“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” ~ Sylvia Plath

So, my sweetie students and I were discussing Fritz Perls today (father of Gestalt Therapy 😳) and it reminded me so much of what else I’ve been studying: mindfulness. The whole idea behind Gestalt (‘configuration’) psychology is to be more aware of yourself, to stay present, and to process things in the here and now. Further, it’s also based on the idea that our overall perception depends on the interaction between many factors, including our past experiences, current environment, thoughts, feelings, and needs. Whew. Nice lecture, huh?

Anyhoot, as we were talking about our perceptions of ourselves and how much it affects the ‘whole’ of our being, one of my students who knows me well said this to me: “Professor K, you are always so dismissive of yourself. You always put yourself down and act like less than who you really are.” Wow. This really hit me because I know what I think about myself on the inside, but had no idea that it was seeping into the outside as well. However, as I’ve been contemplating it (in the new meditation area I made in my house…complete with chakra stones and all!😲 ), I started to understand where this has come from and why it’s such a big part of the ‘whole’ that I am.

I’m talking about rejection. None of us likes rejection…right? However, some of us handle it better than others. My sissy is wonderful…truly! She is never scared to speak her mind is one of the most authentic people I know in my life. If someone doesn’t like her, she says: “Fuck them! What the hell does that mean in my life?” I love that and wish I was that strong! Instead I say: “Why the hell don’t you like me and how can I act so you will?”

You know, I’ve talked a lot on this blawg about wearing masks and taking off the mask that covered up my bipolar was so hard. Having to confront the part of me that has a mental illness was terrifying…both in terms of myself but also in terms of how others would see me. But that’s my big ‘mask’ accomplishment…that bipolar one. But what about the others?

As we all know, I’ve experienced rejection in my life, like so many of you have as well. Do I take it harder because my emotional make-up is screwed up by my bipolar brain? Am I just more sensitive? Hmmmmm.

I think this rejection started in grade school when both T and I were bullied…we both had buck teeth and mousy hair and didn’t have the coolest clothes. And this continued through high school with me. I had 2 bullies that were particularly brutal and as many secrets as I’ve shared with ma, sissy, partners, and friends, I’ve never ever told anyone what one of the bullies would call me. It still hurts that much after 35 (cough cough) years. 😔

Then we have my relationships. O’s dad was terrific and I thought our marriage was a good one and would last forever. After we divorced, I was convinced we would co-parent O and be friendly and cordial…hells bells, we’d known each other since the 3rd grade and that’s a lot of history. This didn’t happen though. In his family, after you get divorced, you get cut out of pics and the ex-spouse simply pretends like you never existed. Charming. 🙄

So, when we see each other at graduations, weddings, etc. he nods at me. Yes, I said NOD. I gave birth to his only child (who by the way is amazing beyond anything) and we were married for 13 years. And he nods at me. Hmmmm. That may be his families mode of operandi, but it sucks balls because it feels like such a rejection. Not even a ‘hello’? Jeez.

Fast forward to Hubby 3. I’ve been thinking a lot about him lately and I’ve always said how we were still besties and talked just about everyday. But I did something last week I didn’t think I’d ever do: I told him ‘goodbye’ and that I couldn’t be his friend anymore. He’s with another woman…the one who was in his life while we were still together. He says he loves me…wishes he’d never divorced me…that I made him happier than anyone…but he’s with her. Period. He made his choice and can’t have it both ways. The straw that broke my proverbial camel’s back was this: a couple of weeks ago, the ‘club’ went down to Daytona for a bike thing and he took her with them. They had a vacation while down there and he got in the ocean for the first time in his life…something I had always wanted to do with him. Throughout all of our marriage, I’d ask to go on these trips with him and he’d say no every time. But then he took her. And that opened my eyes to the fact he’s hanging on to something that’s no longer there and I don’t deserve, nor need to listen to the ‘fun’ he has with his (I want to put another word in here but I’m going to be nice 😐) girlfriend when he never did the same with me. I realized, like a curtain opening, that he doesn’t love me…he just wants me in the wings and I’m not going to do that anymore.

Then J came into my life and started cheating on me months into the relationship and continued throughout the entire 3 years we were together. If that’s not a rejection, I don’t know what is. Basically it said: “You aren’t enough for me. I don’t love you enough to be faithful. I love this woman more.” Yikes. How can you feel good about yourself in terms of how men see you when this is thrown at you again and again? Then when we ‘broke up’, he never spoke to me again…and still never has. Yes, I loved him for 3 years through some pretty bad crap not many women would have, adored and parented the heck out of his precious kids, and helped him go from a jobless vet living in his grandma’s basement to someone with his own home, money, etc. He always used to say I ‘saved him’ but he treated me like shit and then walked away without another word. Rejection to the max.

Finally, my last relationship. Yep…I thought this was it. We had so many great times and I traveled all the time to see him in another state and then had him live with me while he found a house here. He has a self-proclaimed ‘anger issue’ and when he lashed out at me a couple of times, I let it go. I wanted to make it work! Then we got Covid and Dottie died and I had 3 surgeries and he was moving and my mania was out of control due to meds and the list goes on. So, we get into an argument where he said some pretty nasty things…and I said something back that I know hurt him. He walked out and I’ve literally never seen him or talked to him again…even though he lives 1 door down from me! He completely ghosted me after knowing each other 35 years. Once again, rejection.

By Bianca Xunise – there’s an entire comic about this on The Lily. It’s GREAT!

Being dismissed like this by these men has created a ‘habit’ of demeaning my own self…even though I really do love who I am. It’s almost like a knee-jerk reaction. I’ve been made to feel I’m expendable. Extraneous. So…bored with me? Have sex with other women. Tired of being with me? Move in with the (cough cough) woman (🤢) you were seeing before you walked out the door. Angry at me for losing my temper? Ghost me and never acknowledge I even existed in the first place.

Am I that easily forgotten? That easy to get over? That easy to pretend like ‘we’ never happened?

See, I don’t do that. It’s beyond me how B and I could have gone through the birth and raising of our son and spent 13 years of our lives together every day…often working side by side…and then nothing. I don’t understand how you can say you’re in love with someone while making plans to hook up with another woman at the same time. I don’t get how you say you are committed to a relationship, say some pretty terrible things, but when something is said back, it’s over. By the way, I’ve e-mailed this guy 2 times…I’m obviously blocked so I used another address. It was actually an apology about my role in the argument and I’ve never heard a thing back. It hurts but as T says, ‘fuck him!’ She’s the best!

I don’t know why I still find the need to do this, but I depend on others for much of my validation. See, I feel really good about me in terms of me. But in terms of men and relationships, I’m starting to think I’m one of these women who will be used and thrown away. It makes me wonder if any of these men ‘really’ loved me. Their words said they did…but their actions? Nope.

So back to my student: I need to quit being so dismissive of myself. Quit thinking I am ‘rubble’ that can be tossed away. That I’m not worth working for…trying for…apologizing too…or even talking too. Is it a game guys play? Hmmm. I don’t think so. I know my son doesn’t do this…I know my dad didn’t do this with ma…I know sissy’s hubby is there through good and bad. So is it me? How can I not think that? But even more frustrating, why am I convinced it’s all about ‘me’ and my short-comings? Why can’t I see outside of myself at their short-comings too?

I always call ma on my way home from school and we were talking about this. She said: “Kristi, this is their lack. Not yours. You wouldn’t do this to someone…but they would. That shows you who they are.”

And she’s right. I’ve had a couple of relationships that I ended and we’re friends. I would never ghost somebody. Ignore them. Act like they never existed. It’s cruel and simply not in me to do.

Here’s what I told ma today as we were finishing up our daily cluck fest: “You know, I don’t think I want someone else in my life. It’s too hard knowing that what they say and what they might do may not match up. It’s just too damn hard to take that risk again.” And I meant it. But that’s sad to me. To think that these men just didn’t take away themselves but took something inside of me too. The openness to believe in people and the ability to trust them when they say forever. They’ve taken away my ability to look at myself and not be so judgemental…so brutal about ‘what could I have done different?’…so willing to think it’s all me. Thanks, guys. 🙄

You know, it makes me sad to think I might be alone for the rest of my life…but you know what? It makes me even more sad to know how people can deceive you and lie to you and hurt you…and they don’t really care.

Kristi xoxo

“I allow myself to fail. I allow myself to break. I’m not afraid of my flaws.” ~ Lady Gaga

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Dear Lady Gaga,

I don’t know if you follow my blog or not, but I know much of the Hollywood elite does so hopefully they’ll direct you to this soon enough. 🤨

Anyhoot, I’m going to be honest with you since I’m trying to be as genuine as possible and I know you do the same.  When I first started noticing you due to your amazing talent (much like mine), I thought you were so bizarre and strange that I was a bit put off.  I’m embarrassed of that reaction now because I’m the first to preach to not judge a book by it’s cover and here I was doing the same.  Then I saw you in a “Star is Born” (is Bradley as good of a kisser as I imagine him to be?), and was blown away by your natural beauty, acting ability, and the vulnerability you showed in the role which, seemed to me, came from a real place within you.  Some things you just can’t ‘act’ (I’m somewhat of an actor myself…I was the ‘mama bell’ in my debut in the first grade).

As I started reading more and more about you, I realized what a genuine, brave, and influential woman you really are, and that’s when my girl crush began.

I’m so sorry you were a victim of rape when you were only 19.  To experience this is horrific and so many women are scared to speak out because of the stigma that’s still in existence today.  Why in the hell do we blame victims in our culture?  As far as we have come with things like the #metoomovement, we still have a long long way to go.  Your song “Til it Happens to You” is an inspiration and speaks for the millions of women who have suffered rape and sexual abuse in our society.  I was sexually abused for 2 years and it took me decades to talk about it publicly because of my own shame.  It’s still uncomfortable for me at times because I feel like people see me differently because of it.  Like I’m dirty or something.  Your lyrics helped me to get past some of that:

“Til is happens to you, you won’t know
It won’t be real
No it won’t be real
Won’t know how it feels…”

You are so right that although people can have empathy for victims (or actually I prefer the word ‘survivors’), they still can’t fully comprehend the effects rape and sexual abuse have on a person.  I’m so sorry you developed PTSD and psychosis because of it…how hard it must be to live with such consequences.

“I was raped repeatedly when I was 19 years old, and I also developed PTSD as a result of being raped and not processing that trauma.  I did not have a therapist, I did not have a psychiatrist, I did not have a doctor help me through it.  …All of a sudden I started to experience this incredible, intense pain throughout my entire body that mimicked, actually, the illness that I felt after being raped.” (interview with Oprah Winfrey 2020)

It took a while to admit you had this though, didn’t it?  You stated you were lying to everyone about experiencing this mental disorder and ‘coming out’ freed you from that deceit.  I can’t imagine how painful it was to do so, but you helped so many people in understanding that mental disorders/illnesses are nothing to be ashamed of.  Thank you so much for that.  (I also love you came out as bi-sexual…your bravery humbles me).

You talk about how you received mental (and physical) help for PTSD and that’s another barrier you’ve broken for others.  Getting help is not weak…quite the contrary, it’s strong.  Until everyone can be taught that therapy and intervention is just as acceptable as getting treatment for any physical issue, there will still be people out there who won’t seek it because of that fucking stigma (my ma doesn’t like me to use that word, but I have a feeling you don’t mind).

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How horrible you were bullied about your appearance and kooky behavior when you were younger.  Those words stick with you, don’t they?  But, you ‘came out’ again and have talked extensively about the bullying culture we all live with in terms of body image and expectations.  Women are told we must be perfect, from head to toe, and since that’s simply impossible to live up too, most feel inadequate in terms of how they look.  I know you developed anorexia and bulimia because of weight issues and I can relate to the anorexia myself as well.  It’s a horrible one, isn’t it?  And, like I know you are all too aware of, something that never fully leaves you (like bulimia too).  It can be an everyday struggle.

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I happen to think you are absolutely gorgeous.  I’ve seen you a bit heavier (words you have used yourself, so please don’t think I’m being catty) and a bit thin.  It doesn’t matter, because your beauty transcends anything on the outside.  With your ‘Body Revolution’ movement you started in 2012 that allows women (particularly those with eating disorders) to share their real life bodies and put out there how beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, you’ve shown that being proud of yourself is the most important thing.  Bless you for that.  That’s something all girls and women need to do…see themselves for who they are and know they don’t have to be a cookie-cutter version of anyone else in this country.  I used to be so self-conscious about my belly, but now I’m not simply because it’s a part of me…and it’s real.  Thank you for that.

I also love the way you dress!  Once again, you don’t conform, but express yourself however you desire.  Who’s to say what’s ‘fashionable’ to wear anyway?  Who sets that stupid standard?  When you look back at 70’s fashion, it’s obvious that some of the trendsetters are idiots.  We should all be able to wear what we want to wear…not what the magazines tell us is ‘right’ to wear.  Face it, we look like sheep: the same jeans…the same shirt…the same shoes.  How boring it is to simply be another body clothed in what everyone else is wearing; it’s almost like we all have uniforms (actually it is like uniforms since uniformity seems to the be goal) and for you to stand out like you do shows we can have personal expression in our clothes.  Plus, I believe that if we all look like sheep we’ll start to act like sheep and mindlessly follow anyone without question.

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Irish Mirror

Finally, I can’t thank you enough for talking so openly about your love of God.  How refreshing to see an ‘unconventional’ woman speak about her beliefs and faith.  There’s this stereotype that Christians are uptight, hypocritical (“I don’t go to church…everyone’s a hypocrite.”  Really?  You are the one judging us, dumbass 🙄) with no love for anyone different than themselves.  Where the fuck did that come from?  Why are there so many stereotypes about Christians that people are more than happy to not only believe, but share?  I’ve been told by colleagues (literally) how ‘dumb’ I am to believe in God and that I should know better since I’m educated.  Okey Dokey.  Thanks for that info…I’ll file it away where I file away all the rest of the bullshit I hear. 🙄

Anyhoot…just wanted to tell you what an influence you are on me and how I appreciate all you’ve done in being so open about who you are and what you’ve gone through in your life.  You inspire so many, including myself.  I am going to try to continue working at doing the same the best I can and for that, I’m eternally grateful.  ❤

Kristi xoxo

Too Much Pain :(

So, I’m watching “Rocketman” this morning and I just start crying.  You have this prodigy, who’s talent is incredibly rare, but whose life was full of pain for decades.

I hate all the pain I see in people.  And I see it everyday.

I have students who hug on me, follow me, confide in me and I wonder where their family is.  Their friends.  How did they get to this point in their life without the comfort, love, and support they so desperately need?

Then, I talk about horrible things in my classes:  rape, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, bullying.  And I NEVER, EVER give any of these lectures without at least 5 students reaching out to me afterwards to tell me they’d be a victim of the topic.  EVER.

How many students do this?

I hear stories from students about being sexually abused by a family member when they were as young as 3.  Or raped as a high schooler, but not being able to tell anyone because they felt the shame was theirs.  Or students who grew up with violent parents, and who tried to shield their siblings from the worst of it.  Or women who left an abuser after years because they realized it was either that, or facing the possibility that their next beating could be their last.  Or guys who have told me they are gay, but had to put on this ‘tough’ persona in front of family and friends, because they knew if they didn’t, they would be bullied and ostracized by those they cared for the most.

So many people out there are in pain.  So many have stories we can’t imagine.  And here’s the thing:  until we start really seeing people, and not shying away from actual connection; until we start asking the WHY behind behavior instead of just punishing it or judging it; until we ask people how they are and truly stop to listen;  until we look at a kid and see they need a hug instead of discipline;  until we drop our own masks and show that it’s ok to not be ok, things are never going to change.

How is it we live in what’s supposed to be this connected world, yet people are more lonely and disconnected than ever?  How can we let so many people suffer in silence?  And why can’t we say the simple words of  “I care?”

Maybe this needs to be reversed.

Kristi xoxo

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