Friday, December 26, 2008

2008 - Lessons Learned

My year has been good overall, but not without its challenges. My job has been a challenge. Staying positive and focused is hard, when your company is very political and with so much uncertainty in the market. Many days I wonder how much longer I will be able to muddle through the politics. But it is a good job. And I know that God gave me this opportunity to re-establish myself.

My main relationship this year was a tough one. It started out very, very good, and went sour very, very fast. I learned that I quickly give up things that are important to me, for a chance at companionship. And I truly need a companion who shares my loves. I also learned that I want someone who allows me to have freedom and a voice—not a controller. That relationship brought me to a place of acceptance for what may not be in my future. I would love to have kids, but worrying and wondering only made life more stressful. Letting go of that helped me to accept God’s will for me—whatever it may be.

I was absent a lot from church during this relationship, and I struggled with that. I didn’t intend to quit church, but I also allowed this man to dominate my time. There was no time for church, as long as I was with him. In the end, his controlling nature became more and more clear, and as he crossed a major line with me and my home, I found myself alone again, and unsure of whether or not I could return to church. When I did, I had a whole new respect for those who don’t come regularly, and those who disappear for time periods. You just don’t know the struggles people encounter in life that keeps them at bay. When they do return, the last thing they need is to be scrutinized.

I had minor surgery, only to find out that my reproductive organs are in good shape. Part of me wonders if they are being preserved for a reason, but I'm not stressing over it. I hinted at my doctor about removing them completely, and she refused to do so. Like I said before, I'm OK either way.

I went from having a roommate, to being alone again. That was a burden lifted off of my shoulders. I am not good at sharing my space for long periods of time, and that friendship nearly ended over the whole thing. Luckily, it lasted, and I can once again leave the bathroom door open and walk around the house in my skivvies.

I was reminded that I still struggle with many codependent areas. But I recognize them when they occur. I have this weird need to get approval of certain people around me. Those people will never provide me “approval” because they hold power by withholding it. Therefore, I waste my time trying to earn something that I cannot earn and truly don’t need.

I have connected with friends from the past, and that has been refreshing. I have made new friends, and that has been exciting. And I have been more willing to be a friend, and to be friendly. That’s a big deal for me. I enjoy being social for the first time.

Finally, I did the ridiculous--I went to a psychic. It was a strange occurance where I went as a favor to a friend who didn't want to go alone. I've always been curious of the trade, coming from a pentecostal type of background. But the experience was very . . . . interesting. I am not living by anything that was said, because time will tell if it's truth.

So, overall, I'm happy with this year. I've had some horrible ones previously, and it's nice to look back without grimacing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Traditions

I love Christmas, but it’s been a bittersweet holiday for years. When I was married, it turned into a driving fiasco. We would drive from Texas to Tulsa. From Tulsa to Mannford, to Norman, to Fort Cobb, to Anadarko. Then back to Texas. And if we wanted to alternate holidays, well, that was a guilt fest. We live in a society where people are living longer, and divorce is common. So exes, steps, and in-laws are overwhelming. Every year may be grandpa’s last year, but getting to all the grandpas can be a bit much. In my family, guilt hovers over family events. “You’re coming, aren’t you? Why not? What is more important than time with your family? We won’t be here forever, you know.”

I applaud anyone who is trying to create new traditions.

Since my divorce, Christmas has been lonely. My sister is married. My parents have been married for 39 years. I am the lone person who doesn’t get some really amazing personal gift. But it’s not about the gift, it’s about the intimacy behind it. Some Christmases were lonely, even as I was dating someone. Why? Because I knew it wouldn’t last, or I had reached a level of discomfort in it. Sometimes, it’s easier being single.

This Christmas, the atmosphere is different. I am still single, and I’m so happy to be out of my last relationship. I have my niece to purchase and assemble gifts for. But more than that, I am more at peace with myself. I have been able to help some people that I know truly need it. The satisfaction that brings is as good as any gift I could ever get. I have had opportunities to be social. I am going to go to a Christmas eve service at church, which is something I’ve never participated in. I’m going to hang out with a friend on Christmas day.

Finally, my own traditions are being formed.

So, I hope everyone is able to find some time to rest, to reflect, and to be thankful for what this holiday is all about..


Sunday, December 21, 2008


I approached the door to Agora, nervous about attending a group gathering that promised to be social, personal, and intimate--everything I wanted to be but didn't have the courage. The door was locked. I walked around the side, where the "Big Room" entrance was located. It was locked as well. My anger, embarassement, and self-loathing rose up inside of me. Lights were on, but doors were locked: I wasn't welcome. I would not try to be social again! Taking that step was big for me, and getting shut out was hurtful.

"Damn them for this! I drove all the way out here, just for rejection! I KNEW I shouldn't have done this! I'm a fool to think I could fit in!" I thought as I drove away.

I mentioned to Pastor Jeff the next day that I had come to attend the group meeting that he had encouraged me to get involved with. I was a few minutes late due to work, I explained, and had raced over to the church. But I had wasted my time.

He apologized and said, "They lock the door for security reasons. Please try again! They would love to have you!".

Naw, I'm one shot Kristi. You only get 1 chance to hurt me, and then I shut you out. At least, I had been like that. But God was working on that part of me...

I had been attending Agora for about a year, and was slowly working on getting out of my ultra thick shell. It has been a very slow process, and full of self flagellation. I found myself ending a relationship that was not healthy for me, and that was consuming me. I needed a diversion, and I knew it.

There was a ladies group being formed--a chance to study a book--and it was guaranteed to make an wonderful impression. Other ladies' groups had met before, and I regretted not attending them. So I decided to buck up and give this group thing one more shot. The group was called "Women at the Well", and details about it were vague. I need not purchase a book prior to the first meeting, according to Linda, the facilitator. We could buy the books from her, at the first class. She seemed excited to have me. This felt promising. The title of the book was merely, "Love is a Choice", as far as I knew. Sounded quaint.

The first class had women of all ages. As Linda began to describe the class and the book, she began talking about codependency. What??? I looked at the book I had just purchased from Linda, and the cover read, "Love is a Choice: The Groundbreaking Book on Codependent Relationships." I felt duped. The "C" word had not been used in any of the previous descriptions of the class. Yet here it was in front of me. I didn't know what codependency was, but it didn't matter--I didn't have it. I looked around the room for an easy exit. There was no sneaking out of this room. I was already looking for a reason to miss all future classes. I could always blame work. Saying, "You guys may be sick, but I'm not!" didn't sound very nice. After listening, I realized I was the only person completely ignorant of the term "codependent" and its meaning.

So I decided to listen. I looked down, in a very disinterested way, and read the first couple of lines from a workbook Linda had given every attendee. It gave 10 traits of a codependent. Check, check, check, check. I recognized 8 of them in myself. I was shocked. It was listing very personal traits of mine, all of which I hated and felt unable to change. I'm not the only person struggling with these issues? I can overcome these feelings? There is hope for me? I realized that I was not there on accident. By the time I left the class, I was anxious to read the book.

"Why didn't you tell me I'm codependent?" I asked my sister over the phone. She is a therapist, and had slowly brought many of my behaviors to my attention over time.

"You weren't ready to hear it Kristi. You have to be ready to make a change," she replied. That's when I realized it's time to make a change. God brought me here to address these issues, so if HE thinks I'm ready, I must be.

I spent the next 10 weeks soul searching, letting go, and questioning everything around me. I had a word for my craziness, and it was codependency. I had a book on how to overcome it. And I had other women who understood my perspective. It was priceless.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I was cautiously helping my mom empty the trunk of our car, wondering what was ahead of us. I was 5 years old. I looked next door and saw a little boy, just a year or 2 younger than me, poking his head out the front door of his house. He was getting a glance at the new kids on the block. When he realized he had our attention, he made noises and ran in and out of the door—in complete little boy, energetic fashion. That summer day was the start of a golden era for me.

My parents had just moved our family to Ponca City from Tulsa. Dad’s job transferred him from Tulsa, giving him an opportunity to hone his retail management skills and prove he had the chops to run a store on his own. It was a great chance he couldn’t pass up.

The little boy next door had an older sister whom I quickly became friends with. Jennifer and I played countless hours together. We dressed up, made mud pies, played “shop” and dolls. Her brother and I would play Star Wars with his now-very-valuable action figures and Enterprise collection. 26 years later, I can still tell you their phone number, the layout of their house, the smell of their rooms, the decorations on their walls. My memories of that era are vivid. I was so happy. 5 years of peace.

This was a snapshot in time that I can never get back. We walked to school every day. Me, my sister, and our neighbors, side by side, no parents chaperoning us--just gradeschool kids with our backpacks. If my mom dared to put my hair in a bun, I would have it freed form such ridiculousness and into a pony tail by the time we hit the school perperty. If one of us was sick at school and we couldn’t reach our mom, we could always reach the neighbor to pick us up. We were spanked as punishment, as was typical at that time, and we didn’t dare cross our parents. We ran amok in the neighborhood. Bicycles were our transportation of choice, and we would ride to the high school or donut shop with a friend. Trick-or-treating was universal—everyone walked the neighborhoods and begged for candy, as we wore costumes from Gibson’s or TG&Y. We played outside until dusk, at which time my mom would stand on the front porch and yell, “Girls! It’s getting dark!” That was our warning, and we came running from behind whatever bushes we were playing. That was a time when my mom forced me to play outside, because exercise was important. We sold rocks to neighbors for a penny each (large rocks were at least a nickel!), and some actually bought them to humor us. I played on the monkey bars until my pelvis was bruised. I raised my hand in class and prayed I would get called on. There was no Wal-Mart in town, so we shopped local businesses. I remember the smell of the library downtown and the brick roads leading to it.

When I was 10, the world as I knew it changed. Dad was transferred to Tulsa. The year was 1982, and that was the first time I ever saw him cry. We planned to stay in Ponca City indefinitely, but a great opportunity was presented to my dad. So, we packed up, and said goodbye to Ponca and to our friends. We returned to our roots. It was hard to leave Jennifer behind, and we vowed to be friends forever.

Life gets busy, and you lose touch. We wrote occasional letters, and there was the phone call and visit. But the next time I really connected to Jen again was in 1991, when she had moved to Tulsa with her new husband and baby. We became close, as she struggled with motherhood, married life, making friends, and all the trials that go with it. I moved away to Norman in 1993, and again we lost touch. We did reconnect through the years, the occasional phone calls and dinners. But I haven’t heard from her at all in 6 years. Until now.

I found her on facebook. We’ve been reminiscing and contemplating our paths. You see, our worlds fell apart once my family moved to Tulsa. Jen’s parents had a few more kids, but ended up in a nasty divorce. It caused division and chaos in their home. My parents relocated to Tulsa, only to encounter financial hardships like we had never known and a school system I was never comfortable with. My sister went from playing on an all star softball team in Ponca to being benched in Sand Springs, because she hadn’t grown up with the girls playing together. She was never allowed to use her talent, because she didn't know the right people. Everything changed, including us. I became more secluded and depressed. Honestly, I shut down for a variety of reasons.

So, those 5 years of my life were golden. My dad told me that they were golden for him and my mom as well. I am fortunate that I had 5 years like that. Many don't have such purity and freedom. And I can share them with Jen, and laugh about the details. And hope we create some golden years for others as well.

Jen says that God keeps bringing us into each others’ lives for a reason. I agree.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I have always considered myself a hermit, lacking in the social arena, and odd. Struggling with depression beginning at the age of 10 made it worse, because I mentally beat myself up.

College was a culture shock. This naive, quiet, sarcastic, redhead, who was raised in a very strict religious home, had no rules, no boundaries, no expectations. Just . . . .freedom. Phillips University even had parties in remote locations that they would bus us to--no i.d.s, no rules. Just get on the bus, get off, get drunk, get back on the bus, go to your dorm and pass out. School sponsored!

Anyway, that was the start of my socialization. That's when I learned that I wasn't good at making friends, having fun, or even making eye contact. I'd never had much fun, never had many friends, and was scared of eye contact. The rest of my life has been a quest to be social. It's not been a road of consistency--I've frequently run back to my cave to hide from the world for long periods of time (inevitably to escape the messiness of friendships). My cave is safe, comfortable, and predictable. However, I have continued to venture out.

The older I get, and the more I try, the easier it gets. This weekend I reconnected with a friend I haven't seen in 17 years. We weren't THAT close of friends back then, but he was funny, and we had mutual friends, and we hung out. I recently found myself chatting with him online. And I caught myself being . . . . . social. I was joking around, I was not afraid of how I came across, I was just being . . . . .me. He came to church with me, and we went to lunch afterward. I was elated to have connected with him. After thinking about it all, I realized that some of my elation was that I found myself being comfortable with someone I barely knew, and I was able to be myself. For me, that's huge. This is not the first time I've caught myself being social recently, but it's the first time I've realized just how easily I express myself when I let my guard down.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

There are Good People Left In the World

I am a loser. If an item is not attached to my body, I can and will lose it. And I have lost everything smaller than a TV that I own. Books, keys, money, shoes, you name it. The 2 scariest items to lose are my keys and my check card. Well, I did it again. I lost my check card.

I took the folks to Rib Crib last night. I paid with that pink card, included a tip on the slip, and left. I don't know if I never received the card back, or if it fell out of my purse. (Yes, I know, I should use the pockets.) Well, after a busy day today, I realized I hadn't seen my pink plastic. So I began to search, then I dug through my clothes, my purse, my car, and finally realized, "It's gone!"

Before cancelling it, and knowing my amazing history of losing things, I decided to call Rib Crib in case they had it. As I waited on hold, I looked at my bank info online. According to it, I had 2 charges at Rib Crib last night. The first one I recognized. The second one was not mine. As soon as I was pulled off hold, I noted the issue to the person I was talking to. They immediately traced the 2 charges, compared signatures on receipts, and told me they will reimburse me for the second charge. The 2 signatures did not match.

Luckily, whoever took it only used it once. Maybe they thought a random charge would be easily overlooked. But at least I am not behind on the deal.

Thank you to Rib Crib in West Tulsa for being so diligent in solving my problem, and for being so friendly. It restores my faith in people.

The credit card only had that charge on it, so I closed the account.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I count steps. That’s right, I will be walking and suddenly realize I’m at 102, 103, 104, never remember 100, 101, or even 20. As a kid, if I walked on a sidewalk, I either had to avoid every crack, or step on every one. Didn’t matter which, but if I deviated from the pattern, I would get nervous. I also would touch things. If I touched a few things on a table, I had to touch them all. If not, something bad might happen.

Quirky? Yeah. A lot of kids have that. I’ve grown out of most of it (except the step counting thing).

I also had another quirk. I was afraid of going into public. As a child, I would get so nervous when I was in public, my tummy would cramp and I would have to poo. But I had an even bigger fear of public restrooms. Probably because I have IBS, and I could not just sit for a few minutes and get it over with. So I was screwed, and I would get sick from holding it for so long. As I grew up, I had to face many of these fears to even function. I knew it wasn’t normal, so I tried to cover it up. But as recent as the year 2002, I had a Wal Mart I couldn’t go into. It was in Texas, where I lived. Going there made me nervous. So I avoided it at all costs. It’s probably where my love for Target originated. As I type this, my tummy is getting nervous, thinking of that WalMart. Nothing bad happened there to make me uneasy. I just was afraid of it, and my tummy would go haywire at the thought of it.

I’m not sure which was first, the depression, the anxiety, or the IBS. But they all feed on each other. And I’ve dealt with it all since I was a child. Add some codependency into the mix, and I have been a mess for most of my life. I just had a lot of fears. I found solace in my family, because they accepted me for who I was, so I rarely ventured out of that sphere of comfort. As I moved away to begin my own life, I struggled to make friends. I hadn’t ever been comfortable enough with myself to make any, so I had no idea how to be a friend. I had longed for friendship for so long that I had envisioned this amazing thing friendships would be.

I now retreat to the solace of my home to seek refuge from friendships. Funny how life works.

But back to the subject: I have had to face my fears. I tried to commit suicide once years ago. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, with friends, with men, with myself. But I’ve put myself out there, determined to be as normal as possible. And I think that’s one reason I struggled with codependency. I wanted others to help me get through these quirks of mine. I’ve held onto the coattails of others in social situations. I’ve hoped for a man to come along that will save me from myself. I’ve learned that I have to do that myself. And it has sucked royally at times, but I have learned that it’s better that way. I’m stronger for it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Spirits

I love this time of year, but for some it brings out their best, and for others it brings out their worst. I was picking up a prescription at a local drugstore when the lady behind the counter decided I was her new friend.

“I just hate Christmas,” the sad-eyed, middle aged clerk said as she scanned the Christmas gift bags I was buying. It was a deal—2 for a dollar, and they were good, sturdy bags. I was thrilled to find such a bargain, and ready to get my prescription and go home. The look on her face, and the disgust in her voice caused my Christmas joy to suddenly begin deflating. If you were standing near me, you could have heard the high pitched squeal it made. “I know that I’m a scrooge, but I can’t help it.”

“Really? I love Christmas.” I told her, trying to stay positive, and hoping to make a quick escape.

“My son was killed, and that was his favorite holiday. Now I can’t stand it because it reminds me that he’s not here to enjoy it.” Again, stated with an air of disgust.

“I’m sorry. I can see why it would not be a hard time of year for you.” I wanted to acknowledge her hurt, but by doing so, I unwittingly opened an opportunity for her to spill her guts. So, for next 20 minutes, I got to hear about his unexpected death several years before, the impact it has had on her and her family. I have a hard time being intentionally rude unless I’m angry, so I found myself caught listening to the drone of an unhappy person, with unhappy things happening around her all the time, and wanting to die myself if I had to hear another word. (Mind you, I had just had surgery and was on my way home. The longer she talked, the more I needed that Percocet. But she never asked a thing about me.)

I finally found a chance to escape and briskly walked away, hoping to find a sharp knife for some wrist slitting. As I got into the car, I realized two things – 1. I will never purchase anything from that pharmacy again, and 2. I don’t want to be that person who sucks out your joy, so she won’t be the only sad person around.

I’m not minimizing her hurt, but I believe that if you dwell in the atrocities of life, you become an easy target for more hurt. And I believe that this is a time of year to celebrate. Celebrate life you have right now. Celebrate the good things you DO have. She is letting other people and circumstances define her. We all do that to an extent, but to lament over it to a stranger is odd. I wonder how many others she has lamented the same story to since then? She is a cloud of despair, and I pray she finds peace. I hope I have enough insight, and have tapped into my codependency well enough, to not lose the peace I’ve finally managed to obtain.

This is one example of codependency gone wild. Life is too short