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Don’t Want $15 Minimum Wage? Here’s Why You Can F*ck Directly Off.

We have an existential problem in this country (and perhaps around the world). We are told, particularly here, that, at a very young age (18), we are responsible to choose a career that we will be ecstatic with for the remainder of our working life.

We are also told that at the end of that working life, that we will be able to have accrued enough savings to live comfortably and hopefully pass some financial abundance onto our children and family.

When we are 18, leaving high school, we are told that we must pick a career, train for said career, and “do the American Dream” thing. I know a lot of my millennial cohort will agree that the “Dream” is a hell of a lot of smoke up our ass.

There are no options. There is no “pursuing what sets your soul on fire” because you have to have a “real” career or you won’t be able to afford to exist. Sure, there are plenty of ways around it, if you are blessed with artistic talents you might be able to become famous, or at least subsistent (or better) locally. You might live near somewhere that employs something that interests you and happen to score an awesome job.

You might be able to bounce from decent paying job to decent paying job, or you happen to have connections and can get into a good union at a young age and are blessed with a stable career whether you love it or not. You might fall into a position, promote through the ranks and find yourself selling toilet paper for a fantastic income, but not feel fulfilled.

At the very base: you know that pursuing what fills your soul could cost you your health, home, everything – there is no universal healthcare, so goodness forbid you’ve got a medical condition that requires monitoring; you’re stuck!

But what if you’re like me. The only thing that I could ever firmly say that I was “great” at was retail, and let’s be honest: customer service is not my jam, mostly because I’m always one sentence away from telling Karen where to shove it. It is one job, that before kids, I could find pretty much anywhere with relative ease. Now, not so much. I’m overqualified, underqualified, been out of work too long, been in management too long, asking too much for pay, can’t hack the wild schedule and stability is too much to ask… The list goes on and on. Not to mention, after childcare expenses, I wouldn’t bring anything home.

The reality of the minimum wage debate is that it’s not just some dipshit 16-year-old who, in too many people’s estimation “doesn’t deserve” a “living wage” (aka the ability to save so they can do things like pay for school, find somewhere to live, have a vehicle etc???? Isn’t this the start of the college inflation debate too?? Isn’t this what the Boomers are always harping on “back in my day I paid for college working part time, bought my first house at 22 with pocket change and paid it off by the time I was 40??), it’s the person who has no “overwhelming discernible talent” that is a value in the “real” business world (the “stable income, health insurance, can afford food, can enjoy entertainment, able to buy a house” world).

It’s the person who still needs to have somewhere to live, probably currently lives where they cannot walk everywhere so they need a vehicle and our public transportation is woefully underdeveloped, the person who earns just enough that they don’t qualify for any kind of aid or health insurance, but also can barely or not-at-all afford it on their own.

Why does this person not deserve to be able to live? Why does this person deserve to be forced to pour their heart and soul into two, plus, jobs? Let’s face it; even the shittiest job DEMANDS that. You are required to live and breathe your job. Never having an ounce of free time, and when they do, it’s probably to sleep because they can’t afford entertainment? Do you realize the heavy toll of emotional acting that goes into those “shitty” jobs, draining every ounce of life out of you, when you have to smile at Karen, who is telling you how stupid you are because something is out of stock?

Maybe your argument is “it will make things cost more for the rest of us!!” Yeah, you know what, that really would suck! But you know what else? The same people who control the price of things are the same people who control how little people make. Did you stop for 2 seconds to realize that if Joe CEO paid his employees more, that this year, instead of earning $10 million, he might only earned $5 million, but his employees were happy, healthy, had more balance in their lives, that work quality would improve, morale in general would improve, and Joe CEO would just not be able to buy his extra yacht that year?

Why are WE responsible for absorbing this cost? When does the person responsible for abominable conditions absorb this cost? Why do our gas prices have to go up because the person being harassed behind the counter at the gas station would like to sleep with the heat on this month? Why are corporations not being held responsible?

If there was universal health care paid for via our taxes and fairly taxing corporations who have been allowed to skip out for years (fyi do NOT fight me on this, when about 80% of your annual taxes go to CORPORATE SUBSIDIES), imagine the relief that would bring to everyone. When Susan doesn’t have to forgo a potentially life-saving test or procedure because after paying for her insurance, she cannot afford to use it? I digress; this is an important part of making our country stable and fair for all, but not the immediate topic.

As a 20-year-old who was floundering in college, doing “the right thing,” taking all the “right” paths, and yet I did not graduate with a degree. I couldn’t move out on my own. When I couldn’t pay rent my mother demanded, I was kicked out with 2 weeks notice. I left school drowning in debt, and no closer to a degree than I was when I started. I worked full-time retail. It took me 3 years to double my income from $7.25 an hour to $13 an hour, but it required me working full time 3rd shift. I crumbled emotionally and mentally, and aside from the fact that I was wading in a ridiculous amount of debt, I couldn’t drag myself through school any longer. I lost $2 an hour to move on to a new position. When I worked at Wawa, I only earned $9 an hour until I got “promoted” and worked 3rd shift (again). I’m here to inform you, I was not just some bum working at a gas station. Stockperson, deli expert, Subway sandwich maker on steroids, cashier, organizational expert, janitor; I had never busted my ass like I did when I worked at Wawa, and you will *never* guess how I was treated… Like some stupid ass kid who can’t do better for themselves. It’s wild how these people are “essential” till you can start shitting on them again.

There is no part of my personal journey where I did not deserve to earn enough to survive, while I was able and willing to work 40 hours a week (although I was often cut off at 36 so they didn’t have to pay for me to have health insurance, yay ‘Murica). Point blank. If you can say to my face, and by proxy my child’s face, that we do not deserve to survive comfortably, I beg you to do so, so I can remove you from my life immediately.

Perhaps having a face and a human being that you know to go with a story will help you learn empathy. Not a single one of these people is asking to be able to buy their own yacht, working 40 hours a week at Burger King. They are asking to be able to afford spaghetti and the electric bill in the same month. They are asking to not die of eminently treatable conditions because their employer keeps them at 36 hours a week and doesn’t have to offer them company health insurance. They are asking for the ability to survive because the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation. The next time you want to trash someone who puts in their hours but is stuck earning minimum wage, I want you to remember me. It’s clear to me that “putting yourself in their shoes” is not enough to convince you that people who work just as long and hard as you, have less free time than you, and cannot afford a fraction of the things you do, deserve to have basic necessities. So just remember me, working nearly 40 hours a week, on third shift, earning $13 an hour before taxes, going to school full time, and realizing that no matter what I did, I was on a treadmill to no where. I couldn’t save. I wasn’t going to have a useable degree, if and when I ever graduated. At $13 an hour, I had no chance of living on my own. And this was all before I got married and had a child. It was not enough to survive on, a decade ago.

If you are so angry that people are getting breadcrumbs, I implore you to redirect that shit to the people who control the breadcrumbs. They are the ones who deserve your ire.

– Hoping this finds you warm, well, & safe. Much Love & Light ~ Jess

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Feel the Burn

Can we talk about college student burnout for a sec? I hope I can find the energy and brain cells to do it, because its important. I had 3 classes this semester; College Algebra, which I’m not required to take for my major, but was a co-requisite for Chemistry 1, which also had a Lab, plus a half-semester Ethics class. Friends, I am FRIED.

My Ethics class was as much as a cakewalk as any class could be. I’m relatively sure I did more writing for that, between all of the assignments and quizzes, than I’ve done in the last four semesters combined. In the moment, when I was squeezing it in amongst mountains of chemistry and algebra, it was a LOT. In retrospect, I got off extremely easy and I’m grateful that I got the requirement out of the way.

Algebra, on the other hand, seeing that its not even required by my program, was an incredible mental workload. Math is not my strength, so it took me an extraordinary amount of time to learn how to do these problems (do people actually enjoy this nonsense??). Chemistry was a whole other ballgame. Its not that its DIFFICULT. Maybe I’m just old now. Maybe I’m losing my edge for powering through stuff successfully with little effort. Maybe its just relatively challenging material with a professor who acted like he was tutoring peers who already have a bachelors in Chemistry, with the condescending nature of an equally burnt out professor who is, by nature a very inflexible person. Who knows.

I have always struggled with memorization. Just ask my castmates from the scant few speaking roles I ever had in school plays – I would literally blank out on the whopping 2 sentences of lines. I have a grudge with higher education (or any education, really) that either 1, assumes you will never have access to materials to support you in a time that you’re unsure “in the real world”, or 2, relies exclusively on your ability to memorize under extreme time constraints with no real repetition and millions of other responsibilities on our plates. Or, like I guessed earlier, I am older, stressed to the breaking point, bad with memorization, interrupted 489,398,726,094 times per assignment…. we will never know.

It has taken me four days to finish this post alone, I am so burnt out. I haven’t had an actual lecture or lab since December 2nd. I finished my last final on the morning of December 9th, and its been nearly 14 days since then. My kid is bonkers. His schooling has been a disaster. Its cold and we have no yard to let him safely blow off steam in, without me being right there with him. My house is ~still~ a wreck because I have no energy to stay on top of it. I just feel exhausted and its barely been more than dreary outside for what feels like a whole month. I decided, if any year was the year to not complete the tedious task of decorating and un-decorating the tree, this was it – we only have lights, and I’m not sorry about it. If I had forced myself through the ritual (for just the two of us to admire, since no one else can really come to our house, thanks covid), I would have just been really mad at myself in a few weeks when it came time to undo it all. This makes me less stressed, while still appreciating the fun of the season. We have last year’s matching pajamas, and I’ve only baked one batch of cookies. I’m not mad at all. I’m glad that I prioritized myself. I’m still marveling at how fast this month has whipped by, after how long this year has felt. I’m still wrapping my head around the idea that Christmas is a mere 3 days away.

I’m trying to embrace little things that aren’t exhausting, and sometimes even things that I know will make me feel like I’m losing battles, but make me and Nicky smile. Even that late afternoon sliding through the blinds, making you squint because its smacking you right in the eyes, but is such perfect lighting that you don’t even mind. I take delight in a cheeky meme. I savor the song that plays at exactly the right time. I slowly sip the perfect cup of coffee. I am amused and thrilled with the new and wild things my child decides to say. I savor the quiet time I get at night when I can enjoy my crystals, incense, and, well, silence.

I’m encouraging you to do the same. Its been a hell of a year, and one can only speculate at how long this will drag into 2021 (I’ll spare you my commentary on how Americans are acting), so, in case you’ve lost sight, reclaim those little things. Don’t let this absolute mess dictate your mental health – and DON’T beat yourself up if it has!! I have more bad days than good days. But recognizing it and prioritizing anything I can possibly grasp onto is how I keep going. Enjoy that hot chocolate. Breathe in some fresh air. Soak in some silence, or dance to that favorite tune. I hate the sentiment “we’re all in this together,” because some people are on a yacht with a staff, while some of us are in rowboats with holes in the bottom, and some of us are in outboards with burnt out motors. Just know that you aren’t alone, and you are allowed to be mad. You’re allowed to feel however you want. You’re allowed to hate this. You can scream at the moon. Whatever it takes; just know that you are wildly important and you’re needed here. Don’t give up.

Love, Light & Holiday Blessings

~ Jess

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But I took a BuzzFeed Quiz!

Oh mannnnn, but that quiz TOLD me I’m 100% Empath!! Of COURSE I am! I’ve seen an overwhelming number of “but I’m an empath!” posts soon followed by “but why aren’t we talking about this?!?!?!?!?” posts and I’m about to hit the roof, because I fall directly in the middle of both. First, we will discuss the toxicity of the empath-cop-out, and then how dangerous that is when dealing with our traumatic culture and times.

Friends, I’ve got some truths coming your way, and I can guarantee that a good portion of you will not enjoy hearing this. In this age of “new age religion,” especially as so many of us who grew up in semi-traditional Christian, potentially even obligatory Catholicism, are embracing in adulthood, it is tempting to want to immediately imagine ourselves as part of a secret sect of individuals with highly-tuned abilities. We’ve expanded our spirituality well beyond “traditional” religion. And within that, includes many categories that are not traditionally accepted or witnessed in Christian sects, particularly. I’m not saying you’re not an Empath. But the magnitude of what a true empath is, is much broader than “20 signs you might be an Empath.” I’ll note that I appreciate that they say “might” haha like a little wink that says “you could totally possess all these qualities and actually be a raging narcissist so, good luck.”

We all possess narcissistic “skills.” We’ve all used them to win an argument or get our way somewhere. Someone might be a veritable saint and still be a raging narcissist. Lets face it though; most people fall somewhere between the two, usually a healthy combination.

There are levels of “being an Empath.” All too often, so many people accept their intuitive empathy as empath skills and allow it to bowl them over in an insanely unhealthy manner. It becomes a crutch and an unfortunate excuse for having absolutely zero self control and even lower boundaries.

True empaths often come from very traumatic pasts. There is some debate that an empath is the opposite of a narcissist and empaths also attract narcissists. In my opinion, most of us are struggling with deep-seated traumas that we have not made any effort to tackle and resolve. Building healthy boundaries is crucial.

Now, let’s examine the hair-on-fire culture that seems to expect us to be absolutely screaming about every topic, ever.

Right??? Doesn’t this sound absolutely absurd? It IS absurd. That’s why it sounds and feels incredibly unreasonable! When, in recorded history, could anyone ever be obsessed with every issue, ever? They can’t. That’s the answer. In the digital age, we have this instant access to alllll the information. Our job is to decide what is valuable enough to enter our bubble. And its more difficult than ever, when we scroll through our social media platform, noting people absolutely screaming about eight million different things, all insanely offended that everyone isn’t also screaming about them too.

Look; bottom line, there are absolutely some issues that should be elevated more than others. Especially when it comes to human rights, being violated right in front of our faces. That’s not just my “personal preference,” either. Every person is welcome to get wound up about their own topics, but the absurdity of expecting everyone else to jump on board… as they say, “the audacity.”

Friends, this is where these two topics intertwine. Empathy is paramount right now. Embracing and utilizing it makes life bearable. We are collectively experiencing a whole new level of WTF right now. Don’t be a mask bully, protect other’s health, save children, don’t be a racist, figure out what to do with your kids when you have to go back to work, the list goes on and on. You can absolutely be worried to death about a smattering of everything. But, in case I’m the first to tell you, it is incredibly unhealthy to live consumed with stress all the time.

Figure out what is important to you and run with it. But do not shame others if it is not their passion too. Not everyone will be overwhelmed with vigor for the same topics as you. Bottom line: you cannot force or manipulate people into caring. And if you should happen to win, they will burn out rapidly. Be aware of how you’re handling everything. Allowing that “I’m an Empath!!!” trope to overwhelm you and be your excuse for not drawing distinct boundaries will literally destroy you. Create boundaries. Its not too late. Its not too hard. Its not impossible. It is vital. Create yourself a conscious life that values peace but is also highly capable of being activists and allies.

Much love & light ~ Jess

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All the Closet Racists in da house, Yell “Injustice!”

Friends, I am FIRED UP today. The world is a screwed up place right now, perhaps more than ever. I’m going to warn you right now: this post may very well include some cursing and some extremely sensitive, triggering content.

Let’s cover the facts first.

First and foremost, a little boy was murdered. Incredibly tragic, pointe blank range, on his own front lawn. Literally, a family’s worst nightmare. May Cannon rest in peace, as his life was absolutely taken too soon. There is little more horrifying to think, than a child, murdered, on their doorstep, in front of their siblings. Absolutely unthinkable.

Next fact; a neighbor committed the crime. It is absolutely important to how this is being spun, notably that this is a young Black male. Select (read: small number) reports are noting that he was not mentally stable, which is extremely important, when considering how the story is presented. Consider the dramatic disparity between “Black man shoots white five year old” and “young man who shot up a church is treated to Burger King on the way to jail, and was ‘mentally unstable.’”

Third, this man was apprehended and charged in HOURS. Not days, weeks, or months (like Ahmaud Arbery’s killers, who were only apprehended months after video surfaced of their unspeakable acts). He’s held ~without bond~ meaning that without some wild twist of fate acquitting him, this man was apprehended, unharmed, almost immediately, and cannot be bailed out on the good graces of a relative, friend or any individual who has more money than brains.

Now, lets cover the “Facebook conspiracy spin.” This is a horrifyingly racist, white-centering, biased, meme-filled coverage of topics that are used to promote topics in a harmful, divisive way.

“A black man killed a white child, and the media is silent” (meanwhile 50% of their posts are about how they don’t trust the MSM… what did I miss, they’re suddenly the beacons of truth and light??)

“George Floyd got a televised funeral and a gold casket, what did this little innocent child get?”

Maybe you’ve noticed this recently – I know my wise friends and I have. Someone shares a post that is actual, factual gaslighting. Highlighting a story, twisted in a manner that fits how they want it to sound. Its a horrifying trend, manipulative as hell, and it means information is skewed and emotional responses are forefront. Emotional responses are precisely that: zero consciousness. Just emotion. No actual thought. No discernment of bias. Just a spin on a story that is juicy as hell, in the moment.

The little boy, Cannon Hinnant, is mentioned, by name, over and over again, while the aggressor is rarely identified by name, but merely referred to as “Black man.” For the record, his name is Darius Sessoms. Essentially every news outlet in the country has covered this story, despite what your chaotic facebook friend may want you to believe. One of the greatest “disparities” that these gaslighting posts chooses to misleadingly focus on, is that “there’s no outrage, no coverage, no protests and riots, just a black man shooting a white child,” and “George Floyd, a drug user who rapes women, got a gold coffin and four televised funerals, while a white child is murdered by a black man.”

I’m sorry… did I miss where Sessoms was immediately apprehended without the opportunity to bail out?? Did I miss the part where he was on the lam for days on end? Where it took civilian or security footage to be released to the public to finally convince law enforcement to move in on him?? It IS tragic. But there has been precisely ZERO delay in justice. This family is enjoying what white people generally refer to as “justice” but are so willing to overlook the lack of it in other ethnic communities. White people have the expectation of swift, fair justice and are practically always afforded such.

On March 13, 2020, 154 days ago, Breonna Taylor, an innocent woman, was murdered while sleeping in her bed, by officers executing a no-knock warrant on the wrong home. The officers still walk free as of August 14. George Floyd perished at the hands of an officer; guilty or not, he was apprehended and overly aggressively restrained, and killed. It took four days of protests and outrage for Derek Chauvin to be arrested for this disgusting street-justice. Hennepin county attorney Mike Freeman was quoted to say, “this is by far the fastest that we’ve ever charged a police officer.” Is that not absurd to you that an officer is allowed to liberally dispense their own justice, and is simultaneously above being brought down by actual justice? On February 23rd 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was jogging around 1pm – the middle of the afternoon – and was shot by vigilantes in the neighborhood because he was “suspicious” and they were not arrested for two and a half months (two on May 7th and one on May 21st) just days after viral video surfaced of the murder. These are just three, high profile examples.

Here is the dramatic disparity: the murderers have been (or not been, in Breonna’s case) arrested only after significant pressure from the public. Cannon Hinnant’s murderer was apprehended the same day as the violence occurred. Held without bond. Not murdered by “street justice.”

This white family will enjoy swift justice against this man. They don’t have to wait months or years for him to be located, nor apprehended. They didn’t have to plead to the media. They didn’t need protests for their voices to be heard. There was no delay. There was no judge, lawyer, prosecutor, etc standing in the way of holding Sessoms accountable.

This is the difference. Breonna’s family is waiting for justice nearly four months later. Ahmaud’s family waited over 3 months. George’s family waited several days.

The last topic I want to address is community. The stark difference I’ve noticed between these situations is how the community has reacted. This is where the closet racists come out in blazing color. In the black community, people rallied. They surrounded the families, lifted them up, and sprang into action. Petitions were started. Crowd-funds were started. Emails, phone numbers, social media contacts were gathered. The media was notified. The family was taken care of in every way possible. The black community is used to a lack of justice. If that is not the most shattering thing I’ve mentioned, then you are not paying attention, and I’m frankly, not doing my job. This community not only takes care of its own, but knows it has to, because no one else will. George Floyd’s family didn’t single-handedly pay for a gold casket and tremendous media coverage. Breonna’s family hasn’t received the support and attention they’ve received because people sat around and waited for it to happen. In the white community, we abhor so-called “hand-outs” and simultaneously become irate when they aren’t immediately offered to us in crisis.

I’ll draw a comparison to my own life experience: my husband committed suicide in 2017. It was an incredibly trying and surreal series of events. A handful of friends snapped into action. By handful, I mean, I had between 5 and 10 friends show up at my house within hours – I don’t even know the full total. I’m incredibly grateful. You all know who you are. Then, I came to find some months later, that one of those friends was actually mad that another friend was starting a GoFundMe for my son and I. A little background – my husband left us with nothing. I came to discover that not only were we not legally married (I do have a certificate from the county, so in that sense it was legal, but to claim my survivor benefits, I’ll have to retain a lawyer), we were several months behind on the rent and the landlord was attempting a 10 Day Quit when he realized Matt had passed (you read that right, they were trying to evict me and my 3 year old autistic son, notifying us about 4 days after my husband died); I was left with literally the money I had earned that month in my MLM business to find a new place to live – first, last and security, keep food on the table, make sure the essentials were covered (electric, phone bill, etc), oh, and my credit was trashed still.

I am still insanely grateful to everyone who kept us from drowning. I will never not say that, and I do not mean to turn a nose to any one of you angels in our life – please don’t interpret it that way! Of the $10,000 “goal” of the GoFundMe and the money raised during a Cut-a-Thon at a local salon, less than $3,000 through all sources, was raised for us. I thank god every single day for that, because it got us through till the next month, when I could earn more through my business and my son’s survivor benefits were paid out. At the end of the day, I was left to fend for myself. No one put me on the news. We weren’t provided with HUD (still haven’t heard back from them, 3.5 years later). Even my parents said “it wasn’t a good idea” that we live with them until I figure out how to “adult” on my own. It was enough to get us by. Friends helped us move. The money raised helped pay first, last and security on our apartment. We got connected with different local resources. We didn’t technically need more, but would our lives have been dramatically easier if we had been blessed with more? There’s no question. And would I still have busted my ass to earn my trip to Cancun less than 2 months after this all transpired? Not a doubt in my mind. Caring doesn’t make people weak. It doesn’t ruin people to make sure they have what they need to survive. Sometimes there are no bootstraps to tug.

I know that I have gone on longer than my usual post here, but it felt incredibly important. This is micro-aggressive, closet racism, to be mad about the swift justice and the untrue assumption of lack of attention for a white child killed, and comparing it to the community response of a community used to a severe lack of justice and attention. The real bottom line here is this: if you are SO outraged by the treatment of Cannon’s family, then you have the moral obligation to do something. Why would you expect an organization focused on dismantling systemic racism against black persons to jump into action on a white family’s behalf? Its not their mission. It would be great for them to contribute; the real difference is that they literally do not have to. Justice is being carried out not even 24 hours after it happened. Get off your couch, get off Facebook, FFS, and make sure that little boy and his family have the future they deserve.

Much Love & Light ~Jess

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Evolving, Slowly

I’ll start out today by apologizing that its been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve allowed myself the opportunity to sit and write. School has been kicking my butt, hard. I am absolutely thrilled though, that in a few days (10), my semester is over (not that I’m counting) ((10 days, 2 hours and 28 minutes)). After spending 6.5 years fumbling around in college, I’m leaving this spring semester with my first degree – Associate in Sciences, Health Sciences. Apparently, if you keep coming back to it, take enough science and math courses, you eventually get some kind of degree out of it. Conveniently, I needed all of these classes for Nursing school, which I’m starting in the fall!

Fret not, I won’t be discussing my personal Corona stance; my brain is exhausted, I have read too much, witnessed too much, and I am not up to discussing it beyond my best friends and therapist.

Today is April 26 – 3 years to the day that my life went from average to unimaginable. I once had a friend tell me “I don’t ‘do’ dates. I just don’t ‘celebrate’ them, and then they won’t bother me. I just ‘forget’ about them.” Convenient, right? Just set my brain to “delete.” Sunshine of the spotless mind, I’ll just never recall the day my husband killed himself! I can’t believe I never thought of that! Purposely forgetting wreaks havoc on the brain. Ask me how I’m still dealing with the mental fallout from three decades of “purposely forgetting.” If I sound a tad bitter… well, I won’t deny it. One of the things I want most for my friends is to EXPERIENCE and PROCESS their emotions. Stuffing things down in dark chasms of your soul does nothing but guarantee that they will surface at the most inopportune moment.

So, I want to use this unfortunate anniversary to really talk about PTSD here. No, not like a veteran who hears a firework and is instantly transported back to a warzone. I’m talking about post-traumatic stress as it pertains to a lot more people than you might think. Trigger is such an overused word. Its used to mock sensitive people. Its used especially to mock people who think that a person should be prioritized over money. Its overused to warn people to turn away if they’re sensitive to topics or that they might find offensive.

But here’s what it means for me: out of no where, I might have a sensory experience (one or more combined of the five senses) that transports my brain somewhere. You might be familiar with the experience, but hopefully good ones. For example, smelling a campfire takes you back to an idyllic summer with friends. Baking cookies, back to grandma’s kitchen. A certain flower takes you back to your favorite aunt’s garden. If you aren’t acquainted with the dark side of these memories, let me demonstrate: I once bought him a jacket. Just a simple windbreaker, but it was very distinct; navy blue with yellow trim. Nautica. I don’t even know where that jacket ended up. I didn’t have to handle it. About a year later, Nicky and I were grocery shopping and I stopped dead in my tracks: standing about 10 feet from me was an older gentleman, approximately the same build, but in no other way similar to him at all, except he was wearing “the jacket.” I was instantly sweating, the room was spinning, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think straight or logically, at all. It took me a few moments to ground myself and regain focus. It wasn’t him; he couldn’t hurt me, he wasn’t alive anymore.

Let’s take another less sensory-related example. Trust is quite possibly the most difficult thing for me to genuinely do. Sure, I can gab with a friend about “personal” topics. But over time, I have learned to never trust anyone with all of the information. Loose lips sink ships, right? Every. Single. Person. I have ever trusted with every part of me has betrayed me. I learned that my sensitive soul was never to be entrusted to anyone, because no one would care for it. I learned too late, as usual. Now, its taking hours and hours of therapy, self-work, and self-care, to make use of this damage. Note, I call it “make use” not “undo.” Just like blogging and sharing my trials is therapeutic, in the hopes that someone will read this and begin to help themselves similarly, there is no part of my lessons I want to “undo.” I could do without the pain, without the deeply seeded, sharp triggers, but they have propelled me into a wildly self-sufficient badass that I never thought I could be.

Having been essentially “single” for three years, I have discovered this painful truth about myself: I have virtually zero idea how to just exist in a relationship. I’d say “anymore,” but I don’t think I knew how to do it effectively before. Thus far in these three years, the longest I shared time with anyone was 6-8 months, and we’d see each other one, two times per week? Everyone is busy. Somehow I always get entangled with either a) the busiest of busy people or, b) the person who lives at least an hour away, or c) both. None of those things help you to actually learn someone. And even so, I am still trying to wrap my head around the concept of “one day, someone will love me so much, that they will not only love me wildly and unconditionally, but will also love, tolerate and want to help raise my wild animal of a child!? When you’re entangled with a biological parent of your child, its pretty natural to just say “it’s your obligation” because, well, it is. But perusing excuses for men who can barely care for themselves, expecting them to be able to handle a child who is chaos-embodied and an overtly and undeniably, opinionated, driven, responsible, overthinking, never-take-your-foot-off-the-gas, Gemini… wow. All I can say is, I never thought that I was offering much. I have learned that, despite my harrowing flaws and struggles, most parties I have dated just were not evolved within themselves enough to cherish everything “Jess.”

Then I find myself stressing bizarrely over things that have not yet materialized. What is it like to be with someone who supports me constantly? What is it like to never fear that my partner will never leave me with no home, no income, and a shit ton of questions? What is it like to *live* with someone?? Is that weird? I’ve lived with my son; I lived with my husband; my husband and his parents; my husband, his parents, his kids; my husband and his kids; my husband, his kids, and our son, and finally my husband and our son; and yet I’m sitting here after three short years going WHAT IS IT LIKE TO HAVE SOMEONE WHO COMES HOME TO YOU EVERY DAY, or vice versa? And simultaneously wonder WTF is wrong with me, that this is suddenly so foreign, that it terrifies me that I will have to adapt. Its not that my habits are so horribly offensive. I have never been able to depend on someone to care for me in the way that every single person deserves. Mentally, physically, emotionally.

I’m about to enter nursing school; obviously, I’m no freeloader. I’ll have a beautifully stable career, no matter where I go. I always know that if the bottom falls out, ya girl got herself, you know? But how do I trust someone with the rest of it. The sticky, black, dense hurt. The tangled triggers that send me recklessly over the edge, overthinking, trying to fill in blanks that I obviously need the other person to fill in for me, but my brain can’t wait for. For now, I struggle to stop myself when the swirling, drowning, temptation to come unglued happens. I notice it sooner, but I still find myself consumed with catastrophic thoughts and questions. Its improving. I catch myself sooner. I know when I need to work something out. The most we can ask of ourselves as we sort out trauma and heal is to allow ourselves grace and pray that we are presented with the right people to handle it with us. And that seems to be constantly evolving, but I am thankful. The right people have found me, and I am grateful. Everything has changed and it has been much akin to a violent car wreck, but it has put me on a path I wanted, but never thought was attainable. Three years later, I’m still echoing prior years; I am grateful, and I know I’m headed exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Much Love & Light,