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.

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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?

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.’

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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!”

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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…

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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.

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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 ❤

Just Collecting… :)

As hard as this may be, I have to admit something to you all.  I am in a binge-purge cycle.  And, it’s not an eating disorder I’m writing about (and please don’t think I’m minimizing eating disorders…I had anorexia and know how SERIOUS eating disorders are, but this metaphor fits), but a cycle of ‘collecting’ and then ‘donating’ on a regular basis!

Yes, I know on shows like “Hoarders”, people call themselves collectors when they are really living in squalor without being able to truly see their surroundings.  My house is clean.   And it’s not too cluttered.  REALLY!  I swear!  However, I get on ‘kicks’, then when (and it will happen) I begin to clean, it’s like a tornado going through.  I start getting rid of everything.  I look at something and will tell myself I don’t need it, so into the donation box it goes.  And I know I’m right to do this, because I haven’t looked at or used the damn thing for months.

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And then it happens.  I need it.  You haven’t used the kitchen gadget or junk drawer contents forever, and the minute that donation box is dropped off and processed, you need this ‘thing’ more than you ever did.

A couple of years ago, I was furiously cleaning out my kitchen cabinets.  My kitchen is quite small, and my cabinet space is very limited.  So, every so often I have to ‘sort through’ (i.e. toss out) things in order to ensure my cabinet doors and drawers will close again.  In the silverware drawer was a bottle opener.  A rusty, icky, old bottle opener that we NEVER used.  Hello!  Pop and beer caps that you have to use an opener for are a thing of the past, so I had no qualms at all about tossing the darn thing away.  Then, hubby got home.  And got in the silverware drawer to eat his favorite after work snack, cottage cheese (not sure why I included that info…not really pertinent, but I just think it’s a weird snack).

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Not THE opener…but similar!

Anyhoo, after immediately opening the drawer, hubby said, “Where is my bottle opener?”  And I said, “You mean that dirty, rusty, nasty bottle opener that we never use and probably won’t use in the next 30 years?  I tossed it!”  Hubby’s face turned an interesting shade of purplish/red and he said, “You THREW AWAY the bottle opener my dead FATHER gave me when I was just a teenager?  The ONLY thing my FATHER gave me when I was growing up that actually had sentimental value to him, and you THREW IT AWAY?”  I said, “Well…yeah…”  And the night went downhill from there.

So, being the sweet, remorseful wife I was, I got to the thrift shop as soon as I could the next day to get it back.  And it wasn’t there.  The box had been processed and someone had already bought the darn thing.  Apparently, it was a collector’s item.  I was on a quest.  I scoured EVERY thrift shop in town…every antique dealer…every flea market…e-bay…etsy…and anywhere else I could think of.  The opener had had a bars name on it, so I got online and of course the bar had closed years ago.  FINALLY, after weeks of searching, an antique dealer called me and said he found a bottle opener like the one I was looking for!  Twenty seven dollars later, I brought it home and stuck it in the drawer.  And when hubby got home. I lied.  Yes, I lied.  I said, “Oh my gosh, hubby…I found your bottle opener!  I must not have thrown it out after all!”  He took a look at it, and then said this (word for word), “You know, it IS pretty gross…it needs to be tossed anyway!  Sorry I got mad!”  Heh??  After all of that…and he throws it away??!!  I’m pretty sure hubby had no idea why I was so grouchy around him for the next few days.

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This has happened with my mother as well.  “Prof K, do you have my baking pan I lent you a few weeks ago?”  Oooops.  That was hers?  I thought it was just another baking pan I’d accumulated that I didn’t have the space for.  “No, ma…I have no idea what you’re talking about!”  And then the search begins again!

Once, my mom and her ex took my hubby, son, and me out for Sunday lunch and she was wearing the ugliest outfit I ever saw.  Seriously.  (And yes, she admits it was hideous today, although her defense at the time was quite impressive).  I’ve tried to find a pic of it online, and no one is brave enough to post anything about this hot mess…and thankfully so.  Anyhoo…I, teasingly, told mom how awesome I thought her outfit was.  And, later that week, she had bought me my own!  A patchwork, culottes, blouse outfit I was now obligated to wear.  So I did.  The next week, I put it on for church.  Hubby 2 comes in the bedroom where I’m looking at myself in the mirror and says, “You’re wearing THAT?  You look 80!”  AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!  But I wore it (for my mom) and she thought I looked beautiful…go figure.  Luckily, the ‘style’ quickly went out, and those 2 outfits have since found their way to the local thrift shop.  Thank goodness!

Now…what have I ‘collected’ over the years?  I started with Precious Moments, and then went on to Boyd’s bear figurines.  Once I got tired of these, for some unknown, God forsaken reason, I started collecting bells.  I bought a ‘lot’ of them on e-bay so my collection grew in days.  Now, they’re in a HUGE Rubbermaid container, and I have no idea what to do with them.  Sell them?  Keep them?  Hmmmmm.

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For a long while, sis and I collected antique bottles we dug up…we literally had hundreds!!  Weeding those out was hard on me, and a friend had to help.  But, I was surrounded by glass…and it was way too much!!  I moved on to vintage, snarky ashtrays and leather postcards.  I have absolutely no idea why.  Just saw a couple of these things in an antique shop and thought, ‘I need to collect these’!  When I show people my ‘collections’, they look at me like I’m one step away from needing an intervention.  And they are probably right!

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So, I’ll continue my binge and purge cycle of ‘collecting’ and in the meantime, who knows?  I might just come across the 1 thing that makes it all worthwhile…the Picasso found at a rummage sale or an original Abe Lincoln letter at a flea market.  I’ll keep plodding along…looking for that ‘find’!

OK…here’s the moral to this blog post, and it’s one we can all learn from:  NEVER TELL YOUR MOTHER YOU LIKE HER OUTFIT IN A SARCASTIC WAY.  SHE WILL NOT UNDERSTAND THE UNDERLYING SNARKINESS AND THE RESULT WILL BE YOU WEARING A QUILT IN PUBLIC.  ‘Nough said.

Prof K ❤

“People let me tell you ’bout my best friends…”

I didn’t have dogs growing up and my dad and I are horribly allergic to cats, so when I left home and had my apartment with hubby 1, I got my first little dog, Scooter.  He was a Shih-Tzu/Toy Poodle mix and completely untrained because I had no idea what I was doing!!  Pottie training him was a nightmare and he loved getting into things when he was a puppy.

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One day, I left my spaghetti dinner on the table while I went into the other room to answer the phone.  When I got back, he was covered in noodles and red sauce and looked adorable!  It was hard not to laugh!  When I was pregnant with my son, Scooter always sat by me, and in the late stages, my son would kick, (hard!) and Scooter would look at me as if I were the one doing it to him!

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After my baby was born, Scooter got up with me EVERY single time I had to feed my boy.  He would sit by the rocking chair and supervise me.  He wanted to make sure I was doing things right!  My son grew up with Scooter and they were pals.  He even won over my mom…the proverbial ‘dog hater’ and she cuddled him and kissed him whenever she could!  Scooter was my best friend for 13 years and I’ve never been without a dog since.

After Scooter, I had Squirty (a Toy Poodle) and 2 white German Shepherds (Tessie and Lizzie).  All of them were awesome dogs and each had such a distinct personality!  When hubby 2 and I divorced, I left Squirty (‘my’ dog) with hubby so he could be with Lizzie (‘his’ dog) who was like a mother to him.  It was really hard walking away from my 2 dogs but since hubby lived on acreage and Lizzie needed that, I understood it was the right thing to do.

So…my son and I picked out Dottie when we moved to our new home and she was a snarly, crabby dog that apparently no one else wanted from this breeder.  The breeder even charged me $50 less for her (that should have been a big sign…), and when I picked her up after her 8th week, she snapped and snarled at me all the way home!

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Little Dottie is a Toy Poodle and is quite the diva.  I’m more knowledgeable about dogs now and she’s pretty well trained, but she has a way of getting much of what she wants!   She follows me around outside without a leash and I love having my little buddy with me while I mow and do yard work.

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Little Dottie is the cutest most challenging dog I’ve ever had, and her personality is hilarious.  She literally ‘flirts’ with men, and if one is holding her, I’m suddenly invisible!  She’s 11 now and is slowing down, but her personality is still that of a playful yet sometimes crabby puppy, and I love her to death!

Last April, I decided I wanted another dog…so when Little Dottie goes to heaven someday (and yes, I truly believe with all my heart that pets go to heaven), I’ll have another furry friend I’m attached too.  It’s so hard to open your heart to another dog and I wanted that to be already done.  Soooo, I adopted Edward (he prefers to be called Eddie…unless he’s in trouble) who was supposed to be a Chihuahua/Small Dachshund mix.

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His litter had been dumped and found by the rescue org and the rescue vet is who determined his breed.  I wanted another little dog since my house is a bit smallish and my yard isn’t huge.  The vet believed that Eddie would be about 10 pounds full grown and I bought all kinds of cute LITTLE stuff for him…a carrier, a small crate, a sling to wear him in, etc.

But, a funny thing happened.  Eddie started to grow.  And grow.  And grow.  And before I knew it, my little Chi-Weenie was actually a Rhodesian Ridgeback/Hound mix and he currently weighs 40 pounds!!  And I don’t care a bit!!  He is the most loving dog I’ve ever had…always by my side and will cuddle anytime I want!  Both of my dogs sleep with me and Dottie will be on top of the covers, while Eddie is under them next to my feet and legs.  How he breathes under there, I don’t know.  But that’s where he goes and it’s like I have my own little space heater now in bed!

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Eddie is slowly getting trained…and Dottie is a big help.  At first, she HATED Eddie.  Truly.  (Remember, she’s a snarly little Diva) but things have gotten so much better.  They will lay by each other now, and sometimes, if he’s in her way, she’ll just walk right under him. It’s so cute to see!  Eddie was pottie trained within a month and it’s because of Dottie showing him what to do (she wants paid for that help…we’re still in negotiations).  He’s also learning to sit and stay on command, and is walking really well on a leash.  However, being a puppy…a LARGE puppy, he likes to chew and I’ve lost a few rugs and will have some repairs to do on my woodwork when he’s a bit more grown up.  But you know what?  I don’t care!  The love and affection he gives me, and the way he looks out for Dottie, is worth teeth marks and frayed rugs.  🙂

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Before I had dogs, I never really understood the love people had for their furry friends.  And now I can’t believe how I ever lived without a dog.  They give so much to you…their hearts, loyalty, friendship, kindness, love, and do it in a completely unconditional way.   No matter what, they are thrilled to see you when you walk in the door and that greeting can make your day.  This summer, when I felt so lost and lonely, my dogs were there.  Both are intuitive and would just ‘know’ when I needed extra affection.  Eddie, being so big, will get on my lap, put his head on my shoulder, and will give me a hug.  Squeezing him back comforts me in a way nothing else can.  Little Dottie will cuddle me at night…snuggling as close as she can.  Then, if she thinks I’m upset, she’ll roll over on her back to show me what I need to do…rub and love on her.  And I do.  Because she’s in charge and she knows what’s best for me.

I believe pets are gifts from God.  I think he knew people would hurt us and be cruel at times, so he gave us pets to counter that.  I can tell my dogs anything, and they’ll keep my secrets.  I can lose my temper with them, and they’ll still want to be with me.  I can cry by them and they’ll comfort me with their presence.  I can be me.  And they accept that.  Unconditionally.  What other relationship can claim the same?

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So, thank you Little Dot and Ed…you both have been what I needed these past months and I hope you both feel the love I have for you.  It’s unconditional too.  Dottie, your snarls are understandable…life can be tough.  But you can snarl around me anytime, and I’ll love you all the more for being so freaking spunky.  And Eddie, I don’t give a hoot if my woodwork isn’t perfect or my carpet has holes.  You are worth so much more than wood and fibers.  Truly.  But, the next time you decide to eat one of my earrings, could you please choose one that doesn’t have diamond chips in it?  That would be appreciated.

Prof K ❤