The Buck Stops Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kristi xoxo

“What becomes of the broken-hearted?” ~ Jimmy Ruffin

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.

Kristi xoxo

“…Revved up Like a Deuce, Another Runner in the Night.” ~ Bruce Springsteen I

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

Kristi xoxo

“But She Was… Blinded by the Light” ~ Bruce Springsteen

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

‘Nuff said.  🤓

Kristi xoxo

Do You Want to Check that Bag?

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?

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The manifest from my family’s voyage.  My son and I also looked it up on Ellis Island when we visited NYC.

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?

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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.”

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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.

Kristi xoxo

 

 

“I’m stranded all alone in the gas station of love, and I have to use the self-service pumps” (~ Weird Al Yankovic)

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.

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Photo by Loe Moshkovska on Pexels.com

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?

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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.

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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?

Kristi xoxo

 

 

I Never Promised you a Rose Garden.

So, I actually wrote another post for today, and was getting ready to edit it, when something inside of me needed to write this.  Having this blog has given me an outlet for so much of what I feel.  It really helps me to get my thoughts, feelings, struggles, ideas written down and out of my head.  And to have you, my sweet grasshoppers, read it, is just icing on the cake.  (Hmmm…cake.  Maybe I should send my son to Kroger to get one…).

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I started seeing a guy not long ago.  I’ve known him for over 20 years, and he’s one of those friends that you can go a while without seeing, but then when you do, it’s like no time has passed.   It’s just always comfortable.  We were on the same dating site (something I will never ever do again) and so I saw that he was wanting a relationship.  He asked me to dinner a while back, and I cancelled on him.  I didn’t know if I was ready to go out with anyone, and I didn’t want to send the wrong message.

Not long ago though I saw him, and after a friendly hug, I decided to ask him out.  He’s a really kind man and I was compelled to see where this could go.  I’m a very very firm believer that the best relationships begin as friendships.  You won’t always have the passion and you won’t always feel a lot of love for the person during difficult times.  But, if a friendship is the foundation of the relationship, you have a strong base to keep you together.

So, we went out a couple of times.  I loved it.  I felt so comfortable and we talked about everything out there; and because I’d known him for so long, we shared so much about our lives and ourselves right off the bat.  We cuddled, held hands, smooched but that’s all.  I wanted to take it slow.

After those first 2 dates, I didn’t hear from him much and finally I asked him if everything was OK.  He told me he had never wanted a romantic relationship in the first place (ummm…you were on a dating site…see the irony?), and said he had told me that during our first date together.  I don’t remember him doing that.  I was too busy admiring the flowers he got me and the dinner he had prepared.  Hmmm.

I started crying after receiving that text.  To be brutally honest with you, I thought he had really wanted to go out with ME.  That he was the one that was really excited about it.  That he saw me as a catch.  In fact, my little brain thought he had had a crush on me for a while.  Obviously, I was deluded!  (Not the first time that’s happened…’nuff said.).

I called my mama and she was really taken aback by my reaction.  She said: “You weren’t in love with him.  Why are you taking this so hard?”  I think I have an answer to that:  because it’s another rejection.  Another person saying, “You aren’t good enough.”  Another man turning down all I have to offer.

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Maybe that’s the problem though.  All I offer.  Because I offer a hell of a lot.  Not only because I’m such a feeler and giver (on our first date, I made a bracelet for his daughter and baby quilt for his new granddaughter), but because I can’t hide who I am.  I can be a bit mouthy, a bit excitable, a bit…well, too ‘much’.  But how can I not be who I am?  It’s like when I was a kid and a teacher or my parents would tell me to calm down.  I couldn’t!  Literally couldn’t!  Just like now, it was simply a part of who I am (bipolar) and there’s no switch to turn it off.  I wish with all my might there was.

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Now, I have a confession to make.  It’s a toughie, but I need to say it.  I asked my ex, J, if he would like to try our relationship again, with counseling to help us deal with our issues and understand how to manage each others mental illnesses.  Listen to what I’m saying grasshoppers…I asked HIM to try again.  I’m gonna say it again: I asked HIM…the guy who cheated on me (with someone that works at my vets…guess I’m gonna get a new one now since I’m sure everyone knows the drama).  And his answer?  To me asking HIM…giving him a chance…telling him we can get help?  It was no.  In fact, it took him a while to say that…I guess it’s quite the ordeal to tell me that I’m not wanted.

Another confession.  I’ve never broken up with a guy before (including my hubbies).  They have always dumped me.  Rejected me.  Damn.

Look, I know I’m different.  I’ve known that since I was a very little girl.  I know my mental illness was showing itself in childhood…we have proof of my depression and mania.  Actually, now that I think about it, this guy didn’t lie to me about not wanting a romantic relationship until after I encouraged him to read this blog.  After 20 years of friendship, I thought it would be OK.  Hmmm.

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This is what I wrote in the 3rd grade.  I was already questioning why I was alive and how there was too much going on in my head to hear more than one thing at a time.  

I know I’m not a bad person.  At least I don’t think so.  I think I have a lot of really positive qualities.  I’m smart.  I’m extremely loving.  I’m loyal as hell.  I’m forgiving.  I can make a mean ass pot of chicken and noodles, and my bathroom is always clean.

For fucks sake (I had to get that word in for ma and sis), I know this rejection shouldn’t hurt so much.  Shouldn’t make me question myself so much.  Shouldn’t make me cry and wonder if I’ll ever find a partner again.  I know I’m OK alone.  But I don’t want to just be OK.  I want someone to love me back.  I need that connection.  That partnership.  That feeling of belongingness that is inherent to us all.  And I’m not gonna lie:  celibacy sucks.

So listen up, God.  I’m 53 years old (I know you know that but I just wanted to emphasize it) and I am ready for my forever.  If you want to send them along, I’ll toddle over and meet them halfway.  I promise.

Kristi xoxo

 

Learning to Chill.

So, I’m in my 2nd week of working from home.  Last week, I moved all of my on-campus classes to an online learning format, and this week, I’m starting to interact within my classes, while getting my students acclimated to this new way of doing things.

First, I know some people are complaining greatly at having to social distance, and that’s understandable.  It’s boring.  Inconvenient.  Tedious.  But, I just have to remember that it’s keeping me, and my family, away from the virus as much as possible.  And so importantly, that the healthcare workers on the front line…the business owners who have had to shutter their operation…the people that have been laid off indefinitely…those are the ones truly making sacrifices.  Some that will last the rest of their lives.  How sad that is…and how thankful I am to only have to stay home and teach online.  I’m blessed.

Having said that, I’m not good with inactivity.  Being bipolar, I’m used to UPS and DOWNS.  And to be honest, there’s not much in-between for me.  Actually, just not in terms of mood, but for everything.  I either love a food or hate it (beets and iced tea come to mind).  Want to watch a movie 100 times (Rocketman!!), or turn it off after the first 10 minutes.  Decide to buy that shirt the minute I see it, or pass it by with a small ‘blech’.

So activity is the same way.  If I get up and started, I can do so much and feel mega-productive.  But, if I allow myself to laze around a bit, I feel even more lazy and then guilty about being lazy and then feeling guilty about feeling guilty about being lazy.  Yes, it’s a circular trap I find myself in, and it perpetuates itself like rabbits.

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What is ‘lazy’ exactly?  And why does it have such a bad connotation in our society?  It doesn’t matter what word you use to describe it (idle, sluggish, slow, etc.), being lazy goes against what we are told to do:  and that’s to get things done!  Multitasking is the new way we need to go about our days!  Right??  If we aren’t doing at least 2 or 3 things at once, we’re not doing enough; we’re just couch potatoes.  Loafers.  A lazy-bones.   And look on Facebook.  People try to ‘out task’ others by listing all they did that day.  “I got my house re-plastered and painted by 6:00 a.m.  And now I’m getting ready to run a quick half-marathon before finishing the book I’m writing.”  “Oh yeah?  Well, I did all of that as well, except I ran a full marathon, the book I’m finishing is a tome, and I did 23 loads of laundry too.  But whatever.”  Sheesh.  When did it become a status symbol to knock ourselves out so much?

I’m learning that lazy isn’t a bad thing after all.  Being slow is OK.  Idle.  I’m tired of tiring myself out all of the time!  I’ve been working since I was 16 years old, and have tired myself out for the great majority of my life.  I cut the grass more times than necessary.  I vacuumed the living room even when it didn’t need it.  There were only a few dishes in the sink, but by golly, I did them, because God forbid they wait until more are added.

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And what did that get me?  Not the martyrdom I wanted.  It got me nothing.  Well, nothing beyond being able to say “Look what I did today.  See…I’m not lazy!”  Does anybody remember what my backyard looked like in 2006?  Or that my rugs were extra fluffy a few years ago?  Or that my dishes still had a bit of yolk on them last week?  Probably not.

I think I know where this came from.  My self-esteem has never been great; as I’ve mentioned, I was always different from other kids and making friends was really hard.  So, I started to believe that to fit in or make friends, I had to DO SOMETHING in order to show my worth.  It wasn’t enough just being me. I had to GIVE.  Sometimes it was an over-abundance of time I gave.  Or presents.  Or money.  Or energy into proving “LOOK AT ME!!  I DID ALL OF THIS FOR YOU!!  NOW DO YOU SEE HOW AWESOME I AM?”

The problem with this is you start to understand it’s never enough.  And you start to feel resentful of the fact YOU feel you have to give.  But where is that resentment directed?  Towards the people YOU feel you have to give too.  So unfair to them.

My mother-in-law from Hubby #2 (my son’s dad) was perfect.  Martha Stewart perfect.  So busy…productive…self-sacrificing along with being a perfect gardener, cook, parent, and believe me, the list goes on.  She’s an amazing woman and I love her so much still, but she was a hard act to follow.  Especially since we lived right next door to her and her accomplishments were seen everyday.  To feel worthy of hubby, I felt I had to keep up.  Do just as much, if not more, to show I was ‘just as good.’  Or even just plain old good.  I’d be exhausted by the end of the day, and not feel any sense of accomplishment.  Just wondering if I did enough and being frazzled about what the next day would bring.

In my last relationship, I knew something was wrong from the start.  I have great intuition and usually trust it.  However, my heart just happens to be so much stronger, and it often prevails in romance.  Because he was still in love with his ex, and was still in touch with her regularly (although I was told I was paranoid when I’d ask him about it), I truly believed that if I did enough…gave enough…proved myself enough, it would be the catalyst for him to love me instead.  So I did.  I gave all I had.

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Literally.  All of my energy and time and emotion and forgiveness and money and gifts and home and everything else you can think of.  And you can see where that got me; after all, I’m writing this as a single woman.  When we broke up (well, when I walked in on him with another woman…I guess that could be considered a break-up), I reminded him of all I did give him.  I fancied the idea that if he remembered all of my sacrifices, he’d realize my value.   He didn’t.  It was all for naught.

Now I’m trying really hard to work on understanding my value comes from me; from just being me.  Not from what I give or what I do.  But for who I am with the person…what I feel for them…what they feel for me.  I don’t have to ‘buy’ my worth; dammit, I’m worthy as I am.

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So I’m learning that it’s OK to be ‘lazy.’  To read on the couch for hours and get lost in a book.  To cuddle with my pooches and nap with my arms around them.  To putz around in my sewing room and take my time making something; not just to get it done and checked off a list, but to enjoy the process of cutting and sewing and creating with the fabric.  To scroll through Facebook and see my past students show off their new baby.  I think these things are more meaningful and more memorable than making sure my check-list is a tad longer than yours.

And with relationships?  Yes, of course I’m still going to give (when my Prince Charming arrives).  But I’m going to give of ‘me’…of who I am.  I’m not going to work and work and work so he can say:  “Wow…I need Kristi because she does this and gives me all of that.” I want him to say:  “Wow…I love Kristi for the woman she simply is.”

Now that I think about it, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard those words before.

Kristi xoxo

 

A Personal Buffet :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kristi xoxo