A Case of the Monday’s

Y’all know how I live to over-share. Today is no different than any other day. Excerpt it’s totally different. But not for me. Today was a typical Monday for me. Got to work, excited to start my day. Around 11:00, fall into a hole of self-deprecation. 11:15, feel sad. 11:30, beat myself up a little more. You know, the usual. Oh and by the way, I left my laptop at work so I’m typing this whole thing from my phone. Winning!

You’re probably wondering what in the heck my point is. Y’all know I like to keep you guessing!

It’s about my mom.

This Thanksgiving day, was the first time I have seen her in over a year. If you don’t know the story behind us, I’ll share some of it with you. And YES I ASKED HER FOR PERMISSION. I’m not yelling at you. I’m just making sure you’re paying attention.

My mom is an addict. I never realized it growing up. It was just the life I had become accustomed to. Drugs were never a big deal because they were always around. She would try to “protect” me by lying about it or trying to hide it from me, in true addict-behavior. But I always knew. Even when I wasn’t sure, I didn’t trust her enough to believe her when she said she was sober. Her drug of choice? Anything. I’ve seen her on cocaine. Crack. Pills. Alcohol. LSD. Ecstasy. All of it.

Stop. Don’t start making judgements. We all handle trauma in different ways. And she’s been through a lot. This post isn’t to paint her as the bad guy. It’s to give you insight. And hope.

I had given up hope. I waved my white flag and decided my life would be better without her. I held onto anger, bitterness and resentment towards her for as long as I can remember. When people would speak fondly of their mothers, I would turn up my nose in disgust. I wasn’t familiar with the feelings that came along with having a close relationship with your mom. I was also totally ok with that. Until recently.

My grandfather committed suicide this year. I was blindsided. We were never super close. He was always emotionally unavailable. But he was physically present. When my sister told me this news, my first instinct should have been to call my mom. But instead, I allowed my hurt and confusion to build up and eventually implode. Along with some exploding.

I promise I’m sane.

When he passed, it triggered something on the inside of me. Very slowly, mind you, but it happened. My heart started to feel compassion for my mom again, however, I fought it for a little while. My trust in her was so far removed and all it left behind was emptiness. Something I had gotten so comfortable with feeling that I didn’t even realize it was there until a few weeks ago.

Lori (that’s her name) had moved away this time last year, to a rehabilitation and sober living facility. Not before staying in a homeless shelter and in the hospital for week because she tried to take her own life. You see, she smoked flakka (I had to look it up too). That was what triggered this spiral. But also what saved her life.

Today, I’m so happy and proud to share with you that she’s been clean and sober for a year now. 365 of facing her demons head-on. I can’t think of a day, since I was 15, that she’s been sober an entire day. Let alone a year.

Mom. You are loved. You are strong. Funny. Brave. I’m so proud of you. There are a lot of things about me that I get from you. Some I love. Some I hate. Thank you for giving me strength. Thank you for showing me how painful and ugly life can be. I’m cheering for you every single day. Happy One Year of Sobriety. I love you.

I Couldn’t Think of a Clever Title

I want to give a quick backstory before I get into the meat of this post. In case you didn’t know, in July of 2015, I was pregnant with my son, Elisha. A week before I delivered him, my then-husband was arrested and didn’t come home for 2 years, leaving me to raise our family on my own. I’m not sharing this for sympathy, to play the victim or whatever other negative perception you might be having. I’m only sharing it so I can brag of God’s grace, mercy and goodness in my life.

Fast forward to now. God has shown me so much favor in a short amount of time. The past 3 months, especially. More than I’ve ever had before in my life. When my ex-husband was arrested, I was active in the church. Doing everything I thought I should be doing. But I wasn’t genuinely full of joy. I have lost everything and feel like I have more now than I ever did before. I’m in the process of getting it all back, but not material things. The important things. So why do I have more joy now, with less, than I had when I thought I had everything?

Heartbreak.

It took me losing everything, walking away from God and then being hit so hard in the face with reality that God pulled me back in. Swiftly.

I’ve had my heart broken many times. Very recently, actually. By people. Situations. Circumstances. By my own expectations being too high. I’ve also been the cause of my own heartbreak. I became very bitter and antisocial. I would say whatever it was that I felt with no regard for anyone’s feelings. But that’s not who I am. The truth is, I wear my heart on my sleeve and I allow people to hurt me for a lot longer than I should. I’m also very sensitive. If you knew me during my bartender days, this may come as a shock to you!

God has been showing me things about myself that I don’t like. Change is hard. Growth hurts. I’ve cried more times in the past 3 months than I have in a year. It’s overwhelming to carry all the weight of your family alone. But God has not failed me once. His grace and mercy have sustained me and I feel more grateful now than ever. That’s where the joy comes in. I feel the peace that passes all understanding. Is everything perfect? No. Not even close. Do I struggle with loneliness, anxiety and sadness? Yes. Some days are better than others.

It took everything falling apart in order for it to be put back together, the way God intended it to be. I’m still growing. Still working on changing. Still being put back together, one piece at a time.

My prayer for you is this. That you are grateful, wherever you are in life, so you too can experience the peace that comes with being content. I know trusting Him fully can be scary. But give him the pieces you’re holding onto. He can re-purpose them and sculpt the ashes into His perfect will.

xoxo

A Letter

I’v been reading this book today, Don’t Settle for Safe by Sarah Jakes Roberts. Very rarely have I read a book that impacted my life in such a short amount of time. I will go into more details another time, but I wanted to quote one of the last pages.

Side note, I’ve cried multiple times during the course of reading it. God used it and will continue to use it to propel me to what’s next. At first, I was resistant. Growing hurts. Pruning is painful. You have to look at yourself, for who you really are, and face the things you’ve been ignoring and forgive yourself. Ok. Enough with that. This is taken from page 153-154 of her book titled Don’t Settle for Safe….

             You can no longer afford to trust the treasure that is your heart to anyone who says you’re beautiful. Anyone can admire a diamond, but few recognize the quality and care required to keep it beautiful. For too long your insecurities made you so desperate for attention that you handed over your golden heart to people who’ve only handled glitter. This is not their fault; it’s yours. You ignored the signs, hoping they would wake up one day and see your worth. The truth is it’s time for you to wake up. You can no longer go through life unconsciously hurting yourself and asking someone else to heal you. The power for you to overcome is already inside of you. The longer you stay, the more you deny the strength you have to move on. You’re better than the you’ve subscribed to. There is still beauty inside of you. There’s nothing you’ve lost in this process that can’t be restored, but you must determine how you will spend your grace. Don’t give your patience away to people that will abuse it. Don’t give your courage away to people who don’t understand it. Surround yourself with people who can reciprocate what you pour. Let their validation be an overflow that allows you to touch the lives of other broken people. This is bigger than you. This is about redefining love and esteem in a culture determined to make us feel less than. You are the hero you’ve been looking for. So put on your cape, get off your knees, and stop begging for someone to love you. Love yourself. Seek God and all other things will be added to you. 

I really can’t think of an appropriate response to that. It feels like I should mic-drop and walk away. But I can’t. I know you are hurting. I know you feel lost. I know you listened to the bad things people have said about you and allowed it to take root in your heart. Maybe you’re starting to believe those things. But i’m here to tell you. You are not your past. You are not defined by the things you have done. You have the power to change your trajectory. I know because, while failing over and over again, I’m still here. God still reminds me daily of the things I’m called to do. Don’t let your past weigh you down. Also, don’t repeat the negative things you are or have been ashamed of. I’m talking to myself as much as I’m talking to you. I’ll be the first to tell you my flaws. But I have some locked away in my heart that I’ve recently started dealing with, so healing can take place, and I can be a vessel of love.

Buy this book. It will change your life. But don’t ready it until you’re ready to face some things that will be painful. It’s time to be real with ourselves.

XOXO

Jess