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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. 

Habit:
  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. (Oops...my 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 ...you 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 back....it 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. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Forgive and Forget: Life's Other F Words

"The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward."

Steve Maraboli


Oh is that all I have to do? Thanks Steve, I'll get right on that. How many times have you heard, "forgive and forget" and thought it to be quite an impossibility? I know I have, more times than I care to count. The truth is, life has done a number on me. My scars are fierce. My wounds are deep. With every heartache comes yet another round of F words. Failure, yes. Fear, of course. Forgiveness, now wait a minute here....you want me to do what now? (Perhaps another F word comes to mind at this point....sorry Mom and Dad). So how then? How, after loving unconditionally and being betrayed or abandoned, do I forgive? Take it up another notch and try and fathom forgetting! That's just inconceivable. 

This is where I found myself only a mere week ago. Thinking I had already done the forgiving thing but wondering why I was still haunted. Why I was still cold and closed off. Wondering why the blanket of depression was suffocating me as I tried to sleep, or shadowed me with darkness during what should have been the brightest of days. I had wanted to forgive, in fact I'd already spoken the words, multiple times even! I stared at the ceiling in darkness and silence and awaited an answer. My lungs felt as though I could only utilize about 20% of their normal functionality, and my heart pondered beating out of my chest. I cried tearlessly. Do you know that kind of cry? It's the kind that effects you more than sobbing or weeping because there's no release. Four months and two weeks had passed, where was the closure I had so easily preached about to others? The closure I had promised YOU was inevitable. The closure I so desperately needed. 

The truth was I hadn't finished the work that needed to be done. I had stuffed the pain down again when it got difficult and when I thought enough time had gone by. I didn't stuff it in ways that used to be my pattern, a new relationship for example. That's a tragedy all it's own. This was some new technique I didn't even realize I had. It wasn't even denial. This was simply ignorance. This was, "I'm fine because I'm supposed to be fine and I don't want him back so I must be fine and that's just fine. Fine." This was fine. What a detestable word, fine. Another F word for the list. In all actuality, if you're saying you're fine, you're probably not, and I certainly wasn't. 

The answer I was waiting for hit me like a ton of bricks. (Or at least what I'd imagine a ton of bricks would hit like). What had I forgiven? When I said, "I forgive you," it was vague and misguided. I had granted forgiveness for his benefit and not for my own. Fine. I sat up in bed, grabbed my phone and started typing a list. At first this list was only for me, and what I believed would only consist of two or three specific instances. (Such as: breaking your promise of forever you asshole). When I started writing I was floored...there were far more hurts than I had even realized. They poured out of me like some dark, filthy ooze of ewwness. Some were huge like the most common unforgivable of relationship sins, and others were small, like a forgotten phone call. It hurt to read the ooze pouring out of my soul, but I continued. Before I realized what was happening the tears were streaming down my face. My lungs had reached 50% capacity and I was breathing a little easier. Fine? 

3 am veered it's all too familiar, ugly head, and sleep called my name. It had been so long since I had been summoned by sleep that it almost caught me by surprise. I had done enough purging for the night thank you very much. I woke up the next day and felt like a new person....for a few hours anyway. Darkness returned later that day and I thought, "what the hell?!" 

Here's what I realized, forgiveness is a process and a daily choice. Forgiveness is NOT a singular event. I read the words I wrote every day last week until they no longer ripped my heart out. It's really just more of like flu shot status now. Every morning I wake up I don't try and stuff those hurts down, justifying them with happy memories. That's where things get all jumbled! I force myself to say, "what's hurting me today," and I talk myself through it. It is not easy, it's F word difficult, but I do it anyway. 

I wish I could tell you that someday I'll forget, but you know what, I don't think I will. However, I have to believe that remembering doesn't hinder moving on. The inability to forgive, however, does. I'm choosing to forgive because I despise Fine. I'm choosing to forgive because I deserve it! Do you understand what I'm saying? Forgiveness isn't something that's given just so the other person can sleep at night. That's all nice and rainbows and butterflies and hearts and sun shiny shit, but that's not always life. Sometimes we have to forgive so we can breathe, eat, sleep, and SURVIVE!! It's about becoming whole again, putting your own pieces back together and throwing Fine out the window. 

So here I am, a week removed from Fine, and I'd say my lungs are at about 65% capacity and my trash can has less beer bottles in it. In the process of finding forgiveness I have realized that forgetting isn't essential. Once I have mastered forgiving the person, the situation, the hurts, and so on, remembering won't effect me in the ways it has been. How's that for a dose of hope for ya!? 

Maybe good ol' Steve wasn't so far off after all... Maybe he is SPOT ON. You'll notice he said nothing of forgetting, he just said, "move forward." Whoop there it is. Here's to Forgiveness, to not being Fine, and to moving Forward, and all the other F words as well. 

Finally. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Good Grief: Pass the Closure

“I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an  evil.”

-J. R. R. Tolkien




I'm going to start this out by reminding you all that I am not a therapist, and as always, my blogs are based on my experiences unless otherwise mentioned. There, now that that's out of the way, let's dive right in to this one. I want to talk a little bit about the often discussed "5 Stages of Grief," and how I think they apply to the ending of a relationship. Although, it's me so you know I'm going to mix it up a bit, because let's be honest, I'm far from conventional. Also bare in mind that these stages I'm about to discuss are not necessarily in a particular order and they might vary due to the severity of the damage that has been done. 




The "It's Not Over until I Say it's Over" Stage

This stage can be a doozy if the breakup isn't mutual. You know exactly what I'm talking about, that ever-blinding ray of hope is shining so brightly in your eyes you allow your mind to continue fantasizing about things eventually working out. (It Won't). During this stage is the time where you look at old pictures and focus solely on every good memory and block out all of the negative ones. Your ex suddenly morphs into Mr/Mrs Perfect-in-Every Way. (They Aren't). This is also the stage where your friends and family will try and comfort you, give you advice, and tell you that you are too good for Mr/Mrs P. (They're Right). However, although you will hear them, it's too early for you to listen and believe them. That's ok. The length of time in this phase is likely correlated to the length of the relationship. If you're currently in this phase and reading this post consider this my warning message: Move On Immediately. (See I'm not your friend so I can get away with that shit-You're Welcome). 

The "Pajamas/Ice Cream/Alcohol Phase

Sometimes, all three at once. (You know who you are). You want a pajama day? I'll allow it. When it turns into a pajama week, we have a problem. I don't care how cute your pajamas are, you don't have any business wearing them for more than 24 hours in a row. I know I sound like a heartless bitch, I swear I'm not. (Unless you ask my ex-husband.) I am just simply telling you what I wish I would've known a decade ago. Ice cream is allowed upon necessity as long as you SWEAR to only buy one carton at a time. Frank at the supermarket check out should at least have the privilege of being mildly curious when he asks how you are. If your cart is filled with vodka, Ben & Jerry's, Snickers, Cheetos, all flavors of Milano cookies, and more vodka, you're going to give yourself away. Poor Frank. While I'm at it, about that vodka.... You have a few more phases to go before you're allowed vodka, wine, rum....I think you see where I'm going with this. (Now I'm a heartless bitch). Let me tell you the obvious reasons why. 
1. Drunk Texts
2. Drunk Phone Calls
3. Drunk "Selfies" (those will come back to bite you in the ass worse than a hangover).
4. More Drunk Texting
5. Every emotion known to man is MAGNIFIED by alcohol. (One minute you're a healthy level of sad, the next minute you're Rose in your bathtub sobbing "I'll never let go Jack...I'll never let go!" (Dude. Let Go! That ship sunk.) 
There is also one more prevalent activity that arises during this phase. Facebook Stalking (or Falking according to my best friend Kevin). This activity includes all forms of social media. This is just a part of our masochistic nature. Why we do it I'll never know, but I'll be the first to tell you I couldn't WAIT to see what my replacement looked like. (No Comment.) I want you to think about something for a minute: What good does it do you to see your Ex (Now Mr/Mrs not-so-P) happily surviving without you. (They are, if not immediately it's inevitable). Stop the insanity. Remove/block/unfriend/unfollow them in every way society allows. If you haven't already, stop reading this and do it now while you're all fired up! Delete their number AND yes the ENTIRE textersation still lingering on your mobile device. (I just called you out!) I am begging you with every ounce of my being-STOP THE MADNESS! One last thing about this, don't recruit people to do your stalking for you, that's cheating, and it makes them feel uncomfortable. (Consider this my official apology.) Thankfully this phase is also temporary and the length of time spent here is something you have a great deal of control over. Hurt is unavoidable, suffering isn't. 

The "I'm Fine" Stage

I like to call this one delusional closure or "I think I'm ready to hit up the singles bars" stage. I'm sorry precious, you're not quite there yet. Still too soon for those miniskirts and martinis ladies, or for you guys, any alcohol and Affliction t-shirts. (Those should probably be left in 2012 anyway-again, you're welcome). It's in this stage where suddenly you're beginning to realize how awesome you are but you still don't know what you deserve. It's too fragile of state to risk slip ups. Doing too much too soon can lead to being knocked on your ass. (I have bruises to prove it.) It's here where it's ever so important that you keep yourself surrounded with positive people. Find new hobbies and further develop your old ones. Run. Holy freakin crap if I could tell you to do one thing in this phase it's run! Running teaches us that our body is capable of more than our mind thinks is possible. I don't care if you've never run a day in your life-do it! Make a killer playlist, put in some headphones and pound the pavement. Developing this habit now will help you with the next stage....and you're going to need it. (Obviously if a doctor has advised you not to run then don't be a fool-walking works too, just walk fast.)  I can't tell you how long you will be in this stage, and sometimes I find this one comes around more than once usually in between the other stages. Just hang in there, I swear it gets better. (Would I lie?)

The "What Did Your Pillow Ever Do to You" Stage

This is the welcomed stage where Mr/Mrs P becomes Mr/Mrs POS. (You know that was good!) This is also the stage where songs like "Since you've been gone," "Fighter," and "Survivor," end up on your Spotify playlist. (See also, "You'll Think of Me," "Someone Like You," and my FAVORITE: drumroll please- "You Oughta Know." I'm a chick-what did you expect?!) I will be the first to tell you getting mad is good. (Can you guess what stage I'm in? Ha!) Again-I can't say this enough, you must still avoid the alcohol. Besides, you've come so far, no need to back track now! So let it out! Talk a healthy amount of crap with your friends, punch your pillow, scream at inconsiderate drivers on the freeway, (hehe), take a kickboxing class, and then punch your pillow some more. (Aren't you glad you're a runner now? Run it out.) This is the stage when you are reminded of all the shitty things Mr/Mrs POS did wrong throughout your relationship AND just how poorly you were treated at the end. Do your best to keep your anger contained to a level just below insanity or your likely to unleash a monster on your unprepared family members during Thanksgiving clean up. (Who would do such a thing?! What a psycho.) Remember that while it's completely normal to be angry, your family, friends, and co-workers didn't break up with you, the POS did, so don't take it out on them. So here's my best advice for this stage: Be angry with integrity. If you want to burn pictures/property, I can't support that because it's not my style. Remember you're actions are a reflection of you. You're the good guy in this story remember? Don't do villainous things you may or may not regret later. So to sum it up-Anger is healthy, evilness is not. Know the difference. Just don't stay here too long. Anger is an ugly color on everyone. 

The "Bring out the Booze" Phase

Also known as "acceptance." Cheers. You're over the hump and ready to get back out there! Mr/Mrs POS has morphed into Mr/Mrs Thing of the Past. Honestly, I don't think this stage means you don't occasionally reflect on your past relationship and feel "something." If your relationship had any level of longevity, in some ways that person will always be a part of you. That's just a part of life. Difficult experiences change and grow us into new and better versions of ourselves. Look at you Superstar! You survived! (I knew you would.) Break ups are one of the crappiest things we can go through. Hurt happens. Tears fall. Feathers fly. (Santa bring me a new pillow for Christmas?) When all is said and done, hearts heal, scars and all. This is a progressive stage, you will continue to move on more and more with the passing of time. Trust me, the day isn't far away where you will be able to listen to "your song" when it comes on the radio and you won't tear up, you'll be able to quote lines from your favorite movie and it won't make you cringe, and when someone mentions their name you won't need to replace all the pillows in your home. (I needed to redecorate anyway....riiiiiight.)


Unfortunately we live in a world where people just don't stay together anymore. That is a very sad thing but very much reality. In closing, I just want to reiterate something that has really helped me over and over again. (This is not my first rodeo ya'll.) Right after my divorce I was having a heart to heart with another single mom I really looked up to and her advice to me was burned into my very being. She said four little words to me that changed how I operate in almost every area of my life. She said, "Always act with integrity." Now at the time she was specifically referring to how I should handle a very angry, and bitter ex-husband, but I always strive to be that way in every relationship I have had. Let me tell you, I have had a couple guys do some pretty despicable things to me, they all received their belongings back the same way, washed, folded, and in one piece. For me, that's what feels right. Matter of fact you can ask my friends just how important this is to me and they will likely all think of the same story. I think I'll tell you for fun. One of the more recent relationships I was in involved my ex being here so frequently that he was allotted half of my closet. Long story short, I was under the influence when I found out about an infidelity. My influenced self proceeded to march to the closet and grab all of his clothes and throw them on the balcony. (A few even went right over, but don't worry, my neighbors were nice enough to hang them on my stairs. Humiliated much?) The night turned into a sleep over with several friends really being there for me. However no one was prepared for me to wake up, feeling sick for one thing, and I had a vague recollection of the throwing of the clothes. At 5am I carried all of the clothes back inside, and a day or two later they were all washed and folded. I don't know what a therapist would have to say about this behavior, but for me, it's just what feels right. It's immeasurably important for me to be able to look myself in the mirror and be ok with my actions. Frankly, our actions are the ONLY thing about a break up we can control! 

The reason I am able to tell you what to do and what not to do is because I have done it the hard way so many times. Seriously, my heart is still shaking it's little heart head after the last one. (Forgive me heart, I'm endlessly sorry.) Obviously, you may think I'm full of complete crap and try your luck with some Jack Daniels in the Pajama Stage. More power to you, but I'm not wrong about this. I'm just not. With all my heart I wish I could reach through this screen and hug you and make your hurt go away. I really, truly do. Hurt can be so debilitating, believe me my darlings, I know. I can't fast forward you through this process (although that would be a hell of an invention!)  or I would. It has to run it's course and it will. You absolutely will survive this if you make up your mind to do it! Be your own hero! Place your focus where it belongs, the future, not the past. Stop drowning in despair and surf the waves! I don't want to drag this out much longer because it can be so much to take in all at once, but I want to close with one last thing, but I want you to really be ready for it. Take a deep breath, center, find your zen, whatever....ready? 




You are going to be ok. Again. You are going to be OK! Last time: YOU ARE GOING TO BE OK! Get it? This hurts. This sucks. But, it's not forever, and someday my friends, you absolutely are going to be ok. In fact, you will be more than ok, you will be AMAZING! Now....who wants ice cream?






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Monday, November 18, 2013

Looking Up from Rock Bottom

Alice: How long is forever?
White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.
-Lewis Carrol



Have you every felt that way? Stuck in a moment that may only be a very small portion of time, but to you it feels as if it will last an eternity? The harsh reality in that is if you said yes, it was likely a painful moment, because the happy moments never seem to last long enough. If you're reading this maybe you're experiencing a time like that right now, let me assure you that you are not alone. I don't know what your pain is, but I know pain, and with the exception of a visit to the chiropractor or an aggressive massage therapist, it's not enjoyable. When life seems to have left you broken and empty handed, it's imperative to guard your thoughts. In fact, I believe the length of our pain and helplessness is directly related to our mindset. As always, let's take a look into the life of JFox for explanation...



My Fresh Wound: The conclusion of a 3 year relationship with someone I loved very deeply on a level I had never experienced, who was also my best friend, we'll call him Sam (to protect the innocent). The person I said good morning and good night to every day and who knew me better than anyone on the planet, simply because he was the first person I really let know me. Although the process of closure began slightly earlier for Sam than it did for me, I wasn't even close to being prepared to find out he was already involved with someone new, and that information hurt me far worse than I imagined it would. (Destructive self-talk alert! Am I really that easy to get over? Don't EVEN go there.) The worst part about it is I didn't know how to deal with this type of break-up. You see, regardless if I was the dumper or the dumpee, I've never had a relationship end where I didn't feel a sense of relief knowing that the guy was an asshole or a loser, or something of that nature. Nope not this scenario at all. Neither of us hated the other, quite the opposite in fact, we loved each other very much. Without going into too much detail, I'll just say our relationship was geographically-challenged and call it a day. So you see, I had no justification. It's so much easier to move on from an asshole than a Sam, let me tell you.

Recent Bumps and Bruises: Backstory: I don't have a lot of friends. (There's a backstory to that too, but let's just get through one back at a time). I have two that I'd consider my "best friends" besides Sam. Within the past several months my relationships with both of them were greatly lessened due to circumstances beyond my control. It's no one's fault, it's just life.

Now to many outsiders, this may not seem like a "Rock Bottom," but I assure you my life has plenty of other struggles that don't merit mentioning. However, it is the above mentioned recent occurrences that finally broke me. What's truly amazing about that is that I can specifically think of at least 3 other times in my life where I thought I was in a Rock Bottom state and they don't compare to how I felt just a few weeks ago.

I relied heavily on these three people to keep my head above water when I needed comfort, a laugh, or to feel loved and valued. (Co-dependent much?) The people that I had chosen to depend on in so many ways were no longer available to me as they had been before. In some ways I had never felt more alone. There were a few nights where I held my phone and just stared at it, waiting for who knows what and just let the tears fall. I wanted to call Sam and discuss my lack of communication with my friends, and I wanted to call my friends and grieve over my loss of Sam. Even as I type this I am instantly flooded with hurt because it is so easy to put myself back in those moments. Those forever second moments. Sleep was a constant struggle, because without those comfortable and familiar outlets I allowed myself to internalize everything. My mind was on overdrive and my thoughts affected my mood and attitude. The good news is, this wasn't abnormal behavior for me, and I recognized it pretty quickly. I spent one full day in pajamas forgetting to eat because I had no appetite. One full day of off and on tears and release. One full day of crying to anyone who would listen.
 
   "Jocelyn, pity party of one, your couch is now ready."
   "Thank you what are the specials tonight?"
   "Tonight the chef's specials are a grilled heart shish-ka-bob with a demi whine glaze and a generous portion of bruised ego. For dessert, a break-up √† flamb√© with a scoop of rocky road. Can I offer you drink while you wait?"
   "Sure, I'll have one of each."

So what changed? I didn't gorilla glue my heart back together over night, but I decided to stop the torture. You can read more about that specific process here, right now I want to explain the outcome. In short, I changed my mindset. I thought about every time I had every been hurt and how I always handled it improperly. I realized that for a forever long second I felt like everything had been taken from me, (which is an extreme exaggeration to say the least, but you know how pity parties go), and I gathered I had a few options... I could continue this pity party for awhile, been there done that, have a drawer full of t-shirts. I could attempt to stuff the pain down by finding a male replacement, old habits die hard. I could attempt to numb the pain in several different ways, which usually backfire and lead to drunken phone calls you don't remember having and texts messages you can't unsend. Or, I could accept it for exactly what it is, without an explanation or an acceptable and valid reason, I am in this moment. So I did just that. I stopped asking why, because frankly, I don't think the why exists yet. Sometimes we don't get our whys for a long time, (a forever second). But those un-known whys now, are life's "Ah HA!" moments later. I realized God or the universe (whatever higher power you choose to believe in), was trying to teach me something. I was supposed to feel alone simply because I wasn't comfortable with it. I knew right then, I had work to do.

So, I changed my focus. For the past seven days every time I thought of Sam and felt that horrible feeling like someone is squeezing your insides (and appears to be getting stronger with each heart ache), I made myself think two positive thoughts immediately. Sounds like some sort of cheesy advice from a sitcom therapist, but that's what I did. I refused to allow myself to take a step back without taking two steps forward. Every time I wanted to cry over what I had lost, I made myself think about everything I still have. You want to know what else I did? I made myself mentally list all my strengths, gifts and things I like about myself. For some people, that is a task they do daily, (sometimes I'm amazed with how much people like themselves "bathroom mirror selfie"). For me, it's life's greatest challenge. I used to think I was just extremely humble and that's why it was so difficult for me to accept a compliment. I have discovered that was not the case, but that's a whole other blog entirely.

As my mindset began to change, so did things around me. I found I had people in my life supporting me and cheering me on that I didn't even realize cared so much. I thought about what I wanted my life to be, and what I really wanted to do. Over the past seven days I can't even begin to list everything beautiful that has happened to me, but I want to tell you about the first thing that happened that gave me peace and comfort in knowing I was going to be ok.

Last Sunday ranked pretty highly on my list of the most painful days of my life. However Sunday night, (or early Monday morning if you want to be technical), was when I started changing my mindset.  Backstory: I started this blog over a year ago when I realized I really had been through some shit, and survived. I knew I needed to share my story with people, because if I could help just one person then all my pain, struggles, and hurts weren't for nothing. I didn't yet realize what that meant for my life or how huge of a roll it would play. Monday morning a friend of mine that I had met about a year ago sent me a text. (The beautiful irony- we met because both of our significant others live in the same town. I knew his girlfriend and she asked if I would bring him with me the next time I visited. After several 10 hour round-trips you get to know a person pretty well, and he is a great person.) We hadn't seen or really even talked to each other in a very long time. He had no idea what had been progressing in my life that week or the previous few months. He simply texted me about a photo shoot. (Yes, yes, I'm a jack of all trades, master of none-for now). I was excited for the opportunity to do something positive that I enjoy, but the conversation didn't end there. He said several things that really woke me up and got my ass off of the pity party couch (I passed on dessert just FYI). He told me he had never met someone like me, that I was rare. He told me that he had learned a lot from me and that I helped him become a better version of himself.  I was floored. I looked up-I may have been flat on my face at Rock Bottom five minutes ago, but I was up to my knees now. He then told me that diamonds are made under intense pressure and are in turn, indestructible. That I am the way I am because of what I've been through, not despite it.

You see, he didn't know my pain. He didn't know he would say exactly what I needed to hear, but God did. The next 48 hours were incredible. My wheels began turning and I began to see with such clarity the path laid out before me. In fact, I had been casually walking that path already, I was just too blind to really see the full potential. For years I have had people tell me over and over, "You're one of the strongest people I know," and truthfully I thought it was complete crap. Not in the aspect of them not believing that to be true, but that they didn't know how often I broke down and cried. I didn't feel strong in the least, I just survived like everyone else, and that wasn't enough to make a difference to anyone. However, he said three words that really impacted my life, he said, "You helped me." There was power in that! Yes, I'm broken! Yes, I've failed repeatedly! Yes, my heart aches for a lost love! Yes, I've been dealt a few shitty hands! Yes, I make mistakes! Yes, I still struggle! But, by God I helped someone! Those words lit a fire that won't burn out. Like I said, I could not begin to list every other positive thing that has taken place since I received those texts from him, but I was consistently reaffirmed of two things; A: I was going to be ok. B: I was finally, (finaaaaaaaaallyyyyyyy), on the right track. I have the right people in my life that need to be here and I have everything I need to be happy already inside of me.

Basically it comes down to this, I had to be broken. It was necessary. I needed a mouth full of gravel from the bottom of all the Rock Bottoms to wake me up. Even as I sit here now it occurs to me, I didn't lose everything. Sam isn't gone, he isn't mine, but he never really was. The ways he changed my life are still relevant, hurt doesn't erase that. As for my friends, they are still my friends. Perhaps we don't talk every day, but maybe that's so I can hear my own thoughts more often. Sometimes when we hurt it's just easier to stay in that place. Growth is hard.
   "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." -Albert Einstein (It shouldn't take a genius to figure that out, but in this case....)
The only way we can overcome our struggles is by truly seeking what we are supposed to learn from them. Make your hurt have a purpose as I am doing. I could really have two very different attitudes right now. I could say, "that was the hardest, worst, and most painful week of my life to date," or "that was the best week for my future." You see Rock Bottom isn't a negative thing, not in the least! As I have begun to claw and climb my way back up it is so completely obvious that for me, I had to experience that feeling. I had to be desperate. I had to go through every single emotion I experienced, and feel that lowest low for a forever second. If I hadn't, how could I help those down there? I couldn't, not really, I wouldn't be able to completely understand your pain. Like I said, everyone has different situations that got them there, but the journey back up from the bottom isn't much different. Let's make the climb together shall we?




Check back soon for my next blog-The Three R's to a Better Life.
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