“Someone Call the Doctor. Got a Case of Love Bipolar.” ~ Katy Perry

 

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So, I’m reading a book about a school shooting, and during the trial of the shooter, a psychiatrist is testifying after interviewing the boy.  The defense attorney asks what the psychiatrist was looking for in terms of mental illness, and he states ‘bipolar and schizophrenia.’  Heh?  Bipolar (I’m going to focus on this one since I have it)?  Really?  It’s perceived as being that dangerous it needs to be ‘looked for’ in a school shooter?  I’ve had a LOT of ups and downs with this illness, and it hasn’t been a bed of roses, peeps, but I have never entertained the thought of hurting others.

After reading this I decided to peruse the web (you know, the one Al Gore invented) to see what is said about bipolar out there, because this particular illness really does have a lot of stigma attached to it.  So, I googled (that’s a search engine, ma…don’t monkey with it or you’ll get confused) ‘what are some questions people have about bipolar’ and I was gobsmacked (Lord, I love that word) about the way it’s perceived.  Let’s dig in, grasshoppers.

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Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

One question was:  “Can bipolar people love?”  (Skip over these next few words, ma) but what the fuck?  Really?  There’s the idea floating around that you can’t LOVE if you have bipolar?  No.  Not true.  Here’s where I think this came from:  when we’re in a manic state, everything looks wonderful and exciting, including potential partners.  We might feel that initial intoxication very quickly and be giddy in the romance.  Yes, some might become very promiscuous too.  However, what the person feels during the manic state may not be love; we are so emotionally bombarded with energy that’s overwhelming us, we might say it’s love when it’s really just sexual infatuation. 🤩

But, you gotta remember that us bipolars are not always manic and not always depressed.  There is a state in-between where we are ‘relatively’ stable called euthymia and this, at least in my case, is when I can really ‘fall in love’ (whatever the hell that means) and know that it is love.  When I love someone, I love ’em whether I’m manic or depressed, and I love them hard!

Another question was:  “Can people with bipolar be faithful?”  Short answer?  Yep.  Long answer…well, here goes:  when we’re manic we’re not making the best decisions and are usually very impulsive with no thought of consequences.  So, during those times, yes, it’s possible.  Sometimes the mania is so strong, there is no ‘you’ left inside to help mitigate what the mania is wanting you to do, but sometimes there is and that reigns you in.

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However, a medicated bipolar (me!) who is on a mood stabilizer (I love Lamotrigine…if I could marry it, I would 😳), then the ups and downs are so much more calm; it’s like the roller coaster becomes a bunch of small, rolling hills and your thought processes are much more clear.  You have to keep in mind though peeps that 40% of people cheat on their spouses and I can guarantee you they ain’t all bipolar!

How about this question:  “Are bipolar people violent and dangerous?”  Yes.  I keep a roll of duct tape and some tarps in my trunk. 🙄 There are so many mental illnesses that can can cause a person to be dangerous including psychopathy, sadism, narcissism, borderline, etc.  However, people with bipolar are either really really happily manic or we’re pretty down in the dumps, and neither one of these states has violence as a feature.  Of course, someone with bipolar ‘could’ be dangerous, but so could anyone.  Right?

Last one:  “Is it safe to live with a bipolar person?”  For piss sakes, yes.  Hello!  I raised my son very very lovingly…I adore each and everyone of my students…I’m the best dog ma around…and my house is comfy cozy with me sitting on the couch at 7:00 every night, in my jammies, watching Netflix.  YIKES!  Sounds horrible!  Now, people who live with someone bipolar need to understand there are going to be issues, but through education,  patience, and counseling, these can be handled well.

You know, when you see how stigmatized bipolar is and how it’s perceived by others, you might believe we’re just dangerous people who fool around and will bitch slap you at anytime.  Nope.  But, we do have some serious issues affect us that should garner some sympathy:  bipolar people have a reduction in life expectancy of 9-20 years (more than a heavy smoker) and this is scary as hell to me.  Particularly since I don’t have a grandbaby yet (did you read this sentence, son?).   We are also at greater risk for dementia as we age, as well as seeing an increase in the severity of our depressive episodes.  These things are disheartening to me and should show people that we have more fears about being bipolar than others might have regarding the myths about it.

Look, people with mental illnesses struggle.  Right?  So many of you reading this are battling everyday and we need support, understanding, love, patience, and encouragement from others to get through.  What we don’t need is misinformation circulating about that causes yet more problems in our lives.  We need to be seen as people.  Individuals.  Folks who are sometimes good.  Sometimes naughty.  Sometimes happy.  Sometimes sad.  We’re ma’s and pa’s and sisters and brothers and teachers and CEO’s and nurses and doctors and electricians and sales people and on and on and on.  In other words, in so many ways, we’re really just like everyone else.

Kristi xoxo

 

“…But I Grew Strong, and I Learned How to Get Along.” ~ Gloria Gaynor

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So, something happened last night and when it did, I was quite gobsmacked.  A friend and I were chatting about relationships, and she said, “You know the saying… no one wants a woman who has ever been abused.”

What?  I guess when she said that, 2 things quickly ran through my mind:  first, that a relationship with me is probably not advisable, and second, I am ‘dirty’ or ‘shameful’ for having been in abusive situations.

I guess I can understand the idea of a relationship not being the easiest thing with someone who has been abused…whether man or woman.  There is a lot of baggage we carry and although time can soften those memories or even push them down so far you aren’t really conscious of them, I know how easy it is for those to affect others.  My friend and I have been discussing trust lately and both of us have struggled with situations that have broken it, and let me tell you peeps, nothing breaks trust more than abuse.  Once that happens, and although you tell yourself again and again the next relationship is a new playing field, it’s easy to be wary of how the game is going to be played.

Take cheating.  Please.  Before J cheated on me the first time, I would ask him if he was talking to his ex.  He would look me in the eye, tell me a firm no, and also made me feel that questioning him was wrong because I had nothing to worry about.  And?  Those words meant nothing, because all along he was planning for the moment.  After, when we got back together, he said the same.  He had learned his lesson…saw how much it hurt me…and vowed, eye to eye and holding hands, it would never happen again.  The next day, it did.  Of course, through this all he was emotionally and verbally abusive to me.  In retrospect, which truly is so much clearer than when you are in the midst of something, I could see the purpose in that:  the worse I felt about myself, the more likely he could proverbially have his cake and eat it too.

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How do you get past that?  How do you allow yourself, in a new relationship, to believe the person when they say the same?  Once you’ve been burned, how do you not assume that all stoves are hot?  It’s almost reflexive…an ‘instinctual’ reaction that has been created to protect you from this happening again.  It’s not that you are ‘blaming’ the new guy/gal for something they haven’t done.  It’s not that you don’t want to believe what they are reassuring you of.  It’s not that they have hurt you.  But unfortunately, our past experiences dictate so many of our future ones, and when something has made such a lasting impact on you, it’s hard to brush it aside.

Now, the idea you should never be with someone who’s been abused?  Hmmmm…gonna narrow your playing field, that’s for sure:  1:3 girls and 1:5 boys will be sexually abused by 18 (scary as fuck, isn’t it?), and about 3 million cases of child abuse are reported each year…and these are only the ones recognized and turned in for help.  So there are an awful lot of victims out there walking around as adults.

What upset me the most about the comment of never being an a relationship with someone who was abused made me feel disgraced.  Embarrassed.  As if I was at fault for what happened.  As if I could have stopped it anytime.

With J, it seems I should have been easily able too.  But like anyone who has been abused by a partner, once you have been manipulated, broken down emotionally, made to feel less than in every situation, it’s tougher than it sounds.  You see, I liken an abusers tactics to fishing (something I actually love to do):  the victim needs to be hooked and then played with so they don’t fight what’s happening.  That’s what abusers do.  They bait their hook based on what they see in you (vulnerability, sadness, loneliness) and use that to catch you and reel you in, all the while making you think you are in a better place.  But it’s not, because it’s a net where everything you wanted was just an illusion.  Then, abusers break down their victim.  It’s not as dramatic as cutting off your head and scaling you, but it’s damaging none the less.  Once you’ve been broken down to the very bottom of who you are, it’s very very tough to pull yourself up…or even believe you should try.  This is so hard for people who haven’t experienced abusive partner relationships to understand.

And then with the psychologist.  I was a teenager when he started sexually abusing me.  I had come to depend on him to where I trusted him with my life.  The power dynamic between a psychologist and client is very one sided, with the professional having all of the influence and advantage.  People seek out help because they are dealing with something that is insurmountable to face alone, and the person they seek help from becomes something of a guru.  A savior.  And once that’s been established, especially in a 15 year old and for 2 years, being able to see it any other way is almost impossible to do.  Then, to be told you owe them…that’s it’s going to be healing for both of you…that it puts you on a higher level than his other patients, is something I needed to hear at that point in my life.  It made me feel like I must be special, and that I must have some power over him too.  I mistakenly believed I was so much better than I had thought for him to see me in a sexual way.  That was a heady thing to someone who desperately needed that validation.

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Britain’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

But it leaves a mark.  A scar.  Like a smudge across your face that everyone can see.  You perceive yourself as being different, because you are.  You’ve been through something that was dirty.  Wrong.  Degrading.  Humiliating.  Hurtful.  The feeling of powerlessness that goes along with such abuse stays with you, whether it’s been 5 or 35 years.  And since having a mental illness feels the same way in terms of feeling different (for lack of a better word), it’s a double whammy.  Having bipolar makes me more sensitive, emotional, more likely to ruminate, etc. so processing the abuse, and then putting it in a compartment to try to ensure it’s effects on new situations are minimal, is tough to do.

When ma was going through her divorce with R who had abused her, she would say how she never addressed it because of the shame it wrought inside of her.  I told her, time and time again, that the shame was on R, not her.  She was the victim.  Not the perpetrator.  I wish I could listen to my own words.

Those of us who have been abused already feel guilt, a sense of betrayal by those who have hurt us, feelings of stigmatization, and damage to our perceptions of our self-worth.   We don’t want to be seen different or damaged.  We want to be seen as survivors who have come through abusive situations with strength.  With lessons to share.  With an experience that allows for empathy.  With more compassion for all who have faced such dark periods in their lives.  Maybe others will never ultimately see it the way I do, but I think it’s admirable.

Kristi xoxo

P.S.  Wanna show me some love, peeps?  Just click on the FOLLOW button on the right! 🙂 xoxo

“Oh, Oh, I Gave You My Heart.” ~ Elton John

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

So, when I started this blog it was for 2 reasons:  first and foremost, to talk about life with mental illness and to shed light on related issues that might help start conversations while reducing mental illness stigma by letting others see we are ‘real people’, and not just diagnosis, who are coping with issues as best we can.  Second, it was selfishly for me.  I suck balls at journaling.  I get the cutsie notebooks with the fancy schmancy covers and then write for 2 days and stop.  Having this blog helps me be consistent, with awesome feedback and support, and allows me to get things out I need to process.

I’ve had this friend since we were in Jr. High.  He’s amazingly funny, kind, smart, respectful.  Actually, he is everything that’s good in a person that I’ve lacked in my other relationships.  When we were in HS, he asked me out a couple of times and has said how he had wanted so badly to be with me, but I was with my first ever boyfriend so it didn’t happen.  We lost touch after graduation but a couple of years ago we rediscovered each other on Facebook and started responding to each other’s posts and having bits of conversation.

As I was dealing with the break-up of J, he reached out to me and we started messaging.  He made me feel better and more confident in myself by building me up, telling me how much I have to offer, and how I should never ever settle for anything less than wonderful.  I was starting to think that maybe he was the wonderful that was finally coming into my life.  I’ve known him for so long and talking with him was second nature.

I knew I was developing feelings…feelings that started a long time ago and grew quickly as we re-connected.  In my mind, I could see a future.  A ‘forever’ partner that I could be ‘me’ with and know I was safe with.  I told him that the difference with him was that my other men had made me cry…but he made me smile.

A few days ago he said he loved me and that he had always had me on a pedestal.  I didn’t say it back right away; I needed to think about what my feelings really were.  And with the joy his words brought to me, the way my heart opened, and the butterflies I was experiencing,  I knew I loved him too.  It was like a part of me always did, all these decades since school.

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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Now the caveat.  He’s with another woman who he says he’s not happy with, doesn’t have sex with, but who he’s comfortable with since the relationship has lasted for a lot of years.  I know, I know:  “Kristi, wake up and smell the fucking coffee!  ALL men say that when pursuing someone else!  Duh!”  And you’re right; so many men do say this.  But I know him, and I think he’s genuine.  Don’t say it…I know what you’re thinking, grasshoppers, that it’s just another game I’ve been sucked into.

So, I said I love him too.  And I mean it from the bottom of my heart (sing that sentence like Stevie Wonder does please).  We talked about having a life together and wanting to be together.  But then, just today (which is why I needed to write this so I could process it the best I can right now) he told me that the future would be us together when we could be, and him going home to his partner.  He just can’t leave her after these years together, no matter how unhappy he is.

I can’t do that.  I simply can’t.  I know first hand, not just with me, but with family members too, how horrendous ‘affairs’ are to everyone involved.  They destroy relationships…break up families…hurt so many people in the name of ‘being happy.’  How can I do that to someone else?  How can I selfishly hurt a person I don’t even know?  How can I look my ma in the eye and tell her why this man I love won’t be around for any holidays and just sporadically at my house?

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Photo by Johannes Rapprich on Pexels.com

But (and y’all will be proud of this), how can I do that to myself?  I have spent the last 2 years of my life rebuilding it.  Rebuilding me.  The reason why Hubby 3 left (sigh)…everything J did to me…my sweet nephew dying senselessly…my health scare…my issues at school regarding a threatening student…my mentor passing away…dealing with the most difficult depression I’ve ever had in my stinkin’ bipolar life…cutting myself…attempting suicide.  For fuck sakes, I’ve had a lot to patch up and, by the grace of God (I’m very very serious about that, and I need to add with the grace of O, ma, and sis too), I have.  I was at the very bottom of where I could be.  Sometimes, I can’t even think about it.  Revisiting that hole is terrifying because it makes me have to wonder if I’ll ever fall in again.  I don’t know if I would make it this time if I did.

I like to joke and laugh about being bipolar.  Like I’ve said before, if I don’t laugh I’ll cry, and to be honest with you (and I always am),  I am so fucking tired of the tears.  Us bipolars do that a whole lot you know, and it’s exhausting.  So many of you with other mental illnesses can relate all too well;  I know my sis does who struggles immensely with her major depression.  Like so many, I’m overly sensitive, overly emotional, overly affected by rejection.

How ironic is it that this man is everything I say I want?  Need.  Desire.  And like a bad joke, he’s the one man in my life that’s not accessible to me.  I feel like I don’t know how to handle this.  The tears have been flowing…my heart has been aching…and my brain is trying to process how I could get hurt again so fast.

Remember when we talked about punishment?  It’s hard not to think that’s what’s happening to me now.   I know ‘logically’ that’s probably not true.  But as my neighbor and I discussed yesterday as we chatted for a couple of hours in my backyard, it’s not reality that we work from, but our own perceptions of that reality.  So, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, my perception holds true for me.  I’ve also talked a lot about really shitty things I’ve done in my life that I attribute so much to my unmedicated bipolar, as well as just really crummy decisions I’ve made.  I deserve retribution for those things.  I deserve to pay the price.  Unfortunately, I selfishly thought I had already paid that debt, but I think there’s still more there to do.

And you know, when something like this happens, it’s very difficult to think my mental illness doesn’t play a role.  After all, our mental illnesses affect every part of our lives, don’t they?  Maybe I’m too ‘much’ for him.  Too ‘different’.  Too ‘imposing.’ And yes, I probably am.

Anyhoot, I needed so bad to talk about this; to see these thoughts in words.  And to be honest, connect with you, my sweet peeps.  I thank you for listening.  Thank you for the understanding I know you will give me because y’all are just so supportive and kind to me.  In fact, thank you for going on this journey with me which I’ll continue until my age-spotted hands just can’t type anymore.

Hopefully, you’ll all be here with me for a happy ending.  Very greedily, I want it sooner than later.  I’m 53 (sigh…) and want my forever.  Not a perfect forever…I know fairy tales aren’t real.  But a forever where I’m happy…he’s happy…and we build something genuine and stable that keeps us together through the good and bad.  I’m ready.  I’m waiting.  And when it does happen, I’ll appreciate it so much.  I promise.

Kristi xoxo

 

Do You Want to Check that Bag?

So, I have one of the coolest things I own in my office and I look at it everyday.   It’s an old steamer trunk (a real one…not a knock-off from Hobby Lobby) that I got a couple of years ago.  The guy that sold it to me for just a few bucks said it was ugly and he just wanted it out of his garage.  (By the way, every time I say ‘bucks’, I can hear Michael Scott telling Pam it’s not ladylike). I thought I could paint it really funky and it’d be a neat piece in my basement.  Then I started doing some research on it, and come to find out, it’s an oldie that was most likely used by immigrants coming to America in the early 20th century like my grandpa and his family did.  How cool is that?

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

We started moving my son and his girlfriend into their apartment yesterday (luckily, it was from a basement with stairs to a top floor apartment with stairs…just sayin’) and if I never see a cardboard box again, I’ll be thrilled.  Another by the way:  there was a dolly in the U-Haul that we had to park a ways away since the apartment house sets back behind a big grassy area.  Being someone who likes to make work easier, I asked why we weren’t using it.  My boy said, “Ma, we don’t need it”  while he was mopping sweat from his brow and panting like a dog.  Anyhoot, when he was carrying a load, I got the damn dolly out, chucked the heaviest item on it, and scooted it up to the stairs, saving more than half the work.  You may insert an eye roll here.

So, this morning I was sitting at my laptop doing some very important things (scrolling through Facebook while watching Rocketman for the 100th time) and started thinking about baggage.  That’s a word we hear so much, isn’t it?  How everyone has ‘baggage’ from past relationships, their childhood, their high school years, what have you.  When I look at my trunk, I always wonder what baggage was in it.  Baby clothes for an infant that was going to be born in America?  Old quilts from relatives the immigrants won’t see anymore?  Books in their native language so they will never have to stop reading?  Food especially canned for the trip so they’ll have something to eat while seeking work?

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I guess I’ve been pondering this a bit more these past couple of weeks because I’ve reconnected with a high school buddy and we’ve been talking pretty much non-stop.  And here’s the thing, I know that no matter what, my baggage, and his baggage, is going to play a role into whether or not this goes anyplace at all.

How do you learn to trust someone again after so many others have betrayed you?  I trusted my psychologist with my life.  Literally.  And he used that trust, manipulated it into something cruel, and made me feel a horrible sense of shame and guilt even though I was another one of his victims.  Hubby 3 was not only my spouse, but I can honestly say he was the best friend I’ve ever had.  Every single day he would tell me how happy he was and how much he loved me.  And then he walked out on me Christmas day after our 10th anniversary.  J was the one person I trusted every single secret I’ve ever had with.  I opened up to him more than anyone else, and he took so many of my words and confessions and then used them against me.  He threatened so many things, one of them being my job.

So tell me.  How do you come back from that?  Yes, I understand that no one should pay the price for someone elses’ mistakes, but let me know how that works.   Seriously.  Because once you’ve been ‘burned’, the scars are so deep and the baggage packed so well, that just ‘getting rid of it’ is something hard to do.  OK…I’ll just do what some self-helpers  recommend:  jot all of this stuff down, tear up the paper, and then flush it down the crapper.  Wow.  Works like a charm.  All of those decades of being hurt and used are miraculously gone  Yea!

Hmmmm.  No.  Everyone talks about how hard it is to rebuild trust in a person that’s wronged you.  But, our ‘baggage’ makes it hard to actually trust anyone.  I don’t care how many times someone says, “Kristi, you can trust me.”  Okey-dokey.  Haven’t heard those words before.  Haven’t been to that shitty rodeo.  Face it, no one is going to say:  “Look, I’m going to be really nice to you for a while and get you believing that this is going to be great.  And then I’m going to fuck you over, use you, tear you down after building you up, make you believe you deserve no better, and then when I’m done toying with you, I’ll find someone else that I may actually be good too…you know…for fun.”

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Wouldn’t it be nice if people came with warning labels?  “WARNING!  Good looking guy, out for a hook up, likes to sweet talk until he gets in your knickers, but cooks great.”  Well hells bells (my grandpa used to love saying that…I just had to use it at least once in a post), at least I know what I’m in for.  And for piss sakes, let’s not even imagine what my label would look like…let’s just assume it would have a lot of skulls and crossbones on it.

OK, so besides trust, what else is in my trunk (steamer…not booty)?  Respect is a biggie.  I hate how that word is used so easily.  “Hey…that guy didn’t give me my fries…he disrespected me.”  Welllllll…maybe if you hadn’t screamed into the mike at the drive through while calling him a douche bag when the audio was still on, you would have gotten your freaking fries.  As my ma says :  “Think, man!”

Respect is more than that to me; actually it’s more than that period.  True respect is believing a person to be of value because of qualities they have…because of who they are and what they’ve done that’s admirable.  I think a problem I have (among a myriad of many) is ‘giving’ respect to people that actually haven’t earned it yet.  Just assuming this person is admirable because of this and this and this.  “Oh…you’re a CEO!  You must be a great person and I have such respect for you!”  (Actually, they are a blithering imbecile, but they got one terrific office).

I learned very early on in my teaching career that you can’t expect attention and control in a classroom without earning respect first.  I learned you can’t expect your child to respect you unless you have shown them you deserve it.  “But, Kristi…our kids should respect us no matter what!”  OK, kiddies…respect your parents who are drug dealers and beat you at night when you need fed.  Just sayin.  See what I mean?  Once, an elementary teacher told me she was so tired at screaming at her class all day.  Huh?  When I looked gobsmacked, she said, “Damn, with college kids you must do that a lot.”  Nope.  Never.  I’ve never screamed at my son, never at my rambunctious elementary/jr high/high school students, and never in my college classroom.  If I can’t talk in my normal tone of voice and be listened too, I have a lot of work to do in terms of earning respect.

What about kindness?  First 6 months:  “Hey, sweetie…anything you want.”  “Love you baby, I’m behind you all the way.”  “Hon…of course you can have your wonderful, kind, loving family over for the holidays…your family is my family.”  Then, let’s fast forward a couple of years:  “Kristi, what the hell are you doing spending so much money on that?”  “Kristi, if you think I’m going to spend another holiday with your God forsaken family, you’re nuttier than I thought.”  (Actually, I probably am).  Kindness for some is almost like a bait and switch:  turn it on in the beginning so you ooze honey, and then pull it away until it’s gone.  Blech.

And love?  “Hey baby…I love you more than anything!  You took care of my dying mom, helped me raise my daughter through adolescence, and pretty much provided for my every whim with no questions asked.  Oh, I’m leaving tomorrow.”  Or, “Kristi, you weren’t my first, but you’re going to be my last (bloggers note:I think this came from Pinterest), and you’ve done more for me than anyone else in my life.  Oh, by the way, I’m going to cheat on you this weekend…just wanted you to have a heads up.”  So gee, I wonder why hearing ‘I love you’ is hard for me to accept.

I guess it comes down to this:  I know I have baggage…a lot of it.  A steamer trunk full.  And I know that no matter what I do to unpack it and get it put away elsewhere, there will still be some left at the bottom.  But I also know that everyone has a trunk.  How can we not?  Unless we’ve lived like Pollyanna, it’s gonna happen.  So, someone is going to have to work a bit more hard in gaining my trust.  Earning my respect.  Helping me realize their kindness is genuine. Opening my heart.  Actually though, that may be what I’ve always done wrong in the past…given these things away too quickly before realizing the true value of them first.

Kristi xoxo

 

 

Don’t Stop Believin’ ~ Journey

So, never in a million years (well, let’s not start out too dramatically…let’s say 50) did I think I would base a post on a Lifetime movie, but here goes:  I joined the Lifetime Movie Club the other day; it’s a pandemic and I’m desperate for entertainment outside of watching Edward lick himself.  So anyhoot, I watched a doozie today about a couple of contractors, one who is trying to off this gal (shocker) and the other one that ‘acts’ crazy but is really the good guy.  To make a long story short, the good guy never ever gave up on this woman he was trying to save, even when she was bad to him and told him to go away.  He just stayed true to what he felt was right.

Hmmmmm.  It got me thinking about giving up on people; when you should…when you shouldn’t.

J texted me again today, and I can tell he is in so much pain.  He’s angry, hateful, acting belligerent, all of which I know is covering up the pain he has inside himself.  No, he would never admit this.  No, he won’t allow himself to try to confront it because I don’t think he would know how to handle the feelings he’d be flooded with.  And no, he won’t seek out help because he needs this shield against a world he doesn’t want to be a part of anymore.

I have re-connected with an old friend from high school and we are really having some great talks, so I chatted with them about this today, and they said, “Just block him.”  Of course, I could do that.  Easily.  But I’m not going to and I’ll tell you why.  (Ma, if you are getting pissed at me, turn off the computer…the little button on the left.  The one that says ‘power’.  No…not that one.  The other…oh…for fuck sakes, just shut the lid and turn on the TV).

It all goes back to giving up on people.  Yes, he gave up on me.  And yes, how it happened was wrong.  And no, I didn’t do anything to deserve that sort of treatment (this is progress, peeps).  However, after 3 years, half of them living together, I know him very well.  I know his family and they are horrible to him (and to me, but I digress).  They gave him absolutely nothing in his life but the bare minimum to survive and that was it.  And yes, that included ‘love’ too.  It’s truly beyond my realm of comprehension, as a mom, how you can’t show love to your own child.  I just don’t get it.

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I could give up on J.  I could turn my back.  Walk away.  Cut myself off.  And that means I would be like everyone else in his life.  I’m not though, and I think this tenacity comes from a couple of things.

First, my ma has never done that to me.  I put her through hell and back a couple of summers ago, and she bore the burden and stayed by my side as long as I needed her too.  She still does.  I have dumped shit on her I should have taken out on myself, and she looks at me and tells me she loves me.  In other words, she has never given up on me.  Not when I was at the lowest place in my life…when I was telling her I wanted to die…when I was cutting myself and she had to see the bloody bandages…never.  And I wouldn’t be here if she had.

Second, what is in us as humans that we walk away so easily when people need us the most?  How many times have I said to someone “GO AWAY” when all I really wanted was for them to come closer?  When I was younger, I’d yell “I HATE YOU” to other kids who didn’t want to play with me (gee…I wonder why), and actually, all I wanted was to feel included.

When I was in the midst of that fucking breakdown, so many people gave up on me…backed away…ignored me.  People I had known for decades at school turned their backs on me.  When I would cry in my office over lunch, no one would ever ask me how I was.  People whispered about me (I know this because I heard them at times), would turn away when I’d walk by, would pretend they didn’t know me.  How can I even describe how much that hurt?  My nephew was dead, I was finalizing a divorce, J was treating me bad, I had cervical surgery, my mentor died, a student was giving me trouble, etc.  I needed people more than ever.  I needed just one person at work to say:  “Look, I know you’re hurting, what can I do?”  If just one wouldn’t have ‘given up on me’, I wonder how much faster I would have healed?

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Photo by Arnie Chou on Pexels.com

So, how can I do that to J?  He’s reaching out for a reason.  Not because he wants me back, but because he doesn’t know any other way to connect with someone who understands.  How can I turn my back on him when he’s at, what I believe, to be the lowest point in his life?  How can I let him down…give up on him…like everyone else has?

Look, those of us with mental illnesses know we are going to have good times in our lives, and we are going to go through hell at times in our lives.  Walking with someone in the sunshine is nothing.  But helping them through the storm is.  By not giving up on J, I’m paying forward all the times people haven’t given up on me.  And that’s a debt I’m happy to be responsible for.

Kristi xoxo

“Great Gobs of Goose Shit” (Clay – City Slickers)

So, I love to go back and watch older movies and one of my favorites is “City Slickers.”  If you’re not familiar with it (because of being much younger than me…sigh…) it’s about 3 guys who take a trip to a ranch where they learn to round and drive cattle while working through the various issues in their lives.

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City Slickers – 1991

Anyhoot, in one scene (my fave), the men share what their all time worse day was and all time best day was.  It’s always made me think about what I would have chosen, and I finally have an answer…at least up to this point in my life.  After all, our best and worst days can change, can’t they?

Of course my all time best day was the day my son was born…that’s a given.  My all time worse day was when my nephew died on the USS McCain.  Both of those are above and beyond anything else, so I’m going to talk about 2 other times in my life.

Let’s start with worse day(s)…so we can finish on the positive (that’ll be a switch…huh?).  When my son was a sophomore in high school, he started having stomach problems.  His dad has always had them, and O was tested for IBS, Crohns disease, food allergies, etc.  Those tests all came up negative, and then we started thinking that maybe it was psychosomatic.  The divorce from his dad was still pretty fresh and because O is very much the type of guy to push feelings down, this seemed to be a possibility.  That was pretty much ruled out too.  Finally, the specialist told his dad and I that he needed to biopsy lymph nodes in his abdominal area (they seemed to be swollen) because there was a possibility that O could have Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.

The minute I heard those words, my world completely shifted.  It’s hard to explain, but before even knowing whether he had it or not, all of a sudden I realized that something horrible could befall my son without me being able to just fix it with a smooch or band-aid.

O was admitted to the hospital and had his biopsy, then spent the night for observation.  After the biopsy was done, I asked the doctor this:  “Would you be worried if this was your son?”  He said:  “Yes.”  OOOKKKAAAYYY…thanks for the reassurance, doc.  O told me and his dad that he would be fine spending the night alone…he was 15 after all!  I went home, which is just a couple tenths of a mile from the hospital…I can see it from my back windows, but couldn’t sleep.  I went back to his room and slept in a chair just so I could be with him.  The next day, we got him showered and he came home.  Then, the waiting game started.  His doc said it would be about 72 hours before we knew anything conclusively.

I gotta tell you, this started the longest 72 hours of my life.  My ma and I weren’t talking:  I couldn’t take her husband anymore and she wouldn’t be around me without him because she knew what the consequence of leaving him out would be.  So, it was pretty much just me, my hubby, and his dad.  Even though hubby tried to comfort us, he still wasn’t as invested as O’s dad, and so he and I talked a lot during this time.  It was our son, and we were the only ones who could really relate.

Obviously, O was aware of what was happening and tried to be brave, until that first night at home when he called me into his room and asked me to read some of his old books to him like I used to when he was a little guy.  I got a few of his faves out, and in a choked voice started reading.  It was so hard to do, but I wanted to reign in anything I was feeling and do what he needed me to do.  We trudged through every day, trying not to think the worse, and even though hubby kept telling me to be positive, your mind can’t help seeing the darkness.

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My awesome son!

Finally, we got the call that O was OK.  He didn’t have leukemia.  He was battling some kind of bacterial infection in his stomach that made his lymph nodes swell.  I can’t even begin to express the relief I felt.  I truly couldn’t see myself living in a world without him, and to think of such a talented, sensitive, genuine boy to not have his whole life ahead of him was too much to bear.  Going through something like this with your kid makes you realize the gift they are.  How they are so much a part of you that you can’t really see them any other way but connected to you.  How they are so inextricably tied to your heart that they have become the biggest piece of it.  No matter how much I knew I was blessed with O before this, I’ve never forgotten how incredibly lucky I am to have O in my life.  Truly.

Now, my best day?  Easy.  Y’all know I had a breakdown around 2 and a half years ago, and I hit rock bottom.  We don’t need to yack about all that contributed to this, but it was a combination of so many things that I simply couldn’t handle my life anymore.  I have to admit something horrible though:  prior to this, I really didn’t think ‘nervous breakdowns’ happened.  I thought that was a histrionic term for “I can’t handle things anymore so I’m labeling it as such.” What a stupid asshole I was.

The break was a few weeks coming as situations kept piling up.  And then POW;  I found myself broken with absolutely no ability to care for myself.  I would cry for hours at a stretch and was incapable of eating, showering, dressing, or doing anything in terms of self-care.  Just getting out of bed was a major feat, and the cry of my dogs needing to pee is the only reason why I had too.  I couldn’t think straight at all…it’s like my mind got so jumbled up nothing made sense.  I’d hear my doctor, my counselor and my mom talking, but I was in a dark tunnel where their ‘words’ registered, but not their ‘meaning.’  I was living alone and getting through an hour by myself was hell.  This is when I started cutting, badly, and also when I attempted suicide.  I truly didn’t want to live (which is so hard to recall now) and I kept sobbing to my mom that all I wanted was to be with Grandma and Grandpa in heaven.  And I meant it.  It wasn’t a metaphor, it was a truth.

The tunnel I found myself in was dark as hell, and I was petrified to even try to crawl out because that meant facing some of the demons that were challenging me.  But I had too.  It was slow going…two steps forward…one step back.  It took weeks, but I managed, with the help of those around me, to do it.  Like the breakdown, it was a process.  But light started shining again.

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I have this on my bedroom mirror to remind myself every morning that there’s always reason for me to smile.

This pic of me and Edward is so important for a couple of reasons.  First, my son was visiting me from Texas where he was living at the time, and took this pic.  He knew what was going on with me to a degree, but until he was here, he didn’t realize how bad I was.  This particular afternoon, since I was getting better, he talked me into taking Ed to the dog park.  He snapped this pic of me smiling.  The first smile I had smiled in a couple of months.  Having my son with me gave me so much more motivation to keep pulling myself out, because I could see the pain I was causing him.  I realized I couldn’t hurt myself…couldn’t kill myself…because it would kill him.  He made me remember that I was needed.  Wanted.  Loved.  And that day in the park was my best day:  I smiled.  I knew I was going to be OK.  I knew I was going to fight this.  I knew I had people here on earth I needed to be with.  I knew there was an end to this pain.

Isn’t it something how our own worst times can lead to our best days?  And how the worst times in our kids/loved ones lives can give us the understanding just how precious life is?  Just how much we need to enjoy each and every day we’re given?

In the movie, as 2 of the men are talking about their worst days and their best days, they use the same day for both.  I guess I could too.  Both of these times for me were horrific.  O’s the worse…my son is everything to me.  But I guess in retrospect, they were my best times too.  Each made me realize how blessed I am.  How lucky I am.

It’s easy to forget that, isn’t it?  I hope I never do.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

“Sorry Seems to be The Hardest Word” (Bernie Taupin)

So, the other day in one of my posts, I talked about how guilty those of us with bipolar often feel because of the strain it can place on others.  After reading some messages from you Grasshoppers, I know that others feel this in relation to their own mental illness.  In fact, in an article published by the National Institute of Health, it states:  “The stigmatizing attitudes toward mental illness held by both the public and those who have a mental illness lead to feelings of shame and guilt, loss of self-esteem, social dependence, and a sense of isolation and hopelessness.”  Basically, any of us can experience guilt based on what we have, and not just necessarily by what we do.

Some of you commented that one way to combat the guilt tied to actions/behaviors/words/etc.  was to apologize to those who were hurt by these things.  I’ve been talking about this very issue with my counselor, and I totally agree.  I’ve been wanting to apologize for a long time.  But, my problem (among many) is how to go about it.

How can words possibly convey the burdens and hurt I’ve inflicted on others during my life as a bipolar?  Will the words sound genuine if I speak them?  More ‘real’ if I write them?  What exactly do I apologize for?  Being mentally ill in the first place?  What I’ve ‘done’ during the course of this sickness?  Both?

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If I were to list all of the people I should apologize too, the list would be too long for the gigs I’m allowed on this site.  Seriously.  I have tons of family members I know I’ve hurt.  Ex hubbies.  Friends I’ve had.  I’d have apologize to entire classes for the times I was down and not totally ON for them, which is what each of my classes deserves every time I’m in front of them. And, sorries should go to people I haven’t been kind to since I was so far down to even be able to care like I should.

When I try to apologize to family, I can’t do it verbally.  I get so choked up at the hurt I’ve caused that talking is difficult.  Just writing this is making the tears begin.  But, that’s no excuse for not apologizing…period.

My mom has taken the brunt of this illness.  It was really starting to show itself when I was a teen, and the acting out I did during manic times and the anger I expressed to her during my depressive states is shameful to me.  Mom was my scapegoat for everything I was feeling but couldn’t describe or handle at the time.  I remember sitting at the table when I was around 16 or so, and she had made me an Italian sausage sandwich…onions, peppers, the works.  She served it to me and I threw it across the kitchen, hitting a quilt she was hand-quilting while yelling and crying.  Mom had no idea what was wrong, but instead of yelling back and punishing me, she hugged me.  I’ll never forget that.

Another time in high school, I called my mom a ‘bitch’ for no good reason.  Actually I screamed that word to her in her face.  Right after, I stormed out of the house and rode my bike to my grandparents house.  My grandpa was waiting for me in the kitchen with some food for me.  Mom had called him, just to tell him how upset I was and what I said.  I started nibbling, and grandpa sat down at the terry cloth covered table with me and told me he had never been disappointed in me during my entire life, but today he was.  I sobbed.  Having my grandpa say that told me how far I’d gone in hurting my mom.  I apologized to her when I got home, and she accepted it with no further mention.  That, my Grasshoppers, is forgiveness.

During the breakdown I had, mom took care of me everyday for a few weeks.  Everyday.  I know what an incredible burden that had to be and the guilt I feel for putting my 73 year old mom through such a trial haunts me constantly.  She saved my life and never once said anything to make me feel responsible for what was happening.  The words “I’m sorry” don’t even say a fraction of what I want too…but other words don’t exist that do.

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And my son?  For all of his growing up years I tried so so so hard to hide my mental illness.  His dad and his family don’t believe in ‘weakness’ and being ‘sick’ isn’t an option.  How could I admit what was swirling through my brain and how that was affecting me to someone who rebuffed anything that had to do with mental illness?  Plus, I wanted my son-shine to have the best childhood possible.  So I wore the tightest masks I could find;  I’d be damned if I’d let him see my illness.  There was no way I’d have wanted him to carry any burden of it around as a kid.  My job was to be a mommy and make his growing up years happy and stable.

But when I decided to ‘come out’ with being bipolar, which was a necessity after my breakdown, my son (26) became such a support to me.  To be honest, it took him a while to accept this unmasked me since he had never really seen it before.  But now?  He handles all of my moods, cycles, insecurities, crying, quietness, hyperactivity and everything else with support, care, and understanding.  He’s been my rock, which makes me feel like I’m failing him as a mom now.  But he says he’s supposed to take care of me (since I’m an elder…WTF?) and says that just how it is.  I don’t agree with that, but him doing it is more than I can ever thank him for.  And not being the mom he still deserves is something I’ll never be able to make up for.  He’s going to be moving out in a couple of weeks, but only 2 miles away so he’ll be close if I need him.

And these 2?  They’re just the tip of the ice burg.  What about apologizing to my ex-hubbies?  I know my sensitivity, impulsiveness, strong emotional reactions, periods of depression and the list goes on, affected each of them.  Would I still be married to O’s dad if I wasn’t bipolar?  Would I have saved my son from going through a divorce had I been honest with him about the severity of what was happening to me?  I don’t know.  But the question makes me ruminate often.

My sis and dad have been so affected by this too.  Both have their own struggles with mental illness (hello…genetics anyone?) and so many times when I’ve wanted to support them, I can’t because of the state I’m in.  How can I apologize for this neglect, when I know how important support really is?

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So yes, apologizing is necessary, at least for me.  I’m not going to say I’m sorry for having this brain disorder.  That I can’t help.  But to my family, friends, students, and so many other people that have been affected by me having this fucking bastard (you didn’t think I’d leave that out, did you?) of an illness, I am so sorry for what I’ve put you through.  So very sorry.  Please forgive me for all of these overwhelming burdens I’ve placed on your shoulders.  I don’t know any other words that truly reflect how shamed I am by this.  I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.

Maybe Elton John was wrong.  Maybe sorry isn’t the hardest word to say.  Actually,  finding the words that will convey the depth of this apology is much more difficult.  I just hope to find them someday, because I owe them to a lot of people.

Kristi xoxo

 

To Spank or Not to Spank

This title is catchy, huh?  And, I’m wondering how many of you clicked on it assuming it’s going to be a naughty post?  Hmmmmm… 🙂

So, a good friend and I were messaging back and forth this morning and had a discussion on whether or not bad acts in our life make us undeserving of happiness, or if bad things happen to us because we deserve the punishment.  I’ve actually thought about this a lot over the years.

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First, I have a very hard time with guilt.  You name it, and I feel guilty over it.  Big things…little things, it doesn’t matter.  With me, guilt is guilt.  Now, I do come by this ‘naturally’ so to speak:  when a bipolar is in a depressive state, we tend to ruminate on situations and feel a great amount of guilt for them (even if it wasn’t our fault), and some researchers are saying that women might do this more than men.  I am also a STRONG feeler (I do put stock into the Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and those of us who are, feel lots of guilt for things “simply” because we personalize situations which forces us to take blame for them as well.  Unfortunately, these tendencies lead people like me to apologize often for situations that are completely out of my control.  Having a bad day…my fault, I’m sorry!  Neighborhood dog bit you…I’m sorry!  Work not going well…I’m sorry!  And we aren’t just saying ‘I’m sorry’ to show sympathy for the situation, we actually feel a sense of responsibility in some shape or way.  Trust me when I say this, Grasshoppers…it’s exhausting!

As we all have, I’ve done things in my life I’m not proud of at all.  In other words, I’ve fucked up royally at times.  Bad decisions, bad actions, bad thoughts.  And even though I didn’t really think about these moments as being wicked at the time I did them, but the remorse I felt afterwards was overwhelming.

Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t feel remorse or guilt;  if we didn’t, we’d be psychopathic!  But I am saying that an over abundance of these feelings that last for years and years is a tad too much.

During the breakdown I experienced a couple of summers ago, I told my mom over and over I deserved everything that was happening to me.  I was being punished for my sins.  Me having precancerous cells was my payback for not doing quite enough for friends and family who have had full blown cancer.  The man who stalked and threatened me for a period of time?  Of course I was blamed (which I was) because I must have egged it on.  The abuse I experienced in a relationship was because of my own behavior.  Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.

So, I was punished.  I got what I deserved during that time.  “You reap what you sow” right?  All of my transgressions were saved up for this one big bout of retribution.  Hmmm.  Maybe my bipolar is a punishment too.

As illogical as this sounds (and I know it does), emotionally I can’t help feeling this way.  Look at this quote from Warren Buffett.  I GET what he’s saying, but I also KNOW how this isn’t fully possible for me.  I can’t wish my emotions away.  I can’t just turn off the ‘sensitive’ side of me (I hate that term because it’s used so negatively in our society…why is it a bad thing to be sensitive?) and click on the logical.  It’s akin to asking Warren to change his eye color from green to brown.

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Maybe I feel like I’m punished for my misdeeds because I want the consequences.  Do they relieve me of my guilt?  Pay for things I did?  Balance out my scales of good and bad?  No.

When I’m depressed, I ruminate on my life and feel that guilt still.  Things I did decades ago still haunt me, and I’m a sucker for saying to myself “What if.”  What if I had been better to O’s dad?. Would we still be a family together?  Or what if I would have stayed with O’s dad no matter what?. Would O have had a better life?  (The guilt I feel over putting O through a divorce at such a confusing age anyway will haunt me forever).  What if I absolutely accepted all aspects of Hubby 3’s outlaw motorcycle club?  Maybe he wouldn’t have found someone who did. What if I had given J even more of myself?  Maybe he would have stayed faithful to me. These questions swirl around in my mind.

So, I’ve learned to deal with that.  I’m a Christian, and as such, I totally understand that Jesus has paid for my sins and I’ll reach heaven someday.  But I also believe that justice can be meted out on earth too.  How do I stop regretting the past, so I can move into the future with less burden to carry?  Maybe that’s just something I’ll always have to deal with because of my lovely (sarcastically said) bouts of depression and tendency towards sensitivity.  But maybe as I learn to love myself more, I’ll cut myself more slack, like I’d do for any other person I care about.  Maybe this is just one more battle to fight in dealing with bipolar.

And if that’s the case, there’s going to be a brawl.

Kristi xoxo

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

So, I was thinking the other day (I know, that’s a first) while looking at social media and I started counting the number of times people say “I love you”.  It was staggering.  Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all, but I wonder if we use it in a casual context so often, that it loses some of it’s meaning.  I say “I love you” regularly too, and I know I mean it when I do.  But I also know there are so many different levels and kinds of love that I’m not sure I’m expressing what I intend too.  However, that intention often times doesn’t have any other words for me to use.

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Photo by Loe Moshkovska on Pexels.com

In Russia, the equivalent word for ‘love’ is most often reserved for romantic relationships, and isn’t often said between family members.  In Asian cultures, ‘love’ is rarely brought up.  Instead, it’s shown through actions and care.  Same for Indian culture (which I know is Asian but they are often looked at separately) where ‘love’ is woven into the fabric of the culture as a whole.

I know that some people use the word ‘love’ very loosely.  How can a person have true love for someone one day, and then decide they don’t love them the next?  Obviously, actual love wasn’t there.

I’ve heard the word love in all of my serious relationships: 3 marriages (shutty the mouthy) and 1 dating relationship.  In each, we used the word often, and I’d like to think love was truly a part of these.  But, all of these ended, and when they did, that was it.  Two ended because of infidelity and the others over issues that could have been worked out had my hubbies been willing to go to counseling.  Unfortunately, they weren’t.

So, I guess what I’ve been pondering is this:  what word would I rather hear other than ‘love?’  Everyone says the magical words in a relationship are I LOVE YOU…they are apparently the most important to hear, but are they really?  If we are throwing around these words so casually, are they truly defining the actual feeling or emotion they’re supposed too?

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Take 90 Day Fiance’ (my favorite show…I literally can’t stop watching it every season).  The people on it might talk to their beloved once or twice online and suddenly they love them to death and are convinced they found their soulmate!  HEH?  You don’t even know them yet!  You haven’t seen them in person…touched them…smelled them…or actually got to know them!  THEN, when they do, guess what??  Often they realize this isn’t their soulmate (go figure) and suddenly, the love is gone.  Hmmmm…was it really there to begin with?

Are we so ‘starved’ for romantic love that we will label it, hoping that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy?  Do we think that if we say it, it will have to be?  Are we under the impression if we don’t say it, the person will just leave us willy-nilly?  Is saying it something that’s simply ‘expected’ but not actually there?  Or, maybe we say it to a potential mate who we feel isn’t as interested as we are, so that maybe our declaration will affect their feelings and make them stronger.

I’ve been considering what I would like to hear if I ever (and it’s looking grim) get into another relationship.  Do I want to hear the word ‘love’ again?  I really don’t know.  I’ve heard it used so often, and then thrown away so easily, that I’m not sure I trust what that word really is.  Of course I want love to be a part of the relationship, but the words just aren’t enough for me anymore.  I guess I want to feel the love, not hear the words expressing love.  I want to feel the connection.  Experience their care of me.  See their work in terms of the relationship.  I think those would all be bigger expressions of what we have rather than a quick ‘love ya’ before bedtime.

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When it is words that are said, I’ve figured out what would be so much more meaningful for me to hear.  How about “I’m so proud of you!”  Or, “Wow, I really missed you today!”  I’d like to hear, “You know, I really need you in my life.”  Or, “How did I get so lucky to have you?”  The real clincher for me would be, “I’d be so lost without you…I’ll do anything I can to make this work.”

And you know what?  I haven’t heard these before, and I’m wondering if that’s why my relationships have all failed.  The word ‘love’ was there, but did they have pride in me?  Was I important enough to miss (apparently not)?  Did they feel such a need for me, that without me, they’d be lost?  Did they feel enough for me that working on the relationship wasn’t considered a hardship, but a necessary thing they were willing to go through to strengthen our bond (another apparently not)?

You know, I love watching American Idol videos on YouTube and today I had one on while washing dishes.  It was a couple who sang country songs, and they auditioned at the same time, but sang separately.  They both played the guitar, and then each played along while the other sang.  Obviously, they were both hoping to get a ticket to ‘Hollywood’ (meaning they were continuing in the show).  After each sang, the judges praised the woman for her great voice and then told her husband that he sang well, but at this point in his career, he would be much better as her backup, and not a lead singer himself.  Here’s what got me:  when they got out of the audition, the man hugged his wife so tight and told her how very proud he was of her.  She asked if he was upset he didn’t make it himself, and he said NO…that everything happens for a reason and he was just so damn happy for her.

I was bowled over.  I think a lot of people (men & women) would feel a bit of jealousy.  A feeling of having ‘lost’. But this guy?  He won because she won.  Isn’t that awesome?

I don’t know if there’s another relationship on my horizon or not.  But I’ll tell you this:  I’ll realize it’s the true thing if Mr. Wonderful says: “Damn.  You are just it for me.  I am so proud to have you.”  Doesn’t that just sound great?

Kristi xoxo