“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

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

Photo by Matt Hardy on Pexels.com

So, it was a long weekend of reflection, ruminating and crying…something a bipolar woman like me is very good at. Go figure. 🙄

I was talking to ma about how my last boyfriend moved on so quickly and seriously and how rejected I felt. He ghosted me after an argument where we both said things we shouldn’t have. However, I truly believed it was a cooling off period and he would come back so we could talk. I tried to talk to him once myself and didn’t get an open response so waited for him to make a move. Living 2 doors apart and the time we spent together along with things we went through had me convinced that this was the guy that was going to be the one to stick around and work on what we were building. Once again, the old refrain holds true: I was wrong.

It hit me this weekend when I saw him with his ex in the house I thought he was buying for ‘us’ so that we could have a balance of togetherness and independence and do the relationship ‘right’…not living together already but living close. This is going to be interesting now.

I lied to myself after J and I broke up. After that fiasco, I told my son (who is very strong emotionally…he obviously takes after me 🙄) that I would never let my heart be broken like that again. Never. And I was living up to it…for a while.

The rejections I’ve experienced in my life make me very hyper-sensitive (for lack of a better word) towards them and I think I know who was the biggest rejection of all: me.

My Theories of Personality class and I were discussing Anna Freud today and the various defense mechanisms we might use throughout life to mitigate internal stress. Three of them really smacked me in the face for some reason and made me think about the weekend: denial, distortion, and delusional projection explain so much to me about how I lived my life for decades.

You see, I always knew something was wrong with me…I’ve mentioned that before. I got help in high school and that led to 2 years of sexual abuse by the psychologist and understandably, that was a HUGE rejection of me as a person as opposed to an object. When B and I were married, I thought “this is it!” This is the guy I’m going to spend the rest of my life with and build a family with no matter what. In other words, despite the fact I had a mental illness, I was going to build that life perfectly come hell or high water.

So, I ‘denied’ everything that pointed to me being bipolar. Mania? Nah…I’m just really really ‘happy’ right now. Depression? Nope…not me. I just needed to clean more or make a big dinner. And then to deal with the imperfection inside my mind, I ‘distorted’ my reality in that I figured if the OUTSIDE was wonderful and perfect, then the INSIDE would be wonderful and perfect. I was perfect in a lot of ways…our house was fastidiously clean, dinner was always on the table at 5, holidays were a huge to-do, my room mothering was like no other (teachers fought to have O in their class since my class parties were legend 😳) , I parented the crap out of my son and loved on him until he was blue in the face, and pretty much created this ‘delusional’ world where everything was great. Super. Wonderful. Perfect.

I’m not going to lie…it was tough as fuck to do this. Sometimes getting out of bed took ages and I had to force it and then other times, not going through the roof took all the control and energy I had. The worst part? This charade obviously didn’t work…no matter how hard I tried. Why? Because charades are a game…not reality.

Hubby 3 accepted me completely…sorta. He accepted me completely as long as he was happy and settled and content. If I tried to talk about needing help or other issues, I was told: “You don’t need that…you’re perfect like you are.” Bless his heart…he meant that and thought that was what I needed to hear, but what he didn’t know was how devaluing that was for me. He wasn’t seeing ME. He wanted me to be the perfect one. He didn’t want to know that I was broken too. When our lives began going on different trajectories, he decided he needed to choose between his motorcycle ‘club’ and me and you know who won. I was thrown away for a group of grungy guys who drink beer, belch, ride Harleys and think they’re contributing a lot to the world. Ok. That didn’t hurt the old self-esteem.

J rejected me in the worst way possible and actually SEEING it made it that much worse. The absolutely most horrible and humiliating thing I’ve ever done in my life was to go to his apartment after this situation to ask him to work on things ONE more time. He rejected me (‘she’ was there 🤢) again when ironically, I should have been the one to kick his butt to the curb.

And now? It’s happened again. But the funny thing is this was a guy that I didn’t think would do it because it’s been done to him a lot of times too. It was like I finally found the man who could understand me. Would persevere with me. Would work with me. I did. I handled his ‘drinking’ problem…his anger issues…his trust issues. But he couldn’t handle anything about me? Women cheated on him with best friends and I’m so bad of a person that I’m left for saying 1 thing I shouldn’t have? Really? That’s how disposable I am as compared to others? Wow.

I threw my true self away for so so long in my life and I’ve had others do the same. I’m getting to where I feel unloveable. Or at least I’m loveable when they’re happy, but just not when I’m unhappy. They’re happy when I forgive their outbursts. Their anger. Their diatribes. But they can’t reciprocate. Really?

Maybe that person isn’t out there. I know I finally found her in me and am living as authentically as I possibly can (which is the only reason I can even write these things let alone hit the publish key). It took me about 35 years to do it and I’m wondering if that’s how much longer it will take me to find the person who accepts me for me…imperfect me who is going to fuck up and make mistakes. I’m ok with that me now. I hope someday I’ll find another who will be as well.

So, I realized I’m not just crying for the loss of another relationship that really meant something to me. I’m crying over the years I was lost to myself. For the hiding I had to do. For the daily performances I had to give. And I’m also crying for just how fucking hard it is to be the ‘real’ me.

Kristi xoxo

99, 44, 100% Pure Love. (Eddie Rabbit)

So, my ma and I were yacking yesterday, and we got on the topic of men.  I was telling her how I was still missing my ex and how I didn’t know what I did to my 2 date wonder to make him run so fast.  She said: “How do you know it was something you did?”  Hmmm.

As my logical brain (not huge, just sayin’) tried to process this information, my emotional brain automatically blamed myself for the end of not only those, but all my relationships.  Now here me out:  3 divorces (shutty the mouthy), an ex partner (who I thought was my soulmate), and some fizzly dates that probably never should have happened.  And, my sweet grasshoppers, who was the common denominator in all of those?  Go ahead and shout it out, I can take it:  ME. Blech.

It’s been 6 months since ex and I broke up.  Wait.  Wrong choice of words.  It’s been 6 months since ex broke up with me.  And yes, he wasn’t the best to me during our 3 years together.  Y’all have heard that before.  Along with having had a really bad childhood, he has BPD and PTSD and I cut him a lot of slack because of all this.  The cheating, frequent abandonment, lying, gaslighting, rages, and you get the point.  I overlooked these or minimized them because of feeling sorry for him; because of how I was wanting so bad to make his life better than it had been.  Because I wanted to fix him.

black claw hammer on brown wooden plank
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Is that what we women do?  I know there are so many women out there that don’t feel this way, but I think those of us who are overly sensitive and/or strong empaths do.  It’s kind of what’s inside of us.  How can I say how ‘sensitive’ and ’empathic’ I am if I don’t show this to the men in my life?  To ex?  He served 3 grueling tours in the Middle East.  Didn’t he deserve to fuck up?  He has mental health issues with documented damage in his brain because of an explosion he was in during his time in Iraq.  Didn’t he deserve forgiveness from me for doing the things he did?  God knows I’ve made a LOT of mistakes because of issues with the mania or depression I’m cycling through.  Don’t I want the same treatment?

Well, maybe there’s a difference.  First, he was consciously aware of every single thing he was doing because he spent so much time covering it up, lying about it, or making me feel I was nuts for thinking anything was amiss.  If you are able to have that much insight into your actions, are they still the product of a mental illness you can’t necessarily control?  Hmmm.  That’s really one of the hallmarks of BPD, isn’t it?  The instability of the person in every area of their lives.  And with me, I know my impulsiveness has especially caused me to do and say things completely and totally wrong.  That’s part of bipolar.

So what gives?  I feel so much remorse after I’m in a better place, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive myself a fraction of what I’ve done.  I also take full responsibility.  I always blame myself, bipolar be damned.

rule-of-a-relationship-double-standards-dont-work-in-relationships-22325066

Is there another explanation for why I stayed then?  I think because of my drawers.  NO!  Not my knickers…but my brain compartments.  Like a lot of people, I’m very good at putting things in boxes.  You put the abuse, infidelity, horrible words in a drawer and try to forget about them, while allowing the drawer of good times to be open.  Remembered.  Looked at.

Ma asked me if I would ever go back to ex.  I truly, with all my heart, wanted to say no.  But to be brutally honest, I don’t know.  Not long ago, I really wanted another chance at our relationship and responded as such after he texted me.  He shot that down.  For him, it’s dead.  For me, some embers are still burning.

After J ‘broke’ up with me, I dated a lawyer for a couple of months.  Educated.  Suave.  Fun.  And I thought, OK…this could work.  And then, after a truly small issue that HE brought up, he got so mean with me (verbally…on the phone) that I couldn’t believe his venom.  But in retrospect, I know where it came from.  He and his ex have fought over their daughter for more than 10 years now.  They have been back and forth to court scores of times for such ridiculous things (and it’s the poor girl that’s in the middle of this mine field).  He talked about his ex-wife in such scathing, hateful, and cruel ways that it was always easy to see that anger about her in him.  I just hadn’t realized the anger was now a permanent part of him.

Then I had 2 dates with another boob.  We met for drinks one Saturday, and the conversation was good and he even hugged me goodbye.  When he did this, I ‘thought’ I felt a hand on my ass, but figured it was probably my imagination.  The next date was at his house.  When I got there, he hugged me and when I left, he hugged me, with his hand on my (guess!) ass both times.  OK, dude.  You are almost 60 years old, and it’s obvious (from other things he said…and let me tell you, that second date ended VERY early) you want a hook up.   Class act.

Then, my friend of 20 years that I asked out not long ago confounded me too.  I had so much fun on our couple dates together…I really did!  We had been such good friends and I thought building a relationship on that foundation would make for a great thing.  Obviously, it didn’t (shocker, huh?).  I  could see us together, and I was really surprised at how his rejection of me hurt so bad.

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Here’s what I’ve noticed that pisses me off.  In my life (and many other people have seconded this to me from their own experiences), men seem to have the upper hand in relationships.  In terms of me, why is it that when they wanted it to end, it ended?  Just because J (ex) was wanting to break up, why did we?  Why did HE get to make that decision?  I went to his apartment a couple of times to talk, and he literally would not let me in.  So, I looked desperate, needy.  But, if he came over here?  I would have the courtesy to listen to what he’d say, and others might see him making that step as being so humbling for him.  Men are pursuers, women are stalkers.  Men are ‘ready for an emotional attachment’, women are needy.  ‘Nuff said.

My friend decided he didn’t want a romantic relationship right now (better get off that dating site then, buddy), but I did.  Once again, his decision prevailed.  Ma asked me if I had talked to him about things, and I said no, not after that last text.  Why?  Because I would look too desperate.  Right?

But maybe this isn’t about gender (now don’t send me crappy messages about not liking men: for fuck sakes, I’ve married 3 of them and gave birth to one), but about those of us who are overly emotional vs. those who aren’t.  The over-emotionals  don’t handle rejection well.  We expect that others will treat us like we treat them, and understand relationships aren’t (or shouldn’t be) disposable.  We grasp the insight that relationships take work, time and effort.  Why is this so rare?  Shouldn’t this be the ‘rule’ instead of the exception to the ‘rule’?  Shouldn’t both people be part of the break-up like they were for the initial start?  Why can’t both sides have input without judgement?

If one more person tells me it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I never have a partner again (thanks for the optimism, peeps) I’m literally going to punch them in the face.  OK, not literally.  And not even a tap.  BUT, they will get one of my shitty looks…that’s for sure.

Look, I know it wouldn’t be the end of the fucking world.  I’m a bit smarter than that.  But I like having a partner.  Actually, I love it.  There are so many people that don’t admit that anymore.  Maybe they think it makes them look weak.  Or needy.  Or pathetic.  I’m not any of those.  How does wanting someone to love and have them love me back weak?  Needy?  Pathetic?  Isn’t that what life is all about?  Building those intimate connections that make us feel loved, secure, and content, with the knowledge that someone out there is crazy about us.  There’s even a phrase called “Poverty of Attachments”; according to this, I’m definitely poor.

sensitive

Maybe I am just asking for too much.  Maybe I will be alone.  But, maybe a guy will come into my life wanting me.  Not wanting what he can get from me, or take from me, or do to me.  But just wanting me.  With all that comes along with me being me.  Is my soulmate out there?  Does that even exist?  I don’t know the answer to that.  But I do know I’ll keep giving 100% in any relationship I’m in and work my ass off in it.  Maybe that’s good…maybe that’s bad.  But to be honest with you,  that’s all I know to do.

Kristi xoxo

 

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