So, I’m changing the focus of this blog after thinking long and hard about it. You know, my sissy and I spent Sunday together (making macrame’ leaves…we can’t show them to you…they were pretty bad 🙄) and we did a meditation together and really talked about some things. She made a point I’ve really been thinking about and couple that with what I’m learning in my mindfulness/meditation class, I’m ready for a change.
First, T said: “Kristi, you over-analyze things too much.” And…drum roll please…I do! Part of that is being bipolar and having a ___ brain (I was going to say the f-word but restrained myself 😬) that fires differently…I ruminate, worry, go over things again and again in my head while beating myself up. I’m tired of that! Plus, I studied Psychology for years and have taught it for almost 30…analyzing is what we do! So together, I am either in the past, in the future, or trying to force everything to mean something. It’s too much. And, more importantly, there’s no longer a reason to do it.
In mindfulness, you live in the present…the here and now. I’m going to be 55 this week (holy shit that sounds old 😐) and don’t want to spend the next 55 years of my life not being aware of my time now. My pets and my students and my home and my friends and my family and my colleagues and my runs and my walks and my activities…the list goes on. I want to be in each of these moments as they are happening…because I’ve come to understand it’s that moment that really matters. Or almost all that matters!
When I started this blawg, I did it for a few reasons: I wanted to have a place to work out some things which writing helps me to do. I also wanted to show that those of us with mental illness have the same problems and love and work and family stuff that everyone else does. We aren’t weirdos or curiosities. We’re people struggling in life like everyone else with one added ‘thing’.
Finally, I started this right at the beginning of the pandemic when I was stuck at home with Ed and Dottie and going a little bonkers with all the quiet. This gave me something outside of school and I love it.
But, I’m putting a lot to bed today. Like, the past. I’ve made so many mistakes in my life and screwed up so many things…and continually beating myself up over them or thinking I can make things different by typing about them isn’t what I want to do anymore. The past…it’s over. I can celebrate the good from it…make peace with the bad…and work to be mindful of my life right now.
T and I talked about ‘putting it on a shelf’…you know, like you ‘shelve’ something to think about later. But what if you put something on the shelf and let it collect dust? Why would that matter? So, I actually got a shelf and have a jar and paper. When I get upset or need to vent or need to say something that no one else needs to hear, I’m writing it down and putting it on the shelf. Literally. This visual really helps me to understand that what’s behind me is ‘there’ but no longer affecting me like it has.
I’ve written a lot about the men that have been in my life and I haven’t always been kind and that’s not fair. I have never been in a committed relationship where I didn’t love the guy more than anything at that moment and all are special to me. I have had 3 marriages and 2 serious relationships that all have given me so much…my son, laughter, love, passion. Whatever problems we had, I was just as much to blame and probably even more so a lot of the time! I never want to leave the impression that I was the victim…because I wasn’t. And I apologize if things looked that way. I could fill up a fucking football field with little pieces of paper noting my mistakes and it wouldn’t be enough.
In my class this week, we learned that we need to view mistakes as part of our learning process and to see them as getting us closer to our goals. Further, our mistakes help us to make better choices and decisions next time (Shauna Shapiro”Good Morning, I Love You”). Isn’t that a neat way to look at them?
So, from this point on my blog is going to change a bit. I’m going to write about current issues, my life TODAY, things I’m doing in my classes, outings with ma and sis, etc. And I’m excited about it. 😃
I’m mostly delighted about this though: letting go of all of this is freeing. It truly is. Forgiving myself for all of my mistakes is also needed and I think I’m almost there. You know, it sounds so silly or cliche’ but meditating and relaxing and learning to be mindful are all making me see my life so much more clearly. That I need to embrace today. Love people today. Learn something today.
So, bye bye past. You are on a shelf and I might glance at you now and then but I won’t let you control my life. I’ve learned that I’m the driver of it and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
I love you, peeps…thanks for joining me on this ride. 😍😍😍
So, I was thinking a lot today about what I would have changed in my life if I could go back in time…you know, have a do-over. ‘Member when we were kids and we did something we didn’t like: a painting where the eyes didn’t line up or missing the kickball on the first pitch. When that happened, we could always have a do-over; just wad up that paper or take another pitch and suddenly, things were set straight. Wouldn’t that just be fucking awesome to be able to reverse your life a bit whenever you needed and get things done right the second time around?
If this was possible, and I could go way back, I really don’t know where I would start! Hmmmm. Maybe Kindergarten? Instead of watching the other kids and trying to figure them out, I could just jump in the fray and simply be me. Or, when I was in 2nd grade and my teacher (who really was a sweetheart, but strict) wouldn’t let me wear my pink ‘see behind glasses’ I got in a box of Alpha-Bits that day (and sis wanted them but had her own real glasses). They were so cool and I felt like a movie star in them. But, Mrs. M. said they looked silly and I had to take them off in class. Being the overly sensitive girl I was, this crushed me. I translated this to be that I looked awful and disappointed my teacher. I would like to go back and change my perception of that day (as well as my bangs and God awful clothes my ma made me and sis wear) and understand that not everything in life is personal. That not everything revolved around me. I think that’s when I really started having a stronger sense of being self-conscious; it was the first time I can remember where what I saw wasn’t what others did.
Or, I could go back to my 5th grade class where I was badly bullied; one day he caught me behind a tree and wrapped his hands around my neck. I was petrified but didn’t speak up because of his threats. If I had, would I have been more apt to stand up for myself later in life too?
I would definitely go back to Jr. High, which was actually the best couple years of my teenager-hood, and not try out for pom poms. I sucked at it. BIG time. Not only did I have no sense of rhythm (like I do now…not) but I also looked like a Burger King sack in my red and yellow skirt and vest that was created from the most icky piece of polyester ever known to man. Believe you me, that is something I would love to forget!
And high school. Oh Lord, where do I start? I think during my freshman year, I would want a do-over that probably would have affected all the rest of my life: not caring about what other kids were saying. If I hadn’t listened to them making fun of my looks…my body…my clothes. If I hadn’t held my head down instead of up that year. If I would have walked with confidence and shown pride in who I was, would that have changed the trajectory of my life?
I would definitely go back and run out of the psychologists office (for you newbies, he sexually abused me for 2 years) the first time he touched me. Period. I also would have let my mom report it, and get that son of a bitch punished for what he did to all of us girls. And letting that be a do-over might have made me more positive about relationships, more trusting, more open, less ‘needy’ (for lack of a better word…that one sounds pretty bad) and much more likely to better understand I don’t have to give anything to be loved, I can be loved just for little old me.
Another thing in high school I would change (besides dying my hair orange along with my sis when we used too much Sun-In and then lied about it to our mom) would be my grades. I sucked in my classes because I simply didn’t care. I wanted to pass notes, doodle in my notebook, decorate the cover with Mrs. So and So to see what it would look like if I married any of the guys I drooled over. I wanted to read novels instead of textbooks, and I wanted to spend time at my grandparents playing cards, riding bikes, and shooting baskets rather than doing stupid homework. See, I love animals and I think I would have been a great vet (if I got over puking every time I see blood) who did a lot in terms of animal rescue and care if I would have gotten great grades and a scholarship to university.
And as an adult? OMG. Can you have a do-over on a decade or two? Hmmm. I would definitely do-over marrying Hubby 1 (I know, they are so freaking hard to keep straight…I have flashcards in front of me to help). We were so young and stupid when it came to what a marriage entailed. And with Hubby 2? I wouldn’t have avoided conflict like I have a tendency too, but would have faced our problems head-on instead of letting every little thing build up to an explosion that was way too much to handle. And Hubby 3? I would have drawn much stronger boundaries in terms of his motorcycle club and our life. Sitting at home every weekend, and most nights, really wasn’t much of a marriage…in fact, it was pretty darn lonely.
I definitely want a do-over with J. The first time he was cruel to me: bye! Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out! Or, at least the first time he cheated: Buh Bye! I would do-over the last time I saw my nephew and hugged him tighter. So much tighter. I would have fought how a threatening student was handled in regard to his treatment of me; I would have gone way further (like ma wanted us too, badly) in clearing my name, which up to that point at school was literally perfect after 21 years of service.
Doesn’t this all sound so freaking good? Doing all of this over so the related issues simply don’t exist anymore? It would almost make life perfect, wouldn’t it? Taking care of these pesky things that might haunt us to this day.
But wait. Let’s really think about this a tad bit more. What if I had jumped into the fray in Kindergarten? Would I have just followed anyone after that, or still have marched to the beat of my own drummer? What if I would have reported the psychologist and been put on a stand and torn apart by a sleazy lawyer? Would not being believed devastated me even more, with the lesson ‘never trust authority’ learned as well? And what if I would have looked at those jerks in high school and said, up yours assholes. Would I have gotten worse treatment for that?
And doing my homework? Why would I want to go back and do that for piss sakes? Because I did screw up so bad, I went to community college and it gave me a love for how they allow people to find their footing while being in a smaller, more comfortable classroom. It opened up so many possibilities for me and proved I could actually succeed in school. If I would have become a vet, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of the thousands of students that have been in my classes and all who have become one of the most important parts of my life. When I say I love my students, I mean it.
Hubby 1 and I had no kids so there’s nothing connecting us now. But does that mean our marriage wasn’t worth it? Or, did it help me go to Hubby 2 with more maturity and realistic expectations for us? And my God, I would never ever do over my marriage to Hubby 2 no matter what it ended up like: I got my boy. And Hubby 3? He actually did show me a new world and to be honest, he helped me to see that the men who look to be the meanest or toughest, are often the softest and sweetest; and that you have to get to know anyone before you can make a determination as to who they are.
And J? Hmmmm. That’s a toughie. He really is the one who haunts me the most. I think it’s because of all we went through…all he put me through. Actually, it’s time I took equal responsibility: all I allowed him to do (and I was no angel either). But you see, we had really great times too. So many little jokes, and affectionate names, and things only he and I could understand and laugh about. I could bawl in front of him, sing my loudest, talk my dirtiest and he accepted it. He didn’t judge. I cherish the time I spent with him and his kids, because I felt like I was getting a 2nd chance at a young family again which I loved. And anytime I’d say, “Can I ask you something?” he’d always say: “You can ask me anything.” He was very open to hearing me, listening to me. Were those times worth the bad? I’m starting to think in some respects, they were.
I was telling my son about this post while he was rummaging around the basement and here’s what he said about do-overs: “Every decision you have ever made has led to where you are right now.” So many of my decisions in life have been crummy…so many of my perceptions have been skewed. But I’ve learned from them. Sometimes suffered because of them. And I am who I am. These decisions have taught me compassion, how to listen, the value of education, the importance of always saying I love you before saying goodbye.
But, there is one thing I would like a do-over on. And I would take it if I could. Asking for help when I knew I was really spiraling downwards in my teens instead of channeling my sickness into the ‘crazy’ Kristi who partied. Going to a psychiatrist to be diagnosed with bipolar so much earlier and then put on meds which would have lent a stability to everything else. Taking off the masks I had to wear to hide this mental illness I knew was inside of me, but I was too much of a dumbass chicken to face. Not being ashamed to let out the tears instead of pasting on a smile. Being able to say “Hey, I’m mentally ill…that’s just a part of who I am” instead of saying “Hey, I’m trying to be as perfect as I possibly can because it diverts attention away from the imperfection inside where at times I don’t know what the hell is going on in my head and I’m scared out of my fucking mind that I’m crazy and this mania will never stop and the depression will get worse and worse until there comes a day where I simply give up.” Would have made a big difference, huh?
Look, I know this isn’t possible. No matter how much I want it…how much it would have eased the burden on ma, O, sis and my family…how much it would have made my life easier, this is definitely one thing that will never get a do-over. But maybe that’s OK. Maybe I had to go through all of this until I was ready to face it, have the courage to talk about it, open up and speak about it, and finally write about it. I have you peeps tell me that reading about my experiences helps you; that it makes you feel less alone and more accepting of yourselves. Helps you to understand it’s ok to ask for help. That it’s all right to take off your masks. A do-over would take this away from you, and you know what? That’s something I just won’t allow to happen.