Grandma and Grandpa :)

Dear Grandma and Grandpa,

Today, mom and I started reminiscing about both of you, and so many of the memories we had made us laugh and cry at the same time!  I have tons of happy recollections of our time together and I just don’t know where to start!

Grandma…you were the best!  You loved to play cards so much and you were always up  for anything and everything!  I remember you teaching me double solitaire when I was little, and we would play for hours on your brown living room carpet while Skipper plodded by with her fat belly because Grandpa fed her too much (of course, he denied this)!  Our games would get vicious…and laying down those cards could be a fight to the end.  When we counted our piles, we were always, and I mean always, excited to see who won…no matter how many games we had played before!  Sis would jump in with us lots of times, and triple solitaire was even more fun!

drawwinky

I remember you LOVED to do the crossword puzzle in the TV guide every week.  But I also remember how you could never finish it on your own!  So…you would call Norma…a true ‘Norma Desmond’ if I ever saw one…Grandpa called her a Kewpie doll…and see if you could get the answers from her!  You’d sit at the old kitchen table that always had a terry cloth cover on it and have your pen ready to write!  And every time ole Norma gave you an answer, you’d say “OH YEAH!, I knew that”!

I absolutely loved how Grandpa washed your hair every couple of days in the sink and the smell of Suave shampoo…just the regular kind…always makes me smile.  Afterwards, you would wrap your hair turban style, then sit on the couch, watching your soaps and rolling your hair up in curlers!  I don’t know how you stood it…the curlers were hard plastic with prickly spikes and you used a plastic pin to secure them.  After your hair was dry, you’d brush it out and it always looked so pretty to me.

220px-Scrabble_game_in_progress

As I got older, we would have scrabble afternoons, and one summer, I was on a roll.  You poor thing, you couldn’t win a game no matter what letters you got.  I started feeling sorry for you!  Finally, near the end of a VERY close game, you put down the letters “joo”.  I asked you what the heck it was, and you said ZOO!  I said:  “Grandma…you spelled it with a J!”  She said she knew…she was spelling zoo!!  Grandpa was cracking up and he said “Grandma…if you can’t play nice, don’t play at all!”  You finally realized what you had done, and laughed so hard there were tears!

I loved your laugh!  And I heard it a lot!  Remember when you took sis and I to Chicago on the bus for Christmas shopping?  You just HAD to buy a DELUXE scrabble game in that huge box first thing there, and we lugged it around all day!  Your reasoning was the store might run out.  But as we left to get back on the bus, it looked like we were the only ones to get one of those editions from the display that day!  Sis and I teased you a lot as we were shopping, and you always took it so well!

Grandpa…what can I say?  You were like a giant to me! When I look back at pictures, I see that you weren’t as big as I remembered, but I still picture you as being that big, strong, navy man who fought in WWII.  I never told you this, but thank you for your service.  Two years was a hell of a long tour, and you never mentioned what you saw or what you did.  You just did what you had to do, came home, and was a great family man.

download

I loved all of your cooking and when I would spend the night, you would always make me a special breakfast the next day…silver dollar pancakes, eggs, sausage links…all on a portioned plate so I could see what was there.  If it was summer or spring, you’d pick a flower for my tray as well.  How spoiled I was!

On holidays, you’d make us girls lobster and you would pick it out of the claw, put it in a bowl, and then broil it with butter and seasoning.  I never have had better since then!

Whenever you knew sis and I were coming to spend the night (which was often), you’d get our ‘smutty’ magazines!  Tiger Beat, the National Enquirer, The Globe…the more weird the headlines, the more we’d want the magazine and you knew it.  And, for a long time, we believed everything we read!  (Of course Elvis is still alive and living as an alien on Jupiter…duh)! 🙂

1200px-St_Louis_night_expblend_cropped

You loved taking your grandkids places and I remember when you took Grandma and I to St. Louis.  Grandma was scared at the top of the St. Louis arch and she yelled at us not to tip it by looking out the windows!  You knew I was a bit scared, so you held on to me while I peered out and I knew I was safe.

Remember what you let sis and I do when you’d take us to the store to pick out a goodie for after dinner?  We’d sit on your lap and steer!  Can you imagine what would happen today if that was done?  But it was so much fun, and after I got my permit, you let me practice with you time and time again in your big Monte Carlo!  I couldn’t believe you’d trust me driving that, but you did and you helped me become a good driver (don’t ask your great-grandson though…he might tell you different)!

One of our favorite things to do with you was to decorate your brass bed with toilet paper!  We would use rolls to wrap around each spindle and drape over every space!  Cousin, sis and I thought the bed looked absolutely beautiful!!  And you always agreed!  When I was little, I’d sleep with you in it, while sis slept with grandma in her bed.  It wasn’t dirty or inappropriate or anything that we would immediately think of today.  It was innocent and sweet and I’d curl up by your back and apparently kick you all night!  You always got up early to let out the dog, and then you’d pretend you were blowing a bugle to waken the rest of us up!

You loved to collect things…maybe that’s where I get it.  And Grandpa, I loved them all when I was a kid!  I can see now that not everything you brought home was a treasure, but I tell you what, it was to me!

Grandchildren-are-the-dots-that-connect-the-lines-from-generation-to-generation.-–-Lois-Wyse

Grandma and Grandpa…you’ve been gone a long time now…30 years in fact.  And not a day goes by that I don’t think of you and still feel so much love for you.  You were the BEST grandparents a kid could ever have, and sis and cousin feel the same.  The influence both of you had on our lives is immeasurable and my only regret is you not being able to be around to meet my son.  You would have loved him…and he would have adored you both.

I know you don’t want thanks for all you did for us…just like I don’t want thanks from my son for being a good mom.  But I’ll give it to you like this:  someday, I’m going to have a sweet, little grandbaby in my arms, and I’m going to try my best to be as good of a grandparent as you both were (like sis is already doing).  And…I know you’ll be watching.  With pride.

Prof K ❤

 

A New Journey Awaits…

I haven’t posted for a while…what with buying Christmas presents, finishing up the semester, and doing a few things to the house, I just haven’t made the time for it.  But today, I opened up my WordPress and when I saw my reader feed, I felt like I was coming home!  I had no idea how much I would miss the blogs I follow and reading them again, getting some new insights, and just catching up on peoples’ lives is sure to be the best part of my day.

4c08e797b41dea5eddcb203037a44d45--sun-quotes-words-quotes

We all remember from school that the earth makes a rotation around the sun every 365 days.  But, did you know that every orbit isn’t on the same direct path?  There is always a slight change so the journey is never the same…it’s always a bit of a different trip.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  How a new year is starting and it doesn’t have to be like the one before.  So much happened last year…so many losses in my life, narc abuse, being diagnosed with bi-polar (the meds are really helping!), and getting stalked by a student.  It’s been a pretty awful time…probably the worst I’ve ever had.  But the journey for that year is nearing it’s end and it’s up to me to put myself into my new orbit and on a new path.

I don’t know what that path looks like yet.  I made so many mistakes this last year.  So many things I would do differently.  I pray I’ve learned from them, but I don’t know if that’s true.  I’m still seeing my narc.  My family is upset about this (and understandably so), but they are being supportive of me.  They might hate the behavior, but they love me.  I don’t know why I’m still doing this, but he made promises to change, and I see some.  New meds, more therapy, greater effort, etc., but it’s so freaking hard to forget everything he did to me.  The lies, the cheating, the financial issues, the abuse.  This is a path that needs to change in some way, and I know that.

a-good-woman-doesnt-want-a-superman-she-knows-he-21883768

I pray every night before I go to bed, and talk to God a lot during the day…I’m a yapper and he’s a great listener, but at night, it’s a bit more formal.  I always hate asking God for anything, because he’s given me so much, and others have so little.  But I’m selfish at times, and ask him for a man who will be good to me…treat me well…and love me and respect me as much as I will him.

The best years of my life were when my son was a little guy.  I absolutely loved being his mom and having my own little family.  I’ve learned that I can live alone and to be honest, there are some awesome advantages to it.  But I also have a lot of emotional needs.  I like to talk…go out…have a bicycling and running partner..have someone I can lay on the couch with and just read for hours with him…someone who will finally be my forever.  That connection I’ve sought all my life.  I don’t want Prince Charming.  I just want to share the massive amount of love I have in my heart with someone who will reflect it back to me.

I know I’ll be making some hard decisions this year, but I also know I’m going to teach as much as I possibly can to get rid of some of my debt.  I’m going to enjoy ‘me’ more and do more things by myself, with my son, with my family and with friends.  I’m going to England with my son this spring, and I can’t wait to take my new camera and have my photographer son teach me some things so I can get some awesome shots.  I’m going to read more, run more, eat better, and just try my best to make other peoples’ day a bit brighter with a smile or hug.

351ed90a6b039eff1bffa76dd3a50177.jpg

I want this year to be a good one.  I think I’ve earned it.  I don’t know what life will throw at me, but I’m thinking I can handle things much better now.  I’ve been down that dark, ugly tunnel, and will not go into that again.  I know what my illness is now, and I’m learning triggers and how to take care of me better.  My journey this year has the power to take me anywhere…and no matter what, I’ve got me to depend on.

Thank you fellow bloggers for being there for me this year.  I started this during a dark time and feel I’ve made some true friends and connections.  I’ve learned from you…cried over things you’ve written…prayed for you…and just feel good knowing you are out there.

So…let’s do this 2018 thing together.  Hey ho…let’s go!!

Prof K ❤

The Chicken or the Egg?

In my Theories of Personality class, I show “The Woodsman”.  It’s a 2004 movie starring Kevin Bacon as a pedophile who has just served a decade in prison and is now out and trying to turn his life around.  He meets a woman with whom he starts to have a sexual relationship, and after they are together a couple of times, she asks what is the worst thing he has ever done.  He says he molested girls and she laughs.  She can’t believe it.  He gets angry and when she sees his face, she realizes he’s telling the truth.  He says, “It’s not what you think…I never hurt them.”  Later, we learn he would put pre-adolescent girls on his lap, facing outwards, and rub against them until orgasm.

p35271_p_v8_ad.jpg

One day, he follows a girl to a park and after they speak for a bit, he asks her to sit on his lap.  She refuses but then says, with tears in her eyes, that she will if it will make him happy.  After all, she  she does it for her dad.  Kevin then asks if her dad makes funny sounds during the time she’s on his lap, and she says yes.  He sees the pain on her face, and it’s almost like an epiphany.  He sees her hurt.  Her real hurt.  Since his victims were always facing away from him, he never had to see their faces…see their tears…see their anguish.  But now he’s faced with it, and he tells her to go.  For him, this is the first step in changing his behavior.  Not that the impulse won’t be there, but he will no longer be able to justify or rationalize his actions by saying he never hurt these poor girls.

I was thinking about this the other day, and although I know this is a movie…and not real life…I wondered about the idea of hurt.  And here’s what I started asking myself:  “Are we so ready to point out the hurt others have inflicted on us, that we can’t see what hurt we have inflicted ourselves?”  And I also thought this:  “Can change really happen?  Big change?  Real change?  Lasting change?”

In terms of the hurt, I’m so guilty of doing that.  Hubby 3 used to accuse me of holding a grudge, and I’m the first to admit that’s true.  There are times where I just can’t let things go…and I refuse…yes, refuse…to see any part I may have played in the issue, or I excuse that part by saying the other person was worse.  “What he did was an ‘8’ and what I did was a ‘5’, so I win!  I hurt more!”  See what I mean?

Time-to-Change-e1484068848716

Since being diagnosed with bipolar a few days ago, I’ve looked back on my life and saw how many times I inflicted hurt on others.  But instead of taking responsibility for it…apologizing for it…or making up for it, I’ve turned a blind eye to my faults, and have shown a spot-light on those of others.  So unfair, I know…and I’m ashamed.

My mom and I talked about this yesterday, and she said I needed to move on and quit thinking about the past.  I know that!  And I am!  I am so excited to see what my life is going to be like off this roller coaster, and I can’t wait to see how it affects my various relationships with family and friends.  But, this is a very new thing for me…a diagnosis that explains so so so much of my behavior from when I was a girl, that it’s impossible not to think about what my life would have been like without these highs and lows, and what mistakes I wouldn’t have made.

In depressed states, I would ruminate on the hurts.  Think about them time and time again.  And I don’t know about you, but the more I think about something, the more powerful it becomes in my mind.  And the more embedded.  And I go over that damn hurt again and again and again and make it bigger than it really needs to be.  And it becomes so much a part of my thinking, that it’s hard to let it go.  Then, when I’m in a manic state, I’ll blurt things out about the hurt and make sure the person knows I haven’t forgotten, nor have I forgiven like I’ve promised too.  And it’s a cycle.  A horrible cycle that I know has damaged many of my relationships.

rumination.jpg

But now that I’m understanding all of this better…and am seeing things a bit more clearly and forcing myself to re-examine things, I can see how I diminished any hurt I inflicted.  And if I did admit to the hurt, I only did it because it was expected, or in that moment, I saw the pain on the other person’s face.  Later though, I would bury my part yet again and focus on theirs.

Not gonna do that anymore!  Wait.  That’s too broad of a statement.  What I should say is this:  I’m going to TRY my VERY BEST not to do that anymore.  To be more cognizant of what my role is in arguments, hurt feelings, etc.  I want to take more ownership of my actions.  I don’t want to use this bipolar to excuse my behavior…I want to use it to understand it better.  More clearly.  More truthfully.

Now…about this change thing.  I thought that IF change is possible, what would I like to change about me?  [Don’t you think we always know exactly what we would change in others if we could…but don’t really think about what we would change in ourselves?].  Here’s what I came up with…and believe me…this is NOT a comprehensive list…that would take a hell of a lot more space.

  • Not blurt things out so readily and think about what I’m saying;
  • Not take things so personally but try to see things more objectively (this may be impossible for me…);
  • Not focus on others’ mistakes, but take responsibility for my own;
  • Learn to let things go;
  • Understand that the world does NOT revolve around me, and in the grand scheme of things, I’m just a little piece of DNA taking up space.  In other words, not take things so seriously;
  • To build up better boundaries, instead of opening myself up to everyone and everything because it’s extremely hard for me to say no;
  • To appreciate each day and focus on the positives and not the negatives;
  • To be a better mama, daughter, sister, friend, and professor.

Holy shit!  That seems like so much, and I’m wondering how to tackle this.  [And by the way, I have this printed out and hung on my refrigerator to make myself more compelled to follow through with these].  Should I go through them one by one?  Should I just take each as a situation arises?

But the big question…can I really do this?  Change these things?  Make myself not into a different person altogether, but a better person from what I am now?  And why is it that we can believe in changing ourselves, but are so skeptical when others tell us they are changing?  Does that mean we really DON’T believe in change…but are only giving it lip service?

Maybe I’ll be able to do these things and change some behaviors, patterns, and ways of thinking.  And maybe I won’t.  But I’ll tell you this…I’m going to try my damnest.  Because if I don’t try, I’ll never know.  And if I do succeed, a whole new me will be emerging.  How exciting is that?

Prof K ❤

 

 

 

Seeing the Change in Me! :)

Like some of you know, I’ve been seeing Sarge for the last few weeks, and I truly believed, with all my heart, that he was remorseful for his past behavior and was putting in the effort to make changes.  And I saw them.  And I was hopeful.  But yesterday, that hope crashed around me yet again.

OK…this is going to sound crummy, but I know Sarge’s password for his FaceBook account, and I haven’t gotten to the point of trusting him yet.  After 2 bouts of infidelity and the emotional/verbal abuse he put me through, I believe this is a legitimate reaction to my doubts about him.  Soooo…I logged in (and by the way, he has always had access to all of my passwords, accounts, home, etc.  He says he has never used them, but then again, I haven’t given him a reason too.) and read a conversation he had with a friend a mere week ago.  In their back and forth messaging, he told his friend he was on Tinder, had met a woman on social media who he thought was “hot”, and was still not over his ex-girlfriend.  Further, he said he was dating an older woman whose emotional needs were too plenteous to handle.  (And of course, NOTHING positive was said about me.  Nothing).

da42750e7cb2df21ffd9f1189f778fa1--narcissistic-abuse-recovery-narcissistic-mother

Heh??  Really??  MY emotional needs are too much for HIM?  After a year of lies, manipulation, abuse, cheating, and gas lighting, MY emotionality is over the top?  AAAAAGGGGHHHHH!  Who the hell does he think is responsible for this?

Further, I’ve had to handle HIS moods as well.  The anger, depression, confusion, anxiety, unpredictability, raging…all of these emotions that stem from his PTSD and childhood.  I’ve also had to go through his changes of meds and bear the brunt of reactions to starting/ending them.  It’s hasn’t been easy for me either.  But of course, that’s OK!!  (Please say that sentence with a very snarky voice!).

When I saw what he had been messaging, it was yet another punch to my gut.  And I reacted as I always have in the past.  With crying and anger (rightfully so, I believe).  But this only lasted for a few minutes.  Really!  Because here’s the epiphany that came to me:  I was simply ‘responding’ in the way of a set pattern, and not actually ‘feeling’ the true emotion of the situation.  And the tears ended.  Just like that.

heartbroken-breakup-quotes-crying

I called Sarge, during the angrily crying bout because I was furious and wanted to confront him.  After a minute or 2, he hung up on me.  Just like that.  REALLY?!  I took all he had to give me this past year, and he can’t face the emotions stemming from what HE was doing to ME?  That he had been lying…again…and setting up yet another situation in which he wanted to cheat on me?  I was the bad guy for being upset…and HE was the innocent party taking MY abuse?   OOOKKKAAAYYY!  And here’s the most frustrating part of the deal:  he would (in front of me…that was always fun…) listen for hours (literally) to his exes rant and rave over mundane things.  Yet here was, caught in his own lies, and I don’t get the courtesy of ranting a bit myself?  Hmmmmm.  I think I deserved at least that much.

You know, once I asked Sarge if he would forgive me if I ever cheated on him, and he said no.  Heh?!  I forgave him twice!  Yet he acted as if that were his due.  That since I forgave him, the trust and respect I had once had for him would magically come back and he had no other work to set things right.  So what I afforded him twice, he’s wouldn’t be willing to do even once.

trust

Trust is a funny thing.  To have trust in someone is to have confidence in them…in their reliability, in them telling the truth, in their ability and strength (in this case) to change.  Trust is so easy to lose and so very hard to build back up.  It’s like a jigsaw puzzle.  Putting it together can take weeks, but tearing it apart…only seconds.  And to put it back together again takes even longer because some of the pieces are damaged from cramming them in or from the destruction.  How can a person not realize that when you destroy something, tear it up, it’s going to be a long, hard job to put it back together again?  Isn’t that just common sense?

When I was thinking about all of this last night, the one thing that kept running through my mind was that I’m an idiot.  An idiot for believing his words.  For seeing what I thought were positive changes, but what was really just a smoke screen.  And idiot for forgiving him after all he’d put me through.

9ab18aa88e858e60360091f17dd28bb4--bible-quotes-forgiveness-forgive-quotes

Forgiveness is a mercy, and since I feel pity for Sarge and all he’s been through as an abused child and then soldier, I felt a deep need to be kind.  To be loving.  To be giving.  Because I believed he would learn to do the same.  And because that’s who I am and I truly love him.  But instead, he treated me like a fool.

Do I regret letting him back into my life?  Nope.  Because I wasn’t ready to learn the lessons only a narc can teach you the first time around.  And sometimes it takes a hell of a lot longer than even that.  But I think I’m ready now.  And the forgiveness, kindness, empathy, and patience is going to be directed towards someone else special in my life.  Me.  And that’s the way it should be.

Prof K ❤

 

Beginnings and Endings…

I absolutely love falling in love.  (And, as my mom will tell you, I adore being a bride!  When we go thrift-shopping, I’m immediately lured by the wedding dresses and always want to buy one)!  You know that ‘new love’ feeling…the butterflies and breathlessness…the constant anticipation of when you’ll see them again.  I have students who will kiss outside my classroom door and say how much they’ll miss one another…and my class is only 50 minutes long!  But, to people ‘in love’, that can feel like hours.

However, I’m starting to re-think this whole ‘falling in love’ thing.  I believe that we actually ‘fall in lust’…and the hormones and neurotransmitters involved (adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin) use their power to bring us together so we can build a true, mature love as we learn about one another.

How many times have you heard the phrase:  “I love you…I’m just not IN love with you.”  I think that’s hogwash (I’ve always wanted to use that particular word in conversation and now I have!).  What that phrase is really saying is this:  “I don’t feel the same amount of lust I did when I first met you, and I’m really not wanting to take the time and effort needed to build a lasting, trusting, respectful love.”  How sad.  For both people involved.

eb0470e2-9b03-4c5d-9a12-946777f99995

I also believe some people get addicted to this lustful feeling…after all, these feel good neurotransmitters are present when taking drugs…a high is a high.  And, this happens to be a high that can last up to 2 years!  After that?  “I’m not in love with you anymore…it’s just not the same.”  Duh!  It’s going to be that way in every relationship.  Not that a mature, loving relationship can’t or doesn’t have passion.  Not at all!  But passion is an emotional, intense feeling you focus on another person, while lust is more of a craving whose primary focus is on self-pleasure.  See the difference?

b720349264ad3131a28e20f3faed5be5

I want the butterflies…and the rumbly tummy…and the stars in my eyes.  But more so, I someday want a partner who will learn with me, trust me, respect me and be a presence through all of the good and all of the bad.  And I want them, in turn, to earn my trust and respect, and know I will be there for them as well.  And if that trust gets broken?  Then I want that partner to understand the work it will take to build it up again, and  also be respectful of the feelings brought about by that particular breach.

d9ed5a8e09f2785db9de535e534fe267

And to be honest with you, I thought I had found that in hubby 3.  I sincerely loved my other hubbies (just call me Elizabeth Taylor), but #3 was my passion.  When we first started seeing each other, I thought I’d absolutely die if I couldn’t be with him everyday.  And that feeling lasted for a long time.  Our first couple of years were passionate, but also tough, and at times, I wanted out.  Badly.  But hubby truly worked on our relationship…he read articles, he listened, and when he said he would stop doing something hurtful, he did.  And I did the same.

Last Thursday, our divorce was finalized.  I’d never been to court for this…my lawyer would take my place.  But we decided to go together because we still love each other.  We walked into the courtroom hand-in-hand and sat by each other, waiting for our turn.  When we approached the judge, we were still holding hands and when I was questioned by the lawyer, I cried.  Tears streamed down my face.  And his.  After I got off the stand, he stood up, gave me some tissues, and dabbed at my tears.  After the judgment was made, we walked out hugging each other, and a woman, who had been in the courtroom during this asked us why we had gotten divorced if it was so hard on us both.

1428283174357

Here’s the answer.  Hubby 3 and I live in different worlds.  Literally.  He was raised by a biker and is a member of a notorious biker club.  He wasn’t when we married, but joined a few years into the marriage.  This environment is completely foreign to me…and even scary at times.  As he became more involved in the club, he was away from me more and more.  This hurt our marriage…but not our love.  I asked him to quit the club when we were having our problems at the end.  And he said he couldn’t.  I was pissed at first!  I felt like he chose a club over me.  But then I finally understood.  Hubby is basically alone in this world, and these men are his brothers.  Men he has known most of his life.  Men he can relate too.  Men he can be himself around.  It’s as much a family as is blood, and he just feels more comfortable in that particular environment.

You know, I’m proud of the way hubby and I handled this divorce.  I hate how people can have so much love for each other, and then be so hateful at the end.  I know certain circumstances affect that…in cases of abuse, infidelity, addiction, etc., and I couldn’t have done this with my first 2 divorces.  I wanted too, but my other hubbies didn’t.  I think it’s because my mom and dad divorced so well.  They have remained friends all of these years, and always come to events and holidays.  They’ve been divorced for over 30 years, but are still friends.  What a great example for me.

We put so much time into starting our relationships.  I remember being at hubby’s house one day, and we literally laid on his bed and looked into each others eyes for hours.  Cheesy!!  But it was the beginning of our love and we couldn’t get enough of one another.   Throughout our marriage, we raised 2 teenagers together…watched his parents die…went through times of unemployment…times of sickness, etc.  If we can get through all of that together, how can we not end it together too?  Put time into getting past the hurts and move towards understanding and forgiveness?  Don’t we owe that to one another as well?  Hmmm…

But does it really ever end?  Any relationship?  Don’t we take something from each one?  Maybe something good…maybe something bad…maybe just a lesson?  Each relationship changes us.  Affects us.  That’s why they are called our exes.  We are ‘without’ them now, but we can’t erase them.  No matter how hard we might want too.

11024207_10155262541945082_1759962588550990105_n

And I don’t want to erase hubby.  Never.  He’s a good man.  A kind man.  A funny man.  A smart man.  I’m proud of the 11 years we had together, and we’ll always be in each others lives.  He asked me to marry him the other day.  Really.  I laughed and asked if he was kidding, and he said he wasn’t sure!  Maybe we’ll end up together…growing old like I had envisioned.  Or maybe we’ll just be best friends, sharing our lives with one another and hanging on to each other when we need too.

All I know is this.  I loved him at the beginning.  And I love him now.  It’s not the end.  It’s just going to be a new chapter in our book that has already been started.

Prof K ❤

And She Breathed a Sigh of Relief.

Throughout my life, I’ve been told different things…almost on a daily basis by husbands, friends, and sometimes, family.  Phrases include:  “Calm down!”, “Cheer up!”, “Quit being so sensitive!”, “Why can’t you just let things go?”, “What do you have to be so sad about?”, “Why are you being so unreasonable?” and the list goes on.  I can’t tell you how much I’ve beaten myself up over and over and over again when I haven’t been able to do just these things.  So many times, I’ve been hyper-emotional or just plain hyperactive, to where I make horrible decisions and say awful things.  Then, I’ll turn around and be so terribly sad I won’t be able to stop crying and feeling depressed, no matter how much I want too.

Saturday, my mom came over and I had just gotten done spending a couple of days cleaning my closets and basement.  Furiously.  I packed up my Jeep 3 times for donation stuff and then filled a dumpster at my friend’s apartment building.  Then, I cleaned every wall, vacuumed every cobweb, and scoured the floor.  After this, I cried.  And cried.  And cried.  And I thought I was finally losing my mind.  Mom came over to see my ‘new’ basement, but she saw more.  She saw me so hyper I was sad…so emotionally spent I was depressed…and so manic I was scared.  And this is the life-changing sentence she said to me:  “Kristi (yes, I’m using my real name…), when you were a teenager, grandma told me she worried about you because you were either so happy or so sad.  She asked if I thought you might have manic depression.”  Could you?

This was in the mid-80’s when little was known about bi-polar and for my grandma to even know about this, let alone communicate it to my mom about me, blew my mind.  Then I started thinking and light bulb literally went off in my head.  Teachers used to tell my parents that I was way too hyper, yet I had few friends.  They would say how I would just cry out of the blue, and then complete my work as quickly as I could to try to be the first done.

In high school, I lost a few friends because they never knew what Kristi they were getting.   Was it fun, manic, hyper Kristi that would drink and party with them until I was so drunk, I’d have to spend the night at my friends?  Or, would they get the somber, sad, depressed Kristi who would bring them down and confuse them as to why I suddenly thought it was the end of the world?

o-ROLLER-COASTER-facebook

This summer, when I was so depressed, I thought it was.  The amount of tears I cried were immeasurable, and as much as I ‘wanted’ to stop, I couldn’t.  But when I finally would for short bursts of time, I was so ‘up’ I couldn’t function then either.  When I contemplated and then attempted suicide (taking a handful of pills and then throwing them up a time later), I wasn’t wanting to die.  I was wanting this fucking roller coaster to end.  To finally end.  I kept telling my mom and best friend, Rich, that I was just so damn tired of the ride.  I’d been on it for all my life…and I was finally sick of it.  I wanted off.

I’ve always known what bi-polar was.  For piss sakes, I have a B.A. in Psych…all of the hours for a Clinical Psych masters, and was awarded my M.S. in Family Studies.  I’ve taught Abnormal Psych more times that I can count and the DSM is practically embedded in my brain.  But, I also didn’t want another label.  Another ‘excuse’ for why Kristi is just the way she is.  Another person saying, “Hey, I got bi-polar!”

Why didn’t I see this pattern for what it is?   Is it because I was so busy living it…trying to control it…that I couldn’t?  After a depressive time, I would be so happy I wasn’t as depressed that I considered the mania a blessing!  Yea!!  I could get things done…be my ‘bubbly’ self…get back to ‘normal.’

xiuquan_park_kiddie_coaster_lift

After mom and I had our conversation, I called my doc who has been working with me for the past year in trying to get my moods under control.  He had me take some inventories, he reviewed my medical history from the past 20 years that documented all of the times I was seen for emotional/depressive symptoms, and diagnosed me with bi-polar.  He has put me on a medicine for bi-polar and is confident it will get me off this roller coaster.  The ride will be over…or at least it’ll be the kiddie version of the roller coaster, and not the ‘Screamin’ Eagle’!

When doc said the words bi-polar to me, I started crying (go figure), and at first I didn’t understand why.  I was getting my answer!  The clouds over what has been ‘wrong’ with me for all of these decades were lifted!  A treatment was possible!  I wanted to celebrate and instead I was shaky and emotional.  I still am.  I got home and called mom who had been waiting to hear what doc said.  She was so relieved I got my answer but also understood why I was reacting the way I was.

For the last 16 hours, I’ve been looking back on my life (haven’t slept…look like crap…doing this in my pj’s…)  and I can see how this mental illness (another label…) has affected so many decisions, situations, and relationships I’ve had over these years.  I wasn’t honest with you all when I didn’t take enough responsibility in the demise of my 3 marriages, and I’m here to tell you that no matter how much I sugar coat it, I was very much to blame in all of them.  My impulsiveness led me to do things I am so ashamed of, that I ask God for forgiveness everyday.  I know he has already done that, but I can’t bring myself to do the same.  I see how I hurt my family by words I’ve said…things I’ve done…and I will never ever be able to make it up to them.  I see how I could have been a different mom.  I was a good mom…but I always felt different from the other moms.  They were so relaxed and ‘adult-ty’ while I always felt foolish around them.  I was either hyper like a kid…or down like I wasn’t happy with the little family I was blessed to have.  I can see how my moods affected my high school work so much…and how I could have gotten so much more out of those 4 years of my life.  I can see my over-reactions that drove people away.  I can see how I took others on this ride that no one should have had to go on.  I see how my mom has tried her best to understand me in impossible situations, and bail me out accordingly.  I understand my tendency to over-spend without thinking…motorcycles, elective surgery, clothes, cars, taking on pets I had no business having, running up credit cards, etc.  I can see me hopping on the latest trend and doing all I could to both fit in and stand out.  I cringe at how I’ve behaved inappropriately hundreds of times over.

I want to go back.  I want to go back to my 16 year old self.  I want my grandma’s words to be understood and I want to go to a doc that was knowledgeable in this illness during that time like my current doc is.  I want the treatment then, that I’m finally getting now.  I want to be different in school, in my family, with my friends…and especially in my marriage to my son’s dad.  I want to turn the clock back 15 years, and do it differently.  So bad I want to do that.  Have my little family still in tact and not have to admit to myself that I destroyed that for my precious son.  I want to be the mom, daughter, sister that doesn’t cause so many issues…so many worries…so many problems.  I want to go through those years and feel good.  Feel right.  Feel normal.

Because I don’t know what that’s like.  I’ve never had it.  When doc said I will be feeling so much better after the new medication kicks in, I told him I didn’t know what that would be like.  To be off the ride.  How does that feel?  To not be on top of a hill one day, and then drop the next?  Will I even know how to ‘walk’ after riding for so long?  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

I do know there are some things I need to do:  I need to cut myself a little bit of slack, mourn the past, and know that all I can do is go from here.  I need to understand this illness and not use it as an excuse, but learn to work with the meds and be a part of the treatment myself.  I need to recognize what part of the kiddie coaster I’m on and communicate that to my family.  I need to forgive myself for the thousands of past mistakes once and for all.  I need to make sure this illness doesn’t define me…but just helps explain me.  I need to thank God that I finally have the answer I’ve been searching for all of my life, instead of asking him why the heck it took so long to see what was right in front of me.

Most of all, I need to apologize to my family.  My family who was forced to take a ride with me that was hellish at times for them as well.  I’m so sorry they had to endure this with me.  And I’m so so so sorry for what pain my ride caused them.  I’ll never be able to make up for that.  Never.

Prof K ❤

Birthdays! :)

My birthday was this past weekend (presents are still being accepted!) and I turned 51!  Over half a century old, yet sometimes I feel so much younger.  Of course, I also feel older at times as well!

Why is it when you’re younger, age and birthdays take on such a significance?  When my son was born, I kept track of his age by days.  “He’s 10 days old now!  Yea!!”  Then you go to months…even AFTER a year has gone by.  Instead of saying a toddler is 1 ½ years old, we say, “My son is 18 months!”

Childhood-Innocence-Goes-By-So-Fast-And-Before-We-Know-It-It_S-In-The-Past.”

Is it because 18 months sounds ‘older’ than a year…and we are so excited about seeing what’s next in our kids’ lives we try to speed up the process?  I learned, as most parents of adult children do, that our kids’ childhoods go by in a flash!  The days might go slowly…there were days in my life with my son that seemed to go on forever like when he was sick…but the years just flew by.  It’s like I blinked, and he was all grown up!  What I wouldn’t give to go back and enjoy those LONG days again!!

After celebrating our age so much, why do we begin to ‘fib’ about it as we get older?  Once we hit late 20‘s early 30’s, we start (hopefully jokingly) saying how old we are getting.  And by the time we’re close to 40, the fibs might begin!  And if not the ‘fibs’ (e.g. I’m…ummmm…35-ish), then the race to beat the youth clock is in full swing.  Think about it…what product is sold for women that DOESN’T promise it will make you look younger??  Hmmmmm…

1 fountain of youth_0

Anyhoo, when I was a kid, I absolutely adored my birthdays!  After I’d get up in the mornings and was getting ready for school, my dad would always call me from work which was so special to me.  To talk on the phone with dad, during work hours, told me how special my birthday was.  Then, my mom would come to my classroom (in elementary school) that afternoon with cupcakes and kool-aid.  The teacher would call me up to the front of the class and everyone would sing happy birthday to me and I’d pass out my goodies!  Later that evening, I’d get to pick any dinner I wanted mom to cook, and I always chose the same thing…Kraft mac-n-cheese and green beans!  In fact, that’s still my go to comfort meal to this day.  Then, my grandparents would come over for cake and presents!  And I’m going to be honest here, I LOVE presents!!  Love them!!  I love getting them and I love giving them!  Actually, the most difficult time of the holiday season for me is trying to keep secret what I have bought everyone!  And, my sister is just as bad; actually, it must be genetic because my son has developed that tendency too!

I’ll never forget my son’s first birthday.  Hubby and I rented a couple of large tables and chairs and invited all of our friends and neighbors over.  My baby’s eyes were like saucers when he realized this fuss was for him!  I was hoping he’d take his first unassisted steps that day in front of everyone, but instead, he did it the very next day.  Literally 12 hours later when it was only me to witness this monumental event.  Figures.

Unfortunately, my son’s birthday is in the summer, so he never got to experience a class party.  (However, I was always room-mom, and took care of all the holiday parties and was considered the ‘goodie bag’ queen by many).  So, I’d have swim parties for him.  We’d rent out the pool we used each summer and he and his friends would have a ball…swimming, eating, swimming again, experiencing stomach cramps, etc.  It was fun! 😊 I still make a fuss over my son’s birthday, and for his 21st, my family and I gave him a surprise birthday party!  We had planned it for months and he was so surprised and touched.  Lots of his friends from high school were there and I made him a memory quilt…it has 20 fabrics in it, and each one represents something he loved as a kid like Pokemon, nature, the Simpsons, etc.  He loved it!

Last year, my birthday completely sucked.  It was really the beginning of the end of hubby 3 and I.  I knew things were getting to the point where a decision needed to be made, and I knew he was pretty much checked out when he gave me his gift.  Usually, he was awesome with presents.  But last year, he got home late, handed me a Wal-Mart bag with a $5 reading light in it, and no card.  That told me all I really needed to know and the rest of December went downhill.  Actually, the rest of the next year went entirely downhill…fast.

This year, I spent some time with my mom and sister, and then spent the rest of the day by myself.  I was feeling a bit lonely, but I wanted the time.  Having my birthday again triggered so much of what went on this past year, and I started thinking about everything and tried to sort some things out.  And I think I did.  I saw the start of my horrible year, but also saw the lessons I learned from it, the strength I gained, and the growth I’ve experienced.  I know this year was terrible, but I also know it wasn’t nearly as awful as it could have been, and probably won’t be the worse I’ll ever encounter.  I saw the very worse in the face of my sister-in-law when my nephew died, and I know how lucky, truly blessed, I am for not having to experience that depth of grief.  I’ve put a lot of things in perspective and have learned the most important lesson of all:  to be grateful for what I have in the midst of anything else that might be happening.  I have my son.  I have my family.  I have my dogs.  I have my friends.  I have my career.  I have my students.

848601-Pat-Benatar-Quote-You-re-a-heartbreaker-dream-maker-love-taker-don

And I also have this:  the understanding that I will NEVER hurt like I did last year again in terms of relationships.  Never.  I’ve ‘hardened’ my heart a bit.  Not terribly hard…but hard enough so that it has much more protection than it’s ever had before.  I’ve built some boundaries, learned some important red flags, and have forced myself to look at things a bit more objectively in my life.  You know, it was a pretty good birthday after all.

Prof K ❤