Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Past relationships – what I wish I used to know

I lived for 37 years before meeting my husband. 37 years is a lot of years. At times, it’s hard to imagine the thoughts, dreams, hopes, and heartbreaks of then-me.  Then-me seems vague, somehow.

Now-me, and Mom-me are so righthere and rightnow that I forget how very much past darkness, and past lightnesses, have helped to shape now-me. Life’s details, beauty, and a kid’s ability to poop in the potty give way to an easy dismissal of the intensity, and the importance of forgotten feelings, and of past experiences. Sometimes, something happens, and it’s like I’m rightback. There, back, in the ago.

Sometimes, the trigger is a song. Other times, it’s a scent, a mood, or a sigh.

Those are the moments for remembering then-me.

I remember candlelight, soul-altering music, whispered promises, and oaths of forever and always. I remember peace, and hereness beneath the stars on a winter night in the mountains. I remember inhaling his breath, so that I could hold it inside of me. I remember fights, and possessiveness, and misunderstandings.

I weep for the wandering girl who was searching for the strength inside to realize that what was once inspiring, and invigorating had become draining, and damp. I cheer for the me who walked away. I cry for her, too. I tell her that she was brave and that she did the right thing. Because she was, and she did.

I remember sand in my toes, mugging for photos, my laughing family and friends, and having one of the best days of my life. I remember sunshine and freckles. Moonlight and waves. Screaming and disappointment.

I have been both the giver and receiver of elation. I have been both the giver and receiver of life-changing pain. Sadness. Regret. And then, somehow, mostly relief.

When it comes to past relationships, I have lied and been lied to. I have been brutally honest and the proud and trustworthy keeper of secret truths. I have been fair. I have been unfair. I have laughed until my insides were fed and then starved in the best of ways, and cried until my insides came out.

I have trusted and been trusted. I have both earned it and been undeserving.

At age six, I became blood brothers with my next-door neighbor and kissed him behind the bushes. Six-year old me loved him. Then, he moved away.  I moved on.

At age thirty, I said goodbye to the dream of becoming a mom. Ten years later, I found it. A different man. A different child. The perfect child. Exactly how it was supposed to be.

For 37 years before I met my husband, I lived. Loved. Sometimes, that love was Important. Other times, it was misguided.

Now-me is grateful for all of the times. Hilarity, troll dolls, mountains, beaches, songs, magic, and goofiness infused my every fiber with a belief in childhood magic. Anger and insecurity infused them with new wisdom.

In the past 37 years, I’ve had a lot of experiences. Some love. Some not-love. Some self-awareness and some fuckedupness. All of which brought me here. To now-me. To mom me.

When it comes to past relationships, my husband thinks that the stickiness, messiness, special moments and perfectness – the details – don’t matter. Mostly, he’s right.

They don’t matter much to him.

They matter to me, though.

After all, every me that’s known any and all past loves and lives is grateful for them. Grateful for helping me to become the person who looks back at me in the mirror, today.  The one who can say “Okay. It all ended up just fine, here, almost perfect even, after all.”

While I cannot know whether I returned the favor over the years, I like to think that I did. Because if not, really, what’s the point?

The point of living is to live. To love. To hurt. To grow. To be able to look ourselves in the mirror and meet our gazes with more than resignation. To meet our gazes with power, content, and occasional hard-won peace.

I think my husband and I are both able to do so. Even while kicking our former selves while wondering what we were thinking.

The best part of our pasts is that they’re that. And that moving forward, our pasts are our nextness. Our betterness. Our learnedness. We should thank our pasts for that.

For me, each past everything led me here.

To seeing this particular kid’s sweaty-wonder-filled face. To every beautiful, horrific, terrifying, painful, freeing, captivating, delicious, and amazing moment. Thank you, Past. You were an occasional asshole. And an occasional friend. You were worth both.

Sweaty kid wonder


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. The sentence was “When it comes to past relationships, my partner/spouse thinks…” Your kickass hosts: Your hosts: Janine: Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic Kate: Can I get another bottle of whine? Stephanie: Mommy, for Real me: finding ninee

  • Janine Huldie - I truly felt the same way when writing this up and know that both my past and Kevin’s too got us to exactly where we should be. And seriously couldn’t agree more with you on this if I tried!November 14, 2013 – 10:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. - I could not agree more. Those moments don’t matter to my husband either, but they do matter to me. They are my cherished memories, even the shitty ones. I too can get transported there with just a song or a scent. And I’m grateful that old-me is still part of who I am now. This was great, Kristi. For real.November 14, 2013 – 10:33 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - I just loved this, not only because I always love your writing, but because so much of what you wrote about here are themes that I weave into my memoir. I love how you describe yourself as then-me, and now-me and mom-me. I too feel thankful for my past, because it brought me to the messy, but wonderful present.November 14, 2013 – 10:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah | LeftBrainBuddha - Oh, Kristi, I just adore your writing. This is so lovely. I think about this topic a lot, about how all of our prior experiences make up who and what we are today. You’ve expressed it beautifully. xoxoNovember 14, 2013 – 10:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Considerer - And my goodness, you have LIVED.
    So many have lived without seeing all this; the stuff that you see and you know. Others have lived and they know it.
    But that you can put it into writing so breathtaking it’s like turning round to see a perfect sunset, and being so glad you turned and didn’t miss it – THAT is your amazing gift. (Well, one of many).
    This is a completely, totally, utterly gorgeous post, and thank you for writing it. And thank you for living it – for knowing that all of the allthings which happened and went before are what shaped you now, and make you the person you are, and have brought you to rightnow – and how wonderful that is.
    *MASSIVEHUGS*November 15, 2013 – 2:23 amReplyCancel

  • GirlieOnTheEdge - Funny, when I read words written by a clark, I often don’t know what to say in response. There often is an instant “identification” thing that occurs. Sometimes all I can say is I enjoy your words, I enjoy the expression of them, which is to say the expression of you.

    Happy FTSF Friday friend!November 15, 2013 – 5:04 amReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Wow, you did an excellent job with the sentence prompt. Thirty seven years seems just right for what it earned you. I am glad that you found “almost perfect even.”November 15, 2013 – 6:24 amReplyCancel

  • Tamara - This is truly a work of art. I do thank my past for my betterness and my learnedness. And oh boy – I think there is so much more of that to come. Sometimes I think I’ve only discovered a tiny tip of a large iceberg.
    I’m probably right.
    My grandmother turns 100 on Monday. I should ask her about marriage. She had over 70 years of it, and I’ve only had five.November 15, 2013 – 8:49 amReplyCancel

  • April - Beautiful. I did a lot of living before I married, but now I look back and it was just a few years. As many mistakes as I have made, they brought me to him. I am blessed and it was worth it, I agree.November 15, 2013 – 9:37 amReplyCancel

  • Christina Morley - I’m glad you found your soul mate and are blessed with being parents. Take care!November 15, 2013 – 9:50 amReplyCancel

  • Kelly McKenzie - Beautifully written. I often think about how our past experiences shape our future. They are the building blocks and give us the ability to deal with and accept and in fact achieve our future life, I think. Love the photo of your little guy too.November 15, 2013 – 10:15 amReplyCancel

  • Surprise Mama - So so perfect and so beautifully written and so exactly what I wanted to say – you just said it so well. To hear you say my words…”it doesn’t matter to him, it matters to me because it makes me who I am”. Your words are so beautiful and so accurate and I am so honored to read this post and know that you are out in the world! Thank you!November 15, 2013 – 10:55 amReplyCancel

  • Kate - Love this post. You describe the ups and downs of life perfectly. Glad you found the one when you did- otherwise I couldn’t have learned from your lessons 🙂November 15, 2013 – 11:56 amReplyCancel

  • Dana - We had such different paths to our husbands, Kristi, but we ended up in the same place – our now place, where we want to be. I almost feel like the first few years of our marriage could qualify as a past relationship; it was so long ago and we were such different people.November 15, 2013 – 11:59 amReplyCancel

  • Lanaya | Raising Reagan - Exactly .. we all had identities before we became a significant other. I know the past relationships I have had and that is what has shaped me for who I am. I can’t let go of that.
    Brian has had past relationships too that have shaped him.
    It’s about our interaction together. Like you said … perfect man, perfect child.

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo
    http://raising-reagan.comNovember 15, 2013 – 12:31 pmReplyCancel

  • meeshie - We are not who we were but every single past event turned us into who we are *now*. Good.. bad.. they all combine and become the you that you are now meant to be.

    Remembering that makes the good times more poignant and the bad times… well.. it makes them survivable when you remember.November 15, 2013 – 8:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia - WOW. I read it last night on my cell phone and have been trying ever since to find words that are powerful enough to match the “powerfulness” of you. Here. I’ll say just that, it’s the kind of post that makes you (and by you, I mean me) feel kinda stupid and lame and paling in comparison and all that, just minus the resentment part. That was amazing.November 15, 2013 – 8:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Natalie - The Cat Lady Sings - This was filled with so much…it’s how I often felt about how the past brings you to the present.November 15, 2013 – 10:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Brittnei - Oh my! I’m so glad that I found your blog. No wonder Crystal got you in on the MOAM project. You’re an exceptional writer! This was so eloquently stated. With all that has happened in my past, I can feel every word that you described in how you explained then-you. I hope to continue to read more posts of this awesome writing. 🙂November 16, 2013 – 6:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Campbell - you guys. I hate hate hate not having nested comment but they’re coming (january I hear). Thank you thank you thank you.November 16, 2013 – 10:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Kate Evans Hall - Beautiful, Kristi. You are such a freaking poet. I love this. The memories triggered by songs and smells are so powerful for me. I have to avoid listening to certain songs because of the memories they bring up. I can’t avoid smells though, so… Great post!November 16, 2013 – 11:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - Love it!! I had a hard time with this prompt because my past is pretty boring. However, it is still THAT past that brought me here to where I am today. And, there’s no place I would rather be!November 17, 2013 – 8:16 amReplyCancel

  • catherine gacad - even the bad relationships teach us a lot about ourselves, what works for us, what doesn’t. i was having dinner last night with my husband and the couple next to us (i think they were on a date)…it was so painful watching them. because they barely said a word to each other. i told my husband, i used to be with a guy like that. we were both very quiet, introverts, who thought more than we talked. and i remember dating him and thinking, this is so bad! the next guy i’m with, i need to be with a diarrhea-of-the-mouth talking entertainer to balance out my introversion. that’s what i ended up marrying…he won’t shut up!November 17, 2013 – 2:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Rachel - I think I have a new Finding Ninee favorite. This is a beauty, Kristi. Just like you. And Tucker.November 17, 2013 – 8:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Erin Gaynor Putman - Oh my goodness. “. Thank you, Past. You were an occasional asshole. And an occasional friend. You were worth both.” I could have written that. Seriously. SO accurate. Thank you.
    November 17, 2013 – 10:49 pmReplyCancel

  • Kathy Radigan - I love this post!! I am so thankful for the frogs I kissed before meeting my prince, they have taught me so much!!! Beautiful!November 18, 2013 – 6:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - Out One Ear - You said this well, Kristi. Really our past is what makes us who we are in the present. If things would have happened differently, I believe we would not be the same people we are today. I embrace the past because it helped me become me. Another lovely post.November 19, 2013 – 8:43 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Lipinsky Rufa - I love the way you wrote this, it’s beautiful, I’m so glad I found it (and you!)November 19, 2013 – 8:43 pmReplyCancel

  • JenKehl - My Skewed View - This post is amazing. You are really such a beautiful writer Kristi. I know you write like you think, so you probably don’t realize it. But no one could have done it like you did. The thoughts I have had so many times, about the mistakes, bad choices, then I think, but without them I wouldn’t be here. That’s as eloquent as I get on the subject. You amaze me. TTTx10!November 21, 2013 – 10:51 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Jen,
      Thank you thank you. I take that as a huge compliment from you!! You amaze me right back. TTTx10. and XONovember 21, 2013 – 11:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Lori Lavender Luz - This paragraph is stunning and gets me at my core:

    “The point of living is to live. To love. To hurt. To grow. To be able to look ourselves in the mirror and meet our gazes with more than resignation. To meet our gazes with power, content, and occasional hard-won peace.”

    Yes, yes, yes.December 2, 2013 – 10:57 amReplyCancel

  • April - Stopping by again…Thanks for sharing and linking up with Countdown in Style! Don’t forget to come back on Friday to see if you were featured!

    100lbCountdown.comDecember 5, 2013 – 10:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Mike - I have had one engagement for 5 years to a girl with two wonderful little boys. And one marriage for a very brief time to another girl. Then a whole bunch of “relationships” in between. Some love affairs, some sex affairs, some friend affairs and that is not to imply a sexual overtone to all of them whatsoever or anything inappropriate either. My point in sharing that is I GET EXACTLY WHAT YOU’RE SAYING, Kristi! This part, “They don’t matter much to him. They matter to me, though.” That is me to a ‘T’ meaning my stuff does matter to me whether it does to someone else or not. Everything I’ve gone through since I was child to today have made me who I am right now. I do want to stay in tune with (but not dwell on) those things so that I never lose sight of how I got to HERE. This moment. You and I have lots of similarites in how we’re built. Xxxx’s to you!!! 🙂February 6, 2014 – 12:59 amReplyCancel

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