“But it’s time you started living…” ~ Mary Tyler Moore Theme Song

Dear Mary Tyler Moore,

So, I don’t know if God allows computers in heaven and I’m really not sure how’ll you’ll read this letter but I’m going to give it a shot anyway.

I grew up watching you on the MTM show and wanted to be you so badly. Not only did you have this amazing apartment (where you even got to sleep on a pull-out bed…how cool was that? 😲) but good friends that were your neighbors. You were beautiful, funny, smart, empathic and loved to eat salads like I did. And you know…besides the beautiful, funny and smart parts, I’m very much like you were then.

Every show that I watched up until yours started airing was about a family…you know, the dad who went to work everyday, the mom who wore heels to vacuum in, and the darling little angels whose worse problem was getting lobbed in the nose by a football. Then you came on the scene: this unmarried woman who lived alone, had a successful career and embraced singlehood and all that it entailed. Wow. What a new concept to me.

It’s funny to re-watch these shows now because the sexism in the workplace is horrendous. Lou looking at your butt when you walk out the door…you making $50 less than the man who had your exact job but had a family to support…the men in the newsroom calling you honey and asking for coffee even though you were an associate producer. It’s hard to remember that this was normal for the 70’s and sometimes I have to wonder how much it’s really changed. We’re still making coffee…often being talked to condescendly…and have to keep doing better and better to prove that we are the woman for the job. I remember when I met a neighbor after moving into my house. He asked what I did and I told him I worked at the college in town; then he asked what department I was a secretary in. Now granted this guy was about a billion years old, but even so it shows that we still have work to do. 🙄

I took you as a strong feminist and until I started reading more about you and realized how much our views on women mesh. You weren’t a big fan of Gloria Steinem, huh? In your last TV interview, when asked about why you didn’t relate to her well, you said this:  “I believed that women—and I still do—have a very major role to play as mothers.  It’s very necessary for mothers to be involved with their children.  And that’s not what Gloria Steinem was saying.  Gloria was saying oh, you can have everything, and you owe it to yourself to have a career.  And I didn’t really believe in that, so that was a little difficult for me.”

When I read that, I actually shouted AMEN! When I was growing up amidst the women’s movement, I thought I had 2 choices: have a family or have a career. Gloria chose her career and after having an illegal abortion in 1957, said she needed to prove herself and make her life count. It was as if she couldn’t see any way to do both but you did.

Why is being a mom often seen as second to being a career woman? “Oh…you’re a mom…so you just stay at home?” Uh, yeah…I did. And no matter how much I’ve achieved on a personal level, it doesn’t mean jack shit next to the fact I raised an amazing young man who is doing such wonderful things.

We’ve gone from saying “You can’t have it all!” to “You can have it all!” but is this true? Christine Hassler wrote this in the Huffington Post in 2011: “…not only are we supposed to have it all but do it all at 100 percent: the career, relationship, children/family all while looking good, doing good and being good.”

Really? That’s having it all? Hmmmm…I think that might be having too much. After all, how can you give 100% to 5 different things? How is that possible, and why don’t men need to do the same? An article in Psychology Today says this: “It’s true that many husbands are more willing to pitch in today, but things are far from equal. Taking care of the home is still squarely on the shoulders of wives, despite the fact that many are working. Some studies suggest that women have almost three times the workload of their husbands. Interestingly, these proportions stay about the same, regardless of whether a wife has a full-time job, and whether or not her husband is currently working.”

Yeesh. Three times the workload? So let’s see: we have being a wife/partner, being a mom, having a career, looking good (which is a requisite for women in our society today), and being good which is also still a societal expectation. And then we wonder why the hell women are twice as likely to be on anti-depressants and more likely to be on anti-anxiety meds than men. Some of this is due to biology…thank you, estrogen. But like the APA says, there are life factors as well: unequal power and status, work overload, and being the victim of abuse.

Maybe the question shouldn’t be “Can you have it all?” but what your opening song says: “You’re gonna MAKE it after all.” And to me, making it means being who and what you want to be. That’s part of what feminism is to me: having a choice in creating the life you want instead of having to follow a preordained path.

You didn’t have a partner or family on the show, but you were happy. Fulfilled. Had fun experiences. You did have it all…a full, satisfying life you were living on your own terms, despite what our culture said at the time.

And in your ‘real’ life? I know you suffered with diabetes beginning in 1969 after having a miscarriage, and that this disease almost blinded you as you got older. You had a benign brain tumor in 2011 and were very open about being a recovering alcoholic. And worse of all…you lost your only son after he suffered an accidental gunshot wound at the age of 24. I can’t even begin to imagine what pain that brought to your life. Bless your heart. 🧡

You see, that’s what I love so much about the ‘real’ you..and not just the TV you. You stood up for your own beliefs. You fought battles and talked about them…were open about them…didn’t shy away from answering the hard questions about them. So really, in that regard, you were the MTM on TV…someone living an authentic life and being exactly who you wanted to be. How refreshing…and how rare.

Anyhoot, I admired you as a kid and I still admire you as an adult. Watching your show not only gives me some really great decorating ideas (like when you antiqued a piece of furniture by hitting it with a chain 🤨), but shows me that being single doesn’t have to be seen as a flaw. I don’t need to feel less than because I’m alone; actually, you’ve taught me that I’m really not alone after all: I have an awesome family, friends at school, my students, my neighbors, my pets…I’m really blessed! You showed me I can have a full, happy life with ‘just’ me at home. Being single isn’t a curse…it’s an opportunity. What a great lesson that is.

Finally, you taught me that voicing views different from others is a privilege we should all take more advantage of, instead of this ‘herd’ mentality. I can be loved…liked…and me at the same time. Confidence isn’t conceit and having a sense of self-worth isn’t selfish. It’s simply strong.

So thank you for the lessons growing up…and the lessons I’m still learning now. You know, I can picture you having coffee with Rhoda, Phyllis and Lou while trading stories about anything and everything that comes to mind. Perhaps you’ll let me join you someday. If so, I’d be honored.

Love,

Kristi xoxo

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

Photo by Matt Hardy on Pexels.com

So, it was a long weekend of reflection, ruminating and crying…something a bipolar woman like me is very good at. Go figure. 🙄

I was talking to ma about how my last boyfriend moved on so quickly and seriously and how rejected I felt. He ghosted me after an argument where we both said things we shouldn’t have. However, I truly believed it was a cooling off period and he would come back so we could talk. I tried to talk to him once myself and didn’t get an open response so waited for him to make a move. Living 2 doors apart and the time we spent together along with things we went through had me convinced that this was the guy that was going to be the one to stick around and work on what we were building. Once again, the old refrain holds true: I was wrong.

It hit me this weekend when I saw him with his ex in the house I thought he was buying for ‘us’ so that we could have a balance of togetherness and independence and do the relationship ‘right’…not living together already but living close. This is going to be interesting now.

I lied to myself after J and I broke up. After that fiasco, I told my son (who is very strong emotionally…he obviously takes after me 🙄) that I would never let my heart be broken like that again. Never. And I was living up to it…for a while.

The rejections I’ve experienced in my life make me very hyper-sensitive (for lack of a better word) towards them and I think I know who was the biggest rejection of all: me.

My Theories of Personality class and I were discussing Anna Freud today and the various defense mechanisms we might use throughout life to mitigate internal stress. Three of them really smacked me in the face for some reason and made me think about the weekend: denial, distortion, and delusional projection explain so much to me about how I lived my life for decades.

You see, I always knew something was wrong with me…I’ve mentioned that before. I got help in high school and that led to 2 years of sexual abuse by the psychologist and understandably, that was a HUGE rejection of me as a person as opposed to an object. When B and I were married, I thought “this is it!” This is the guy I’m going to spend the rest of my life with and build a family with no matter what. In other words, despite the fact I had a mental illness, I was going to build that life perfectly come hell or high water.

So, I ‘denied’ everything that pointed to me being bipolar. Mania? Nah…I’m just really really ‘happy’ right now. Depression? Nope…not me. I just needed to clean more or make a big dinner. And then to deal with the imperfection inside my mind, I ‘distorted’ my reality in that I figured if the OUTSIDE was wonderful and perfect, then the INSIDE would be wonderful and perfect. I was perfect in a lot of ways…our house was fastidiously clean, dinner was always on the table at 5, holidays were a huge to-do, my room mothering was like no other (teachers fought to have O in their class since my class parties were legend 😳) , I parented the crap out of my son and loved on him until he was blue in the face, and pretty much created this ‘delusional’ world where everything was great. Super. Wonderful. Perfect.

I’m not going to lie…it was tough as fuck to do this. Sometimes getting out of bed took ages and I had to force it and then other times, not going through the roof took all the control and energy I had. The worst part? This charade obviously didn’t work…no matter how hard I tried. Why? Because charades are a game…not reality.

Hubby 3 accepted me completely…sorta. He accepted me completely as long as he was happy and settled and content. If I tried to talk about needing help or other issues, I was told: “You don’t need that…you’re perfect like you are.” Bless his heart…he meant that and thought that was what I needed to hear, but what he didn’t know was how devaluing that was for me. He wasn’t seeing ME. He wanted me to be the perfect one. He didn’t want to know that I was broken too. When our lives began going on different trajectories, he decided he needed to choose between his motorcycle ‘club’ and me and you know who won. I was thrown away for a group of grungy guys who drink beer, belch, ride Harleys and think they’re contributing a lot to the world. Ok. That didn’t hurt the old self-esteem.

J rejected me in the worst way possible and actually SEEING it made it that much worse. The absolutely most horrible and humiliating thing I’ve ever done in my life was to go to his apartment after this situation to ask him to work on things ONE more time. He rejected me (‘she’ was there 🤢) again when ironically, I should have been the one to kick his butt to the curb.

And now? It’s happened again. But the funny thing is this was a guy that I didn’t think would do it because it’s been done to him a lot of times too. It was like I finally found the man who could understand me. Would persevere with me. Would work with me. I did. I handled his ‘drinking’ problem…his anger issues…his trust issues. But he couldn’t handle anything about me? Women cheated on him with best friends and I’m so bad of a person that I’m left for saying 1 thing I shouldn’t have? Really? That’s how disposable I am as compared to others? Wow.

I threw my true self away for so so long in my life and I’ve had others do the same. I’m getting to where I feel unloveable. Or at least I’m loveable when they’re happy, but just not when I’m unhappy. They’re happy when I forgive their outbursts. Their anger. Their diatribes. But they can’t reciprocate. Really?

Maybe that person isn’t out there. I know I finally found her in me and am living as authentically as I possibly can (which is the only reason I can even write these things let alone hit the publish key). It took me about 35 years to do it and I’m wondering if that’s how much longer it will take me to find the person who accepts me for me…imperfect me who is going to fuck up and make mistakes. I’m ok with that me now. I hope someday I’ll find another who will be as well.

So, I realized I’m not just crying for the loss of another relationship that really meant something to me. I’m crying over the years I was lost to myself. For the hiding I had to do. For the daily performances I had to give. And I’m also crying for just how fucking hard it is to be the ‘real’ me.

Kristi xoxo

“Machines to save our lives, machines dehumanize…” ~ Mr. Roboto

So, the fam was at my great-nieces volleyball game the other night (she is an absolutely gorgeous, smart young woman…much like me and sis were at that age…) and during a break ma said this to T and me: “I need a new phone.”

And just like that, the world stopped spinning for a moment…T and I stopped breathing for a moment…and we could see the horror in one another’s faces.

Look, we adore ma! We love her to death! However…introducing her to ‘new’ technology can best be described as traipsing through the bowels of hell and I don’t know about T, but I’m going to be BUSY for the next so many weeks until ma’s new phone is in her sweaty palm and she knows how to use it. There are 2 ways this can happen: either I leave the country before T has a chance too or I break my fingers. Regardless of the choice, I just have to do this before T does.

Ma’s iPhone is a generation 6 and she got it in 2014. Yes. Let me say that again…2014. The screen is the size of a postage stamp and her home button is grimy with use. However, she’s been happy with it so far until she saw me and T’s bigger and newer phones.

T and I aren’t ogres…we want ma to have a new, shiny, big screened phone (which she was too cheap to buy until now 🙄) to enjoy in her golden years. We just don’t want to be the one’s to get it set up.

Let me share how this is being anticipated:

Ma: So, if I get a new phone, my old stuff will be on it…right?

Kristi: Yes, ma.

Ma: How do we know we’re buying the phone with MY stuff already on it?

Kristi: Ma, I will take your NEW phone and download your OLD info into it from the cloud.

Ma: The what?

Kristi: THE CLOUD, ma. All of your phone info is in the cloud.

Ma (scrolling through her old phone): I don’t have a cloud on my phone, Kristi.

Kristi: Ma, the cloud isn’t on your phone. It’s out in ‘cyberspace’.

Ma: KRISTI. I DON’T HAVE A CLOUD WITH MY PHONE.

Kristi: MA. For fuck sakes…everyone has a cloud and I have yours set up! Everything on your phone is uploaded to it for saving. Think of it as a file cabinet in the sky.

Ma: Kristi…

Kristi: OH NO! Ma, I have to go…Edward needs to pee…

After I recovered my sanity from that conversation ma had more questions and called me back:

Ma: Will the buttons be the same?

Kristi: No. There is no home button on the newer iPhones.

Ma: How will I get ‘home’?

Kristi: Take the bus!

Ma: Kristi. How will I get home on my phone?

Kristi: You’ll swipe…everything is swipes…

Ma: Will you show me how?

Kristi: Yes. I’ll show you a hundred times. T will show you a hundred times. O will show you a hundred times. Then, you’ll have it down pat.

So, sometime in our near future, T and I will be taking ma to get her new phone. I truly feel the need to psychologically prepare for this and I’m sure T could use some prepping as well. However, as much as I tease ma about her technology gaps, O does the same to me and for some reason, it’s actually not as funny then. 🙄

Now? Google the topic, go through the 1000’s of hits, learn more about the concept, read the books/journals in the area, and get more info in 10 minutes than it took me hours to get in school. I love this in so many ways because I’ve come to depend on Google for so much info…but…I also miss the days of seeing scads of students in the library, researching their little hearts out, traipsing through the aisles and aisles of reference books, and pulling all-nighters together to finish up the work. Ahhhh…the good old days. 😳

But, it seems a little ‘too’ easy now. You know? We can just say: “Hey Alexa…who was Emile Durkheim?” And poof, the answer is given. (To my past and present Intro to Sociology students: you know the answer to this…right??)

I was reading one of my fave books the other day (I have dozens of fave books)- “The Accidental Tourist” by Anne Tyler, and one of the characters is suffering from dementia and talks to his grandson about all of the inventions he’s working on: A motorized radio that will follow you around, a floating phone, and a car that will come when you call it. This was proof to the family that gramps was diminishing quickly; actually, he was ahead of everyone.

P.S. He never let me drive it. 🙄

When I first read this book in the late 80’s (it was published in ’85), these inventions made me laugh. “Ha! A car that will come to you!” But all of these have come true (I wish Anne Tyler would have patented these ideas she wrote about…)! Wasn’t the Sony Walkman the radio that would follow you around…and then the iPod…then phones? And think about phones…no phone booths you have to wait for (that’s how I had to call ma when I was living on-campus)…no more waiting for T to say goodbye to her boyfriend and finally hang up…no more talking where everyone can hear since phones were plugged into the wall. Now? We have them all of the time. And cars that come when you call them? When I was dating ‘The Counselor’ he had a Tesla and we were coming out of Walgreens in the dead of winter and not wanting to traipse through the slush. He got on his phone and the car started up, backed out of the parking spot and came directly to us. My mouth hung open but I tried my best to take it in stride.

It makes me wonder about my future grandkids (if I ever get any… 😐) and what they’ll grow up with and how much things will have changed by then. I try to think how it can and I simply can’t! I can’t imagine anything more than what we have…unless it’s faster, etc. I said the same thing after my pink Motorola Razer I had in the early 2000’s: “What can be better than this?”

Anyhoot, we’ll get ma her new phone. T and I will help her set it up and we’ll tag team it: she can explain some things and then bump my shoulder and I’ll take over for a bit while T practices meditation and deep breathing. However, cough cough…I think I feel the ‘flu’ coming on. Bit by bit. Like maybe it will really hit me the day we have planned for shopping. Hmmmm…

Kristi xoxo

The Adventures of Me and Ma!

So, I know my sissy is going to be very jelly when she reads this because instead of being able to experience what I did this past weekend with ma, she was lolling on a gorgeous beach with her wonderful hubby and 2 beautiful grandkids. I feel so bad for her. 🙄

Anyhoot, ma and I have been going out to lunch on Fridays so she can have fish. Yes, she grew up Catholic. And no, she is not a practicing Catholic but for some reason, she likes fish on Fridays so go figure. We’ve been going to the same place for a while now (a GREAT old bar that has the best fish ever! 🐡🐟🐠) but decided to try something new this past week. As always, I told ma to choose the place and as always, she said it was up to me. There’s no use arguing (been there, done that) so I said: “Ma, give me 5 choices.” She did and I made my choice. However, she grimaced at each choice I made until I picked the one (0n my 4th try) she actually wanted anyway. My ma is a clever woman.

The actual bar we like to eat at…I LOVE bar ambiance!

So, we head off to Pop’s (another great bar…I love love love bar food…😐) and are faced with a crisis right off the bat. The only tables available are the tall ones with the high bar stools. I chose a 2 topper (restaurant speak for 2 seats…I waitressed through my last year of college 🤨) and helped ma clamber up the stool. It was horrifying at best and I just knew she was going to topple off this backless seat and I’d be blamed. Luckily, she spotted an 8 topper that had seats with backs. She scaled down where she was sitting like Edmund Hillary coming down Everest, and once again, I helped her get on top another god-forsaken chair. She got settled and I said: “Ma, despite the debacle of getting you seated with 40 truckers looking on in horror, the fish smells really good!” She agreed and when the waitress came by for the order, ma said: “I’ll take the shrimp basket.”

Heh? All week I heard about how excited she was to eat fish with me and she orders shrimp. I said: “Ma, didn’t you want fish?” And she said, quite snippily I might add: “Kristi, shrimp are fish.” Oookkkaaayyy! They aren’t exactly the Walleye she was craving, but I guess any old crustacean would do.

We gobble down the food which was delicious and since it was ma’s turn to treat, she had to get her purse off the back of the chair to pay the bill. This required her turning around on a chair she could barely balance on while telling me to leave her alone, she could do it herself. After saying a quick prayer promising God that I would never curse again if ma didn’t fall over, she wrangled it up and asked me what she should leave for a tip. I said: “Five bucks, ma.” She looked at me as if I’d said, “Ma, give the waitress a kidney and let’s blow the joint.” However, since the poor was called to our table numerous times (by ma…), I knew she earned every bit of that fiver. Just sayin. 😳

When I got her back to her house, she said: “Kristi, you need to come in…I have an emergency I need you to deal with.” Thinking she was experiencing a carbon monoxide leak but wanted to eat first, I cautiously followed her in. She grabbed her iPad and said: “I can’t get past level 47 on this game you had me download.” I said: “Ma. For fuck sakes…THAT’s your emergency?” Yes…it was. She had tried over a dozen times to get past that particular level and asked if I could help. Since I’m on level 317 myself, I did it with a few minutes to spare. It’s hard to describe the look on her face right then. It was part pride, part gratefulness, and part disdain.

This particular thrift shop has a huge amount of doll inventory…they are terrifying to say the least.

The next day, I wanted some stuff for my basement and we went to a GREAT thrift shop in town that has a bit of everything (please Lord…let there be thrift shops in heaven…😬). As ma was looking at the clothes, I was digging around in old books and furniture. All of a sudden I hear a loud “KRISTI?!!!” I said, just as loudly, “MA?!!!” She kept shouting (yes sissy…shouting…😐) until I tunneled through the hodge podge of crap and found her. I said: “Ma, what the hell??” She said: “Do you like this top?” No, I didn’t. Did I tell her that? No, I didn’t. After all of the energy she put in to getting my opinion, I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was ass ugly.

After this adventure, we went to an antique furniture shop that looks like a hoarder bought anything and everything he had ever set eyes on in the last 100 years and threw it all in the very old, wooden, partly dilapidated building. The aisles (I use the term loosely) are approximately 10 inches wide and since most asses are bigger than that, you have to wiggle through them like those bubble tea beads through a straw. Ma and I had just gotten down the first aisle and had to trek back because a couple was coming down it the opposite way carrying chairs. After they were through, we went back in. To make a long story short, there were 12 fucking chairs in the set these boobs bought and instead of telling us they would be making numerous trips (6), we kept traipsing down the same aisle again and again until they’d come tramping back and we’d have to backtrack. Why didn’t we go down another aisle? Because this place is like a maze…one way in, one way out. And believe me, you don’t want to get lost unless you have provisions for at least a week.

Anyhoot, I had previously found the perfect piece for my basement (an AWESOME marble topped chest!) but didn’t have the cash at the time to pay for it. When I had pulled out my card days back, the salesman looked at me as if I were another life form using a currency never before seen on earth. He said: “We don’t take those things.” OK. Got it.

I told the guy I’d be back that weekend and he said he’d write out the sales ticket for it and have it waiting for me. The price was $150 but I got him down to $120. The owner of the shop, born during Lincoln’s time, was there when ma and I arrived and when he saw I had gotten a ‘discount’ he asked how I had managed that. I looked him straight in the eye and said: “I flashed the guy my boobs.” He didn’t flinch…just nodded and started loading it up. Apparently I’m not appealing enough that he wanted a rerun of that particular show. And no, I didn’t really flash ’em the first time around anyway. At least that’s my story…and I’m sticking to it. 😲

See the furniture piled up in the windows?? NOTHING is secured!

As the old geezer (who I will be referring to as Red from here on out) was loading up my stuff (that man might be old but my goodness, he’s strong 😳), ma found some vintage quilts. She asked Red the price and when he quoted it, she balked and put them away. I pulled her aside (the best I could in a 10″ space) and whispered: “Ma, for piss sakes, you’re supposed to bargain!” Instead, she and Red started talking about our town (since they’ve both been around almost from it’s conception in 1829) and while I was leaning on a dusty, moldy something or other in a building that wasn’t air conditioned on a 100 degree day, I began to get a bit delirious. Not really wanting to be a part of their conversation but needing something to take my mind off the heat stroke I could feel coming, I made a couple of quips I found amusing. Red didn’t. He looked at me like I was nuts. Which…actually…as we all know…I pretty much am. 🙄

Finally, I rasped: “Ma, we need to get going…” and I took matters in my own hands: I got my chest, 2 vintage quilts and an AWESOME vintage lamp for $150 less than marked. After we shook sweaty palms on it, Red looked gobsmacked. I think the heat had made him delirious too (believe me…this guy is known to be a bit of a shyster and I guarantee you he made plenty of money on this sale).

So, we were all loaded up and I was getting ready to pull away from the curb when he comes trotting out. I rolled down my window and said: “Whatcha need?” And he said: “What all did you get?” I told him and he rolled his rheumy old eyes and said it had been our lucky day. Yes. I was lucky in that I didn’t think I’d have to visit the ER that evening after all. When he was walking away I shouted: “I thought you were coming back to ask me out!” He looked back at me and said: “No.” Well…that hurt. 🙄

Anyhoot, ma and I always have fun when we’re together and we got laughing so hard at times this past weekend we almost peed ourselves. However, just because I love my sissy so much, I’m going to let her schlep ma around next weekend. Not that I need a break or anything. Just because I want to make up for what she missed while on vacation. I’m all heart.

And ma, you are the best…I love you so much and if you can’t get past another level, holler at me. K?

Kristi xoxo

Dottie’s Rainbow Bridge

So, I’ve written about a lot of things in this blog: having bipolar, being sexually abused, being in an abusive relationship, and the list goes on. However, this is the toughest, and shortest, post I’ve had to write so far.

Yesterday, my son and I took our Little Dottie for a Quality of Life exam at our vet. She was almost 15 years old and was blind and deaf. She also was losing control of her bladder and back legs. In other words, she was suffering. After talking with the vet and her examination of Little Dot, O and I made the decision to have her put to sleep. We said our goodbyes, I sang her special song, and she died in my arms.

I don’t know what to feel. When Bill got home last night, I cried louder and harder than I ever have in my life…I made myself sick. I’ve never ever been in my house without her…and the emptiness of it is overwhelming. I see her everywhere.

Maybe people with pets can’t understand this, but she wasn’t a pet to me. She was my baby…my best friend…my comfort…my joy. It’s hard for those of us with mental illness to make real friends and I can honestly say I have only 3 human ones and that includes Bill. So Dottie was my bestie. She didn’t mind my bouts of depression and would lay down with me whenever I needed too. She didn’t care if I was manic…she’d be right along beside me watching me paint and getting drops of it on her back. When I had a mental breakdown, she was there…centering me the best she could. When I cut myself, I would hug her and try to forget the pain. When I attempted suicide and got off my bed to throw up the pills I had taken, Dottie was right by me…her brown eyes telling me I had way too much to live for.

There’s no words that can describe what she did for me, and I hope, with all my heart that I was a good mama to her. I believe in God and I believe he made animals for us to love. I truly know that my Little Dot is in heaven now…in my Grandpa’s arms…bossing everyone around like the diva she was.

Dottie: you were my precious baby and you are now my angel. I will never ever forget you and you will be in my heart forever. Someday, I’ll be making my way to heaven and I know you’ll be right there at the gate…barking at me to hurry up because you want to play fetch. And honey, I’ll do it.

Kristi xoxo

“…rolling on the river.” ~ Proud Mary

So, blech. Isn’t that a great way to start? Makes you really want to read more, huh??!! 🙄

Anyhoot, Bill started his new job and guess what he brought home? Wait for it….wait for it…

COVID!

On Sunday morning, I told Bill that I felt ‘warm’ and he put his hand to my head and said I was nice and cool. So what did I do? Take my temp for the first time in years. It was a couple of degrees high and later in the day, we both were coughing and tired and achy…you get the picture (there was also a bit of diarrhea involved, but I’m not going to tell you which one of us had it…just suffice it to say it wasn’t me…😳). We got tested Monday and our results were back Thursday. We are in isolation until Feb. 3rd. I’m not good at isolation.

When I got the test results back, I called ma and said: “Ma, I’m sad because I’m not going to be able to see you for 10 days!” She said: “Kristi, we have gone a lot longer than that without seeing each other.” So I said: “But ma…when I CAN’T do something, I WANT to do something…you know, like when you forbade me to pierce my nose and I pierced my nose.” Ma said: “We’ll facetime.” Here’s the problem with that: ma doesn’t prop her phone up during our screen time and I get nauseated because of the movement…I liken it to being on a boat during a storm.

I am one of these people that get motion sick REALLY REALLY easily. Just watching the words scroll at the bottom of a newscast can make me dizzy and if I ride in the back-seat of a car, watch out. It’s going to get ugly.

When I was a junior in High School, me, ma and her fucking bastard of a husband went camping on Lake Michigan in the Cabin Cruiser they had (he could be fun at times…he got progressively worse through the years and they weren’t even married yet). I have no idea why I didn’t beg off of going except I thought it would be fun. You know…camping on a boat, in Lake Michigan, and not setting foot on land for a week. A couple of days into this nightmare, we decided to boat across Lake Michigan and because I’ve always had such great luck in my life, a storm came up and the boat that always seemed big to me felt like a raft in the ocean. Wave after wave was hitting us and I thought we were going to die. Ma thought we were going to die. R was having the time of his life…I’m assuming he felt like Skipper on the Minnow. 😐

Anyway, did you know Lake Michigan is HUGE? And once you’re in the middle of it, you can’t see land? And when you are in the fucking middle of it during a storm you can’t see land and you have to barf in a minnow bucket because you’re scared if you do it over the side of the boat you are going to fall in? And when you barf in a minnow bucket that smells like dead minnows, it makes you want to barf even more?

So, R was steering, ma was yelling, and I was barfing. Charming. Finally, after what seemed like days but was only about 4 hours, we motored into Chicago. I was REALLY sick by this time and getting dehydrated, plus we hadn’t planned on staying in the city so we had nowhere to dock. R finally spotted a small marina which was labeled “Yacht Club”. The boats were the size of my old snow saucer so the fellows there used the term ‘yacht’ very loosely. In fact, it was a pretty seedy place. But, they let us dock there and we set out to find somewhere I could recover.

We started walking (this was pre-Uber, my sweeties, plus we didn’t have cab fare…no cash and ATM’s weren’t a big thing yet 😐) and we walked and walked and walked. Actually, ma and R walked…I wobbled and teetered and barfed. We were in the Southside of Chicago, it was getting dark, and we had no idea where the hell we were going. We passed a billboard that said “God is watching you” and I said to ma: “I hope!” Finally, we spotted a hotel and R used his last check to book me and ma a room…he wanted to sleep with his boat.

So, ma and I were in a hotel on the Southside…I was moaning and groaning on the bed while she was trying to determine if I needed to go to the hospital or not. Finally, we both fell asleep until we heard someone messing with the door. They were actually trying to break in! Luckily, they left after they heard us scream and we spent the rest of the night with me dry-heaving and ma watching the door like a hawk.

A Greyhound from the 80’s.

The next day, it was decided that I needed to get home since there was no way in hell I was going to step foot on that Godforsaken boat one more time. The solution? I got to ride a Greyhound home! That was an adventure as well…my first time traveling across the state alone on a bus (actually, it was my last time too…so far…). At first I was excited, that is, until the last words I heard from ma while I was boarding were: “What if she doesn’t make it home?” That was comforting. Ma always has a way of seeing the bright side of things. Well, obviously I made it home and gramma and grampa took care of me and spoiled me to bits…it was heaven.

You know, I realize how lucky Bill and I are that our bout with COVID is mild and we are doing well. I also know how horrible this virus is for so many and my heart goes out to them…truly. Finally, I know that no matter what, ma has always been, and still is, there when I’m sick. Thanks, ma…you’re the best.

Kristi x0x0

A Good Mom can say Bad Words.

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Photo by Emiliano Arano on Pexels.com

Dear Son,

So, I don’t know what it is with letters right now.  I’ve written to Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian ( 🙄 ) and Robin Williams lately, but now I’m writing to the most important person ever…you.

Anyhoot, I know I could have sent this to you directly but you know how important education is to me (even though you didn’t complete the 2 classes you need to get your degree…we’re still not done discussing that, SWEETIE 😒) and I wanted other mentally ill mothers to read what I’m going to say too.  I know you won’t mind since you got such a rockin’ birthday present this year…just sayin’ 😬.

Baby, I know it wasn’t easy having a mentally ill mom.  You can deny that all you want and say it never affected you but I’m not stupid (even though from 13-20 you thought I was) and I know it did.  You always tell me what a great ma I am and I think I remember every time you’ve ever said it because that’s how much it means to me.  But I’m going to let you in on a little secret:  I don’t believe you.  (I also don’t believe you didn’t drink before you were 21…and I’m pretty sure I’m right 😳).

I think I was a good mom…better than some but worse than others.  I do know I was the kind of mom that was a go-getter and worked hard to give you the life I wanted you to have.  I didn’t always succeed though…not by a long shot.

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You know how freaking happy (I won’t cuss in this…gramma would yell at me for a week and you know how screechy her voice is 😐) I was when you were born, but I was scared as hell too.  There were so many times in my life that I didn’t understand myself…didn’t understand what I was feeling, or why I was doing the impulsive things I did so often, or why my head was filled with so much noise it was sometimes hard to hear anything over the din, or why I’d run like a motor one day and then crash the next.  My Lord (yes, I know you don’t believe in God but I’m going to change that come hell or freaking high water 😈), how was I ever going to know what you needed and felt when I was so lost myself?  I was petrified.  *And a little secret?  So was your dad…but he’ll never admit it.

Anyhoot, there were times in my life when I didn’t know if I could take care of myself… times when if grandma and your great grandparents (who would have totally adored you) hadn’t of, I don’t know where I’d be right now.  Then when I was preggy, I started to wonder if I’d be able to cope with everything a ma has to do and I was so scared I might not be able to take care of you.  But I did.  And I loved it (even changing your little diapers…except when your dad would feed you spinach and then I would have paid anyone a thousand bucks to take that over for an hour or so 😲.  And yes, I know it’s not ladylike to say ‘bucks’).

You were so patient with me and even when I did mess up, like when I would try to shove rice cereal down your gullet when you were crying, you didn’t care.  You were such an easy going baby (until you got colic and I thought your dad was going to go as nutsy as I already was, but luckily you out-grew that in 4 of the longest months I’ve ever experienced in my life 🤨) and exactly what I needed.  It’s funny how you spend 9 months wondering ‘who’ you are going to get, and then no matter what, you get exactly who you wanted.  Period.

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I don’t think people realize how those of us with mental illness struggle so much with parenting.  Obviously, you know how sensitive I am.  How impulsive.  How much I ruminate.  How much I question myself.  How deeply I feel guilt.  How quickly I assume blame.  How I feel so much empathy for others that it can be overwhelming.  How I feel like I have to ‘do’ and ‘give’ for anyone to love me.  How I’m either busy busy busy or so down I’m pretty much camped out on the couch for a period of time.  Of course you know all of this now, but didn’t for all your growing up years.  Remember when you came home that one day after being bullied in the 2nd grade?  I was distraught.  Your pain was my pain and I wanted to wrap you in a blankie, tuck Barney under your arm, and put you in a plastic bubble with me.  Seeing you hurt was the worst thing imaginable.  Your pain always became my pain and that’s why I often over-reacted to things you experienced, which is pretty ‘normal’ for those of us with bipolar.

When I made wrong decisions, I’d beat myself up for days and days even though you forgot about it within hours.  When you brought home a bad grade (sigh…) or did something you knew you shouldn’t have, I blamed myself.  It was because of me that these things happened.  I was to blame.  Yes, I know you would tell me that it was YOUR fault…your decisions…your choices.  But I still felt the culpability began and ended right here.  That’s why I never had the heart to really punish you (actually, I can think of VERY little you ever did to warrant punishment…you really were, and are, a great kid 😀).

I think one of the hardest things I had to overcome as a mom was dealing with school things.  The education stuff was a cinch, but the ‘mommy one-upping’ stuff stung.  You know I don’t have real friends.  That I have a pissy (sorry, ma) track record for relationships.  That I just don’t feel like I fit in because I truly am different from most everyone else.  It was so tough seeing the other moms cluster together at Scout meetings or during PTA nights while I felt like I was on the fringe.  I wanted to be more comfortable in being a part of all of this.  I wanted you to have just a regular ole mom.  Instead, you got me.  *BTW:  no exchanges.

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My biggest failures with you was this:  I didn’t try hard enough to be ‘normal’ and I didn’t summon up enough courage to eventually say I wasn’t.   I didn’t want to admit that something was very wrong with me.  I couldn’t face it.  I wanted to be like the mama’s I saw on TV growing up like Carol Brady and Shirley Partridge (both can singe really well so we do have that in common 🙄).  I think I pretended adequately for quite a long time though; I certainly had your dad fooled (not too hard to do…) and even though I’d always say I’m FINE (!) when gramma would ask me, she knew I was lying.  But, she wanted me to be fine so badly that she forced herself to believe I was telling the truth.  I can understand that since I was doing the same.

So I wrote off my depression as just ‘too much stress’ and my manic phases were channeled into making sure the house and the yard were perfect.  It was just “Kristi” being “Kristi”…no big deal.  “She’s just that way.”   But, it’s why I push you to talk to me when I see you aren’t feeling OK…I just need to know what’s bothering you in case it’s something serious we need to deal with.  I don’t want you to pretend or put on a mask like I did for so long.  I want you to be real with me, and I’ll support you…no matter what.  One of my biggest fears is that I might have passed something down to you and I pray every night I didn’t.   However, if God Forbid you should ever develop a mental health issue, it’s your dad’s fault.  K?  😏

Leaving your dad and agreeing to a divorce was the stupidest, most impulsive thing I’ve ever ever done in my entire life.  It went against everything I had tried to do for 13 years:  give you a solid family foundation.  Your dad and I were having issues…I know you’re aware of that.  But the manic phase I was in for quite a time took over and my decision making sucked big time.  I know it’s so hard for you to understand what it’s like to ruminate like I do, but I will never…ever…forgive myself for putting you through a divorce.  I always swore I wouldn’t.  I feel like I took away something of your teenage years by making you live between 2 houses.  That isn’t easy…I know that from my own experience.

I think I want to be perfect for you because that’s actually how I see you.  Yes, us mamas have rose-colored glasses and it’s very hard to see you any other way.  So, I want to take on any dragons that threaten you and give you all I possibly can to make your life better.  It’s so hard to do that though.  My own monsters take a lot of work themselves and because of bad financial decisions, I can’t give you what I wish I could.  I just feel so less than as a ma.  Like you were gypped.  Like I was the clearance ma no other angel in heaven wanted until you felt sorry for me and plopped yourself into my lap (it was an excruciating ‘plop’ by the way…16 hours worth…just sayin’ 🙃).

I get so scared when I think about how bipolar worsens as a person ages.  Depression increases…dementia is common…self-harm can be an issue…and suicide is something that is never fully out of the mind of someone with bipolar.  When I think about these things, I can’t help but cry.  I’m YOUR ma.  My job is to take care of you whether you’re 10 or 30.  I never want you to have to take care of me.  It shames me to think that could happen one day.

Actually, just being mentally ill shames me.  I know it sounds crazy (go figure 🙄) but there are so many times in my life I feel like I had to have done something horrible to be given this particular disease.  And, had I not done what ever ‘thing’ that was, you would have gotten the healthy ma you deserve.  It pains me to think of that.

I know your attention span is waning because you’re impatient like me, but I just want you to know this:  I’m so very sorry for how my illness has affected you all of these years.  I know I’ve embarrassed you.  I know I’ve made mistakes with you.  I know I do things that are outside your realm of comprehension.  I know I cry too much and talk too much and worry too much and need too much.  And I’m so sorry for that.  Don’t say that an apology isn’t necessary.  I’m the ma…and I know best (except in the case of gramma where I know best there too…just sayin’ 🤨).

This fucking (OK, I said it…I’ll record what ma says to me so you can hear 🤯) disorder has guided me into some hellish places over the years.  Places I pray you will never ever see.  But for some reason, God gave me you.  You.  The light that’s always there…shining like the star you are.  Thanks for that, Porkchop.

Marmie xoxo

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