The Buck Stops Here

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So, I had someone leave a comment on my blog this past week and I felt it was a bit harsh. It was regarding all of my failed relationships and the writer said that since I was the common denominator, I needed to understand the failings were my fault (it wasn’t put quite this nicely). After thinking about it for a couple of days, I realized there is much truth in that and I have been remiss in focusing on hurt I’ve experienced and not enough on my own personal responsibility.

You know, every relationship is a dynamic entity or system that is more than just the 2 people involved. It’s what Family Systems Theory says: the whole is bigger than the sum of it’s parts. And, the theory also states that what happens to one part affects the others.

If I listed all of the mistakes I’ve made in relationships, we’d be here for a very long time. First and foremost, I know having un-managed bipolar greatly affected the hubbies and had I been brave enough to confront what I knew was wrong, I would probably still be with my son’s dad especially. That was my fault, and because of the lack of treatment, my highs and lows fed into our issues and magnified them. Greatly. I understand that when I would be experiencing a manic state I made decisions that weren’t good for the relationship, and when I was depressed it was hard for him to know how to handle it.

With hubby 3, we started just living in separate worlds. He was in the outlaw motorcycle club he’s a member of and was gone most of the summer and lots of weekends throughout the year while I was at home teaching and taking care of the house. Consequently, we just drifted apart more and more. We both decided that divorce would be best but like I’ve said, he’s probably my very best friend and we talk almost daily. I’ll never not be in his life and vice versa…when his mama was dying and I was visiting her one night, she asked me to always take care of him and I promised I would. I intend to keep that promise.

With J, I made a ton of mistakes. The first time he lied to me, I should have drawn a boundary very quickly with clear consequences should it be crossed again. When he cheated the first time, I took him back too quickly and once again, didn’t create any sort of consequence for him to not to it again. The second (and 3-4th times during that same time period) should have been it. Period. It was my fault for allowing the behavior to continue .

In terms of my son’s dad, we never really argued/fought much. In fact, I was so eager to make sure everything went so smoothly that I ignored issues that should have been addressed immediately. It was on me for that…hubby sometimes wanted to resolve something while I shied away from it. I guess I thought covering up issues would be better in the long run but when things started to get ‘bad’, ALL of these issues came out in a torrent and they were just too much to handle. Not addressing our conflict at all was worse on our marriage than addressing the issues with fights would have been.

I also know I have some issues as they pertain to being sexually abused for 2 years. According to The American Counseling Association: “…sexual abuse has been correlated with higher levels of depression, guilt, shame, self-blame, eating disorders, somatic concerns, anxiety, dissociative patterns, repression, denial, sexual problems, and relationship problems.” Now, let’s see: check check check check.

Abused children become adults with no idea who we are or what we need. All we know is how to make other people happy, while we pretend to be perfect. Abuse turns us into ‘codependent caretakers’. We secretly resent this people-pleasing behavior pattern, but we don’t know how to escape it. According to Svava Brooks (expert on child sexual abuse and author/counselor), people that have been abused become ‘pretzels’ and take the shape of what they think the other person wants. They aren’t themselves…but who they perceive they need to be in a relationship. But even though they believe this to be necessary, they are also resentful of this ‘people pleasing pattern’ but don’t know how to break the cycle.

So, was I genuine in my relationships? Not always…by a long shot. Did I know I was turning myself into what I felt the person needed/wanted? Yep. Did I want to stop it? Yeppers. Did I? No. And, not being genuine and authentic in a relationship means you aren’t living a real relationship…and how can any ingenuine relationship ever survive?

For people that know me, I’m also a fixer. I just love to fix fix fix (hence my awesome toolbox). Hubby 3 and J both had a lot of problems stemming from childhood. Both were abused horribly and grew up not having the attention, love, appropriate discipline, etc. that every child deserves. I believe this led both to being insecurely attached to their parents and I know I was very very conscious of wanting to make this up to them. I wanted to show them all they didn’t have. I didn’t get together with them out of pity…but I did do things because of the sorrow I felt for their early circumstances. I obviously know a partner’s place is not for one person to ‘fix’ the other in situations like this, simply because it doesn’t work. For example, it didn’t matter how good I was to J…how much love I showered on him…how many times I gave him ‘2nd’ chances because I was cognizant of his early experiences…it didn’t fix him. Nothing can make up for lack like that…I know that now.

Being alone for the past year has given me more time to look objectively at these relationships and understand the dynamics and roles I played a bit better. I’m glad of that. I needed that. I also needed to learn that in order to have a ‘real’ relationship, I have to be ‘real’ in it.

Writing this blog opens me up to so much. I know the stigma of being bipolar is huge and just ‘admitting’ I suffer from this mental illness in front of friends, colleagues, and students in such a public way is risky. And scary. It’s also very hard to open up about the relationships I’ve had. It’s humbling to tell all and sundry about this history because of the ‘failures’, but it’s also honest.

I know I’m going to have ‘haters’…everyone online does. I also know I’m going to write things others don’t agree with…but, this is my blog based on my opinions, observations, experiences, etc. It’s not an objective news article. I know I need to let negative comments open my eyes to another perspective or take what is said in consideration.

But I also know that hateful comments hurt me a lot. Being bipolar, I ruminate, personalize, get overly emotional, am ‘extra’ sensitive, etc. so I can’t let things just ‘slide’. I wish to fuck I could.

It’s been a few days since I blogged…school is taking up so much of my time. But I also needed a bit of a break from it as well. I’m evaluating whether I want to continue this blog or not. I want this to be a safe place where I can share, educate, inform, or just maybe make people smile once in a while. It’s a little piece of me I put out there because for the first time in my life, I am being real. Authentic. Genuine. Those of us with mental illnesses often can’t do that, and to be able to is exhilarating. I don’t have his huge wall I’m hiding behind…I’m able to finally be me in this space.

I’m Kristi. I’m bipolar, struggle with anorexia, have lots of highs and lots of lows, mess up more times that I can count every day of my life, and work every minute of every hour of everyday handling this mental illness the best I can. I have good days. I have bad days. But now? At the very least, all of my days are ‘real days’.

Kristi xoxo

It’s Ironic…Ain’t It?

So, my Master’s degree is in Family Development and Education.  I’ve taught hundreds of classes and workshops on marriage and family, and I even have a book through amazon on how to have a happy marriage.  And then I get this question from one of my Facebookers:

“I hate to ask this but are you embarassed (sic) to have been married 3 times since you teach about this stuff?”

Well, Grasshopper, let me give you an easy answer:  yep.

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I guess I could end there, but we all know how I love to hear myself talk (even if it is in my head) so let’s continue.

With Hubby #1, we were both so freaking young!!  I truly believed, with all of my heart and soul, that I was an adult at 20.  I also thought that we could live on ‘LOVE’ (you need to say that in a way that the word is stretched out a bit like I do in class).  I was finishing up my senior year in university and had to student teach during the entire spring semester, which meant no money was coming in on my end.  Hubby was working at the customer service counter of TJ Maxx.  Yep.  That was all we thought we needed to get by.  Minimum wage job with less than 40 hours a week…and love.  Guess what?  Reality set in quick!  So why did this marriage end?  Because we had no idea what we wanted!  We were still kids!  Neither one of us had any idea what we were doing, and to top that off, I know my untreated bipolar caused a LOT of problems.  We lasted 4 years…and bless his heart for having the courage to understand we were never going to work.  The divorce broke my heart, but it was the right thing to do.

Then Hubby #2 came along.  I grew up with him and we went through school together from 3rd grade to community college.  He was newly divorced.  I was newly divorced.  And our loneliness brought us 2 friends together.  We had a happy marriage!  I really loved the years we were together, raising our son, and creating the little family we had.  I think our problem was complacency.

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My Gift!

 

Thinking this is never going to end, so why put more into it than you have too.  I’ve learned, the hard way, that complacency kills.  It makes you not acknowledge what needs to be worked on.  It makes you close your eyes to problems that are springing up.

Hubby #3 was an enigma.  He was a big, tough, motorcycle riding, muscled guy with skull tattoos who belonged to an outlaw motorcycle club.  People were shocked that we were together because we’re so different!  But hubby had such a sweet, funny, smart side and he could make me laugh so hard!  This big old tough guy bought me a finger puppet the first year we were married.  He was ‘Cookie’ and we took this puppet everywhere we went!  I even have pictures of ‘Cookie’ in front of some Van Goghs’ at the Chicago Art Institute (our favorite place to go).

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Damn…my hair looks great in this! 😉

 

He decoupaged with me…painted with me…was so so proud of everything I made and all of the accomplishments I worked for.  But hubby came from a very bad background…his parents were horribly abusive and negligent and it was hard for him to just be my hubby.  The motorcycle club was a brotherhood to him.  Was a family.  The kind of the family he never had as a kid.  So it became more of his life than I was.  He knew it and I knew it.  We were living in different worlds after 10 years, and when we divorced, it hurt both of us so much.  We stood in front of the judge together, holding each other.  The Judge asked if we really wanted the divorce…hubby had to answer because I was too choked up.  But, we’re friends and we talk everyday.  I’ll always be a part of his life, and I know he’ll always be my best friend.

So,  it does sound bad that I’m a 3x divorcee.  But you know what?  When I think back on my marriages (why do I suddenly feel like Elizabeth Taylor?), I am so appreciative of each one of them.  Hubby #1 helped me grow up.  Helped me to understand my actions have consequences.  Helped me to see that marriages take more than just love…they take work and effort and understanding and humility and forgiving and asking to be forgiven and on and on and on.

Hubby #2 gave me the greatest gift I could ever have gotten on this earth.  My boy.  Those 13 years we had together as a family are the happiest years in my life.  I loved being a mommy and a wife.  I reveled in it.  I wanted some of the moments we shared to last forever and ever and ever.  But the thing is, neither one of us put in the effort to make that possible.

And Hubby#3?  He gave me passion!  He awakened in me things I didn’t know were there!  As much as I loved my first 2 hubbies, this guy took my breath away.  I thought I’d die if I couldn’t see him everyday, and when we were together, I couldn’t keep my hands off of him.  He is the one man in my life that made me feel like a sexy gal!!  OooooWeee!

Of course I’m sorry that my marriages ended.  And I take a lot of responsibility for this.  I was an untreated bipolar going through manic phases (did you know you can plant a half acre garden in a couple of hours??!) and depressive episodes (where I would force myself to make dinner and then sit at the table and smile).  I didn’t want to admit what was happening in my brain.  By the time of Hubby 3, I just wanted a relationship to work so bad, the things in my head were pushed to the side as much as possible.  Would any of these marriages have lasted if I had been treated?  Hmmmm.  Maybe so.  But maybe not.  Marriages take 2 people.  Both working.  Both trying.  Both putting in all they can.  These divorces weren’t their fault.  Or my fault.  Each one was our fault.  df2c21640f561869bb1990053494eb19

So, grasshopper…I’m not embarrassed.  I’m lucky to have had 3 men in my life that gave to me, taught me, loved me, and awakened me.  Will there be a #4?  Not if my mom has any say in it.  And I doubt it.  I would have married my ex-partner.  I really would have.  But maybe marriage just isn’t for me!  Kinda like milk.  I drink it…I get sick.  I get married…I get divorced.  However, that doesn’t mean they weren’t good while they lasted.

Kristi xoxo