“Just stop! Cause I really love you.” ~ Captain and Tennille

So, when are words not enough, and why am I thinking about this now? Well, the sweetie students in my Marriage and Family classes (shutty the mouthies 🙄) had to write their own original definitions of family and marriage, and what I got was great: some students insisted that blood defined a family while others agreed it was love/support/understanding that made a person family to you. In terms of defining marriage, I got a lot of people talking about commitment, loyalty, etc. and the word ‘unconditionally’ was used a lot. Then, one of my sweetie students wrote this: “What couples have is indescribable to me…it’s so much.”

As always, I was gobsmacked by this insight and she is absolutely right. How do you find words that encompass all that a couple has? How could words ever truly be enough? Our textbook (and I also saw this on spruce.com) states that: “…marriage is a formal union and social and legal contract between 2 individuals that unites their lives legally, economically, and emotionally.” Is this really ‘all’ that marriage is? A contract that unites people on these 3 levels? I don’t know about y’all, but there were times in my marriages (😳) where there was a lot ‘more’ to that definition.

I remember when O’s dad and I were married and how we faced a lot in our first few years together: O having severe asthma that led to hospitalizations, living away from all of our family at all and knowing just a handful of people in a strange state, ma being diagnosed with breast cancer, me going to graduate school, B working overtime so we could save up a nest egg since we were living paycheck to paycheck, and the list goes on. And this is nothing different…and much much less than other couples face…in that we ALL have sicknesses, financial issues, family trauma (and drama too), etc. that we have to deal with. It’s true that B and I were legally a couple, economically tied to one another, and had an emotional connection, but there was just ‘more’ to this time in our lives than what was seen on the surface.

We went deeper than just ’emotions’ and acted as anchors for one another…support. We sacrificed for each other and made decisions that put both of our interests out there. We worried and cried over O more times than I can count and held hands or hugged while we did…we knew we couldn’t live without him. We went ‘deeper’ than just the mental state we call ’emotion’. But what other word is there?

Then, I think about my sonshine. There is no way I could ever completely express the love I have for him…as John Candy says about his wife in the movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” (my ALL time favorite film EVER 😎), “Words just aren’t big enough for what I feel” and he was referring to his wife. Hmmm…think about that: words aren’t big enough. You know, I wasn’t a mama yet when I first watched this movie in 1987 (I was 5 at the time 🙄) and when John said this, I teared up. But when I watched it again after O was born, I got it. I truly got it. There’s not words that encompass all I feel for my boy. And there never will be.

I also think about my ma. The other day I told her that I forbade (my favorite word to use with her…she hates it 😐) her to ever die. Period. Yes, she’s 75 but she’s going to live to be 150…I won’t have it any other way. Anyhoot, how do I put into words what she means to me? What she’s done for me? How she supports me every single day of my life?

Being mentally ill is a challenge for me, but it’s just as big of a challenge for the people around me. Ma has been there through my ups and downs, and I wouldn’t be here today if she hadn’t nurtured me through the breakdown I had. I don’t say that lightly either. I don’t throw around the words: “Oh…you saved my life!” when someone brings me a sandwich. No. I mean…she SAVED my life. Literally. So how do I put all of that in a word? How do I define that dynamic? That support? That love? That commitment? Well…I can’t.

Today Bill and I are both getting COVID tests…he was exposed at work and we both have some symptoms, so he was home for the day. We were fixing lunch (I found out he finished off our chocolate chip cookies…I had words for that…🤨) and I asked him if he loved me. He stopped what he was doing and looked at me and said: “Why are you asking me that? You don’t know?” Well, yes…I guess I ‘know’ he loves me, but I need to ‘know more’ that he loves me. Does that make sense?

One bad thing about having bipolar is that my brain is never fucking (sorry, ma 🙄) off. It’s always on. And I don’t mean just ‘on’…it’s always on at full-blast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s constantly imagining, ruminating, wondering, fretting, deciding, etc. and so I told him this: “Yes, I know you love me…but what does that really mean to you?” Isn’t that a tough one to answer?

I don’t know if I can answer that myself. I know what love isn’t…it’s not manipulation, retaliation, distrust, disloyalty, etc. but what IS it? I guess that’s what I was after. You know, after you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you question so much in other ones. J said he loved me all of the time…everyday (except for the days he was cheating on me and sometimes, even then) so was what we had love? I look back and know I loved him, but have also accepted that he couldn’t have loved me. You don’t purposefully hurt those you love. You just don’t do it. I can’t imagine laying a hand on my son or dog…I can’t imagine ever saying something cruel to ma…I can’t imagine ever PURPOSEFULLY hurting anyone I love. So…maybe that’s why we say actions are louder than words…they simply ‘show more’.

When you think about it, words are finite…they have some definitions to them and then the entry in the dictionary ends. Maybe what’s important is to figure out what words mean to you, and then try to express that in any way you can…sort of like the Love Languages. What says love to me might be different than what says it to you.

Sometimes I think we get too caught up in words. We give words way too much weight. We give them way too much power. After contemplating all of this, I realized that words are something that we need to sometimes throw away. If Bill got mad at me today and said something hurtful, I’d still know he loves me. He’s human…he’s going to say unloving things just like I will. Maybe instead of getting bitter about this and racking up all of his ‘mistakes’, I could instead look at his actions all of the other time…his behavior…his loyalty…his support. Maybe we all need to work on ‘showing’ than on ‘saying’. Words can hurt and sting and destroy…no argument there. But actions and future behavior can heal that…if we let it.

Kristi xoxo

“Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.” ― Sarah J. Maas

So, in my sociology classes I lecture a lot about socialization and how men have such a small ’emotional’ box in terms of what feelings they’re allowed to show as opposed to women. For example, we talk about how women can show vulnerability, sadness, humility, nurturance, etc. in a way that men really can’t. When men feel these things, they often have pressure to suppress them…and that suppression can shift these normal human feelings into what men are allowed to show which is anger. There are countless resources about this and my male students talk about how they have been ‘forced’ in their lives to wear that ‘Mad Mask’ as well. In their papers, they write about fathers telling them to ‘toughen up’ and ‘don’t be so girly’ while validating the same feelings in their daughters. They talk about messages from their peer groups about ‘growing a set’ and ‘not being a pussy’ (no ma, I’m not talking about a cat 🙄). I’ve even had some come to my office and cry about how hard it is to maintain this tough exterior and it breaks my heart how they are deprived by society in expressing what they truly feel.

But, I’ve been thinking about this lately in regard to women and after doing some reading and contemplating my own behavior, I’m now convinced that women are in an emotional ‘cage’ too…however, it has to do with not showing negative emotions instead.

For some reason (perhaps having always wanting to be an FBI agent 😎), I love true crime shows and watched a great documentary on the JonBenet Ramsey case this past weekend. JonBenet was the 6 year old little girl who was murdered on Christmas night, 1996 in her home in Boulder, Colorado. When she was first reported missing, and then later found in the basement of the huge family home by her dad, the police immediately started to suspect her parents were guilty of the crime. They were very rich…she was a pageant girl (which apparently means her mom was a horrible person which she wasn’t from all accounts)…they called friends over for support after the discovery…etc. And because the police had this suspicion so early in the game, nothing could sway them until a man named Lou Smit worked day and night proving that an intruder was actually responsible for her murder and was able to prove it to a grand jury. Anyhoot, as the investigation was in it’s early stages, police officers talked about how ‘weird’ the parents were acting…how out of control Patsy seemed…how angry both parents were.

Heh? Are you fucking (sorry, ma 😳) kidding me? Tell me…how the hell are you supposed to ‘act’ after you find your murdered daughter and the police are focusing on the 2 people, for YEARS, who had nothing to do with it? Hmmm. When you figure out that nugget my sweetie peeps, let me know. In one interview, Patsy yells to the detectives questioning her: “I DIDN’T DO IT…FIND THE DAMN PEOPLE WHO DID!” Guess what, grasshoppers? I would have yelled a lot worse.

Anyhoot, why is it that when women talk about their anger, hate, jealousy, being offended, being distrustful etc. they are demeaned? Seen as being ‘bad’? Seen as being ‘wrong’? Even in the above, where Patsy had every single right in the world to act out, she was still seen as ‘guilty’ simply because of these normal reactions. If a man says he wants to kill whoever hurt his family…OK…damn straight. If a women does? Hey! Hold on there!

And then in everyday situations? I don’t know how many times I’ve repressed my anger at something said or done…just so I wouldn’t look ‘ugly’. You know, like a party pooper. Like a trouble-maker. I’ve had things said to me that I had every right to be offended by…but I have ‘gone along’ to get along. How sad is that?

Some studies show women are even hesitant to say NO in situations that are potentially dangerous so they won’t be seen as troublesome. I’ve seen that myself! I teach about sexual assault in some of my classes and talk about steps women (and men who get raped as well…we can never forget that 😥) can take to possibly lessen the chance of being raped. For example, I tell my students that if someone is following them while out walking, face them and say: “Hey! What are you doing?” in a loud, strong voice. A lot of my sweetie peeps titter…some even saying how embarrassed they would be doing that. When I ask why, they say it would make them look paranoid. My response: So?

As much as many men want to fit into the ‘manly man’ stereotype, women want to fit into the ‘nice gal’ one: Don’t rock the boat…Don’t show anger…Don’t yell…Don’t confront.

A few years ago, a man stalked me and then threatened to rape and kill me in a series of drunken texts. I went for an emergency order of protection which is, in the state of IL, supposed to run like this: The judge will hear the case for the Emergency Order without the abuser present. If an Emergency Order is necessary, a temporary one will be enacted while a date is set in which both the victim and abuser can be present, with legal representation, to then state their cases to see if a long term order can be obtained. (Illinois Department of Legal Aid).

When I went to my Emergency hearing, my stalker showed up…with his lawyer no less…and the judge actually allowed them to go ahead and present their side. Meanwhile, I had no one there…no representation…no idea what was going on. The lawyer (a previous student who must have hated me big time…go figure 🙄) attacked me verbally, threw papers down on the defense table where I was told to sit, and because of the breakdown I was in the middle of experiencing, I couldn’t take anymore even though I did call out 2 lies the stalker said which I proved. So bawling, I walked out and never went back.

I told others about what happened and they said it was terribly unlawful…I should get a lawyer and go after the judge who did that to me…talk to the State’s Attorney…blah blah blah. I did nothing because I didn’t want to look ‘angry’…unhinged…out of control. So, I did what countless women have done for ages…buried it and went on with my life while pushing those feelings down and taking them out on myself. Thank you legal system.

I also did this a lot with ma’s abusive ex (the fucking bastard 😠)…I learned VERY early on in their relationship that I had to be the nice, appeasing girl in order to not rock the boat. The consequence if I did? Ma could get hurt.

I experienced this with J as well: after his abuse and infidelity I was angry as hell, and justifiably so! But when I showed it, I was in the wrong. I just needed to ‘get over it’ and go back to my sweet self. 🙄 If I would have been allowed to express what I needed too and had it validated, the anger would have went away much sooner than it did. If you aren’t allowed to release something…you have to hold on to it. That, my sweetie peeps, isn’t healthy.

You know, I truly believe men and women both have emotional boxes they are forced to live in that greatly stunt them: men having to suppress the sweeter side, and women having to do the same for their tougher side. How sad is that? That both sides have to cover up these perfectly normal human emotions. That both sides have to ignore 1/2 of all they could be and then suffer the consequences: depression, anxiety, etc. Isn’t it sad how we are so freaking ‘gendered’ in our society still? How we have to follow in the footsteps of one path or the other? Yes, we’re getting better in terms of accepting those who are transgendered, but we are failing in releasing some of these gender stereotypes that guide so much of our behavior. I wonder when that will happen?

Kristi xoxo

“You gotta keep on doing it right.” ~ Brady Bunch

(*Note to my Sweetie Peeps: actual pics of Bill’s stuff was not used in order to protect the dignity of my beloved). So, first I want to say that everything is ‘all right’ between Bill and I even we experienced the greatest challenge to our relationship thus far. It was a bit dicey for a while but we (or actually, mostly me 🙄) overcame and are still going strong. You see, Bill is getting ready to move back to his hometown where I live and he has a new job in, and while I was at his bachelor pad this past week for a couple of days, I helped him pack. Ladies: you may now groan.

It’s funny how you have to learn things about people as you go. For example, we all remember Bill’s aversion to buying furniture…and food…for his pad, but now there’s something else I have to accept: my man is a pack-rat. Yes…for a man who has nothing of substance in his rooms, he has a fuck (sorry, ma 😐) lot of crap hiding in his closets.

We got started and I’m thinking: “This will be a cinch! How much can he have shoved away? We’ll be done in an hour at the most.” Ha. How naive I was. I got out a couple of hardback books that I could sit on in the hallway (no chairs…) while he began dragging out boxes that were barely held together with tape that was beginning to yellow.

I open up the first box he shoved my way and as I started rummaging around, he said: “Kristi…be careful…there could be valuable things in there.” Well, there wasn’t; it was full of books from the 1980’s he had promised himself he would eventually read. Some of the titles that stood out included “Electrical Technology” (this was sure up to date…the PC hadn’t been invented yet 🙄), “The Book on Running” which said, among other things, to run between 40-80 miles a week…no matter what (no pain, no gain), and “Intermediate College Algebra” which of course you want to revisit again and again despite the fact you graduated in the 90’s with a C in it.

So, I said this: “Bill…this box is full of books that are out-dated and would cause even Job to poke his eye out with a stick. I think they need to go in the ‘donate’ pile.” He said: “I need to go through every one of those.” In actuality, this meant that he had to open EVERY single book to show me a page or 2 in it that might be of interest to me or trigger a memory for him. Yes, seeing an electrical wire was not only a thrill but a trip down memory lane. Finally, after we got through only this one box after an excruciatingly long amount of time passed (🥱), I began to think this was going to take longer than expected.

Then came the box of Victrola records and come to find out, Bill no longer has a Victrola. I told Bill: “This box definitely needs donated since you don’t have anything to play these on.” Bill looked dumbfounded and said: “Are you nuts? These are worth money!” So, I looked them up on eBay and at the best, with what he had, he would have gotten about $30 for the lot. That is, if the person didn’t mind that the covers were seeped in mold with centipedes crawling out of the record jackets willy nilly, and the records themselves so scratched up, that anything played was going to sound like a screechy mess (much like my own singing voice 🤨).

What followed was a ‘discussion’ about memorabilia. Look, I’m all for keeping things that mean something to you…I have a nut cracker my grandpa had and it’s one of my favorite things. However, do we need to keep EVERY piece of memorabilia ever saved from his family for the past 3 generations? Hmmmm. So we compromised…he kept a couple of records that were the ‘least’ moldy. 🙄

Another box slid my way and while Bill sort of hinted around he didn’t want my ‘help’ anymore (“Kristi, is there something else you need to do?”), I nevertheless grabbed it and started my archeological dig. This particular box had papers in it. Papers. Not letters from gramma or recipes from mom or little prayers from Uncle Bob, but paper; for example, an empty envelope with a cellophane ‘window’ in it that was torn down one side. I said (very patiently I might add): “Bill…this box is full of useless papers and needs to be thrown away.”

He looked gobsmacked and ambled over to see what I would dare call trash (I called the entire box trash). He said: “Let’s save it.” Now it was my turn to stare at him wide-eyed and I said: “What in the name of all that is holy are you going to do with a torn, used envelope?” He said: “I don’t know. Tape it and use it?” With the patience of a saint, I looked at this man who might be my future hubby (why not…after 3 what’s one more 😏) and said, slowly so he would understand, “Bill…you can buy NEW envelopes at the Dollar Tree. For a dollar.”

So, the process went on. And on and on and on (😐). After we tackled the boxes, we moved on to his closet where I methodically went through every item that was hung up and told him to tell me which clothes he actually wore and liked…the others would be donated: the processing of every garment took him about 5 minutes each, and all of the clothes I thought would look so cute on him are the one’s he didn’t like. For example, he told me to put a dark blue, chambray shirt by Ralph Lauren that matches his eyes in the donate pile but to keep a solid white polyester number he wore to a dance decades ago. He tossed the hot looking Army green work shirt aside but kept a green polo that had some indistinguishable animal over the left boob.

By this time it was almost dark, and I was dusty, moldy, sweaty, hungry and cranky so Bill says: “Wanna tackle the kitchen?” I’m almost ashamed to tell you my response but since I’m always up-front with my sweetie peeps it was this: “Fuck no. Feed me now or I’m outta here.” He understood.

Anyhoot, he’s pretty much packed up and thanks to me, boxes and boxes of stuff was given to Goodwill. I know I’ll never…ever…help him pack again and I’ll monitor his ‘collecting of nostalgic items’ since he’s one ceramic figurine (without limbs 🙄) away from being a hoarder. Yes, we survived this first real test of our relationship. Yes, I forced myself to continue packing even though I would have given my adult coloring books for even a small break. And yes, if he ever asks me if he can go through my stuff…my answer will be no.

Kristi xoxo

Dear John.

Dear J,

So, I know you won’t read this and that’s OK…sometimes you need to say something even if no one is listening.

When you texted me the other day, I was pissed. It wasn’t necessary to say you were ‘happy for me’ that I was with Bill and how glad you were that I was finally seeing our ‘relationship for what it was’.

Look buddy, I saw our relationship for what it was at the beginning. Remember then? When you and I were besties and did everything together and took care of each other? Remember when you thought I was the most fantastic person who ever walked the earth and you made me feel like I was loved more than anything? I do. And I believed it. And reveled in it. And savored it with every piece of who I was. I fell in love with you so fast…so hard… because you were every single thing I had wanted.

Then, things started to change. You began to get impatient with me…cut me down…mock my art…make me feel insignificant in your life. And, like I always tend to do in any relationship, I felt it was all my fault. See, it had to be. Right? Because you were perfect at the beginning and I had to have done something to screw that all up.

When I first suspected you were talking to your ex-girlfriend, you assured me you weren’t. And I believed you. Totally. Because I trusted you. Totally. Then the angrier and more distant you got that first year, the harder I tried. Because that’s something else I tend to do: try when things look to be at their worst. What’s a partnership when the people don’t work on addressing their issues and fixing them? The answer is nothing…and both have to want something to work.

Anyhoot, you know how it was that first year. You also know how bad you were because you’ve apologized for it. But I was so attached. Not just to you, but to your amazing kids. J, I love them so so much. I never ever would have let myself get so close to them if I thought we weren’t going to end up working out. I never would have been a 2nd ma to them…never would have held them and kissed them and played with them and took care of them. I hope to hell you gave them the letter I wrote them when I sent your things to you. I want them to know they will always be a part of my heart. Always.

Was it silly of me to think we were still going to work after all we’d gone through in those early days? Was it stupid of me to believe it after you put your hands on me twice and then cheated on me throughout that first summer? Was it naive of me to think that was a one-off and you were truly repentant and that it would never happen again? I guess so. But part of that was your fault. You told me from the very beginning that I was going to be your last. That we’d be a family. That we’d be a forever. I’m one of those people who believe what people say…particularly if it’s something I want to hear.

And things were so much better for our last 2 years. So much. We traveled and grew together and solidified what were building. Yes, there were some bad times too. Some raging…some horrible words…some days when you would simply leave without contacting me for days. But it was better and I knew in my heart you were trying.

I excused so much of what you did because of your PTSD. I was so so proud of your military service…3 tours is truly amazing. I was also aware of your friends death that happened in front of you and the other terrible things you had to witness. Of course I took that into consideration during the times you were unstable. I also knew of your childhood. How dare your family raise you and treat you the way they did. No little boy deserves any of what you suffered. None. You were an innocent child and because of their own ignorance, selfishness, and issues they raised a boy who never had the chance to experience the unconditional love from a family which later provides the base for future relationships. I hate that for you.

So, I tried to give that to you and people thought I was nuts. I lost friends because I kept taking you back. But they didn’t understand how fragile all love is to you…how much you fought against it because you had never had it…how much history I was trying to erase for you. They didn’t understand how bonded I was to you. How connected.

And yes, I know my anger at your cheating and abuse was a problem during those last years. You would get so upset when I asked to see your phone or ask who you’d been talking to or where you’d been. In fact, you’d get so upset that I felt guilty for it, even though I was completely justified. Having to win back my trust was your penance so to speak…the price you needed to pay for the months of cheating that happened. Do you really blame me for that? Then, when you’d lash out at my ‘control’, I’d get even more angry since you just didn’t get it. You were in a similar situation once and told me you couldn’t handle it. Well, I was handling it the only way I knew how…trying to get out my anger and build up that trust.

I also knew how distant I was that last summer we were together. I think I had to do it though. I needed to know that no matter what happened between us, I’d be OK . And, I needed that lesson…didn’t I?

Then, we argued over your son needing some help. You know he does and I couldn’t understand why you were fighting something that he needed (needs) so desperately. I got loud and angry and said things I shouldn’t have…but someone needs to fight for that little guy. And it was my turn that night.

But, the ‘fight’ led you to someone else who I had the pleasure of seeing in the apartment I helped you move into, decorate, and furnish. That was fun. I had come over to tell you we both needed to let go of our anger and move forward. And you said this: “You’re a day late.”

Wow. It’s my fault you cheated again because I was a day late in coming to you. And then? You wouldn’t even speak to me. I haven’t heard your voice for a year now and it was the most humiliating thing in the world for the person who hurt me to disregard me so completely. Like I never existed. Like I was nothing. Like I was simply thrown away. Which actually, you pretty much did.

I mourned us for months and months and months. Every single night, without fail, I’d ask God to bring you and the kids back to me. Every. Single. Night. And he didn’t. Finally about 5 weeks ago, I asked God to just do his will and what he knew was right for me. Bill literally messaged me the next day.

He’s awesome. Totally. He’s kind and understanding and sweet and smart and funny. Actually, he’s everything you were in the beginning. And that scares the fuck out of me. I never would have believed in a million years you would end up treating me like you did, and Bill is having to show me again and again he’s not going to do the same. Bless his heart…he’s taking on this baggage and doing it so willingly and well. I love him. To be honest, it’s not the “Oh my God I’m going to die without him love” that I had for you. It’s different. Softer. Nicer. It’s safe and content and secure and I’m growing in it. Instead of shrinking. Damn that feels good.

So, it’s been a year since we parted and you told me I was finally seeing things for what they are. Let me shed some light on this for you: I loved you. More than you’ve ever been loved by anyone in your life. I took care of you. I loved your children. I wanted nothing more than to build a future with you. I even loved you enough to forgive you again and again and again. That’s what things were. It’s funny, isn’t it? I tend to remember the good we had, while you ruminate on the bad. You need to break that habit for your next love.

Anyway, it’s been a long time coming and I’m finally ready to let you go. Took a while, didn’t it? So here it is: goodbye, J. God bless you and the kids. I hope you find your happy. I hope the kids grow into the awesome people I know they can be. I hope they lead happy, healthy, safe lives and will one day hear my name and smile. If that’s all that’s left of everything I went through with you, then it’s enough. Truly.

Kristi

“The Bachelor”

So, I decided to drive to Indiana to see Bill this past weekend and had forgotten what a ‘bachelor’ pad looks like.  It’s obvious to me the poor man needs my help in terms of ‘decorating’ and…well…most everything else as it pertains to housing.  🙄

When Eddie and I were on our way to “The Pad” (Little Miss Dottie was with her brother…otherwise known as my sonshine 😎), I called Bill to chit chat while making the 3 hour drive.  I was confident he’d have everything I needed but clothes, so I was a bit taken aback when he said this:  “Uh…there’s no food in the house.”  

OK.  I get it.  No ‘food’ means there’s just the basics: crackers, bread, peanut butter, eggs…you know, the staples.  Ed and I split a hamburger outside of Terre Haute and I figured we would snack once we arrived.  When we got there, Bill was at work and after lugging in my bag and pillow (can’t sleep with out it…down filled…on sale at Kohls last year plus my Kohl bucks plus my 30% off made it nice and cheap or otherwise I would have said “Hell to the no” in terms of the price 🤨) I decided to get some food out because I was so freaking hungry.  And, as my family members know, when I’m hungry, I’m very VERY crabby.  😠

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Bill’s fridge. Nuff said.

So…I start opening the cabinets.  Plates…glasses…cutlery…pots…spice rack (minus spices😐)…and…no food.  Heh?  Did I miss it?  I scrounged through the cabinets again and there was…no food.  OK.  Stay calm, Kristi.  I tottered (because of my hunger I was a bit unsteady on my feet…or it could have been that I’m just unsteady on my feet) over to the REALLY nice fridge (meaning, better than mine) and opened her up.  And waiting to be eaten was literally 2 bunches of brown bananas.  Two.  That’s it.  There was NOTHING else in that son-of-a-bitch.  Now, I realize bananas are food…but they are the ONE fruit I can’t stand.  At all.  So…with a hopeful heart, I opened the freezer and lo and behold, there was…NOTHING. 

What I realized were these 2 things:  Bill is very literal and truthful when he speaks, and not everybody stocks up food for weeks on end like I do.  Sooooo…I gave him a jingle and he said this:  “Honey, I’ll bring you food after I get off of work…at 4:00 in the morning.”  Well…this was sweet but I was hungry at 8:00 in the evening.  So I stuffed a banana down my gullet and when Bill arrived the next morning he brought me the staples we all should have:  2 bags of sunchips, a Hershey bar, and a ‘healthy’ organic protein bar that has more calories than a full birthday cake and tastes like cardboard on top of cardboard.  *Note to family:  I said birthday cake.  If I’m not mistaken, I’m the next birthday we need to prepare for.  Just sayin’.   🙄

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Edward was quite comfy on the bed!

Eddie and I then looked for a place to sit and read for a while, and as I really looked around, I saw there was very little furniture.   Very little.  In fact, his house consists of a kitchen table and 1 chair downstairs, and a bed and 3 small chairs upstairs.  And that’s it.  Hmmm.  I decided on the bed and I think I made the right choice and as you can see, Eddie concurred.  When I called Bill again and asked why he didn’t have any ‘usable’ furniture…you know, like a couch or comfy chair, he said:  “I never really thought about it.”  OOOKKKKAAAAYYYY!  

Now when I first went upstairs, Eddie and I had to fumble our way in the dark to find the various rooms I assumed existed, and I started flipping light switches before a serial killer popped out.   I tried 5 switches in a row.  None worked.  I finally stumbled into what I assumed was some kind of bedroom, felt my way around like Mr. Magoo, and found a lamp!  Hallelujah!   Then, with that precious light on I found the other bedrooms.  However, since the switches didn’t work because there are NO ceiling lights in the whole place, I had to carry around a 6′, cast iron, wobbly lamp everywhere I wanted to go.  I really roughed it…sorta like Laura Ingalls having to carry  lantern.  (I’m actually quite proud I survived this 😉).

IMG_0038
The heavy lamp I drug to the hallway so I could see to type this.

So, Edward and I saw that one of the ‘dark rooms’ was Bill’s office.  This modern day technologically impressive room had 2 computers, both of which are quite old, a filing cabinet labeled ‘student grades’ (he is not a teacher), and unopened boxes.  I was actually quite dazzled by this.  

Then, I walked into the other room and lo and behold it was the ‘home gym’ he’s been telling me about. At first, I had to look away. Literally. The rug on the floor was like those optical illusion posters that if you look at it long enough, it ‘spins’ and makes you dizzy. (Since I was already a bit woozy from lack of nutrition, I was scared that looking at the rug would cause me to lean over the porcelain throne).

The “Home Gym” complete with the rug.

But WOW…the ‘gym’ was quite impressive and after phoning him yet again (when you’re hungry and dizzy you don’t really think about how annoying you’re being 🙄) I asked if he was selling memberships.  There was a push up board and some elastic bands.   Eddie and I were stunned at the equipment he invested in.

Yesterday, after lunch (which I inhaled), we drove to Lowe’s so I could scope out their plants. I put a couple in our cart and then saw my dream: an 8′ Fiddleleaf Fig tree! (If there was sound to this, it would be like angels singing right now 👼). It was only a hundred bucks (shutty) and I almost peed myself I was so excited. Until reality set it. My jeep can only haul 6 foot long stuff and you can’t bend a Fiddleleaf tree. Bill said it was going to be impossible to get it back to my place (which has furniture and food…just sayin’) so I came up with a solution: I’d quickly trade in my jeep for a cargo van. Doesn’t this make sense to you? I was excited at the prospect of being able to haul trees but Bill, for some reason, thought this was a bit foolish. Sheesh. So then, we came across a medium sized tree that could easily fit into my jeep! But, by this time I already had a cart full of plants and I do have a small one at home. I pondered and pondered and kept walking back to it, but told Bill: “I shouldn’t get that” which actually translates into: “Talk me into getting that so I don’t feel guilty about spending more money.” However, Bill does not fully speak “Kristi talk” yet and decided to buy the damn tree himself! I was sweet about it…telling him how great it would look on his floor (no end tables in sight) and was a good sport. Until last night when he got home from work, leaned over to give me a smooch (that’s all that happened, ma…I swear…🙄) and whispered in my ear: “My fiddlefig is bigger than yours.” I will NOT tell you my response to this…let’s just say it was ugly.

The much sought after tree. In Bill’s house. Not mine.

Anyhoot, it was really fun visiting Bill in his ‘natural environment’ and enjoyed roughing it for an entire weekend.  After this, I think I’m ready to camp out in Yellowstone.  But do you know what was the best part of the weekend?  No…not that you naughty peeps…it was this:  Bill and I being able to laugh at ourselves, laugh at each other, and laugh at situations.  

It’s been a long long time since I’ve had this.  You see, my last partner made me cry.  This guy makes me laugh.  And you know what?  It feels so good.  

Kristi xoxo

“If the sky that we look upon, Should tumble and fall…” ~ Stand by Me

From: Family Resources and their Psychological Series

So, my new love and I are doing great and we are so freaking compatible. Meaning, I like to sing and he doesn’t cringe when listening, and I like to be busy and he’s more then capable of keeping up. He’s like a ‘saint’ almost to me…he listens, cares, asks about me, worries about me, etc. and even though you might be thinking “This is the way it should be”, I’m thinking “This is the way I haven’t experienced in a very long time.”

My last partner is formally diagnosed as having Borderline Personality Disorder which is characterized by instability in mood, relationships, self-awareness, etc. and I saw all of these in our 3 years together. However, I also firmly believe he has characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder too (although I’m not ‘diagnosing’ him…only correlating his behavior with the disorders ‘symptoms’) which often co-occurs with BPD and is in the same ‘Cluster’ of personality disorders ( 😮)

Narcissus looking at his reflection.

Anyhoot, there has been so much writing about narcissism in the last few years and people with NPD have the following (per the DSM V):

  • Inflated sense of self-importance
  • Lack of empathy (when my nephew was killed, he said, while ‘hugging’ me: “I don’t give a fuck…I didn’t know him.”  Those words devastated me and this is the first time sissy and ma will know he said this.  Had they known while we were together, they would have hog-tied me and gotten me away.  And, he didn’t go to the visitation or funeral with me…I just had ma and my sonshine.)
  • Attention seeking behavior (we were at Kohl’s one day and he started spitting on the floor just to get my attention, make me mad, and give him an excuse for raging at me later.)
  • Takes advantage of others 
  • Has a feeling of entitlement
  • Are great liars (to be honest, I don’t think he ever told me a ‘truth’.  Ever.  Certainly not about loving me.)
  • Has no boundaries (zero…zippo…)

Now, partner had all of these and I’m not going to rehash our history…been there done that. However, the lack of empathy, lying, and taking advantage of others is something I experienced time and time again while we were together. The serial cheating he did after looking me in the eye and telling me there was no one else he was communicating with showed his lack of love and respect for me and taking advantage of me financially is something I’m still recovering from. I also saw his sense of entitlement in that he could cheat and still string me along…in other words, wanting his cake and eating it too. And self-importance? Uh. Yea. Thinking he’s God’s gift to women when in fact he’s…well…not 🙄

So, why am I bringing this up now? Because after being in this relationship for 3 years and experiencing the gaslighting, lying, cheating, etc. day after day after day, I still have effects from it. Bigtime.

There’s actually a condition that’s referred to as Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome and I’m struggling with it in my new relationship. People who have experienced loving a narcissist might have these things:

  • Question their sanity
  • Mistrust those who support them (every time ma and sis told me how horrible my situation was, I just thought they weren’t able to see the ‘great’ guy I thought he could be)
  • Feel worthless (yep…anyone who gets cheated on multiple times feels this way…)
  • Doubt their abilities to think or make decisions
  • Disconnect from their own wants and needs (what are those again?  According to narcs, we don’t have any 😯)
  • Give in to what the narc wants (New car?  Check.  New motorcycle?  Check.  New clothes?  Check. And on and on and on…)
  • Devalue their contributions (I never ever thought I was doing enough…because if I had been, he would have been better to me…right?)
  • Obsess on their faults and mistakes (I would ruminate over things I said and did again and again and again when he would rage at me, cheat on me, give me the silent treatment, etc. because there just HAD to be a ‘reason’ for this and it was undoubtedly my fault.)
  • Make excuses for the narcs actions (“But ma…he’s a vet with PTSD and had a shitty childhood…he can’t help it.”)
  • Spin their wheels trying to gain the narcs favor (I did ANYTHING I possibly could to make him see how important I was in his life and how much he ‘needed’ me.)
  • Obsess on how to the make the narc happy (they are never happy…ever.)
  • Idealize the narc (Ohhhhh…I definitely did this.)

Now, why in the name of all that’s holy did I ‘put up’ with this? Well…because narcs are ‘master manipulators.’ You see, they go through a pattern in relationships that involves 3 stages:

  • Idealize (when we first got together, he was EVERYTHING I needed and wanted him to be.  He made me feel like I was a ‘Queen’ and he held me on a pedestal that I thought would never tumble.  I truly believed he was my soul-mate and couldn’t imagine my life without him).
  • Devalue (as time wore on, he started to slowly pick at me…criticize me…hurt me…until I felt like ‘NOTHING’.  But see…he did idealize me so I had to have done something for him to devalue me…right? 🙄)
  • Discard (again and again and again…)

So why am I bringing this up now? Because this pattern and the Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome still lingers. There are actually ‘boot camps’ and classes and support groups and therapists who specialize in this type of abuse. Because it is abuse. It’s emotional manipulation, gaslighting (big time), and with me, some physical abuse. You just can’t ‘get over that’, and to have someone hurt you to the core where you question your own worth and sanity is devastating.

Here’s another secret ma and sissy don’t know: The first time I cut myself was in front of him…and he said this: “You can’t even do that right…it’s not deep enough.” So, later that week I made a 4″ cut that needed stitches (which I didn’t get since I didn’t want the docs to see it 😔) and the scar will never fade. He seemed pretty proud of that one.

How sick can you be to do that? I didn’t start the relationship out wanting to cut and commit suicide. But as I got deeper and deeper into thinking there was something very wrong with me because of his treatment, my self-worth and meaning vanished. Here’s what a lot of people say who were abused by narcs: ‘These people (and yes, women can be narcs too 😕) don’t just break your heart, they actually break your spirit.’ I believe this. The other day I was going through photos and came across a pic of me during the time of my breakdown (he was living with his other woman during this time and didn’t give a rat’s ass about the suicide attempt, etc.) and my eyes look vacant. Lost. Dead. Literally. It broke my heart to see how broken I really was.

I know Bill isn’t like this at all. He’s full of empathy and understanding and compassion and kindness and sweetness and he is open and genuine with me. I love this and feel like I’ve waited all of my life to get it. But here’s the thing: I don’t feel worthy of it. I really don’t. Partner did such a number on me I still feel ‘broken’ in a way…still feel if only I would have been good enough…still feel ‘bad’ about myself…am still struggling to understand why he targeted me. What is ‘in me’ that makes someone like him hurt me so bad? How he could do this to someone who loved him so fucking (sorry, ma…but you’ve said that word in reference to him too…just sayin’…😲) much. How in hell could he manipulate me so easily when I should have seen all of this coming?

In my heart I know Bill is different…I’ve even talked to 2 of his ex-wives and they have nothing but great things to say about him. He’s the real deal. But… and there’s always that BUT…how do I learn to trust again? Give myself totally when my heart has just healed from shattering? Believe his promises? His words? Feel worthy of having such a terrific man in my life? I wish I knew the answers to these.

Bill is aware of all of this…I’ve told him more about the partner than I’ve told anyone else and he has cried because of how I was treated. Even ma and sis don’t know the seriousness of things I experienced. Bill is giving me all of him. Everything inside of him. He’s putting it all out there.

I want to as well. And I’m trying my damndest. But I know it’s going to take time to fully trust and believe and understand that Bill won’t do what partner did. I hate that Bill has to almost ‘prove himself’ to me when he’s done absolutely nothing wrong, but it’s the baggage I carry after such a relationship. But you know what? If anyone can help me unpack that baggage and lay it out bare and get rid of it once and for all, I think he’s the guy. And I feel so fucking (sorry again, ma…this was just because…🙄) lucky because of that.

Kristi xoxo

“But I do know one and one is two…” ~ Sam Cooke (Wonderful World)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So, a couple of things made me happy yesterday and I couldn’t wait to talk about them with you. Here goes.

First, I attended a virtual workshop on how to ‘Humanize the Online Experience’ in your college classes. The speaker was wonderful and talked about how students need connection, rapport, feelings that the instructor is genuine and real, etc. I totally agreed with this but after a while, I realized that the necessity for this workshop made me sad. You see, this to me is a no-brainer. Really.

I guess I was a ‘humanized’ professor before the ‘humanization of professors’ was ‘cool’…suddenly, what set me apart is now ‘vogue’ in academia. I have always believed that unless you see your prof as someone you can connect with, you won’t learn a freaking thing from them. I’ve had bosses who I had no connection for…no respect for…no investment in because they stifled any hope of that happening. “We must remain objective and somewhat cold in order to maintain order” seems to be a common mantra amongst some college personnel. But why?

I’ve been hugging students longer than most of you have been alive (shutty the mouthy, please 🙄) and I’ve gotten looks from it over the years. I also share with my students. I share my experience of being sexually abused. My experiences regarding my divorces (another shutty, peeps🤨 ). What it’s like to have a mental illness. What it’s like to self-harm and attempt suicide. What it was like having a batterer married to ma for so many years. And what it’s like to get yourself out of a very very dark place in order to see the light again. I answer any questions honestly, and there are times when I cry with my students. When we’re tackling the hard stuff in my psychology and sociology classes, I might stop the lecture, walk over to someone who is tearing up, hug them around the shoulders (I ask…I don’t want to invade space), and tell them we are all supporting them. I had a dean once tell me I was ‘being too nice’ to my students and my job wasn’t ‘comforting them or being their friend.’ Well, my retired dean, it was. And still is.

When you take a gander at the definition of ‘teacher’ you get this (courtesy of Merriam-Webster): ‘to impart knowledge’ and ‘to instruct by precept, example, or experience.’ How in the world are you going to be an effective professor if you show nothing of yourself? Don’t help students learn from your own experiences? Don’t show students how their own bad experiences don’t have to shape them forever? How do you expect students to learn when they are needing ‘more’ from you? A smile. A hug. An empathic ear that listens and validates and doesn’t just spout platitudes. Why in the hell would a student want to open themselves up in anything less than this type of environment?

You see, something I was reminded of yesterday was how thinking and emotion go hand in hand. They both originate from the mind and both need each other to survive. If a students feels lonely or like an outcast…has depression or is anxious…is fighting a battle that’s not readily apparent, how can they learn? Seriously. How effective are YOU when you are emotional? How well do you do your job? Remember what you read? Retain what you heard? I don’t know about you, but when I’m in an ’emotional state’ it pretty much supersedes anything else. Period. And, if you don’t address these issues by not inquiring how students are doing or noticing a student who is suddenly quiet and down without asking if they’d like to talk…they aren’t going to learn from you. And, if they see that you can’t be real in the class…how the hell do you expect them too?

I think teaching is more than imparting knowledge. I think it’s building connections with people where they learn the academics but also more about themselves. Where they come out of a class feelings stronger. Better. More supported and supporting. More understood and understanding. And this is a NEW concept? Well spank me hard. I was ahead of my freaking time.

Then yesterday, a student shared a video with me of a woman doing a talk about how a professor helped her deal with her rape by speaking up about her own sexual assault. My student wrote “You are this professor to me”.

I’ve had students say a lot of things to me over the years (some not so hot 😐) but these words hit me the hardest. It showed me that opening myself up…providing students with the atmosphere to do the same…means something. Can do something. Something more than memorizing who the Father of Sociology is (Auguste Comte…my sweetie students better have known this 😉).

Look, I’m going to let you in on a secret. Teaching isn’t fucking Rocket Science (sorry, ma 🙄) . And for those who think it is, you’re doing it wrong. Just like when Michael Keaton is “Mr. Mom” and he’s dropping off his kid incorrectly at their school and a room mom tells him: “You’re doing it wrong.” It should never be ‘hard’ for a prof to connect. Build. Encourage. Motivate. Validate. And if it is…you just might want to go into something else.

Professoring is a people ‘job’. It’s bringing a room full of strangers together for 16 weeks and creating a bit of a family out of them. A family where they feel comfortable sharing and voicing opinions and asking questions and opening themselves up to what you say. It’s creating a place where students can be expressive…vulnerable…willing to learn from everyone around them. It’s not the brain that’s hard to use when professoring…it’s the heart.

But, I’m here to tell you this: when you can use the heart as much as the head in a classroom then you have come to the point when real learning takes place.

Kristi xoxo

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” ~ Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”

So, as my sweetie peeps know from reading this blawg, I’ve been single for about a year now and although I’ve been lonely at times…particularly during the March quarantine…I’ve also really liked it too. I learned so much about myself and have done things I didn’t know I ‘could’ do: electrical work (I just changed out my porchlight a couple of days ago!), painting the entire interior of my house, getting on the roof to clean out gutters, etc. I also learned that ‘I’m enough’. That I’m OK taking care of myself and that I can have a life (even travel!) with just me.

Then, Bill came into my life about 5 years ago. We were friends in High School and below is what he wrote in my senior yearbook (figure out the dates yourself, peeps…I’m not saying a word… 🙄), and then we really started talking a bit again after I had one of his family members in my class and I found out he was a relation to her! I found him on FB and friended him and we started commenting on each others’ posts.

Yes, at one point I wanted to be a music education teacher but realized I had no talent. Go figure.

But here’s what happened and yes, it’s going to sound cheesy 🧀 but what the hey…it really kinda is. So I pray every night before I go to bed and that’s when I have a tendency to ‘ask’ for things. I know…I know…but God says “Ask and it shall be given you” (Matthew 7:7-8). Of course I talk to him throughout the day as well but that’s more like ‘chit chat’…not a formal type of prayer. Anyhoot, since J and I broke up (i.e. since J cheated on me and I saw it right before my eyes 😐), I’d ask God EVERY single night to bring back the ‘good’ J and give us 1 more chance at possibly making it work. Every night. But a few weeks ago, I started to picture what that would look like and I saw myself being anxious, distrustful, on edge, stressed, etc. and realized I didn’t want that again. And I also realized that even if ‘good’ J came back (like that would have happened…I’m the one that always crawled back to him 😡), the bad could rear it’s head anytime. So, I prayed this (literally): “Please do your will with what you want me to have in my life. I’m leaving it up to you.”

A few days later, Bill commented on one of my blawg posts and I decided…just out of the blue…to message him and thank him for his support. One thing led to another and now…drumroll please…

I’m in love!! ❤❤❤

Yes. I know we all thought it was impossible and the chances were 1 in a billion I would ever be in a relationship again, but…it happened…and I’m really happy right now! First the good stuff: he’s adorbs (bright blue eyes that make me melt 🤩), very sweet and kind, very respectful, and fun. During the last couple of weeks he’s been coming up to see me (we live in different states right now), we’ve run together, hiked, worked around the house, watched scary movies, made dinners together, gone on ‘dates’, and had tons of great talks about everything under the sun (except the sun 😁).

I have truly, in all of my relationships, never ever felt like I could really be ‘me’ with a guy like I’m doing now. I decided before he came up the first time that I’d be real…that I would stop being a ‘pretzel’ and start being ‘me’. And I am. I’m not hiding behind anything. I haven’t done that in past relationships because I’ve always believed my ‘true me’ wasn’t enough. Wasn’t what I should be. Wouldn’t be what the person wanted.

But after this year of being single, I thought “What the fuck?” (sorry ma…🙄). I’m done pretending. Period. And here’s the thing: he accepts me. Totally! I feel genuine and ‘real’ and he’s doing the same.

Photo by Leticia Ribeiro on Pexels.com

Now, there’s always downsides, right? And the biggest? We both come with a lot of baggage. A lot. Steamer trunks full. Bill is a recovering alcoholic and when he’d drink WAY too much, he caused a LOT of damage because of his behavior (including DUI’s). One particular time was a couple of years ago at an event with his daughter…what he did was inexcusable.

He’s also been married more than a couple of times, and that’s always cause for concern as well. We both have trust issues…fears…insecurities…etc. And, just like I struggle with an eating disorder, he also has one too. Bill has binge eating disorder which has caused him a lot of shame, weight issues, embarrassment, etc. I can definitely understand that.

How are we going to handle these things? Bill is going to AA meetings daily and hasn’t drank heavily for a couple of years. He realizes what a problem it’s been in his life and is determined to never drink again. I make sure he attends regularly and stays on this path he started himself. As someone who comes from a family of alcoholics, I know what this addiction is like. My ma is a recovering alcoholic too, and she tells me she still knows if faced with alcohol, she’d most likely drink it. It’s a battle that’s never fully over.

He’s also seeing a counselor for the binge eating and issues that led to it’s formation. I’m really proud of him for that as well. I’m calling my counselor today and am going to start going regularly again after a hiatus during the quarantine. I think I’ll need some guidance through this time too.

Finally, our baggage. After what J did to me, I’m carrying a shit load. How do you go through a 3 year relationship with abuse, infidelity, abandonment, manipulation, etc. and not be affected? How do you learn to trust what someone says and not assume they are lying to you one more time? How do you kiss (Bill’s a GREAT kisser…just sayin’… 😘) someone goodbye and not worry about unfaithfulness? How do you know when someone says ‘I love you’ they aren’t meaning ‘I love what you give me and until someone better comes along?’

So we’re helping each other with all of this ‘baggage.’ But for the first time in a relationship, we aren’t just sharing the burden of this weight, we are allowing each other to unpack it. Look at it. Talk about it. Cry over it. And lock it away somewhere else where it’s no longer on our shoulder’s anymore. It feels so fucking good (sorry, ma…but you know how I curse when I’m happy 🙄…and mad and onery…and…well you get my point).

I love Bill with a feeling I’ve never really experienced before. It’s not just ‘giddiness’ or ‘butterflies’…it’s a feeling of safety and security and acceptance and kindness. It’s comforting. Relaxing. ‘Real.’ We have a lot of challenges to overcome and I know the road will be hard. But I also know this: I trust him to take this journey with me. And, if the journey proves too much for either one of us, I trust myself to be OK. What a sense of peacefulness that gives me.

Kristi xoxo

The Buck Stops Here

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

If at first you don’t succeed…

Anais Nin

So, I don’t have writers block because I’m always ready to yap about anything but I’ve been going back and forth on what I want to write (I’ve been grading my butt off 😳)…but this is something I’ve been thinking about and I’ll tell you why.

Here’s a question for you: how do you know when you can trust someone? When someone is a ‘good guy’? When you can open your heart again and not worry that it will be crushed? I always tell my students to ‘trust their guts’ because I’m a big believer in our intuition. If something doesn’t feel right…or sound right…or smell right (tossed that in there because I drank some milk that smelled iffy once and greatly regretted that action 🙄), then guess what? It’s probably not right. (Question: am I the only one that when I smell something bad, I want everyone else to smell it too??)

But, what if everything does look and sound and smell OK? How do you know you are beginning something with someone ‘good’? Kind? Real?

Here’s what sucks balls about being thrice divorced (shutty the mouthy 😳) and having my heart crushed by J. I have a hard time trusting my intuition in terms of men. You know, I don’t think my past choices were ‘bad’ per se, but I do think I was sometimes blinded by red flags my gut was pointing out but that I chose to ignore because let’s face it, emotions aren’t logical and hindsight is 20/20.

So, I’ve been talking to a guy I know from high school for about a week now and he currently lives in another state. He’s coming to visit me tomorrow (he’s going to sleep in the basement, ma…don’t worry 😐) and I have so many thoughts going through my head.

In high school, he was a really nice guy and although we didn’t interact much, he was always very kind to me. About a week ago, he commented on one of my FB posts and then messaged me and we have been talking, basically non-stop, for these past several days (he’s got a voice like butter…just sayin’ 🤨). He’s respectful, funny, understanding, sweet, smart, etc. and my gut is telling me “YES”, this might be ‘the’ one. When we first spoke on the phone I was nervous we wouldn’t have enough to talk about (hard to believe, huh?), but the more we talk, the more we realize how similar we are and we always have so much to say.

He’s actually an empath like me (not as strong, but very ‘feely’ 🤨), and when I talk about things, he validates and sympathizes and makes me feel heard and understood. That feels good. He’s a giver…something I haven’t experienced a lot of in a couple of previous relationships, and whenever we interact with one another, I smile. A genuine smile.

What’s the problem then? Well, I’m scared.

I got involved with J right after Hubby 3 and I separated and I know that was WAY too fast. I was crushed that 3 left me like he had and J really comforted me and helped me through that our first couple of months together. But then the ‘devaluation stage’ started and I went from being on a pedastal with J to being on the ground. And that happened very quickly.

I would never be with someone I didn’t see good in…didn’t see potential in…didn’t feel love for. I felt all of those things with J and I’m feeling all of them now. But, the good didn’t last very long with J.

He was lying to me from the very beginning of our relationship regarding his ex-girlfriend and taking his anger of being away from her (I now can understand that was the source of often seemed like having hatred for me) out on me. He also had some anger towards his ex-wife and I was the scapegoat for that as well. The thing is, I didn’t understand this at the time so I kept trying harder and harder in the relationship which actually made him angrier and angrier.

But I believed in J. I truly did. He can be so sweet and funny and kind and he’s extremely intelligent and that’s why I think I gave him so many chances because I had seen the good and knew it was there.

So now with this new guy, could it be the same? Him saying all the right things and acting all the right ways until…later he ‘changes’ into someone else? We actually talk about this (because he’s had his heart broken numerous times as well) and he says he will never lie to me, etc. But, how can I believe that? I’ve been told by hubbies that we’ll be together forever, no matter what. And, well…we all know what happened there 🙄. I was told by J he wasn’t lying to me (and he made me feel ‘crazy’ for thinking so…gaslighting anyone?) and after the cheating during our first year together, he swore that would never happen again either. He also would tell me I would be his ‘last’ since we’d be together…through the good and bad. Hmmmmm.

How can I know it’s different this time? That this guy isn’t lying or pretending or in this for the wrong reason? He’s never given me any reason to distrust him, but losing trust in other relationships where you’ve been betrayed unfortunately carries over to new ones…whether that’s fair or not.

People say this: you have to put those past experiences behind you and just move forward with a fresh start and attitude. Okey Dokey. Roger that. I’ll tell my heart to forget all of the breaks it’s had and pretend they never happened.

And, I also worry about this: what if I do fall for this guy? What if it is ‘the real thing’ for me, but he breaks my heart too? Can I handle another heart break? How many times can your heart break before it can’t be repaired ever again?

So I’m excited about these next couple of days (you’ll love him, ma 😀) and hope that we click in ‘real’ life as much as we do talking and video chatting. He’s certainly not a stranger to me and that helps. I’m going to try to be careful and not just ‘leap in’ like I normally do, and I know I need to take my time with this and really make sure I go in with open eyes. And I guess an open heart too. Maybe risking it just one more time will lead to that special forever I’ve been looking for. 💖

Kristi xoxo