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!

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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.

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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.

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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)! 🙂

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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!

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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 ❤

 

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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 ❤

“What tangled webs we do weave…”

O.K.  I’m talking to Sarge.  Spending a bit of time with him.  And if you are asking why, I could do one of two things:  I could lie and claim I don’t know why I let this man, who hurt me so badly, back into my life.   Or, I could tell you the truth.  Let’s do that.

I guess the first reason is because of the feelings I still have for him.  I know that sounds crazy, and as I read in it print, I agree.  But, my heart can’t let go.  Wait, that’s a fib.  My heart could let go, but I simply  not ready to do that yet.

As I’ve been writing this blog, with Sarge being the principal reason behind it, it’s as if Sarge and “__” have become 2 different people.  It’s almost like Sarge is now a character I’m only writing about, while “__” is a different person all together.  Have you ever heard of cognitive dissonance?  It’s when you feel mental discomfort/anguish because you are believing in 2 different and conflicting beliefs, and your mind is going back and forth, trying to figure out how to make sense of this dichotomy.  Rationally, I know Sarge and “__” are the same man.  I get that.

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BUT, it’s as if Sarge is Dr. Jekyll and “__” is Mr. Hyde.  And trying to reconcile that these 2 men exist together (the good man and the evil man) within “__” is very difficult to do.  It’s much easier to put all of the bad that happened to me onto Sarge, while I remember all of the good when I’m with “__”.   And yes, this sounds like an excuse with an impressive psychological concept backing it up, because I suppose it is.  But it’s the only way I can see “__” and quash my hurt feelings.

Another reason I let him back into my life (in a very limited way), is simple.  I love him.  Period.  It’s not rational.  In fact, it’s nonsensical.  But I have to admit it’s true.  There is still love in my heart for this man.  But I realized something last night as we were talking.  I’m not in his.  And it’s not because he’s a self-proclaimed narcissist, which I’m strongly reconsidering is really Adult Reactive Attachment Disorder (more about that in my next post), it’s because he loves (yes…loves…) his ex.  The woman he cheated on with me.  The woman who broke up his marriage…abused him…destroyed his belongings…interfered negatively with his military career…and still plays him for her own fun.  Yes.  This is who he loves.

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You know, when I believed he didn’t have the capacity for love, I better understood, however painful it was, that it wasn’t necessarily a lack in me…but a lack in him instead.  But when he talked about his love for this other woman last evening, it took my breath away.  One moment, he says he hates her to the point of wanting to seek vengeance for all she’s done, and the next, he’s talking about her goodness and how happy they once were.  As he was saying these words, I realized something.  It applied to me as well, which also showed me how deeply these feelings reside in him since I’m experiencing the same things.  At times I hate him.  At times I love him.  At all times, he has enough of an emotional hold on me that I can feel these different psychological states so passionately.  That’s what he doesn’t understand.  To hate someone…to talk about someone (no matter well or not) …to ruminate over someone (like he does) …to tell the same stories about someone over and over again…shows love.  If you don’t love someone, you are not going to be intensely invested in them, regardless of how confusing that investment is.

Sarge told me he was letting go of her.  As he said it, I could see in his face, and hear in the tone of his voice, this was a process that was going to take a lot of time and effort.  A process that pained him.  I asked if he had any love in his heart for me and he said he did.  But how can you have 2 people in your heart at the same time?

Do I?  I know I still love hubby 3.  But it’s not a passionate, “in-love” type feeling.  It’s a love based on a history together, a friendship, and a sense of family.  He’s my friend.  In fact, all of my friends have a place in my heart.  However, the difference to me is clear:  I love them dearly, but I love Sarge passionately.  Sarge though, loves ex passionately, and although I believe he does have some feelings for me, it’s not the same at all.  She’s the ‘love’ in his heart.  And I’m thinking I’m just the ‘left-overs’.

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I guess the question is this:  how can I continue to interact with a man who doesn’t love me ‘best’?  Because of my own loving nature and the fact I’m a forgiving person?  Now that I know he does have a capacity for love, will he be able to love me back?  And is it really love he’s feeling for his ex?  Their relationship was toxic from the start and began with an open marriage.  She is an un-medicated bi-polar and is also (from everything I’ve heard) a narcissist herself.  Maybe they are just tangled up in this abusive web both contribute to and understand.  Personally, I feel they ‘feed’ off of one another.  They both manipulate, triangulate, and use each other in so many different ways.  They both want to ‘win’ this continuing fight that always seems to be present, and because of this, neither will let go first.  After all, that would be conceding to the battle, and narcissists need to win.  If so, their relationship will never be over, and where does that put me?

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I’m not a stupid woman.  But I know I’m a woman who is still working very hard on creating and maintaining appropriate boundaries.  I’m also reminding myself, again and again, of the pain Sarge put me through.  Last night, he was talking about the pain his ex heaped on him, and I expressed it was exactly what I was going through myself.  He tried to deny it though, by saying his pain was worse.  It’s almost like he can’t comprehend what he DID do to me and the effects it had on my heart and soul.  He minimizes his abuse of me, while talking regularly about what she has done to him.  And guess what?  The stories are damn similar.  He can feel the pain from her.  But he can’t yet admit, nor apologize, for the same pain he inflicted on me.  At one point, he asked if I’d ever been hurt enough to contemplate suicide.  And I said yes.  This summer.  Because he wasn’t here to see my breakdown, he has no comprehension of what I went through.  It’s not real to him.  It’s just a time when we were apart for a couple of months and he was living his life, while I was wanting to end my own.

So, where do I go from here?  I know where I need to go.  I know the healthy route to take.  I know I’m getting so much stronger and I know I will survive if I let him go.  The thing is, I don’t want too.

This is what I know:  letting go of a narcissist is so very difficult to do.  They entangle you in a web and to extricate yourself from it is one of the hardest things you’ll have to do in a relationship.  And unfortunately, that web, at times, can be a comfortable home.

Professor K