“…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

 

 

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