They’re not stupid for caring about you 

You deserve care like everyone else..

Being alive is hard. 

Why do it alone? 

Ask yourself,  “am I stronger with this person than I am alone?” 

If the answer is no, then why waste your time?

If it’s yes then stop being afraid. Accept the love and care that you’d give someone in your situation. 

Accept yourself. 

Accept that someone out there loves you. 

Let them in. 

-Jess

Woo baby! Almost 300 followers!

Thank you guys. It’s amazing to think that almost 300 care about the things I write enough to hit that follow button. And even the like button too!

Love y’all!

Just a reminder that I have started a new blog with my friend, Eliza. It is specifically about depression. Tips,  stories, and even posts just complaining about how shit depression is. 

Click the link below, give our recent posts a read, and the follow button if you please!
United In Depression

Well, I gotta go.  I get off of work in about an hour and today is Lucas’s fifth birthday! Him, Andy, and I are going out to eat and then opening presents.

We got him a wicked awesome storm trooper puzzle we can work on together and made him a hot wheels cake from scratch! Today is a good day. 

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Jess

Out with the old, in with the new

My new blog! Specifically geared toward depression and anxiety advice.

I JUST made it so it’s literally nothing yet.

But if you’d like to continue following me you can subscribe!

unitedindepression.wordpress.com

Marriage is a serious thing

If you think that cheating on your spouse is a small mistake that you can come back from then you shouldn’t be getting married.

If your motto is that you only have one life and you should live it without worrying about consequences then don’t promise someone you’ll be faithful. Go live your life and leave others out of it.

You can have sex with random people, flirt with whoever you want, enjoy your freedom,  and still keep your dignity by being alone. Don’t drag someone along.

They have to go look for their actual match.

If you’re looking for something and the person you are with is looking for something else then leave.

If that voice inside your head is constantly nagging you. Telling you this isn’t right. This isn’t who you are meant to be with.

You have to listen.

Think about the previous times you didn’t listen? Feel like you wasted your time?

Yeah. That will always apply.

Until you start trusting yourself.

If you are running at full speed and your partner says they are running right behind you but then take a left without you… Watch their feet instead of listening to their words.

Watch their feet.

What are his/her feet telling you?

Familiar Feelings Can Be Misleading

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Recently some really messed up things have happened, specifically with my (now former) place of employment. Basically they have a policy that says because I don’t work there anymore they don’t have to pay me the bonus money I earned the month before. The bonus money we earn is given to us the month after we earn it. I made $500 of bonus money in december, and I haven’t seen a dime. On top of that they still haven’t paid me my regular paycheck either. It was due on friday.

To add insult to injury part of that money was going to be used to pay rent, get a new washer, and celebrate my birthday (yesterday).

We are now going to have to borrow money in order to just pay rent.

I’m kind of in the middle of filing an unpaid wage claim and talking to a lawyer. My co workers have alienated me and refuse to help with evidence in any way, and my supervisor whom I trusted won’t answer my calls.

It felt eerily familiar.

Feeling like the world hates me. Feeling like I’m a loser. Feeling like I’m hurting Andy in the process (it’s his money, too). Feeling like the past three months of showing up to work every day on time and trying so hard was just a ruse.

Feeling like I’m back to my old, negative self again.

Feeling like I should have planned better. demanded every single pay statement (sometimes they sent them, sometimes they didn’t), made copies of all the policies that I read in the office, picked up my binder full of all the relevant information to help my case, etc. etc. etc.

But probably the most upsetting feeling was the one that led me to thinking if I would’ve successfully ended my life at some point this wouldn’t be happening. Andy could pay his rent because he wasn’t depending on someone else’s money or spending his on someone. Guilt. Shame. Remorse.

But… Why did I feel guilty? It’s not my fault that the company I work for isn’t paying me the money that I rightfully deserve. It’s not my fault that a customer who gave out his personal information was threatening to sue because I spoke to someone who verified all his information. It’s not even my fault that my co workers are mad at me because they didn’t make goal this week and blame me somehow (we had one week left to make goal and regardless of my presence there’s no way it would’ve happened).

You know what would be my fault, though? If I let my emotions go into a downward spiral.

Now that I have meds I have the ability to get myself out of that line of thinking. I can hate myself and feel like I can’t catch a break. I’ll assume that everyone I know and love will be disappointed in me. I’ll find ways to belittle myself when no one around me is.

I’ll self sabotage and ruin every other aspect of my life (quit school, end relationship, cut off family/friends, lay in bed all day, possibly end up committing suicide because that is where all of it leads to).

Or…

I could realize that money isn’t everything. Money can be made again. I am more valuable than money, and the people that love me know that. I can realize that I’m doing everything I can to recover from this really unfortunate setback. Within 5 days I already had a new job that paid more than the other, I decided to not let this get to me on my birthday and instead of going all out like we wanted, we had some friends over and spent $20 on beer and snacks. Had a great time. I continue to do my schoolwork and show up to class. I am working with a lawyer and filing a claim to try and get what’s mine, but am also aware that sometimes shit isn’t fair and it may not work out.

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Khaleesi was probably having a worse day than me tbh. Just look at what her mommy did to her.

I can also determine who’s opinion matters to me. Co-workers that I didn’t even know four months ago and never truly connected with? A company that isn’t decent enough to abide by Texas Employment Laws? No. No, the people who matter are the ones that constantly love me through everything I go through. Sure, Andy’s life would be different if I was no longer in it, but I don’t think he’d rather have rent money without having to borrow it than have me.

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I can take a step back and view my life as if it’s a pro and con list. I can determine that the good outweighs the bad right now. It’s so easy to list all the bad going on. Almost addicting. Try listing all the good. You may be surprised.

I can stop blaming myself and instead celebrate myself for getting through this and staying strong. I can remember that the downsides to what happened are only temporary. When we have our money back on track in a month or two we can buy a washer, experience those birthday plans we originally planned on, and this experience will be long gone.

I can enjoy my life.

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Things are always worse than they seem when they’re currently your biggest struggle. Sometimes I forget that I’ve been through so much worse because it feels so far away. A few months ago I dealt with what I thought was the worst thing I’ve ever been through. Dealing with Lucas’s mom and her knowing about my depression. That feels long gone now. I rarely even think about it. That’s just how it goes.

I just want to stress that even though the situation feels like something you’ve been through before, it doesn’t mean that you are the same person you used to be. Give yourself more credit than that.

Also remember this. You ARE allowed to think different thoughts. Hating yourself and constantly assessing the situation isn’t going to change anything. You might as well enjoy yourself if shit is about to hit the fan. You only get to experience today once and then it’s gone. It is your choice to throw it in the trash or take advantage of it.

Focusing on one isolated problem in your life makes you forget all the good and awesome things going on. Take a look again, and this time not through binoculars.

Jess

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Loneliness

Being alone can sometimes be really nice. No one to bug you when you’re netflix binging or judge your personal hygiene or hog your snacks. 

I like being alone now and then.  Especially when I’ve had a rough work week and I just need quiet. 

Yes, being alone can sometimes be nice.

Being lonely,  however… is never nice. 

That pit in your stomach. That ache in your heart. The need to connect with someone right at that moment.  Feeling hopeless and trapped because there doesn’t seem to be a way out of this loneliness. 

Sometimes you don’t have to be alone to feel lonely. You may physically be close to someone and still feel alone. So alone that all you can do is pretend you’re not. 

I think that’s because it’s really hard to admit that you feel lonely in general. 

It’s not like you can just text someone you know and say, “hey, I feel really alone right now. I’d like someone to talk to.”

Oh wait a second. You can. 

There’s no reason not to. Chances are pretty much everyone around you has felt lonely before.

I know I have.

I’ve felt a lot of things. Depressed,  scared, angry, frustrated, embarrassed, bored, sad… the list goes on and on.

But amongst all the negative feelings,  loneliness?  Oof, that one feels the worst. 

I feel lonely right now. Everyone is asleep at my place.  Feels like the whole world is, honestly. I tried watching a show and reading blog posts to distract myself,  but there is this constant nagging in my head that won’t go away. 

So you know what I’m gonna do? I’m going to turn to Andy, softly wake him up (it’s the weekend anyway) and tell him that I feel really lonely right now. 

Don’t let your pride make you suffer. No one should have to feel lonely alone. 

Jess

When is accepting your flaws acceptable?

It’s a cool title, but also an interesting question.

I’ve always been the type of person that doesnt finish things. Not in a sad, hopeless kind of way (at least not usually), but in a firm and decisive way.

I choose to stop doing things if I don’t feel the need or want to continue doing said things. 

It’s something I’ve always had a problem with. Not necessarily because I care about finishing things. No. I don’t care. It’s because of one simple fact that makes every person have insecurities, doubts, and causes them to use self hate language:

It’s a problem because society says so.

I should finish things even if I don’t want to or have to. 

I should finish things simply because according to society the opposite of finishing is quitting.

And quitting indicates irresponsibility.

Well I think that’s bullshit.

I’m sorry but… No actually I’m not sorry.

Me quitting gymnastics when I was 4 didn’t make me irresponsible. It made me a child that didn’t want to do gymnastics. They said we’d do splits next class and I peaced out of there. Also my mom sent me in with a bathing suit instead of an expensive leotard and I wasn’t about that life.

Me quitting basketball when I was 12 didn’t make me a bad kid in any way. I just didn’t care about basketball.

How about when I quit all those jobs? Yeah. Well those jobs sucked ass and I knew I could do better. 

And I have.

You know what I never quit? 

  • Show choir
  • Voice lessons
  • High school (even through the craziness that was my childhood and home life)
  • My so far decade long best friendship with Ray 
  • Dreaming
  • Caring about animals
  • Loving my family
  • Taking care of Khaleesi
  • Russian and soviet history which was by far the hardest class I’ve ever taken
  • This blog

I’m sure there are more out there but you get the picture. Those are all things that matter to me. Things that make me feel happy and alive. Things I wake up for in the morning.

That is what matters.

If following through on everything is important to you, then more power to ya! It’s all about what makes you happy. What makes you, you.

And hey, I never quit saving to move to Austin, but I did quit 8 cities 8 years. 

And get this, I quit because I know what makes me happy.

Being here makes me happy.

Writing a book, going back to school for neuroscience, being in love, working at a job that makes me actually want to show up every day, and continuing to get healthy.

That is what is up, my friends. I may give up on a lot of things, but I’ll never give up on building a happy life for myself.

Don’t give up on yourself either. And I don’t just mean suicide. I mean hating yourself for stupid things you don’t even care about. Make a list. I guarantee you’ll realize your insecurities are actually a reflection of the things others don’t like about you.

Showcase your middle finger with pride, drop that mic, and walk away from that noise. You and I deserve more than that. 

-Jess

Things I’ve learned about myself and others part 2

Please read part 1 before you continue with this post. It is a two parter about dealing with people who hurt you and treat you badly. Sometimes just because you have a mental illness. Other times because you’re a threat to them. Whatever it is… this post shows you that you can be the bigger person.

The wife… She was so mad at me for bringing up the project she threw out. So angry that she did something extremely cruel. Something that put Lucas’s life in Jeopardy. Something I’ll never be able to rationalize.

We got a call from Lucas’s mom a little while back. She told Andy she was going to talk to a lawyer because she didn’t want me around Lucas. The wife had told her I attempted suicide.

For the first time in my whole life, someone used my mental illness to hurt me.

Wow.

It hurt all right.

But instead of calling her every name in the book and trying to hurt her as much as she hurt me, I decided to talk to Lucas’s mom face to face.

Things haven’t been easy between us since we first met. I haven’t talked about it much because I don’t like to. It’s frustrating and difficult to deal with. But here it is.

Lucas’s mom, let’s call her Sandra and Andy argue a lot. And sometimes it’s about me. Not because I do anything wrong, but because sometimes when people enter new relationships, the ones they emotionally leave behind get angry. They feel hurt, abandoned, and excluded.

I get it. But it’s not my fault. She threatened to take custody away because she had this idea in her head that Andy and I treated Lucas badly when he was in our care. That we would get drunk and ignore him. We’d let him watch TV all day so we didn’t have to deal with him. It was absurd, obviously. We love Lucas so much. But I didn’t know how to get her to understand that. She made rules like “Lucas can’t be alone with Jess” and “Jess can’t speak to me whatsoever.” My baby mama drama was real.

She lost her spy because we moved out. The wife was always willing to rat on us. Only problem was we never did anything rat-worthy. The last time she could blow up like this was because the Wife told her I didn’t have a job, but that one was removed once I found one, so it didn’t last long.

Unfortunately…this time she gave her the perfect ammunition to attack. (Because the idea that Andy being forgetful makes him an unfit father wasn’t working).

And once again I had to be the bigger person.

I didn’t have any way of articulating things correctly besides texting, so I sent her the following: (I would have just screenshot it to prove it’s what I really said but it includes all their real names so…)

Sandra,

In the time that I’ve had the pleasure of being in Andy and Lucas’s lives we have laughed, shared memories, payed games, eaten home cooked meals almost every day, and practiced our numbers, letters, shapes, and spelling. In our home he watches minimal TV (mostly Mighty Machines or Phineas and Ferb) and spends more time with activities like homework, coloring, playing matching games, and reading books.

Sometimes we all go to HEB together and he loves using his buddy bucks. He and I put the stickers on our hands and pretend to be super heroes. When Lucas is in our home, you are mommy. And no one speaks ill of mommy in front of him because we respect that you are his mother and that he is impressionable at this age.

He always sits with Daddy to do his homework while I cook and tidy up. We all sat down together to do his art project and had a blast! Andy does forget to put his school items back in his backpack sometimes but as you can understand people can be forgetful. That doesn’t mean he loves Lucas any less. Andy gives Lucas baths at night while I grab him clean clothes from the drawers that we have provided for him in our house. Above them are all his books and toys that he is allowed to ask for at any point.

We do not consume large amounts of alcohol when Lucas is with us because we care for his safety. That is always our number one priority. When Lucas leaves he is always out the door with hugs and love and we miss him when he isn’t around. Last weekend we were at a loss because he wasn’t with us.

Over the last year Lucas has drawn me in his pictures as part of his family. He says I’m his Jess. You see, what you are doing is threatening to take Lucas from, first off, his father. Who, in my opinion is a wonderful and caring man who stood by your side for many years because of the love he has for his son, and even when the relationship ended he made him a priority. You’d also be taking him form a person who cares for him more than she realized she ever could. I have no obligation to take care of Lucas, but I do it happily and willingly because I love him. Andy and I are going trick or treating with him and he wants to be a vampire. He asked me to be a pumpkin so I went out and got a costume just to make him smile. When Lucas is with us, he is not ignored. He is the center of our attention, and he knows it!

You do have a right to know what goes on in our home when he is with us, but you do not have a right to dictate our lives. If Andy treated your boyfriend the way you treat me I’m sure you can see how upsetting that would be to you. He trusts that you have Lucas’s best interest at heart and you wouldn’t let anything happen to him. Why can’t you trust Andy to do the same.

Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults in a given year. Suicides drop overwhelmingly when someone is on medication that works.

I am currently on Lamotragine and have been for a month or so. It is working wonders and I am a fully functioning person. But even when I wasn’t I still loved my boys. I’m sure you know your cousin would have opened her mouth if that wasn’t true.

I know you are in school to be a nurse but you can’t possible know the complexities of any given mental illness unless you have lived through it. I have lived with it for many years. The triggers you referred to on the phone with Andy is merely a word related to depression. Triggers are the result of trauma, but when on medication do not result in depressive effects.

You see, depression didn’t break me. It made me incredibly strong. It doesn’t cause me to love less, but actually makes me love so much more because I treasure every happy emotion I feel. The very things you are using against me is one of the best things about me. I have lived through it all and I will live through this.

I am not doing this because I’m afraid of your attempt to get a lawyer. I guarantee no one would take that case. I am doing this for Andy and Lucas. They both deserve to live in a world where two important people in their lives can get along or at least put on a brave face.

I have attached a link to depression statistics and a few photos we have taken since I met Lucas. If these things don’t give you peace of mind, then it is clear that your problem isn’t with my illness, your problem is with me. And if that is the case, then I can’t help you.

Jess.

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Because of this, she decided to sit down with me and have a chat. During my lunch I met her at a Starbuck’s and we talked it over. We’re actually in a better place now than we’ve ever been.

She no longer constantly calls Andy to yell at him. She hasn’t mentioned me at all in her texts. She has given us space and trust, and when she does call or text, I no longer feel annoyed or worried because I trust her, too.

Things aren’t perfect, but they are getting a lot better.

That’s the second wonderful thing the wife has done for me without knowing it. Sometimes people’s terrible actions end up giving you an opening to make your life better. But ultimately it’s up to you.

4. I have way more support than I think.

It’s really hard to see how many people love me from where I stand. I live in Austin and most of my friends and family live all the way in Chicago.

It makes me forget sometimes that they are always there for me.

When people who don’t like me are so close by, the things they say about me becomes a part of me. It makes me believe that I am what they say I am. It was especially harder not to feel that way when I wasn’t on meds. I have some friends here, but they are just that. Friends. People I haven’t known long and sometimes hang out with. My best friends are not at arms reach and I sometimes feel like I can’t turn to anyone but Andy.

That is so far from the truth. My best friend, Ray, is ALWAYS only a phone call away. And he is always there to listen. Same with my mom, my stepdad, my brothers, and all the people I have known and cared about since I was a child. Talking to them actually makes me feel like myself again. They give me words of encouragement and I feel their love from miles away… it resets me. They send me off into the world with happiness and love in my heart.

I will always have them.

5.The hardest part is letting go

This is how I did it.

I imagined myself in a black space. A space where I’m not distracted by anything. A space where nothing exists unless I want it to. I imagine an open doorframe in front of me, emitting a bright light so you couldn’t see anything outside of it.

I imagine the wife and husband standing in front of the light. I look them in the eyes for a few seconds and then turn away from them. I envision myself walking away form them. I can see their confused expressions follow my back as I get further and further away from them.

Eventually I walk so far that they are mere specks. The white light is only a glimmer. I come across another doorframe. As I walk through it, the door shuts on its own. A little further on I come across Andy.

He is smiling at me with that warm handsome face I know so well. He offers me his arm and I walk with him a little further.

As we get closer I can see a crowd of people.

It is every single person that loves me. I see Ray, my brothers, my mom, my step dad, Roxy, and countless other friends who have always been there for me.

We walk into the crowd and we hug each and every person. Even Andy’s family is there. They love us too. Standing in this crowd of people makes me realize that letting two people that hurt me run my thoughts and emotions was so pointless.

For every person that doesn’t like me… there are 10 who love me.

And now… I feel better. Now whenever I think about being angry again I picture this scenario over and over again. I hope you can find one that makes you feel like this one does for me. You can borrow mine until you find one that is truly you!

If you get anything out of this post I hope it’s that you can move past unresolved issues. You can walk away from people forever. You don’t deserve anything less than love, respect, and consideration. And if you don’t agree with that then there is a toxic in your life that is making you feel that way.

Get rid of them.

Love you guys.

-Jess

Things I’ve learned about myself and others: part 1

I haven’t really been writing lately. I’ve been busy I suppose. I really wanted to write something today though. Anything really. I can definitely tell that it’s a part of me.

This post wasn’t supposed to be a long one, but I just started writing and ran with it. It has now become a two parter. If you are having trouble dealing with how others make you feel about yourself this may be a good read. Problems with people that you thought were your friends or people that you’ll always have to have in your life (like… baby mama’s perhaps…). If not I’m glad you stopped by anyway.

So without further adieu, here are some things I’ve learned about myself and others recently.

  1. I am a fully functioning person when I  am on medication.

I was hired at a signature loan store on October 2nd. Full time. Monday through Friday, 8:30 -5:30. I’m still employed there! That’s a big deal for me. I didn’t quit or give up when I didn’t feel like it. Why? Because there never came a point where I wanted to give up.

When I’m on meds I want a full time job. I want to wake up every day and do good work and make money. When I was really depressed recently, I had this idea in my head that a full time job was like a prison. I was trapped there, hopeless, tired, and depressed, begging for a day off so that I could feel normal. I think people joke about work feeling like prison, but I really felt it to be true.

But you know what? Having a job makes me feel normal. I feel like my life is good. Like I am contributing something to the people around me. On top of that I’m starting school in January! I will be working and going to school and being busy and happy and in love.

2. I am in a really strong relationship.

Andy had to call an ambulance one night because I once again had fallen into a depression so deep that I resorted to suicide.

Yes… It happened again.

No… I don’t even remotely want to dwell on it.

All I’ll say is my roommates woke to it and saw what happened.

I’m fine, it wasn’t even remotely worse than last time, and that’s because Andy reacted quickly.

He is an amazing man. I can’t even talk about it. For nearly 5 months he watched me struggle and suffer and deal with not being able to keep a job. He never doubted me or told me that I needed to get it together. He waited patiently and trusted the person he knew I was.

Thank you so much, Andy.

Now we have our own apartment. Just us and Khaleesi! We kiss each other goodbye every weekday morning and go to our jobs. We both do our share of chores and go grocery shopping. We answer to no one and we live in peace together.

I can’t even explain how wonderful  it feels to be living this life right now.

3. Some people are just plain cruel and you have to walk away.

After my suicide attempt, our old roommates told us we had a month to move out. Sometimes people don’t understand mental illness so they just treat it as a character flaw. They see me as a bad person because of my illness.

Okay, fine. I was still really sick and that negativity wasn’t good for me. Even before that they were so patronizing to both of us, so living with them was pretty uncomfortable towards the end. It was mostly the wife. I won’t even give her a name, mostly because this is the last time she’ll be mentioned. She didn’t work, which isn’t really a negative thing because she’s a mom. She spent most of her days cooking and cleaning and watching her son. She also enjoyed bad mouthing anyone she knew to anyone that would listen.

It was pretty weird for me because, well first off… I didn’t care. Second, a lot of the time it was in regards to her cousin. Andy’s ex. Lucas’s Mom. Someone I try my best not to start trouble with.

She’d brag about how in high school she once beat her up. She’d talk about how she was mentally unstable (I should’ve known she’d be ignorant to that sort of thing.) She also told me personal things about their childhoods that I really didn’t need to know.

She worked out a lot and was of normal height which unfortunately made her very vein. Her husband was also into fitness so he spent a lot of time body building. He was, deep down, a decent person and never made us feel like she did.

She would tell us that we can’t touch the thermostat because we don’t pay enough money for that. She only gave us half a shelf in the fridge, and said we had to put the rest of our stuff in the garage fridge, which wouldn’t have been a big deal if she didn’t say it the way she did. She treated us like we were nobodies in her home. I hate that feeling, but with my struggle to deal with my mental health and work I didn’t have a lot of options. I didn’t want to worry Andy or make him feel like we had to move and spend more money. I kept my mouth shut.

Luckily they kicked us out. The husband really didn’t want to, but she insisted. So we left, and the week we moved into our new home I decided to get back on meds.

It was the nicest thing she could’ve done for us.

That same week we asked if we could pick up our last few things in the house and Andy went to get them while I cooked dinner. He came back and told me that she had thrown out one of his woodworking projects. This wasn’t uncommon for her. She used to throw out our food and belongings all the time. She had a lot of time on her hands.

I texted her asking why she’d throw it out. I swear it wasn’t confrontational, I just asked what happened.

She said she didn’t know what the hell it was and so she threw it away.

I said, “okay, I’ll let you know when the housewarming is.”

And then the shitstorm hit. She started saying that I had an attitude and that she wanted Andy to move all his stuff out of the shed (he used it as a woodshop and had all of his tools in it, but we had previously come up with an agreement to rent it out). She texted him later and told him that she was just messing with me and he could keep his stuff in there, but he had to control his girlfriend.

Of course he told me everything and we both decided it’d be best to from now on only keep in contact with her husband. We haven’t spoken to her since.

But of course when someone is truly cruel, they don’t go away so easily.

3. I had to learn how to let go of unresolved issues.

Letting go of something that will never get resolved. Oh boy… that is a tough pill to swallow. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation like that. The kind where I don’t go crazy and bitch at someone till I’m red in the face. The kind where I handle things correctly and just let it go.

At first it fucking sucks. It really does. But then… it kind of doesn’t. You don’t have to live with the fact that you couldn’t be the bigger person. That temporary rush you get from bitching someone out fades.

Sometimes when people feel guilty they decide to lash out at you. That’s what happened when the wife threw out Andy’s stuff. Instead of admitting she made a mistake she decided to try and make me feel bad for calling her out on it.

Same thing happened when she invited me out a while back when we lived together. At the last minute she cancelled and decided not to go (for the second time). I ended up not having plans because of it. I asked her to in the future not make plans if she doesn’t feel like going to begin with because it left me without plans. She, of course, lashed out and got extremely angry. Said I was acting like a child. I apologized because I was kind of at her mercy. She wore the pants in her relationship and making her mad could ruin things for us.

Fast forward.

The wife… She was so mad at me for bringing up the project she threw out. So angry that she did something extremely cruel. Something that put Lucas’s life in Jeopardy. Something I’ll never be able to rationalize.

To be continued in part 2

While you’re alive, try not to be an asshole

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

I think Maya Angelou was right. The way you feel about someone never fades. I also think, however, that the way you make someone feel directly corroborates with things that you said or did. You ever hate someone so much but forget why? Those emotions are real, but you have no recollection as to how they came about.

Doesn’t really matter when someone dies in the grand scheme of things.

But what do they leave behind?

Some people just do things without caring how anyone else feels. Doesn’t matter if they care about you or not. They will do fucked up shit and use alcohol or emotions or technicalities to make themselves feel like it was alright.

I don’t feel that it’s alright.

When I leave this earth I want the people that I genuinely cared about to remember that I made them feel loved, cared for, and important. All of those things.

I don’t want to act reckless or treat people like shit.

People are not disposable to me.

When I have to drop someone, I make sure I mean it.

I wouldn’t drop someone for something trivial.

Usually I drop them because I think of Maya Angelou’s quote.

I ask myself if they died tomorrow, would I be okay with how they made me feel when they were alive?

If the answer is no then there is no reason to continue.

Sometimes I’m in the wrong, in that case I ask myself if I can fix it or not. If I can’t then I leave them to their decision. If I can… well I try.

At the end of the day I just want to filter out the people that I know do more harm than good. People that don’t seem to have a problem with hurting me severely. People that would probably do it again. I don’t have the energy or the time to waste on someone like that.

And honestly… neither do you.

Fool me once shame on you.

Fool me twice …

You’re done.

-Jess

Asking for help is hard to do.

You don’t know how strong you really are until you are faced with a problem you can’t handle on your own. Be it about mental health, money, a ride to work, a shoulder to cry on, or just about anything else. Perhaps you can stall it and hope for the best, but you can’t actually make it better or right without help.

It is whether or not you have the bravery to swallow your pride and ask for that help that determines your strength.

If you need help, ask for it.

In return if you’re asked to help, do it graciously and genuinely.

There is no shame in being human.

-Jess

We’re moving in together!


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Things have been pretty wild since I last checked in. Two weeks is the longest bar of silence I’ve had this year.

I suppose I didn’t know what to write. Things have been happening, but I decided to take a break from sharing those things because I wanted to try immersing myself in my own life instead of trying to find ways to narrate it.

11146206_10152847747341274_4810380212775105341_nI’ve got to say, it has been pretty fun.

When you’re present and in the moment things change. The way you see people around you, the way you make decisions, the way you experience everything.

I made the difficult decision to stop taking my medication two weeks ago.

I still have not made contact with my father in prison.

I quit my front desk job that made me feel like crap and left with a bombshell email exposing my former boss’s wrongdoings.


I had some awesome bon11161349_10152849402596274_9211810873696856201_nding time with one of Andy’s sisters, Lizzie.

I got another job as a server at a sports bar.

I started paying off my $640 balance for college so I can finish my last year and a half.

I’m proud to say that Andy’s son, Lucas now recognizes me as “Jess”.

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To tie everything up in a beautiful bow that is life, I’m excited to announce that Andy and I are moving in together!

The move will most likely be happening right before our trip to Chicago. I still have to get out of my lease, we are still working out logistics like what things we can get rid of/sell, and come to an agreement with his already roommates.


They are great people. Funny story, they are a married couple with a son. The wife is actually Andy’s ex’s cousin. She is, however, super wonderful and accommodating. She actually said today that she’d really love to get to know me and hang out. She has always gotten along with Andy and the break up didn’t change that.

11059347_10152808962046274_2160873252254272321_nHer son and Lucas are cousins, so Andy and I decided that we’re going to get bunk beds for them so that Lucas can stay in his room when he visits. It’s a three bedroom, two bathroom house, so it’s more than livable and roomy.

I think I’m going to like it here.

I just can’t believe how in sync Andy and I have been since day 1.

We have been through some pretty high hurdles, but now we’ll have to face our toughest one yet: his ex girlfriend.

18295_10152809170241274_3540082442894434176_nI haven’t said much about her except that respect her and Andy’s dedication to Lucas in this post.

I only met her once, and briefly, but I have unfortunately witnessed countless phone conversations between her and Andy. It is safe to say that she is quite possessive. It seems to be hard for her to let go of Andy. I don’t think there are feelings there, but I do think that she doesn’t want him to be happy with anyone else. That really bothers her.

As I said in my last post, I refuse to have stupid baby mama drama. This will be handled as it should be: with three adults who all care about the child involved. I won’t entertain any other way.

Regardless, I can’t tell you how amazing it is to witness someone defend you with the utmost admiration and respect.

I’ll save that for later though. Right now I want to revel in what is the most amazing and fulfilling relationship of my life.

It looks like I’ll be an Austinite a bit longer than planned!

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-Jess

Choose Happiness

When I was 17 my mother thought I had the most rebellious heart around. Like every decision I made was purely to go against her wishes.

At times my choices would backfire on me in the worst way, and other times they would be what I’d call some of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I’m sure we can all look back on moments and wish they had never happened, but personally I can live with the regret of past failures.

I cannot, however, live with the regret of not choosing my happiness.

That was, after all, why I made the choices I made. It was never to spite my mom (though, as a 17 year old it was an added bonus). I did it because at the time it was what made me happy.

This doesn’t just apply in big life decisions. You have hundreds of opportunities every day to choose happiness. Life gives you these choices, and you decide which route to take.

Today for some reason my father popped into my head. He is someone I really don’t like to talk about anymore. He’s currently in prison for sexual assault on a minor. And while what he has done to many women is a disgusting and unforgivable crime, today I can only see him as my dad.

To the world he is a monster, which is completely understandable.

To me he is kind of an enigma. I grew up watching him till about 8 years old and though it’s hard to admit, I don’t really know him at all. We always pretended to be close when he would come visit us, and I always craved his love and acceptance as any daughter would, but at the end of the day we were strangers.

He’s my dad. And today I miss him.

I’m not even sure what I miss.

I can’t really miss the good times, because there weren’t many.

I can’t miss being around him, because being around him hurt.

I think if I had to put the reasons for my feelings in words (which really, you don’t have to do, because no matter what they are valid. However, for this blog’s sake…) I would say I miss the tiny chance of having a real father daughter relationship.

He’s just about to finish his first 6 months, but he’s still got 12 years to go. In 12 years I’ll be 34 years old. By then I will have most likely gotten married, and I can only hope to be a mother already.

There won’t be any room in this world for that relationship to work.

At least not in my world.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that these thoughts are coming up on a very busy weekend for me. A happy weekend. My best friend Ray is currently visiting me from Chicago and so far it has been great! He met Andy and they really hit it off. He helped me sharpen up my pool skills, and we spent my two off days relaxing and exploring Austin. Not too shabby!

Today as soon as I get off (which is in approximately 28 minutes) He’s meeting me at my job and I’m taking him to the top floor to see the view. Then Andy and Lucas are meeting us so we can head off to the boat we rented for 3 hours!

WHAT?!

I know, I’m super excited! We ordered pizzas and pasta and we have the whole 15 person boat to ourselves for three hours. To be honest though, I’m mostly excited to be able to spend some time with Lucas. He’s going to look adorable in his little life vest!

Today is an amazing day. Today has been handed to me already amazing. Today my thoughts aren’t on my side. Today, however, I have two choices. Those choices will determine the course of the rest of my day.

I can spend my day thinking about my Dad and being upset over something I don’t have – and have never had – control over. These thoughts will eventually lead to me thinking irrationally the rest of the day, having to deal with either a low depression kind of mood or an overly anxious overly painful state of mind.

I could also decide that I am allowed to think different thoughts and enjoy this once in a lifetime moment (aren’t they all, really?) before it slips through my fingers.

I choose happiness.

I encourage you to do the same.

Now this isn’t to say that depression is a choice. You and I and everyone else who struggles with depression know this. However, when given two choices in a regular state of mind you may have enough strength to choose the alternative route.

Today, I do.

I wish the same for you.

-Jess

Tips for when you feel too dependent on others

Depression can be pretty scary. It’s especially scary when you’re alone in your room at 3:30am fighting a war against yourself to stay alive while the rest of the world sleeps soundly.

Intense, I know.

Continue reading

Why do you insist on loving what doesn’t love you back?

I struggled with this question for many years. The question I asked myself often.

My father, my ex’s…

I even asked myself why I couldn’t love the one person who I knew could love me back… me.

The human condition is an interesting one.

-Jess

My father is in prison (Reddit)

I was perusing reddit AMA and something in me just really wanted to talk about my dad today. So I decided to post about it and am now answering questions about my dad’s imprisonment.

Here’s the link to the reddit post: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2yc5fh/iama_girl_whose_father_is_in_prison/

Reddit, here are some family pictures for proof:

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Me explaining what it’s like to live with depression


I wanted to make a video that explained what it is like to have depression on a daily basis. I did it hoping that it would help people that have never lived through it understand it more.

Fact: 90% of americans that have committed suicide had treatable mental illnesses at the time of their death.

Let’s end the stigma.

300,000 people that die from suicide annually can’t all be wrong.

-Jess

Feeling fine one minute, and depressed the next

I’m all too familiar with that feeling. I didn’t think it’d happen to me ever again, but I suppose that’s foolish.

Yesterday I felt so hopeless and disappointed in myself, and today I feel just fine. It’s my day off, I can relax, take the pressure off, take a day for myself.

I’m also in a non depressed mood right now. Like right now. I  know that that can change in 20 minutes.

This feels like a breakup after having gone through a really tough breakup. I know what to do to help myself feel better, but the pain is still there because I’m a human being and every time is different.

When I’m in these healthy moods I want to take advantage of them. I’m going to call a psychiatrist and make an appointment. The sooner I start looking for a new med combination, the better. It’s going to take at least three weeks to get it under control and even then we may find that it isn’t the right mix and have to start over with a new drug.

But those three weeks will pass me by whether I do something or not so why live with the pain when there’s an option not to?

Hopefully I can get it together.

Last night, I confessed to Andy that I was starting to feel some of my old symptoms. He said something that made me feel great. Something that not many people understand about us.

“Just like any other illness you need medication to get better and I understand that. It’s not easy. And if you need a ride to see your psychiatrist I’d be more than happy to take you. Please let me take you. It would make me incredibly sad if you denied my offer.”

1. He noted that depression is a real thing.

2. He acknowledged my pain.

3. He offered to help in a way he knew that he could.

4. He asked me to let him take me. It’s my choice. And I wouldn’t want to make him sad at all so it made me really want to let him.

So we’re going together. He’s going to keep me accountable and we’re going to hang out afterwards as my own little incentive.

I’m also talking to Theresa today (My therapist from Chicago) to see if we can’t find me a new therapist. I’ve been here two months and in those two months I’ve cancelled three appointments with two different therapists.

Don’t ask me why I do the things I do, because I’ll respond with an answer that won’t satisfy anyone’s needs: I have no clue.

All I know is I am not going back into that dark and dreadful hole.

This is not where my story ends. I’m not going to let this beat me. I’m catching it before it takes over.

-Jess

I know what it’s like to have depression

I know what it’s like to feel the constant and harrowing pain that is depression on a daily basis.

I know what it’s like to see the possibility of death all around you.

I know what it’s like to see absolutely no reason to live.

I know what it’s like to attempt suicide.

I know what it’s like to be alone in a psych hospital.

I know what it’s like to spend countless nights in invisible pain.

I know what it’s like to feel death at my fingertips.

I know what it’s like to hear someone say something that resonates with a part of you.

I know what it’s like to read something that makes sense in my brain.

I know what it’s like to start to feel that life isn’t so bad.

I know what it’s like to start having rational thoughts again.

I know what it’s like to start to get ahold of yourself.

I know what it’s like to take medication and feel it work.

I know what it’s like to be sad in a normal, fully functional way.

I know what it’s like to be happy.

I know what it’s like to be in love.

I know what it’s like to set goals and achieve them.

I know what it’s like to love myself.

I know what it’s like to start to recognize some of my old destructive thoughts.

I know what it’s like to wake up and feel extremely confused about what’s happening to me.

I know what it’s like to take medication every day only to realize it’s not working as well as it used to.

I know what it’s like to start having the occasional irrational thought that turns sour.

I know what it’s like to be sick of the whole charade.

I know what it’s like to hear the illness calling my name. Begging me to join it the ditch I fought so hard to crawl out of.

I know what it’s like to start to scare myself.

I know what it’s like to be scared of scaring the people I love again.

I know what it’s like to stop taking medication.

I know what it’s like to go to work and sit there and be a good girl and surf the internet and start to look at suicide notes and last words and wonder what mine will be.

I know what it’s like to feel like on paper everything is perfect, yet inside I’m screaming. Constantly screaming.

I know what it’s like to feel fine 20 minutes later.

I know what it’s like to be terrified of losing the things I love.

And today, after nine months of a somewhat unhinged bliss…

I know what it’s like to have a suicidal thought again.

I am so disappointed in myself.
I am so ashamed.

-Jess

Broken Homes vs. Split Units

On Wednesday, I met Andy’s son, Lucas. I had a great time! We had Ice cream and watched Lucas play at the playground. He’s such a great kid. Super energetic and funny!

He was shy at first, but as time wore on he started to feel more relaxed with me and laughed and joked with Andy, and even talked to me quite a bit!

I felt really lucky.

Lucky to be let into this part of Andy’s life, even if just for an afternoon.

Lucky to be in this relationship.

Lucky to be in love with a man that takes parenthood seriously.

There are some fathers out there that could care less about the children that they have.

Take my father for example.

It was just so nice to see a family that is split up work together as a unit.

People ask me if there’s going to be baby mama drama in my life now that I’m with Andy.

The answer is no. For two reasons:

1. I avoid drama like the Plague. I’m not confrontational; I’m not a coward. I just know when something is petty, stupid, and not worth wasting time over.

2. I have the utmost respect for two parents who are civil and responsible enough to make an arrangement like this work, because my parents unfortunately, could not do that for us. And yes, that means I have a lot of respect for Lucas’s mother, too. So why on earth would I start or entertain unnecessary drama?

One thing that I learned from my family? The kids should always come first. And I learned that the hard way, because we never came first in my dad’s eyes.

Maybe second once a year, maybe even third twice a year. Never first.

I’m not even remotely part of that situation yet, but I just wanted to be clear on my thoughts about it. That way when the time comes, I’ll know where I stand with the whole dynamic.

All I can say for sure is seeing Andy play with Lucas, seeing him give Lucas piggy back rides, hold his hand, laugh with him, and call him son, all of that made me fall even more in love with that man.

I didn’t even know that was possible.

-Jess

I’m meeting Lucas today!

Today is the day! After this bullshit two hour training session at work, Andy will be picking me up and I will finally meet Lucas! Ice cream and the playground!

I’m excited and elated!

Not much else to say today.

I’m happy.

I’m trying not to think about anything else.

Maybe I can stay in this bliss for a little while.

I know soon I’m going to have to address 8 cities with myself. I know soon I’m going to have to deal with working another 6 consecutive days and not seeing Andy for most of this and next week.

I know soon I’ll have to try to get some time off of work because my best friend is coming and I don’t know if it’ll happen and that makes me want to cry because he’s the only bit of Chicago I’ll have for quite a while.

But today, none of that will be addressed. None of it could even be fixed today. So why stress about it? Stressing about the things I can’t currently control is just pointless. Today is a great day to be me. Today I should be thankful that 8 cities even came out because it led me this far. Today I should be thankful I even have a job that will provide me with the funds and time off to visit my family. Today I should be thankful to have an amazing man in my life that I actually care about not seeing because of said job. Today I should be thankful that my best friend can afford to come see me and enjoy Austin for himself, regardless of whether or not I work for some of it.

Plus, I do have some mini solutions. For example, 8 cities is still 10 months away. I have time (and now money) to make that decision later. And I don’t know what will happen or where my life will be 10 months from now.

One week of not seeing Andy will be tough, but if we’re right for each other, I’ll have the rest of my life to see him! And there will be times where we have all the time in the world, and others where we only see each other right before we sleep, but either way I’ll cherish those moments.

My best friend, Ray has his flight booked. Either way we’ll figure something out. Switching shifts with my co-workers is super easy, and so once the day comes closer and I know my schedule, I can work with them to move things around. Andy doesn’t work weekends so he could hang out with Ray and show him around. They could bond :).

It will all be okay.

I’m feeling quite optimistic today. Not sure why or  how, but I just feel right.

Today, I meet Lucas.

Today is a good day.

-Jess

When love threatens your life plans.

I moved to Austin with the idea that I’d only be here a year. I had no clue that I was going to meet the person that I can only describe as my soulmate in my first of 8 cities. The thing is since the age of 18, I haven’t really given a tiny rat’s ass what anyone thinks about my decisions. If I decide something it’s on me because – as I’m sure I’ve engraved in everyone’s minds on this blog – I have complete control over my life. And whether or not people believe he’s my soulmate is irrelevant, because it’s how I feel. I may be wrong, but all I can say in confidence is that in my 22 years of living on this earth I have never felt this way. Never. And neither has he. That isn’t something I take lightly.

So now it’s up to me to ask the tough questions. And the only person that can answer it (whether it be a decent answer or not), is unfortunately, me.


So is this fate? Divine intervention? Or are we a pit stop on the ultimate road of my life?
Do I stick to the plan? Or do I plan to cancel my plans?

I don’t know. I really don’t. I think I’m really just trying to go over it in my head.

This didn’t even occur to me until last night. Andy and I were at this Greek place waiting for our takeout, and I was talking about the new budget I created for myself based on my new pay. I mentioned that if I find that I can stick to my budget plan for a year I’d try to find a nice apartment since I can afford it. Then suddenly my heart dropped because any mention of “a year” reminds me of my plans.

This is exactly how it came out:

“Right now based on my budget I have a very big amount of spendable money, so if I find that I can stick with my plan for a while then I’ll be able to get a nicer place by next year. That is if I — you know — uh — decide to stay — well — uh — yeah — sorry — whatever.” 

I could tell he was disappointed. But… even more heartbreaking … I could tell that this wasn’t the first time he had thought about it.

He just gave me a weak smile and didn’t say anything.

I moved on to another topic, but my face and the hushed tone of my voice showed every bit of the remorse I was trying to hide.

He let it slide, though. 

But I don’t know if I have.

It’s odd, I remember going to my old high school recently and giving a speech on my 8 cities 8 years trip. Students asked questions about how my family is taking my plans, what I plan to do in each city, and how I decided on my cities. But one question a midst all of them stood out to me.

My old professor asked, “What if when you get to Texas, you fall in love with a handsome ‘cowboy’? What happens then?”

The class and I chuckled as I shook my head and looked him dead in the eye.

“I’m going to need more reason than a boy to stay in Austin.”

-Jess

Daddy issues: Seeking approval in relationships

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As many of you know, I had issues with my father growing up. I never got his love or approval and that really hurt me. It messed me up, even.

For the next 6 or so years I would obsess over trying to make my boyfriends happy. I’d spend money, time, and effort, and make grand gestures to try to receive that love. I wanted approval. I wanted confirmation that I’m a good person. I figured that if I kept doing these big things for them there was no way they could leave me or reject me. There was no way they couldn’t love me.

The thing is… even if they’d jump up and down and cry of happiness (which of course, they didn’t)… it still wouldn’t have been enough.

No man will ever fill that void. And why should he? That is a dad-shaped hole that really won’t ever heal. 

Andy and I had a bit of a speed bump there yesterday. The art installation didn’t go as well as I had hoped. He loved the thought behind it and admired how hard I worked, but he was a little bit shocked and felt very weird in the limelight around onlookers that knew it was him in the posters. These aren’t things I knew in the moment… so to me it registered as it always had in the past.

It reminded me of my exes to be honest. I felt like I had landed another guy who didn’t appreciate the things I do. I did what I told myself I’d do in a situation like this.

I contemplated whether or not this person was right for me.

And that made me extremely sad. I wanted to be alone. I didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted to shower and lay in bed and cry. I didn’t know how to tell him. I didn’t think we could bounce back from this for our picnic and fort plans. Andy knew something was wrong and I’m not one to lie about whether or not I’m alright, so I told him the truth.

He was deeply saddened that I was in pain over it.

I wanted to shower. He wanted to wait for me in my room. I wanted to lay in bed. He laid there with me. I wanted to cry, he held onto me in silence for about half an hour while the tears took over.

Then afterwards, when I was calmer, we talked about it. He felt so bad about his reaction, and I felt so bad because I felt like I was completely off with my gift. I cried some more and told him that I just wanted to give him things I knew he never had. I wanted him to know that I realize there’s a third person in this relationship and that it is a different situation. I wanted him to feel loved and cared about.

And he said, “Why would you think I don’t? You make me feel that way every day. Every moment that I’m with you I feel that way. It makes me so sad that you don’t believe I appreciate you. I do. Everything you do for me is noticed and appreciated.”

And I realized that this whole thing was a pretty painful misunderstanding. I looked back at this time I’ve been in Austin, and I really thought about it.

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In this short amount of time Andy has made me feel like the most special and beautiful person in the world. He has sacrificed sleep and time for me, he’s juggled me, his son, work, and school, and has managed to make me four amazing gifts from scratch. He’s met my friends, shamelessly told his family about me, planned an amazing birthday for me, and understood my ongoing battle with depression. He’s listened to my problems, my woes, my fears, and has separated them from the person that I am. 

I realized that by just being myself and letting him in I made him feel loved. I never needed to do any of the things I did. I don’t need to make super grand gestures, or look perfect every time we hang out, or hold back on the person that I am. Seems I never had to with him.

When I was growing up I missed out on my father’s love, and it really affected me. I spent hours and days on gifts, surprises, and grand gestures trying to get that same love and approval from my boyfriends. when I didn’t get it I was devastated. I wanted people to know how great of a girlfriend I was. I wanted concrete proof that I did things for them and that I cared.

I enjoyed people coming up to me and saying what an amazing girlfriend I am more than I enjoyed seeing my boyfriend happy. 

But the thing is… yesterday when I was putting up the posters at the outdoor gallery, I turned to my friend that was helping me and told him,

“I would rather have people not look at my work at all than look at it and like it. This isn’t about any of them. They don’t have a clue.”

Even before I knew what Andy’s reaction was going to be, I didn’t feel the need to have anyone tell me what a great girlfriend I am. I only cared about what Andy would think.

I don’t feel like I have to do these grand gestures for approval anymore. Of course there will be days where I want to do something special, but it will always be for the right reasons with Andy.

As a girlfriend I’m loving, caring, affectionate, respectful, and mindful. As a person I am creative, goal-oriented, independent, funny, bright, and strong.

And that is why Andy loves me.

There’s no longer this aching need to replace my father. That dad shaped hole has been boarded up. But Andy has filled the part of me that yearned to be loved and accepted. That lingering feeling that I’m the only person who believes I’m good is gone.

I’m free from this obsessive need to feel loved.

I am loved.

And that is how we bounced back. He gave me my gift. It was a leather booklet with a notepad in it. On the first page it read:

Jess,

It’s only been a month and you’ve swept me off my feet. We’ve grown together so quickly and I just can’t imagine my life without you. You’re the bee’s knees AND the cat’s pajamas. I love you and all the little quirks that make you who you are. I hope you can use this little notepad to help you continue to be the beautiful and creative woman you are.

Happy Valentine’s Day

-Andy

So my Valentine’s day surprise didn’t work out perfectly. So Andy didn’t respond exactly the way I wanted him to. That’s not important. Let me tell you what is. 

1. Though he felt odd about it he still could see the beauty and creativity and effort I put into it.

2. When I reacted negatively to his reaction he didn’t attack me or tell me my feelings weren’t valid.

3. He waited for me to cry it out.

4. He allowed me to express how I was feeling when I was finally ready and calm

5. He told me that none of this changes how he feels about me.

These are all things that prove to me that what we have together is good, unadulterated, and can push through conflict.

I’m also very happy it happened because now our relationship isn’t ALL rainbows and butterflies. It’s a relationship. A real one. We can exist in our imaginary world. We can be together without anyone else around in our little fort we made in my room that had one string of beer shaped lights illuminating each crevice. We can laugh, and kiss, and play games. But more importantly, we can get out of the fort and face the real world. No one is excited for a fight. No one likes looking back on their scars and their issues. But these things are necessary because they prove to us that what we are living is real.

His gift proved to me that though his personality isn’t the same as mine, he still knows that I’m creative and artistic and loves me for it. It was the perfect gift to end that whole situation.

I made a video that shows how I made the posters and how I posted them up. Regardless of what happened I’m extremely proud of my work, and on the plus side, I saw a bunch of people taking pictures with them as we were leaving the gallery!

See when it came to my dad, I knew that he was missing out on a great daughter. I knew that I had great qualities. I knew it with all of my exes, and I know it with Andy. It’s just really nice to find someone who finally knows that about me, too. Especially without me having to point it out all the time.

After making up and making the SWEET fort (that I’m currently in as I type) we hung out, had our picnic, danced salsa (He’s learning because he knows it’s important to me), drank wine, and played the letters game.

You decide on a letter and take turns saying words that start with it. Names aren’t allowed and neither are repeats. If you look away or laugh you lose.

I distinctly remember laying on my back in the middle of the bed, resting my head on a pillow, and Andy hovering over me, a big smile on his face while we took turns, trying to make each other laugh by saying words in funny voices.

And I felt so beautiful. Not that I didn’t before. I just really noticed it in that moment. The way he was looking at me reminded me of it.

No relationship is perfect. No man is perfect. I’m certainly not perfect.

But today, sitting here in this fort that makes me feel safe and reminds me of all the things I learned in 24 hours, I feel perfect. I feel right.

I feel happy.

-Jess

P.S. Andy’s dad wants to meet me! We are all having dinner soon. I’m really excited that our relationship is actually becoming something in the real world.

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Saving for a trip

So I’m going to visit Chicago from June 30th-July 5th! I decided I wanted to surprise my mom for her birthday on July 2nd, so I’m really excited because she’ll have no idea I’m coming.

Also, Andy is coming with me! We’re making a plan to save up for the trip (it’s his first vacation), and he’s going to meet my family. I can’t really explain how excited I am, so I’m not even going to try.

Anyway it reminds me of when I decided to move to Austin. I was very, very determined and ready to do whatever it took to get here. Now I’m doing the same thing, but with someone else, so it’ll be easier to hold each other accountable. I’ve saved up once, and I can do it again. I’m no longer someone that can’t see her goals clearly enough to save for them.

I will admit, I’m still quite impulsive, but as long as I stay determined, I’ll be fine!

We’ll be fine!

Another part of it is that for my mom’s birthday I wanted to see if I could pay for a cruise on Lake Michigan for her, my stepdad, Andy, and me to have dinner and see fireworks.

If I want to do that I’m going to have to save around $800 on top of the trip itself.

Now this wasn’t a reality a few weeks ago. I know that you remember I had to ask my mom for money recently. It’s okay though because I just got an amazing job! $15 an hour and it’s full time. I can do this! You might think it’s too soon to think about a trip in July, but I beg to differ. It’s never too soon to figure your shit out.

We have a little over four months before the trip. That’s almost exactly the same amount of time I had before I first moved here. Wish us luck!

-Jess

A Letter From My Dad In Prison

My dad has a friend who is obsessed with him. She has always been obsessed with him. She used to write him love letters while my parents were still married and while SHE was married. It obviously caused a lot of drama and I didn’t know about any of it until I was 17.

She messaged me personally to say she’s a friend of my dad’s and that he’s in prison. that’s why he didn’t come to my graduation. He’d be getting out soon on bail. (this was when he originally was arrested for sexual assault.)

I didn’t know her or anything about her, so all I could say was “okay… thank you.”

She is currently spending all of her time trying to get my father out of prison. I don’t really get her. She’s married and has children, yet she’s obsessed with my father and his case. She visits him often, and pays to have phone calls with him.

Anyway…

She messaged me two weeks ago asking for my address. She said my dad wanted to have it. I declined because I moved here to start anew, and communication between us would be on my terms, not his. I asked for his address and she refused to give it to me and kept pushing about my address, so I blocked her.

I thought that was that.

But then my mom sent me a picture of a letter he sent to her house. On the envelope it stated “THIS CORRESPONDENCE IS FROM AN INMATE OF THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS“.

Inmate.

Inmate.

That’s what my dad is now. I’m still befuddled by this. Shows and movies about prison just don’t feel right to watch anymore. Jokes about prison just remind me of my dad, and people asking about my parents went from being a difficult thing to answer to an impossible one.

Verbatim:

Dear Jessiquita,

Hi my Princess! How are you? I hope you are doing great. It’s been so long since I have seen you.

I just want you to know that I have been thinking of you always. There is never a day that goes by.

I miss you a lot my Princess, I pray to God each day for you, God knows how much I Love you and care for you.

I remember the day you were born, it was the most beautiful day of my life, I was very happy, I remember holding you in my arms, kissing you, telling you how much I love you, it was a magical moment. 

Some nights I couldn’t sleep cause I was afraid you were not breathing.

I know sometimes you probably doubt that I Love you, and I understand baby I do. 

I haven’t been a good father to you and I’m so sorry about that. I never meant for that, I just did things without thinking.

God is my only hope each day to keep my going in this Crazy place, I will keep fighting to the end I won’t give up.

This is not fair at all, God knows me he knows my heart and knows the kind of person I’m.

I hope to hear from you soon, it will make me so happy to get mail from you my Princess, remember I Love you so much, and please take good care of yourself, read the Bible, Pray, got to church, keep going to school until you are done.

I also want to wish a fantastic Birthday (22) wow, you were just a little Princess not long ago.

I love you my Princess.

I hope you like the card I made for you. 

Happy Birthday

                                                   Love Always,

                                                       Your Dad

If you want to read the backstory, you can here.

Right now I don’t really know how to explain myself. I’m sad, hurt, and probably the worst of all, I feel guilty. I know that my feelings are valid, and that I’m allowed to feel guilty even if i technically have no reason to feel that way.

The guilt comes from years of trying to cut him out of my life and always feeling like I’m betraying my father. I’ve been putting up with this for about 15 years now and I’ve got to say, I’ve never once let myself win.

I’ve never once let myself off the hook. My dad was always the one that I cut some slack. Even more than my mom, which I realize now was wrong. I’d try so hard to stop talking to him or just let things lie, and he never wanted to let me go. He’d let his true colors show and just when I had had enough, he’d reel me in with an apology. 

Granted this time is a little bit different.

His apologies were usually “I’m sorry I didn’t show up for our dinner.” “I’m sorry I haven’t called in a while.” “I’m sorry things turned out the way they did.”

Never “I’m sorry I wasn’t a good father to you.”

Either way though, I’m done. 

I can’t do it anymore. Having him in my life has only ever caused me stress, pain, and very intense flashbacks.

So soon I will be writing him a letter of my own.

I remember when I was 12 I wrote him a letter. It was a letter about all the things he had missed in my life the past 4 years. It was 14 pages front and back. I know that’s a lot, but it was 4 whole years. I barely saw him in that time. He was like a stranger. He still is like a stranger. The point is he never read it. I gave it to him, but months after that I found it that last place I saw it: his glove compartment.

It was unopened, untarnished…. untouched.

I took it back with tears in my eyes.

But this time is to be different. He’s in a jail cell now. I have the control. It is highly likely that he’ll read this one. He doesn’t have much else to do. This letter won’t be angry, it won’t be hurtful, it won’t insult him, but it will -and I mean it- be completely honest.

I’m going to say all the things I couldn’t, all the things I wished I had, all the things I need to get off my chest. 

It will most importantly let my Dad know that while I love him and wish for nothing but his well-being, I can no longer have a relationship with him because it only hurts me. The fact that he’s in prison is irrelevant. The fact that he claims he’s innocent is irrelevant. The fact that I know he’s guilty is irrelevant. I simply need to move forward in my own life. I have forgiven him, not because he deserves it, but because I do.

I owe it to my recovery and my own damn life to let go of the anger, the resentment, just as I did with my mom.

The difference between my resentment for my mom and my dad is that my mom is different now. She has proven to me time and time again that she’s there for me. That she loves me. That we can work on our relationship. My dad is – unfortunately – the same person he was all those years ago.

Finally, the letter will not have a return address. The point isn’t for him to read it, comprehend it, accept it, and let it go. It’s for me to get closure. Even if it gets lost in the mail, or he doesn’t bother to read it at all, I will know that I did everything I needed to say before finally letting him go.

This isn’t easy, but I’m slowly starting to accept the fact that that is what I want to do. I don’t know when I’m going to write it, or even when I’m going to send it, but I know it will happen.

I’m doing everything in my power to remind myself that the guilt I feel is due to the fact that I’m a good person who doesn’t want to hurt her father.

Unfortunately, my father has never felt guilty for all of the hurt he caused me.

The past is the past, and I’ll never get my childhood back. 

But I’m okay with that, because my future looks very bright.

-Jess

Mother Daughter Relationships: How to let go of the past

Last year, I wrote a post about my mother. I’ve since deleted it because it was honestly too hard to read anymore. It was cold, unforgiving, and it was surprisingly easy to write.

This post, however, is not so easy.

It’s difficult because for the first time in about twelve years my mom and I are very close. Things are so different now, and I thought they’d never get here.

It just saddens me that our relationship was so bad at one point.

It was mostly due to the fact that she didn’t do anything about the abuse that was going on in our house. I thought she didn’t care. I felt like she abandoned me. Though we lived in the same house she felt so far away.

Even in my college years we didn’t really get along.

The only time I got praise was in public when she bragged about me. 

But behind closed doors we spent our time having screaming matches, not talking, not communicating, and I spent my own time resenting her. Sitting in my room wondering why my family was like this. This abuse ultimately led to my depression. So I blamed her for that, too. I vividly remember vowing to myself that she’d never meet my children. Something that sounds ridiculous to me now. She’s an amazing grandmother to my nephew, and I so badly want that for my kids someday when I have them.

My brother had a weird position in the house. Since we didn’t always have a father figure, he was the one who did all of the punishing and grounding.

My mom wasn’t really a mom in that sense. When we’d ask permission for something, she’d say “ask your brother”.

That infuriated me. Why have children if you’re not going to be there for them? If you’re not going to nurture them. If you’re going to make them hate themselves? 

See… all of these things are still true. They really happened. I didn’t make it up in my head. The only thing that is different now is that I don’t let it run my life anymore.

When I see my mom I don’t see all of those things anymore. Although it’s still relatively new. It only started happening when I started planning my move to Austin. When I see her, I see the person that she is now. 

Something that always stuck with me from therapy was a very important question the mediator asked me. I was tearing up and saying that I resented my mom. She wasn’t there for me emotionally, she allowed abuse to happen in our home and didn’t protect me, she made me feel extremely terrible about myself, and I didn’t think I could ever forgive her.

And He said, “Okay, you’re angry with her. She really messed up your childhood. But Jessica You’re 21. What is that anger doing you for now?”

He was right. I was angry. Angry at a ghost. At someone my mom no longer was.

Just like in my blog post, “Saving” I was on a carousel that was no longer working. Sure, before when it was spinning quickly I had no control. There was nothing I could do.

But what about when I did have the control? When I was older and my stepdad was gone. When I moved out? The carousel had stopped, everyone else had gotten off, and there I was, not allowing myself the pleasure of getting off the ride and moving on with my life.

Not allowing myself to put my feet on solid ground.

It is only when you realize these things about yourself that you can try to let go of your past anger.

____________________________________________

____________________________________________

I remember sharing all of this with Joseph. Hearing those things and seeing the anger it caused me made him angry with her. He basically hated her.

I remember one day he called her a bitch.

I lashed out at him and told him to never call her that. It felt weird because I didn’t think I had any desire to defend her. Seems even at that time I still really wanted to love her.

Now that things are different, I’m excited to see Andy meet my mom someday. Now that our relationship is a lot better and I don’t resent her. Now he can form his own opinion of her instead of me ruining their chances before they even meet, like I did with Joseph. I sabotaged myself in that department, but I never will again.

Why do we make ourselves suffer? It’s like we have this idea that someone has to be angry for things that happened in the past.

“If I’m not angry about my abuse it’s like it never happened.”

Like those years of suffering are like nothing. Like I never went through what I went through.

But would it be so bad to leave it in the past? Would it be so bad to stop letting it control me?

Would it be so bad to be happy?

No. It wouldn’t be so bad.

So after that therapy session, I tried extremely hard to let go. It wasn’t easy. It didn’t happen all at once, and there were many moments that I just couldn’t see my mom any differently.

Besides, family argues. They do. No matter what.

But the point is eventually, when I let go of my anger, let go of my accusations, let go of trying to be good enough for her, or wishing she was good enough for me, something happened.

We got closer.

I kicked all of my walls down and so did she, and there were moments in those four months I was home that changed our relationship.

We had heart to hearts. We were vulnerable with each other. We trusted each other. And we were there for each other.

For the first time in a long time, I saw my mom again through my four year old eyes.

The eyes that I thought I had lost forever.

She is different now. She isn’t perfect. Neither am I. But we love each other.

All because I decided to finally stop carrying the past on my back.

Don’t believe yourself. You do not have to be angry about things that happened to you long ago. This whole “someone has to be angry” thing is ludicrous.

Remember what you suffered and where you came from, but don’t let it control your life anymore.

Don’t let it keep you from seeing the beautiful changes that others have made in their lives since then.

Because if I had let it do that to me… Well… I wouldn’t have my mom back.

I love you, mom. Even though you don’t know the url to this blog, I want to tell the world.

I love you, and I’m so extremely happy that we are here.

No one is perfect, and I don’t expect you to be.

It’s just like when I was sad for the first time instead of depressed. Now when we argue, it’s normal arguing. And on the surface I may seem irritated, but on the inside I’m actually incredibly relieved to be fighting with you this way.

I may not have my dad, and I may never will.

But it’s incredibly nice to know that I have my mom. A mom who is also an amazing grandmother to my nephew (And my future children).

And I will never take that for granted.

-Jess

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Why do we let irrelevant people hurt us?

Why Why Why?

Why do we let irrelevant people get us down?

Like anything they say (or don’t say) matters.

Life would be fine without them, yet when they’re gone suddenly we feel a loss.

Well I say that’s bullshit.

Someone like that should never make you feel bad about yourself. They shouldn’t have the power to.

Let them go. 

Seriously. Let them go. Whoever they are. I don’t care if it’s a distant friend, relative, ex, whoever. You know who it is for you.

Yes. It stings. But isn’t knowing that all ties are cut better than wondering what’s going on between you?

Fuck that. There’s enough uncertainty in the world without us questioning the certainties.

Let. Them. Go.

Not for their sake. For yours.

Let them go.

And don’t for one second regret it. You deserve more than irrelevant pricks messing with your head. You deserve more than getting your feelings hurt by someone that literally means nothing to your life, even if they once did.

Say goodbye. Not until we meet again, but a solid, clear goodbye. Even if it’s just in your head that you haven’t said goodbye. Do it!

And then flail about in your apartment singing angsty songs at the top of your lungs. Who cares what you sound like? Fuck em all.

I guarantee you’ll realize you just made a decision that helped YOU for once.

Lastly, focus on the people that actually matter. The ones who are there for you always and would do anything for you, just as you would them.

If you don’t focus on them you may miss out on them!

-Jess

My attempted Suicide

Sometimes being alive feels so unbearable. I remember a time when being alive was the worst hell I could imagine. Depression does that to you. It changes everything around you when nothing has changed at all. I call it “depression brain.” Back in july I wrote the story of my most severe attempted suicide that took place in February, but it was part of another story, so I feel like I should make it it’s own post. It’s important to tell your story because it helps others see into an experience they never want to have. Suicide isn’t fun, it isn’t smart, it isn’t the right way to silence your problems. It’s a way to die.

That’s it.

If you want to silence your problems, then fix them. I know, easier said than done. It’s hard, but it’s very possible. Then when you’re at a place where you feel like you’re doing a lot better your outlook on most things change.

After my attempt it was like I saw the world through a completely different set of eyes.

And let me say this…

If you feel like committing suicide, the most important thing you need to know is that it isn’t your fault. Depression brain is a complete bitch. But if you let it win, you lose.

And so does everyone else who ever loved you, who love you now, and who will love you someday.

What’s most important to me is to forgive myself for it. Accept that my head was in shambles and that I wasn’t me at that time. I was a completely different person that even I didn’t recognize.

I accept that I attempted suicide.

I’m grateful for the doctors who saved me, the loved ones who supported me, and the medication that changed me. I was changed back into myself.

It feels great to let it go.

I woke up and the day was gloomy. I usually like gloomy days, but there was something about this day that felt off. It had been about three weeks since my diagnosis. Two weeks since my release from the psych hospital. I decided to dress up to make myself feel better. I only always had one place to go: University outpatient therapy. (UIOP) If it were up to me, I wouldn’t waste the little time I had left with people that are paid to tell me I have a reason to live. But Joseph, Roxy, and the doctors insisted.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand fighting for something you don’t even want.

Everyone else wants it for you, so you keep trying to want it, too. I still don’t want it.

I gave Joseph an example once.  

“You hate cheeze whiz, right?”

“With a passion, yes.”

“Well imagine if you told your loved ones that you hate it, and they all got overly emotional and concerned with your anti cheese-whiz choice. So they send you to a hospital-prison and stick you in group therapy where people talk about how good cheese whiz is, and they make you take little capsules of cheese whiz every day. Truth is you really want to like cheese whiz to make everyone happy, but you just fucking hate it.”

I know part of him slightly understood where I was coming from, but he refused to give me any credit for my wonderful cheese whiz metaphor in fear that I might think it’s a green light to “give up on cheese whiz”.

As I was running out the door, I realized I still hadn’t taken my Lexapro (an antidepressant). With the bus nearly at the stop, I bolted to the bathroom and just shoved the whole bottle in my purse. 15 capsules remaining. 

Out the door. On the bus. In the seat. Passing by. Taking none of it in. Looking down. Feeling empty. Feeling alone.

Feeling worthless.

The only good thing about UIOP was the free snacks. The free snacks kind of made me want to live more than the therapy.

In the elevator. On the fifteenth floor. Through the glass double doors. In the room with floor to ceiling windows.

I hate this room. I spend most of my time fantasizing about breaking the glass with something strong enough and jumping out. Death was everywhere in my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I’d die, what I’d leave behind. How to do it without my roommates finding me. How to do it so that I wouldn’t spend my last moments in severe pain. That one seemed to be the least important. Ultimately I didn’t care if it would hurt. It’d be over soon. 

So what is keeping me here? What the hell am I still doing here? Someone’s speaking. I can hear them speaking but all I hear is bullshit. Do these people expect me to take advice from another depressed person in the room? 

YOU’RE FUCKED UP TOO.

We have the same issues. This is stupid.

“I always like to lean on my support groups when I feel really bad.”

Oh, fuck off. There’s only so much you can do before you feel like a burden to everyone. 

I shifted my focus to these two men that look so tiny from where I’m sitting. They’re unloading a truck together. One man opened the gate and the other drove the truck into the lot. Those men, having a normal day…

They have no idea that I’m going to die today.

My palms are sweating. Fingers trembling. Eyes wide. I can’t do this anymore. I bolt up and make my way to the bathroom. Dr. Flores is onto me. She can tell something’s wrong. 

I don’t care. 

As I sit in a stall on the floor, my eyes well up. I don’t know exactly why I’m crying, but crying seemed to be the only thing I did lately. I took the bottle of Lexapro out of my purse and got up to look in the mirror.

“Okay, Jess. You’re really doing this. It’s happening. It’s finally happening.”

I smiled at myself for the first time in months. As I opened the bottle, I laughed. I was over the moon. My pain was about to be over. For the first time in my life it seemed I finally had control . 

15 pills.

10 pills.

7 pills.

4 pills.

An empty bottle.

An empty person.

A corpse. 

I went back into the room to get my coat and leave.

“Jessica, you can’t leave this way. Please sit and talk with me for a little while.”

“No I have to leave.”

“Please don’t leave when you’re feeling this bad. Let’s just calm down and talk this through.”

“I have to make a phone call.” Empty psychiatrist’s office.

You have reached the voicemail box of 773 — —- Please leave your message after the tone.

Beep.

“Joseph, I’m so sorry. I can’t do it anymore. I tried and I failed. Please make sure Khaleesi stays with you or Roxy. Please. I love you. I love you.”

click. 

Therapist tries to make me talk. I talk. I talk with tears in my eyes and a tired soul on my back. I talk, and the thrill of no one knowing I have a stomach full of anti depressants was exhilarating. 

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Ironic how the pills that were supposed to help me with depression, aided me in my suicide. 

“If I try to leave, will you force me to stay?”

“No, we can’t do that. But-“

Up out of the chair, out the door. Stranger therapist calls after me. She doesn’t even know me. Down the hall. In the elevator. Lobby. Out the revolving door. Doorman calls for me.

“Miss, Dr Flores would like to speak with you.”

“No.”

Down the street. Phone rings. I owe it to Joseph to have at least one last conversation.

“Jess, please. Please don’t do this.”

“…It’s already done.”

“Where are you? Please tell me where you are.”

“I’m so sorry I couldn’t be what you hoped I’d be. But I love you. I’m sorry.”

Click. 

Turning right. Walgreens. Walk in. Medicine section. Tylenol. Rip it out of the packaging.Walk out.

Starbucks. Used coffee cup. Starbucks’s bathroom. Open bottle. Fill up cup.

Handful 1. Drink.

Handful 2. Drink.

Handful 3. Drink.

Losing count of handfuls.

Die alone? No. I want to walk around the city one last time. Roxy calls. I turn my phone off. I’m going to die in peace. It’s been 15 minutes. I walk. I walk. I walk.

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Suddenly… yes. I feel it. Sweet surrender. My body feels cold and hot at the same time. My eyes are glazing over. My stomach hurts. My hands feel clammy. Tipping over. Smiling. Giving in.

Darkness.

“She has a bottle of tylenol in her purse. It’s almost empty.”

“Jessica. Jessica. That’s her name, right?”

“Yeah that’s what her ID says.”

“Jessica. Wake up.”

I opened my eyes and immediately realized that my death was short-lived.

A few good strangers saved me from my decision to commit suicide and called an ambulance.

And there I was. In a cold ambulance under a fluorescent light of reality.

And there they were. Two EMT’s that looked down at me disapprovingly. 

“We’re going to take you to the hospital. Just stay laying down.”

Suddenly my stomach began to writhe in pain. Sharp, constant, and unforgiving. I cried out and clutched my stomach.

“That’s what happens when you take too much tylenol.”

Fuck that guy. He had no idea what I was going through.

Not only was I in pain, but I wasn’t supposed to be feeling anything.

I wasn’t supposed to be alive anymore.

My stomach couldn’t take it anymore, “I have to throw up.”

Those bastards couldn’t find anything besides my purse at a moment’s notice.

So now I was in pain, I was alive, and I had vomit in my purse.

My God.

The ambulance took off. There was no siren, so I figured what I had done to myself wasn’t a big deal. 

I was wrong.

The next two days were a battle for my life. My liver could have easily failed. It was all up to my body whether the rest of my life would be spent out in the real world, or in a home for someone who can no longer take care of herself.

What have I done?

______________________________________________________

I’d like to tell the story of being in the hospital, and the psych unit right after that. That is where everything changed. Not right away. Not all at once, but that’s where it all began.

-Jess

When you know, you know. You know?

___________________________________________________________________

There are some things you just know right away.

The moment you just know for sure you’re going to like a movie as soon as you see the trailer.

The moment you just know for sure you stepped in gum.

The moment you just know who should and shouldn’t be in your life.

The moment you just know you’ve found what you were looking for.

The moment you just know things are right.

Everything is the way it’s supposed to be.

It may not be perfect, but it’s exactly right.

I never really believed in or understood the idea of “just knowing the moment something happens” on a greater scale than expecting to like a movie.

I guess I hoped it was true on a bigger scale of life.

Now I can say it.

I’m throwing caution to the wind. I literally don’t mind being judged or ridiculed.

The people that matter know who I am. They know me. They know when I mean something.

When you know, you know.

WordPress… This is the first time I can say the following with complete confidence.

I know.

I really mean it.

I don’t know how.

I can’t explain why.

All I can say is that this is what knowing feels like.

And this is the first time I’ve experienced anything even remotely like that.

I know.

-Jess

My 22nd Birthday

I recently downloaded this app called Timehop. It allows you to see what you posted on social media anywhere from a year to six years ago today. It’s pretty cool to see your posts from the past, but lately, I haven’t gotten much pleasure from it.

As most of you know, I had my worst bout of depression this time a year ago. At first when I got Timehop in November, my statuses were still pretty cheerful, or funny. My depression had already started getting worse by November 2013, but I was still hanging on. As December came by I posted less and less. If I did post something, it usually had nothing to do with my day to day life. I didn’t know what was going on with me, and I was ashamed of asking for help or trying to tell someone, even people as insignificant as facebook friends, that something was wrong.

This isn’t to say that the consistency of Facebook statuses one posts directly relate to how one is doing mental health-wise, but I know myself pretty well. I know the reasons I wasn’t posting anything. I was too busy with self loathing, having uncontrollable crying spells, constantly having suicidal thoughts and constantly drinking to avoid my problems. Problems that were in my past and couldn’t even hurt me anymore.

Tonight, I got a notification on timehop. On January 10th, I posted nothing a year ago, and nothing two years ago. But three years ago I posted three different fun statuses about my friends that I was hanging out with that day. four years ago I posted about a Netflix night with my friends back home. Six years ago I posted pictures of myself at Show choir rehearsal.

In that moment I just thought to myself how uninvolved in my own life I was last year at this time. It was hard to remember day to day things because most of it was a blur. The only things that stand out are really terrible moments that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

Like my 21st birthday.

My birthday is coming up. I’ll be 22 in 19 days. Honestly, I’m usually not too excited about my birthdays because for some reason they are notorious for being really bad or just uneventful.

On my fourth birthday (The first one I can remember) the family party was just fine. No problems, until everyone left and my dad beat up my older brother who was 11 at the time. Right in front of us. He did it every night, but that’s the first time I remember it happening.

On my 12th birthday I had a small sleepover with four of my friends. These girls were vicious. My own version of mean girls’ “plastics”. They picked on me the whole time and I had to pretend like nothing was wrong in front of my parents.

On my 15th birthday (My Quinceañera) My mom invited most of my family, and I was allowed to invite 20 or so of my school friends. The whole night my family and friends were arguing over music. My white friends wanted the cha cha slide, my hispanic family wanted Salsa, and guess who got all the complaints? Me. That night wasn’t even about me at that point.

On my 16th birthday, my family was acting super weird. As if they had a secret or something. I was convinced I was going to be thrown a surprise birthday party. I just knew it. My brother and mom picked me up from school and they started yelling at me for one reason or another, typical day in my family at the time. I thought it was all part of the ruse though. Maybe they were trying to lead me off the track. There was no party. We got home to an empty, dark house. And I went to bed.

On my 19th birthday Roxy had a surprise party for me at her dorm. Most of my new freshman friends were there, except Joseph, who’s excuse was that he had to study. At first we had a blast. Roxy had spent so much money on liquor it was insane. Only problem was that one of her roommates was so extremely unhappy in her own life, that she didn’t want anyone else to be happy. She was homesick, mopey, and never wanted to be around people. So even though Roxy had cleared the party with her, at around 12am she came out of her room, left the dorm, and went straight to the RA’s, who knocked on our door and busted all of us. We got banned from the dorm for the rest of the semester.

On my 20th birthday, I was feuding with this girl from my school. Jeanette. We had similar positions of power in our Latino group at school and she did whatever possible to alienate me from my friends. It worked. Joseph tried to throw me a birthday party, and only invited the people that weren’t involved in the mess. When we got to the party, there were three people there. one of them was a stranger. A girlfriend of one of my friends. And one of them was a friend that was already wasted, so I spent a lot of time taking care of her.

Now for my 21st.

I was in an extremely bad place on my 21st birthday. I was ready to get wasted and forget about my problems. I cleaned the whole apartment, showered, put makeup on, got my outfit on. I probably did more that day than I had done in months. It was technically the 31st of January, one day after my birthday, but I was okay with it. I was excited to be in a room full of people that loved me and wanted me to have a good time.

The party started. People brought some alcohol. Not much. I ended up paying for almost all of the liquor on my birthday. Mostly everyone drank on my dime. Having depression I automatically thought it was because no one cared about me. Everyone in the room was just there to mooch off of me, and really they hated me. Depression does that to you. In reality my birthday is very close to bill paying time. Rent, electricity, almost everything is due the 1st. And my friends were a whole bunch of college students who made minimum wage wherever they worked. The night went on with me crying in my room, drunk as all hell, and a lot of my friends sitting around me trying to reassure me that they were all there for me.

I didn’t care at that point. I didn’t see it that way. Everyone but Roxy and Joseph left, and I got up from my bed and went to the bathroom.

I looked at myself in the mirror. Stared into my reflection for a long time.

Until I couldn’t look anymore. 

I grabbed a cleaning solution from the cabinet under the sink, and I drank it.

All of it.

I blacked out for a bit and woke up to Josephs finger down my throat. I threw it all up. Once I was calm and could breath again, We all just sat there, exhausted.

Joseph sat on the toilet, Roxy in the tub, and I was sprawled on the floor with my back against the wall.

“No more drinking. If I’m going to get better I can’t drink anymore.”

They quietly nodded in response to my realization.

So for the first two months of being 21 I didn’t drink. I tried to avoid it so that I could focus on getting better. I started again in march, but I didn’t get nearly as drunk, and I was a lot better at giving myself a limit. It didn’t always pan out, but ever since then I never did anything as crazy as that day on alcohol.

Obviously with these birthdays on my list it could be assumed that I’m not excited for this next one. Well, I wasn’t at first. I figured I shouldn’t do anything at all. I should just make sure not to make a fool of myself in a new town and watch movies or something.

But I have something that I never had for any of those other birthdays. Control.

This will be my first birthday on anti – depressants. I finally have control over my feelings. I also have control over my alcohol intake. I don’t drink to forget anymore. I drink to enhance whatever is happening. To add to the fun.

I control what I can. I invite who I want, I enjoy it as it happens, I accept that it won’t be the perfect day. I accept that things may not go exactly as planned. I realize that if I don’t enjoy it I’ll just look back and wish I had.

Imagine if on my 12th birthday I had invited some of my real friends instead of the popular mean girls?

Imagine if on my 15th birthday I had just told my friends to back off and give my family some dancing time?

Imagine if on my 19th birthday my friends and I decided to ditch the dorms after we got caught and just go have pizza?

Imagine if on my 21st birthday I would’ve stuck to four or five drinks and enjoyed my drunkenness as opposed to trying to black out on all the alcohol I had to buy?

This time is to be different because not only do I have control of the set up, but I also have control over how I react to things that may happen.

So that’s it. On January 31st, the same day that a year ago was my first suicide attempt, I’m going to take back my birthday. I’ve got some amazing roommates who are totally fine with the party and are in fact coming. I’ve invited the new guy I’m seeing, and some great friends I made at karaoke, plus henry who’s already accepted, and I’m going to have a great time.

It’s going to be a potluck booze party. Everyone’s bringing something and we’re all putting it on one table and sharing it.

I’m going to limit myself to five drinks of my choice, and maybe two shots tops. (Hey, it’s my brithday). Not because I’m afraid of doing something stupid, but because I want to remember my birthday party.

So whether 15 people or three people come, I’m going to enjoy it. Because those three people took the time out of their lives to celebrate mine. And now I know this.

And whether I have two drinks or five, I won’t care because I don’t need the alcohol anymore.

And whether the party gets busted or someone gets into a fight, or whatever other stupid party ruining thing happens, I won’t care because I’ll have enjoyed every microsecond up until that point. That’s what matters.

And at the end of the night, when everyone is gone and the party is over, I’ll look at myself in the mirror and I won’t see a sad, broken, hollow 21 year old who drank too much, I’ll see a sassy, beautiful 22 year old who’s smiling right back at me.

So to my 22nd birthday, good luck trying to be a bad one!

-Jess

New Year

The new year is about happiness
The new year is about joy.
The new year is about overcoming or enduring the toughest of trials.
The new year is about the exciting unknown.
The new year is about trying to get and stay better.
Believe me, getting better isn’t easy. Buy when you get better… There’s nothing quite like it.

Accept the bad, rejoice in the good, and take control of your life.

Stay strong, I wish you all the best of luck. See you on the other side!

-Jess

Anxiety About Moving

I remember when I had a layover in Memphis on my way back from Austin. The Megabus required two hours to get cleaned and switch drivers. It was around 10pm and I hadn’t gotten much sleep that whole weekend in Austin, but I was wide awake. I spent those two hours meticulously planning out the inner workings of my move. Something clicked in me the last night that I was there. I just knew that Austin was where I wanted to be. I decided right then and there that everything I did would be in service of moving.

As the day grew nearer things sort of changed.  

See, before, when I mentioned wanting to move out of state to my therapist it was just a thought. Then when I went to Austin on vacation it was just a dream. When my countdown was still in the triple digits it was just in the works. In the double digits it suddenly became a plan.

And now… two days before my move… it is a reality.

It’s one of those things that you’re pretty sure is going to happen, but until it comes close it doesn’t really feel real yet. I spent 116 days planning this move down to the last detail. I set a budget, I moved back home to save money, I got two jobs, I spent quality time with my family, got an apartment, took care of any loose ends, etc. In fact, I made a checklist for the biggest things I had to do in order to make sure everything was in order before my move.

10862500_10152605431456274_3753219326692708681_o

IPicMonkey Collage 3 was very serious about this. After the year I’d had I was just done with Chicago. I’ve lived here all my life and there are too many memories here. There was a lot of good of course, and I’d always treasure the good,but the bad really got me down. At least in Austin I’d be far away enough to weed out the good from the bad and really be able to remember it.

Yes, Chicago held too much pain that -while I have mentally moved on from it- I don’t really want to be reminded of on a daily basis.

In Chicago I had my worst bout of depression.

In Chicago I got my heart broken.

In Chicago I was abused.

In Chicago Here I had money issues.

In Chicago I had many drunken nights that I had to apologize for in the morning.

In Chicago I almost lost my life.

But Austin would be different.

In Austin I’d feel fresh and new.

In Austin I’d have medication.

In Austin I wouldn’t have the daily reminder of the bad memories I’ve had in Chicago.

In Austin I’d make new friends while still being able to keep my current ones.

In Austin I’d get a fun server job and get along with my co workers.

In  Austin I’d have great roommates and we’d live in peace together.

In Austin my money problems wouldn’t exist.

In Austin I might even fall in love with a great guy.

In Austin I’d find myself.

But the thing is… That’s a lot of pressure on Austin.

I lived in this fantasy world where I thought Austin would be perfect, but that’s just not the reality. I will struggle in Austin. I might not find a job right away, or make enough to pay all of my bills, satisfy my thrift shopping habit, and still go out and have fun as much as I want to. My roommates and I may not always get along. I may get my heart broken in Austin. I may not even get to a relationship phase with someone. I may spend some lonely nights with my cat because I haven’t made friends right away. I may have bitches for co-workers.

The point is I’ve decided to stop romanticizing Austin simply because it’s really stressing me out to pretend.

I guess no matter how much or how far ahead you plan, it’ll never really ease all of your anxiety. (especially since I have anxiety to begin with),

Regardless of all of this, I have to remember that all of this isn’t depression or anxiety talking. This is how people without a mental illness would react to moving out of state. It’s a big deal, so I shouldn’t judge myself for it.

If anything I should have compassion for myself.

Ultimately, even though it is absolutely clear that Austin won’t be perfect 100% of the time, I am going to make some awesome memories there. PicMonkey Collage 2Chicago may be riddled in bad memories, but the good ones… when I think of them I instantly feel warm and fuzzy inside. I’m leaving because those memories are just that… memories. They are gone. Now it’s time to make new ones I’ll look back on fondly some day. So instead of focusing on the bad that may happen, I’ve decided I’m going to accept the bad, and enjoy the good as much as I can. And when I make too many memories in Austin… Well, NYC will be waiting for me.

PicMonkey Collage

That’s the beauty of 8 cities 8 years. 

Once my cup is dry, in comes another wonderful year to fill it back up.

After all, the only thing scarier than going is not going.

PicMonkey Collage 4

-Jess

I’m Scared.

Here’s the thing… I don’t think anyone ever really knows how they’ll react to any given situation. It isn’t until the moment you experience it that you find out. And even then the reaction is fleeting, because it adapts to new situations as they happen.

116 days ago when I boarded a Megabus back to Chicago, I could hear Austin, Texas calling my name. Shouting it, even. As my bus left the outskirts of the city, could not bear having to be apart from it for any amount of time. This would be my home. This would be my future. I was sure of it.

46 days ago, as I sat in a tiny cubicle making dreaded sales calls and realizing that I couldn’t possibly do this for the rest of my life, I wished deeply to be in the warm Austin sun. Hidden in my snack box under my cubicle was 46 post its, stuck to the side with a push pin, waiting for me to pull them off each day.

18 days ago, I started feeling panicked. Is this the right move? Am I batshit crazy for doing this? What am I supposed to do after the project? Will I let everyone down? Suddenly it all seemed so serious. It was real. It was scary.

Today marks 9 days until my move. 9. A chill ran down my spine just writing the previous sentence. Suddenly something that once felt like the answer to all of my “what ifs” feels ridiculous, stupid, and completely farfetched.

Suddenly I desperately want to hold onto anything comfortable, stable, and familiar to ease my anxiety.

Suddenly I am no match for my own plans.

Suddenly all of the inspirational quotes I’ve used to soothe my anxiety feels like bullshit.

Suddenly I feel like that girl I used to be. The one who had no faith in herself. The one who drowned in her past traumas. The one who couldn’t even walk past her front door without depression setting in.

I am not depressed, but I’m scared. On the outside I am calm, collected, brave, ready.

On the inside I feel afraid. I feel weak, I feel alone.

I suppose anyone would feel this way right before a big life altering moment like moving.

A combination of my own personal anxiety and other people trying to scare me into playing it safe have settled in.

But damnit, I’m going.

Yes. I’m scared. And I have my reasons to be. But what is the alternative? Living a life that clearly wasn’t working for me? Staying in a pot that is too small for my roots? Being unhappy and unsatisfied?

I’ve been through a lot in my life, and I’m going to go through this. The good and bad, the amazing and tragic, the temporary and permanent.

I simply can’t sit here anymore. I’m doing this and that is that.

If It doesn’t work out, I know I always have a home. I just hope I never have to come back to it for that reason.

This isn’t meant to inspire, or make others question their decisions. It isn’t meant to spark doubt in my readers. It isn’t meant to uplift.

This post is for me and anyone else who has ever doubted themselves. It is meant to be real.

9 days.

-Jess

30 Days

That’s all that’s left. I have 30 days until I move to a whole new city. A city of strangers. A city of adventures. A city that will change the course of my life.

It’s actually a little bittersweet.

I can still vividly recount the last night that my family and I spent in our childhood home. I had one more night to be Jessica from Arlington Heights. I spent that last night in my familiar room, in my familiar bed with one of my close, familiar friends, Bethany. The next day a new family would be moving in. A new person would be sleeping in my room. A new child growing up and measuring their height on the wall in pencil. A new dog running around in the backyard. A new family tradition in the living room. A new lazy Sunday on the balcony. A new life that was about to push us out.

I hated that house for so long. A chasm of events that are impossible to describe happened there. I lived through the best and worst times in that house. I was abused for years in that house. I had screaming matches with my mom in that house. I watched my family fall apart in that house. I watched my family pick up the pieces and recover in that house. I opened Christmas presents in that house. I watched my father walk away from us in that house. I watched my mother marry a monster in that house. I sang my heart out in that house. I had amazing pets in that house. I graduated from high school in that house.

I hated how much I was going to miss that house.

Laying there in the dark while my friend was asleep, I cried my eyes out in that house.

I guess you could hate something so familiar so much that when the time comes to let it go, it feels wrong.

I think now I realize that I’m so different from that teenager I used to be. I’ve managed to pick myself up, beat depression, survive a breakup, save money, turn my life around, plan everything out down to the last minute detail, and -for lack of a better term- get the fuck out of this small town.

Alright I probably could’ve thought of a better term, but I’m Jess and my middle name is crude so…

Though this town feels familiar, I don’t hate it. I just feel trapped by it. My roots have outgrown the pot and now I’m stuck not being able to grow and learn to my full potential.

I grew up a small town girl, but I am a city girl at heart.

What I failed to realize the next morning as I put the last boxes in the car and said goodbye to my house was that though a new family’s memories would eventually phase ours out, I now had the chance to do the same elsewhere. I’ve been here in Illinois since the day I was born, and now it’s time to move forward.

No matter what or who I leave behind… The show goes on.

Austin, TX. Khaleesi and I are on the horizon.
Get ready for me.

6 things I’m grateful for…

I missed a day, so I’m going to name six today.

1. I’m grateful that I have really nice and respectful co-workers that I can talk to. 

2. I’m grateful for having a food assistance card. ( It has saved me more times than I can count).

3. I’m grateful for the fact that I made it through the worst part of depression and lived to tell the tale.

4. I’m grateful that I was able to find happiness and embrace being single. 

5. I’m grateful that I have a cozy couch and warm blankets to sleep with. (it is a gift that often goes unappreciated until you experience being without it.)

6. I’m grateful that every day the thought of my father in prison hurts a little less. (Sometimes there are really intense moments, but overall I’m starting to come to terms with it.)

Somethings up with me though. It’s odd. I can slowly feel myself regressing… Like I’m at the top of a hill and my back is to the valley. Everything feels like it’s in slow motion. I close my eyes and try not to fall backwards, but suddenly a strong and unforgiving force pulls the bottom of my jacket. I can’t do anything about it.

I might have to adjust my medication or something.

I haven’t had a super low day yet, just a lingering sadness.

But it’s okay. I’ve experienced worse, and have gotten through it. I’ll get through this just as I always have.

I hope you’re all having a great night. I’m editing the video I promised as we speak.

-Jess

Three things I’m grateful for (Day 3)

Not much news today, except I got my first paycheck. 2 weeks= $966! yay! I just need four more of those to exceed my goal of $3800.

Looks like life is working out for the ol’ Jessmeister.

1. I’m grateful for the fact that if I ever feel sad, alone, angry, scared, paranoid, or just feel bad about myself, I can cuddle with my cat, Khaleesi and instantly feel at least 20% better. 

Long one, but seriously, I’m extremely grateful.

2. I’m grateful for the coping skills I learned in therapy that seem to be universally useful in my life. Relationships, friendships, trauma, work, etc.

3. I’m extremely grateful to have had the pleasure of being one of Theresa’s patients. If I hadn’t met her, I have no clue how I would’ve gotten through the low parts of my depression.

I feel like my posts are finally circling back around to health and wellness and mental illness. It’s extremely important to me to help others that have depression or anxiety understand what’s happening to them and how to deal with it. It is equally important to me to educate people that have loved ones with depression.

I may not be a doctor or a genius, I just know what I went through, and I believe no one should ever have to go through it on their own. I tried and almost lost my life.

On a happier note, it’s friday! Usually that wouldn’t matter to me because I’ve been a server for years. But now I’m a stuffy office lady and apparently I have weekends off. (What is life?)

Maybe I’ll get all dolled up and go to karaoke tonight.

Maybe I’ll slither into my fluffiest pajamas and watch How I Met Your Mother whist eating hot cheetos and chocolate.

Since I’m in control of my life and what I do with it, I guess it’s up to me!

-Jess

When someone with depression falls…

In honor of Halloween I’ve been watching scary movies with my younger brother. The usual. Scream, Halloween, etc. We came across a documentary called “Nova: Mind of a Rampage Killer.” We decided to give it a shot as I’ve always been interested in that kind of thing.

I didn’t realize that it would scare and sadden me as much as it did.

I guess I never really made the connection. How similarly my life and the lives of many disturbed killers started out. The blueprint copy of my childhood and the shared diagnoses make me feel uneasy to say the least. They spoke of infamous rampage killer cases such as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of the Columbine Massacre. I knew that they were pretty obsessed with violence in the media, and I knew that they killed themselves after the shooting.

I didn’t know that Dylan Klebold wrote daily in his journals about the crippling depression that he faced and the constant thirst for suicide he tried to ignore.

I know what that feels like. I have felt the same exact way.

I was abused and neglected in my childhood. It doesn’t hurt nearly as much as it used to, but I will be honest, it’s not something I think I’ll ever be able to completely move on from.

What is to be said about depression and how it relates to violence? I just crawled out of my rut around 3 months ago. That is not exactly a long time. Actually, my rut lasted longer than that. 10 months or so. Before that it was somewhere around 10 years of this lingering sadness and rage that I couldn’t understand.

I really want to do more research on where the line is. What separates me from a killer? Did medication save me? Were they on medication? Was there some kind of hereditary gene?

This isn’t the first time I’ve wondered if I’m capable of such terrible things. My father is currently serving a twelve year sentence for sexual assault on a minor.

As much as I hate to say it, his blood runs through my veins.

So if a lot of merciless killers start out with broken homes and depression and my father is a merciless sexual offender, where does that leave me?

Sure, sure people say not to compare yourself to others, but when they want you to feel motivated they have no problem to comparing you to other people that are already where you want to be.

So basically that’s a load of crap.

I’m going to compare myself because this is my life. I have control over it. But what I’m smart enough to know is that I don’t necessarily have control over my mind.

In fact, I have to take a drug every day to help me function normally in the world. If I stopped taking them I could kill myself or become aggressive and hurt all of the people I care about the most.

I could end it all in one swift motion.

I’m sorry if that’s scary to anyone, but it’s just what’s swirling around my mind at the moment.

I’m going to do more research and then write another post. Maybe this is me trying to ensure myself that I’ll be okay. Maybe I’m just bored with being okay.

See why I decided to make a separate blog for 8 cities 8 years? Don’t want my aunt who just wants to keep up with my travels to see me comparing myself to my fucked up father and notorious mass murderers.

-Jess

Things I’ve learned this month

I met with Theresa last Tuesday and she helped me realize a few things:

I Am Extremely Anxious.

When it comes to my room I don’t care for keeping it tidy, but under the layers of tried-on clothes and empty chip bags you’d find that most of my things are extremely organized in specific categories. I love to organize. Hell, I love to plan to organize. When I went on my trip to Austin I set up a diagram of all of the items of clothing I was bringing along. I matched up all possible outfit ideas in order to know what to wear right away every day for any occasion.

Long story short, I really frickin’ love organizing.

With that comes the idea of 8 cities in 8 years. My love for organization, budgeting, and planning can sometime overwhelm me. I created a binder containing every minute detail involved in my first move. I’ve already calculated how much I’ll be making at my current job in comparison to my goal. Even with reducing my hourly pay by $2 and accounting for any surprises, I’ll still make my $3000 budget.

However, no amount of planning can account for the unknown.

This makes me extremely anxious. I didn’t really realize how anxious I was until I sat in Theresa’s office and began talking about how I’m doing. As I rambled at a thousand words a minute my face started to feel hot, my palms were sweaty, and I couldn’t stop fiddling.

Theresa asked me to breathe with her to try to relax. I started to smile. She asked why I was smiling. All I could think about was the fact that instead of doing breathing exercises I could be planning or sorting things out. For a second, breathing seemed like a waste of time.

I think my anxiety truly comes from my deadline. Deadlines are supposed to do that to you. Though Theresa doesn’t necessarily think that not leaving by January 1st is failing, I certainly do. My mom certainly will. It’s just one of those things that I don’t think I’ll be able to forgive myself for if it doesn’t happen on January 1st.

I Have Done So Much In The Month I’ve Been Home

Though I am anxious, I have to give myself a lot of credit. I came home August 27th. It is now October 1st. It has barely been a month and I have managed to do so much. I decided to start my journey a year earlier, gave myself a deadline, found someone to take over my lease at my old apartment, quit my city job, moved back home, got two job offers the day after I got home, started working, started TA-ing for my club DJ 2 class, paid all of my final bills, planned everything for austin down to the tee, began rehearsals for 8 different charity shows I’m volunteering for, and somehow still managed to date here and there.

Just typing it sounds exhausting. I think the reason I was so anxious at Theresa’s was because it was the first time since I got back that I stopped for a second and reflected on my situation.

I’m Doing Everything That I Can

Getting away with things when I was in my deep depression was a lot easier for me. If I stepped in a puddle and wanted to give up on my whole day, I felt like I could. If I didn’t complete something in time, I cut myself slack. I knew that achieving things felt very impossible because I never actually had the energy to fully commit to them.

Now that I’m feeling a lot better and have my head on straight, I feel a lot more pressure to do things correctly.

I think failing when you know you could have done more hurts less than failing when you’ve done everything you possibly can. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that. I’ve experienced achieving my goals with less effort than necessary, but never failing when I did everything in my power to win.

I’m doing everything in my power to win.

It scares the hell out of me. If I don’t leave January 1st, it’s not because of depression. It’s not because of my job, or my family. It’s because I did everything humanly possible and it still wasn’t enough.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this.

The only comfort I have is that because I’ve done everything I can, there’s nothing left to do but continue that. Continue saving, reaching my weekly goals, keeping my eyes on the prize, and making my dream a reality.

91 days, 9 hours, 56 minutes, 40 seconds

-Jess

My Father’s Face In The News. (Hi Reddit 3/8/15)

There are many things that I will never be able to forget about my father. The first is how his breath always smelled faintly like onions. The second is how his contagious laughter always made me happy.

The third and possibly most important is the uncaring look he had as he left our family for the last time.

Through the years I remember these things about him and I feel a mixture of longing and sadness. I long for the nights when I’d lay awake in my room till I knew my mom had gone to bed so I could run out to the living room and watch TV with my father. My mom would always end up waking up and sending my little five-year-old butt to bed, but not before I spent a few minutes eating snacks and watching late night infomercials with my dad.

I long for that one specific day that I begged my dad not to make me go to school. He had already left us a few times and I missed him a lot when he was gone. I wanted to spend the day with him. He took me to McDonald’s and the mall and bought me a little silver dolphin necklace. I didn’t even like dolphins, but I pretended I did because he assumed as much.

Unfortunately, perhaps the thing that I will mostly remember about my father; the thing that the whole lake and cook counties now know him for; the thing that will loom over my family’s lives for at least the next decade is the fact that my father is in prison for sexual assault.

My father has brought more shame, disappointment, and pain to my life than anyone I’ve ever known.

And now my whole community knows it.

My mother sat my brother and me down to talk to us. She said she needed to show us something because if she didn’t we’d just find it eventually. That woman had me read it aloud in front of my brother. Who does that?

But this post isn’t about my grievances with my mother. This is about my Father’s mugshot, splashed across the lake county news page. A reporter was apparently following his trial and reported on the verdict.

I cannot describe to you how this makes me feel. You always see stories about murderers and rapists. Faces of strangers, and names that you don’t recognize. For the first time in my whole life I saw a news report and I recognized the face, and I could recall the name.

It was only after reading this story that I realized my father had been lying to me about his situation. He claimed that he never hurt anyone. Now I find that he pleaded guilty to begin with. I knew that he was lying about being innocent, but part of me hoped he wasn’t. My hopes are now as dead to me as my father is.

One positive thing did come out of this. Later on that night my mom genuinely hugged me and apologized for choosing a man like him to be my father. Her hug felt real. It was heartfelt.

I check the story at least once a day now because there is a comments section. So far there’s only one comment. One that breaks my heart every time I re read it.

“I am so tired of hearing the scumbag blame his behavior on his childhood and a lot of ppl have troubled childhoods and do not commit crimes esp on little children and if he was so worried about the children who relied on him he wouldn’t of done that and i think that the children are better off with out him so he cannot sexually molest them. and i hope his lawyer sleeps good at night defending a child molester! but lets protect the criminal and forget about the victim and how is actions harmed her childhood.”

This person has no idea that her comment rips me to my core. She doesn’t realize that said children of his can read what she’s written. She doesn’t realize that while my father has made many mistakes, he has innocent people in his life that are also paying for it.

I hate her, and I don’t even know her.

I know I shouldnt, but I do.

I still believe to this day that my father shouldn’t have been stuffed into a jail cell for twelve years. He should be getting the help he needs. In twelve years the victim will still feel uneasy, and my father may still be sick. Nothing was solved.

I can’t even begin to describe how much this hurts.

-Jess

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The Final Verdict: My father in Prison

Oh boy… I can’t really….

I’m finding it to be really hard to process things right now.

well… I guess I’ll just get into it.

Today was the big day. The day my father was given his final verdict in court. We knew it’d be between 6 and fifteen years, and that once the verdict was announced he’d be taken into custody immediately. No longer a free man; Now a part of the system.

I wasn’t there when they announced it. I didn’t want to be there. I couldn’t be there. I decided to come home and stay with my mom. She’s usually a big trigger for me, but we did speak on the phone yesterday when I was in the city and she actually seemed just as low. So she picked Khaleesi and me up and we headed to the suburbs. I had to come anyway because my mom is watching my little one while I’m in Texas. Khaleesi likes my mom’s house and she’s in good hands.

My younger brother didn’t stay in town for the verdict. He went to Wisconsin Dells for a few days. I wonder how much that burned my dad. Watching his son go on with his life even on a day like this. But who can blame him? From the ages of 5-18 he’s lived his life without a father. Without him. He should go on with his life.

I should go on with my life.

However, there’s a disconnect somewhere. I know my father is a bad person and that he deserves nothing but a long sentence, but somewhere close to the surface I really love him and this whole ordeal breaks my heart.

He sort of surprise visited me at my apartment to drop off some things yesterday. He brought me two lamps, his Michael Myers mask and jumpsuit that he used to wear every Halloween (We are huge fans) and his sketchbooks. He also handed me his soccer jersey to give to my brother. He brought along the woman that he left us for, and the child that they had together while my father was still married to my mom.

I know it’s cruel and completely unprovoked but everytime I see him I feel angry on some level. I know it’s not his fault, but he is the product of  the love that ruined my family. He’s the child that my father chose to raise.

To be honest I was completely insulted that he brought his ex-mistress, Rosa to my house. At first I thought I was over it, but seeing her again made my blood boil. I almost didn’t allow her to come into the house, but in order to keep the peace and make this last visit cordial I decided to bite my tongue and allow her in.

For the first time I finally asked my father what was happening tomorrow. The 14th of august isn’t one I’ll soon forget. He says that they are giving him his final verdict and then he’ll be gone.

Tears welled up in my eyes. I hated the fact that I was about to cry in front of Rosa. She had never seen the pain that their reckless affair caused me. I wanted to tell her that I hated her, and that I didn’t realize it until just then. But instead I gulped down the knot in my throat and asked my father if I could speak to him in private.

We went into my room and I shut the door behind me.

“Dad, I need to tell you some things that I’ve never been able to say before. I need you to know what your absence has done to me all these years.”

“I know baby.”

“No, you don’t know. You don’t know because you were never there. You don’t know who I am because you never asked. You never cared to know. I am never going to get my childhood back. We can never have a do-over. I only got one childhood and it’s over.”

“I know baby.”

He looked down and the ground and wiped something imaginary off of his hand. He looked tired, worn out, and all at the same time completely uninterested in anything I was saying.

“On some level you know that you deserve this, right?”

“You know I didn’t do anything to that girl. She took it back later on but they didn’t care.”

As far as my knowledge goes my father has sexually assaulted 3 women and 2 children. To this day, even knowing he will be imprisoned for years to come, he still cannot muster up the decency to be honest with me.

“Dad, even if that’s true (It wasn’t) I saw you abuse my brother with my own eyes.”

“I will admit I wasn’t a good dad to your brother.”

Understatement of a lifetime.

“You’ve broken my heart so many times, dad. I really think this is the last time.”

“I’m sorry baby.”

Everything I was saying to him was going in one ear and out the other. I never realized how in genuine and believable my father could be all at once. He was like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Suave, calm, collected, believable. Yet there was something evil behind his eyes.

Was this the same man that took me to the park and laughed with me?

Was this the same man that I watched beat my brother mercilessly with my set of four year old eyes? Grimacing with every punch yet not being able to look away. Taking it all in. Listening to his maniacal laughter.

Was this the same man that when asked if he promised he wouldn’t leave us again answered, “I promise baby. Never again” with the most genuine facade?

Yes. This was the same man.

Only this time I was the one in power.

“Dad if you do nothing else in there, I want you to reflect on the decisions you made so that when you’ve served your time you can live your life differently.”

“Okay.”

I think my father’s own delusions kept him from seeing that what I meant when I said all these things to him was that I was officially giving up on him. There will no longer be an open door  for him in my heart when he is released. That’s it.

He hugged me and said he loved me, and just like that he, Rosa, and Sam walked out that door for the final time. Together.

I stood at the doorway with tears in my eyes and watched him as he left me once more.

But only once more.

My father texted me one last time at 11:08 am.

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I knew the verdict would be coming soon after. I braced myself.

I got the call at 12:40 pm today. My father stood at the podium, seconds of freedom left, and was given a sentence of 12.5 years.

By the time he is released I will be 34 years old.

I sat here in silence for about an hour, completely in shock. I knew it was coming, yet I still wasn’t prepared for it. I pictured my dad in a holding cell. Wondering how his life turned out this way. Wishing he hadn’t made such terrible decisions. Wishing things would have been different. Hoping he gets an appeal. I’ll never know for sure what he’s thinking right now, but as I type he is somewhere out there, locked up and waiting to be processed. Waiting for his 12.5 years in prison to begin. Tears dropped down onto the covers as I stared off into nowhere, eyes wide open. Then I opened up this laptop and started typing.

And here we are.

-Jess

I wanted to show some of his drawings. I used to look at the photocopies of them often when I was younger, wishing he’d give them to me someday. Now I’m in posession of most of them, and I’ve got to admit… It doesn’t help.

I’m Ready to talk about my dad.

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The day I graduated high school was a happy one. I was excited to move out of my house – it wasn’t exactly a happy home – and try to start anew. Though that day marked the start of my adulthood, it was also the day I gave up on my dreams of having a normal childhood.

Those years were behind me. There was no way to go back and do it over again. However, as we all know, just because our past wasn’t great doesn’t mean we can’t make our future better.

I was never going to be 5 again. I’d never be able to rewrite my past and erase all the physical abuse that my older brother faced at the hand of my father.

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I was never going to be 8 again. Never going to be able to wish hard enough that my parents didn’t get divorced.

I’d never be 10 again. I’d never be able to go back and lock my door before my stepfather could abuse me for the first time.

I’d never be a child again. Those memories that haunt my dreams and make my spine tingle will always be entangled in my childhood.

If I could rewrite it, I’d make myself a happy little family. I’d write my dad as a brave, talented, and loving man. A man that would never strike a child. A man that would protect his children till the day he died. A man that would never leave.

My mom would be the woman I faintly remember somewhere between the ages of 4 and 6. The sweet, soft spoken, and caring ray of sunshine that used to be a mom. The one that put me in a frilly dress and lipstick almost every night and let me sing into a microphone while she filmed me on our little home video camera. The one that came to my elementary school play and beamed in the front row. The one that I solemnly watched as she gazed out the window with tears in her eyes as my father walked out the door for the fifth time.

That may have been the last time I ever felt bad for her.

If I could rewrite this whole life, I’d make sure that my parents never got divorced. If they hadn’t gotten divorced my mom wouldn’t have remarried what I can only describe as the devil dressed in an unflattering human costume.

I wouldn’t have been abused.

I would’ve had a father.

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My brothers and I all faced years of abuse at some point or another. Sometimes I go back to that time and picture myself as a child. It’s like I’m watching myself.

And I can’t help but think, “Why won’t anyone help this little girl?”

“Why won’t someone help these children?”

On the day of my graduation my mother, brothers, and grandmother were present. My estranged father was not. I expected that, but it still hurt. He’d broken my heart so many times over the years that I had lost faith in him. No matter how many times he let me down it still hurt.

Now I can’t tell you if he had any intention on coming to my graduation, all I can say is that that night I got a call from one of his close friends. He had been arrested the day before and was still in jail waiting on bail.

He had been charged with sexual assault.

My dad was going to go to jail. I knew it. My mom knew it. The victim knew it. (As well as all the other silent victims out there that I don’t know about) And while I knew he deserved it, I can’t describe how much it tore me up inside.

Over the next four years he was in between jobs, in and out of court, and I was making peace with the fact that I knew he’d be convicted and sent to prison.

The day I got that phone call after graduation I cried for hours. I knew right then and there that my relationship with my father would never be what I wanted. These past four years he’s been a little bit more present in my life. I’d see him once every two months or so as opposed to once a year. I’d get monthly phone calls as opposed to one every half a year. It was nice, but it still didn’t feel like I wanted it to. I still don’t know him. I don’t know who he is. As a child I loved him with all my heart, and seeing him walk out that door time and time again until one day he didn’t come back changed my life forever. His absence changed so much around me. It changed so much that I had no control over as a child. Every time I see him I’m reminded of that.

Which brings me to the present.

My father has been convicted and will be serving six to fifteen years in prison for Sexual assault on a minor. Intake is on August 14th.  My father is a free man for exactly 9 more days.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s good that he’s going. He deserves it. I agree with you. He really does. But I can’t explain being in my shoes right now. He is a monster, a liar, a man incapable of loving anything or anyone but himself. But he is also my father.

As much as I want to pretend that I’m okay with this situation I’m really not.

Luckily I found out about the verdict three weeks into Wellbutrin. I was able to process the information and be rational. Yes, I did cry. But I didn’t have suicidal thoughts or blow things out of proportion.

I saw him for the last time on Sunday. My younger brother and I went to lunch and a movie with him. We didn’t talk about the obvious, and we didn’t cry. When he dropped me off and we all said goodbye, I hugged him a little longer than I usually would and I let him drive away. Every time he does it still burns on some level. This time I was so glad to have Wellbutrin on my side. I was able to go on about my day and avoid a meltdown. Part of me wants to cry out to him and take away the pain and anxiety he must feel over being convicted. Part of me wishes I could do or say something. It’s a small part. I’m not sure it’ll ever go away. It used to be bigger and it used to run my life when I was younger, but now it feels unfamiliar and uncalled for.

My father will not see me graduate from college.

My father will not walk me down the aisle.

My father will not share a dance with me.

My father will not be there for the birth of my first child.

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My father never got to see me graduate from high school, or send me off on my first date, or hug me when I got my heart broken for the first time, or help balance the parenting dynamics. He did not dance with me at my quinceanera, my brother did. He did not give a heartfelt speech about how he’s so proud of the young woman I’ve become.

That’s why I don’t think prison is even the reason he’ll be missing out on the rest of my 20’s. He made it pretty clear that he doesn’t care about big moments in my life whether or not he’s behind bars. Now he just has a more concrete excuse to miss things. Just two months ago he missed my younger brother’s high school graduation. Free man or not, he’ll never be the person we want him to be.

Even if he got off early, it’ll never work.

He was a free man all of these years and though we saw each other more often during my college years it still didn’t feel like he was truly my dad.

And it never will.

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Sometimes I watch my old family videos and reminisce. There’s one tape that has footage of me at a park with my family. I was three. I’m running up and down the play equipment and going down the slide with a smile on my face. My dad is filming me and laughing with me. He says, “Be careful baby!” And I- too focused on climbing back up to the slide – fall. We laugh and I get up and brush myself off.

But see, if my dad hadn’t been there I still would’ve gotten up and brushed myself off. It’s what I have done all my life without him.

I know I don’t need him now.

I know I got through his absence then, and that I’ll get through it now.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want things to be different.

I wanted to have a father. Every girl deserves one. I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for me.

But you better believe that I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that my kids have a damn good father. And if that doesn’t work out, then I know they’ll at least have a good mother, because I’m breaking that cycle. The physical, mental, sexual, and verbal abuse stops with me.

-Jess

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Independent Women (New Job!)

The past few weeks I’ve been commuting to a job that didn’t pay very well. The restaurant was an hour and a half away . I was appreciative of it and got along well with my co-workers, but I was making $5 an hour plus $20 in tips at best. Working 50 hours a week just isn’t my cup of tea. I also used to get out at 2am, so getting home was a pain.

However I do enjoy working hard for my money. If I come home exhausted I know that I earned the money I got.

Anyway I had an interview last week and got offered the job! I start today. It’s walking distance from my place and seems to be busy most of the time.

Hooray!

Seems things are falling into place.

Also Wellbutrin day 18. Still working wonders! No side effects and I haven’t had a really low day in over a week, haven’t had suicidal thoughts since June 28th (day 1 of Wellbutrin is how I remembered.) which is actually a big deal. I find myself needing to call Theresa less and less in between our sessions.

But let me be clear: I did this on my own. This closure I’ve gotten and this person that I am today is not because of a boy or a relationship. It’s me. We all know that Nate and I have a casual thing going, but I’ve only seen him once since our first date. Make no mistake, I did (and am doing this) single. I want to give kudos to any other women out there  who aren’t afraid to stand on their own two feet. Who stand alone in moments like these by choice. Being in a relationship doesn’t make you weak. Being in a relationship to hide from your problems and pain does. No one else can “fix” you. Only you can get yourself there.

“Ladies it ain’t easy being independent.” But it can be done, and it is incredibly rewarding. 

That’s not to say that I didn’t have tons of support. I’d like to take a moment (I will be posting a more full length thank you soon) to thank everyone that has helped me along the way. My roommate/best friend, Roxy. My best friend from home, Ray. All the other friends that talked me off the ledge so many times. Healthy Jessica. My amazing Therapist, Theresa. My Psychiatrist, Mel, and to be completely honest, Joseph. He was there for the moments that I have yet to write about, but if it weren’t for him, I may not be alive today. However, that doesn’t mean I need him now.

I remember listening to “Independent Women” among other empowering songs when I first found out about Joseph and his new relationship. I listened to it every day because I told myself that one day I’d believe it. I’d be independent. I’d get another job and pay for everything on my own. I’d feel like I didn’t need a relationship. I’d feel like I didn’t need him.

And you know what? …. I believe it.

-Jess

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