One Year Later

February 27th, 2017 I embarked on a journey. I had no idea where it would take me, what would happen over the course of it, only that I needed to find a creative outlet I could continue to do (that was free/cheap).

I didn’t know what topics I would cover or if my blog would have any overall theme – or if it would just become a public diary.

I didn’t realize that it would (probably) be the reason I would lose my job, or that while interviewing for other positions they would ask me to either remove/take down or make it private.

I was unaware how my personal platform would be so heavily criticized. Or that companies (mostly personal individuals representing those companies) would find my words so threatening. I was shocked and surprised that they thought little Jackie would somehow persuade  or influence potential clients/buyers/patients.

This last year has had some SERIOUS growing pains, and boy have they left the stretch marks behind to prove it. So in the spirit of growth, reflection, and change — i’d like to take this opportunity to introduce who I think it is that I am moving forward onto year 2.

Hello There,

My name is Jacquelin, but you can call me Jackie (or Jack depending on how well we get to know one another). I’m currently 30 years old, single, living and working in Seattle, WA. I live with my dog, Butters & the king of the castle, Mr. Todd (cat). I am the oldest sibling in my family (5 total – 2 brothers, 1 half-brother, 1 step brother, and 1 step sister). My mom and I went through a rocky time during my adolescence, but now I consider her to be one of my best friends. She married an awesome man, Scott (when I was 21), and he is one of my most favorite humans. My relationship with my father (and step-mother), is strained – but a work in progress (& much better than it was several years ago).

I returned to college after a 10yr hiatus, thinking I would start hammering away nursing pre-reqs. I figured the fastest route to an actual career where I could make enough money to support myself (and i’d already have a leg up with my experience as a vet tech), would be nursing. However, as the majority of those closest to me know, my true passion comes from neuroscience. Biology is one of the most magical, godly, awe-inspiring topics. I just sit in amazement learning about cell reproduction, programming, genetics, and neural pathways. But me in my truest form loves learning about why people think and feel the way that they do, how they arrive to their conclusions and why they believe their actions are justly.  Therefore, we find the education and career path evolving to suite was role I believe I could have the greatest influence and impact on others.

My last relationship ended October 2016. I don’t consider the 4-8wk period of me exclusively seeing other people as “relationships” after that, because there was never a period of trust and vulnerability that comes with a REAL relationship. I have always considered myself to be an equal-opportunity dater. Sure, I have a type (tall, dark, great teeth, weighs more than me) – but I don’t exactly decline dates by those who do not fit into that “mold” or “type.” I have learned a LOT about myself from being open to dating multiple different kinds of people. The most profound one being that I can now be completely honest with myself and them when they ask me, “so… what’re you looking for?” I’m no longer concerned that I will come off as clingy/crazy for simply stating, “I’m casually looking for something serious.” Meaning – I’m not trying to get married tomorrow, but I also don’t want to waste my time in this weird open-relationship world that we live in for some reason. Seriously though… anyone else finding that “polyamorous” is some kind of trendy thing? Not for me, sorry.

I’ve also learned to trust and follow my instincts. Something I have not always done. I have generally used logic and strategy to deduct reasoning instead of allowing my “feelings” or emotions to cloud my judgment. Recently I learned that if I feel something is off, I should pay attention. Our intuition may not always be right, and we should not always use that when making decisions; However, I do believe it is a tool that should be sharpened and used more frequently than I have in the past.

Graceful & Resilient. This is how I feel about ways I have tackled obstacles this year. (Not my normal, everyday personality — but just how i’ve responded to problems.) When I lost my job, you didn’t see me begging for it back, you didn’t see me bad mouthing the company, nor did you see me complaining. I chose to take some time off, work relief, and when I was ready – enter the work for in a new direction. Veterinary was never going to be a career for me and I knew that, I was also probably never going to leave that company because I was “comfortable.” I have been ghosted, rejected, and bullied this year. As a result I have not lost my *sparkle* or positive attitude, but I have learned that avoiding confrontation never works out in your favor. If you cannot resolve the issue yourself, seek advice from those who have more experience than you in handling situations, LISTEN TO THEM, and try to apply that to your personal situation. Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away.

Make new friends – seriously, like REAL friends. Put yourself out there, take a risk, develop a new connection with someone who you admire. Making friends has always been scary for me. I’m an outgoing individual with several surface-level acquaintances. Networking is part of my skill set, I’ve never struggled with that. But what I have struggled with is actually developing meaningful connections with people (as an adult) and putting in the time/attention required for that relationship to grow. I am by, default, a lazy person. I enjoy my alone time (with my dog), sitting on the couch Netflix binging and drinking wine. So if you can get on board with that, we will be awesome friends — also, I talk a lot during movies and have a hard time sitting still… But I also don’t necessarily want you to talk when I don’t want to talk. It’s a hard balance. Sorry.

My favorite things in life are: Butters (and I guess Todd), Family (the ever expanding brood of nieces and nephews is a bonus!), Friends, Succeeding in my profession, baking/cooking, writing, wine, new plants, cleaning, reorganizing, google calendar, date nights, girls nights, learning a new skill (i just learned how to curl my hair with a flat-iron… thank you youtube!), and random acts of kindness. 

I believe in compassion. I believe in taking the time to love someone when they’re hurting, giving them permission to feel pain and grieve and not rush the process. I believe to be compassionate, you must be humble. You must be able to remove your own person thoughts and feelings from a scenario and allow that person to speak. Listen, mindfully. Appreciate the moment and the rarity that come from true vulnerability. Really, sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen. Other times, people may not want to think about whatever they’re struggling with anymore and ask you to distract them by filling the silence with your own stories. Always lead with a tender heart. Be grateful. Allowing someone to lead a conversation or mood does not make you a follower, it makes you a compassionate leader. 

I am a work in progress. I strive for perfection and continually fall short, but that will never stop me from continuing to try. I do know that perfection is not possible, I do know that I should not stress myself out of cause myself anxiety over this (although, sometimes it’s really challenging to stop that spiral). The best thing I can do to help with that is to be more present and take responsibility for those things even when I feel they fall short of what I am capable of.

So there you have it. The person I feel I am, and becoming moving forward onto year 2 of blogging. I still don’t have a “vision” or a “theme” for this – I’m allowing it to unfold organically and pick it’s own destination.

Thank you so much for continually showing up, reading, commenting, and reaching out to me. It means more than you realize. Your continued support and random messages that say, “I LOVE LOVE LOVE YOUR BLOG. KEEP WRITING!!!” is what drives me to keep it up (also – I just really happen to love writing).

Until next time,

Xo-Jack

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Sensation & Perception

You bet that’s the title of the chapter I’m reading right now in my textbook. Straight up plagiarized. My head has been so immersed in this class that all I’ve been able to do is APPLY what I’ve been learning to my current life/situation. Let me tell you – it’s been fucking ENLIGHTENING.

The more I learn about the intricate details of how our brain functions, the more I come to learn about myself. So congratulations Mr. Richard A. Griggs (author of my text-book), you have now become the THIRD person in my corner supporting my mental health. I think I officially have my own “staff.”

The second week of class we focused on research. BORING. Don’t take that the wrong way. I love experiments. We learn from experimenting. But learning all the different ways we collect research and how we describe data was a snooze. I can’t believe I retained enough information to pass that test. Seriously.

The third week so far has been the most exciting. NEUROSCIENCE. I may have found my calling. I’ve been entertaining nursing school for several years now. But if you know me, you know I am happiest when I am running the show. What does that mean? It means I’m an entrepreneur. To the FULLEST extent. I THRIVE building a business. Ask any of my clients. The majority of them have been with me for several years now and will not seek care anywhere else (unless I move or die, whichever comes first). Learning the anatomy of our brain, what it does what and why. Learning about the endocrine glandular system. It’s all so freaking badass. Our bodies are truly amazing. Yes, I believe in science. Yes, I believe in (certain parts) of evolution. But how can you look at our biological make-up and not believe something put you together? IT BLOWS MY MIND.

This week has been all about Sensation & Perception.

  • Sensation being described as: Initial information gathering & recoding by the sensory structures (vision, hearing, feeling, smelling & tasting).
  • Perception being described as: The interpretation by the brain of sensory information.

Sure, there has been the anatomy behind our vision/hearing to create the foundation for the sensory perception. But what I have found to be the most interesting part of this chapter is this bit about top-down processing.

What is top-down processing?

Glad you asked.

Let me explain…

(fml, let my eyes adjust, I turned the lights off and all I have is this weak LED lamp in the corner producing dim light — which btw, if you didn’t know, is processed by the rods in our retinas – there are an estimated 120 MILLION rods that are in EACH of your retinas! And they take about 20min to adjust to dim light, compared to the cones in your eyes which take about 5-10min to adjust. But they’re responsible for how we see color and bright light – and there’s only 6 MILLION in your retinas. Food for thought.)

Top-Down Processing – The brain’s use of knowledge, beliefs & expectations to process sensory information. [Neurons in the temporal lobe (the front part of your brain) PERMANENTLY ALTER their connections once they find a meaningful pattern!)

I took this to mean that our past predicts our future. Or at least, in the sensory realm. Our reality really is a figment of our educated imagination. Our brain is so smart, that we can do something called “Gestalt Organized Perception” = “organized whole” –> more than just the sum of all parts. This means that when we see an incomplete image, we draw (through top-down processing) from our past to create the whole picture. Pretty neat, right?

*LIGHT BULB*

Jackie – wait a second. You mean that our past experiences, what we’ve learned over our years, our beliefs, and acquired knowledge provide us the ability to see the big picture?

No.

I’m not saying that at all, so calm the fuck down.

If you believe in the “perceptual set” – then you believe that the interpretation of ambiguous sensory information is done using past experiences to create our perception.

[There is also the “contextual effect” which is the use of present context of sensory information to determine the meaning of objects/things/etc.]

Why is this so impactful for me? Why am I claiming that the author of this book has recently become another member of my staff?

Well, dear readers, allow me to tell you.

Recent events lead me to believe I fall (FREQUENTLY) , head over heels with the perceptual set. Everything I see, hear, touch, taste, and feel draws from my past experiences. I have a seriously hard time with “contextual effect.” Being in the present (with all senses), is CHALLENGING for me. However, the exciting part about this is learning the actual term for it and discovering this is actually a REAL thing. AH-HA!

If I were to record everything I say/hear/do in a 24hr period of time, I would find that the majority of it comes from KNOWN securities (whether insecurities or self-confidences).

There is a reason it’s so much easier for me to establish and nurture friendships with women than romantic relationships with men. There is a reason I find comfort in communicating with my girlfriends than opening up to men. There is a reason I don’t over analyze my interactions with women and do with men.

Even though the (female) friendships I have made haven’t always been rainbows and butterflies. There has always been mutual respect, humility, and the ability to overcome obstacles. I find security in my evolving relationships with women. There’s some kind of safety to it. You find people you like, who inspire you, and you stick together.

Men on the other hand – there seems to be this little voice in the back of my head that says, “your only desirable quality is your body.” Maybe I’ve read too many bull-shit magazine articles and books that have somehow drilled this into my head. OR MAYBE I have tried to break down that wall every so often and been met with serious resistance. I’m talking either ghosting or just a straight up douche who thinks he’s better than me.

I’m not saying I’m better than them. But what I can say is that I am BRUTALLY honest, unafraid, and secure in who I am at this point in my life. When I date, I tell them exactly who I am and what I want. Maybe this is a little intimidating. But you know what, the right guy wont be intimidated by me, because he’s secure enough in himself that he will find my ambition and spice for life inspiring.

So THANK YOU, chapter 3 – for breaking down ONE SMALL PIECE of the pie into why I am the way I am.

<3

Until next time,

xo-Jack

Running and Running, Too Fast

In light of recent personal events. I decided to sit down and write. I find that generally when I can’t stop thinking about something, the best way for me to sort it out is to just sit down and let the words flow. USUALLY by the end of the post, I’ve got SOME kind of clarity. SOME.

There are so many thoughts running through my head these days. Work, Performance, School, Performance, Dating, Friends, Distance, SO MUCH DISTANCE.

So, let’s try to organize.

Work has been going well. Based off my 30-day review, it seems like I’m checking the boxes and hitting the benchmarks that have been set for me. I’ve settled into my routine there and have started to develop relationships with a few co-workers. I’m excited to see where those relationships go, you know me, always on the hunt for new friends!

While I’m not exactly challenged in my position (don’t get me wrong, there’s always a learning curve to a new position), it proves me EXACTLY what I need right now. Stability, flexibility, and the time to crack open the textbook and study. What more could I want at this time? Exactly. Humble. Grateful.

School OFFICIALLY starts Monday, September 25th (happy birthday to my littlest brother, Jacob!). I ordered my textbook weeks ago and have already cracked the seam and littered it with post-it notes. What can I say… I’m excited. I contacted my professor 2 weeks ago to introduce myself and to make sure I had everything I needed for class to start. Guess what – I do! 🙂

I have chosen to take ONE class. One ONLINE class this quarter. I was so worried about accepting the position at my new job because I was scared I would lose my momentum to pursue my education. I even sat down with Markie (life coach) and told her maybe I should push it out to next quarter while I get settled in my new job. Then what did I do? Oh, I thought about it and said, “Fuck you, Jackie. If you don’t do it now, you’ll never do it. Stop looking for excuses. Stop putting it off.” So… I registered for one, online class. Figured it would help keep the ball rolling and provide me the flexibility of working while attending school.

I’m so excited that the quarter hasn’t even started and I’ve already completed the first 2 quizzes and 7 assignments. Typical Virgo.

Family is everything. You know how I feel about that. Recently my mom underwent another reconstruction surgery and she’s hurting. Bad. It bothers me so much to see her in pain. Today is her birthday so I showed up, with flowers & hard cider. Because I’m a believer in drinking and taking narcotics. (HA! Just kidding… maybe) While I was there I cleaned up the kitchen, spent time with my step-dad, Scott, and youngest brother, Jacob. Spending time with family always fills my cup. Or, at least Scott makes sure my glass is always full (of beer). While I was there it was hard for me to see my mom in pain and not be able to do anything about it. Not even my go-to jokes that usually make her laugh did the trick. It was a little frustrating, but once again – here I go not knowing how to empathize, right?

She will heal and feel better soon, but it takes time. Just like anything in this life. EVERYTHING takes TIME. It’s rather frustrating to be completely honest. While it goes so fast, it also goes SO SLOW. Time, another thing I can’t control. Elusive bastard.

Dating. Ugh. Where do I begin? I know I’ve previously written about consequences to actions, but I never in a million years thought I would date someone who would read my blog.

(For the record, it is SUPER awkward when someone you’ve just started dating reads the intimate details of your thoughts. The mistakes you’ve made. And the extreme vulnerability that comes from my writing.)

This is a new issue for me. I’ve been casually dating for several months now and have not ran across someone who decided to tap into my writing. Let alone be offended, concerned, or judgemental about it. My immediate reaction was to defend myself. I chose to react differently. (Does this mean I’m changing? growing? hmmm…) Even though I was put off by it, I attempted to put myself in their shoes and see how I would feel if I had read something about someone I liked… and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I applaud the confidence it takes to be bold enough to approach me about it. I was most definitely caught off-guard. Like, Whoa. We discussed it and moved passed it.

However, another issue presented itself and it left me question how I behave while I’m dating. Even if I immediately communicate that I am focused on work and school, maybe my actions speak differently? Maybe it appears that I am looking for something more serious? Or maybe not serious, but something NOT casual.

Am I happy with casual? How’s it working out for me so far?

I have been “the girlfriend,” for so many years, to several different men. All of whom I am grateful for and learned something about myself and what I want for myself and a partner in my future. But obviously, none of them have worked so far.

Am I using the excuse of wanting something casual to avoid things getting complicated? To avoid making my organized life, messy. Maybe?

Why, Maybe?

I am so hyper focused on performing well at work and school that the idea of introducing someone I actually care about into my little work just seems… so risky. I have this plan FINALLY figured out. (I’m a planner, remember?) I’m FINALLY fucking following that damn plan that I spent so many years putting together. And I’m doing it BY MYSELF. I don’t want to get distracted and I ALWAYS get distracted in a relationship. My goals never get accomplished and I lose the fire that burned for myself because now I become so infatuated and tangled up in this new and fun relationship – that it becomes my focus.

WHHHHYYYYY, JACKIE. WHYYYYYYYYYYYY DO YOU DO THISSSSSSS.

Well, because a relationship IS part of my “plan.” Because I don’t want to spend my entire life alone (Butters doesn’t count). But for some reason, I can’t do both? What in the actual fuck. I can’t even.

And this is where I’m all twisted up in knots and confused and frustrated.

Because apparently I pick REALLY awesome guys to just be casually dating. Ones I would probably REALLY enjoy being in a relationship with. But is my focus fear driven? Probably.

Well, shit.

Friends, good friends are SO hard to find. Especially as an adult. I feel like I’ve been unusually blessed in this department. Even though the majority of them live all over the U.S. now, we still find time to connect. I spent time catching up with a few this weekend and it fills my heart so much to giggle, gossip, and bitch with them. I hope they realize just how amazing they are and how incredibly proud I am of them. My mom used to tell me when I was a kid, “Pick GOOD friends, Jackie. Because you will become them.” She was SO right. I have adapted and picked up different characteristics and personalities from the people I have chosen to surround myself with. Thank God I chose well. Thanks Girls 🙂

I’m sitting on the couch, having a glass of wine, music is probably a LITTLE too loud for the neighbors, and I’m alone. I’ve become comfortable being alone. I hammered out my quiz for school (which isn’t due until thursday). I’ll probably start dinner (for one) here shortly. Throw on a hair mask and face mask and dance with myself in my bathrobe in the kitchen while stirring whatever I decide to throw in a pan for dinner.

This is my life.

And I wouldn’t mind sharing it with someone else. Or would I?

Wonder if I’ll ever figure that out.

Until next time,

Xo-Jack

 

P.S. – photo credit to Kailee Elizabeth. This picture was taken for a Lika Love photoshoot. My FAVORITE local boutique to shop at (they’re online also!)

Follow them both on IG at: @kep_photos and @likalovefashion

Like Mother, Like Daughter

November 4, 2015

The setting is a wet, windy Seattle night.

My mother and I are enjoying mojitos and nachos near the fire pit bar at Matador in West Seattle, Washington.

As we laughed and sipped our cocktails, she dropped this bomb on me.

“I found a lump. I have breast cancer.”

No. No. No. No.

Earlier that day she had called me, saying she would be near Seattle and asked if I was up for getting together that night.

Of course, mom! Any excuse to spend some time with you!

It wasn’t always this way though. It wasn’t always this easy. 

Let’s rewind — since y’all know I love flashbacks.

Winter of 7th grade.

I wanted my family to feel special for Christmas. Things had been more stressed than normal in our home. I knew I had a choir field trip coming up at the mall and I thought – what a better time than then to get my family gifts! They would have no clue I was buying them since they wouldn’t be with me!

Except – here’s where I screwed up.

I stole money from every member of my family living under our roof to buy these gifts.

(As you can see – there is a theme to my blogs. #asshole)

I went shopping and bought what I ACTUALLY WANTED to buy for them. Of course I also bought things for me.

One thing I remember the most was that stupid pink, plastic, blow up chair I bought from Claire’s.

My family is not stupid.

In fact – this is also a common thread that will come up.

We are all extremely intelligent. My mother, father, brothers and I. Even though we all took different paths and may not be as educated as one another — we are all wicked smart.

I think it was the next day they figured it out.

Holy shit was I in trouble.

Not only had I stolen money from my family — but I wanted to look pretty at the choir concert — especially since I had my FIRST solo — and I stole my mom’s diamond earrings… including the diamond jackets that went around the stud.

Oh damn.

So effed.

SOOOOOOOOOOO EFFED.

My mom proceeded to tell my Dad — in a story I found out much later that she explicitly asked him not to lose his shit — and what unfolded will forever be remembered by everyone in that house that day.

My Dad lost it. Absolutely LOST it. Was ripping the cupboards off of my walls and throwing things at me. He threw my TV on the ground. Threw my stereo on the ground. Ripped pictures from the walls. He completely DESTROYED my bedroom. The only “safe place” I had in the house. As a firm reminder I was a guest in his home, and I had no “safe place.” He then proceeded to beat me with a rolled up magazine.

Here I was, 13 years old – getting spanked with a magazine… seriously?

I was uncontrollably crying. I couldn’t catch my breath. I was in shock. I was horrified, terrified. What had I done? How could I have caused this? Was he over reacting or was I deserving of such punishment? Such hate filled rage directed toward me?

I remember my mom screaming at my dad to stop. That it was enough. That he had done enough.

She was scared.

He WAS out of control.

I never found the earrings I stole from my mom and then lost. All the presents I had purchased for my family were returned and the money was returned as well.

**This is the first memory I can think of where my brothers knew I was different**

I have always been different. I have never followed the path that was laid before me. I have always taken the road less travelled. Danced to the beat of my own drum. I never listened or conformed to their ideas of who I should be or what I should do. I was an embarrassment and had cemented my role as the black sheep.

The following year, my parents separated.

That night has been replayed over and over in my mind. Could I have done something different? Should I have? How different would my life be if I HAD been different?

When you’re 14, watching your family get torn apart, there is no RIGHT decision. There is only survival. To survive, I was forced to make a choice. A choice my brothers were never forced to make. A choice I wish I was never forced to make, but one that has followed me through the rest of my life.

I vividly remember clinging to my mothers leg as she attempted to pack her clothes and leave. I remember crying, asking her to pray with me, asking her to please – please – PLEASE pray with me.

No one can explain to you what EVIL feels like. 

You have to experience it for yourself. Stare it in the face and make a choice.

I will always remember that feeling of evil. It washed over my body. I was staring it in the face and all I could think about was how could God let this happen to my family. I know we had not been the “perfect Mormon family,” we had our flaws – but I thought we would be together forever –we had to be together forever. That’s all I knew. All I was taught. And here I was — watching it unfold before my eyes.

I let her go.

I had to let her go.

I had to survive.

My father was on Match.com within an hour of my mom moving out. Here he was – trying to do what he thought best, selfishly, bring another woman in the home to fill my mom’s shoes — to provide some sort of “normalcy” to our family.

I tried to be nice, friendly, follow the rules. Eventually I just stopped. I couldn’t see my mom anymore. The reception I received when I returned home to my Dad’s made me uncomfortable. Being interrogated and being forced to lie. I just couldn’t do it.

Excommunication.

She tried. She tried so hard. She sent cards, birthday gifts, shit – presents for no effing reason.

I remember her sending me personalized cookies for my 16th birthday that I found on the back porch of the house. I was happy she had remembered, but I was so sad. SO SAD.

Damn I missed my mom. Why did she have to do this? How do I make this better? How do I repair the damage done and still keep everyone happy? I can’t.

4 years went by. That’s right. FOUR.

There was some “court-ordered reconciliation therapy” that I was required to attend that I thought was bullshit. In fact, it was such bullshit I remember our family therapist CRYING at our story. It was pathetic. We couldn’t win. I just figured we were screwed and damned to live our life the same way we had been. Full of secrets, lies, and manipulation.

I started dating and that changed things.

I began experimenting with things that pushed my moral boundaries. Since I was pushing those boundaries, why not experiment somewhere else.

 I was 18. I had JUST turned 18. I received a request from my aunt that would forever change my life.

“Erica got invited to Jake’s birthday party. I really want to go. But I’m scared to go alone. Will you please go with me?”

I ignored the request for as along as I could. My boyfriend at the time, Zac, pressured me to say, Yes. To just go. He didn’t approve of my father and didn’t appreciate the way I was treated in my home and saw this as a perfect opportunity to reconnect with my mom.

So I went.

I had a blast.

I had forgotten how much I loved spending time with my Mom. She really was amazing. She really did love me. She had never stopped loving me. I had hurt her so bad.

The shit that followed that day is really just SHIT.

I wasn’t going to be home at the time I said I was, so I was “grounded indefinitely.”

This was a common theme during my adolescence.

The only way my dad & step mom knew how to “deal” with me was by grounding me until they deemed fit.

So what I did next.. changed everything.

I became defiant and didn’t care what happened next.

“Fine. If that’s the case. Then I’m not coming home.”

Whoops. I opened up a can of worms & a can of whoop ass, on my OWN ass. Oops…

Shortly after that, I moved into my mom’s house. She was so sweet. She listened, loved, and tried to “get me,” but it had been so long she didn’t know where to start. So she started with something that doesn’t even seem like a big deal – but it was.

She bought me a can of shaving cream.

Even typing this I can feel my eyes glisten over. A tear makes a dramatic entrance at the medial canthus of my eye and tumbles down my uneven skin, only to plant its fat wet mark on my knee.

After spending so much time living with my Dad who did not seem to understand me, even though I’m sure he tried, a small gesture like this was all it took for me to realize I had made the right decision.

I did not leave my father for my mother. It was not choosing one parent over the other. Neither was me staying with my father and ignoring my mothers attempts at a relationships. I have NEVER chosen one parent over the other. I have simply chosen MYSELF over everything.

Both of them will tell you I am their most independent, strong-willed and stubborn child. I absolutely REFUSE to listen or take direction. I MUST do things my own way, learn my own way, experience pain my own way. They did their best to raise me and instill me with good values and to be a good person — but honestly, there was only so much they could do.

I took advantage of living with my mom.

FREEDOM.

I had no idea what to do with it! For the first time ever, I had a vehicle I could drive, mostly, whenever I wanted. I had a job where I made my own money. I was able to see my friends! I had an opportunity and I took that inch and stretched it into a mile.

Living with my mother was not without its complications. Her partner did NOT like me. She made that perfectly clear to me and my mother. She knew I had hurt my mom, deeply, and was extremely protective. She was also an alcoholic. So just magnify any response to anything by 1000.

I was not an easy person to live with. I came and went at all hours. I ate all the food. I showed up high as a kite after smoking too much weed and then laughed it off when she, rightly – accused me of being stoned.

I hurt her again and again and again.

No relationship is perfect, but shit – did I even try? Or was I just seeing an opportunity and taking advantage of it?

I moved out of my mom’s house a year later and in with a boy who my mom KNEW was trouble. It caused a significant amount of strain on our relationship. To the point where we were not talking… again.

How could I do this – again?

(By now you see, I rarely learn the first time. I have to make the same mistakes over and over again until it finally sticks. And even then – it’s highly likely I’ll repeat it again.)

Blood crusted on my face, tears streaming down my eyes, nowhere to go – no one to trust.

I called my mom – she was at work.

“Mom, Ryan punched me in the face. I don’t know what to do. Help me.” – Me

“I’ll be right there.” – Mom

Fear. So much fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of change. Fear of rejection. I’m an idiot.

She allowed me to move back in with her – again.

This time, we would have “rules.”

Damnit – poor Mom, she knew I couldn’t follow rules to save my life.

I moved back out and in with a girlfriend.

Moved back in with mom.

Moved back out with another girlfriend.

Moved back in with mom.

Moved back out with a boyfriend.

Moved back in with mom.

Moved back out with a boyfriend.

Moved back in with mom.

Move back out with  boyfriend.

Moved in with a girlfriend.

Moved in with a boyfriend.

–BREAK THE CHAIN–

Moved into my OWN apartment.

I have hurt her beyond measure. I have created a relationship with her beyond my wildest dreams. I never thought my mom would become my best friend. Learning to be honest, vulnerable, trusting, share my failures & my successes – I just never thought it was possible to reconcile. What we have now was not even something I THOUGHT we could have.

I was always jealous of the relationship my aunt Ginger has with my grandma. They just seemed to “get” each other in a way without speaking. They’re supportive, loving, and most of all – it’s an unconditional love.

Sitting there, listening to my mom tell me about how she has breast cancer — took me down this rabbit hole of memories. A blurry trip of pain and love. I am so grateful for this woman.

“You are the braver version of myself. You do everything I wish I had done.”

I love you, mom.

I’m so grateful for you. I’m so glad you’re still here. I’m so glad you’re a badass and kicked cancers ass. You are my best friend, my confidant, and the most important female figure in my life. You make me laugh, cry, and yes – you still make me angry. But mostly I’m just pissed because I know you’re right. I hope I am as lucky as you are with Scott and that I have children who love me as much as yours do one day. You are a light in this world and I would be lost without you.

I love you, mom.

Until next time,

xo-Jack