mile run but I still have the feeling.  I might feel less stressed, but the feeling of anger didn’t evaporate with my sweat.

I think some people can do this.  I know my son’s dad could.  He is a HUGE thinker and feelings rarely got in the way of his decisions.  In fact, I would get upset because I didn’t think he had enough feeling when making choices and decisions.  Me?  I cannot put my feelings aside.  And then there’s some extras that being bipolar brings:  impulsivity, racing thoughts, distractibility, decreased ability to think clearly, and here’s one from the Mayo Clinic:  poor decision making skills.  B-I-N-G-O!  There it is.  (Ma loves to play bingo but bless her heart, she never wins.  I don’t love to play but I often win.  It pisses her off royally 😆)

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Sometimes I’ll be making a choice about an issue in terms of a relationship and even though my ‘gut’ (which is getting bigger since I’m sitting on my ass all day getting ready for fall semester) and brain are trying to tell me something, it’s only a whisper.  However, my heart is screaming so that’s the voice I hear.

Guess what?  That voice often leads me down the wrong path.  OFTEN.  Remember, feelings aren’t rational.  And as much as I want too, I can’t silence it.  I have bipolar.  My feelings, moods, level of sensitivity are all heightened and that voice puts me in a trance.  Even on little things I’ll hear that voice saying (and say this to yourself in a eerily ghostly way):  “Go ahead and buy it Kristi…”  and so I do.  And then, a week later, I regret it.  👻

Actually I do more than regret it.  I ruminate over it.  REALLY ruminate.  Once the choice or decision has been made is when my brain finally speaks up.  But of course it’s too late.  I’ve made the choice and now have to live with the consequences.  And that’s hard to do.

It’s hard to have a brain that puts so many blockades up but then punishes you when you can’t get around them.  It’s hard to have a heart that’s so open you simply can’t close it, but then get in trouble for not knowing how to latch that door.  It’s hard to know that sometimes you repeat bad choices.  You make another bad decision when a previous one should have taught you the lesson.  Thanks bipolar.

I think it’s hard for people to understand any mental illness if they haven’t suffered one themselves.  How do you explain that your brain and heart aren’t like everyone elses?  How can you get people to understand that previous bad choices don’t matter…you’ll probably make them again.  How can you ever describe the obsessive ruminating you do when decisions and choices are bad?  How can people ever grasp the pain your heart feels when you know you’ve made a bad choice that has hurt someone?  How can you ever get them to comprehend how terribly sorry you are to the point you are sick about it?

So often when people talk about mental illness, they’ll use large generalizations. For example, people who have major depression are sad and have trouble functioning in their daily lives.  People who have an anxiety disorder are extremely nervous and fearful and worry.  People with bipolar are just cray-cray (yep…that’s the idea.  Kanye West is bipolar and EVERYTHING he does is put down to the disorder.  All that does is stigmatize it more for all of us and make things harder for him.  😥)

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You don’t hear so much about the more specific symptoms or characteristics.  Anxiety disorders may make the person too fearful to even leave their home.  They can’t go to work, the store, a friends house.  All this does is increase their anxiety because others are telling them to just get out.  How horrible that would be.  Those with depression often have somatic issues like back and shoulder pain, have memory issues, and have suicidal thoughts racing through their heads.

When you are mentally ill, everything is affected.  Everything.  Not just moods and temper, but everything the person faces in day to day life.  Making decisions and choices.  How we eat.  How we sleep.  What we unwittingly think about.  How our body feels.  How we feel about sex (don’t have to worry about that one 😐).  How we feel about ourselves.  Whether or not we can make it to work that day.  Or go get groceries.  Or even get out of bed.

I’m 53 years old and I’m still making stupid decisions like I did when I was younger.  Bipolar doesn’t go away.  Fade away.  Unfortunately, like we see with a lot of mental illnesses, it worsens as we age.  I know how lucky I am for all the blessings that I have…and I mean that.  I have so much to be thankful for.  Selfishly though, I would like to know how it feels to make a choice, know it’s the right one, and if it’s not, then learn from it and move on.  Just once.  That’d be great.

Kristi xoxo

Hell Hath no Fury Like a Woman Scorned

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So, I loved watching the “Dirty John” series about John Meehan and couldn’t wait for the 2nd season since I followed the Betty Broderick case closely.  If my sweet peeps don’t know, Betty was married to Dan for 21 years and ended up killing him in 1989 along with his new wife of 7 months, Linda.  Well, I’ve watched all 8 episodes now and all I can say is “WOW”…what a roller coaster.

Anyhoot, here’s the thing:  when I first heard about this case I had just graduated from college and was fascinated by it and how ‘nutsy’ this woman was since I had a freshly printed psychology degree.  I mean for piss sakes, she murdered her ex-husband and his new wife in cold blood.  It don’t get much worse than that, peeps.  🙄

People are now pontificating about the case again since this series is airing and I’m really starting to think that Betty wasn’t necessarily the ‘sick’ one in the marriage.  I believe Dan Broderick was.  “What?” you say…”Are you crazy, Kristi?”  Well yes, I sorta am.  However, bear with me and let me explain.

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So, Betty and Dan got married in their 20’s after she graduated from college through an accelerated program and Dan was still making his way through medical school which she helped finance.  Once he graduated with his M.D. though, he realized he didn’t want to be a doctor after all and decided he decided he wanted to be a lawyer instead.  Betty continued to work hard to put him through law school too (his contribution was school loans…she did the vast majority of the earning).  During this time, she was a stay-at-home mom to her 4 kids who came quickly (the children came quickly after the Broderick’s got married and another son died 2 days after birth) as well as working part time at various jobs like selling Tupperware and AVON.  Since Dan was studying all of these years, Betty was the primary parent with little help and since he had very clear notions about a ‘woman’s place’, Betty did virtually everything on the home front.

Long story short, Dan became a hot shot lawyer (with Betty encouraging him the entire time and still taking care of everything at home) and he even served as president of the San Diego bar association.  The money started coming in and Dan began to get more impatient and hateful with his wife.  Finally, Betty found out he had been having a 2 year affair with his assistant, Linda, who Betty questioned him about numerous times.  He lied every time she did and even ‘made up’ with Betty at one point and asked her for another baby so they could have a fresh start (her tubes were tied and he actually took her to a doc to see if this could be reversed).  This was all to cover his affair while he sorted his finances out before leaving her.  She had no idea.

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OK.  We obviously know how this ended:  Betty shot Dan and Linda while they were in bed.  It was cold-blooded murder, and there’s no denying that.  These poor children lost their dad and their mom in one fatal night and their lives were/are irreparably changed forever.  They are the real victims in this case above anyone else.

So why did I say Betty was a victim too?  Because in my opinion (and this is only my opinion, peeps) Dan was a sociopath and narcissist, and these are BAD things for the people who are unfortunate enough to love them.

We are just now finding out how abusive a narcissists behavior is to their ‘loved’ one and victims of this behavior suffer something called Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome.  Now remember, we’re talking about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and not just someone feeling over confident and cocky (😏).  Take a look at this because it sums up a narcissists behavior perfectly:

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When you read about how Dan treated Betty, ALL of these apply.  Every one of them.  Further, Dan used a technique called gaslighting where the person manipulates someone in order to make them question their sanity…in one instance, Dan didn’t tell Betty about a change in time for their final divorce hearing and she completely missed it.  Her divorce was granted without her ever knowing what the final decree presented in court was.  Another…Dan was buddies with lawyers and judges and he made it very difficult for her to retain a decent lawyer to help her out.  Not only did Dan make Betty think she was crazy, I believe he actually drove her crazy.

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And Betty did crazy things:  she ran her car into the front door of Dan’s new house, she made hundreds of prank phone calls, she went into their house when they weren’t home and destroyed property, she said horribly vile things about him and Linda to anyone and everyone who would listen, and the list goes on.  So yes…she was very out of control and her behavior was HORRIBLE, particularly since much of it was in front of her children.  That’s something that’s indefensible.

But think about this:  serious long time domestic violence can result in Battered Women’s (Wife or Person) Syndrome and this is considered a subcategory of PTSD.  The violence doesn’t have to be physical, which is what we often picture when we hear the word ‘battered’ but psychological (or sexual) as well.  When you look at the above actions of a narcissist and the behavior Dan displayed, I think it’s easy to say Betty was a psychologically battered woman.  I would never ever say physical battering is less traumatizing than psychological abuse because I saw ma with too many injuries that not only pained her, but left her fearful and timid.  However, psychological abuse is deemed just as bad since it batters the mind and kills the spirit.

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People who have been psychologically abused experience hopelessness, fear, shame, confusion.  They have difficulty concentrating, experience nightmares and somatic symptoms, they’ll often have muscle tension, racing heartbeats, and moodiness.  In time, the person can develop chronic pain (some research suggests this can lead to fibromyalgia), anxiety, and social withdrawal.  We see all of these in Betty.

To me, it’s as if Dan wanted Betty to be ‘crazy’ so he could get the lion’s share of the wealth he built up which was only possible because of Betty’s financial/emotional/home support she provided as he got his education.  He was also awarded custody of the kids she had raised virtually alone while he worked 12 days making money.  Well, he succeeded, didn’t he?  He wanted to drive her crazy and he did.

So why is she made out to be a villian?  Other women have killed their abusive husbands and have been deemed heroes.  They were in a fight for their lives and saved themselves.  They saw no other way out.  They needed to be freed from the torment.

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Only a ‘crazy’ woman would smile at her murder trial.  Right?

Isn’t psychological abuse torment too?  What do they use on prisoners to break them?  Hmmm. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health:  emotional and verbal abuse can have short and long term effects that are just as serious as the effects of being physically battered.  (This is even true for kids: the American Psychological Association has found that the mental health effects of a child being psychologically abused is equal to, or even greater, as those from physical or sexual abuse.  And this is in kids!)

Here’s the problem though…how do you prove psychological abuse?  How do you prove that the manipulation, degradation, verbal battering, lying, controlling, etc. are happening?  You can’t take a pic of it and show it to the courts.  You don’t have bruises or cuts or scars.  It’s your mind, and since the damage has been done and the person is acting out because of it, they are the ones seen as being unstable.  Sick.  Wouldn’t this make you even more crazed?

Look, I know it was terribly wrong of Betty to murder Dan and Linda in cold blood.  I get that.  But I think it’s important to understand that even though Betty had a nice house, a bit of money, etc. it doesn’t mean she wasn’t psychologically tormented.  It’s doesn’t mean she wasn’t treated so insanely that she started to become that way herself.  And yes, Betty is a very unlikable woman now, although she was very gregarious, fun and social prior to Dan’s treatment of her.  For Betty, the long-term effects of this abuse have taken their toll and in that way, Dan won.  He got what he wanted.  He wanted to drive his wife crazy, and apparently he did.

We simply can’t downplay the significance of psychological abuse any longer.  You don’t need bodily injury to be hurt and the messages/actions/behavior of psychological battering never heal.  How do you empty your mind of those words?  Those feelings?  Isn’t the mind capable of scarring too?  Isn’t it important we recognize how dangerous this battering is and take it seriously when someone has gone, or is going, through it?  This is a form of abuse that keeps on giving…long after the actual abuse has ended.  How sad that is.

Kristi xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

“Jenny don’t change your number, 867-5309…” ~ Tommy Tutone

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So, I got a book on my good ole’ Kindle this morning and sat down to read just a couple of chapters.  Instead, I ended up reading the entire book in 1 sitting.  It’s called “How to Break up with Your Phone” by Catherine Price and it’s a fascinating, but scary look at how addicted we are to our cell phones.  Unfortunately, even though I have always prided myself on not being tethered to my phone that much, I was quite surprised to realize how much I really am.

Take a look-see at this info from PsychGuides.com

  • 60% of college students in the U.S. consider themselves to be addicted to their phones (60% peeps…that’s HUGE!)
  • 71% of people sleep with their phones in bed (OK…that’s me because I listen to an audio book when I fall asleep and I’m jolly well not sleeping with anything else these days)
  • 35% of people think of their cell phones first when they wake up and only 10% think of their partners (so our phones are on our minds more than the people we LOVE?  Hmmm…)
  • 36% of people check their phones constantly (bugs the shit out of me, particularly during a meal) and 54% of young adults do (aren’t young adults people too 🙄)?
  • 44% of us say we couldn’t go a day without our phones.  ONE day.  Sheesh.

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I remember when I got my first phone and was so excited.  O’s dad, O and I went to the Best Buy in Wichita (we lived in Hutchinson for a few years) and bought the ‘newest’ device on the market:  a BAG phone (for my younger peeps, this was literally a phone in a briefcase style bag…ask your folks).  The set-up only took 6 hours (I swear on ma’s good name 😳)  because it was such a new thing, NO one knew quite what they were doing.  We were actually in the store for so long that the sales workers were making friends with O as he was toddled around the aisles.  Someone even asked me if I had met him yet, but since he was getting grouchy and grubby by this time (as was I), I said ‘no’.  Sorry son.  Anyhoot, the was an amazing technological marvel and Hubby said, in a very sappy voice, that he was getting it for me in case I had trouble when I was commuting to grad school every night.  Awwww…that sounded great:  if I needed help, I’d be able to get it quickly.  Right?

Wrong.  Here’s what I would have had to do to get my ‘quick’ help:  plop the magnetic antennae on the top of my wood paneled van, turn the phone on while it was plugged into the cigarette lighter which allowed it to move about 2 feet, get out my handy chart of roaming codes which was typed in 5 point font and figure out where the fuck (sorry, ma 🙄) I was on the highway in the middle of nowhere in Kansas, punch in said code to see if I could get a ‘roam’ signal, wait until the phone beeped that a signal was found, punch in our home number, and pray the signal didn’t disappear before Hubby answered which would have been a 1/1000 chance since he was most likely playing a video game (another high tech item) with ear phones on.  Now, if I had been in wreck I would have had to do all of this with a fresh concussion, blood dripping from my forehead while puking in the passenger seat since that’s what I do when I see blood dripping from my forehead.  Wow.  That phone was well worth the money for my peace of mind.  An easier way I could have gotten help would have been to crawl the 40 miles home which would have taken less time and effort on my part.  Just sayin’.

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Anyhoot, when my son and I got matching CELL phones a few years later we were so excited because we found out it could actually take a picture on the 1″ screen!  (BTW, he was in Jr. High and you should have seen his hair.  He went through a phase where he refused to have it cut and because it’s so curly, it looked like he had a crows nest on top of his head. 😬).  Anyway, a picture from a phone that closed in half?  OMG!  There was no way technology could get any better than this.  After all, it only took 10 minutes to type out a text one letter at at time.  When ma learned to text (Lord help me…sis and I still fight over who has to help her with her technology needs) she’d send it and then immediately call me to see if I got it.  I would say:  “Ma.  You are defeating the purpose of the text if you are just going to call me anyway.  So, just call me in the first place.”  Then ma would reply:  “OK, you don’t want to talk to me.  I understand I’m just an old lady with nothing to say.”  My response?  “Ma, dammit, just CALL me and quit texting!  I love you and want to yack (sorta) but for fuck sakes, having texts and calls coming in every 20 minutes is a nightmare!”

Then, the smartphone came along.  The screen was so big and in color!  Holy crap!  Then, there were these things called ‘apps’ which I had no idea what they were.  So, for the first week after getting my smartphone, I just looked at it and texted ma on a regular keyboard.  My son looked at my phone one day and asked where the hell my apps were and I said I didn’t know what they were in the first place.  Very patiently (not really, he was kind of an ass), he showed me how to ‘download’ (sounded naughty to me) these app things so I could play games and get my e-mail and do this thing called “Facebook” which was going to make my life so much richer than it’s ever been before.  I went nuts and downloaded every free app I could find.  Then I used 3 of them.  (Confession:  I STILL have no idea how to play Candy Crush and earn ‘candies’.  Maybe it just goes against my principle of destroying anything that’s yummy.  It may be a psychological issue.)

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Fast forward to today and 5 smartphones later and guess what?  My life ain’t richer.  In fact, it seems a bit more empty to me now.  After all of this texting, messaging, Facebooking, Twittering, Instagramming, e-mailing, etc. I don’t feel any more connected to people and in fact, I actually feel less connected.  Plus, after having installed a screen time tracker, I found out I spend a LOT more time on my phone than I had thought and research shows I’m not alone in this:  most people underestimate their screen time too.  When I see the number of hours a week I’ve spent looking at this 5″ screen, I think that I could have painted my living room like I want to do.  Or, I could have gotten my bike out of the garage and ridden it around town.  I could have planted some more flowers in the back yard or read a couple of the books I have that I just don’t have ‘time’ to get too.  I could have made some jewelry to give as presents or organized my closet.  I could have done a lot that would actually have served a purpose…instead of looking at a screen and doing what?  Not much.

So why do we do it?  Why do we waste time on these devices doing things that really don’t mean a lot in the long run?  Easy answer?  Because we are ‘addicted’ in a lot of ways.  Longer answer?  Here goes.  Leaders in the study of how smartphones keep us coming back for more and more illustrate very clearly that companies find ways to change the way our brain looks at and responds to various cues that are constantly out there.  Ramsey Brown of Dopamine labs calls this brain hacking and his company is hired to work with others to make their online content as ‘addictive’ as possible.   Tristan Harris, a previous Google employee, says how our smartphones are like slot-machines.  If we scroll enough, interact enough, and play enough, we’ll be rewarded with likes, emojis, ‘streaks’, followers, etc.  It’s like gambling and we get a squirt of dopamine when we come across something we like…when we ‘win’!  If I scroll through Facebook a bit longer, maybe I’ll see something really really interesting…and there it is: a video of a baby elephant (my downfall 🐘).  And if I play this game just a tad more, maybe I’ll move up a level and be respected by all.  That’s why scrolling is actually used as opposed to other ways to present info…so we keep going and going until we are satisfied, for the moment at least.

Larry Rosen, psychology professor at California State University, talks about how our phones raise anxiety levels by increasing the release of cortisol to where we get almost panicky if we DON’T check our phones often because we’re thinking about what we might we be missing out on.  Sound crazy?  Vow not to look at your phone for an hour and then leave the sound on.  Every chime of a message coming in or a notification popping up will make most people have to consciously force themselves not to look at their phone, and it’s easy to see just how anxious that makes them.  I see this with my students in class all the time when I let them know I don’t want phones out while I’m lecturing (call me old-fashioned, but I think this is rude).  And when I’m with someone (and yes, even you ma 😐) and a text comes through, they’ll say: “Oh…just let me check this quickly.”  Or, they pick up their phone like a robot programmed to do so, without realizing they haven’t actually made the conscious choice to do it.  It pings…you look.  Simple as that.  (The best source for all of this info is a 60 Minutes report by Anderson Cooper called Brain Hacking).

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Ivan Pavlov and his conditioning experiment.

Think about texts.  That little chime tells us someone out there is connecting with us, and who could it be? Is it someone proclaiming their everlasting love to you (in my case, nope 🙄)?  Is it someone who needs your help for an emergency (probably not and wouldn’t 911 be a better choice anyway)?  Maybe it’s your friend sharing the gossip they heard and swore they would never tell anyone about that you just gotta hear.  Regardless, we HAVE to look.  We’re conditioned to look!  It’s like Pavlov’s dogs:  we hear the chime or feel the vibration or see the screen light up, and we salivate!  We respond.  In other words, the phone is in control of us…not the other way around!  When you think about that, it’s actually pretty scary.

Maybe because I’m so old, I want to fight against this more than I have.  I want to really accomplish things…not look at things.  I want to make stuff…not look at stuff others have made.  I want to connect with a ‘real’ someone…not see another pic of them as I scroll through my feed.  And think about that term – feed.  It’s like our phones feed our need for something to do.  Are we that unable to entertain ourselves that our phone has to ‘feed’ us stuff to sustain us?  What happened to days outside working in the yard or setting up a badminton game or taking a long walk with your partner?  What happened to laying on the couch with a couple of library books?  What happened to starting a new hobby and learning to make something special?  What happened to baking in the kitchen and having a special dessert for dinner that night?  What happened to having a jigsaw puzzle on the kitchen table that everyone in the family works on?

But most importantly, what happened to thinking these things weren’t enough, but that a screen is?  And our phones are just 1 screen of the many we have.  Add laptops, iPads, and smart TV’s in the mix, and it’s a wonder we get anything done off a screen.

To be honest, I know I couldn’t ever give up my cell phone completely since it’s the only way I have to talk to ma and sis and other family when they want to natter.  I also feel better having it when I’m on the highway in case I need help, while it’s also necessary for work.  So I guess the question for me is this:  how do I balance the use of it against the ‘want’ of it?  How do I use it as a tool instead of it using me to buy more, scroll more, click more?

I’d ponder this a bit more if I could, but here’s the thing:  my screen just lit up and it’s Kohl’s telling me my new shoes are ready to pick up, Subway sent me a new text coupon plus I have to know the sandwich of the day, I haven’t checked Facebook yet to see if the pic of me and Dottie got anymore likes, and last night when I was scrolling I saw a great shirt advertised at 80% off.  How can I pass up that deal?  Hmmmm.  Maybe I should try to find out.  Maybe we all should.

Kristi xoxo

“Walk Among Us” ~ Recorded by the Misfits

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So, I was contemplating about how I often feel like I don’t belong in so many different situations, and I think I am starting to understand why a bit better.

I kinda hate the word ‘misfit’ but if I am honest with myself regarding the definition (“a person whose behavior or attitude sets them apart from others in an uncomfortably conspicuous way”), it really does describe well how I often feel when I’m around others.

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Only about 1-2% of people in the United States have bipolar disorder…about 2.3 million people all together.  If you play around with the numbers (I’m I’m no math whiz, I actually still use my fingers at times…just ask ma), it’s about 46,000 in each state, and in terms of the number of counties in IL where I live (I’m sure you’re all jealous I live there since it’s such a great state right now 🙄), that’s about 450 people in my entire county of over 104,000.  Now here’s my point: I really am an outsider in terms of having bipolar.  Statistically, it would be pretty unlikely for me to interact with anyone else bipolar on any given day since it’s relatively rare compared to other disorders.  For example, about 20% of the population deal with anxiety disorders and about 14% have major depression every year; so although these are horrible disorders to have there are still many more people who might understand what others are going through because of their own personal experiences with them.  By the way, if you’re thinking you know numerous people with bipolar, ask yourself if they’ve actually been diagnosed by a psychiatric specialist or if they are assuming they are because of their mood swings.  It’s so easy to self diagnose in light of info online, and I’m guilty of it too.  Just this month, I’ve told my son I have 3 different diseases since I love to peruse WebMD.  Just sayin’.  (P.S.  O doesn’t worry about my diagnoses like he should…I wonder why 🤨 ).

When I’m around other people, whether it’s at school or at a family function or in the gym or where ever, the chance I’m the ONLY one there with bipolar is huge.  HUGE!  And since I’m most likely the only one there, how can I feel like I fit in with everyone else?  How can they understand how my mind works?  Or how sensitive I am to criticism or rejection?  Or how I might not be able to control how ‘manicky’ I am, despite others possibly saying, “C’mon, Kristi…just calm down!”  How can others understand how I might be really happy when I get somewhere but then get really down if something was said that seems silly to them, but actually hurt me pretty badly (“Kristi…you have to stop being so sensitive.  It’s getting old!”)?  How can I tell them them that even though I was so excited to plan on being somewhere, I’ve cycled into a depressed state where I can now barely interact?  When you think about, it’s no wonder I feel like I don’t fit in…like I’m always on the edge of whatever group I’m around.

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Now let’s throw another wrench into the equation:  research is showing that those of us with bipolar might experience either very HIGH levels of affective empathy or very LOW levels of cognitive empathy.  What’s the difference?  Affective empathy is when you basically ‘feel’ and ‘mirror’ another’s emotional states, whereas cognitive empathy is understanding someone’s emotions, but not actually feeling them yourself.

Well…we all know how lucky I am so…drumroll please…I was blessed with the VERY high level of affective empathy!  Yea. 🙄 What does that mean in terms of my everyday life?  Hmmmm…where the hell do I start?

I know this can be hard for others to understand, but I literally (I hate that overused word, but I’m too lazy to open up another tab and take a look-see at the thesaurus for another 😳) feel what others feel.  When someone is crying in front of me, I cry…not just because I see their tears and feel bad for them, but because I ‘absorb’ their pain like a sponge.  Empaths soak up the world of feelings that surround them and this can be so fucking exhausting (dammit…I was trying not to say it, ma…but…).  It’s hard enough to deal with my own feelings since those are plenty to handle as is.  But pour everyone else’s feelings into the mix, and it can wear me down completely.

This is a particularly huge problem in relationships.  Empaths take on the other’s emotions, absorb their stresses, feel their pain, etc.  It’s like we’re living the relationship on both sides:  their feelings seeping (or actually madly rushing) into us while our own are bubbling in there too.  Now, couple that with being mega-sensitive and personalizing things like those of us with bipolar often do, and I think it’s clear why relationships can become all consuming very quickly.

Even though I’m not always conscious of this happening, I am conscious of how over-whelmed I can get in relationships and how that can affect my mood and behavior.  When I get frustrated or distressed or upset, it can come out in anger.  Like I’ve said before, anger is more of a reaction we have which actually has other emotions buried underneath it (embarrassment, fear, grief, shame…).  And since people with bipolar have a lot of stuff happening under the surface, anger is something else that’s common among us.  Go figure.

When I think about my marriage to my son’s dad, I see it as the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in.  Hubby 2 came from a really solid family and had one of those wholesome upbringings with nothing ‘bad’ really ever happening to him.  I didn’t have to absorb much from him because he was usually on a pretty even keel and my emotional stresses were fairly low.

Hubby 3 was much more of a challenge.  He brought a lot of baggage into our marriage and couple that with the bipolar suitcases I carry, it was a lot.  R’s moods were very unpredictable, especially those first couple of years, and having that load on me was problematic, to say the least.  His stresses became my stresses.  His anger became my anger.  His insecurities became my insecurities.  This is such a hard thing to explain to people who aren’t empathic sponges.  Sometimes he would say, “Why are you so upset?  It’s my problem!”  What he didn’t understand was this:  his problems were passed onto my little empathic heart and TA-DA…they became mine too.

The same thing happened when J came along.  I’ve said before that he has PTSD from being in the military and has also been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.  Both of these cause great fluctuations in mood and behavior and I wasn’t just watching that ride, I was on it with him.  Sometimes he’d wonder why I was so stressed or upset.  How do you explain it’s because everything he’s projecting/feeling/acting out on, I’m taking in…’literally’ (that damn word again 😐)?  His pain.  His anger.  His instability.  I was a passenger on that roller coaster with him, along with riding my own.  No wonder the weight of it often became too much for me.

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After he cheated a couple of years ago, I was angry.  And rightfully so!  But I also felt so much more:  I personalized the affair to the point I just knew it had to be my fault.  Cognitively, I know that’s not right.  Emotionally, that’s how I felt.  And then after, when we ‘started over’ and he became so much better to me, I not only had all I was feeling from the affair, but I was also absorbing all he was feeling too, whether he realized that or not (and no, I strongly doubt he ever reads this blog…someone asked me that the other day).  His own anger over his guilt.  His own doubts about our chances.  And even his own grief over the woman he loved and had been with.  Somedays this would be so freaking overwhelming that I couldn’t breathe, and the only way I could handle things was to channel them into anger.  It’s the quickest release there is when you get that overwhelmed with feelings…it’s like a pressure cooker easily exploding if you fiddle with the lid.

I used to wonder why I’ve had such a hard time getting past our relationship and it’s finally beginning to make sense to me.  When I caught him cheating the last time I saw him, he started crying and hugging me when he realized I knew someone else was in the apartment with him.  That emotional outburst pained me so much and it was extremely confusing to me.  I had so much running through my mind and my heart and then I had that to deal with as well.  I had my anger and confusion and disgust and disappointment  but all of that was connected with his pain too.  It was so much to handle and it was a horribly complicated time for me.  You know, I totally understand that being empathic like this isn’t something that’s rational, but it is something inside of me that I can’t control.  How I wish I could!

I’ve also been able to understand my need to be alone at times.  Being so overwhelmed by all of this ‘absorbing’ (like I’m a Bounty paper towel) means us empaths need time to get away from it all.  We need to process all of these feelings and stresses and moods so we can decompress.

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So many empaths can’t sleep with their partners (actually sleep with them all night…we like the naughty stuff 😳) because the stresses of the day and the burdens we’ve absorbed are simply too much.  We need that space to come down again.  To unload ourselves.  To be able to focus on our own stuff only.  I love to sleep alone.  There’s only 1 partner I’ve ever been able to sleep with and besides him, I’ve always had my own bed.  I used to feel SO guilty about that, and I know it’s  probably very hard for other people to understand.  It’s almost like you’ve been running a race all day, with others on your back, and you finally have a chance to put those burdens down, stretch out, and have it just be you without that sponge taking over.  There were times in my marriages where if I hadn’t had that, I would have burst.  Like a big zit. 😐

Anyhoot, not fitting in is actually starting to make sense to me.  I don’t necessarily like it, but I know I’m different.  My brain works differently.  My heart works differently.  My moods work differently.  My feelings work differently.  It does make me a ‘misfit’…I’m not like everyone else.  There are so many times I want to be and I think about what it would be like to be more ‘normal’.  More relaxed.  To be able to be around others without taking all of their ‘stuff’ in, along with my own bipolar issues.

But then again, sometimes I think that maybe it’s ok to be different like this.  Maybe others need me to be.  Maybe helping others with their burdens is a gift I’m able to give.  Maybe it pays others back for having to deal with me being bipolar.  Maybe, in a way, it’s what others should be more like.  Just a little.  Because think about it…if we could all ‘share’ our burdens, feel other’s emotions, take on some stress from others, wouldn’t that lead to more understanding and insight?  More compassion?  More appreciation for all of our different situations?  Wouldn’t that empathy make us better people that don’t cause pain because we feel it so intensely?  Hmmmm.  Kinda makes sense, doesn’t it?

Kristi xoxo