So, I’ve written about a lot of things in this blog: having bipolar, being sexually abused, being in an abusive relationship, and the list goes on. However, this is the toughest, and shortest, post I’ve had to write so far.
Yesterday, my son and I took our Little Dottie for a Quality of Life exam at our vet. She was almost 15 years old and was blind and deaf. She also was losing control of her bladder and back legs. In other words, she was suffering. After talking with the vet and her examination of Little Dot, O and I made the decision to have her put to sleep. We said our goodbyes, I sang her special song, and she died in my arms.
I don’t know what to feel. When Bill got home last night, I cried louder and harder than I ever have in my life…I made myself sick. I’ve never ever been in my house without her…and the emptiness of it is overwhelming. I see her everywhere.
Maybe people with pets can’t understand this, but she wasn’t a pet to me. She was my baby…my best friend…my comfort…my joy. It’s hard for those of us with mental illness to make real friends and I can honestly say I have only 3 human ones and that includes Bill. So Dottie was my bestie. She didn’t mind my bouts of depression and would lay down with me whenever I needed too. She didn’t care if I was manic…she’d be right along beside me watching me paint and getting drops of it on her back. When I had a mental breakdown, she was there…centering me the best she could. When I cut myself, I would hug her and try to forget the pain. When I attempted suicide and got off my bed to throw up the pills I had taken, Dottie was right by me…her brown eyes telling me I had way too much to live for.
There’s no words that can describe what she did for me, and I hope, with all my heart that I was a good mama to her. I believe in God and I believe he made animals for us to love. I truly know that my Little Dot is in heaven now…in my Grandpa’s arms…bossing everyone around like the diva she was.
Dottie: you were my precious baby and you are now my angel. I will never ever forget you and you will be in my heart forever. Someday, I’ll be making my way to heaven and I know you’ll be right there at the gate…barking at me to hurry up because you want to play fetch. And honey, I’ll do it.
So, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and even though this one is much better than the one I spent alone last year, I am still not a fan of the ‘holiday.’ No…I’m not a ‘Love Scrooge’! It’s just as I’ve gotten older (in my 40’s now…shutty the mouthies 🙄), holidays are starting to take on a different meaning for me.
OK…take Valentine’s Day. Please. Here’s what’s going to happen on social media tomorrow (which I thankfully will not see since I said Buh-Bye to FB): everyone is going to post pics of flowers, chocolates, promises of trips, fancy home-cooked dinners, stuffed animals, perfume, jewelry etc. Let me see if I can conjure up what some of the messages will say along with the pics (as I told my friend, Susan…I’m a bit psychic…not psycho…but psychic 😳), and as you read these, be sure to use a ‘Valley Girl’ voice: “Oh my God! My sweetheart gave me 20 dozen red roses. He’s my soulmate for sure!” OR…”Oh my God! Hubby said he’s taking me to Hawaii this summer so we can renew our vows on Waikiki beach!” Or…”Oh my God! Look at this ring! Isn’t it the best?”
Blech. Just blech. 🤢🤢🤢
Look, I love that these women are being given gifts that make them happy but I also know the backstory on many relationships (I have the type of face and ears people like to share with 😐) and I’m well aware that these relationships aren’t all sunshine and rainbows (no one’s is, so why pretend??). I remember me and J’s first Valentine’s Day…I got him a bunch of new clothes and he brought me a lone flower with no card…he literally ‘tossed’ it at me and said: “Isn’t this what you wanted?” Then, I saw he had texted his old girlfriend and sent pics of himself wearing the clothes I got him. But, when people asked about my day, I lied. Just flat out lied. I said: “Oh…J gave me flowers and the sweetest card…it was a great day!”
So why the hell did I do that? Well, I think I was just too ashamed to admit it was shitty. And I was too scared to face the consequences of confronting him about this. And I was still too ‘in love/lust’ to see anything truly ‘wrong.’ So…I bottled up the disappointment, took a pic of the ‘beautiful’ flower (it was actually an ass-ugly rose 😐) and said how much I loved him on Facebook.
Look, I didn’t want to be ‘alone’ on this day of ‘love’. BUT, then I really started thinking about the whole concept of Valentine’s Day and decided that if I’m really loved…cherished…cared for…I shouldn’t have to wait for the ONE day a year when everyone talks about it! Right? I would much rather get a card out of the blue because my beloved was just thinking about me. Or I love to get flowers just because my beloved thought I needed perked up. I don’t want ‘special’ attention because the calendar says “February 14th”. I want to feel loved everyday. I want to feel special everyday. Isn’t that actually the way it should be?
I feel the same way about Mother’s day. Yes, I love the cards my sonshine gives me and he gets such a kick at picking out a present for me. But here’s what he doesn’t quite understand yet: when he comes over just to say HI and to give me a hug on a random day, that means so much more! Sometimes he’ll call and I’ll say “What do you need?” (most mom’s do that since our kids sometimes only call then 🙄), and he’ll say “I just wanted to see how you are and tell you I love you.” I swear that I cry every time he does this. I don’t want him to celebrate me on one day of the year (although the recognition is nice); I want him to appreciate me every day of the year which is something I try very very hard to do with my own ma.
When ma’s ankle was broken this winter, I did her errands and I’d always put something special in the sack for her: perfumed hand soap, a serving of soup she likes but is too cheap to buy at Sams, a pretty new dish towel, etc. I loved seeing how much of a kick she got out of the extra treats…it made my heart swell to see her smile. That’s ‘Mother’s Day’ to me.
Isn’t Thanksgiving sort of the same? For the first time since the previous Easter, let’s get the whole fam together to enjoy a meal and share our blessings. OK, but why can’t we do that on Aug. 18th or Jan. 4th or any other day of the year? Why do we wait to do this on the 1 day our calendar dictates?
And Christmas? Maybe I’m weird (shutty) but I talk to God all of the time. I ‘pray’ before every meal and before I go to bed, but I’m always yacking with him. I’m not embarrassed to say I’m a Christian and that Jesus is my Saviour. Why would I be? But so many people are! So, a prayer is said at Christmas where we actually say the word ‘Jesus’ and then we pretty much don’t talk about him much after that…at least until the next year rolls around. Shouldn’t everyday be a celebration of our beliefs? Shouldn’t we pray and talk to our God (whatever your belief system is) everyday? Shouldn’t we celebrate our religious beliefs everyday?
Bill has already had flowers delivered to me and a box of chocolates…he had the first one (it was caramel so I don’t mind, but if he eats a coconut one, he’s dead meat 🤨) . And I appreciate it so much…I know he loves me. But, I don’t know he loves me because he called a florist. I know he loves me because he’s there when I’m depressed…he took care of me when we had COVID…he vacuums and does dishes and folds laundry…he’s always an ear for my venting and his arms are always open when I need a hug. I don’t need to post pics of the flowers to convince others I’m loved. And I also don’t expect them every year. I want him to know I love him every day…good days and bad days…and I want to feel that love from his as well. To me, that’s what this holiday should be all about: cherishing our ‘Valentine’ every day of the year.
So, when are words not enough, and why am I thinking about this now? Well, the sweetie students in my Marriage and Family classes (shutty the mouthies 🙄) had to write their own original definitions of family and marriage, and what I got was great: some students insisted that blood defined a family while others agreed it was love/support/understanding that made a person family to you. In terms of defining marriage, I got a lot of people talking about commitment, loyalty, etc. and the word ‘unconditionally’ was used a lot. Then, one of my sweetie students wrote this: “What couples have is indescribable to me…it’s so much.”
As always, I was gobsmacked by this insight and she is absolutely right. How do you find words that encompass all that a couple has? How could words ever truly be enough? Our textbook (and I also saw this on spruce.com) states that: “…marriage is a formal union and social and legal contract between 2 individuals that unites their lives legally, economically, and emotionally.” Is this really ‘all’ that marriage is? A contract that unites people on these 3 levels? I don’t know about y’all, but there were times in my marriages (😳) where there was a lot ‘more’ to that definition.
I remember when O’s dad and I were married and how we faced a lot in our first few years together: O having severe asthma that led to hospitalizations, living away from all of our family at all and knowing just a handful of people in a strange state, ma being diagnosed with breast cancer, me going to graduate school, B working overtime so we could save up a nest egg since we were living paycheck to paycheck, and the list goes on. And this is nothing different…and much much less than other couples face…in that we ALL have sicknesses, financial issues, family trauma (and drama too), etc. that we have to deal with. It’s true that B and I were legally a couple, economically tied to one another, and had an emotional connection, but there was just ‘more’ to this time in our lives than what was seen on the surface.
We went deeper than just ’emotions’ and acted as anchors for one another…support. We sacrificed for each other and made decisions that put both of our interests out there. We worried and cried over O more times than I can count and held hands or hugged while we did…we knew we couldn’t live without him. We went ‘deeper’ than just the mental state we call ’emotion’. But what other word is there?
Then, I think about my sonshine. There is no way I could ever completely express the love I have for him…as John Candy says about his wife in the movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” (my ALL time favorite film EVER 😎), “Words just aren’t big enough for what I feel” and he was referring to his wife. Hmmm…think about that: words aren’t big enough. You know, I wasn’t a mama yet when I first watched this movie in 1987 (I was 5 at the time 🙄) and when John said this, I teared up. But when I watched it again after O was born, I got it. I truly got it. There’s not words that encompass all I feel for my boy. And there never will be.
I also think about my ma. The other day I told her that I forbade (my favorite word to use with her…she hates it 😐) her to ever die. Period. Yes, she’s 75 but she’s going to live to be 150…I won’t have it any other way. Anyhoot, how do I put into words what she means to me? What she’s done for me? How she supports me every single day of my life?
Being mentally ill is a challenge for me, but it’s just as big of a challenge for the people around me. Ma has been there through my ups and downs, and I wouldn’t be here today if she hadn’t nurtured me through the breakdown I had. I don’t say that lightly either. I don’t throw around the words: “Oh…you saved my life!” when someone brings me a sandwich. No. I mean…she SAVED my life. Literally. So how do I put all of that in a word? How do I define that dynamic? That support? That love? That commitment? Well…I can’t.
Today Bill and I are both getting COVID tests…he was exposed at work and we both have some symptoms, so he was home for the day. We were fixing lunch (I found out he finished off our chocolate chip cookies…I had words for that…🤨) and I asked him if he loved me. He stopped what he was doing and looked at me and said: “Why are you asking me that? You don’t know?” Well, yes…I guess I ‘know’ he loves me, but I need to ‘know more’ that he loves me. Does that make sense?
One bad thing about having bipolar is that my brain is never fucking (sorry, ma 🙄) off. It’s always on. And I don’t mean just ‘on’…it’s always on at full-blast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s constantly imagining, ruminating, wondering, fretting, deciding, etc. and so I told him this: “Yes, I know you love me…but what does that really mean to you?” Isn’t that a tough one to answer?
I don’t know if I can answer that myself. I know what love isn’t…it’s not manipulation, retaliation, distrust, disloyalty, etc. but what IS it? I guess that’s what I was after. You know, after you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you question so much in other ones. J said he loved me all of the time…everyday (except for the days he was cheating on me and sometimes, even then) so was what we had love? I look back and know I loved him, but have also accepted that he couldn’t have loved me. You don’t purposefully hurt those you love. You just don’t do it. I can’t imagine laying a hand on my son or dog…I can’t imagine ever saying something cruel to ma…I can’t imagine ever PURPOSEFULLY hurting anyone I love. So…maybe that’s why we say actions are louder than words…they simply ‘show more’.
When you think about it, words are finite…they have some definitions to them and then the entry in the dictionary ends. Maybe what’s important is to figure out what words mean to you, and then try to express that in any way you can…sort of like the Love Languages. What says love to me might be different than what says it to you.
Sometimes I think we get too caught up in words. We give words way too much weight. We give them way too much power. After contemplating all of this, I realized that words are something that we need to sometimes throw away. If Bill got mad at me today and said something hurtful, I’d still know he loves me. He’s human…he’s going to say unloving things just like I will. Maybe instead of getting bitter about this and racking up all of his ‘mistakes’, I could instead look at his actions all of the other time…his behavior…his loyalty…his support. Maybe we all need to work on ‘showing’ than on ‘saying’. Words can hurt and sting and destroy…no argument there. But actions and future behavior can heal that…if we let it.
So, as my sweetie peeps know from reading this blawg, I’ve been single for about a year now and although I’ve been lonely at times…particularly during the March quarantine…I’ve also really liked it too. I learned so much about myself and have done things I didn’t know I ‘could’ do: electrical work (I just changed out my porchlight a couple of days ago!), painting the entire interior of my house, getting on the roof to clean out gutters, etc. I also learned that ‘I’m enough’. That I’m OK taking care of myself and that I can have a life (even travel!) with just me.
Then, Bill came into my life about 5 years ago. We were friends in High School and below is what he wrote in my senior yearbook (figure out the dates yourself, peeps…I’m not saying a word… 🙄), and then we really started talking a bit again after I had one of his family members in my class and I found out he was a relation to her! I found him on FB and friended him and we started commenting on each others’ posts.
But here’s what happened and yes, it’s going to sound cheesy 🧀 but what the hey…it really kinda is. So I pray every night before I go to bed and that’s when I have a tendency to ‘ask’ for things. I know…I know…but God says “Ask and it shall be given you” (Matthew 7:7-8). Of course I talk to him throughout the day as well but that’s more like ‘chit chat’…not a formal type of prayer. Anyhoot, since J and I broke up (i.e. since J cheated on me and I saw it right before my eyes 😐), I’d ask God EVERY single night to bring back the ‘good’ J and give us 1 more chance at possibly making it work. Every night. But a few weeks ago, I started to picture what that would look like and I saw myself being anxious, distrustful, on edge, stressed, etc. and realized I didn’t want that again. And I also realized that even if ‘good’ J came back (like that would have happened…I’m the one that always crawled back to him 😡), the bad could rear it’s head anytime. So, I prayed this (literally): “Please do your will with what you want me to have in my life. I’m leaving it up to you.”
A few days later, Bill commented on one of my blawg posts and I decided…just out of the blue…to message him and thank him for his support. One thing led to another and now…drumroll please…
I’m in love!! ❤❤❤
Yes. I know we all thought it was impossible and the chances were 1 in a billion I would ever be in a relationship again, but…it happened…and I’m really happy right now! First the good stuff: he’s adorbs (bright blue eyes that make me melt 🤩), very sweet and kind, very respectful, and fun. During the last couple of weeks he’s been coming up to see me (we live in different states right now), we’ve run together, hiked, worked around the house, watched scary movies, made dinners together, gone on ‘dates’, and had tons of great talks about everything under the sun (except the sun 😁).
I have truly, in all of my relationships, never ever felt like I could really be ‘me’ with a guy like I’m doing now. I decided before he came up the first time that I’d be real…that I would stop being a ‘pretzel’ and start being ‘me’. And I am. I’m not hiding behind anything. I haven’t done that in past relationships because I’ve always believed my ‘true me’ wasn’t enough. Wasn’t what I should be. Wouldn’t be what the person wanted.
But after this year of being single, I thought “What the fuck?” (sorry ma…🙄). I’m done pretending. Period. And here’s the thing: he accepts me. Totally! I feel genuine and ‘real’ and he’s doing the same.
Now, there’s always downsides, right? And the biggest? We both come with a lot of baggage. A lot. Steamer trunks full. Bill is a recovering alcoholic and when he’d drink WAY too much, he caused a LOT of damage because of his behavior (including DUI’s). One particular time was a couple of years ago at an event with his daughter…what he did was inexcusable.
He’s also been married more than a couple of times, and that’s always cause for concern as well. We both have trust issues…fears…insecurities…etc. And, just like I struggle with an eating disorder, he also has one too. Bill has binge eating disorder which has caused him a lot of shame, weight issues, embarrassment, etc. I can definitely understand that.
How are we going to handle these things? Bill is going to AA meetings daily and hasn’t drank heavily for a couple of years. He realizes what a problem it’s been in his life and is determined to never drink again. I make sure he attends regularly and stays on this path he started himself. As someone who comes from a family of alcoholics, I know what this addiction is like. My ma is a recovering alcoholic too, and she tells me she still knows if faced with alcohol, she’d most likely drink it. It’s a battle that’s never fully over.
He’s also seeing a counselor for the binge eating and issues that led to it’s formation. I’m really proud of him for that as well. I’m calling my counselor today and am going to start going regularly again after a hiatus during the quarantine. I think I’ll need some guidance through this time too.
Finally, our baggage. After what J did to me, I’m carrying a shit load. How do you go through a 3 year relationship with abuse, infidelity, abandonment, manipulation, etc. and not be affected? How do you learn to trust what someone says and not assume they are lying to you one more time? How do you kiss (Bill’s a GREAT kisser…just sayin’… 😘) someone goodbye and not worry about unfaithfulness? How do you know when someone says ‘I love you’ they aren’t meaning ‘I love what you give me and until someone better comes along?’
So we’re helping each other with all of this ‘baggage.’ But for the first time in a relationship, we aren’t just sharing the burden of this weight, we are allowing each other to unpack it. Look at it. Talk about it. Cry over it. And lock it away somewhere else where it’s no longer on our shoulder’s anymore. It feels so fucking good (sorry, ma…but you know how I curse when I’m happy 🙄…and mad and onery…and…well you get my point).
I love Bill with a feeling I’ve never really experienced before. It’s not just ‘giddiness’ or ‘butterflies’…it’s a feeling of safety and security and acceptance and kindness. It’s comforting. Relaxing. ‘Real.’ We have a lot of challenges to overcome and I know the road will be hard. But I also know this: I trust him to take this journey with me. And, if the journey proves too much for either one of us, I trust myself to be OK. What a sense of peacefulness that gives me.
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’.
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.
So, in a post last week, I talked about whether or not love is blind and I said that actually it’s not since we all have our preferences along with what we NEED to see. But like I do, I’ve been going over that in my mind and started thinking about how love truly is blind in certain circumstances…places where none of us want to go, where we say we would never go, and swear we would leave as soon as the issue is clear. My son and I were talking about it yesterday, and he said this: “Love isn’t necessarily blind in the beginning, but it can become blind after the love has taken hold.” Let’s take a look-see.
For you sweet newbies, my ma was married to R (I won’t say what I usually do when I hear his name in my head but I have to say something so I guess asshole will suffice), for 28 years and although my sis and I knew about it and tried very hard to get her to leave him, she didn’t for all of those years. In fact, she wouldn’t admit to the abuse until close to the time she was able to get away. I saw black eyes more times than I can count, black and blue arms, marks by her neck, a beating so bad that she was rushed to the ER and was throwing up blood, and an eye injury so serious I took her to the doctor to make sure she wasn’t going to lose her vision in it.
Now, for the big question: why the hell did she stay? The first reason after the initial act (just a ‘little’ slap) was, she told me, almost unbelievable to her. She grew up with parents who were never violent in any way and my dad treated her very well; she didn’t have any experience with domestic violence so it was out of her realm of comprehension that it could happen to her. Using my favorite phrase, she was simply gobsmacked and since it was ‘small’, and he profusely apologized, she assumed it was a one-off and wouldn’t happen again. The second reason? Because she loved him. Because she had fallen in love with who she believed to be a good man, and this one incident didn’t change that. The next dozen didn’t change it. The love was still there and she said she could compartmentalize the bad and only focus on the good.
Years later, after the abuse intensified , she continued to stay for a myriad of reasons: he broke her down so far she had absolutely no self-esteem or feelings of worth; he manipulated her thinking to believe she was the cause of the violence; he psychologically abused her to presume she was unlovable and no one else would ever want her, and the list goes on. In other words, he used the proverbial ‘Game Book’ entitled: “How to Beat Your Wife and Get Away with it for Decades.” (Probably the only fucking book he ever read 🤬).
So, she stayed for love in the beginning, and he used that initial showering of love to get away with just enough until she was essentially his prisoner. I remember my grandma, T, and I sitting down with ma before she even married him and telling her how much we disliked him and were suspicious he was hurting her. She looked us straight in the eye… said she loved him…he loved her…and everything was fine.
Hmmmmm. Love is blind.
After living with R for 5 excruciating years and then having to see him for 23 more, I swore to myself I would NEVER ever ever ever be in a situation like my poor ma found herself in. Never. And seeing that written, and remembering how smug I was every time I said it, makes me realize how terribly naive we are when it comes to our hearts. Those fragile, irrational hearts that can cloud our eyes and dull our senses because all that matters in the end is the love. Right?
I’m going to be honest with you (because I always try to be), as much as I loved Hubby 3 (shutty the mouthy) and still do…we talk almost daily and are very close…our first 2 years of marriage were horrible. Like I’ve said before, Hubby came from an extremely physically, verbally abusive home which was coupled with neglect so awful he basically had to raise himself from about the age of 10. His adult relationships were very volatile with tons of drama, yelling, throwing things, alcohol fueled incidents, etc. Then he married me, and guess what? He started re-creating the only dynamic he knew. So, I got yelled at, accused and berated for the most absurd things which forced drama into our lives, had things thrown at me, had my bathroom door ripped off the hinges because he was upset I had slammed it, had a chair thrown across my kitchen, had my arms grabbed.
And I stayed. Yep…I surely did. Why you ask? Because I loved him. I really really loved him. I was terrified when he was angry and would cry when he’d scream at me (and once, peed myself 😟), but I loved him. And guess what? Love is blind. But finally, after those first 2 years, I told him this: “If you ever do anything to me again, you will be out of here and probably in jail. Period. You need to grow the fuck up, learn some self-control, and realize I’m the best fucking (sorry for the cussing, ma 😳) thing that’s ever crossed your path.” And he began too.
Hubby put so much effort into his behavior and words…he truly did. He made changes that most people wouldn’t think are possible and our last 8 years together were actually very happy and fun. Yes, we’d butt heads at time, but I’ll tell you what: he changed into a kind, sweet, loving guy who would run bubble baths for me when I was having a bad day, wrote notes for me every single morning of our lives together to start my day off with a smile, took me to Chicago each year after Christmas for a fancy schmancy time to celebrate the year, and told me he loved and appreciated me more times than I could ever try to count.
Just last week were were yacking on the phone and I told him I was feeling down and here’s what he said: “Kristi, you are a beautiful woman who is the sweetest person I’ve ever known. You made me a better man and no one has ever given me the chances you did. I will always love you for doing that.” But you know what? I should have left him the first time he was abusive to me. The very first time. But I didn’t because of that love I had for him. Yes, after 2 years it was ‘worth’ it but the road to get there was NOT guaranteed at all (so please please please don’t think I’m advocating staying with an abusive partner…not at all!) and it could have ended horribly. I gambled and that time, I ‘won.’ A million to one shot (I think I’m going to buy a lottery ticket today…you never know 😳).
Not so with J who was physically abusive twice, psychologically abusive for most of our 3 years together, verbally abusive countless times, would go into rages (which I now understand to be part of his Borderline PD), and finally was cheating on me in very public ways numerous times (in other words, he never tried to hide it once it started happening) and blaming me for it. And once again, I stayed. I had gambled once, and won! Who’s to say I wasn’t on a streak?
Like a broken record, I stayed at first because of the love I had for him. I loved him with a passion and yearning I’ve never had before and doubt I’ll ever have again. I can honestly say I felt he was my soulmate. My forever. I could see all of the good in him (because like Hubby, there is a lot of good) through the bad. I kept thinking that all he needs is patience. Understanding. Security. Why? Because he too grew up in a very abusive home and also had PTSD from his 3 tours overseas. Of course I needed to stay…for fuck sakes, he needed me! And I also needed him.
So, I took him back again and again after he’d leave and cheat. After he’d swear to me about things right before catching him in a lie. After he put his hands on me. After he said horrible things to me. I stayed because I loved him. Because I was blind to what was outside of that love. It’s almost like our heart creates a space that doesn’t allow anything ‘bad’ to get in to threaten those feelings. I had to work my way out of that tunnel I found myself in where I couldn’t see anything but what I wanted to see. Maybe that’s why people say hindsight is 20/20. And it really is.
Look, we see what we want to see. We believe what we want to believe. We love who we love no matter how irrational it might be. We are blinded while in love (or at least I’m convinced we are) and that accounts for a lot of things we accept in our relationships.
And I’m going to tell you one more truth today: Even though I have ‘learned my lesson’ about this phenomenon, I also understand it could happen again. Because each time we open our hearts to love, we are taking the risk of being overpowered by it. So, what I’m hoping to remember is this: to keep my eyes as wide open as I can in the beginning. Look for red flags. Trust that intuition. Let the mind rule the heart while it still has a chance. Actually, I think that’s something we all need to do.
So, my sis had me watch “Love is Blind” on Netflix and it was fascinating. Here’s the premise in case you haven’t watched: 30 men and women go into these rooms (called ‘pods’ on the show which makes me think of a post- apocalyptic time 🙄 ) in which you can’t see, but only hear, the other person. All of the contestants spend 10 days speed-dating with each other, and then can talk to certain people they connect with the best. After 10 days, some of the people get engaged, and it’s only after this that they actually see each other and meet. They go on get-aways and then tackle ‘real life’ before getting married (maybe) after a month of being face-to-face. Plus, during the ‘pod’ interaction and get-away, there are no phones or social media of any kind so that the people/couples can totally focus on one another.
Now, as the name states quite clearly, this ‘experiment’ is trying to answer the day old question: Is love blind? I’m not going to tell you what happens to the 8 couples that actually get engaged (6 are followed on the show) since I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it’s interesting to watch the relationships unfold.
I think we would all like to think ‘love is blind’ but after watching this, and really stewing about it, I believe this concept is more complicated than what’s seen on the show and can be looked at on a lot of different levels.
First, the show focuses on looks and race in terms of ‘blindness’. Fall in the love with the person, not how beautiful or handsome they are and learn about a person without stereotyping in terms of skin color or ethnicity. The thing is, this isn’t a big deal on the show. EVERY single contestant is gorgeously yummy, so anyone picked is going to look good!
Why did the producers do this if they really wanted to see if love is blind? Because it’s not. Does it sound shallow if we say looks don’t matter? I personally don’t think it is. I believe we all have somewhat of a type, but if you talk about it you sound superficial as if knowing what looks good to you is wrong. Look, I like a certain look in fashion (running shorts and t’s…quite the couture), a certain type of car style, a certain type of house architecture, etc. I know what I ‘like’…what pleases me. Why is it bad to have preferences for partners too? I like tall men, a bit bigger guy (but someone that can hike and run and do stuff with me…in other words, keep up with this bipolar woman), a crinkle to the eyes when they smile, hands that show they know how to work, some arm muscle, facial hair, nice teeth, etc.
This is MY type. What I like. So, if I meet a man who is shorter than me with a smile I don’t find attractive and very skinny, I’m sorry but I’m not going to be attracted. “But Kristi, for fuck sakes, you can learn to love them if you have the right foundation.” Maybe so. Platonically at least. I’m not saying this guy wouldn’t be a good, kind, sweet, smart man by any means. But, I happen to believe that sex is an important part of a partnership, and not being attracted to someone physically, even though you are mentally and emotionally, can cause the relationship to be more brother and sister, than hubby and wifey (I’m looking at this heterosexually since that’s what I am, although it hasn’t worked out great for me 😳).
“But Kristi, you yourself, in your amazingly brilliant, much sought after lectures, have yacked on (and on and on) that you can learn to love someone. That love is an ‘art’ (thank you Erich Fromm)…something you have to build and nurture.” Yes, I know that grasshoppers, but building love, and building sexual attraction, are 2 very different things.
Think about this: I knew a guy from 7th grade through high school that I thought was ‘it’! I tried to get him to notice me all of those years (don’t say it…pathetic) and finally, after graduation, he asked me out! YEA! I was so excited! I don’t think I ever spent as much time getting ready for a date in all my life since I wanted to look as perfect to him as he did to me. When he picked me up, I was almost giddy; I mean, this was it! My dreamboat (🙄)…my 18 year old soul-mate. He drove us to the mall to look at CD’s (shutty…I know I’m old(er) and can even remember buying…gasp…cassettes at the mall too, along with 45’s. If you don’t know what those are, ask your ma.) and after just arriving he opened the mall door, stepped inside and kept walking. Heh? He let the door close on me. OK. But I figured this was a small thing and something I’d fix when we were married. Throughout the night he proceeded to be the most self-centered, pompous, narcissistic asshole I’d ever met (and even now, he’s still up there). Those 4 hours we spent together made me go from salivating over him to thinking how ‘ugly’ he was after all. I wouldn’t have been with him for a million bucks (OK, maybe for a million…but then again, getting paid for sex is well…ahem…a bit slutty), but you get my point.
Maybe some looks don’t do it for me, but then again, some personality quirks can turn me off an attractive person as well. Hmmmm…love is blind?
Why didn’t the producers use people that were overweight? Disabled in some way? Here’s one: mentally ill (gasp!)? More regular looking, as opposed to every woman having a flat belly and big boobs, with the guys having extra good looks. Would love be blind then?
Then, you have to look at another question: SHOULD love be blind in terms of other aspects of the person? Once again, rail against me if you must, but a criminal record that includes any sort of domestic violence or child abuse is something I need to SEE. What about a current addiction for which the person isn’t wanting to get help? How about them being an atheist when spirituality is important to me? Seven divorces (above my own personal record)? No thank you. A man whose work ethic is non-existent? Someone who is racist? Homophobic? Refers to mental illness as those ‘crazies’? Nuh uh. How about someone who is as opposite me politically as you can get (been there…done that…and the arguments left us both alienated and frustrated)? Someone who has never had kids because they really don’t like them? And I could go on and on and on.
My belief is that we should NOT be blind to these things. Seriously. Because as an older woman (but not that old…remember that, peeps) who does have some (cough cough) experience in the realm of relationships/marriage, these are things that can greatly affect your relationship and can pull you apart faster than Taron can get my heart racing (and that’s mighty fast, y’all 🤭). These are also things that can be dangerous (obviously), pull your own family apart, have a horrible impact on your kids, etc.
When I was dating ‘The Counselor (lawyer)’ in December and January (much too long), I ran a report on him like I did for Hubby 3 and J when we got together. Look, I have a son (and with Hubby, he was only 12) and hope to have grand kids soon (O…did you read that sentence? Go back honey…and read the freaking thing again); I definitely don’t want some boob around them. ‘The Counselor’ was highly pissed when I casually mentioned the report (run one on me…I don’t care!) and that was a huge red flag for me. For piss sakes, he has a daughter! Does he want her to jump into something with someone who’s been in jail 5 times? C’mon now. Or, as my ma likes to say: “Think Man!”
The last really interesting thing I got from this show is when the couples had no access to their phones or social media, and only focused on each other, things were hunky-dory. However, after their engagements and get-aways, when they got these things back, a lot of couples slid downhill and were really negatively affected by them. That in itself teaches us a huge lesson. Let me say it Professor K style (not like I would in the classroom, but with frankness): leave the fucking devices alone and focus on the real person right in front of you! I know couples that can’t even eat together without their devices. That are on them when they are watching a movie together…when they’re out and about. Great. This will be a terrific foundation for caring for a baby together, where you have to put these time-suckers down and get your hands dirty…literally. Hey, there’s no freaking app that changes diapers, wipes up puke everyday, helps you handle the stress of colic, deals with a tantrum in the middle of the store, etc. Right?
So, is love blind? Nope. And it shouldn’t be. You should look for what your preference is. What you want in terms of looks, personality, morals, ideologies, etc. In class, I call it my ‘Captain Crunch’ theory (this is going to get copyrighted since it’s such a deep theory that could be written about in a textbook): if you like CC, crave CC, are always happy with CC, and enjoy the looks and texture of CC, for fuck sakes don’t buy Fruit Loops just because you have a coupon and it’s easier to reach on the shelf. And if you do, and decide they’re icky after all, hey…that’s your fault. You chose what you didn’t like instead of what you knew you wanted. You went the easier route…and look what it got you. A taste of fake orange in your mouth that you try to brush out and then your toothpaste tastes disgusting and mouthwash only moves the goop that gets stuck in your teeth all through your mouth and for the rest of day, you are tasting spearmint fruit. Ugh.
So, I have one of the coolest things I own in my office and I look at it everyday. It’s an old steamer trunk (a real one…not a knock-off from Hobby Lobby) that I got a couple of years ago. The guy that sold it to me for just a few bucks said it was ugly and he just wanted it out of his garage. (By the way, every time I say ‘bucks’, I can hear Michael Scott telling Pam it’s not ladylike). I thought I could paint it really funky and it’d be a neat piece in my basement. Then I started doing some research on it, and come to find out, it’s an oldie that was most likely used by immigrants coming to America in the early 20th century like my grandpa and his family did. How cool is that?
We started moving my son and his girlfriend into their apartment yesterday (luckily, it was from a basement with stairs to a top floor apartment with stairs…just sayin’) and if I never see a cardboard box again, I’ll be thrilled. Another by the way: there was a dolly in the U-Haul that we had to park a ways away since the apartment house sets back behind a big grassy area. Being someone who likes to make work easier, I asked why we weren’t using it. My boy said, “Ma, we don’t need it” while he was mopping sweat from his brow and panting like a dog. Anyhoot, when he was carrying a load, I got the damn dolly out, chucked the heaviest item on it, and scooted it up to the stairs, saving more than half the work. You may insert an eye roll here.
So, this morning I was sitting at my laptop doing some very important things (scrolling through Facebook while watching Rocketman for the 100th time) and started thinking about baggage. That’s a word we hear so much, isn’t it? How everyone has ‘baggage’ from past relationships, their childhood, their high school years, what have you. When I look at my trunk, I always wonder what baggage was in it. Baby clothes for an infant that was going to be born in America? Old quilts from relatives the immigrants won’t see anymore? Books in their native language so they will never have to stop reading? Food especially canned for the trip so they’ll have something to eat while seeking work?
I guess I’ve been pondering this a bit more these past couple of weeks because I’ve reconnected with a high school buddy and we’ve been talking pretty much non-stop. And here’s the thing, I know that no matter what, my baggage, and his baggage, is going to play a role into whether or not this goes anyplace at all.
How do you learn to trust someone again after so many others have betrayed you? I trusted my psychologist with my life. Literally. And he used that trust, manipulated it into something cruel, and made me feel a horrible sense of shame and guilt even though I was another one of his victims. Hubby 3 was not only my spouse, but I can honestly say he was the best friend I’ve ever had. Every single day he would tell me how happy he was and how much he loved me. And then he walked out on me Christmas day after our 10th anniversary. J was the one person I trusted every single secret I’ve ever had with. I opened up to him more than anyone else, and he took so many of my words and confessions and then used them against me. He threatened so many things, one of them being my job.
So tell me. How do you come back from that? Yes, I understand that no one should pay the price for someone elses’ mistakes, but let me know how that works. Seriously. Because once you’ve been ‘burned’, the scars are so deep and the baggage packed so well, that just ‘getting rid of it’ is something hard to do. OK…I’ll just do what some self-helpers recommend: jot all of this stuff down, tear up the paper, and then flush it down the crapper. Wow. Works like a charm. All of those decades of being hurt and used are miraculously gone Yea!
Hmmmm. No. Everyone talks about how hard it is to rebuild trust in a person that’s wronged you. But, our ‘baggage’ makes it hard to actually trust anyone. I don’t care how many times someone says, “Kristi, you can trust me.” Okey-dokey. Haven’t heard those words before. Haven’t been to that shitty rodeo. Face it, no one is going to say: “Look, I’m going to be really nice to you for a while and get you believing that this is going to be great. And then I’m going to fuck you over, use you, tear you down after building you up, make you believe you deserve no better, and then when I’m done toying with you, I’ll find someone else that I may actually be good too…you know…for fun.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if people came with warning labels? “WARNING! Good looking guy, out for a hook up, likes to sweet talk until he gets in your knickers, but cooks great.” Well hells bells (my grandpa used to love saying that…I just had to use it at least once in a post), at least I know what I’m in for. And for piss sakes, let’s not even imagine what my label would look like…let’s just assume it would have a lot of skulls and crossbones on it.
OK, so besides trust, what else is in my trunk (steamer…not booty)? Respect is a biggie. I hate how that word is used so easily. “Hey…that guy didn’t give me my fries…he disrespected me.” Welllllll…maybe if you hadn’t screamed into the mike at the drive through while calling him a douche bag when the audio was still on, you would have gotten your freaking fries. As my ma says : “Think, man!”
Respect is more than that to me; actually it’s more than that period. True respect is believing a person to be of value because of qualities they have…because of who they are and what they’ve done that’s admirable. I think a problem I have (among a myriad of many) is ‘giving’ respect to people that actually haven’t earned it yet. Just assuming this person is admirable because of this and this and this. “Oh…you’re a CEO! You must be a great person and I have such respect for you!” (Actually, they are a blithering imbecile, but they got one terrific office).
I learned very early on in my teaching career that you can’t expect attention and control in a classroom without earning respect first. I learned you can’t expect your child to respect you unless you have shown them you deserve it. “But, Kristi…our kids should respect us no matter what!” OK, kiddies…respect your parents who are drug dealers and beat you at night when you need fed. Just sayin. See what I mean? Once, an elementary teacher told me she was so tired at screaming at her class all day. Huh? When I looked gobsmacked, she said, “Damn, with college kids you must do that a lot.” Nope. Never. I’ve never screamed at my son, never at my rambunctious elementary/jr high/high school students, and never in my college classroom. If I can’t talk in my normal tone of voice and be listened too, I have a lot of work to do in terms of earning respect.
What about kindness? First 6 months: “Hey, sweetie…anything you want.” “Love you baby, I’m behind you all the way.” “Hon…of course you can have your wonderful, kind, loving family over for the holidays…your family is my family.” Then, let’s fast forward a couple of years: “Kristi, what the hell are you doing spending so much money on that?” “Kristi, if you think I’m going to spend another holiday with your God forsaken family, you’re nuttier than I thought.” (Actually, I probably am). Kindness for some is almost like a bait and switch: turn it on in the beginning so you ooze honey, and then pull it away until it’s gone. Blech.
And love? “Hey baby…I love you more than anything! You took care of my dying mom, helped me raise my daughter through adolescence, and pretty much provided for my every whim with no questions asked. Oh, I’m leaving tomorrow.” Or, “Kristi, you weren’t my first, but you’re going to be my last (bloggers note:I think this came from Pinterest), and you’ve done more for me than anyone else in my life. Oh, by the way, I’m going to cheat on you this weekend…just wanted you to have a heads up.” So gee, I wonder why hearing ‘I love you’ is hard for me to accept.
I guess it comes down to this: I know I have baggage…a lot of it. A steamer trunk full. And I know that no matter what I do to unpack it and get it put away elsewhere, there will still be some left at the bottom. But I also know that everyone has a trunk. How can we not? Unless we’ve lived like Pollyanna, it’s gonna happen. So, someone is going to have to work a bit more hard in gaining my trust. Earning my respect. Helping me realize their kindness is genuine. Opening my heart. Actually though, that may be what I’ve always done wrong in the past…given these things away too quickly before realizing the true value of them first.
So, I was thinking the other day (I know, that’s a first) while looking at social media and I started counting the number of times people say “I love you”. It was staggering. Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all, but I wonder if we use it in a casual context so often, that it loses some of it’s meaning. I say “I love you” regularly too, and I know I mean it when I do. But I also know there are so many different levels and kinds of love that I’m not sure I’m expressing what I intend too. However, that intention often times doesn’t have any other words for me to use.
In Russia, the equivalent word for ‘love’ is most often reserved for romantic relationships, and isn’t often said between family members. In Asian cultures, ‘love’ is rarely brought up. Instead, it’s shown through actions and care. Same for Indian culture (which I know is Asian but they are often looked at separately) where ‘love’ is woven into the fabric of the culture as a whole.
I know that some people use the word ‘love’ very loosely. How can a person have true love for someone one day, and then decide they don’t love them the next? Obviously, actual love wasn’t there.
I’ve heard the word love in all of my serious relationships: 3 marriages (shutty the mouthy) and 1 dating relationship. In each, we used the word often, and I’d like to think love was truly a part of these. But, all of these ended, and when they did, that was it. Two ended because of infidelity and the others over issues that could have been worked out had my hubbies been willing to go to counseling. Unfortunately, they weren’t.
So, I guess what I’ve been pondering is this: what word would I rather hear other than ‘love?’ Everyone says the magical words in a relationship are I LOVE YOU…they are apparently the most important to hear, but are they really? If we are throwing around these words so casually, are they truly defining the actual feeling or emotion they’re supposed too?
Take 90 Day Fiance’ (my favorite show…I literally can’t stop watching it every season). The people on it might talk to their beloved once or twice online and suddenly they love them to death and are convinced they found their soulmate! HEH? You don’t even know them yet! You haven’t seen them in person…touched them…smelled them…or actually got to know them! THEN, when they do, guess what?? Often they realize this isn’t their soulmate (go figure) and suddenly, the love is gone. Hmmmm…was it really there to begin with?
Are we so ‘starved’ for romantic love that we will label it, hoping that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy? Do we think that if we say it, it will have to be? Are we under the impression if we don’t say it, the person will just leave us willy-nilly? Is saying it something that’s simply ‘expected’ but not actually there? Or, maybe we say it to a potential mate who we feel isn’t as interested as we are, so that maybe our declaration will affect their feelings and make them stronger.
I’ve been considering what I would like to hear if I ever (and it’s looking grim) get into another relationship. Do I want to hear the word ‘love’ again? I really don’t know. I’ve heard it used so often, and then thrown away so easily, that I’m not sure I trust what that word really is. Of course I want love to be a part of the relationship, but the words just aren’t enough for me anymore. I guess I want to feel the love, not hear the words expressing love. I want to feel the connection. Experience their care of me. See their work in terms of the relationship. I think those would all be bigger expressions of what we have rather than a quick ‘love ya’ before bedtime.
When it is words that are said, I’ve figured out what would be so much more meaningful for me to hear. How about “I’m so proud of you!” Or, “Wow, I really missed you today!” I’d like to hear, “You know, I really need you in my life.” Or, “How did I get so lucky to have you?” The real clincher for me would be, “I’d be so lost without you…I’ll do anything I can to make this work.”
And you know what? I haven’t heard these before, and I’m wondering if that’s why my relationships have all failed. The word ‘love’ was there, but did they have pride in me? Was I important enough to miss (apparently not)? Did they feel such a need for me, that without me, they’d be lost? Did they feel enough for me that working on the relationship wasn’t considered a hardship, but a necessary thing they were willing to go through to strengthen our bond (another apparently not)?
You know, I love watching American Idol videos on YouTube and today I had one on while washing dishes. It was a couple who sang country songs, and they auditioned at the same time, but sang separately. They both played the guitar, and then each played along while the other sang. Obviously, they were both hoping to get a ticket to ‘Hollywood’ (meaning they were continuing in the show). After each sang, the judges praised the woman for her great voice and then told her husband that he sang well, but at this point in his career, he would be much better as her backup, and not a lead singer himself. Here’s what got me: when they got out of the audition, the man hugged his wife so tight and told her how very proud he was of her. She asked if he was upset he didn’t make it himself, and he said NO…that everything happens for a reason and he was just so damn happy for her.
I was bowled over. I think a lot of people (men & women) would feel a bit of jealousy. A feeling of having ‘lost’. But this guy? He won because she won. Isn’t that awesome?
I don’t know if there’s another relationship on my horizon or not. But I’ll tell you this: I’ll realize it’s the true thing if Mr. Wonderful says: “Damn. You are just it for me. I am so proud to have you.” Doesn’t that just sound great?