“The stars at night are big and bright…”

So, Bill is in Sarasota which is pissing me off royally. He’s visiting his son and having a great time but here’s the thing: it’s WINDY, COLD, and DREARY here but SUNNY, WARM, and BEAUTIFUL there. Blech. Anyhoot, I started thinking about the times I would travel down to Texas to visit my sonshine when he lived there for 3 years.

Getting ready for a ‘safari’ ride in Texas! It was so much fun!

The first time I went was when O and I drove to Texas to unload all of his stuff he and his dad had already dropped off. Yes…you read that correctly. He and his dad took a U-Haul down with all of his stuff but DIDN’T unload any of it. “That’s women folks work! 🙄 ” So, when he got back to IL, we took his car down (and then I hitch-hiked home. Just kidding…I flew). The drive is about 12 hours and the first 4 were fun. Then the tedium set in and come to find out, I have to pee a lot more than O does. I’d need to stop every couple of hours (since I was guzzling water while he drove…in hindsight, it should have been more of an ‘adult’ beverage😳 ) and he’d say exactly what his dad used to say to me: “Already? Are you sure?” Hmmmm. Yes, already and yes, I’m sure. We would then look for places to ‘go’ and he’d keep driving by great prospects. I would say: “What’s wrong with there?” And his reply? “Ma…we need to get a few more miles in.” So I said: “For fuck sakes (sorry, ma), if I go NOW or LATER we’ll still drive the same amount of miles.” The response I received consisted of him rolling his eyes, sighing dramatically, and then taking me to a rest stop where serial killers like to hang out. Sheesh.

Actual map of that day. Seriously.

When we finally got to Texas and my ass was asleep and tingly, we spent the next few days getting his apartment set up. Then, I told him I wanted to sightsee before I left. We first went to the Cultural District in Fort Worth where there are museums all over the place. You can walk from one to other and they are pretty close together except for the museum I wanted to go too which was about a half mile away. O wanted to drive to it and I told him that we could just walk…it wasn’t that far. Well, a half a mile isn’t that far unless it’s 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. Literally. But, here’s what I always heard: “Dry heat is so much better than humid heat.” Bullshit. It’s not. With humid heat, you at least have some moisture on you. So, after trudging to the museum, he was grouchy (I’m using a very mild word for his mood because I can’t think of a stronger one 🙄 ), I was gasping for breath and we both felt like raisins that had just trekked through the Sahara. Now, I’m sure my sweet peeps are asking if all of this was worth it. Long story short: No. 😐

I also wanted to go to the FAMOUS Fort Worth Stockyards because of the AMAZING cattle drive they have. I had to convince O it would be great to stand outside in an area that smelled like cow poop while waiting to see cows stampede down a street. But, there were other things to see too; for example, shops that sold t-shirts saying “My cowboy went to Texas and all I got was this t-shirt” and other such goodies. However, 90% of the shops were closed the day we were there…we don’t know why. Of course, before the cattle drive I had to pee…again…so we finally found an open shop. They directed us to a bathroom in the building and told us the ‘code’ we would need to open the doors. Well…the ‘codes’ didn’t work and I was starting to worry a tad. But, I knew if I peed myself, the 105 degree heat (it was much cooler that day 🤨) would dry it quickly. Finally, someone else came to use the toilet and we just slunk in after them when their code worked.

Watch out for the stampede.

Finally, it was time for the ‘stampede’! People were lined up, 3 rows deep, all along the street and the excitement was palpable. There was a good ole’ boy (that’s Texas talk 🤠) with a big cowboy hat on standing behind us and after hearing us talk with our mid-western accent, asked where we were from. Since O was grouchy again and didn’t want to visit with anyone, I told the guy that I lived in IL. He got so excited…he said (in the best Southern drawl ever): “Why, I know some people named ‘Miller’ that live in IL. You know ’em?” Now, I swear he said this…O will attest to it. So I said: “Sure! They’re nice people!” He was very pleased we had this national connection to one another.

Anyhoot, it was time for the cows. We started hearing some hooves and here it was…what we had waited an hour for. It was 5 (it had to have been an off day) long-horn cattle PLODDING down the street more slowly than my 95 year old neighbor walks, with 2 men who looked like they had never ridden a horse a day in their lives behind them. The entire ‘drive’ took 2 minutes and I’ve been more impressed watching grass grow… however, I told O how awesome it was so he would think it was worth it. He didn’t. 🐮

Ma drove down with me a couple of times too and those drives were always interesting but the first one was the most memorable.

We left the day after Christmas and luckily, there wasn’t snow to worry about.  However, this happened to be during the time of some of the worst flooding Missouri ever experienced, and it started in mid-December and lasted through the beginning of January.  The news media literally reported and said this:  “DO NOT TRAVEL THROUGH MISSOURI!”  I said this to ma, and her response was, “Kristi, we are going to Texas come hell or high water.”  Well, the high water was there, so I prepared for hell. 😈

This is a shot from the actual bridge during the actual time I was driving.

The first couple hours through scenic IL wasn’t bad but as we got closer to the Missouri border, we turned on AM radio (take a look at your navigation/computer system on your dash my young peeps…it’s a button around the area of Sirius and your iTunes library 🙄).  A reporter (a couple of miles away from us) was yakking about how she was outside in ‘flood waters’ and how she had never seen anything like it in her life.  In fact, she sounded a bit hysterical and I looked over at ma who was serenely looking out the window and wondering if we had passed the “Hen House” yet.  A ‘greasy spoon’ dive that was last cleaned (at least this one) in 1973.

Anyhoot, sheets of rain started falling and we saw rivers in ditches beside the road…it was getting precariously close to the highway.  I said: “Ma.  I need you to keep your eyes open.  I’m driving in a freaking flood so you can see your precious grandson and wander around an Ikea for the first time.  I need your help navigating.”  Her reply?  “What do you want me to do?”  I said:  “MA.  KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN AND TELL ME IF I’M GOING TO DRIVE INTO THE FUCKING MISSISSIPPI.”  I felt like Noah steering the Ark at first, but then realized if this really was another biblical flood, the only survivors on earth would be me and ma and I wondered how long we would last.  You know…without us killing one another.

Things weren’t too bad until we got a bit farther south and the rain started to turn into icy drizzle.  My hands were gripped on the wheel and we started creeping along at about 30 MPH in my ma’s light sedan, and while I was trying to say “Our Father…”, ma asked if we were getting behind schedule.  “Yes, ma.  We are behind schedule.  But only because I’m trying to keep you alive.”  With that, she started looking around for a place for lunch…my biggest worry too.  By the way, we settled on a Wendy’s.  When we travel, we go whole hog. 😉

Back on the road, things were getting worse.  There are a lot of twisty, hilly roads in Missouri and it was fun navigating through them while they were covered with ice, while barely being able to see out the windshield and ma asking me what other shops I like in Texas.  I snapped out something and she asked if I needed a break driving.  For fuck sakes, of course I needed a break.  I was about 20 miles from getting out of the car and hiking home.  However, there was no way on God’s green earth I was going to let ma drive.  I don’t know how to put this and want to be tactful:  ma’s driving sucks balls.

I know she’s picking up the phone right now to screech at me, but it’s true. She decides what lanes are turn lanes, whether or not she can make it through a yellow light a quarter mile away, and likes to sight-see instead of concentrating on the road. So no. I did not want ma to drive in a floody ice storm. 🙄

We finally made it to the middle of Oklahoma and got a room in the first hotel we saw. Well…let me clarify…the only hotel in this town of 30. The guy behind the bullet proof, locked cage gave us our key and we traipsed up to the room. The walls were beautiful, the color of baby poop after carrots have been consumed, and the towels for the shower were so thin I thought you were supposed to flush them. Anyhoot, the room was like a little oasis after that driving and after we (meaning me) moved every piece of heavy furniture in front of the door, we slept like babies. The next day, when we just had a couple more hours to go was sunny and bright. Go figure.

Anyhoot, I both hated it and loved it when O lived in Texas. It’s an awesome state with so so much to do and the people are truly wonderful…I’d always come home saying ‘howdy’ and ‘y’all’ for at least a few days. I wasn’t single then (of course) but I’m telling you that some of those cowboys were sexy as hell. I made so many great memories with O and ma and we always had a blast. But, I also had to say goodbye to O and that was tough. I was never able to do it without bawling. The plus side of that? The stewards on the plane thought I was a basket case (which I was) and always gave me free soda and extra snacks. Yum.

Kristi xoxo

“The Bachelor”

So, I decided to drive to Indiana to see Bill this past weekend and had forgotten what a ‘bachelor’ pad looks like.  It’s obvious to me the poor man needs my help in terms of ‘decorating’ and…well…most everything else as it pertains to housing.  🙄

When Eddie and I were on our way to “The Pad” (Little Miss Dottie was with her brother…otherwise known as my sonshine 😎), I called Bill to chit chat while making the 3 hour drive.  I was confident he’d have everything I needed but clothes, so I was a bit taken aback when he said this:  “Uh…there’s no food in the house.”  

OK.  I get it.  No ‘food’ means there’s just the basics: crackers, bread, peanut butter, eggs…you know, the staples.  Ed and I split a hamburger outside of Terre Haute and I figured we would snack once we arrived.  When we got there, Bill was at work and after lugging in my bag and pillow (can’t sleep with out it…down filled…on sale at Kohls last year plus my Kohl bucks plus my 30% off made it nice and cheap or otherwise I would have said “Hell to the no” in terms of the price 🤨) I decided to get some food out because I was so freaking hungry.  And, as my family members know, when I’m hungry, I’m very VERY crabby.  😠

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Bill’s fridge. Nuff said.

So…I start opening the cabinets.  Plates…glasses…cutlery…pots…spice rack (minus spices😐)…and…no food.  Heh?  Did I miss it?  I scrounged through the cabinets again and there was…no food.  OK.  Stay calm, Kristi.  I tottered (because of my hunger I was a bit unsteady on my feet…or it could have been that I’m just unsteady on my feet) over to the REALLY nice fridge (meaning, better than mine) and opened her up.  And waiting to be eaten was literally 2 bunches of brown bananas.  Two.  That’s it.  There was NOTHING else in that son-of-a-bitch.  Now, I realize bananas are food…but they are the ONE fruit I can’t stand.  At all.  So…with a hopeful heart, I opened the freezer and lo and behold, there was…NOTHING. 

What I realized were these 2 things:  Bill is very literal and truthful when he speaks, and not everybody stocks up food for weeks on end like I do.  Sooooo…I gave him a jingle and he said this:  “Honey, I’ll bring you food after I get off of work…at 4:00 in the morning.”  Well…this was sweet but I was hungry at 8:00 in the evening.  So I stuffed a banana down my gullet and when Bill arrived the next morning he brought me the staples we all should have:  2 bags of sunchips, a Hershey bar, and a ‘healthy’ organic protein bar that has more calories than a full birthday cake and tastes like cardboard on top of cardboard.  *Note to family:  I said birthday cake.  If I’m not mistaken, I’m the next birthday we need to prepare for.  Just sayin’.   🙄

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Edward was quite comfy on the bed!

Eddie and I then looked for a place to sit and read for a while, and as I really looked around, I saw there was very little furniture.   Very little.  In fact, his house consists of a kitchen table and 1 chair downstairs, and a bed and 3 small chairs upstairs.  And that’s it.  Hmmm.  I decided on the bed and I think I made the right choice and as you can see, Eddie concurred.  When I called Bill again and asked why he didn’t have any ‘usable’ furniture…you know, like a couch or comfy chair, he said:  “I never really thought about it.”  OOOKKKKAAAAYYYY!  

Now when I first went upstairs, Eddie and I had to fumble our way in the dark to find the various rooms I assumed existed, and I started flipping light switches before a serial killer popped out.   I tried 5 switches in a row.  None worked.  I finally stumbled into what I assumed was some kind of bedroom, felt my way around like Mr. Magoo, and found a lamp!  Hallelujah!   Then, with that precious light on I found the other bedrooms.  However, since the switches didn’t work because there are NO ceiling lights in the whole place, I had to carry around a 6′, cast iron, wobbly lamp everywhere I wanted to go.  I really roughed it…sorta like Laura Ingalls having to carry  lantern.  (I’m actually quite proud I survived this 😉).

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The heavy lamp I drug to the hallway so I could see to type this.

So, Edward and I saw that one of the ‘dark rooms’ was Bill’s office.  This modern day technologically impressive room had 2 computers, both of which are quite old, a filing cabinet labeled ‘student grades’ (he is not a teacher), and unopened boxes.  I was actually quite dazzled by this.  

Then, I walked into the other room and lo and behold it was the ‘home gym’ he’s been telling me about. At first, I had to look away. Literally. The rug on the floor was like those optical illusion posters that if you look at it long enough, it ‘spins’ and makes you dizzy. (Since I was already a bit woozy from lack of nutrition, I was scared that looking at the rug would cause me to lean over the porcelain throne).

The “Home Gym” complete with the rug.

But WOW…the ‘gym’ was quite impressive and after phoning him yet again (when you’re hungry and dizzy you don’t really think about how annoying you’re being 🙄) I asked if he was selling memberships.  There was a push up board and some elastic bands.   Eddie and I were stunned at the equipment he invested in.

Yesterday, after lunch (which I inhaled), we drove to Lowe’s so I could scope out their plants. I put a couple in our cart and then saw my dream: an 8′ Fiddleleaf Fig tree! (If there was sound to this, it would be like angels singing right now 👼). It was only a hundred bucks (shutty) and I almost peed myself I was so excited. Until reality set it. My jeep can only haul 6 foot long stuff and you can’t bend a Fiddleleaf tree. Bill said it was going to be impossible to get it back to my place (which has furniture and food…just sayin’) so I came up with a solution: I’d quickly trade in my jeep for a cargo van. Doesn’t this make sense to you? I was excited at the prospect of being able to haul trees but Bill, for some reason, thought this was a bit foolish. Sheesh. So then, we came across a medium sized tree that could easily fit into my jeep! But, by this time I already had a cart full of plants and I do have a small one at home. I pondered and pondered and kept walking back to it, but told Bill: “I shouldn’t get that” which actually translates into: “Talk me into getting that so I don’t feel guilty about spending more money.” However, Bill does not fully speak “Kristi talk” yet and decided to buy the damn tree himself! I was sweet about it…telling him how great it would look on his floor (no end tables in sight) and was a good sport. Until last night when he got home from work, leaned over to give me a smooch (that’s all that happened, ma…I swear…🙄) and whispered in my ear: “My fiddlefig is bigger than yours.” I will NOT tell you my response to this…let’s just say it was ugly.

The much sought after tree. In Bill’s house. Not mine.

Anyhoot, it was really fun visiting Bill in his ‘natural environment’ and enjoyed roughing it for an entire weekend.  After this, I think I’m ready to camp out in Yellowstone.  But do you know what was the best part of the weekend?  No…not that you naughty peeps…it was this:  Bill and I being able to laugh at ourselves, laugh at each other, and laugh at situations.  

It’s been a long long time since I’ve had this.  You see, my last partner made me cry.  This guy makes me laugh.  And you know what?  It feels so good.  

Kristi xoxo

“If the sky that we look upon, Should tumble and fall…” ~ Stand by Me

From: Family Resources and their Psychological Series

So, my new love and I are doing great and we are so freaking compatible. Meaning, I like to sing and he doesn’t cringe when listening, and I like to be busy and he’s more then capable of keeping up. He’s like a ‘saint’ almost to me…he listens, cares, asks about me, worries about me, etc. and even though you might be thinking “This is the way it should be”, I’m thinking “This is the way I haven’t experienced in a very long time.”

My last partner is formally diagnosed as having Borderline Personality Disorder which is characterized by instability in mood, relationships, self-awareness, etc. and I saw all of these in our 3 years together. However, I also firmly believe he has characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder too (although I’m not ‘diagnosing’ him…only correlating his behavior with the disorders ‘symptoms’) which often co-occurs with BPD and is in the same ‘Cluster’ of personality disorders ( 😮)

Narcissus looking at his reflection.

Anyhoot, there has been so much writing about narcissism in the last few years and people with NPD have the following (per the DSM V):

  • Inflated sense of self-importance
  • Lack of empathy (when my nephew was killed, he said, while ‘hugging’ me: “I don’t give a fuck…I didn’t know him.”  Those words devastated me and this is the first time sissy and ma will know he said this.  Had they known while we were together, they would have hog-tied me and gotten me away.  And, he didn’t go to the visitation or funeral with me…I just had ma and my sonshine.)
  • Attention seeking behavior (we were at Kohl’s one day and he started spitting on the floor just to get my attention, make me mad, and give him an excuse for raging at me later.)
  • Takes advantage of others 
  • Has a feeling of entitlement
  • Are great liars (to be honest, I don’t think he ever told me a ‘truth’.  Ever.  Certainly not about loving me.)
  • Has no boundaries (zero…zippo…)

Now, partner had all of these and I’m not going to rehash our history…been there done that. However, the lack of empathy, lying, and taking advantage of others is something I experienced time and time again while we were together. The serial cheating he did after looking me in the eye and telling me there was no one else he was communicating with showed his lack of love and respect for me and taking advantage of me financially is something I’m still recovering from. I also saw his sense of entitlement in that he could cheat and still string me along…in other words, wanting his cake and eating it too. And self-importance? Uh. Yea. Thinking he’s God’s gift to women when in fact he’s…well…not 🙄

So, why am I bringing this up now? Because after being in this relationship for 3 years and experiencing the gaslighting, lying, cheating, etc. day after day after day, I still have effects from it. Bigtime.

There’s actually a condition that’s referred to as Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome and I’m struggling with it in my new relationship. People who have experienced loving a narcissist might have these things:

  • Question their sanity
  • Mistrust those who support them (every time ma and sis told me how horrible my situation was, I just thought they weren’t able to see the ‘great’ guy I thought he could be)
  • Feel worthless (yep…anyone who gets cheated on multiple times feels this way…)
  • Doubt their abilities to think or make decisions
  • Disconnect from their own wants and needs (what are those again?  According to narcs, we don’t have any 😯)
  • Give in to what the narc wants (New car?  Check.  New motorcycle?  Check.  New clothes?  Check. And on and on and on…)
  • Devalue their contributions (I never ever thought I was doing enough…because if I had been, he would have been better to me…right?)
  • Obsess on their faults and mistakes (I would ruminate over things I said and did again and again and again when he would rage at me, cheat on me, give me the silent treatment, etc. because there just HAD to be a ‘reason’ for this and it was undoubtedly my fault.)
  • Make excuses for the narcs actions (“But ma…he’s a vet with PTSD and had a shitty childhood…he can’t help it.”)
  • Spin their wheels trying to gain the narcs favor (I did ANYTHING I possibly could to make him see how important I was in his life and how much he ‘needed’ me.)
  • Obsess on how to the make the narc happy (they are never happy…ever.)
  • Idealize the narc (Ohhhhh…I definitely did this.)

Now, why in the name of all that’s holy did I ‘put up’ with this? Well…because narcs are ‘master manipulators.’ You see, they go through a pattern in relationships that involves 3 stages:

  • Idealize (when we first got together, he was EVERYTHING I needed and wanted him to be.  He made me feel like I was a ‘Queen’ and he held me on a pedestal that I thought would never tumble.  I truly believed he was my soul-mate and couldn’t imagine my life without him).
  • Devalue (as time wore on, he started to slowly pick at me…criticize me…hurt me…until I felt like ‘NOTHING’.  But see…he did idealize me so I had to have done something for him to devalue me…right? 🙄)
  • Discard (again and again and again…)

So why am I bringing this up now? Because this pattern and the Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome still lingers. There are actually ‘boot camps’ and classes and support groups and therapists who specialize in this type of abuse. Because it is abuse. It’s emotional manipulation, gaslighting (big time), and with me, some physical abuse. You just can’t ‘get over that’, and to have someone hurt you to the core where you question your own worth and sanity is devastating.

Here’s another secret ma and sissy don’t know: The first time I cut myself was in front of him…and he said this: “You can’t even do that right…it’s not deep enough.” So, later that week I made a 4″ cut that needed stitches (which I didn’t get since I didn’t want the docs to see it 😔) and the scar will never fade. He seemed pretty proud of that one.

How sick can you be to do that? I didn’t start the relationship out wanting to cut and commit suicide. But as I got deeper and deeper into thinking there was something very wrong with me because of his treatment, my self-worth and meaning vanished. Here’s what a lot of people say who were abused by narcs: ‘These people (and yes, women can be narcs too 😕) don’t just break your heart, they actually break your spirit.’ I believe this. The other day I was going through photos and came across a pic of me during the time of my breakdown (he was living with his other woman during this time and didn’t give a rat’s ass about the suicide attempt, etc.) and my eyes look vacant. Lost. Dead. Literally. It broke my heart to see how broken I really was.

I know Bill isn’t like this at all. He’s full of empathy and understanding and compassion and kindness and sweetness and he is open and genuine with me. I love this and feel like I’ve waited all of my life to get it. But here’s the thing: I don’t feel worthy of it. I really don’t. Partner did such a number on me I still feel ‘broken’ in a way…still feel if only I would have been good enough…still feel ‘bad’ about myself…am still struggling to understand why he targeted me. What is ‘in me’ that makes someone like him hurt me so bad? How he could do this to someone who loved him so fucking (sorry, ma…but you’ve said that word in reference to him too…just sayin’…😲) much. How in hell could he manipulate me so easily when I should have seen all of this coming?

In my heart I know Bill is different…I’ve even talked to 2 of his ex-wives and they have nothing but great things to say about him. He’s the real deal. But… and there’s always that BUT…how do I learn to trust again? Give myself totally when my heart has just healed from shattering? Believe his promises? His words? Feel worthy of having such a terrific man in my life? I wish I knew the answers to these.

Bill is aware of all of this…I’ve told him more about the partner than I’ve told anyone else and he has cried because of how I was treated. Even ma and sis don’t know the seriousness of things I experienced. Bill is giving me all of him. Everything inside of him. He’s putting it all out there.

I want to as well. And I’m trying my damndest. But I know it’s going to take time to fully trust and believe and understand that Bill won’t do what partner did. I hate that Bill has to almost ‘prove himself’ to me when he’s done absolutely nothing wrong, but it’s the baggage I carry after such a relationship. But you know what? If anyone can help me unpack that baggage and lay it out bare and get rid of it once and for all, I think he’s the guy. And I feel so fucking (sorry again, ma…this was just because…🙄) lucky because of that.

Kristi xoxo

“But I do know one and one is two…” ~ Sam Cooke (Wonderful World)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So, a couple of things made me happy yesterday and I couldn’t wait to talk about them with you. Here goes.

First, I attended a virtual workshop on how to ‘Humanize the Online Experience’ in your college classes. The speaker was wonderful and talked about how students need connection, rapport, feelings that the instructor is genuine and real, etc. I totally agreed with this but after a while, I realized that the necessity for this workshop made me sad. You see, this to me is a no-brainer. Really.

I guess I was a ‘humanized’ professor before the ‘humanization of professors’ was ‘cool’…suddenly, what set me apart is now ‘vogue’ in academia. I have always believed that unless you see your prof as someone you can connect with, you won’t learn a freaking thing from them. I’ve had bosses who I had no connection for…no respect for…no investment in because they stifled any hope of that happening. “We must remain objective and somewhat cold in order to maintain order” seems to be a common mantra amongst some college personnel. But why?

I’ve been hugging students longer than most of you have been alive (shutty the mouthy, please 🙄) and I’ve gotten looks from it over the years. I also share with my students. I share my experience of being sexually abused. My experiences regarding my divorces (another shutty, peeps🤨 ). What it’s like to have a mental illness. What it’s like to self-harm and attempt suicide. What it was like having a batterer married to ma for so many years. And what it’s like to get yourself out of a very very dark place in order to see the light again. I answer any questions honestly, and there are times when I cry with my students. When we’re tackling the hard stuff in my psychology and sociology classes, I might stop the lecture, walk over to someone who is tearing up, hug them around the shoulders (I ask…I don’t want to invade space), and tell them we are all supporting them. I had a dean once tell me I was ‘being too nice’ to my students and my job wasn’t ‘comforting them or being their friend.’ Well, my retired dean, it was. And still is.

When you take a gander at the definition of ‘teacher’ you get this (courtesy of Merriam-Webster): ‘to impart knowledge’ and ‘to instruct by precept, example, or experience.’ How in the world are you going to be an effective professor if you show nothing of yourself? Don’t help students learn from your own experiences? Don’t show students how their own bad experiences don’t have to shape them forever? How do you expect students to learn when they are needing ‘more’ from you? A smile. A hug. An empathic ear that listens and validates and doesn’t just spout platitudes. Why in the hell would a student want to open themselves up in anything less than this type of environment?

You see, something I was reminded of yesterday was how thinking and emotion go hand in hand. They both originate from the mind and both need each other to survive. If a students feels lonely or like an outcast…has depression or is anxious…is fighting a battle that’s not readily apparent, how can they learn? Seriously. How effective are YOU when you are emotional? How well do you do your job? Remember what you read? Retain what you heard? I don’t know about you, but when I’m in an ’emotional state’ it pretty much supersedes anything else. Period. And, if you don’t address these issues by not inquiring how students are doing or noticing a student who is suddenly quiet and down without asking if they’d like to talk…they aren’t going to learn from you. And, if they see that you can’t be real in the class…how the hell do you expect them too?

I think teaching is more than imparting knowledge. I think it’s building connections with people where they learn the academics but also more about themselves. Where they come out of a class feelings stronger. Better. More supported and supporting. More understood and understanding. And this is a NEW concept? Well spank me hard. I was ahead of my freaking time.

Then yesterday, a student shared a video with me of a woman doing a talk about how a professor helped her deal with her rape by speaking up about her own sexual assault. My student wrote “You are this professor to me”.

I’ve had students say a lot of things to me over the years (some not so hot 😐) but these words hit me the hardest. It showed me that opening myself up…providing students with the atmosphere to do the same…means something. Can do something. Something more than memorizing who the Father of Sociology is (Auguste Comte…my sweetie students better have known this 😉).

Look, I’m going to let you in on a secret. Teaching isn’t fucking Rocket Science (sorry, ma 🙄) . And for those who think it is, you’re doing it wrong. Just like when Michael Keaton is “Mr. Mom” and he’s dropping off his kid incorrectly at their school and a room mom tells him: “You’re doing it wrong.” It should never be ‘hard’ for a prof to connect. Build. Encourage. Motivate. Validate. And if it is…you just might want to go into something else.

Professoring is a people ‘job’. It’s bringing a room full of strangers together for 16 weeks and creating a bit of a family out of them. A family where they feel comfortable sharing and voicing opinions and asking questions and opening themselves up to what you say. It’s creating a place where students can be expressive…vulnerable…willing to learn from everyone around them. It’s not the brain that’s hard to use when professoring…it’s the heart.

But, I’m here to tell you this: when you can use the heart as much as the head in a classroom then you have come to the point when real learning takes place.

Kristi xoxo

If at first you don’t succeed…

Anais Nin

So, I don’t have writers block because I’m always ready to yap about anything but I’ve been going back and forth on what I want to write (I’ve been grading my butt off 😳)…but this is something I’ve been thinking about and I’ll tell you why.

Here’s a question for you: how do you know when you can trust someone? When someone is a ‘good guy’? When you can open your heart again and not worry that it will be crushed? I always tell my students to ‘trust their guts’ because I’m a big believer in our intuition. If something doesn’t feel right…or sound right…or smell right (tossed that in there because I drank some milk that smelled iffy once and greatly regretted that action 🙄), then guess what? It’s probably not right. (Question: am I the only one that when I smell something bad, I want everyone else to smell it too??)

But, what if everything does look and sound and smell OK? How do you know you are beginning something with someone ‘good’? Kind? Real?

Here’s what sucks balls about being thrice divorced (shutty the mouthy 😳) and having my heart crushed by J. I have a hard time trusting my intuition in terms of men. You know, I don’t think my past choices were ‘bad’ per se, but I do think I was sometimes blinded by red flags my gut was pointing out but that I chose to ignore because let’s face it, emotions aren’t logical and hindsight is 20/20.

So, I’ve been talking to a guy I know from high school for about a week now and he currently lives in another state. He’s coming to visit me tomorrow (he’s going to sleep in the basement, ma…don’t worry 😐) and I have so many thoughts going through my head.

In high school, he was a really nice guy and although we didn’t interact much, he was always very kind to me. About a week ago, he commented on one of my FB posts and then messaged me and we have been talking, basically non-stop, for these past several days (he’s got a voice like butter…just sayin’ 🤨). He’s respectful, funny, understanding, sweet, smart, etc. and my gut is telling me “YES”, this might be ‘the’ one. When we first spoke on the phone I was nervous we wouldn’t have enough to talk about (hard to believe, huh?), but the more we talk, the more we realize how similar we are and we always have so much to say.

He’s actually an empath like me (not as strong, but very ‘feely’ 🤨), and when I talk about things, he validates and sympathizes and makes me feel heard and understood. That feels good. He’s a giver…something I haven’t experienced a lot of in a couple of previous relationships, and whenever we interact with one another, I smile. A genuine smile.

What’s the problem then? Well, I’m scared.

I got involved with J right after Hubby 3 and I separated and I know that was WAY too fast. I was crushed that 3 left me like he had and J really comforted me and helped me through that our first couple of months together. But then the ‘devaluation stage’ started and I went from being on a pedastal with J to being on the ground. And that happened very quickly.

I would never be with someone I didn’t see good in…didn’t see potential in…didn’t feel love for. I felt all of those things with J and I’m feeling all of them now. But, the good didn’t last very long with J.

He was lying to me from the very beginning of our relationship regarding his ex-girlfriend and taking his anger of being away from her (I now can understand that was the source of often seemed like having hatred for me) out on me. He also had some anger towards his ex-wife and I was the scapegoat for that as well. The thing is, I didn’t understand this at the time so I kept trying harder and harder in the relationship which actually made him angrier and angrier.

But I believed in J. I truly did. He can be so sweet and funny and kind and he’s extremely intelligent and that’s why I think I gave him so many chances because I had seen the good and knew it was there.

So now with this new guy, could it be the same? Him saying all the right things and acting all the right ways until…later he ‘changes’ into someone else? We actually talk about this (because he’s had his heart broken numerous times as well) and he says he will never lie to me, etc. But, how can I believe that? I’ve been told by hubbies that we’ll be together forever, no matter what. And, well…we all know what happened there 🙄. I was told by J he wasn’t lying to me (and he made me feel ‘crazy’ for thinking so…gaslighting anyone?) and after the cheating during our first year together, he swore that would never happen again either. He also would tell me I would be his ‘last’ since we’d be together…through the good and bad. Hmmmmm.

How can I know it’s different this time? That this guy isn’t lying or pretending or in this for the wrong reason? He’s never given me any reason to distrust him, but losing trust in other relationships where you’ve been betrayed unfortunately carries over to new ones…whether that’s fair or not.

People say this: you have to put those past experiences behind you and just move forward with a fresh start and attitude. Okey Dokey. Roger that. I’ll tell my heart to forget all of the breaks it’s had and pretend they never happened.

And, I also worry about this: what if I do fall for this guy? What if it is ‘the real thing’ for me, but he breaks my heart too? Can I handle another heart break? How many times can your heart break before it can’t be repaired ever again?

So I’m excited about these next couple of days (you’ll love him, ma 😀) and hope that we click in ‘real’ life as much as we do talking and video chatting. He’s certainly not a stranger to me and that helps. I’m going to try to be careful and not just ‘leap in’ like I normally do, and I know I need to take my time with this and really make sure I go in with open eyes. And I guess an open heart too. Maybe risking it just one more time will lead to that special forever I’ve been looking for. 💖

Kristi xoxo

“What becomes of the broken-hearted?” ~ Jimmy Ruffin

So, the tagline of this blawg is “just being me in this bipolar life” and that’s what I need to do right now. Just be me.

See, I have a great post I’ve been working on for a couple of days almost ready to go and was going to finish it this afternoon. Instead, I feel like crud, I’m having a super shitty day, and I guess just need to talk. I hope that’s OK.

I felt pretty super until yesterday at lunch…I don’t know what I ate (and no, I haven’t been experimenting in the kitchen, ma 🙄) but it may have been some bagged salad. It tasted a little ‘off’ but not so much to stop me from shoving it down my gullet. See, I knew eating healthy would eventually backfire. So, from then until now (24+ hours later) I still feel like crap and my bathroom has been busier than usual. Charmed, I’m sure.

Anyhoot, it’s no biggie…just some ickiness, a bit of clamminess, and that general feeling of blah, but it’s my mood that’s taking a toll on me today. I think that started early this morning when I woke up from a pretty bad nightmare. It always sounds so freaking stupid when people try to explain their dreams to you because first, it bores the shit out of you and second, they never sound that bad in the light of day. This one was a doozie though…it involved black snakes laying on my bed and ma’s ex husband (that fucking bastard 😡) being the only one who could kill them for me. Hello…calling Dr. Freud. I don’t know what Siggy would make of that (however, I can guess) but I know it was really bad at the time and I was quite shook up.

So, after getting up and visiting the bathroom (yet again 😳), I finally fell back to sleep and I’ll be damned, I had another nightmare. This one was troubling as well. Thankfully there were no snakes (yes, I’m absolutely petrified 🐍) and no R (fucking bastard 😡), but instead it was all about J which is weird because it’s been almost a year now since I’ve seen him.

The whole premise was me being hunted by someone and J was the only person that could help me stay hidden away and safe. Except he didn’t. I was trying to hide myself in this area of a town that was out of the way, and I tried and tried to get him to help me do this, and he’d keep disappearing for days and days while I was trying to stay out of danger. Then, he’d come by where ever I was hiding, and instead of bringing me food or water or whatever else I needed, he would just drive away in his car and pay me no mind.

I guess I don’t need the good doc for this one…it’s a pretty easy one to figure out. But for some reason, it brought up a lot of stuff that I know I need to put to rest. And Lord knows I’m trying.

I hate that I still care so much about him, when he hasn’t spoken a word to me since the day I caught him. I know I shouldn’t, and I know it pains my ma and sis that I still have this hurt in my heart. But I do. I’m not the type of person who can say “Done…NEXT!” I wish I could. I don’t know if this is a curse or a blessing because I suppose you could argue either side, but when I love, I love so hard. So so hard. And to be honest, it’s very hard for me to understand when people don’t do the same.

The first year we were together was hellish to say the least. He was lying to me about his ex-partner and making me feel I was ‘crazy’ (not hard to do, huh? 🙄) when I would question him. His PTSD was not under control and he took a lot of things out on me that I didn’t deserve. But even though it wasn’t OK, it was “OK” to me because when you love someone (to me), you love them through the good and bad. Unfortunately, it was mostly bad. A year after we started seeing each other is when he finally cheated multiple times on me. I know there are a lot of you out there that can relate to this, and I’m so sorry you do because it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. Also, I’m older and him doing this made me feel so horribly unsure about myself.

In between cheating, he would tell me it was over…he loved me. Only me. I was the one he wanted. Then, he’d be with her the next day. Literally. Now, I’ve had my heart broken before…numerous times 🙄. But J shattered it with this behavior…something I’d never experienced with another man before. Couple this with everything else going on that summer and that’s when my breakdown occurred. NO…the breakdown wasn’t his fault…but his behavior didn’t help and his cheating had further consequences I don’t talk about.

Anyhoot, a couple of months after not seeing each other, we got back together and things were so much better. He really did try and I could see that. It wasn’t perfect…not by a long shot…but I felt better with him than I had and it seemed he was feeling the same.

But, I was angry. Very angry. And I had a right to be. Sometimes I could push that to the side, and sometimes it came out with a vengeance. But regardless, I knew I needed to work through him cheating so blatantly and I tried very hard to do it. We had great times during the next 2 years…vacationing in Tampa (and getting to hug a penguin!), being with his kids and feeling like a little family, getting him set up in his apartment so his kids could stay with him and have their own room and all (I loved helping him decorate and get things nice), fixing dinners together, pulling the carpet off my floor and cracking up while trying to roll it up, taking Eddie to the dog park, watching the stupidest horror movies we could find, snuggling on the couch…basically, just doing the best we could.

Last summer, I really took a step back from him though. I needed too. I needed to resolve the anger that was still in my heart and also get strong enough to realize I would be fine if something happened to us. I needed that reassurance. Of course, that didn’t sit well with him and I can understand that. But I also understand that some people never try to forgive, or work to forgive, infidelity, so I thought I was ahead of the game. Apparently, I wasn’t.

Finally, last October we had a pretty bad argument and I was being really rough on him because I was worried about his son and wanted so bad for J to get him the help I felt he needed. This wasn’t well received and that was it. He was done. I caught him just a couple days later after being ghosted, and later he messaged me saying I was a day late. One day.

See, when I went to see him that Saturday, I had realized something during the couple of days we hadn’t spoken…that I had a choice I could make: I could forgive him for cheating, let go of the anger I knew was hurting the both of us, and move forward with him as a team. But, when I went to tell him this, well…you know what happened.

By saying I was a day late makes me feel like if I had forgiven him just a tad earlier, we’d still be together. Remember how those of us with bipolar ruminate, personalize, over-react, etc. I know in my brain this isn’t right…he had to have known this gal for a while…but there’s still this whisper that says I could have saved this.

I know…I know…it’s not right. I truly do understand that. He deserved anger and tears and recriminations after what he had done…and I wasn’t some shrew constantly berating him. In fact, I doubt most women would have given him a second chance, let alone the numerous ones I allowed him.

So why did I do it? Give him so many chances? Well, love I guess. Sometimes I think I’m an anomaly in that I can’t turn love on and off easily. I just can’t. Never have been able too. I ‘expect’ people who love me to love me through my good and bad, but only because I’m willing to do the same for them. It’s only fair. I also pray a lot, and every night I say “The Lord’s Prayer”. When I say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” I feel I need to take this seriously. So I try.

Maybe it’s because the ‘anniversary’ of what happened is approaching that I’m thinking about this. Maybe it’s because I’ve been single now for a while and am starting to feel lonely. Maybe it’s just because he’s not completely out of my heart yet. People have said to me: “You need to forget him…get him out of your mind…throw him away!” but I’ve been thrown away (by him ironically as well as 3 other hubbies 🙄) and I can’t do that to others.

Maybe that’s the problem. Feeling like I was thrown away after all the work and effort and forgiveness and love and patience and kindness I tried to give him for the 3 years we were together. He came from a horrible home…I wanted to make his life better…show him that there are loving people out there that really care. I wanted to make up for what he hadn’t had all his life. Yes. I’m a fixer. No. It’s not necessarily healthy, but it’s who I am. At least I can recognize it, but not acting on it is really really tough for me.

I was actually going to write a letter to him on here…you know, like I’ve done for others. It was going to be my ‘goodbye’ letter that cut those remaining threads that I have (I know he has long since moved on). But I can’t do that. Not yet. I’m just not ready. Sometimes I think he’ll see the error of his ways and call me or message me and tell me how much he still loves and needs me. Other times I get ‘real’ and understand this will never happen (IF it ever did, I’d buy a fucking lottery ticket immediately). That’s the shittiest thing about relationships: it takes 2 to make it work and 1 to make it end. Go figure.

I know I’m having a bad day and that the nightmare I had, and time of year it is, brought up some feelings I just haven’t put to rest yet. I’ve come so far in a year and am so proud of all I’ve done and accomplished. But I’m also lonely. I want someone to snuggle with. Someone to laugh with and cry with and share my plants with and talk to and feel like I’m not quite as alone in this world like I’ve been feeling. My ma is fucking wonderful and I don’t know (truly) what I’d do without her, but she also has her own life…lots of friends and social stuff and things to do every week. My sissy has a great husband and grandkids and friends and I envy her that…but in a good way…she deserves it. My sonshine is building a life with his girlfriend and throwing himself into his career…and he should be doing that (have I ever mentioned to you all how freaking proud I am of him?)! But then there’s me. The cheese stands alone. 🧀

I’ll feel better tomorrow. I’ve gotten a lot of tears out and my poor neighbor had to come over and help me un-stick a shelf from my doorway (don’t ask ) and as I was bawling to him about all kinds of stuff (when you feel shitty about one thing, others always follow) he assured me that ‘this too shall pass.’ And he’s right. It will. But right now? My heart hurts. Aches. And I’m feeling pretty durn down from being thrown away yet again in my life. I’ve never…ever…had a guy (actually, a hubby 🙄) leave me and then come back with regrets. Never. Maybe I’m just that forgettable. I hope not.

Kristi xoxo

“If you can’t stand the smell, get out of my kitchen.” ~ Kristi

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So, I was visiting with my neighbors last night and the gal, she’s 90 years old and is a complete hoot, asked me if I had ever had any recipes published in a cookbook before.  Had my family been anywhere near the vicinity they would have laughed until they peed themselves, but I simply stared at her dumbfounded for a couple of beats and then said:  “No, A.  I have never, and will never, have any of my recipes published…probably because most are found on the side of the box.”

There are some things I’m pretty good at in this life (divorcing comes to mind 🙄) but cooking isn’t one of them.  In fact…I wonder if there’s a connection there?  Anyhoot, I’ll never forget my first foray into baking something more than chocolate chip cookies. 

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Photo credit: Poshmark

When my first hubby and I were going out, his grandpa was turning 80 and the family was having a shin-dig about 90 miles south of where we lived.  Grandpa’s favorite dessert was lemon meringue pie and I was determined to make this for him to show M just how wonderful a wife I would be if he ever got the inclination to propose (shutty those mouths, peeps 😳).  Ma found a recipe for me; remember, this was before Google, grasshoppers, and there were these things called ‘recipe cards’ that were stored in ‘recipe boxes’ everyone had on their counter.  You might be able to see an example of this in a museum someday.  

I ran into trouble right off the bat.  Ma insisted that the only good pie crust was a home-made pie crust, but after kneading and rolling for an hour, all the while getting flour in every nook and cranny in our kitchen, she came to regret her thought.  And by the way, making my own pie crust is something I will never ever ever do again come hell or high water 🤨.  Then, for some godforsaken reason you had to use ‘egg whites’ and not the whole damn egg when making the ‘lemon’ part of the pie, so I got to learn the art of separating egg whites from the yolks.  This took me about 10 eggs to master, and ma stood by me the entire time giving me the stink eye and getting pissy because eggs were a dime a dozen then and I was on my way to putting us in the poor house.  Anyhoot, that was just the beginning of the afternoon.  I spent another hour mixing up the filling and cooking it without scorching it, while ‘tempering’ the yolks (whatever that means) into the lemon glop I was constantly stirring.  So far, I’d only cried twice, ma and I were still talking (in very loud voices), and I’d only told M 3 times that I hated his guts.

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Photo by FoodInc. and no, my pie did NOT look like this by a long shot!

Then the fun part…the meringue.  Did you know you have to whip and whip and whip this stuff until you want to throw your mixer out the window and never look back?  Did you also know that meringue can weep (hells bells, by this time, I was too 😕)?  Not only did I need to get this as ‘light’ and ‘fluffy’ as humanly possible to impress everyone, I also had to brown it so it would look picture perfect.  I was so scared of doing this after all of that work, I almost puked.  Or, maybe that was because I licked lemon batter with raw eggs in it. Hmmm.

Finally, the pie was done.  The kitchen was totaled, ma told me (in a very snippy voice I might add) that if I ever made one of these son-of-a-bitching pies again she’d personally ‘hurt’ me, and M said that grandpa would love it and this might become an annual thing he’d want me to make.  I wanted to kill him. 

We left for the party and I held that damn pie on my lap for the entire 90 mile ride with the air conditioner on full blast; but the vents were pointed away so the pie wouldn’t get icky and the meringue wouldn’t blow around (BTW, this was in the winter).  There were times on that ride I wanted to shove the pie in M’s face, but the thought of all of my hard work landing on his mug was something I just wasn’t willing to do, despite the temptation.  

So we pull up to the party, I climb out of the car with pie in hand, and totter over to the food table.  Where…wait for it…there were 4 other lemon meringue pies.  Four.  Since his parents were watching, I said with a smile on my face but in a ventriloquist’s voice:  “What the fuck?  Why didn’t you tell me there were going to be other people making this same pie?”  M replied:  “I didn’t check.”  Now, if that’s not grounds for an attack, I truly don’t know what is.  Anyhoot, I got grandpa a piece of MY freaking pie (I had pushed the others to the side and hid them behind the 5 tubs of potato salad 🤨) and he picked up his fork in his sweet, age-spotted, trembly hand and ate a bite.  He said it was great and I waited for him to take another bite, but he pushed it aside.  I asked M, once again under my breath: “What the hell?”  And M said:  “Grandpa can’t eat hardly anything anymore and his taste buds are about gone.”  Go figure.

*Side Note:  Grandpa was truly a sweetie though, and he hugged me after the party and told me I was his favorite grand-daughter in law.  Of course, M and I weren’t married and I was doubtful I’d ever talk to him again, and the only other grandson, M’s brother, was 15.  But I was the favorite! 😊

So obviously, baking is not my thing.  But neither is ‘cooking’.  Hubby 3’s mom  was a GREAT cook, and her meatloaf was the best.  I heard, time and time again, how much R liked it so I was bound and determined to make one even better.  No mother in law was going to out-do me!  I think I must have made dozens of meatloafs, using a different recipe every time, and each one was worse than the last.  I don’t know if it’s a curse or what, but it doesn’t matter what the recipe is, mine are horrible.  When I would tell R we were having meatloaf that night for dinner because I had a new recipe, he would groan (literally) and when he’d come home from work on those evenings, I always thought I smelled a Big Mac on his breath, but who knows.   

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Very similar to what my meat-lump looked like.

Anyway, R finally put his foot down.  My last meatloaf was so bad, he told me: “Kristi, I will leave you if you ever attempt to turn perfectly good ground beef into a loaf again.”  He called my last attempt a ‘meat-lump’ and then this happened:  R gave Dottie, our little dog who has always loved to eat her own poop, a piece.  Dottie went over to the bowl with her backside wagging.  She sniffed it, licked it, her tail dropped and she walked away.  From meat.  Let me rephrase:  MY DOG WHO EATS POOP WOULDN’T EAT MY MEAT- LUMP.  I never tried again.

R is in an outlaw motorcycle club and every time the guys had a big party, us ‘ole ladies’ would cook.  The first time I did this, I was scared to death.  Here I am a prissy professor, and I was going to cook for 50 big, tough looking bikers with names like Snake and Igor.   So, I made pulled pork:  I put a pork butt in a big cooker…mashed it up…and poured BBQ sauce all over it.  When it was time for the party, I put the cooker in R’s van to schlep it to the clubhouse where hungry bikers were awaiting their only ‘meat dish’.

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Photo credit: motorcyclegearhub and this guy looks very much like ‘Killer’

I pulled up and a guy, at least 6’6″ and covered with leather and tattoos, was waiting for the food.  His name was Killer (I’m not lying…you can’t make this stuff up…😳) and I said I could handle getting it (I am woman, hear me roar).  I was shaking because these guys scared me (at first but then I got to know them and they treated me like gold) and I spilled the entire fucking cooker of sticky, BBQ pork in R’s van.  EVERY last bit.  I burst out bawling and Killer hugged me to him (he smelled very yummy…I wonder if he’s still single…or alive…hmmmm…) and said it was OK.  He scraped it up from the van floor (which was filthy since R literally transported Harleys in the back of it) with his hands, which had previously been holding a beer and cigarette, and plopped it back into the cooker.  He winked at me, told me it was our secret, and those guys ate every last bit of it that night.  I think part of my success with this cooking foray was that all of these bikers were either drunk or high.  

So, in answer to my neighbor’s question:  No, I’m not ever ever ever going to be featured in a cookbook.  Ever.  I have a better chance of winning the lottery or meeting Prince Charming than I do that.  However, I did come across a meatloaf recipe the other day…fail proof it said…and if you’re hungry just come on by.  I’m sure it will be a culinary experience you’ll never forget.  

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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