“Gold Digger” ~ Kanye West

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So, what is it about a million dollars? Isn’t that what so many of us wished for when we were little…or older? “Gee, if only I had a million dollars, I’d be set!” Then, we’d make a list of everything we wanted: a mansion with a pool…the best car out there…not ever having to work again…all the clothes we could ever want…and the list went on. You know, I still hear people say this (except in this economy, it’s more like “I wish I had a couple million dollars” 🙄) but I think about whether or not it’s really the thing to want…to desire…to dream about.

Yes, I do believe money can buy certain non-tangeable things like security, better safety, and the such, but what else can it REALLY buy? Happiness? Love? Fulfillment? Respect?

Hmmmmm…now that’s I’m a cough-cough…tad older…I’ve come to realize that what I truly want in life isn’t connected to me winning the lottery at all. Over the last few years I’ve come to see money very differently. Much more utilitarian…and not so much as what dreams are made of.

Let’s take happiness. Now, some might argue that money CAN buy happiness. “Look…it’ll get me a boat, a truck and a cabin in the woods…that’s happiness!” And that’s right. It will get you the stuff you want that can make you happy…but is it the moolah that’s actually causing the happiness? I’ve known people with these things and they still aren’t happy. Still aren’t content. Are actually, still wanting more.

I remember when Hubby #1 (shutty, peeps… 😬) and I moved from our orange and brown, 1 bedroom, teensy tiny kitchen, hideous bathroom apartment to our trailer! I was in heaven! My gosh…no more neighbors clomping around upstairs (although we did have the best neighbors possible 😀) and no more parties blaring downstairs. No more having our allotted parking place being taken over by some boob who had no idea what a ‘reserved’ sign meant and no more traipsing up rickety stairs juggling 3 bags of groceries and an armful of school books.

Now, we had our own driveway…only a couple of stairs…no more people surrounding us with only a piece of drywall separating us. It was heaven on earth. Even the avocado color scheme was a welcome change from the darkness of what we’d had. Could we ever be happier? Would we ever out-grow this nirvana? Well. Yes.

The trailer that was HUGE when we moved in suddenly became just as full and cluttered as our apartment had been thanks to my penchant for thrift shopping. Whenever I found something that I just knew we had the space for, I bought it…not realizing that each item actually did take up an area of finite space that was shrinking with each trip I took in the car. And the avocado color scheme I thought was so beautiful and fresh and nature-y? It started looking like someone puked up spinach all over the place. 🤢

SOOOOO…we bought our first house! YEA! Now this was IT! I would never want anything else than our own house. This is where we’d raise our family and have dinners for our grandkids and throw parties and do whatever it was we wanted. And, it was all well and good. Until 2 weeks after we moved in and Hubby said he wanted a divorce. Heh? We finally ‘made it’ to where we had dreamed and he wanted out? Hmmmm.

Why is it we still live in a society where having money means ‘you made it.’ Because someone else’s bank account is bigger than yours, they just have to be happier. I’ll share a secret with you. I believed this for a long time. Then, my world got shook up and I finally realized what I really needed…and what could actually be in my reach if I worked at it. It didn’t have to be a dream…it could be a reality.

Instead of dreaming about being a millionaire, I decided that I’d rather be loved, happy, and content with a feeling of purpose. Just 4 things…instead of a million bucks.

For so long in my life, I thought of myself as being unlovable. Face it, after 2 years of being sexually abused, 3 divorces (yes, you may roll your eyes 🙄) and a couple of break-ups, it’s pretty hard not to feel this way. After Hubby 3 and I divorced and then J and I had our tumultuous relationship, I felt more unlovable than I ever had in my entire life. Hubby and I still talk daily…and lately he’s told me how much he regrets leaving and that he still loves me. No. He doesn’t. At least not in the way he’s talking about. He loves what we HAD. He misses the life we had built. He’s found out that doesn’t happen often. BUT, he doesn’t love ‘me’. If he did…well…he wouldn’t have walked out that door.

Then I had J for 3 years. Manipulative, gaslighting, cheating, emotionally and physically abusive J. And, I loved him. A lot. (Doesn’t this just show how irrational our emotions are?) And, he said he loved me. A lot. It’s took quite a while to realize this, but no. He didn’t. You know, I’ve never laid a hand on my son…and yes, he was always well behaved. I’ve never laid a had on my poochies…and yes, they are cough-cough…’sorta’…well behaved. And why haven’t I done that? Because I love them. You do NOT hurt what you love. (PLEASE don’t give me a lecture on physical punishment for kids…that’s a can of worms I don’t want to open and discuss…but when every single medical association, psychiatric/psychological association, school organization, etc. ALL say that physical punishment is wrong, I’m in pretty good company. Let’s leave it at that.) NOW, I will admit this: there were times I was so angry or upset at my boy or dogs that I had an ‘urge’ to lash out…but my love for them stopped it.

Then I was alone for a year…during a pandemic where I had only myself to be with for the great majority of the time and I got to know me in a way I never had before. I started liking me. Even loving me. And that felt great! That I could give myself what I needed was something I never knew was in me. Then, Bill came ambling along and he loves me too. We love each other when we’re crabby and tired and stressed…and not just when it’s good. He’s never threatened me with anything…talked poorly about me to others…blamed me for things outside of my realm of power…and has always either asked for or accepted forgiveness. At the age of 54, I finally can see what love is from the inside and the out. That, my grasshoppers, is worth more than a million bucks.

Contentment. Now that’s an interesting word. Synonyms include being comfortable, satisfied, and fulfilled. I was really content when I was married to Oliver’s dad. I loved loved loved our life together because I was raising a family which had always been my dream. But I also worried that this could be taken away from me if I didn’t measure up to the standard of the his family. And believe me, this standard was high. So I worked my ass off for this ‘contentment’ and maybe that tainted it in a lot of ways. B’s family is a cutter-offer type of family. There’s a divorce? Cut the person out of every picture that ever existed of them even though they are the mother or father of your grandchildren. Piss one of them off…and you’ll need to beg for their attention once again. So, yes, I was content in raising my family and being a mommy…but I was also worried it was an illusion at times…something that could be taken away with any stumble on my part. That was a shit-load of pressure…particularly for someone who’s bipolar and stumbles her way through life anyway.

I’m content now. Finally now. It’s not because I’m with Bill or because my career rocks or because I have the best kid in the universe or because I live in a cute house or because I have family that loves me. It’s because I’m OK with me. Satisfied with me. If I had to be alone, I’d be OK. I’ve come to realize that. I don’t worry about stumbling anymore. Because, for the first time in my life, I’ve learned to pick my own self up and keep moving forward.

And purpose? I think we all have this question that’s been around since the beginning of time: “What am I here for? What’s my life all about?” I’m going to be honest here. I always saw myself as another Oprah…someone who asked the hard questions and dug deep into issues and looked great on TV. That was my dream. Still is actually. But, my purpose is 2 fold: to be a great mom and to be a great professor. Am I great? Depends on what day you ask my son or whether or not I let a student make-up an exam. But I feel like I’m doing what I was put on this earth for. Along with the purpose of teaching, I know I was meant to teach as much as I can about mental illness. I believe everything happens for a reason…I also don’t pretend to know what those reasons are. There’s so much I don’t understand. But, I finally understand why I have bipolar…because I can use my opportunities of teaching to help others understand mental illness and start to break the stigma of it themselves. Does this make up for what this fucking (sorry, ma 😐) bipolar puts me through. Well….no. It does not. But, does it make it more tolerable…knowing I’m using it for others to learn from? Yes. It does.

And then there’s happiness. The word that’s so different for everyone but so widely sought after by us all. Let’s see…I’m loved, content, and have a purpose in life. Yes. I am happy. Happy with me. Happy with my life. Happy with what I have.

If I were to win a million dollars tonight, my world would change. I could go out and buy to my hearts content. But…would I alienate family? Would I suddenly quit my job and forget the purpose I have? Would I have to worry about how to spend it…who to spend it on…what charities to give it too? WOULD this windfall make me happy? Is this the end all/get all in life? I don’t think so. Not anymore. Because, my sweet peeps, I’ve got all I need right now.

Kristi xoxo

“But now the past lies sleepin’ in the deep…” ~ Bernie Taupin & Elton John

This is not me…my ass isn’t this tight. Picture credit

So, I made a decision that I thought was a really smart one but I think other people might find it weird. And yes, I do know I AM weird anyway! Let me explain: Bill just bought a house! It’s 2 doors down from me…I can throw a rock (or egg on Halloween 👻) from my yard and hit his every time. He will be moving in on June 10th and he’s excited for it. It’s been a long time since he’s had a house of his own.

It was never my intention to live with Bill so quickly after we started seeing each other. But since he lived 4 hours away, we’d have to stay with one another when we visited. Then, when he moved back to town, he didn’t have a place to live or the time in a new job for a mortgage or lease. So…he’s been living with me since January until this opportunity came about.

Here’s my life in a nutshell (in terms of men and relationships…get a drink, it’s gonna take a bit 🙄): I went from living with mom’s 2nd husband (the fucking bastard 😡) to marrying Hubby #1 (shutty), then a few months after that fiasco of a divorce I married Hubby #2 (shutty again…I’d known him since the 3rd grade), and then months after that divorce, I married Hubby #3 (I know, I know!! 😐). After we divorced, I got into a relationship with J who I also thought I was going to marry. Whew. Hold on…I need a drink….🍹

OK. Sssssooooo…I went from an abusive step-father (yes, you know what I’m calling him in my mind but ma will get mad if I use that phrase again in the same post 😳) to marrying WAY too young because I had to get away from him…to marrying O’s daddy (best decision I ever made)…to marrying R (still one of my best friends)…to being with an abusive partner myself. Are you seeing a pattern?

Since I’m bipolar (big shocker, huh?) and a huge extrovert…I never look before I leap. I just climb up on that board baby, and jump right in. I don’t even look to see if there’s water in the damn pool. I just take my chances and hold my nose. And…look where that has gotten me. An unstable ‘love’ life.

So, after J left me I was really alone for the first time in my life and I’m going to be honest with you: I was scared shitless. I really was. I mean…I know I’m a mama and a professor and a daughter and a sister, etc. but WHO was I without a man? WHO was I if I wasn’t someone’s wife or partner? WHO was I if I was alone?

Well…after a while, I found out. As I started doing big stuff around the house and taking care of things by myself and spending scads of time alone thanks to the pandemic, I learned to be happy with myself. I learned WHO I was: me. Kristi. I didn’t need someone ‘backing me up’ or validating my worth anymore. I was starting to learn to do that for myself. I started getting up in the morning and instead of crying, I’d be smiling at the thought of what I was going to accomplish that day. Instead of saying “I don’t care where we eat…what sounds good to you?” I started eating anything I wanted. Instead of feeling like I was trapped in an unhealthy relationship, I started to feel free! YEA!

Then Bill and I connected. Our relationship went FAST…we never really dated…we went from talking to overnight visits justlikethat! It was repeating a pattern I’ve always done, and one that he has done all of his life too: jumping right in without taking a breath or seeing what was below. After a couple of months of him living with me, I knew I needed that space again. Why? Because I’m not done.

I’m just not done knowing me yet. Look, I’ve been married or in a relationship since I was 19 years old. That’s 35 years living for someone else…working to please someone else. See, I get lost in relationships. I don’t give 100% of me…I give 1000%. Not only is that too much to give…it never left anything over for myself. And, I also know it’s too much for others to take at times.

Getting ready to read this!

And there’s also this: I’ve made the vow to be with someone ’til death do us part’ 3 times now (🤨) and as hard as it may be to believe, I meant it every time. I’ve been told I’m the love of a man’s life…but we divorced. I’ve told men I will NEVER ever ever let them go, but then just watched them as they walked (or ran 🙄) away. I’ve heard someone say “I love you” on a Monday and then never heard his voice again from the following Thursday. I’ve had men tell me ‘We’ll always be friends…I’ll always love you…” to doing hateful, ugly things to me. I’ve told myself I would never allow someone to put their hands on me…and I did. This pattern needs to stop.

Look, after 35 years I still need to discover more about myself. I need to keep depending on me. I need to keep growing me and learning about me and taking care of me. And yes, I’m using the word ‘me’ an awful lot…but for once, that’s who I’m wanting to focus on. Just for a while. You know, it’s not a cliché that time flies by faster and faster as you age. It’s true. And when I look back at my life, I see a blur. From marriage to marriage to marriage…it’s all happened too freaking fast. So, for once I’m slowing it down. Taking my time. Keeping things in perspective. Is it weird to live with someone a while and then have them move down the block? Probably. But is it right for us? At least for now it is.

I don’t know what the future holds for Bill and I. Maybe we’ll be together forever or maybe we’ll just end up as life-long friends. Maybe we’ll get stronger in our relationship because we’re working on ourselves…or maybe we’ll drift apart. All I know is this: I’m breaking the cycle of never ending relationships and focusing on little independent me some more. I think Bill and I are making the healthiest relationship decision in both of our lives we’ve ever made. And to be honest, I’m proud of us for doing it.

Kristi xoxo

Oh, Taron…DAMN!

“Is there a letter in your bag for me?” ~ Please Mister Postman

Dear 15 year old Kristi,

Howdy! Here I am in the future wanting to tell you a few things about what your life is going to be about and to give you info I think might be important to you. And please don’t roll your eyes…again…you will be 53 someday. I guarantee it.

Anyhoot, some easy stuff first: quit picking at your zits because it only makes them worse (you aren’t going to believe this, but in 2020 there is actually a show on Pimple Popping…it’s great!), use sunscreen every single day, don’t use Sun-In on your hair before your senior photos because your hair will be orange, you can shave up higher than your knees and not be a hooker (like Linda Belcher says…you’re going to love her 😏), and for the love of all that’s holy…do your freaking homework (you are going to be a college professor someday…can you believe it?).

So far, pretty easy. Right? Hmmm.

Look, when you are 16 you are going to be struggling with an eating disorder. In fact, it’s starting right now. Ma is really going to start worrying in about a year and will be sending you to the ‘best’ psychologist in Decatur. He’s a shit. Tell ma, respectfully, you want to see someone else…this is really important to do so work hard convincing her. You see, he’s going to hurt you if you don’t…in fact, he’s going to sexually abuse you. At first you won’t really understand what’s happening until you are so dependent on him you won’t be able to break free easily. So, find someone else and work as hard as you can with them. K?

Guess what? By 53, you are going to have had 3 hubbies (🙄) and yes, you will marry them all no matter what I say because you certainly didn’t listen to ma and she’s actually a lot brighter than me. Anyhoot, hubby 1 is who you’ll meet in college. And no, you can’t live on love. And yes, landlords like to be paid. ‘Nuff said on that one.

Hubby 2 is going to change your life because that’s who you have a son with! Right now, our son is 27 and he’s so amazing. He’s smart and funny and talented and your life is so wonderful because he’s a part of it. In fact, you won’t be able to imagine your life any other way. You and hubby 2 are going to be married for 13 happy years, and believe it or not, he’s a guy you are in high school with right now…but I’m going to keep you in suspense 🤨. But here’s the thing, around your 13th anniversary you guys are going to experience a lot of conflict and I wish my suggestion for you would be to try harder to make things work. But I believe the past builds on the future and that at 53 (yes, you get wrinkles and still get zits…God has a sense of humor 🙄) I’m where I’m supposed to be. Just be sure to cherish every year you do have together and by the way, read The Art of Loving by Fromm. It’s not as exciting as Judy Blume but the info is something you can use. 🤓

Hubby 3 is a wild one. Like, wild. You won’t believe this, but you’re going to marry an outlaw biker. Yep. Little prissy you! It’s not going to be easy in the beginning. He’s a troubled man who is going to push you away again and again and test you a million times in the first 2 years. Stick it out (and no, I’m not talking about physical abuse). He loves you so much and needs you so much. He’s going to realize this and become such a softer, sweeter, open guy who you laugh harder with than you’ve ever laughed before. He’s going to be the first man you’ve ever been with that you won’t have to ask “Do you love me?” because baby, you’re going to know it.

Then we come to the relationship after this divorce. Sweetie…listen to me now. Don’t go out with J. Don’t do it. He’s handsome and smart and loving and yummy right now, but it’s not who he really is. He’s a very troubled, sick man and no matter what you do, you are going to be hurt badly. Very badly. In fact, you’ll carry actual scars with you for the rest of your life. Yes, you helped hubby 3 but J is different. He’s mentally ill and can’t be ‘fixed’. In fact, he doesn’t want to be helped by you at all and what ends up happening is just a shit-ton of hurt heaped on you again and again. But, please do this for me: pray for his kids. OK?

And that takes me to something really important. Honey, you are mentally ill too. Yes, you are beginning an eating disorder right now but you are also bipolar. Let that sink in for a bit. Bipolar. I guess you are still hearing it referred to as manic depression, but it’s a serious one. You know how you feel like you don’t fit in? How you have all that crap going on in your head all the time? How you feel like you can conquer the world at times and then barely be able to face it at others? You know how you have always questioned your existence and wonder why you have to keep living your life? Well…that’s your fucked up brain talking (sorry, ma. Even at 53 she doesn’t like me to cuss…go figure. 😐) You are going to pretend and act and imitate others and hide what you are feeling so well you aren’t even going to see it yourself at times. But you need to see it! This is something that you need help with and the sooner the better. Trust me, it will save you from so much pain in the long run. Go tell ma NOW. I’ll wait. And don’t grab chips on your way back…the oil is bad for those zits. (And for fuck sakes, quit messing with them…I’ve told you once already and I’m not going to say it again. 🙄)

So here’s what happens if you don’t get help for your pesky bipolar: you are going to eventually experience a break down when you’re 51. You’re going to attempt suicide. You are going to cut yourself. You are going to lose a lot of friends. You are going to wish you could just get so far down the tunnel you’re in that you can’t see any light anymore and are basically empty to where you won’t be able to feel anything. Yes, you obviously survive this. No, I don’t want to see you go through this because I love ya. Sheesh.

And no matter what you say, I know you don’t love yourself now. In fact, a lot of high schoolers don’t regardless of how ‘popular’ they are (and guess what? High school never ends. Seriously. It’s just the same crap over and over again.) Look, I’m going to let you in on a secret: no one is looking at you. No one gives a shit about what you look like or weigh or wear as much as you do. Don’t believe me? Ask someone tomorrow at school what clothes you were wearing a month ago and they’ll be dumbfounded. No one remembers day to day…except you. Listen here girlie, when it gets right down to it, you are all you have in this world. You come in it with your own little soul and you’ll exit it with your own little soul, and no matter how many people love you, you are ultimately responsible for you. And honey, you need to learn to love yourself…take care of yourself…believe in yourself. OK? And, just a tip, but that blue eye shadow isn’t doing a damn thing for you. Just sayin’. 😳

OMG (that’s a saying we used in 2020…look it up, toots), you are going to love love love being a professor. LOVE IT! See, you won’t be able to have but 1 kid and your students are going to be your extended family. So many wonderful people will pass through your classroom doors and every single one of them has something special and unique about them that will teach you something…give you something…change you in some way. I know you are going to hate working at Hardees’ and Claire’s in high school/college, but it’s totally worth it to become a freaking professor. (By the way: always start some fries at Hardee’s 20 minutes before closing so you can chomp on them while mopping the floor. Trust me on this and don’t worry about zits. Free fresh fries are worth it. 😁)

Now, here’s some bad news: you know how ma is seeing that son of a bitch? Well, right now he’s not so bad. But, after they get married he’s going to become very violent and you are going to see ma hurt so many times that you’ll lose count. Sissy and you will try to help her the best you can and try as hard as you can to get her away as soon as possible. But, she’s not going to listen to you guys…she’s scared and in denial and at a loss as to how she got in the situation in the first place. Since you and T won’t be able to ‘save her’ until she asks to be saved, just love her and talk to her and tell her how you are always there for her. It’s going to kill you to see her black and blue. But never turn your back on her. She needs you.

And Kristi (I know…I hate our name too 😐), never ever lose faith in God. People are going to tell you how stupid you are to believe in him (even though they believe a ‘Big Bang’ that came out of nowhere caused all of the universe to be created…my point is they are both faith based to a degree) and there are going to be times where you think God has turned his back on you. God never turns his back. He’s always with you. Always loves you. Always feels for you. Thank him every single day for all the blessings you have because girlie, you have a lot of them.

Finally, a guy from high school (another secret I’m going to keep 😀) is going to message you in September of 2020. ANSWER HIM! He’s awesome and will make you feel more loved than you’ve ever felt in your life. And his voice? Sexy as hell. 😉 I know I’ve been to this rodeo more than once (shutty the mouthy 🤠) and can tell you this: he’s your last. OK?

Now, I could have told you something completely different in this letter: who not to marry…who to go out with…etc. but here’s the thing: except for me wanting to protect you from abuse, the people and decisions and behavior in your life are making you what you are today. Everyone in your life has played a role to where you are now, and I believe you are where you should be. When people ask you to listen to them, you do. When they talk about being divorced or mentally ill or feeling like they don’t want to live anymore, you are going to be able to say: “I understand.” You are going to be a hugger. A smiler. You are going to appreciate the people in your life so much and know what a gift each and everyone is. This past is making you into what you are today…and this is a pretty darn good place to be right now.

Look toots, I’m proud of you and want you to be proud of yourself now too. Sing more. Dance more. Put yourself out there more. Try more things. Open up more. Ask for more help. Give more time to family and friends. Say thank you more. Say hello more. Look up at the sky more. Cuddle with your son more. Get as many puppies as you want…carpet can be replaced. Don’t worry about wearing purple all of the time. Plant more flowers. Pick up more trash. And for fuck sakes (not even going to apologize for this one…I’m a rebel), eat dessert…first if you want.

And finally…just one more thing: for piss sakes, don’t go to prom your freshman year with that boob from St. T. But if you do, don’t buy the cream colored dress. It sucks balls. Instead, go for the red one! It rocks.

Kristi xoxo

P.S. I know I shouldn’t do this, but what the hell: In 2004 a company called ‘Google’ is going to go public. Buy some stock. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, BUY SOME STOCK. K? 😉