“Lean on Me” ~ Bill Withers

Dear Terri,

So, I know you don’t get quite as mushy as I do, but bear with me because I promise to make this as painless as possible! Anyhoot, I don’t know if you realize this but you are a great sister to me and always have been…right from the start.

Remember when I couldn’t talk at first before I spent a few years with the Speech Pathologist and no one could understand me well…including ma and pop? The thing is that you always could; so from the very beginning you had to help me by being my translator and my voice. I wonder why you could get my words when others couldn’t? Maybe because it’s just a ‘sister’ thing? Or maybe because as much as we’re different, we’re so similar too (except in the ‘chest’ department where you were blessed more than me 🤨)?

There’s that arm!

Almost every single picture I have of us as kids, you have your arm around me. Not just casual like, but grippy…possessive…like you were broadcasting to everyone that not only were you my big sis (remember, you are significantly older than me 😐) but my protector too. And you had a job with that, huh? Both of us were bullied in elementary school…especially by that kid ‘B’ who would not only taunt us at school but also follow us home while making our lives hellish for that 2 block walk. But honestly, you remember that better than I do because you shielded me from so much of it. You took the majority of the bullying and pushed me aside. That was such a selfless thing to do, particularly for a kid whose instinct is often to protect themselves first.

I loved it when we would go to gramma and grampas. Getting on the floor with gramma while playing triple solitaire and squawking when we beat her. Running errands with her in the VW bug and arguing over who got to sit in front. I know…I won most of the time since I got carsick so easily. It was either win or have you see me puke. I honestly think you dodged a bullet in that case. And then we’d spend the night and grampa would make us something special and always had teen magazines for us to read. I think we both felt so cozy and loved and sharing those memories of all 4 of us together makes me smile every time. They both would be so so proud of you for the grandma you are today and your grandkids are just as lucky to have you as we were to have our own.

Thanks for the fashionable dresses, ma.

Did you know I started getting jealous of you when you hit Jr. High? You got to go to a HUGE school and have a locker and have more than 1 teacher and ride the bus (which come to find out sucked balls😬 ) and then the best part: go to dances and get calls from boys and have secrets behind closed doors with your best friends. I wanted to be a part of that so badly! And, you were beautiful too! I know you’re shaking your head or rolling your eyes or retching right now, but I’m being honest. You were…and still are! Being the first to try make-up made me long to be older and acting as the guinea pig for your hair styling skills was fun…but to a point. That damn nozzle on your hairdryer would whack me in the nose everytime…and I know it wasn’t YOUR fault…it was the dryer itself…right (🙄)? You know, I just realized that may have been the cause of my deviated septum, and not the broken nose I had years ago. Hmmmmm…

(Did you know I saved all of the letters you wrote to me when I was at summer camp those 2 summers? I saved every one!) 🧡

I loved talking to your boyfriends and even keeping them company while you finished getting ready for dates. I remember when Ben and you were an item and had an argument: he called and I was so pissed he was fighting with you that I yelled at him and called him a ‘hoodlum’…the worst word I could think of at the time. You were gobsmacked I’d do this but here’s why: it was my turn to stand up for you! And a secret? I always had a HUGE crush on Jack. HUGE! I pictured you dumping him and then him looking at me, scooping me up, and carrying me off into the sunset like a prince. A prince in a cowboy hat no less. Did it matter that I was 12 and he was 16? Nope. I figured that would work itself out in time.

And for a couple of years, I was your voice too! Calling into the high school, pretending to be ma, and telling the secretary you were too sick for classes that day. How I wanted to play hooky with you and your friends! When I’d be sitting through yet another lesson on biology which I had absolutely no chance of understanding, I’d wonder what you guys were doing. Make overs? Talking about boys? Sneaking a smoke? Exciting stuff to a younger sister!

You and your cute boys!

When you got married and left home, I missed you so much. The house seemed so empty. It was just ma and me and the vibe changed…the energy. That’s because you had brought it in. But it was exciting when A was born and I was an aunt. I could finally drive and loved visiting you in the country and playing with him. I can still see him on the walkway to your front door, riding his trike with his curly blonde curls bobbing up and down. Then when D was born and I was a bit older, I finally was comfortable changing his diapers and taking more care of him…that was so much fun for me and gave me the even bigger desire I had to be a mom myself. You are a great one.

Does this all sound too Pollyanna-ish up to this point? Like we never fought? Of course but these good memories stick out much better than the bad.

Showoff!

We fought like cats and dogs sometimes…we said things we didn’t mean…we did things we shouldn’t have to one another…and we sometimes couldn’t stand each other and made that clear. In other words, we were sisters. And yes, this sometimes still happens. But we always work through whatever it is and come out stronger on the other side. It makes these fights worth it just for that. BTW, the maddest I’ve ever been at you in my life was when you won the twisted balloons at the Mueller Christmas Party and you REFUSED to let me wear them. It still gets me going. 😬

I know you hear a lot about me being bipolar, especially since you read this and hear me talk about it with others. But I also know you battle so much with your own disorders too…after all, mental illness runs in our family and were both blessed to continue the tradition. Charmed, I’m sure.

The anxiety and depression you experience is horrible and I know your life has been affected by it in so many ways. We didn’t know much about mental illness when we were kids/teens…it just wasn’t talked about or recognized in younger kids. But our struggles were real…even if not always validated. I know these issues can cripple you at times and when they do and you reach out, I often don’t know what to say…because there’s no words that can truly help. It makes me feel powerless to protect you from this like you used to protect me from things. So we both listen to each other…commiserate with one another…and know that no matter what or when, we’re both there to listen. No matter what.

I know you’re hard on yourself for having anxiety and depression…in fact, we were talking about it this week. You said how you feel guilty for letting your grandkids see it…that you want to be ‘perfect’ like gramma and grampa were to us. But the thing is, you are. Your sweeties love you like no other and here’s what you’re teaching them by being who you are: that it’s ok to struggle…ok to express feelings…ok to say you need help. In other words, you are providing the example that being perfect isn’t possible, but being honest and true to yourself is. Think about how valuable of a lesson that truly is.

And today? You are still protecting me. Still keeping me in your grip. Still standing up for me and believing in me and loving me. In other words, you are still the sister I’m so blessed to have and my life would have been so lonely without you. I know this is getting long…and starting to get mushy…so I’ll stop here. But, just know that I love you. YOU. Imperfect, mentally ill, emotional YOU. Because just like you see the real me…I see the real you. And the vision that I see is wonderful.

Kristi xoxo

“I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters…” ~ Trini Lopez

So, there’s a controversy swirling about our town and it’s almost like the division between people, which is already great in our current political climate, is worsened because of it. I’m actually going to use the name of the university and the Reverend simply because it’s all over the media here as well as the rest state, including Chicago news stations. Here’s what happened:

Millikin University (a well respected private institution…I taught there adjunct for a few years in the 2000’s) had their Fall graduation on Dec. 12th and Rev. Wally Carlson from a local Methodist church gave the invocation. Sounds good so far, right? But instead of simply invoking the blessing of God (which is what ‘invocation’ is), Wally pretended to take a phone call from God and apparently, God said this while chatting on his Samsung Galaxy:

“First of all, let’s take care of the gender issue. He understands and he’s sharing with you that there’s no theological justification for it but he’s choosing he and him today, doesn’t like them and they and just because this is probably irritating enough people that it’s coming out this way we’re gonna stay away from she and her…” 

Wally Carlson

Now, before I unload all of this (which is a shit load), MU officials were quite upset with this holy proclamation (🙄) and  immediately issued an apology to all who attended the commencement and said Carlson’s comments “neither reflect nor represent the values of our university.” And I believe that whole-heartedly.

Anyhoot, when I first heard about this, I was of course gobsmacked by these words but it also pissed me off when the Rev said GOD was calling HIM and telling him this. I’m sorry, but I think it’s blasphemy to pretend to take a call from God during a commencement and maintain that what you’re saying is a directive straight from the Lord’s mouth. I don’t know about you, but I would like to believe that God is too busy to interject in a graduation when there are wars, famine, abuse…you get the point…that might be of more concern to him.

You know, I’ve been a Christian all my life and have never shied away from proclaiming it. My favorite verses are from 1 John 4:7-8 which says: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (NKJV).

That’s a pretty clear, isn’t it? And for the Rev to say that God is ‘choosing’ the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘him’ and doesn’t like ‘them’ and ‘they’ and is also shying away from ‘she’ and ‘her’ is, to me, saying that transgender individuals are not accepted by him. Not loved by him. Not recognized by him. I just can’t believe this to be true.

So, why in the world would the Rev think that promoting his obvious platform in terms of transgender (and I’m wondering if homosexuals are also included in his catalog of sinners) was appropriate for a graduation? What the hell? Really…you have to bring up something that has absolutely nothing to do with the commencement? Was it supposed to be ‘funny’? Lord I hope not, particularly since there were transgender individuals in the audience who were stunned and hurt by this message on a day that was to be a celebration of their accomplishments.

Obviously this Rev doesn’t abide by the good ole “Judge not lest he be judged” from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:1-3). Unless of course he’s perfect…which I guess he must be since God calls him personally. I have yet to receive one.

Yes, Wally needed to be called out for this and apparently he made a Facebook apology (does God do social media too? 🤔) which was later taken down. Why would you take down an apology? I don’t get that unless the apology wasn’t sincere.

But, let’s all be honest here: we judge. Period. We all do. According to Dr. Elizabeth Dorrance Hall: “Our brains are wired to make automatic judgments about others’ behaviors so that we can move through the world without spending too much time or energy on understanding everything we see.” So it’s prewired in us to make these calls.

Then there’s the issue of situational attributes vs. personality attributes. Situational ones are when we believe a person’s behavior is due to something going on in their environment where personality attributes are about the person’s character like traits, abilities and feelings. And, like you might guess, we tend to judge more on a personal level since it’s easier. Right? Looking at situations takes more time and understanding…something that our fast paced, social media driven, everyone just write whatever they want while in front of the anonymity of a screen culture seems to promote.

And I do it too. And, I’m ashamed that I have. I’m the first one to say “HEY! Don’t judge me! You have no idea what it’s like to live in my world of mental illness!” yet I’ve judged others while ignoring their situation…circumstances…environment, etc. I’ve popped off to people that are being rude without thinking that maybe they have a sick relative or a child that kept them up all night. I’ve judged the decisions of others without taking into account what was going on around the person when they made them. It’s easy to do, isn’t it? And isn’t it easy to judge this other person so you don’t have to look at yourself more closely? Hmmm…

As I’m writing this, I’m crying. In fact, Eddie just ate the Kleenex I threw on the floor. I know I’ve hurt people because of these quick judgements…just like I’ve been hurt. So why do we do it? Understand how much judgement hurts, but do it ourselves? There’s no easy answer to that but we do know that humans are programmed with both a negativity bias as well as a need to feel inflated. Both of these helped our ancestors who had to see things negatively since so many life or death threats were posed to them. And of course we know that that bias still exists now: that’s why ‘bads’ are so much more powerful than ‘goods.’ Likewise, we also have the need to feel superior since our ancestors quickly learned that it’s the strong that survive…not the weak.

I guess this speech just made me think of the judgement that swirls around all of us. We each have imperfect things about us…decisions we’ve made…behavior we’ve carried out…words we’ve said…that cause others to judge us. All of us. And we have all judged others for their decisions, behavior, words. All of us.

There’s no way this will ever be ‘fixed’…it’s something primitive inside of us that’s almost a knee-jerk reaction. But we can all stop heeding these reactions and look at the whole picture instead. We can consciously work to look at the circumstances surrounding the person and honestly try to put ourselves in their shoes. We can slow down and think about these reactions and use our higher level of cognition to negate them. And, we can all look in the mirror and admit something a friend and I were just talking about the other day: we are all imperfect. And we truly do need to treat and love others like we want for ourselves.

Kristi xoxo

“I am thankful for laughter except when milk comes out my nose.” ~ Woody Allen

So, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I have so much to be thankful for in my life. It’s also the season of buying gifts and I’ve been working my little fingers to the bone making stuff as well! However, my son has told me he doesn’t want another quilt from me even though he loves the ones I’ve made him over the years: it’s a storage issue and I understand!

Anyhoot, I was putting the idea of thankfulness and gifts together in my mind (🙄) and realized that the people and things I’m thankful for have given me lifelong gifts I cherish.

Ma has given me so much over the years that it’s hard to sort them all out. I think the biggest gift she’s given me is that of support. I actually call her my bra because no matter what, it’s there holding things up. Yes, sometimes there’s chafing, but that’s to be expected. If I said “Ma, I want to fly to the moon and plant a quilt I’ve made on a pole by the American flag” she would say “That’s a great idea…how can I help?” I’m not kidding…her support is unconditional and always there. I have taken that gift and tried to pay it forward with my son. When he wanted to quit his job at Verizon and start a photography business, he needed to live with me to save on bills in order to buy equipment he needed. I was happy to do this for him…even though there was some ‘chafing’ there too! He had lived on his own for a few years prior to this and for both of us to live together again was sometimes a challenge. (The best part was when he’d make me supper…he’s a great cook! The worst part was me seeing my basement full of dirty clothes…he’s not OCD’ish like I am 😐).

I also supported him in his move to Texas…just like ma supported me when O’s dad and I moved to Kansas for his job (O was born in Kansas). Ma visited a lot even though it was 8 hours away and we yacked everyday on the phone. Back then our phones were ‘on the wall’ so I’d sit with O sleeping in my arms while talking to her on her work line so I wouldn’t have a humungous long distance bill. Thank goodness for that…I don’t think B would have appreciated that.

My first visit to Texas!

I went to Texas as much as I could…at least every 12 weeks or so and I know O appreciated it (since I cleaned up the apartment and bought food) and I always loved seeing his face looking for me as I exited the airport! One day he came home and said that another guy was in the store that had moved and he hadn’t seen his parents for a couple of years. He told me how much he appreciated my effort in seeing him so much and that just made my heart sing.

And what has O taught me? Love. It’s that simple. Yes, I loved people very much before having him but the love of your child is just a another thing entirely. The minute he was put in my arms I thought: “I would kill for you, kid…I already adore you that much” and it grows everyday. Literally. It’s hard to explain how much space he takes up in my heart…but I know that no matter what ever happens in this world, the love I have for my boy lights me up from the inside out.

And my pop? He’s given me so much as well but a couple of things really stand out. First is the love of running he instilled in me. I began running in the 4th grade when pop started our local running club and have pretty much run since then. Pop has gone to EVERY single race I’ve ever run in…whether they are in town or miles away and whether they are a 5k or a marathon. I love running…it’s not a chore to me but a pleasure and I know that comes from him. When I train for marathons, pop rides his bike next to me and those are the best times I’ve spent with him. We talk and reminiscence and say things to each other we probably never would have in another situation.

But he also gave me the gift of being a good neighbor. Pop has always helped neighbors and made sure they are taken care of. He mows, scoops snow, helps unload trucks, takes food to those who can’t get out, and the list goes on. I’ve done the same in my neighborhood. I raked my leaves last Sunday and then raked 2 more neighbor’s yards. One of the old men came home while I was working on his lawn and asked why I was doing it (we’re friends…he was being sweet) since he was able too himself and I said this: “Norm, you are always helping out neighbors and I wanted you to do the same for you!” He was so thankful and it made me happy. I guess pop has shown me that helping and doing for others is a gift of enjoyment for yourself.

My sissy has given me so many gifts too but I think the most important one is that of being authentic. My sissy is who she is…she doesn’t wear masks and has the attitude of ‘take me or leave me’ like I am. I love this! She is so strong and when we were little, she was my protector. Every pic of us when we were kiddos shows her with her arm around me and even now she wants to look after me. For example, she has offered to punch various guys in the face and tell them exactly what she thinks of them…which I know would include some VERY colorful language! If I need to vent or cry or bitch or anything, she’s there to listen and do what she can for me.

Me, sissy and ma!

She also has the biggest heart…especially when it comes to kids. She adores kids and is Gramma T to the dozens that have come into her life. Kids adore her too and she knows how to spoil any kid rotten. I don’t know if I’ve ever told her this but I love this about her…it’s her ‘soft’ side and it’s a beautiful thing to see.

I’m really thankful for my pets too…Edward and Mally (they don’t mind me using their full names 😉). All of my pets, past and present, have taught me patience, joy, affection, loyalty, enthusiasm, and most importantly: unconditional love. It doesn’t matter if I’m down, grumpy, manic, sick, or stressed, I get snuggles, cuddles, wagging tails, licks and life is just better because of that. Wouldn’t it be nice if people could do the same (especially the licks 🤭)?

And my students? Wow. I’ve had thousands of students over the 25 years I’ve been teaching at my college and they have all had an impact on me. They have taught me strength, motivation, compassion, understanding, kindness and have given me the huge family I always wanted. They are the recipients of my passion and I’m the recipient of them…each individual ‘them’ that put just one more spark in my heart. They are the best.

I could add so many other people I’m thankful for like my extended family (my nieces and nephews rock), colleagues (especially you Grand Poobah, who can be quite the ass at times which means we get along great), neighbors, friends, and the list could go on and on.

But I’m also thankful for the things in my life that I tend to take for granted: my cozy house, my Jeep, my job, the fact I always have enough food and clean water, etc. How do you even begin to count all of these blessings?

Finally, I’m thankful to all of you, my sweetie readers! You’ve supported this blog for the last couple of years and I’ve made wonderful connections with you…as well as a super great friend (Hi Susan!). Writing is an outlet for me and for you to appreciate it makes it all the more special.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you…eat a lot of turkey, stuff yourself, fall asleep on the couch while you digest, and then wake up and have just one more piece of pie. K? 🦃

Kristi xoxo

“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

“But there is love and love is warm.” ~ Time to Wander

So, I left my Theories of Personality class crying yesterday and when I was traipsing through the library to get to my office, my friend asked me if I was OK and here’s what I said: “I’ve been teaching college for 28 years at 3 institutions and this was the best class in my life!” And I meant it. It gave me chills and the warmest feeling in my heart. Damn I love my students! 😃

Anyhoot, we are talking about Erich Fromm and discussed the “Art of Loving” and while doing so, we reviewed the 4 elements Dr. Fromm said were necessary for true love:

  • Care – the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love.
  • Responsibility – the voluntary act (not obligation) to be ready to respond to the psychic needs of the other person.
  • Respect – (literally means ‘to look at’) ability to see a person as they are and to be aware and accepting of their growth.  Seeing the person as a unique person who is NOT an object for use.
  • Knowledge – the knowing of a person on a deep, intimate level in which you can ‘see’ when they are hurt, angry, upset, etc. even in the face of their denial. 

Each of these is difficult to define and can differ depending on the people involved and their circumstances. Seen in these terms, love is hard work, but it is also the most rewarding kind of work. Do you agree? I sure as fuck (ma? Are you there? 😬) do!

Dr. Fromm also goes on to state: Love is an art and has to be practiced like any other art; it requires discipline, concentration, patience, and a supreme concern to master the art. Those are some pretty hard things to do, aren’t they?

Well, my students started discussing this and they had such insight and examples from their own lives and relationships. And of course, I had a few tidbits to share as well.

Why is it we work so so hard at other ‘love’ relationships in our lives, but when intimate, partner relationships get tough, we walk away? It’s almost like relationships are expendable nowadays. Not ‘happy’? Go find someone else. Not ‘getting along right now?’ Go find someone else. ‘Arguing?’ Go find someone else. I mean really…isn’t it easier just to jump on an app and find another person to be with? It’s a hell of a lot easier than working…trying…being patient. Right?

Heh? SO…when O was a little guy and he was sick and cranky and I was ‘unhappy’, I should have walked away? When he was a teenager and we argued about various things, I should have walked away? When he comes over and starts yapping about religion where his views are different than mine (vastly different 🙄) I should walk away?

Of course not! Duh! I love my son. Unconditionally. I have always cared for him (and it’s hard for him to understand why I still have the need to care for him even at 28). I feel a responsibility towards him and respect the amazing man he has grown into. Finally, I’ve learned to understand him…know him. And I reap those rewards everyday.

But, if these things happen in an intimate relationship, we don’t feel the need to put in the work to solve them. What does walking away do? It changes the situation, but not the people. And it’s the people who are important.

My students and I went on to talking about whether or not you need to love yourself to love others, or to have others love you. Our consensus: Oh yea!

Look, I don’t always like me…in fact, there have been times that I’ve hated what I’ve said or done. But I still love me. We all have too. We come into this world alone…with our own little souls. And we’ll leave alone…with our own little souls. When it gets right down to it, we ultimately have to depend on ourselves. People come and go. Ma and Pop will leave this earth someday (even though I have forbade them both to NOT too 😳) and it will crush me to pieces. I know it will. My son has forged a new life and I’m a part of it, but not the central piece of it that I used to be. My sissy has her own life and beautiful grandbabies to be with and take care of. In other words, people in our lives change roles…leave us…pass away…and fundamentally speaking, we have ourselves in the end.

If love is an art…a discipline…a concept to be learned and practiced like Fromm says, then can’t we do that in terms of loving ourselves even more? Can’t we learn to care for ourselves more? Carve out more time to do what makes us happy? Allow ourselves to try things that will help us grow? Take the time to explore the creative side we all have?

And what about responsibility? Don’t I need to face what is happening in my life at any given time…with kindness? Don’t I have a responsibility to myself to be the best person I can be…to myself and to others?

Respect? I think this is the piece that really grew in myself after the breakdown I experienced. I was this ‘thing’. This object. This ‘something’ that I felt had no value…no purpose…no hope. So I attempted suicide. So I cut myself. So I didn’t eat. So I didn’t shower. So I just ‘didn’t.’ Why wasn’t I still seeing ME in the midst of all that was happening? Luckily, I started too. I’m ME. Kristi. A person that deserves to be seen and loved. By others…and by me.

Further, I’m learning more and more about myself as I purposely focus on that. I’m learning I’m not a bad person because I have fucking (sorry, ma 😐) bipolar. I’m not a failure because I’ve been married 3 times (shutty 🙄). And, I’m not a horrible person because I make mistakes.

In other words? I’ve learned to treat myself like I treat others. It’s a process. A journey. It’s not selfish or narcissistic or boastful. It’s loving yet another person in my life who happens to be me.

You know, being dumped as many freaking times as I’ve been has always made me feel less than. That happened yet again a few weeks ago…being ghosted after a year of being together and after 35 years of knowing each other. That hurt. Bad. But are the dumps all my fault? Have they happened because I’m just a bad person? Nope. I’ve come to realize that the blame doesn’t rest solely on me. It rests on both people…in the context they are living in…with the baggage they carry…with the issues they have.

I do believe what Dr. Fromm says: Love is an art and has to be practiced and nurtured in order to grow. I know I can do this…I have for all of the people I love in my life, including me. If I ever find someone (🤨 ) that will see things the same, then that will be fucking fabulous (sorry again, ma). But, after class yesterday I also learned this: if I don’t, that’s ok too. Because love is in my life so much with my family and friends and students and neighbors. And…maybe most importantly of all…because it’s in me.

Kristi xoxo

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

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kristi xoxo

“…on Sundays I used to like to go hiking, but now…” ~ Heather / Blair Witch Project

Photo by Nicolette Attree on Pexels.com

So, I just want to publicly thank my son for already ruining next week for me: “Thanks, son.” 🙄

Courtesy of Pokemon Wiki – Fandom

A couple of months ago, my son got the brilliant idea of going camping which entails he and his girlfriend driving halfway across the country and camping in the back of his recently purchased pick-up truck. When he said this, I was dumb-founded since the only camping he has ever done was to stay in a hotel that didn’t have turn-down service. However, I wasn’t too worried that this venture into the wilderness would ever come to fruition. Afterall, he once told me he was going to be a professional Pokemon trainer and that sort of fell through 😐.

Then, I bought O a present off of his Amazon wish list for his birthday in August. Little did I know he never updates the damn thing, so of course he already had the fancy-schmancy keyboard I so lovingly purchased; he asked if he could exchange it and that’s when he bought “The Tent.” I put it in quotation marks because that’s how he emphasizes it when he talks about it and alongside the flowery words, his eyes get a look of pure glee in them. Apparently, this is something he’s wanted his entire life (of which he’s lived with me for 21 of those years and I never heard a damn thing about it 🤔) and it fits in the back of his pick-up truck bed. According to him, it will be ‘just like home.’

And I have to agree that a tent popped up in the back of a pick-up truck bed minus the toilet, refrigerator, TV, couch, stove, beds, DoorDash, air conditioner, electricity, and running water is truly going to be ‘just like home.’ You know, Hubby #3 always wanted to go camping and promised me the same thing: “It’ll be like you’ve never left the comfort of the house…except you’ll be sleeping on the ground and will have to use a spade to dig a latrine if you have to poop.” Charmed, I’m sure. And guess what? We never went camping. Ever.

Anyhoot, even after all of this I still didn’t believe he’d go until he called me yesterday to remind me that I’ll be watching my grand-dog all next week. So now the trip is real and I’m already worrying about the fucking (sorry, ma 🙄) thing.

Let me replay the conversation we had:

Kristi: Where exactly are you going, son?

O: We’re going to drive half-way across the country and back in the span of 6 days.

Kristi: That’s nice and specific. So, where will you sleep?

O: In the truck bed, ma…in the tent.

Kristi: WHERE will you sleep? Have you made reservations at campgrounds along the way where there’s at least some sort of a structure or facility you can use so when you pee, you don’t have to worry about getting a tick and/or poison ivy? Where there’s a water hook-up so you and K don’t wither away from dehydration? Where’s there’s electricity so you can have light in case there’s a flood and you both need to run to high ground? And for the love of all that is holy, haven’t you ever watched The Blair Witch Project??

O: I’ll make reservations when the trip is closer.

Kristi: You’re leaving in a couple of days, son. It’s close.

O: We’ll be OK…we’ll just sleep any old where out under the stars. That’s the point of camping, ma.

Kristi: Do you know how many serial killers are in our country at any given time?

O: No, Mother. I don’t. What’s your point?

Kristi: There are a million of them (slight exaggeration but try to understand my reasoning here 🤨) and they prey on kids like you in trucks along side the road in the particular states you’ll be driving through. Also, they like Toyotas.

O: Mother. I can take care of myself.

Kristi: No, son…you can’t.

O: WHAT???

Kristi: Let’s just say…for the hell of it…that a 300 pound bear comes up to your truck smelling what you and K somehow miraculously made for dinner with a kitchen no where in sight. What would you do?

O: We’ll be in the tent, Mother.

Kristi: Ketchup packets are harder to tear open than that tent.

O: OK, MOTHER. What’s the solution because we’re going.

Kristi: To get a dog sitter to watch all 3 pooches while I follow you in my Jeep to make sure nothing happens to my one and only child who I bore in my womb and raised. I’ll sleep on my back seat and live on KIND bars for the entirety of the trip. You won’t even know I’m there, but by golly, if a fucking bear starts attacking you, I’ll wave my arms and scream like an idiot to distract them while you and K scramble through the back window of your truck. And then, son, I will have saved your lives.

O: Sigh.

Now, do I have the right to worry? Yes. Yes, I do.

My son, to my vast knowledge of his every movement since the moment his little feet kicked the inside of my uterus, has never gone camping. Ever. And he’s taking along his girlfriend who gets a look of sheer horror on her face every time O mentions the trip.

So, I pulled K aside and talked to her:

Kristi: What do you think about this trip, K?

K: I’m dreading it. I’ve never gone camping. I’ve never wanted to go camping. And the thought of peeing in the woods makes me itchy and ill.

Kristi: I’m here for you, honey. WHEN you get fed up on this trip (which I’m assuming will be within the first 3 hours after they leave), call me. I’ll send you a pre-paid ticket to Vegas, will take some personal time off to hop on a plane myself to meet you at the airport, and we’ll have a few days at the Bellagio where we will tan by the pool and get massages from cabana boys while drinking ice-cold Mai Tais.

K: You’re the best.

Do I think she’ll call? Yes. Will I follow through with this? Yes. AND…am I worried to death over my only chance in the world to be a grandma traipsing across a country he didn’t know enough about to pass a geography quiz in the 7th grade? Yes.

Courtesy of delish.com

O keeps telling me it’s not my job to worry about him so much. But here’s what he doesn’t yet understand: it IS my job to worry about him. I don’t care if he’s 8, 18, or 28. I’m his mama and he will always be my baby. I’ll always have the instinct to take care of him…that doesn’t just magically disappear once your child grows up. One day, he’s going to understand that…just like I’m trying to understand the same thing regarding ma. 😉

Kristi xoxo

“There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done…” ~ John Lennon/Paul McCartney

So, I was writing another post about Bob’s Burgers and how much I love Linda but I’m feeling like a bit of a failure today and I need to get it down. Lord I love my 3rd grade teacher who put the love of writing in me. (She also used to kiss us all on the cheek every Friday and if you were lucky, you’d be first in line and get a lipstick mark on your face 💋!)

One of her first days with me…her eyes look so sad…

Anyhoot, I got my Corgi, Mally, on May 22nd from a breeder in my town. Bill and I were together then and visited her for the first time on May 2nd. She was really attentive to us and since I’d been wanting to adopt another dog, Mally seemed like she’d be a great fit for me. The breeder no longer needed Mally because of her last litter which had to be a Cesarean; so, since she could no longer have puppies, she was letting her go.

The outside of the breeder’s facility was clean and the barn where the dogs were kept and bred appeared to be nice too. She talked about how it was heated and air-conditioned but when we asked to go in, she wouldn’t let us. This should have been a red flag, but I was enamored with Mally and knew I was going to take her regardless.

Mally is 3-4…her actual age isn’t known because I got no medical records, AKA papers, etc. When I asked who the current vet was, the breeder told me the name of the facility but then said she wasn’t completely sure. Hmmmmm.

Anyhoot, I called the facility and they had no record on Mally. I also called a couple other vets in town and got the same answer. So, I took her in to get her vaccinated and examined and come to find out, she had an intestinal bug that’s only gotten through drinking dirty water. In other words, Mally was a breeder in what I now think is a puppy mill and her care was obviously minimal.

When Bill and I got her home, she spent the majority of her time in the space between my bed and wall (about 12″ in width) and unless we physically moved her, she wouldn’t go outside. However, once she was out she seemed happy. She played with Eddie and really responded to him. After all, she was used to being ONLY around dogs and it quickly became very clear to us that she had little to no human socialization. The first time I tried to smooch on her and give her a squeeze, she backed away in terror. (Now yes, I understand that men have done the same to me, but we’re going to focus on Mally right now 🙄).

It’s been a bit over 3 months now and I’m still struggling with her. She has made great strides but this is definitely a marathon I’m facing and not a sprint. She will come when I call her about 60% of the time (which is up from 0), finally responds to treats (she had never gotten any), and cuddles with me and Edward on the couch whenever I’m reading or watching the boob tube.

Buddies!

For some reason though, she has a lot of trouble after dark. No matter how well she came in for me during the day or responded to my voice, it’s a HUGE battle at night. I’ve put leashes on her (recommended by a trainer) when she’s out so I can grab it to reign her in, but Mally is fast! (She will NOT pee or poop while on a leash so I can’t just hold it…and it took us weeks to even get a collar and leash on her 💩). Bill and I both worked on leash training and she’s fairly good when she’s walking through the neighborhood but fights it in the yard dreadfully.

Yesterday morning, I got up before dawn to get some videos done for my classes and Mally wouldn’t come in from peeing in the yard with Ed…she usually does in the morning because she gets a goodie right after. It was still dark and she reacted like she does at night and because I was going to be late for class, I finally had to leave her out (with shelter and water) and my son came right over and got her in.

Why O? Well, Mally doesn’t like men. Period. She’s scared of them and when Bill would come into my yard, Mally would immediately run to the door. It’s the same thing with O: right when he walks into the yard, she runs inside. There were times when Mally submissively peed when Bill or O was around but that’s lessening. Yea! Her vet is male (and a 30 year old hunk with a man bun…I’m hoping Edward gets a rash or something soon so I can see him again 😳) and it took him quite a while to cajole her out from under the bench in the examination room when she was vaccinated. Even my pop can’t get her to come over to him and he’s pretty much a dog whisperer.

So, my quandary is this: I’ve been talking to dog behaviorists/trainers as well as an expert in Corgis and based on their experiences with puppy mill ‘bitches’, she believe that Mally will never be truly socialized around humans or completely lose her fear of men.

What she’s experiencing is akin to the human version of Reactive Attachment Disorder which is what neglected, un-nurtured kids develop because they don’t have a consistent person to attach to or be loved by. You see this in cases of children raised for their first couple of years in orphanages or by parents who have no emotional investment in the child at all. In Mally’s case, she was always in the barn with other dogs or outside in a field with them…she didn’t know what living in a house or around people was like. Further, I don’t know if she had ever had a leash on her besides the time when she got her C-Section and the only attachments she had, her many litters of pups, were taken away from her right at 8 weeks and all at the same time. When Bill and I picked Mally up, the breeder gave us a small baggie of food and said: “Well…Bye!” No affection towards Mally at all. She had no love…cuddles…family…socializing. She was simply a commodity for the breeder and her only job was to make money. Period. It breaks my heart to think of what her first 3 years were like.

And, like kids, once a dog gets past a certain age, the ability to attach becomes less likely. According to VetInfo: “Dogs with attachment disorder may exhibit any number of behaviors such as hyperactivity, they can be destructive, eat too much or too little, become clingy or unable to bond with their owners, and they can be impulsive.” I see a lot of this is Mally: her eating is not consistent, she hasn’t bonded with me, and she can be VERY impulsive.

At a few points this summer, I thought about surrendering Mally to a Corgi rescue that’s a couple cities away. I know she needs professional training and although I talk frequently to one, it’s not the same as her being trained directly by a specialist. I thought about this again yesterday after having fought through a couple of issues with Mally these past few days, and I am frustrated, scared, and angry.

I question if I’m ‘enough’ for Mally in terms of training and giving her a good life. I’m frustrated I’m not making more progress with her and want so bad for her to be happy. And I’m angry as hell that a ‘breeder’ would raise and use a dog like Mally and that this is happening all over the country everyday. But, I talked to the trainer and she said this: “Kristi, Mally will never be a ‘normal’ dog. She’ll always be different than what you’re used too because of her early upbringing. Some dogs like her can be ‘saved’ in terms of living a normal life, and some can’t. Based on Mally’s time with you and years of neglect, she most likely is one who will always carry some issues with her.”

L went on to say that her rescue would take her and do their best to rehabilitate her…one of the rescue workers wants a female anyway and would give her a good home. So, I thought and thought about this. All day I kept asking myself what was best for Mally.

Then I realized what I have been doing wrong all these months; instead of that question, I rearranged some words and asked myself this: “What would I want if I were Mally?” And it hit me. I have been Mally in terms of feeling broken and unloved and different and scared and needy. Period. What if ma would have given up on me when I broke down? I wouldn’t be here typing this now. What if my sissy wasn’t there for me when I text her 911 (which is our code for ‘call me now!’) so I can vent and cry and get another perspective on things? What if O didn’t tell me how wonderful a ma I am and how much he loves me? What if my pop didn’t send me sweet texts everyday to let me know how much he cares? What if…what if…what if…?

Mally does need training, and I’m trying the best I can. But I realized that she needs a lot more than that. She needs love. Understanding. Patience. And someone who will look at her and tell her she’s special. I want her to know that no matter what, I’m her ma. Through the good and the bad.

Yes, I’m going to continue to get frustrated and wonder what I’ve gotten myself in to. But last night we were on the couch (watching Bridezillas…thank God I don’t have a daughter to worry about marrying off 🙄) and she looked up at me and I saw a glint in Mally’s eye for the first time. Her eyes didn’t look sad or defeated or empty. They looked like they had some life and love in them. Just like it took me a couple of years to build back up from breaking down, it’s going to be the same with Mally. Will she ever be ‘normal’? To be honest, I really don’t know what the fuck (sorry, ma 😳) that is anymore.

But I do know this. Mally is mine and I’m her mama. I’m going to stick by her and love her and do my best with her. We’re going to journey on our issues together…a bipolar ma with a neurotic pooch and Edward leading the way. And, I think it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

Kristi xoxo

The Adventures of Me and Ma!

So, I know my sissy is going to be very jelly when she reads this because instead of being able to experience what I did this past weekend with ma, she was lolling on a gorgeous beach with her wonderful hubby and 2 beautiful grandkids. I feel so bad for her. 🙄

Anyhoot, ma and I have been going out to lunch on Fridays so she can have fish. Yes, she grew up Catholic. And no, she is not a practicing Catholic but for some reason, she likes fish on Fridays so go figure. We’ve been going to the same place for a while now (a GREAT old bar that has the best fish ever! 🐡🐟🐠) but decided to try something new this past week. As always, I told ma to choose the place and as always, she said it was up to me. There’s no use arguing (been there, done that) so I said: “Ma, give me 5 choices.” She did and I made my choice. However, she grimaced at each choice I made until I picked the one (0n my 4th try) she actually wanted anyway. My ma is a clever woman.

The actual bar we like to eat at…I LOVE bar ambiance!

So, we head off to Pop’s (another great bar…I love love love bar food…😐) and are faced with a crisis right off the bat. The only tables available are the tall ones with the high bar stools. I chose a 2 topper (restaurant speak for 2 seats…I waitressed through my last year of college 🤨) and helped ma clamber up the stool. It was horrifying at best and I just knew she was going to topple off this backless seat and I’d be blamed. Luckily, she spotted an 8 topper that had seats with backs. She scaled down where she was sitting like Edmund Hillary coming down Everest, and once again, I helped her get on top another god-forsaken chair. She got settled and I said: “Ma, despite the debacle of getting you seated with 40 truckers looking on in horror, the fish smells really good!” She agreed and when the waitress came by for the order, ma said: “I’ll take the shrimp basket.”

Heh? All week I heard about how excited she was to eat fish with me and she orders shrimp. I said: “Ma, didn’t you want fish?” And she said, quite snippily I might add: “Kristi, shrimp are fish.” Oookkkaaayyy! They aren’t exactly the Walleye she was craving, but I guess any old crustacean would do.

We gobble down the food which was delicious and since it was ma’s turn to treat, she had to get her purse off the back of the chair to pay the bill. This required her turning around on a chair she could barely balance on while telling me to leave her alone, she could do it herself. After saying a quick prayer promising God that I would never curse again if ma didn’t fall over, she wrangled it up and asked me what she should leave for a tip. I said: “Five bucks, ma.” She looked at me as if I’d said, “Ma, give the waitress a kidney and let’s blow the joint.” However, since the poor was called to our table numerous times (by ma…), I knew she earned every bit of that fiver. Just sayin. 😳

When I got her back to her house, she said: “Kristi, you need to come in…I have an emergency I need you to deal with.” Thinking she was experiencing a carbon monoxide leak but wanted to eat first, I cautiously followed her in. She grabbed her iPad and said: “I can’t get past level 47 on this game you had me download.” I said: “Ma. For fuck sakes…THAT’s your emergency?” Yes…it was. She had tried over a dozen times to get past that particular level and asked if I could help. Since I’m on level 317 myself, I did it with a few minutes to spare. It’s hard to describe the look on her face right then. It was part pride, part gratefulness, and part disdain.

This particular thrift shop has a huge amount of doll inventory…they are terrifying to say the least.

The next day, I wanted some stuff for my basement and we went to a GREAT thrift shop in town that has a bit of everything (please Lord…let there be thrift shops in heaven…😬). As ma was looking at the clothes, I was digging around in old books and furniture. All of a sudden I hear a loud “KRISTI?!!!” I said, just as loudly, “MA?!!!” She kept shouting (yes sissy…shouting…😐) until I tunneled through the hodge podge of crap and found her. I said: “Ma, what the hell??” She said: “Do you like this top?” No, I didn’t. Did I tell her that? No, I didn’t. After all of the energy she put in to getting my opinion, I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was ass ugly.

After this adventure, we went to an antique furniture shop that looks like a hoarder bought anything and everything he had ever set eyes on in the last 100 years and threw it all in the very old, wooden, partly dilapidated building. The aisles (I use the term loosely) are approximately 10 inches wide and since most asses are bigger than that, you have to wiggle through them like those bubble tea beads through a straw. Ma and I had just gotten down the first aisle and had to trek back because a couple was coming down it the opposite way carrying chairs. After they were through, we went back in. To make a long story short, there were 12 fucking chairs in the set these boobs bought and instead of telling us they would be making numerous trips (6), we kept traipsing down the same aisle again and again until they’d come tramping back and we’d have to backtrack. Why didn’t we go down another aisle? Because this place is like a maze…one way in, one way out. And believe me, you don’t want to get lost unless you have provisions for at least a week.

Anyhoot, I had previously found the perfect piece for my basement (an AWESOME marble topped chest!) but didn’t have the cash at the time to pay for it. When I had pulled out my card days back, the salesman looked at me as if I were another life form using a currency never before seen on earth. He said: “We don’t take those things.” OK. Got it.

I told the guy I’d be back that weekend and he said he’d write out the sales ticket for it and have it waiting for me. The price was $150 but I got him down to $120. The owner of the shop, born during Lincoln’s time, was there when ma and I arrived and when he saw I had gotten a ‘discount’ he asked how I had managed that. I looked him straight in the eye and said: “I flashed the guy my boobs.” He didn’t flinch…just nodded and started loading it up. Apparently I’m not appealing enough that he wanted a rerun of that particular show. And no, I didn’t really flash ’em the first time around anyway. At least that’s my story…and I’m sticking to it. 😲

See the furniture piled up in the windows?? NOTHING is secured!

As the old geezer (who I will be referring to as Red from here on out) was loading up my stuff (that man might be old but my goodness, he’s strong 😳), ma found some vintage quilts. She asked Red the price and when he quoted it, she balked and put them away. I pulled her aside (the best I could in a 10″ space) and whispered: “Ma, for piss sakes, you’re supposed to bargain!” Instead, she and Red started talking about our town (since they’ve both been around almost from it’s conception in 1829) and while I was leaning on a dusty, moldy something or other in a building that wasn’t air conditioned on a 100 degree day, I began to get a bit delirious. Not really wanting to be a part of their conversation but needing something to take my mind off the heat stroke I could feel coming, I made a couple of quips I found amusing. Red didn’t. He looked at me like I was nuts. Which…actually…as we all know…I pretty much am. 🙄

Finally, I rasped: “Ma, we need to get going…” and I took matters in my own hands: I got my chest, 2 vintage quilts and an AWESOME vintage lamp for $150 less than marked. After we shook sweaty palms on it, Red looked gobsmacked. I think the heat had made him delirious too (believe me…this guy is known to be a bit of a shyster and I guarantee you he made plenty of money on this sale).

So, we were all loaded up and I was getting ready to pull away from the curb when he comes trotting out. I rolled down my window and said: “Whatcha need?” And he said: “What all did you get?” I told him and he rolled his rheumy old eyes and said it had been our lucky day. Yes. I was lucky in that I didn’t think I’d have to visit the ER that evening after all. When he was walking away I shouted: “I thought you were coming back to ask me out!” He looked back at me and said: “No.” Well…that hurt. 🙄

Anyhoot, ma and I always have fun when we’re together and we got laughing so hard at times this past weekend we almost peed ourselves. However, just because I love my sissy so much, I’m going to let her schlep ma around next weekend. Not that I need a break or anything. Just because I want to make up for what she missed while on vacation. I’m all heart.

And ma, you are the best…I love you so much and if you can’t get past another level, holler at me. K?

Kristi xoxo

“Gold Digger” ~ Kanye West

Photo by John Guccione http://www.advergroup.com on Pexels.com

So, what is it about a million dollars? Isn’t that what so many of us wished for when we were little…or older? “Gee, if only I had a million dollars, I’d be set!” Then, we’d make a list of everything we wanted: a mansion with a pool…the best car out there…not ever having to work again…all the clothes we could ever want…and the list went on. You know, I still hear people say this (except in this economy, it’s more like “I wish I had a couple million dollars” 🙄) but I think about whether or not it’s really the thing to want…to desire…to dream about.

Yes, I do believe money can buy certain non-tangeable things like security, better safety, and the such, but what else can it REALLY buy? Happiness? Love? Fulfillment? Respect?

Hmmmmm…now that’s I’m a cough-cough…tad older…I’ve come to realize that what I truly want in life isn’t connected to me winning the lottery at all. Over the last few years I’ve come to see money very differently. Much more utilitarian…and not so much as what dreams are made of.

Let’s take happiness. Now, some might argue that money CAN buy happiness. “Look…it’ll get me a boat, a truck and a cabin in the woods…that’s happiness!” And that’s right. It will get you the stuff you want that can make you happy…but is it the moolah that’s actually causing the happiness? I’ve known people with these things and they still aren’t happy. Still aren’t content. Are actually, still wanting more.

I remember when Hubby #1 (shutty, peeps… 😬) and I moved from our orange and brown, 1 bedroom, teensy tiny kitchen, hideous bathroom apartment to our trailer! I was in heaven! My gosh…no more neighbors clomping around upstairs (although we did have the best neighbors possible 😀) and no more parties blaring downstairs. No more having our allotted parking place being taken over by some boob who had no idea what a ‘reserved’ sign meant and no more traipsing up rickety stairs juggling 3 bags of groceries and an armful of school books.

Now, we had our own driveway…only a couple of stairs…no more people surrounding us with only a piece of drywall separating us. It was heaven on earth. Even the avocado color scheme was a welcome change from the darkness of what we’d had. Could we ever be happier? Would we ever out-grow this nirvana? Well. Yes.

The trailer that was HUGE when we moved in suddenly became just as full and cluttered as our apartment had been thanks to my penchant for thrift shopping. Whenever I found something that I just knew we had the space for, I bought it…not realizing that each item actually did take up an area of finite space that was shrinking with each trip I took in the car. And the avocado color scheme I thought was so beautiful and fresh and nature-y? It started looking like someone puked up spinach all over the place. 🤢

SOOOOO…we bought our first house! YEA! Now this was IT! I would never want anything else than our own house. This is where we’d raise our family and have dinners for our grandkids and throw parties and do whatever it was we wanted. And, it was all well and good. Until 2 weeks after we moved in and Hubby said he wanted a divorce. Heh? We finally ‘made it’ to where we had dreamed and he wanted out? Hmmmm.

Why is it we still live in a society where having money means ‘you made it.’ Because someone else’s bank account is bigger than yours, they just have to be happier. I’ll share a secret with you. I believed this for a long time. Then, my world got shook up and I finally realized what I really needed…and what could actually be in my reach if I worked at it. It didn’t have to be a dream…it could be a reality.

Instead of dreaming about being a millionaire, I decided that I’d rather be loved, happy, and content with a feeling of purpose. Just 4 things…instead of a million bucks.

For so long in my life, I thought of myself as being unlovable. Face it, after 2 years of being sexually abused, 3 divorces (yes, you may roll your eyes 🙄) and a couple of break-ups, it’s pretty hard not to feel this way. After Hubby 3 and I divorced and then J and I had our tumultuous relationship, I felt more unlovable than I ever had in my entire life. Hubby and I still talk daily…and lately he’s told me how much he regrets leaving and that he still loves me. No. He doesn’t. At least not in the way he’s talking about. He loves what we HAD. He misses the life we had built. He’s found out that doesn’t happen often. BUT, he doesn’t love ‘me’. If he did…well…he wouldn’t have walked out that door.

Then I had J for 3 years. Manipulative, gaslighting, cheating, emotionally and physically abusive J. And, I loved him. A lot. (Doesn’t this just show how irrational our emotions are?) And, he said he loved me. A lot. It’s took quite a while to realize this, but no. He didn’t. You know, I’ve never laid a hand on my son…and yes, he was always well behaved. I’ve never laid a had on my poochies…and yes, they are cough-cough…’sorta’…well behaved. And why haven’t I done that? Because I love them. You do NOT hurt what you love. (PLEASE don’t give me a lecture on physical punishment for kids…that’s a can of worms I don’t want to open and discuss…but when every single medical association, psychiatric/psychological association, school organization, etc. ALL say that physical punishment is wrong, I’m in pretty good company. Let’s leave it at that.) NOW, I will admit this: there were times I was so angry or upset at my boy or dogs that I had an ‘urge’ to lash out…but my love for them stopped it.

Then I was alone for a year…during a pandemic where I had only myself to be with for the great majority of the time and I got to know me in a way I never had before. I started liking me. Even loving me. And that felt great! That I could give myself what I needed was something I never knew was in me. Then, Bill came ambling along and he loves me too. We love each other when we’re crabby and tired and stressed…and not just when it’s good. He’s never threatened me with anything…talked poorly about me to others…blamed me for things outside of my realm of power…and has always either asked for or accepted forgiveness. At the age of 54, I finally can see what love is from the inside and the out. That, my grasshoppers, is worth more than a million bucks.

Contentment. Now that’s an interesting word. Synonyms include being comfortable, satisfied, and fulfilled. I was really content when I was married to Oliver’s dad. I loved loved loved our life together because I was raising a family which had always been my dream. But I also worried that this could be taken away from me if I didn’t measure up to the standard of the his family. And believe me, this standard was high. So I worked my ass off for this ‘contentment’ and maybe that tainted it in a lot of ways. B’s family is a cutter-offer type of family. There’s a divorce? Cut the person out of every picture that ever existed of them even though they are the mother or father of your grandchildren. Piss one of them off…and you’ll need to beg for their attention once again. So, yes, I was content in raising my family and being a mommy…but I was also worried it was an illusion at times…something that could be taken away with any stumble on my part. That was a shit-load of pressure…particularly for someone who’s bipolar and stumbles her way through life anyway.

I’m content now. Finally now. It’s not because I’m with Bill or because my career rocks or because I have the best kid in the universe or because I live in a cute house or because I have family that loves me. It’s because I’m OK with me. Satisfied with me. If I had to be alone, I’d be OK. I’ve come to realize that. I don’t worry about stumbling anymore. Because, for the first time in my life, I’ve learned to pick my own self up and keep moving forward.

And purpose? I think we all have this question that’s been around since the beginning of time: “What am I here for? What’s my life all about?” I’m going to be honest here. I always saw myself as another Oprah…someone who asked the hard questions and dug deep into issues and looked great on TV. That was my dream. Still is actually. But, my purpose is 2 fold: to be a great mom and to be a great professor. Am I great? Depends on what day you ask my son or whether or not I let a student make-up an exam. But I feel like I’m doing what I was put on this earth for. Along with the purpose of teaching, I know I was meant to teach as much as I can about mental illness. I believe everything happens for a reason…I also don’t pretend to know what those reasons are. There’s so much I don’t understand. But, I finally understand why I have bipolar…because I can use my opportunities of teaching to help others understand mental illness and start to break the stigma of it themselves. Does this make up for what this fucking (sorry, ma 😐) bipolar puts me through. Well….no. It does not. But, does it make it more tolerable…knowing I’m using it for others to learn from? Yes. It does.

And then there’s happiness. The word that’s so different for everyone but so widely sought after by us all. Let’s see…I’m loved, content, and have a purpose in life. Yes. I am happy. Happy with me. Happy with my life. Happy with what I have.

If I were to win a million dollars tonight, my world would change. I could go out and buy to my hearts content. But…would I alienate family? Would I suddenly quit my job and forget the purpose I have? Would I have to worry about how to spend it…who to spend it on…what charities to give it too? WOULD this windfall make me happy? Is this the end all/get all in life? I don’t think so. Not anymore. Because, my sweet peeps, I’ve got all I need right now.

Kristi xoxo

Niraj's blogs

Sharing my own experiences to help others

techclanz

technology for innovators

K9 University

K9 University

Avisha Rasminda

Hi, I'm Avisha Rasminda. Twenty years old.

quenchingthelongthirst

Transitioning to converting my thoughts into blogs than talking to myself about them

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Thinking and Searching

Zaden Zane

A blog about wildlife, nature, the wonders of Britain (and the world), bike-riding, life in London... and my crazy life in general.

You Lil Dickens

Words To Think On

rethinkingscripture.wordpress.com/

Facing The Challenges of Mental Health

shelleypsych

AQA Psychology Linear course

Silent Songs of Sonsnow

"I have enough time to rest, but I don't have a minute to waste". Come and catch me with your wise words and we will have some fun with our words of wisdom.