“When it’s right…you just know.” ~ Janet Heffernan (King of Queens)

Dear Bill,

So, I know you aren’t going to mind me writing this to you in my public blawg because you are so supportive of all that I do; plus, you also don’t mind being in the limelight…after all, you were in show choir in high school (I just don’t understand why I wasn’t asked to audition…you know how well I sing 🙄).

Anyhoot, you are on a plane to Sarasota to visit your son and I know how excited you are to do this. You guys are going to have so much fun and I simply can’t wait to open up all of the souvenirs you are going to bring to me (cough…cough…🤨) but I already miss you. I know…how sappy can you get? Well…knowing me…a lot more, dude.

When we got together a couple of months ago, I was so scared. You knew I had come out of a very toxic and often abusive relationship and I knew you had left someone who had often been cold and distant with you. It was like we were both sponges…needing to soak up all the other had to offer. We both needed to be reassured we had worth, value. Remember our first hug? It was like I had been in a desolate, empty space and just needed to absorb your warmth to make me feel right again.

Why is that a bad thing? You know, the “You should feel good about yourself…no one can give that to you.” I disagree…to a degree (I’m a poet and don’t even know it 🙄). I do feel good about myself. It took me a year to realize I am capable and strong and deserving…I started feeling good about myself and that has kept growing day by day. But I was still lonely. Being lonely doesn’t mean you aren’t happy with who you are…but it does mean you are missing a piece in your life that would complete the picture of why you are. Why are people so quick to say “You shouldn’t have to have someone to be OK.”? I thought humans were supposed to connect. Love. Experience things together…especially 2 by 2 (thanks for that lesson, Noah 🤨). I don’t know how many times I heard people say: “Kristi, if you don’t find someone, you’ll be fine being alone for the rest of your life.” Yep. I woulda been fine. But fine isn’t happy or content or satisfied. It’s just…well…fine.

I didn’t know what to expect when me met up for the first time since our senior year. Yes, you knew I had a crush on you in high school. Why the hell did you think I loaned you so many pencils or always went to the garbage can in homeroom and walked by your desk even though it was a row out of the way? Hello??!! How much more obvious could I be? 😐

But it wasn’t meant to be for us then, was it? You needed to have other relationships and your kids and experience life in the way that you have. And ditto for me. My sonshine wouldn’t be who he is if I hadn’t been with his dad…and he’s a perfect son for me (don’t tell him that…he’ll get a big head 😁) .

After the relationship with J, I didn’t think I’d be able to love again. I also didn’t think I’d be loveable. You see, he made me feel so fucking (sorry, ma 😳) loved at first but then slowly, methodically destroyed it…and me…over the next 3 years. Not only did I feel like a failure because I couldn’t make him happy or fix in him what was broken, I got broken too. As silly as it might sound to others, after an abusive relationship, you feel different about yourself. Damaged. Used. Like you were a shiny new diamond at first but are now a little piece of powdery coal. It changes you.

But knowing this doesn’t keep it from happening. Knowing a snake isn’t venomous doesn’t mean I won’t scream in terror and run (just ask my neighbor…she’ll tell you 😐), and knowing I was jaded and confused and distraught, etc. didn’t mean I could patch it up right away. Understanding is one thing. Being able to mend it is something else entirely.

See, I knew I loved you not long after we got together. Yep, it was fast. But I’ve known you most of my life and it just seemed easy with us…natural…right. In past relationships, I sometimes had to ask others “How do you know when you are in love with someone?” Almost like I needed some kind of litmus test to determine if I was actually ‘loving’ or just wanting to love so much I sorta talked myself into it. And I have to admit that I still had some doubts about you, even after I said those 3 words you like to hear (no…not “You are right”…the other ones 😛). That is, until the other day when I looked at you and said (quite spontaneously I might add) “I’d go through these last few years again and again if they brought me to you.” I knew then that this was real for me. And I meant…and mean…those words completely (much like I tell O I would go through labor again and again if I had too for him while he rolls his eyes at me ❤).

But, even though I’m sure of myself, I was still questioning you. It’s not your fault because you were doing everything ‘right’. But in the beginning, J did too. If anyone would have asked me then if I thought he was capable of ever hurting me, I would have laughed and said a vehement NO! I can understand where my doubts came from.

So, I came to see you these past couple of days before your trip and really tested you, didn’t I? Anything I could think of I threw up in your face and acted like a complete ass-wipe. I was daring you to walk away. Daring you to say: “Get the fuck out!” Daring you to say: “You are crazy…”. Daring you to say: “This isn’t going to work.” The whole time I was doing it, I was hating myself but I couldn’t stop myself. Something inside of me took over and I didn’t fight it. Maybe I was just giving you an ‘out’ that you could take now…instead of later.

But you didn’t, did you? You didn’t shout back. You didn’t walk away. You didn’t push me out the door. Nope. You did something else: you cried. You cried and said that you loved me and understood me and knew how scared I was to be vulnerable with a man again. Then you hugged me and told me that you loved me and wanted me and that you needed me in your life. That’s when I knew this was real for you too. I saw it in your eyes: compassion for me even though I was putting you through a test you certainly didn’t deserve.

I can’t believe what those actions and words from you did for me…it’s like years of weight slipped off my shoulders and I could breathe again. I didn’t have to walk on eggs. I didn’t have to fake a mood to make you happy. I didn’t have to pretend to be perfect. I didn’t have to hide who I was. You accept all of me and that’s something I’ve never…ever…experienced before. Thank you so much for that. And Bill? I accept you for you too. You can always be just ‘Bill’ around me. Sweet or grumpy. Happy or sad. Confident or frustrated. It doesn’t matter. I’m here for you.

Anyhoot, I just wanted to tell you how special you are. How sweet you are. How smart you are. How funny you are. And how loved you are. God put us together for a reason and honey, I thank him every night for that.

Kristi xoxo

“Is there a letter in your bag for me?” ~ Please Mister Postman

Dear 15 year old Kristi,

Howdy! Here I am in the future wanting to tell you a few things about what your life is going to be about and to give you info I think might be important to you. And please don’t roll your eyes…again…you will be 53 someday. I guarantee it.

Anyhoot, some easy stuff first: quit picking at your zits because it only makes them worse (you aren’t going to believe this, but in 2020 there is actually a show on Pimple Popping…it’s great!), use sunscreen every single day, don’t use Sun-In on your hair before your senior photos because your hair will be orange, you can shave up higher than your knees and not be a hooker (like Linda Belcher says…you’re going to love her 😏), and for the love of all that’s holy…do your freaking homework (you are going to be a college professor someday…can you believe it?).

So far, pretty easy. Right? Hmmm.

Look, when you are 16 you are going to be struggling with an eating disorder. In fact, it’s starting right now. Ma is really going to start worrying in about a year and will be sending you to the ‘best’ psychologist in Decatur. He’s a shit. Tell ma, respectfully, you want to see someone else…this is really important to do so work hard convincing her. You see, he’s going to hurt you if you don’t…in fact, he’s going to sexually abuse you. At first you won’t really understand what’s happening until you are so dependent on him you won’t be able to break free easily. So, find someone else and work as hard as you can with them. K?

Guess what? By 53, you are going to have had 3 hubbies (🙄) and yes, you will marry them all no matter what I say because you certainly didn’t listen to ma and she’s actually a lot brighter than me. Anyhoot, hubby 1 is who you’ll meet in college. And no, you can’t live on love. And yes, landlords like to be paid. ‘Nuff said on that one.

Hubby 2 is going to change your life because that’s who you have a son with! Right now, our son is 27 and he’s so amazing. He’s smart and funny and talented and your life is so wonderful because he’s a part of it. In fact, you won’t be able to imagine your life any other way. You and hubby 2 are going to be married for 13 happy years, and believe it or not, he’s a guy you are in high school with right now…but I’m going to keep you in suspense 🤨. But here’s the thing, around your 13th anniversary you guys are going to experience a lot of conflict and I wish my suggestion for you would be to try harder to make things work. But I believe the past builds on the future and that at 53 (yes, you get wrinkles and still get zits…God has a sense of humor 🙄) I’m where I’m supposed to be. Just be sure to cherish every year you do have together and by the way, read The Art of Loving by Fromm. It’s not as exciting as Judy Blume but the info is something you can use. 🤓

Hubby 3 is a wild one. Like, wild. You won’t believe this, but you’re going to marry an outlaw biker. Yep. Little prissy you! It’s not going to be easy in the beginning. He’s a troubled man who is going to push you away again and again and test you a million times in the first 2 years. Stick it out (and no, I’m not talking about physical abuse). He loves you so much and needs you so much. He’s going to realize this and become such a softer, sweeter, open guy who you laugh harder with than you’ve ever laughed before. He’s going to be the first man you’ve ever been with that you won’t have to ask “Do you love me?” because baby, you’re going to know it.

Then we come to the relationship after this divorce. Sweetie…listen to me now. Don’t go out with J. Don’t do it. He’s handsome and smart and loving and yummy right now, but it’s not who he really is. He’s a very troubled, sick man and no matter what you do, you are going to be hurt badly. Very badly. In fact, you’ll carry actual scars with you for the rest of your life. Yes, you helped hubby 3 but J is different. He’s mentally ill and can’t be ‘fixed’. In fact, he doesn’t want to be helped by you at all and what ends up happening is just a shit-ton of hurt heaped on you again and again. But, please do this for me: pray for his kids. OK?

And that takes me to something really important. Honey, you are mentally ill too. Yes, you are beginning an eating disorder right now but you are also bipolar. Let that sink in for a bit. Bipolar. I guess you are still hearing it referred to as manic depression, but it’s a serious one. You know how you feel like you don’t fit in? How you have all that crap going on in your head all the time? How you feel like you can conquer the world at times and then barely be able to face it at others? You know how you have always questioned your existence and wonder why you have to keep living your life? Well…that’s your fucked up brain talking (sorry, ma. Even at 53 she doesn’t like me to cuss…go figure. 😐) You are going to pretend and act and imitate others and hide what you are feeling so well you aren’t even going to see it yourself at times. But you need to see it! This is something that you need help with and the sooner the better. Trust me, it will save you from so much pain in the long run. Go tell ma NOW. I’ll wait. And don’t grab chips on your way back…the oil is bad for those zits. (And for fuck sakes, quit messing with them…I’ve told you once already and I’m not going to say it again. 🙄)

So here’s what happens if you don’t get help for your pesky bipolar: you are going to eventually experience a break down when you’re 51. You’re going to attempt suicide. You are going to cut yourself. You are going to lose a lot of friends. You are going to wish you could just get so far down the tunnel you’re in that you can’t see any light anymore and are basically empty to where you won’t be able to feel anything. Yes, you obviously survive this. No, I don’t want to see you go through this because I love ya. Sheesh.

And no matter what you say, I know you don’t love yourself now. In fact, a lot of high schoolers don’t regardless of how ‘popular’ they are (and guess what? High school never ends. Seriously. It’s just the same crap over and over again.) Look, I’m going to let you in on a secret: no one is looking at you. No one gives a shit about what you look like or weigh or wear as much as you do. Don’t believe me? Ask someone tomorrow at school what clothes you were wearing a month ago and they’ll be dumbfounded. No one remembers day to day…except you. Listen here girlie, when it gets right down to it, you are all you have in this world. You come in it with your own little soul and you’ll exit it with your own little soul, and no matter how many people love you, you are ultimately responsible for you. And honey, you need to learn to love yourself…take care of yourself…believe in yourself. OK? And, just a tip, but that blue eye shadow isn’t doing a damn thing for you. Just sayin’. 😳

OMG (that’s a saying we used in 2020…look it up, toots), you are going to love love love being a professor. LOVE IT! See, you won’t be able to have but 1 kid and your students are going to be your extended family. So many wonderful people will pass through your classroom doors and every single one of them has something special and unique about them that will teach you something…give you something…change you in some way. I know you are going to hate working at Hardees’ and Claire’s in high school/college, but it’s totally worth it to become a freaking professor. (By the way: always start some fries at Hardee’s 20 minutes before closing so you can chomp on them while mopping the floor. Trust me on this and don’t worry about zits. Free fresh fries are worth it. 😁)

Now, here’s some bad news: you know how ma is seeing that son of a bitch? Well, right now he’s not so bad. But, after they get married he’s going to become very violent and you are going to see ma hurt so many times that you’ll lose count. Sissy and you will try to help her the best you can and try as hard as you can to get her away as soon as possible. But, she’s not going to listen to you guys…she’s scared and in denial and at a loss as to how she got in the situation in the first place. Since you and T won’t be able to ‘save her’ until she asks to be saved, just love her and talk to her and tell her how you are always there for her. It’s going to kill you to see her black and blue. But never turn your back on her. She needs you.

And Kristi (I know…I hate our name too 😐), never ever lose faith in God. People are going to tell you how stupid you are to believe in him (even though they believe a ‘Big Bang’ that came out of nowhere caused all of the universe to be created…my point is they are both faith based to a degree) and there are going to be times where you think God has turned his back on you. God never turns his back. He’s always with you. Always loves you. Always feels for you. Thank him every single day for all the blessings you have because girlie, you have a lot of them.

Finally, a guy from high school (another secret I’m going to keep 😀) is going to message you in September of 2020. ANSWER HIM! He’s awesome and will make you feel more loved than you’ve ever felt in your life. And his voice? Sexy as hell. 😉 I know I’ve been to this rodeo more than once (shutty the mouthy 🤠) and can tell you this: he’s your last. OK?

Now, I could have told you something completely different in this letter: who not to marry…who to go out with…etc. but here’s the thing: except for me wanting to protect you from abuse, the people and decisions and behavior in your life are making you what you are today. Everyone in your life has played a role to where you are now, and I believe you are where you should be. When people ask you to listen to them, you do. When they talk about being divorced or mentally ill or feeling like they don’t want to live anymore, you are going to be able to say: “I understand.” You are going to be a hugger. A smiler. You are going to appreciate the people in your life so much and know what a gift each and everyone is. This past is making you into what you are today…and this is a pretty darn good place to be right now.

Look toots, I’m proud of you and want you to be proud of yourself now too. Sing more. Dance more. Put yourself out there more. Try more things. Open up more. Ask for more help. Give more time to family and friends. Say thank you more. Say hello more. Look up at the sky more. Cuddle with your son more. Get as many puppies as you want…carpet can be replaced. Don’t worry about wearing purple all of the time. Plant more flowers. Pick up more trash. And for fuck sakes (not even going to apologize for this one…I’m a rebel), eat dessert…first if you want.

And finally…just one more thing: for piss sakes, don’t go to prom your freshman year with that boob from St. T. But if you do, don’t buy the cream colored dress. It sucks balls. Instead, go for the red one! It rocks.

Kristi xoxo

P.S. I know I shouldn’t do this, but what the hell: In 2004 a company called ‘Google’ is going to go public. Buy some stock. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, BUY SOME STOCK. K? 😉