“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

A Personal Buffet :)

So, how do we know what we want in a mate?  It’s almost an unconscious thing, isn’t it?  Like going to a buffet where we look over the food and say, “Oooooooo…yum!”  or “Blech!”, without even really thinking about it.  Isn’t that true about people as well?  You can see someone and think, “Wow…OH YEAH!”  or say, “Uh, no!”  Either way, our choices are clear even if our reasoning behind them isn’t.

At counseling the other day, A (my therapist) asked me what I wanted in someone since working on relationships is one of our goals.  I didn’t have an easy or fast answer for her.  But I think it came to me last night.

In my Marriage and Family classes, we talk about mate selection and see that there are many theories out there to try to explain how this works.  For example, Siggy talks about how we are more likely to choose a mate much like our opposite sexed parents (this was written in the Victorian era where heterosexual relationships were the only focus) in order to finally resolve the Oedipal and Electra complexes.  This is what kids experience around the ages of 3-6 or so, where they really want to possess their same sexed parent, while rejecting the other.  Obviously, this causes much family stress, and the kids start to emulate their same sexed parent so they can eventually, as adults, win a mate like the opposite sexed one.  PHEW!  Sounds crazy, right?  BUT…I have to say this:  research does show that we are more likely to marry someone more like our parents than not!  (This scares my son to death!)

There’s also the Ideal Mate Theory in which we create an image of what we want through early childhood experiences and then seek that person as an adult.  Maybe that’s why so many women want their prince to ride on their white horse and swoop them up!  And, maybe that’s also why when we meet the one we think is our mate, we say, “I think this is Mr. or Mrs. Right!”

Other theories exist too…like how we pick mates that complement what we need or lack.  Or ones that have just enough similarities that we have an instant connection that brings us together.

But these theories don’t take practical things into consideration, things I happen to think are pretty important.  Like, how many kids does this person want?  What’s their political stance?  Their criminal history?  How many times have they been divorced?  Is their extended family supportive?  Do they drink excessively or use drugs?  Do they follow your religion?  And the list goes on.

However, here’s another wrench with all of this:  you would think by now I have a type, and that couldn’t be further from the truth!  All 4 of my mates (3 hubbies and 1 partner) couldn’t have been anymore different from each other!  Hubby 1 was a metrosexual, well dressed, higher class guy, while Hubby 2 was nerdy and a very hard worker.  Hubby 3 was an Outlaw biker (literally) and my last partner was a younger veteran.  What a variety; perhaps I should practice polygamy to get everything I want??  🙂

So, when A talked to me about what I wanted, I knew it was more than what can be explained by the above, but I couldn’t put into words what ‘soul’ (for lack of a better word) I was looking for.  And then it hit me last night.  Simply stated, I want a man who is just as willing as I am to work and fight for the love we have.  That’s it.  Just one sentence.  But a very powerful one to me.

See, I used to think I was clingy.  And to a degree I might be.  But maybe that isn’t really what it is though, because I’ve always been financially independent and very capable of doing anything and everything that’s needed around the house, yard, etc.  I was the one my spouses would often turn too, instead of the other way around!  I was the rock.  The fixer.  The one who built back up whatever had been broken.

But when I was broken.  Or needed something fixed.  Or needed a rock, that’s when problems started.  The help wasn’t there.  The understanding.  The support.  While I was willing to invest everything into the relationship, they were willing to only invest a bit.  So, them pulling out of it didn’t ‘cost’ them as much as it cost me.

Maybe it’s because I’m “extra sensitive” (another wonderful trait of bipolar) that I simply can’t understand this.  How people can love you one day, and say the next that they don’t.  How you can spend years with someone, building them up, forgiving them for transgressions, supporting them through their pain, but when it’s about you, they turn their back.  And then, you’re the one that’s wrong.  Wrong for reaching out.  For trying.  Why do some people think relationships are easy?  And when there’s an issue, just drop them, because fixing it might be work?  Really?  Having problems means there’s no love?  No foundation?

I don’t think there’s any relationship that requires more work than that of a parent and child.  I remember when Oliver was a little guy…he’d wake me up in the middle of the night, and I’d have to force myself up on 2 hours of sleep after a 14 hour day.  When he was around 4, Oliver, who had asthma, got pneumonia.  And I did too.  But, I had to ignore mine and hold Oliver upright 24 hours a day for 4 days straight, giving him breathing treatments every 2 hours which the poor guy fought.  Just me, alone, because his dad had to work at his business.  It got to the point where I was so tired, I was in a hazy fog that enveloped me.  I didn’t know if I could keep going but then he started to get better and I could nap.  And all of this time, I kept thinking that if I didn’t do this, he could literally drown in his sleep.  Was that work?  OMG, yes!!  Did I begrudge him of it??  NO!!  Because that’s what parents do.  Period.

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Why can’t that same commitment be made in terms of mates?  Holding the person up.  Allowing them to breathe with your help.  Making sure they get through the next day?  Giving all that you have, and a little more, to make things better.I do that.  To a fault actually.  And I used to think it was wrong.  But is it?  Why is it wrong to be the one who won’t let go of the rope when they still believe there’s a danger of the other falling?  Why is it bad to say, “I forgive you.  Again.  Because I love you.  Still.”?  Someone once told me this was weak.  Really?  To me, it’s freaking strong.  Because like I did with Oliver, you have to dig down, find resources you don’t know you have, and use them to make sure what you love is preserved.

I guess I’m old fashioned, but I think maybe my way, instead of the way relationships are disposed of so easily in our society today, is actually the right one.Once, when I was a teenager,  I asked my Grandma what held her and Grandpa together.  They were the ONLY couple in my family that had never been divorced and I needed to know why.  After all, they were married just a short while before Grandpa served 3 years in the Navy during WWII.  I’ll never ever forget what my grandma said when I asked how they made it through all they did:  “Because we’re married.”  That’s it.  That was her answer.  And when you think about it, what more needs to be said?  They made a commitment.  They honored it.  They worked at it.  They invested in it.  Through everything.  Period.  Maybe I get my ideas about relationships from her.  And if so, I think that’s a very good thing.

Kristi xoxo

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