Sunday, July 5, 2015

When Anti-Depressants Fight Back

"That's all I want in this life: for this pain to seem purposeful."
-Elizabeth Wurtzel Prozac Nation

Ok, so I kind of struggle with depression, maybe sometimes I'm a little melancholy, perhaps I crawl into a little dark hole and shut out the world, and there's a chance that's not all that uncommon.

Imagine that. Imagine that I spent a decade feeling like I was unjustifiably sad and had to fake happy as often as I could to balance it out. I mean how else could I explain people calling me "Mrs. Brightside," when I felt so dark more often than not. I was truthfully conscious of the fact that throughout much of my life I had plenty to be thankful for, but often felt so heavy, dark, and full of a sense of impending doom.

In between those times though, were times when things actually were ok, sometimes even better than ok. I had plenty of times I felt insanely happy as well.  I guess that's typical for people like me. I intend to expand more about depression itself in an upcoming blog, but I really wanted to share my most recent experience first.

You'll feel better, they said.
Just take it for a little while, they said.

This is why I try to never listen to "they." Yes, I was struggling in 2014. Yes, I had some hurts I had been struggling to get through and my anxiety was worse than it ever had been. Yes, I was losing sleep and feeling a tad unmotivated at work. Yes, after keeping the weight I had lost off for almost 6 years I slowly gained about 20 pounds over the course of the year. Sure, I might have needed a chemical boost, but I did not need self-destruction in pill form. Was I in for a surprise or what?!

Holy where-the-hell-did-four-and-a-half-months-go Batman?!

You'll be able to sleep again, they said.
You'll be good as new in no time, they said.

Ok, from February-June:

My anxiety attack count went down,
I got more sleep,
I was writing poetry, and
I met an amazing man and fell in love, but....

I got more sleep because I rarely wanted to get out of bed. I was writing poetry because I wasn't feeling motivated to do ANYTHING else and writing a blog would take a longer attention span than I was capable of having. I was still having some anxiety attacks, they just weren't as frequent. I did meet a wonderful man, and I am lucky he is sticking it out through all the storm that I am hopefully almost out of.  Then, the unexpected bonuses....

You'll want to run again, they said.
You'll be healthier all around, they said.

I was like a numb, mindless, unmotivated, sleepy, zombie. Oh did I mention I aquired a lovely slew of hives that got progressively worse as the weeks went on. I didn't care about things that normally were important to me. My car looked like I lived in it. Dishes would sit longer than normal. Laundry piled higher. Before I started on Paxil I had just started working on becoming a morning person and was getting up at sunrise and doing yoga, drinking green smoothies, and was on a whole new health kick that I was actually excited about. Guess how many times I did yoga and drank a green smoothie from February to June. You guessed it, zero. Well, I may have purchased one from Jamba Juice, but that doesn't even count. Ready for the kicker? I piled on another 30 pounds in 4 months to the previous 20 pounds I had put on in 2014. The worst part about all of these things was I either didn't notice them, or if I did, I didn't care. I couldn't care.

Am I painting a decent picture for you? I was suffering from mild depression and severe anxiety, so I sought help. Then one day I woke up, looked around my room, couldn't button my pants, looked in the mirror and then the breakdown came. I couldn't live like that anymore. Why didn't I return some phone calls but I would others? Why didn't I feel like going into my office or working out? I was coasting on cruise control down a bizarre road of nothingness. It was a miracle I met my boyfriend when I did because I had so very little to give anyone. I hated what I had become and knew it had to stop or it would get worse. I had 4 pills left and no refills. I had two choices, continue the nightmare and call my doctor to get more meds, or run hard the other way. So, I chopped them in half and began my escape.

It wasn't easy. I had one of the worst panic attacks of my life and almost thought I was having a heart attack. Then came everything else. The past several weeks have been some of the hardest weeks I have experienced. I couldn't think, complete sentences, or make sense of much. I had shocks in my brain that felt like I was being electrocuted and would send shocks throughout my body. They were so intense and painful at first I couldn't even drive and I did end up in Urgent Care. I like to think I deal with pain fairly well, but the part that was hardest to deal with was the uncontrollable emotions. I cry at the drop of a hat. I can't help it. I'm so overly sensitive right now it's absolutely intolerable. I have had my feelings hurt by friends and family recently in ways that I don't think I would've been too bothered with normally. I am still forgetful and get frustrated easily. I am miserable in countless ways, but I have hope. I know I'm going to get through this part and I can absolutely see the light.

You'll feel like yourself again in no time, they said.
You'll be happy, they said.

Now I'm 50 pounds overweight, with skin discolorations from wherever I had hives, I feel electric shocks in my brain every few minutes, I cry even when I don't want to, some nights I can't sleep at all, and some nights I fall into a deep sleep leaving people I care about hanging waiting for my phone call, my mind is still a little cloudy, but I know it's almost over. I know I can get through this. I went rollerblading twice last week. I cleaned out my car inside and out, put air in the tires and did some normal repairs on it that it has been needing. I am doing everything I can to stay positive. This has truly been one of the most confusing and frustrating times in my life. On the other hand, I think I learned so many lessons. My anti-depressants actually put me in a state of feeling more depressed with less passion for life in general. (Not to mention the weight, the skin spots, the constant puffy eyes and brain zaps). I should have communicated more with my doctor, the nurses in my life, people around me, etc, but I just kept it all to myself trying to fight my way through it; that's the first lesson. The next lesson was I should've talked to the doctor before yanking myself off of the poison pill I was taking because that could've all been much worse. I also realized that it's so important to pay attention to the little clues around you when battling depression, especially when meds are involved. All the little clues were right there in front of me screaming that the meds weren't working as they should've been.

Now what.

Apologies to those affected during my drugged up ambivalent state.
Get my health back.
Start my yoga practice again.
Feel everything again.
Appreciate the darkness, for in it I found my way to the light.
Hang in there through the tears and brain zaps knowing that they won't last forever.
Share my story so that others will know they aren't alone, and maybe some people out there will understand depression and withdrawals on a deeper level than they have before.

In closing, I am not seeking sympathy or pity, I felt very strongly that I needed to share my experiences, because for the first time ever I am truly understanding that I am not alone. I hope this helps someone else realize that as well. Now for some yoga...


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sorry, He's Not Sorry

"There may not be an easy or right way to break up with someone, but there has to be a better way than that." -Me

Let's face it, I made that quote up right before typing it. However, I'd also be lying if I said that this is the first time I've thought it. I've been the dumpee and the dumper, both suck. I can at least say for myself I've never dumped anyone in a text message nor over the phone. So, you can imagine my surprise upon receiving this text on Monday. Now, for the backstory...


We met at a bar. 

I wish a had a dollar for every time that works out. In my case it would be a whoppin $0. It was sometime during the end of summer, on a Friday night. We talked for awhile, laughed a lot, and he finally asked for my number. He mentioned being gone all weekend but that I would hear from him before Sunday at 8pm. Sure enough I received a text at 7:47 that Sunday night, but as fate would have it, my response sometime around 10 pm would leave him to believe I was uninterested and he backed off. For the first time.

Over the course of the next several months a lot of things happened in my life, most of which were positive and I spent most of my kid-less nights out enjoying my friends, music, and beer. Throughout those fun-filled evenings every so often I would run into Rhymeswithhustle. By every so often, I mean quite often, considering it was at a variety of places all over town. On those evenings one of us would send a text from across the room accusing the other one of following us around, maybe a little small talk or a mini joke but, that was about it. 

In November, I was talking to one of my best, most trusted, and most respected male friends, we'll call him Marty, who is also single and has been struggling through the dating journey with minimal effort, not unlike myself.  We are great at holding each other accountable and one night during one of my, "I know I don't need a man but, sometimes I'd like someone else to fix my car when it takes a shit, or take the trash out for me, or just someone to hold me on the couch" rants, he called me out. I don't remember his exact words, but it was to the tune of, "We both frequently complain about our single situations, but honestly, what are we doing about it?" I didn't answer the question. I didn't have to. We both knew the answer. Neither of us were going to find our happily ever afters scrolling through Tinder sending each other screenshots of all of the horribly hilarious things we find. I fell asleep that night knowing I needed change.


40 days of dating.

That was my idea. For the next 40 days I would stop postponing it, stop avoiding it, and put myself out there. I knew I was ready for a relationship, that wasn't in question. I just honestly despise dating. I told my friend my idea and he basically gave me the two thumbs up. I didn't waste any time. Within my first two weeks of dating I ran into Rhymeswithhustle twice and after the second time he finally asked me to lunch.

40 days of dating quickly transformed into 40 days of dating Rhymeswithhustle exclusively. We hit it off and it really felt easy and natural. Both of our friends threatened to kill the other person if we hurt them and everything was progressing nicely. He wasn't what I would call the super romantic type, not even close, but one night he took a Lyft ride across town after 2 in the morning after we had been talking on the phone for hours just to kiss me goodnight. (He took a Lyft because he had a few drinks and I'm strongly opposed to drinking and driving). We just were really kinda crazy happy for a bit.

I have a nasty habit of rushing things along quickly and I can say honestly, most of the rushing and future talk was not done by me. In fact, I did very little if any at all. I was plenty pleased with how things were in the moment. On the other hand, he was not afraid to tell me exactly how he felt and he did quite often, and I bought everything he sold. Such as:
Now, I don't consider myself easily fooled, nor would I call him capable of being charming (or using the proper "you're" all the time), so how he went from sending texts like those to the BS last text I received in less than two weeks is beyond me. I suppose it isn't even relevant to be honest. In fact, the true point of this blog is what set me off the most, and that is the sheer lack of respect.

I would also like to make mention of a few things that add insult to injury. The week before receiving this text, I helped the man move truckloads of his shit twice and he had been on a family vacation in Cabo for three days when he sent me that text and we had been communicating each day he was gone--just to reiterate my justified and utter shock about it all. On another note, I have never been dumped internationally before, so that's neat. But as my dear friend and writer of The Klonopin Chronicles so eloquently put it, he would rather go through customs than dump me face to face. (As you could imagine our conversation led to daydreams of unexpected cavity searches, thanks Klonnie). 

There's No Other Way to Put This:


After sending out a screenshot of the Dumptext to the few who knew and would care, so many things began to stand out to me: "Sorry" in the same text 3 times, (ok fine, I noticed "your" instead of "you're" first. Ugh), and then I pondered over the fact that the most recent ex I knew of was from 3 years ago, but the part that struck the biggest nerve was "there's no other way to put this." 

I mean think about that, there isn't? Really? When that really began pissing me off I sent the Dumptext to Marty and as I was sending my wheels were turning. Perhaps a blog was in order? Initially I was going to go the humorous route and list off "51 other ways to put this." Marty gave me a super awesome #1 "Sorry you're amazing but I'm a selfish f#cked up human being that is a glutton for punishment so I'm going to screw you over to make a mistake. Bye."

I mean consider that, I'd have preferred that and it would have been more honest. He was going to be back in town in a few days, doing it in person wasn't out of the question. Don't even get me started on the fact that at the very least he could have called.

When I started this blog today, I knew it wasn't going to end up being a list of 51 better ways to break-up with someone, but I still felt that this was something worth sharing. Primarily, because that is just NOT how people should be treated. I deserved to be treated better, with respect and consideration, and at the very least I deserved the truth. Especially since I'm "cool as f#ck" and all.  (Oh ya, I'm not buyin what he's selling anymore just for the record, but if you happen to be in the market for a load of crap, he's got plenty).

The best part of all of this, I have a serious history of letting heart bumps, bruises, and breaks to really do a number on me. As crazy as I was about this guy for a bit, he accounts for no more than 10 minutes of tears on my part. I mean, I even surprised myself. I was seriously too pissed off and felt so disrespected to be sad, and it's been almost a week and that hasn't changed. I guess it's also hard to feel sad when you realize you got out of something that would have hurt a lot more later on. Hindsight is always a fun game too. How I ever thought I could date someone that uses "u" not "you" is beyond me, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. 

Now What:

I have no idea.

 I just know what isn't in my future. I won't be with someone who thinks this is ok:


That was our final communication. Ever, as far as I'm concerned. I mean, I know how awesome I am, and I certainly don't have time to fool around with people that don't right? ;) 

Ok, enough with the confidence. After all, I haven't always been this strong. In fact, I've never been this strong. If you've read my other posts then you know that to be true. I'm a masochist at heart. I think I just got tired of it. The sleepless nights, wasted tears, and countless beers. Enough is enough. What I discovered was raising my standards wasn't enough, because well, people have this horrible habit of deceiving each other. It had to come from within. People are going to let me down, guys are going to break my heart, and I'll likely never be a morning person. I made the choice to do things differently this time. This time I know exactly what I want, what I need, and most of all what I deserve and I won't settle for anything less. If someone is willing to walk away from me than I don't want them anyway.

The Wrap-Up:

Never Settle.
That's the mindset you need to have. Break-ups will hurt unlike any other pain we experience. They will suck the wind and life out of you. Hurt is unavoidable, but as I always say, suffering isn't. We alone determine the length of our suffering. We have as many options of ways we can deal with being dumped as Rhymeswithhustle had other ways to "put this." (What about, "I didn't realize it until I was drunk in Mexico, but I'm not over my ex and as amazing as you are it isn't right for me to drag you into my mess.") Ya, that would have better as well. Whatever. The point is I didn't stay in bed, I didn't stuff my face with ice cream, nor did I drown myself with booze while watching He's Just Not that into You. I got up the next morning and made my coffee, took a shower, and went through my day just like any other. 
The interesting thing about all of it is that I noticed there was an internal struggle that occurred in some moments. It was almost as if my brain was whispering to me, "here is where you get sad Jocelyn. Now is when you are supposed to cry." My habits were so blatantly obvious to me immediately. I had to fight them off and realize I wasn't sad, I truly wasn't. At least not about the loss of him. He served his purpose in my life and I thank him for that. The end. This is the beginning of change for me. Here is where I don't get sad. Here is where I create new habits, healthier habits and a more positive future. I couldn't be more stoked. So stoked in fact that the only word I could come up with to describe it is stoked. How do you like them apples?
Normally I don't put people on blast, you know that. I'm fairly respectful if you ask me. However, in this case, I felt I owed Rhymeswithhustle the same level of respect he bestowed upon me. Hence the zero hesitation when it came to posting his texts. Believe me, I could have done a LOT worse, that's just not my style. I just wanted to throw that out there.
I hope that something I've said helps you get through a bullshit break-up. This was seriously only about a 1.4 on the break-up Richter scale, I've survived much worse. I really just didn't want to pass up an opportunity to express my excitement about the positive changes in my life. I think brighter days are coming. I mean, he set the bar so low that I can only go up from here anyway. HA. I also feel super bad for him if he runs into me while a few of my friends are around. I mean, they warned him right? I'm only kidding, I don't wish him any ill will. After all, getting back with an ex is inevitably punishment enough. (Because it worked out so well the last time, I can see why you'd want to give it another shot. You just walked into a bull fighting ring with a red t-shirt on my friend. Good luck and may the force be with you).
Remember that another person's opinion of you doesn't define your worth. Their actions only define who they really are. I hope this year brings new and positive changes for you as well, and that the assholes don't bring you down. Much love friends.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Starting Over: The Daily Journey

"Not even time can heal the wounds of those choosing to stay broken." -Me

I suppose quoting myself to start this off is a bit tacky, but when do I ever let that stop me? It's been months since my last post. That typically means one of two things; Things have been going really great, or I was a bit behind on my Comcast bill and went without the Internet at home for awhile. Let's just say my kids are happy to have the Disney channel back.

As I sit down to begin to write to you today, I'll be honest, I am not one hundred percent sure where this is going to end up. The good news is that is pretty much how I roll anyway. I just know I need to catch you up to speed on a great deal of things and clear the air about a few as well. So let's just dive right in and see what happens shall we?

November 3rd, 2014

Monday. That's a complete sentence and you know it. Monday. Gaaaah I loathe and love you. I was extremely tired that particular Monday and mustered up enough presence of mind to get up and get my kids to school and then come back home to get myself ready. I left for work a bit later than I would have liked, but I stopped to get the mail anyway because I hadn't since maybe the prior Wednesday. I open my box expecting the usual, bills, pizza coupons, and an Audubon Society magazine if I'm lucky. (I am just the coolest). What I wasn't expecting was a letter from the Superior court. I held my breath as I tore open the envelope and slowly pulled out one folded piece of paper. I unfolded the photocopied letter and wasn't sure I really understood it. I read it again. I walked slowly to my car, sat down completely ignoring the bing bing binging of my keys still in the ignition and I read it one last time. There was no mistaking it. I'm divorced. .....Again.

Here's the thing about it, my Ex husband and I have technically been separated now for longer than we were actually cohabiting.  This divorce has been a long time coming and has become the butt of a plethora of jokes. (I can't even get divorced right...). The interesting part came when I realized I didn't feel what I thought I would feel. I didn't feel anything at all actually. I didn't feel like laughing, but I didn't feel sad either. I felt single. I'm not talking like Beyonce's single ladies single. I felt single and very, very aware of it. I felt single and unavailable. Single and scarred. Single and damaged. Single in a world where every one of my exes is in a long term relationship, every last one of them. In fact, my ex husband has been with his current girlfriend longer than he was with me. Single in a world where the source of my healing heart break is happily moved on with my replacement from a year ago and I'm here, listening to my car bing at me loudly holding a piece of paper giving me the freedom to start over. 
Single Monday.

Everything Prior to November 3rd

Frankly, my heart doesn't even like me anymore and I can't say I blame it. The big heart break? Well, much of that should have been avoided. I dragged my precious heart through a war I shouldn't have been fighting for an entire year after the initial break. No wonder it took another year for it to begin to trust me again. 

When Mark, we'll call him Mark, walked into my Open House I wasn't looking for romance, I wasn't looking for a man, I wasn't looking for anything but a buyer for the house I was trying to sell. That's probably why I wasn't prepared, my defenses were down, and I was completely vulnerable. Saying I was shut off to the idea of dating around that time would likely be an understatement. I was focused on my kids, my new career, and having a blast with my friends. My heart was still in recovery mode, but I was comfortable. Then he showed up. 

I'm not going to get into all the details, but we went from zero to 60 far too quickly and everyone that met him was beyond thrilled for me. Whispers of "Finally," followed me everywhere I went. I was happy. He was exactly what I should have been looking for, that is, if I had been looking, and he found me. It was ridiculous, we even looked like a match. I fell hard and I fell fast. So did he. The kicker--his divorce wasn't final either. I mean it was almost poetic, two people that just totally fit in every way. 

What happened between the Sunday night that we decided to make it "official," and the Monday night when he took it all back, ran, and erased me from his life is still unclear. My friends and family listened and speculated with me through hours of tear filled conversations, but I've accepted that I'll never know. What I did know was that I was alone again. I wasn't worth fighting for this time either. I had let my guard down and had my heart stomped on by another man, a good man, a man with a fragile heart of his own, a man I trusted. I cried a lot that week. Tears that weren't just for him, a man I hadn't even known for all that long considering. I cried tears for years of rejection, heart break and betrayal. Tears wondering why I was so easy to move on from. Tears imagining all of my exes with their new significant others, happy. Tears for my kids who constantly feel bad when they have to leave me "all by myself," and worry about me. Tears because I have yet to give my two girls an example of what a healthy relationship should look like and how a woman should be treated. Tears because maybe all I'll ever succeed at is not being married. Pity Party Level: Expert. 

Days turned to weeks, and eventually a month went by. I grieved for perhaps what was longer than necessary, but without fully understanding what I was grieving over, I suppose that makes sense. I guess what made it so damn confusing was I hadn't done anything wrong with Mark. I mean, I hadn't even had the chance to subject him to my old lady driving habits for Pete's sake! We hadn't fought over what to watch on TV or where to go for dinner. He hadn't discovered that I wait until the last possible minute to do the laundry and my house is rarely as tidy as it should be. He hadn't tried to get me out of bed when I stayed up all night reading or watched me cry at movies I've seen a hundred times. He didn't know that I steal the covers and have a tendency to snore when I am extremely exhausted. (Now you see why I don't attempt online dating).  I couldn't tell you if he hogs the remote or forgets to put the toilet seat down. I didn't know if his Mother would be my arch rival or if his Dad would constantly try to get me to eat meat despite my choices not to. He hadn't tried to change me or placed unreasonable expectations upon me. I mean nothing had gone wrong you know? I could tell you EVERYTHING that went wrong in my last relationship because I spent over a year dissecting it. Same goes for my failed marriage. My analytical mind went crazy, absolutely bonkers. Lack of closure is a rare and unique form of torture. 

It took some time, but eventually I realized that sometimes no closure is in fact closure. Think about that for a minute. Sometimes the only closure you get from a situation is "the end." I've since been able to accept that it wasn't him, it wasn't me...maybe the timing was off, maybe he wasn't as healed as he thought, maybe I was being spared and he was really some sort of psychopath that would've harmed me in some way, or maybe what those crazy, hopeless romantics say is true and none of it is relevant because there is someone better. Whatever the case may be, I have the control over how I want to deal with it. I'm choosing to take from it what I can, the good, the bad, and the wonderful. 

After a year of living a fairly untrusting and uninterested existence, someone made me care again. I had romance. It had been a really long time since someone had opened my doors, brushed the hair out of my face and danced with me while watching the sunset. It felt like it had been forever since someone had held my hand much less not been able to keep their hands off of me. He lit a fire in me that I thought had maybe permanently burned out. Mark's presence in my life was short lived, but his purpose in my life is permanent. I know what I want, what I need, and what's worth waiting for. I could not have predicted the outcome, but the experience was necessary.  

Fast Forward back to my car on November 3rd and I now realize what I was feeling is truly indescribable. I mean there isn't even a Facebook relationship status worthy of whatever my situation is, or isn't for that matter. It took finding and losing Mark, to truly understand and embrace what it means to have a clean slate. 

My story is filled with heart aches and heart break, but my past doesn't hold any bearing on my future. The fact that my exes are all moved on and happy with someone else is not a reflection of me. I had to realize that. Everyone heals differently, and some choose not to heal at all and just stuff their issues down and ignore them by filling the void with someone new. My only responsibility is to myself and my heart. As long as I am making positive improvements in my life that is all that matters. I have spent far too long looking backwards trying to find the answers. 

November 16th, 2014

I cried while writing this. Not like the tears I cried before. Yes, I'm single. Yes, I'm divorced. Yes, I snore sometimes. But you know what? I survived. I survived heart ache. I survived a failed marriage. I survived men giving up on me. I survived betrayal. I survived. The best part? I'm not broken! I'm really not! When the time is right, and the person is right, I'll love again. If I could love the wrong people as much as I really did, imagine how much I'll love the one that feels the same. The one that stays. Just imagine that... Wow. Now THAT is worth waiting for. 

I just hope he's good at laundry....

Sunday, March 30, 2014

When Life Kills You...But Leaves You Breathing...Then What? (My Story) Pt 2

"I've never fooled anyone. I've let people fool themselves. They didn't bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn't argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn't." -Marilyn Monroe

~The Actress Emerges~

If you have already read Part One then you can likely see the direction this is going, if not, get caught up and then come on back. Let's jump ahead to my first job, and all of the other firsts that came along with it. I was hired at a quick service restaurant chain a few months before graduating high school. This job would become my escape. You see I started high school not knowing anyone and for the most part everyone had already had their cliques defined before the first day of school. I had friends, and a best friend, but was never part of a group. I had the church and my church friends, but they all had "pastor's daughter" expectations and had me up on a  pedestal that no one would be comfortable on, I don't know, maybe I was afraid of heights. However, now I had a new job, where people were coming and going all the time, a fresh start where no one knew who I was or where I came from, and for the first time I had an opportunity to create whatever Jocelyn I wanted. However, in my attempt to create whatever Jocelyn I wanted, I found I continued my trend of being whatever Jocelyn I thought everyone else wanted, because at the root of my brokenness was the simple desire to make everyone happy. Now I realize most people will read that and think, 'Most people want to make people happy,' and although I believe that to be true I can assure you I am an extreme case. I will do my best to portray that to you.

I greatly enjoyed my first several months at my job, I was making a decent amount of money and my hard work was being recognized by management and I was moving up quickly. I wanted to learn all the different positions (in part because each new position had a raise that went along with it). I found myself offering to stay after my shift and work for free-off the clock for the managers that would let me. At the time I didn't realize how bad this could have been, but the mangers looked good because they were running better labor with an extra body and I was able to move up faster than others. It was all fine and dandy until the flirting started... I cannot properly explain to you how naive I really was to the world, men, and relationships. Therefor I was intrigued by all this attention I was suddenly receiving that I didn't get much of at my high school since I wore the wrong brands and didn't care. Don't get me wrong, it's not like every male in our store was hitting on me, but let's just say there was more than one and less than five and two of them were managers and one was a manager trainee. I believe I was hired in March or April of 2000, and what innocence I had was removed before the end of that year.

~First Illusion of Love~

I'm a sucker for smiles. Always have been and always will be. I can still picture his, although it does't make me feel like it used to. I wasn't quite 18 when we started talking on the phone and hanging out, and he was 23. I can tell you it wasn't long after I turned 18 that I gave him all I had to give. I really thought I wanted to. I really thought he deserved it. I wanted to make him happy so badly, I gave and gave and gave. I memorized his favorites of everything and made mental notes to reference later. He had an insane amount of power over me, and he had never even spoken the words I love you. Don't get me wrong, this was in the land of pagers, so I got the 143 page here and there, but that was the extent of it. He made me laugh and lots of girls had crushes on him at work, so there was my satisfaction, maybe he didn't say he loved me (I was certain he did), but everyone wanted him and he was only kissing me, (I was certain he was). I had been warned for months by several people at work when suspicions started arising, but I just assumed they were jealous and proceeded on. He is also the reason why I first began smoking, because he smoked and one night I just grabbed one of his and started smoking it in an effort to mold myself into something even more convenient.
        One day my store manager called me into the office and asked me if I would like to take a special opportunity to go open a new store up north in Chico, Ca. I would be there at least two weeks, maybe longer, and I would get to train new associates and work tons of overtime. I was interested, but two weeks just seemed so long to be away from "him." I had some time to think about it so I figured I would do just that. I didn't yet have a car and I still lived at home with my parents so the idea of making extra money sounded really good. Things got a little more complicated when I found out that 2 weeks before I would potentially be going to Chico, he was now going to be going out of town as part of his management training program for a week. There would only be a few days in between before I would have to leave. I stalled as long as I could because I still didn't know what to do. It wouldn't be long before I got my answer.
       He went on that training week, and called me both of the first two nights. The third night I called him and he answered and was drunk in what sounded like a bar. The fourth night I didn't hear from him at all. His last day there on of my mangers not-so-kindly informed me that I was being a pathetic and ignorant girl if I thought he actually cared about me. He then proceeded to tell me that he had heard from the Asshole who had "hooked" up with an associate in the store where he was working. I went home early from work that day. I had not a clue as to how to deal with this. So, I started the next trend that I would become so very good at, running. I called my store manager and told her I couldn't wait to go to Chico.

~From Cracked to Broken~

      It was November, the car I drove the 300 miles to Chico had a non-functioning heater, an 8 track player, bench seats (that were very comfortable), and a cigarette lighter for each seat. Allow me to paint you a picture: If you recall the song Love Shack by the B-52's, you'll likely remember a lyric that says, "hop in my Chrysler it's as big as a whale and it's about to set sail!" I'm quite certain they were referring to this car. So I sailed along the 99 freeway headed north with no idea how this trip would forever impact my life. I had been hiding my newly acquired smoking habit from my parents for a few months at that point and continued to do it even though the reason why I started was no longer relevant. I remember every time I wanted to cry I would just grab another cigarette and force the tears back, (add it to the list of new trends started that year). The first few days were like nothing I had ever experienced. We worked insanely hard for 12-14 hours a day or sometimes longer, then walked back across the street to the hotel the company had set us all up with. The trouble with this scenario is that you've got 20+ people typically between the ages of 18-25 that probably haven't met before for the most part, making a great deal of money, and wanting to party in between. Party we did. I was so ignorant and inexperienced when it came to everything about that world. I had TASTED beer like maybe five times before going on that trip, and to the best of my knowledge I hadn't been really drunk before then either.
     My fourth night there about 10 of us had all gathered in one room after the longest day thus far. We drank, we smoked, (cigarettes and pot), we laughed, we forgot about life. What happened next would change me forever.
     I remember when I started feeling not so hot. I looked around the room and there were about five others still going strong after several hours of non-stop "partying." I could feel myself swaying back and forth and I was fairly certain the room wasn't moving. I stumbled over to one of the beds and sat down and held my head in my palms. Sounds sort of blended into a loud, monotonous humming sound. Everything was spinning at that point and I knew I needed to get back to my room. My brain kept sending messages to the rest of my body, my body wasn't getting those messages. I don't remember hearing anyone leave, but as it would turn out, they all left, all but one guy. I sat frozen, my mind wanted so badly to leave but I absolutely could not move. I don't know if it was the combo of the beer and pot, or just the amount of the beer, but I had full awareness of everything that transpired in that hotel room and zero physical control over it.
    His hands pushed my shoulders to the bed and he swung my legs up on it as well. I remember thinking at first, "oh my gosh, he saved me," because I wanted to lay down so badly. The room spun violently and everything was in slow motion. I thought he was just going to let me sleep, that is until he pulled my shirt up saying only, "Let's see what's under here." Alarms went off so loudly in my mind I couldn't think straight at first. Slow motion turned to a much faster speed and he had my pants off. I felt warm tears pouring out of my eyes as I begged him not to. I pleaded with him not to bother, that I wasn't even good. I told him I didn't know what I was doing. When I realized it was far too late for any of that, I just repeated, "Stop, please just stop," between gasps for air. He laughed and kept convincing me that he was "really good," and that I could thank him later. Slow motion returned and I felt almost every kind of pain a human being can experience. I will spare you the details since I have family members that read this and I don't want to put the images in their mind, but it was sick, demented, painful, and seemingly never-ending. Eventually I passed out I suppose. I awoke before he did, grabbed my pants and ran down the hall to my room without even putting them on.
     I showered until I realized I wasn't going to wash this off. Not ever. Ready for the salt in the wound? I still had to work every day with that piece of shit for the next 2 weeks. I didn't tell a soul because I didn't think I could. I was 18 and I didn't want to get everyone in trouble since obviously they were supplying minors with alcohol, plus there had been issue of the drugs. I didn't want to lose my job and I didn't want anyone else to either. I couldn't justify it in my mind. I blamed myself to an extent which happens sometimes in these situations. The remainder of the time I spent in Chico, Ca was my own little slice of hell. I can still hear his laugh, I can still see his face, and I can still feel all of it.
     I realized I wasn't going to be able to "wash off" what he had done to me, so I spent the rest of my time there trying to erase it. I guess I didn't really know what else to do, which seems so silly now. I'll leave out the details of my erasing activities, but they involved other males. (You get the idea, you're so smart). Guess what, those didn't erase shit. Neither did the tattoo I got. Although, I'm still really glad I got the one I sketched out instead of butterflies like the other 4 girls I went with. Small mercies.
    I returned home from that trip a cold, hardened, broken, tattooed young woman. I stayed that way for a long, long time. I didn't know it at the time but I was extremely afraid. That if it happened once, it could happen again. I wanted to feel safe more than anything, which is why I believe my next relationship was with a 6 foot tall, 300 lb uuuuh Raider fan. A few other things that occurred after this weren't as noticeable. Love and sex were no longer connected for me. Sad isn't it? I mean I suppose some people live that way by choice, not me. I couldn't connect them. Sex was the "job" I did for the people I "loved." Sadly, it would be almost a decade before I actually experienced "making love." Wow.

What if I told you this is still only the beginning.... I know right?? IN-SAN-ITY! I know this wasn't an easy blog to read, especially if you have had an experience like that happen to you. If you have, don't keep it a secret. It ate me alive. I didn't tell a soul until my younger sisters were in high school and I was worried about them being naive at parties. It took a decade to tell my own mother. Don't do what I did. Get help, talk to someone, report it. Do all of the things I didn't do that made healing so much harder. It's not your fault, and don't ever believe it is. It is NEVER ok for someone to take something like that from you, never.  There is so much more I want to say about this part of my story but I'm saving it for the "wrap up" blog that will connect all the dots. The most important thing that happened is this traumatic event made me into an actress in a roll I never really knew I was playing. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense now, but it will. 
Now that we've gotten through that mucky muck stuff, go take a load off, turn on something hilarious on Netflix, or scroll through stupid cat memes and lighten your mood a bit. Part 3 of my story is inevitable and eventual, but it might take a few weeks to pour it out into words. At the end of the day I think most of us just crave being understood. We have an unspoken and sometimes subconscious desire to be assured we aren't alone. That's why I'm sharing my story with you. That's why I relive the hardest moments of my life. As I was going through all of it there were so many times I felt so very alone. I'm sure you have felt or still feel the same. If you get nothing else out of this story, get this: you aren't alone. Maybe I can't give you a big hug while you tell me your own story (although I totally would), and I can't put myself in your exact shoes, but I can assure you that you're not as alone as you think you are. 

To be continued....

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Breaking the Habit to Fix What's Broken

"I don't know what's worth fighting for
Or why I have to scream
I don't know why I instigate
And say what I don't mean

I don't know how I got this way
I know it's not alright
So I'm breaking the habit
I'm breaking the habit tonight"

-Linkin Park

This is likely going to be one of my most personal blog posts to date. Don't get me wrong, all of my words are honest and from the heart always, but this one is more of a declaration in regards to my future as opposed to an understanding about my past. That being said, let's do this thing. 

  1. regularly repeated behavior pattern:an action or pattern of behavior that is repeated so often that it becomes typical of somebody, although he or she may be unaware of it
  2. attitude:somebody's attitude or general disposition

We all have them, big ones and small ones, good ones and bad ones, they are present in all of us. I am truly a creature of habit...if I spent a day of "awareness" and tried to document all of mine, I think I'd even surprise myself. Just off the top of my head I can tell you that every time I get in the car I do the exact same things:

-Puts purse on passenger seat
-Starts the car
-Puts on seatbelt
-Plugs phone into car charger
-Adjusts radio/music until I find something suitable
-Then and only then do I proceed to put my car in reverse

I do these exact things every time without fail, whether I'm running late or just heading to the market. Habits. It's as if I couldn't operate my vehicle without performing these few steps, and honestly it would feel extremely wrong if I tried to do so. 

Obviously I didn't decide to write this blog because I'm concerned with my pre-driving routine. I like it. It's comfortable. It's not hurting anyone so stop your judging! (Ha) I decided to write this blog because it has become painfully obvious to me that I have a few much more serious habits that have altered my life in ways that I'm not necessarily proud of, and that typically leave me sad and disappointed. My hope is that maybe you will recognize some of these behaviors in yourself that you may not have been aware of, and that in some way your quality of life will improve. (That's always my goal- JFox's Mission Impossible: Save the Brokenhearted World). This isn't going to be easy for me, as typically I write about things that have been done TO me and my reaction to them. This will be an honest confession of MY wrongs, against others, but more so myself. Bare with me...

Habit One:
Filling the void without healing the hurt. 

I started this habit at 18 and it's one of the most common trends I see around me. It doesn't matter if you're the dumpee or the dumpor, break ups take a toll on you. Period. I believe humans are co-dependent by nature. We are born that way and some of us grow out of it more than others. You get used to having your significant other there even if you aren't happy. If the relationship had any sort of longevity, this person knows many of your favorite things and your pet peeves, and you've probably even gotten comfortable enough to pee in front of them. You've invested time, money, and your heart. When it ends, there's a part of us that goes into panic mode: "Who am I going to tell about my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day now? Who am I going to send those ridiculous cat memes to all day long? Oh. My. Gah. I can't just pee in front of someone else...not ever again!" We all have our own different panic lists, but we all panic nonetheless. Ok, so the theory is we should all panic, hurt, grieve, heal, THEN find our new Pee Mate. The problem is, a lot of times we panic so much that we rush out and try and replace the empty feeling before we deal with all of the other steps. Big. Problem. Some people call this a "rebound." I don't care what you call it, I call it unhealthy or a bandaid. Want to know how I know? Because I'm 31 and single because every time I lost a Pee Mate I replaced him with a new one before healing on my own. I'm not saying that these relationships won't work out, I'm sure a few of them do, but they won't start on healthy ground. You absolutely have to fill the void within yourself before jumping into something new. It's unfair to you and your Bandaid otherwise. "Oh hi there Bandaid, I'm a lot of fun and reeeeeally loveable. My ex? Oh. We just didn't work out. I'm soooooo over it. Here can you hold all my baggage while I pee? K thanks." Un-freakin-fair. 

Habit Two:
Putting new Pee Mate on a pedestal and making him (or her) my main focus and priority. (Even at the expense of my sanity).

In other words, I study them harder than the SATs. I learn all their favorite everythings and make them feel spoiled. I've always done this, it's a starvation tactic I think. "I want you to love me so bad and so much that I'm going to make myself into what I think you'd love most." I basically become a groupie. I feel this is something I've always done because at the time I'm craving love so deeply. My heart was hurting and I fed the craving instead of working my way through the hurt. It's really shitty all around for so many reasons! My friends suffer because I suck at replying to text messages while in a relationship. My work suffers because I'm all consumed by this new Super Hot Better-Than-The-Last-One Bandaid. Mr Bandaid suffers because eventually I burn out and wake up one day and realize "I reeeeeeally hate your small little POS dogs waaaaay more than I thought I did, and now I resent you and despise them." Lastly, I suffer. That leads us into my third habit.  

Habit Three:

I suffer because I put every aspect of my life on hold trying to cling to something would probably have been fine on it's own had I been healthier in the first place. I do this because I'm craving love and wanting my void filled. I continue to tell Mr Bandaid about my goals, dreams, and aspirations, but I'm so busy trying to help him achieve his that I don't spend any time on mine. I stop running. I stop working on my books and blogs. I stop reading because I'm spending all my wind-down time listening to him talk about his horrible day, or figuring out what super awesome girl friend thing I can do for him next. I stop being everything that is me, everything that I love, because I have made him my focus. My last relationship was just under 3 years. At any given time I couldn't tell you what the last chapter was I had been working on in my book, but I could tell you every one of his decathlon PRs. I couldn't have told you how many miles I ran over any given month, but I knew his class schedule. You see where I'm going with this? Because I always put all of my eggs in a Bandaid's basket, their every move affects me. I'm sure you're reading this and probably thinking, "What a hot ass mess," and you know what, you would be right. Before.... Winds are changing. 

Honestly, my heart is still shattered. Six single months may not seem like a long time to you, but this is the longest I have been single in my adult life. This time, it's my choice. This time the hurt was so deep, and so debilitating the dating world seems unappealing. I've sampled it a bit here and there and met a few really nice guys, but I picked them apart, or I met some not so nice ones and they left on their own accord when they didn't get what they wanted. Here's what I'm realizing:
-I'm not ready. 
-I'm not healed. 
-I have too many bad habits. 
-Guys are horndogs. 
-Heartbreaks heal at a pace we don't have complete control over. 

So, now that I've unloaded lots of my crap on you, I bet you're wondering what the point of all this is. I'm breaking the habit. That's the point.... In theory most say it takes 21 days to break or start a habit. Well, I'm one stubborn and strong willed hot ass mess (just ask my mother), so I'm going to double it. Here's the declaration:
For the next 42 days my focus will be on me. My life, my goals, my dreams. I refuse to add another Bandaid to my life list. I will give myself more time to heal while tuning out the loud voice nagging at me to fill the void faster. I will spend time with my friends and family. I will do the things that I enjoy regularly because I enjoy them. I will be alone, not lonely, just alone. I will read at least 2 or 3 of the books I have been saving. (Mr King is calling my name right now in fact). I will write. I will run. I will focus on my job and getting to that next step that will so drastically change my life. I will learn to love myself. That's the biggest AH HA moment of them all you know...when we get rejected we tend to be pretty hard on ourselves. When you are repeatedly rejected you can begin to believe it. I used to be very self deprecating, but that's because I allowed someone else's opinion of me define my worth. That is just so wrong! I mean, I'm pretty awesome and if you're reading this you obviously are too. When you learn to love yourself just as you are the right person will love you back. I truly believe that. 

So 42 days of self focus and self improvement, that's a big deal. In fact, this is probably the biggest challenge I've ever placed upon myself. I'm committing to myself to break the bad habits while creating new and improved ones. I'm doing this for myself and my future Pee Mate who deserves a whole Jocelyn, not just the leftover pieces some asshole left behind. ( bad, my bitter is showing...guess I'll work on that too. I'm thinking yoga...). 

I challenge you to look at your own life, single or not. We all have self destructive habits that we would be better off without. Look on the bright side, you're not alone. I'm here fighting my way through this as well. We can be self improving cranky messes together!! At the end of the day (or 42 of them to be exact), maybe we will be where we need to be or maybe we won't, but we will be a lot closer than if we just sat back and continued the bad habit trend. I don't have all the answers and I also don't expect Mr Right/Prince Charming/Christian Bale to come knocking on my door on day 43. You see, this isn't about him. Not at all. This is about me! (Although, Mr. Bale, if you're reading this, you've had a place in my heart since Newsies, which is basically longer than any other man so know where to find me.) As for now, consider this my declaration of being single and not ready to mingle. So there's that. 

The journey begins :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Blood, Wounds, and Cruise Control

"Alas! There are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured, " said Gandalf.
"I fear it may be so with mine," said Frodo. "There is no real going will not be the same; for I shall not be the same."

I do believe some wounds never heal. Not really anyway. We just learn to adapt to them being there. They become a part of us just like a freckle upon our skin. Some are small and become almost unnoticeable to even the most keen eye. Sometimes we even forget they are there until something sparks an emotion within us and we are forced to be reminded, but even when that happens it's only like a little bee sting on the pain scale. However, some wounds are deep and we feel them daily. Life continues, but so does the hurt. We don't operate quite the same as we did before because fierce pain changes us. We guard the part of ourselves that has been wounded and it requires an unimaginable level of trust for these parts to be shared with another. We go on because unfortunately, we don't die from a broken heart. This doesn't mean we are incapable of love. It simply means that we have to be more selective and cautious while waiting for the one who isn't afraid of our bleeding wounds. Wounds don't mean you're broken, they mean you've been broken and survived. You're still capable of loving and being loved, you will just love differently next time. That's ok, no two loves are the same and that's the way it should be. I myself, have wounds of all shapes and sizes, and only one or two still bleed, and I expect they will for quite some time. Perhaps, in some ways, forever. They didn't kill me, I'm still breathing, and they don't scare me. The size and severity of the wound is directly proportionate with how great you loved. The good news about that is my last wound is the largest and most painful. Lots. Of. Blood.  (I bet that doesn't sound like good news does it?) The reason why that's beautiful is because that means my other previous wounds didn't stop me from loving an extraordinary amount. I'm not broken, I'm just bleeding. I'm fully capable of loving again, and even harder, when the time is right, blood and all. I think the world has us running around seeking this illusive thing called closure. It took me my entire adult life to finally realize that sometimes there is no such thing. There is just moving on, with or without blood. Recognizing that there is no humongous, bullet-proof door that closes off the pain can be one of the most liberating things. It is ok to hurt, do you understand what I'm saying? You don't need to coast through life on cruise control with tunnel vision blocking out the world just waiting for a door to slam so you can have your Jerry Maguire Free Fallin' moment. Have that moment now! Get your Tom Cruise on! (That is the one and ONLY time I will ever say that.) Hurt. Cry. Laugh. Sing. All of the above in any order until the blood doesn't scare you anymore. The sooner you accept and embrace your bleeding wounds, the sooner you will find someone else who does as well, and loves you BECAUSE of them. I believe this with all my heart. So turn off that cruise control and put the pedal to the metal! Live. As soon as you start living again, love will find it's way back to you. I'll bet my heart on it.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Dark || Part One

She kept it locked away, The Dark. It had scared the others. Tears hidden from the world, smile proudly on display. She shone bright like the afternoon sun reflecting on a calmest sea, beautiful at first, but blinding if you stare deep into it for any length of time. For just below the surface of sparkling smiles and intoxicating laughter was The Dark. Hurts, failures, bruises and lost heart pieces were best kept deep below to be lost and hopefully forgotten, washed away with the sands of time. She had learned well that even those with the purest of intentions couldn't handle what would rise to the surface when the tough storms rolled through. The wreckage from The Dark always sealed her fate. Thus after the storms passed and she found herself alone again, she let The Dark sink back to her lowest places and vowed to keep it there.