“Love will keep us together…” ~ Captain and Tennille

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So, my sweetie peeps know I began this blog to have an outlet for the myriad of thoughts that run through my mind 24/7 and to hopefully show that living with a mental illness isn’t easy. Like anyone, we have good days and bad days…we just have this additional issue that’s always lurking in the back of our minds and that can pop up and take us by surprise anytime.

Anyhoot, I’ve been thinking about the concept of ‘love’ a lot lately. It’s no secret I’ve been married (cough cough) 3 times and have had 2 partners I’ve lived with. On the surface, that sounds like so much but really, that’s not much for a 54 (blech 🙄) year old but still an embarrassing number to admit too.

I was never a girly-girl…I never had dolls and preferred to climb trees at grandma and gramp’s and work in the yard with my dad. But, I did always want 3 things: a marriage where I would celebrate 50 years with someone who loved me throughout, kids (I got the perfect one the first time around 😍), and a home full of pets and family and security. Hmmmm…maybe 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

You would think after all of these years in relationships, all of my book-learning regarding the study of marriage and family, and the lessons I’ve learned from each experience I’ve had that I would have this whole ‘relationship’ thing figured out. I don’t.

Really, the question for me comes down to what love is. I mean think about it…what ‘is’ it really? A feeling? A passion? A cognitive connection? A sense of responsibility? A sense of care? A willingness to always continue moving forward even after you’ve taken some steps back? Forgiveness? Appreciation? Promises that are kept? Compassion that’s freely given? An ability to empathize with the person and see/feel their point of view? All of the above? None of the above?

I think one of the issues in relationships today that partly stem from this ‘me first’ attitude in our society is instead of asking ‘What am I getting from this relationship and am I happy?’ we should first think ‘What am I giving to this relationship to make it better everyday?’ But, that’s freaking hard to do, isn’t it? For all of us.

Until R (Hubby 3 – shutty the mouthies 🙄) left our house on Christmas eve, I was pretty sure I knew what love was all about. O’s dad and I had a really good marriage for 13 years…and I know it could have continued had we gotten help. His family doesn’t ‘believe’ in counseling so that pretty much set us on course for divorce when issues started to pile up. But, I know he loved me and I know I loved him. I think that my first marriage was a college/youth/not-prepared-for-this situation and can understand how our lack of readiness led to the demise but it was different with B…it was the ‘real’ thing.

R and I loved each other so much…for the first couple years of our relationship, I didn’t think I’d be able to breathe without him in my life. I adored him. And he reciprocated and still tells me he loves me. I believe it as a best friend but also know this: you don’t leave who you love. Period. I never imagined we’d divorce: after raising teenagers together…going through the deaths of his parents…taking care of his schizophrenic nephew for a couple of years…it was like the ‘bank’ was full and nothing would be able to diminish all of those deposits. I didn’t know that if someone wants to clear out the account in one day, they will.

Then J came into my life. The one who I thought: “OK. This is it. My soul mate.” Yes, he was younger than me (cough cough 😳) but because of what he’d been through as a kid and as a vet, we were pretty well matched. He had his kids and I knew we could be a family; it’s like that dream of the long life being a mommy and wife again was coming back. But we all know how that ended…terribly. Here’s the funny thing though: up until the very end, he said he loved me and I believed it. I always believed it. Even when he took my hands one day and swore he’d never cheat on me again and that he loved me all while having tears in his eyes…and then cheated on me 12 hours later. When he later came back, it was ‘I really do love you’ all over again. And I believed it. Again.

Looking back now I know he never actually did. Maybe he ‘wanted’ too. Maybe he ‘needed’ that family as much I as I did. But the love on his part never really materialized. I was a toy. A resource. A comfortable place to be. But love? No…because you don’t purposely hurt those you love either.

I thought I had this again not too long ago. I got with a man and actually was so giddy over him that I would have married him in a heartbeat. We exchanged rings to show our commitment and swore to one another that no matter what…good or bad…hard or easy…happy or sad…we’d persevere and be together ‘forever.’ We even took ‘vows’ together and for me, these were as strong as ‘real’ ones.

And this was true at first and I was so content. Then, we got COVID, and Dottie died, and I had 3 surgeries in which 1 was performed minutes before I could have easily died, and I was hitting my breaking point with being home from campus for a year and a half and not having that outlet I so badly need, and being on meds that were creating a manic episode like no other I’ve experienced. He had his own stressors as well that were tough on him but I thought: “OK. This is the rough spot. This is the one that’s going to cement us together and we’ll get through this and come out stronger on the other side. This is the test.” And? We failed it.

We started taking things out on each other and as much as I felt he didn’t understand me, I didn’t understand him either. And we were so busy being angry about that, we got to where we didn’t try. When he walked away from me for something I said (he had spoken some pretty bad words to me a few times before this incident too, but I forgave him and wanted to move forward), I figured that was a good thing…we’d cool down…I had an appointment with a specialist to help me figure out the mania…and I was heading back to school which finally got my life back to normal in terms of work.

That didn’t happen. I never heard from him again. Never. Like the year together never was…like it didn’t mean anything. But here’s the thing: throughout our time together, he’d tell me how much he loved me…adored me…needed me…wanted me. He even said if something happened to us, he’d never be with another. And I believed it 🙄. Did he mean this? Obviously not.

Getting through good times in relationships is a piece of cake. Anyone can do that…it’s nothing. Going through bad…and coming out stronger on the other side…takes work. Commitment. Forgiveness. Understanding. In other words, it takes love. How do you LOVE someone with all of your heart on Saturday and then hate them on Sunday? Maybe that’s possible for some…but I’ve never been able to do it.

I love this quote that’s attributed to Marilyn Monroe (although some say she may not have said it herself):

“This life is what you make it. Not matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up…” “…as for lovers, well, they’ll come and go too. And baby, I hate to say it, most of them – actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart, but you can’t give up because if you give up, you’ll never find your soul mate. You’ll never find that half who makes you whole and that goes for everything. Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.” ― Marilyn Monroe”

So now he’s already back with an ex and that’s great…I’m happy for him because once someone is in my heart, they never fully leave and I want the best for them; there’s always that box they’re inside of which I never get rid of. But it also makes me angry and sad. Sad that moving on was so easy for him and angry that he must have never stopped loving this other gal. Maybe that’s why he could walk away so easily after all of the forever platitudes. She was already waiting on the sidelines while I was trying to figure out why he had started treating me so differently. So coarsely. I forgave him for those times…I had anger…but I wanted to keep moving on. He couldn’t do the same the 1 time I did it back. So he’s gone.

I’m to the point in my life that I’m not sure I’m ever really going to find that ‘true love’. That one who isn’t going to walk out when things get tough. The one who stays and tries and loves with his heart…not his words. The one that understands I’m going to say things and do things and make mistakes because I’m human. The one who doesn’t try to hurt me with words or threaten areas of my life when things are going bad. The one I know will have love for me through the easy and tough. Does this exist? I think so…because that’s what I do. Because when I love…I love.

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