My story.

I have a story to tell. It’s a sad story, but out of that sad, came good.   I’m giving you a trigger warning here, it’s a story of domestic abuse, addiction, and fear.

I was 24 when I moved to Florida.  I moved to start a new chapter, have some fun, go to school, make some memories and eventually make my way back to Boston, my true home.  

I could never have anticipated what was to happen.

I met him at a bar, I had only been in Florida for a short time, and had gone out with some new friends from a job I had just started.  He was older, obviously trouble and I stayed away.  Or I tried to.  Someone had given him my phone number.  

I did my best to brush him off, but I was young, naive, alone and he seemed like fun … I caved.  

We hung out, and he essentially never left.  I know, you are going to say “Jen, you could have stopped it!”.  Well yes, if I had any shred of self worth, or been taught that I was powerful.  But that wasn’t the case.  

We dated for a few months, and it was fun.  True identities were hidden, addictions were hidden, it wasn’t a solid relationship, it wasn’t real.  Then one day, I felt off, my period was late… I was pregnant.  I have never been so scared and unprepared in my life. I knew I wouldn’t have support from my family, and that this fun relationship was not family material.  But I made a choice, and it was the only one I could make.  I tried to make it work.  

And then the real person came out.  He showed who he really was, in small spurts.  The addictions started to show up daily, he started to get more physical.  And I was stuck.  

The farther into my pregnancy I got, the worse he got.  It was pills, then cocaine, then crack.  He would steal money from me, buy as much as he could and lock himself in the bathroom.  When drugs weren’t available, it was alcohol.  And that’s when he got violent.  I’ve fended off blows to my face, guarded my swollen belly as I was slammed into walls, listened to him yelling horrible things to me about being fat and a whore for hours from the bedroom in a drunken rage.  I’ve climbed up to our second story apartment in the middle of the night, at 9 months pregnant, after he stole my wallet and house keys.  I’ve called the police, and then retracted statements out of fear and to protect my unborn child. 

I lived in this unending hell for years.  Doing my best to make us look normal.  I was scared that if I acknowledged and showed how bad it was, things would happen that would set him off and he kids and I would be dead.  Yes, I said kidS.  We had another together. 

After the first few brutal years, he got clean of everything but the alcohol.  But the alcohol was the catalyst for his abuse.  It was what scared me the most.  We moved to another part of Florida, I hoped a clean start would help, and of course, it didn’t and we had a son.  

I worked as many hours as I could to support us, he barely worked, drinking away any money we made and sinking farther into his alcoholism.  I was, or I felt, powerless.  This was the life I made, I was going to have to live it until it’s over.  

I’ve talked about how I broke one day, and ended it in a previous post.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  The violence, trying with every thing I had to shield my children, to keep up the fake life. 

I’ll talk more about life after the separation and how the abuse kept on and what I did to stop the cycle, if anyone would like to hear more, and feel empowered.  

I beg you, if you are in a situation that’s abusive, reach out.  Hiding, pretending it’s ok, living in fear… there is more for you in this world.  You are worthy and powerful, and you are loved.  

I’m here for you.

Connections.

When I was young, I couldn’t wait to have babies.  But in my daydreams, it was me, but it wasn’t, ya know? Let’s start at the beginning, so that sentence will make more sense.  

*Deep Breaths*

Time to dig into the past, and let the world in.  

I am adopted, but I wasn’t a squishy baby when I was placed, I was almost 3, a toddler, already deep in my formative years.   I don’t remember much of those days before, some hazy memories of family friends who had a pet raccoon or watching Poltergeist and being deathly afraid.  Nothing concrete, no faces and no real strong connections.  I don’t feel like I’m missing pieces though, without those memories, maybe because I really don’t know the difference.  

I was in the foster system, for a short time comparatively, before my foster family officially adopted me.  I had my birth certificate redone and was given a new last name.  

So, in the span of my first 5 years, I had been born, lost my biological father, was bumped around with several siblings and young, completely unfit mother, landed in the system, and was now a new kid reborn, so to speak.  That right there, is A LOT.  But onward we move.  

After that, I lived, what I can only speculate, is a normal childhood/adolescence.  Aside from a very difficult time attaching to, or feeling connected to people, I was a pretty normal kid.   

But that difficulty with attachment, well, that will plague me, for YEARS.  It will do a lot of damage, to myself and those around me.  It’s incredibly hard to form a strong bond with a person like I was.  I loved, but I didn’t know how to connect, to feel bonded and to be completely open.  Maybe that stems from not having strong parental bonds as a young child, who knows, I didn’t get a psych degree so I’ll leave that to the experts (who would probably have a field day with me!) 

Despite being relatively detached from most of my family, they knew I loved them but I always  felt off, I couldn’t wait to have kids of my own.  I longed for the blood bond I never had.   Seems silly when I type it out, but not having that connection, and being old enough to have had a life before adoption made creating that bond for me, paramount.  I couldn’t wait, but I never thought I would.  

And one day, in my 25th year… I did.  And it was the most connected I’ve felt to anyone in my whole life.  I had someone who was a literal part of me, and I was part of them.  I’ll never be able to explain the extraordinary way the wounds healed when she was born.  It’s more than I could describe on here, there are no words to do it justice.   So I’ll stop writing them, trusting that you understand my vagueness.   

*Another deep breath* 

Thigh Song.

I got mad at my thighs today, for rubbing together and making a “shushing” sound as I walked. I literally got mad at a body part for doing what a body part does and what mine will probably do long after my death because a thigh gap will never be in the cards for me.  

Now at 39 years old, having lost and gained and lost and gained weight, having been  bulimic in my teens, near starving in my early 20’s, a binge eater from 25 on (still struggle with that) I thought I had made peace with my thigh songs.  It took me aback a little, that I felt so angry with part of myself.  It stopped me in my tracks.  It took me a minute to shake off the feeling, and I found myself laughing.  “SING ME THE SONG OF YOUR PEOPLE THIGHS, IM LISTENING!  HEY, WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR BREAKFAST?”

Learning to be ok with, or not even think about physical parts of yourself is a life long lesson.  You will never reach the end of your tutorial. You will have moments that bring you right back to the self-hate.  It could be the jiggle in your belly when you dance, the back of your arms waving when you do, or the song of your thighs rubbing together.  But absolutely none of those things have any meaning, they won’t love your family, be a kind heart for a wounded friend, or pay your damn bills.  Remember that when you see a part you hate, it’s meaningless.  Laugh at yourself and feed yourself some breakfast.

The gifts of single parenthood.

Want to know what I loved most about the 6 years I spent as a single mother?  The power I learned I had, the courage I never knew existed, and the faith I gained in myself and my heart.  

I walked away from a life of lies and fear, and into a world of laughter and love.   

I stepped out of the darkness of abuse, into the light of freedom.  

I no longer took shallow breaths, afraid to take up air, I learned to breath deep and take up space.  

I didn’t have to navigate stormy seas, I adjusted my sails and sailed for calm waters.  

I stopped being meek, and stepped into my power… and my biggest accomplishment was:

I showed two amazing children how to, too.  

Love after disaster?

There is something about love after living with  abuse, after fighting to survive, after finding courage to stand alone.  It’s so much deeper for me now.  To love, and allow myself to be loved, carries so much more meaning because I have learned to keep up my guard and be on the defense.  The truth is, for a while there, I didn’t believe I’d give my heart away again.  I was ok with just me, I didn’t need someone, I was whole, but life had other plans.   I was gifted another chance to get it right.  My children were gifted a strong man, my little family was gifted a new member and all of this is my reward after fighting through hell.  

The language of Love.

His love language is touch and affection. Mine is acts of service.  We couldn’t be farther apart on that spectrum.  We are learning to be transparent and ask for what we need, working on speaking each other’s language, instead of trying to communicate love to the other thru our own.  

I am not an affectionate person, hugs with non immediate family members make me uncomfortable, and cuddles with my family are hugs and short sessions, it’s just who I am.  I show my love by making sure  you have everything you need, you are fed, laundry cleaned and do not want for anything.  He wants physical closeness, but doesn’t see doing things for his family as a way to convey how he feels.  

Neither of us are wrong, we both show we love and love deeply.

There is no black and white when it come to loving someone.  There isn’t a wrong way, or a right way.  How you love, will never be the same as how someone else does.  It’s like an emotional finger print, no two are the same.  

Marriage, relationships, friendships all need and for both people to work on identifying the other’s love language, and Rosetta Stone-ing the heck out of it until you’re fluent.  Learn to see how your loved ones need to be loved, and  show them how you need to be loved.  You need to be transparent, or else you’ll just be see through.  

Mental Health.

I want to help end the stigmas around mental health.  I want to show that even “strong” people suffer.  Those we perceive as powerful and fierce, are susceptible to down times and feelings of depression and anxiety.  

I’ve only shared a snippets of my story, only glimpses of the pain.  I’ll share more in time, as vulnerability is essential for healing.  I have powered through and endured, but I still have times where that strength, that resilience… it abandons me.

I’m lost in those trenches again.  There is no single even or thing that “sets off” seasons of depression and anxiety for me.  Often times I have these seasons when it appears outwardly that my life and it’s direction, are at their best.   I can’t predict when my mental state will go grey, it just comes.  I do know when I’m in a sad season though, and I’m fortunate enough to be one of those that aren’t so deep that I can’t maintain my life.  That certainly doesn’t mean that every day isn’t a battle, or that I’m less deserving of help than another.   My battle and someone else’s, though they may be different, are both burdensome.  

I am trying to pull myself out of the grey, and into the light.  No one can save me, I have to chart these waters alone, as I have done so many times in the past.  I’m ok with being not ok though, because without the bad we could never appreciate the good.  

For this moment, I’ll live with dirty mirrors, undone housework and in my oldest t-shirt… because I know soon, I’ll be able so clean away the sad grey and make room for happy light.

Self love and weight loss, can you do both?

Let’s talk self love and weight loss for a minute. ⁣⁣

So I’ve spent a lot of time lately beating myself up about the ups and downs I’m having on this journey to a healthier body. ⁣⁣

I’ve had so many starts and stops, and it’s become a mental battle.  But really, that’s what a weight loss/ health journey is… a mental battle.  Because if you aren’t ready to change what goes on upstairs, you won’t succeed at trimming away the middle. ⁣⁣

I have learned to love my memory stripes, loving term for stretch marks, my curves and the flows and jiggles, but do I strive to feel better and healthier, of freaking course. ⁣⁣

You can be on a journey of self love and a journey to drop lbs at the same time. ⁣⁣

The new wave of body positive movements are amazing, inspiring and soul feeding, but please don’t ever feel like to love yourself, you have to love all the parts.  You can strive make changes, and still celebrate what you have.  Like you paint the walls in your home to make it look better, but that doesn’t mean you hate the house. ⁣⁣

I am going to reset myself, and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that by just continuing to move forward, despite the hiccups, I can achieve anything I choose.  I urge you to be patient with yourself, give yourself the grace and patience you award to others.  Give yourself a hug, touch your memory stripes and curves with a loving hand.  Take time to love what you have and the time to strive for change.  They are BOTH necessary to live in the best version of you.

I Remember.

I remember feeling so alone, even though I was a working mother and a wife.  I had people around me, but I felt invisible.  

Being married to an abusive addict is one of the most isolating things.  I couldn’t talk to anyone, because no one could know.  It was a secret, and I worked my ass off to hide it.  

I remember trying so hard to keep up appearances, working to keep everything looking normal.  It was exhausting, just thinking about it now makes me tired.  Only, I’m not sure I hid it that well.  Keeping my home clean, my kids well dressed and looking good, didn’t hide the pain in my eyes, or the sad look in theirs.  Wanting the perfect family, doesn’t make it a reality.

One day I woke up.  The fighting, the abuse, the living scared, it had broken me.  I was done. Nothing was going to change him, if he didn’t want to change himself, and he didn’t.  

I remember it so well, I had come home from my second job at midnight, and my babies, 10 months and 3 at the time, were still up and in dirty diapers, and he was intoxicated and ready to fight.  I ended it, he moved out the next day.  He moved out with a smile on his face, I went to bed that night without a heaviness in my heart. 

It took me 5 years to admit the toxicity of my marriage.  5.  The thought of doing it alone was more frightening then living each day in an abusive relationship.  But I don’t regret those years, they taught me what I will and won’t accept for myself. 

If you are dealing with an addict, are in an abusive relationship and are slowly drowning, know that you CAN pull your head above water.  You can make it, no matter how impossible it seems right now.  I’m here for you, I’m ready to hold your hand through one of the most difficult but liberating times of your life.  Never forget you are worthy and deserving.  

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