A Collective of memoirs by J.S. about Trauma + Mental Health + Abuse + Healing.
I have a confession.
I HATE the word queen.
I have never had a good relationship with my parents.
My mother was hardly ever sober and she was my residential parent after the divorce.
Sometimes, between blackouts and rage, would come out a fragile voice and tenderness that scared me more than the anger I knew her for.
When someone is constantly abusive, tenderness or kindness feels wrong. Unnatural.
She would call me Queen. And talk about how how I was her Queen.
And I grew up hating it. That fake kindness that would come out to play. It almost felt supernatural when that persona met with me.
And that word, it felt foreign.
What did it even mean to her?
Surely there was not a "human" part of her soul hiding beneath the illness, the anger, the alcohol.....
I grew up around girls who had moms that were their best friends.
Mine tried attacking me while drunk on the regular. Mine did not talk to me about life or boys or behaviors or habits. Mine did not warn me about the bad people.
People like her.
Unstable. But calculated.
She was not abusive or bullying towards me out of lack of willpower.
She knew what she was causing, she would see it in my eyes and my body language.
She would gas light and manipulate.
Guilt me. Gift me things I didn't want or need, that she charged and we could not afford. Then lay all the stress and problems on me.
Many episodes of alcohol and anger went forgotten because she maintained a buzz constantly and then would get so drunk I saw a void in her eyes.
This was my home life for years. 16.
Until I became pregnant with my h.s. bf and she kicked me out. Threw me out with nothing. And then changed the locks.
The only texts and calls I got thereafter have been incoherent or angry or illegible.
I'll never forget when she texted me 5 years later telling me she had a baby cradle and baby items in my bedroom. My childhood bedroom that she was still "cleaning" every season and keeping as is for me to return home.
With "baby queen".
The child she told me to abort.
The pregnancy she shamed me and abandoned me with, not minding that a family member on my birth fathers side had to take me in.
I never did return.
Or so I told myself.
For 12 years I disassociated with a memory that I unblocked this summer.
After I began my healing journey in May of this year, I began to practice shadow work and sit with myself to unlock deep seeded issues that were giving me nightmares.
Every dream was the same.
I was an adult, with my daughter being a toddler again, and I was TRAPPED in my childhood bedroom. Trying to figure out how to escape and get my baby girl who she had locked somewhere else in the house.
Nightmares of my mother trying to kill me slowly with torture and mental games.
Nightmares of trying to run and getting out the front door with such elation, only to turn back GREEN faced realizing my toddler was still prisoner inside and I could no longer see a front door.
So I dove into my memories right on my couch. And I journeyed through memories, going back to after the birth of my daughter.
I then remembered a day I went to visit with the baby. And ended up being coehersed into sleeping over with my month old child.
I remembered drunk fist fighting at 1 am.
I remembered bugs in my bed and dust on the furniture.
I remembered breastfeeding my newborn and crying on the floor. Sleeping with her in my arms on hard wood.
I remembered calling my aunt [who'd taken me in] the next day to come get me.
I remembered stealing my social security card and other documents from her bedroom closet in secret while my aunt distracted her in the living room.
These were vital documents so I could as a minor apply for financial aid, a bank account, school, medical insurance, and have proper I.D. for my new life without parents. And I achieved it.
I blocked out that memory of sleeping over, of my child crying hard when she held her, of the sleepless night when I heard China breaking and cursing until after 3am.
But the worst pain was the mistake I had made right before leaving those doors for good.
I had left baby clothing behind that had spit up on it.
8 months later my mother had that clothing in a bag and photographs of it sprawled out in my room along with other baby things I'd never seen before.
I had brought her and my birth father, who'd abandoned me at 15 to drugs, to court. At 17 years old with a 9 month old baby, I testified against all 3 guardians: my mother, her husband, and my father.
And though Ieft with freedom legally from them all, I had a heavy heart. No abuse charges were founded. No proof on my end was substantial enough to hold the case.
On their end my mother presented photographs of my room all clean and a full fridge of food [which was never the case], baby items in various places of the room and fresh laundry folded.
The pictures were dated and used as valid evidence to prove they supplied a loving, safe home that I was welcome back to with my child any time I wanted.
I declined and thankfully, lawfully was not able to be forced.
THIS IS NOT THE CASE IN EVERY STATE.
I realized I had blocked those memories because of how painful and shameful it was to have my own parent put me in such a bad position, this time affecting my own child.
And i rejected the memory of putting my own baby in danger because I was so upset about it.
Our brains are that powerful. We can rewrite, rewire or erase memories all together just to protect ourselves.
Until we unlock the memories and suddenly connections are made.
And Pandora's box is unleashed.
I remembered that my boyfriend during college called me his Queen during a vulnerable moment he had, promising to propose and get an apartment with me. Something I had wanted to have because we were dating for years and I had a child already + a future to plan out.
One that would not wait for him.
So he pulled out what cards he could to keep me.
For another year and a half I believe I stayed, until he left me finally via text announcing his affair with someone else.
I realized that QUEEN again meant prisoner.
It did not mean royal or special or strong.
And it was bestowed upon me by a person close to me who had no intention of keeping me.
Instead, I was cut loose and ghosted thereafter.
4 years just gone.
We are not supposed to view experiences as wasted or unwanted.
We learn best through struggles and overcoming challenges.
Overcoming abuse is not a life obstacle.
It is a deterrent from living life.
It is a prison cell.
A nightmare in which you feel trapped over and over again.
Even long after you are safe.
Starting Jaded Savior blog taught me so much about myself.
My spiritual healing journey has taught me, through light and shadow work, that my duality of good and bad qualities come from abuse.
That I am inauthentic.
Or rather, void of identity and self esteem.
How could this have happened?
When women call eachother queen on the internet, it is the absolute best compliment.
It is a symbol of sisterhood and support.
When I am called queen, I shrivel.
It does not empower me.
But that trigger comes from abusers programming me to lose my identity.
To create one for me.
As it turns out, I have not known myself.
The traits I thought were me were symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The good news is, I AM NOT MY ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION.
I AM NOT TRAUMA.
I am also not lost or lacking of identity.
Beneath the layers of experiences is who I AM TO BECOME.
I once was a JADED SAVIOR.
Someone chronically wanting to save everybody but myself.
It wasn't until I left abuse through awareness and action that I was able to become something new.
Not a Queen.
Not a Savior of the Narcissists and Sociopaths.
A path forger.
A dark sorter.
A light bringer.
J.S. Jaded Savior
art by lindsayrappgallery.com
Some days I look in the mirror and as soon as I am about to say:
"I am a good person with a good heart"
, my mind imposter swoops in and says things like:
"No you're not. You manipulate. You pretend to be happy. You pretend to be good. You are the problem."
Growing up and living with my mother after the divorce, I was told almost daily how bad I was.
I "deserved" and I "earned" whatever I got.
I got sent to my room or punished for anything.
One time I could not find a dog spoon so I was grounded for 3 months to my room. Right before summer break. I watched everyone else run around outside on the block playing. I was 11. And my mother hid the spoon.
Growing up with a narcissist who had mental health issues and addictions made me think I was crazy for "imagining" abuse.
It took me years after moving out to justify it.
I remember as an adult with 2 kids, having her text me after years acting "calm and normal". She spelled correctly and she was asking me coherent questions like an old "friend" catching up. She even sent a picture to me of "us" from her "wallet" which was an awkward AF pic of me all skinny and pale, with the worst expression on my face.
The face of an abused kid. A broken kid.
And I remembered there how she would manipulate, taunt, and shove her fingers into my wounds.
She would yell to get me crying and then tell me all I do is cry. That babies cry.
I now know at 29 that, yes, it was abuse. Yes, she was and IS an addict. Actively still.
She was and IS mentally ill without medication or intervention.
She was and IS not in my life for those reasons.
I made it my boundary this past May to block her out of my life for good. 12 years post moving out. Which I still phrase it as such even though I was thrown out and she changed the locks within that week. I was 16 and pregnant. And "ruining her life".
It was ALWAYS my fault.
Projection. Gas lighting. Manipulation. Black outs. The rollercoaster of being in a relationship that is volatile and unstable for anyone, but especially a child.
I have had to reparent myself and educate my inner child as well as the adult I now am.
The adult body I feel trapped in when I stare into the mirror.
I cannot believe I am a good person.
Not because i think i am actually a liar.
But because her voice became louder than my own.
Her voice was built on irrationality, addictions, unhealthy expectations, violated boundaries, and chemical altering of each mood she slid smoothly into like a greased up mouse.
I have to teach myself the difference.
I do have rational thoughts.
I am powerful AF.
I have survived by making phone calls, doing research, making plans, executing them, creating solutions from nothing.
I have always grown on my own account. In my own way.
Every hardship ever has been tackled.
I have a strong spirit and I KNOW IT.
So did she.
I have realized over the years that I am hard to contain.
I have BIG ENERGY.
I love to play big when not held back.
But I've let abusive people sneak in and hold me back. "Because they needed me."
And every need, whether fulfilled or not, was ridiculed.
But that was all I knew about "love".
How to please and be hurt in return.
Now I have tools to accompany my strength.
And metaphorical scissors.
I am now a woman unbound.
No more being held back.
And self doubt also holds me back.
Irrational fears bind me from being more.
I will no longer entertain the notion that I am not good.
My truths are being told because so many of you have a voice inside telling you the bullshit that keeps you bound up by trauma.
Cut it loose now.
It is time.
Because now you have the ability to know better.
J.S. Jaded Savior
2012 wore a face like hell.
A face of a girl whose boyfriend had secret texts from his exs.
A face of a girl who cried between classes, alone in a cafeteria in college.
A face of a girl who mourned a loss she could not tell anyone about that ached her heart and soul.
A face of a girl who felt lost in her purpose + mission in life.
She was struck with depression often but did not know its name yet. So she just thought she had shitty outlooks on life.
This girl was riding on the aftermath of abuse and picking out people in her life that presented the treatment she had grown up with, but she called it all love.
She did not know what love actually looked like or sounded like.
Especially when all she heard constantly were the utterances from chronically negative people who thought future planning was pointless because the world was full of disappointments and did not provide joy without a cost.
A cost not worth paying.
This girl did not think her peaks of happiness and creativity were an answer to any questions she was begging between panic attacks as she planned her next schedule and semester.
She did not know creativity was worth something.
That people would pay in appreciation and validation, much less money to hear her thoughts.
She did not know that calling out an abuser or setting a boundary was a normal behavior.
Boundaries were just complaints told on deaf ears. And only b*tches complained.
I wish I could have met this girl in 2012.
I wish I could have told her that her spirit was actually empowerment and that her urge to read inspiring books would lead to a complete breakdown and reassessment of the things she had ever known.
That everything she knew was toxic and her intuitive urges to check those texts came from being around the wrong people, not being the wrong person.
I really want to tell her that she was worthy.
She was worthy of being someone's first choice.
She was worthy of that internship she self sabotaged.
She was worthy of the twirls and spins she did in dance class, wearing converse in a sea of heels because she could not afford dance shoes.
She was worthy of feeling like a good, no a great mom. Because at 21 she was holding keys to her own place and paying all her bills.
At 21, while peers complained about their moms calling too often and the toilet paper being crappy at their jobs, this girl was hustling to feed a toddler and taking public bus 6 times a day total to get the little one to and from daycare in between classes and work.
This girl had a home she attained on her own and a job she found on her first day of College.
This girl was ACTUALLY a go getter who just had anxiety and PTSD.
So the tears and overwhelm were totally acceptable.
The broken friendships and the takers who she surrounded herself with sometimes were ALSO products of abuse.
Because she attracted people who also dealt with hardships in life.
And that was not a burden AT ALL.
It was actually the start of her future career. An inkling that Social Work and Social Justice might actually be good fits.
Or at least her placement between healing and empowerment would be set, with the title "Jaded Savior" on the header of her future plans.
J.S. JADED SAVIOR
My truths look different than the truths other family members have in my family.
Everyone is affected differently by Trauma.
And not everyone in the family gets abused by the abuser.
In fact, it can be common for one person to be singled out while everyone else is unaware of it.
Narcissistic people often surround themselves by adoring fans in order to not raise suspicions and successfully gas light TF out of their victim.
I was in abusive, volatile situations my first 16 years of life.
It took me years after to ACTUALLY, cognitively, process what had happened.
To come to terms with definitions like addict, narcissist, schizophrenic etc. To gain validation from actual medical professionals once both parents of mine went into the hospital for near death experiences due to their addictions.
My father was found nearly dead from a heroin overdose. He was brought into the hospital and soon after admitted into a long term in-patient program.
My mother had seizures and passed out during Thanksgiving in front of her siblings and parents, having an ambulance take her out. She was admitted only a few days then sent home. Alcohol poisoning and problems with her body.
I had called the hospital when my mother went in. I let them know I was her only child and that she was an addict, so medications should be provided with caution.
They ignored it.
Both of my parents began drinking and doing drugs in their early teens.
I would figure out decades later that they both suffered from abuse since childhood and mental health issues, without any diagnosis or treatments until they began self medicating and got harmed by it.
Common for people struggling with mental health issues, such as bipolar and schizophrenia, each of them did not actually know what was wrong with themselves until they were very deep in dangerous symptoms of their conditions.
No one in my family ever talked to me about their conditions or their addictions.
In fact, my mother was often just eye rolled at when she peeled off the foil seal of a new bottle at a holiday dinner or even a get together.
"There goes Cathy, drinking again" was the closest I ever heard to anyone pointing out a bad behavior, though sharp tongued as to say it was as annoying and typical as nail biting. And soon after, discarded as a lost cause.
I remember how much anxiety I felt whenever my mother, who had residential custody of me, took me to family events.
My father on the other hand did not want to see his family as the years went on. He cut them all off. He even cut off his childhood best friend. His girlfriends. And then finally me.
I remember wishing other people could see what I saw.
I wanted someone to say something to both of them. To call them out on their problems. But when it did not happen, I felt crazy.
Had I imagined everything to be worse than it was?
After all, both of my parents were adults and bought their substances with their own money. They both held jobs. They both had relationships. And relatives who still wanted to invite them to things.
I often thought I earned it. That I must have been a bad kid. So bad my parents did not want any more. So bad, they divorced. So bad that I was punished often because I was not living up to their standards.
My mother would do this thing whenever we saw my cousins. Any cousins from any side of the family. She would let me play with them. Let me get messy. Let me run around laughing and having a good time.
Then the whole car ride home, she would talk about how messy I was. How loud I was.
How I was not "as smart as", "as pretty as", "as obedient as".
I was a bad girl. A fresh girl who liked to talk back. A girl who ripped her tights and wrinkled her dress because she did not care to be polite or neat.
When my father took me from my mother to go to an event or play date, he actually brought me rugged Jean's + t shirts. I dressed down and took my hair loose. I went out in the yard. I got dirty.
Then I would get dropped off home and face the ridicule of a lifetime for looking and smelling the way I did.
They knew each other like warning labels --- there was no way it was accidental, this exchange of a pawn. A checkmate between dirt and clorox.
When I reflect now, I have a whirlwind of emotions.
At 29, I still ask myself sometimes if I "imagine to be worse than it was".
I also have to sit with the fact that not everyone in my family experienced the same behaviors or abuse from my parents.
That to some, it looked like I had a normal childhood.
My parents were both high functioning. And their Jekyl/Hyde personalities fooled a lot of people.
There were other abusers in my families. All 3 families, since my mother was remarried by the time I was 6.
I knew narcissists, emotionally and physically abusive members, other addicts, and even a pedophile.
I was sure of it.
In my silence, I also grew up hyper vigilant.
I carry guilt for not being able to expose those truths.
And pain for all the enablers or people who just kept a blind eye for convenience.
But something very important I discovered this year changed my life.
MY TRUTHS ARE THE TRUTH.
For me, the experiences were REAL.
They happened to me.
It was not an illusion.
And I AM SURE of what is healthy v.s. not.
So what helps me through these struggles?
The FACT that I KNOW RIGHT V.S. WRONG.
I know what abuse looks like, from education and awareness.
Even though I no longer live in those toxic situations, I still relive the memories.
But this time, I am able to process the guilt and pain.
To justify how I felt and what it all did to me.
And I can release the thoughts I have about anyone else I grew up around.
I can tell myself that everyone has their own experience.
I have to accept that some people loved the abusers in my families'.
That some people loved and love my parents.
I have to detach from the notion that my family has to validate the abuse in order to validate that I experienced it.
It is not true or necessary.
So I release it all.
Anyone else's feelings or examination of my truths.
I also stay introspective because that is healthy.
I had to make that boundary myself.
To ONLY THINK ABOUT MY OWN EMOTIONS and not try to process or control anyone else's.
It is true that some people do not have the same truths or realizations I do.
But just because someone else was not abused like I was, by the same person, does not mean that person was not abusive.
A narcissist is still a narcissist and an abuser is still an abuser.
IF SOMEONE DOES SOMETHING UNHEALTHY AND IMMORAL TO SOMEONE ELSE, EVEN JUST ONE VICTIM, IT ABSOLUTELY MAKES THEM WRONG.
Toxic is toxic.
And no one else can speak for me to say I was not abused.
No one else was there, but even if they had been ------> someone else having a lack of capacity or awareness of what is right and wrong should not affect in any way what I know to be right or wrong.
And even if no one else is able to have the same realizations I have, it is my job alone to create my own boundaries.
To keep myself safe.
I have had to keep my safety and distance ---> not just for myself but for my children.
I have had to break the cycle of abuse by deeming it not okay to be around addicts or abusive people EVER.
I have to be able to live with my own decisions.
And I can, every single day that I choose HEALTHY in order to break the cycle.
J.S. Jaded Savior
#christmas #joy #trauma #anxiety #depression #cptsd #healing
12 years ago, I had a 3 week old baby sick with what I feared might be pneumonia. I was 17 years old and on holiday break after giving birth the weekend of Thanksgiving.
I lived with my Aunt and Uncle [plus their four little kids + my nana] after being thrown out by my mother at 3 months pregnant that May.
I started my whole life from scratch.
Changed towns, homes, schools, friends, became single from my 2+ yr h.s. relationship.
Left the parents who'd abused me and neglected me for 16 years.
In my new High School I was treated HUMANELY.
The kids were all nice to me.
The teachers were so helpful and accommodating.
People looked me in the face and conversed with me about my pregnancy. My own gym teacher asked me to keep a pregnancy diary and log my nutrition as credit.
Even though I had no belongings from my parents' house, I had grown out of my size 00 pants and xs tshirts. My body had changed and adapted to my pregnancy coming in at 118 lbs by birth. Which was the healthiest my body had ever been.
I was badly malnourished while living with my mother and i had a horrible binge habit + sugar addiction.
FUN FACT: The body converts alcohol to sugar, which causes a spike in blood sugar levels. When alcoholics quit drinking, their blood sugar levels drop, and they develop sugar cravings.
My mother was an addict and alcoholic since her teen years. By the time I was born, there was no chance of her getting clean safely on her own. She barely cooked but we always had sugary foods in the house as well as a fully stocked globe bar next to her seat in the living room.
I am 29 and still have a sugar addiction.
I feel sick when I eat sweets and even more sick when I don't.
I am majorly addicted to drinking milk every single day, especially late at night.
All milk has sugar in it.
It took me until this year, when awakening from major disassociation, to realize my sugar cravings were due to my childhood.
To realize addiction did pass on to me in an unexpected way.
After I had my daughter, holding her felt like my whole world paused every time she stared back up at me.
I had FOUGHT to keep her.
I had sought out a pregnancy confirmation at Planned Parenthood, via bus I took after school with quarters from my moms coin bucket in the hall closet.
I had walked to the hospital clinic in our town to see a doctor for the heartbeat and first sonogram visit. Spoke with a social worker and applied for Medicaid under the precursor that I was now a medically emancipated minor due to carrying a child. I took care of it all discretely and responsibly because that was what I had to do in order to act like an adult.
Like a mother.
I had worn over sized shirts and unbuttoned by shorts, dove into the bathroom to puke between classes and once during an auditorium presentation for drug safety. I kept that expanding belly and my aching breasts a secret because I was afraid, with good reason, that my child would be taken from me.
She was my entire world from the moment I got those pink lines. Because love overpowers fear like the brightest light in the darkest galaxy.
So seeing her frail little 6lb body struggling to breathe and coughing felt like a tractor trailer was parked on my chest.
We went into the hospital Christmas eve.
I watched as SIX NURSES had to hold her body down to get a catheter and IV into her tiny body. While she cried like a tiny little blinded kitten looking for it's mommy.
We spent her first Christmas in there, me watching her receive medications intravenous and get breathing treatments.
I slept on the chair next to her, which really meant I sat perched watching her chest move up and down all night long. Listening to the emergency room peeps and alerts, watching nurses scuffle around and nervous parents get escorted into little beds and curtain spaces like ours.
It turned out to be a bad cold and was treated early enough to not develop into something more serious. Her lungs were clear and the fluids helped her tremendously.
At about 5 am, a jingling of bells startled some of us parents and the sound of HO, HO, HO, echoed through the children's wing.
Suddenly Santa emerged with 2 elves, carrying a HUGE red sack of beautifully wrapped Christmas gifts.
EVERY SINGLE PARENT AND CHILD RECEIVED A WARM HUG OR PAT AND A GIFT.
While the older children giggled and squealed at their gifts, I knew my baby would not know anything different. So I asked Santa to take ours back for someone else in need.
But he still hugged me and insisted i keep the gifts.
☆ A hand made quilt with stars and a crescent moon that smiled.
☆ A hand knit baby hat and booties.
☆ A talking puppy toy.
☆ A musical baby toy.
I wept as I held her presents and watched the nurses care for her in ways I couldn't.
And I felt so guilty receiving anything while sitting alone there with my baby.
But it was so beautiful that someone had decided to walk around doing this for the parents.
It was for us just as much as the kids. Maybe more.
I felt like we hadn't deserved anything.
I thought things like "she wasn't that sick".
"It isn't that bad". "She is taking from others".
But what I now know I felt...
I felt small.
Smaller than her.
Too small for joy or tradition.
To small for recognition or appreciation.
To small for that hug or that giddy excitement to see Santa.
I felt like a bad mom because I'd taken her out twice that week and then she was sick.
I felt bad because my family I was staying with were a REAL family with a mom + dad and their kids.
All preparing for Christmas.
All being a normal, married traditional family.
While I was a 17 year old abandoned by everyone including the partner I'd made her with.
At that time, his mother was MIA and angry about it all. His father had come to see us Christmas eve unexpectedly and with a few gifts. But realizing the baby was sick, decided to drop us and leave us at the hospital children's emergency center. My ex decided to leave us completely.
He had shown up at her birth thanks to his father after none of them were involved the entire pregnancy. After no one had helped me with anything.
The two guys, father and son, had peaked at my brand new baby and then left.
I realize now I felt completely broken.
Who was I to be able to care for this baby?
To do it all alone?
To be an adult already when I was just a kid.
I'd been an adult since the first time my mother trashed the kitchen and left to ride some guys motorcycle. I was in second grade.
In fact, when I'd gotten beaten up in kindergarten by a boy and stood up for myself ---> I think that was the first time I crossed over the child border and into something else entirely.
For 17 years I had been beaten and bullied and abandoned.
I felt it was only fitting for me to have a sick baby in the hospital on Christmas. That I deserved it.
And she didn't.
That guilt did not really leave me for years.
My mind just filed the report into a metal cabinet, marked "unfit" in the category "medical".
I filled those cabinets in that office for years.
I've heard people talk about having a mind mansion.
I have a mind office.
I've written about it before.
And I picture it so vividly, as I now visit it to retrieve old cases and documents.
All the dark shadows of my past and the harbored guilt.
Those swarming shadows are the keepers of that office.
And the reason I feel in the dark often.
I feel still this immense "not enoughness".
But I'm learning it was just the mistake of a young girl who was not taught any better.
Trauma gave me a cool, dry place to store my problems in.
But I'm ready to clean house.
To clear out all those cabinets and shelves that clutter my mind, body and soul.
I have emotional and physical pain because of my experiences.
The holidays reveal major triggers for me because I never knew how to process those bad experiences so I just tucked them away.
Micromanaged the clean sweep and put myself on autopilot.
12 years I've raised my baby girl and I still struggle with feeling worthy of her.
She is my whole world.
And now my world has expanded.
I have three beautiful babies that daily I cannot believe are mine.
That I'm so lucky I have a little family of my own now.
And I get to be Santa for them, along with my husband.
I have a HUSBAND.
And what that means to me, in the person I chose, is I have a best friend to care for this beautiful nest of babies with.
Together we get to make NEW memories.
I am reminded now that I have always done the best I could.
And I was every bit a good mom.
Because I never treated my daughter like a biological burden like my mother treated me.
I am grateful now that I can wake up Christmas morning with my kids and my partner.
Yesterday I just leaped and hugged him really tight mid conversation.
He is an anchor to the present.
When I spiral with flashbacks or get stuck in a deep emotional gust of self loathing, I quickly reach my arms out for the reminders close to me.
I hug my kids or my husband. And I instantly feel my soul + body come back into place.
My whole world, centered.
I remember that I am HERE in the NOW.
And that my memories do not define me.
The love and effort I show now DOES.
2019 has made me remember I am a survivor.
I have endured so much and still kept getting up.
Now it's time for me to Rise.
♡ J.S. Jaded Savior.
#christmas #addictions #trauma #homeless #abuse #neglect #awareness
Today is my birth fathers birthday and I have no idea how old he is. Though I know his birthday, I don't care to do the math.
In many ways, it feels like his life ceased many years ago.
At least, for me.
As an only child, I grew up bouncing between divorced parents and had two entirely different relationships with them.
Cathy had full custody which meant she could dangle me over Charlie's head like a cat toy, while her hostile husband watched with scissors hanging low to his side.
Charlie did pills and heroine. On and off he tried to get clean throughout my childhood but it just never quite "stuck". No one in my family ever uttered the words mental illness.
It would take years and years after he abandoned me at 15 for him to overdose on heroine and be found unconscious only to be revived in the emergency room and sent to an 18 month program.
But rehab didn't stick either.
In my mid twenties, while raising my little girl as a single mom in college, I discovered he was in that program and finally diagnosed.
Schizophrenia, I was told. Mania. Depression.
Organ failures. Addictions. "Accidental overdose".
I was pretty sure it was very on purpose.
I cannot stomach the show "shameless".
My father is every bit of FRANK minus the hunger for cash.
He longs for appreciation and attention, apparently.
So Charlie kept himself constantly talking about anything to make himself sound good.
Charlie never got high in front of me.
Just like I never knew what high looked like, until I saw him at 16.
After Cathy and her husband told me to "go find my father" when I announced my pregnancy.
So I walked 3 towns in rubber flats and morning sickness in the summer heat to locate him.
All I knew at the time was his last job address, so I tried there.
The whole walk I stomped angrily and replayed the last voice mail I had sent him, about a year prior.
He had been jealous and angry that I was dating.
That his 15 year old CHILD had a boyfriend and that he was no longer getting "listened to" or "seen as much".
I remember screaming at him in the snow around 11 pm because Cathy had been black out drunk and done something horrible.
So I ran out and called him what felt like 100 times to pick me up because I was scared. And only in pajamas.
But he didn't -- No, he wouldn't, answer.
So I chewed him out in the allotted 4 minutes that answering machine allowed and I thanked him so very much for abandoning me when I needed him. And for not even having the decency to end our relationship with an apology.
Because he simply stopped showing up for weeks. And then months went by.
And every Saturday that i cried in his absence, Cathy made sure to rub the sand in my eyes.
Their entire relationship after the divorce had simply been a contest of who would build a better sandcastle.
Frank Gallagher reminds me of Charlie because he has only one commitment in this world. And that is to himself.
Though I am the only surviving child of his, I paid dearly for years as he lived in his own mind.
It did not matter finding out an actual diagnosis for Charlie.
I spent my childhood idolizing an addict who was childlike and had a broken personality.
Several of them actually.
When I arrived at his job the day I told him I was pregnant, I met one of them eye to bumper.
His problem solving method of discovering I was pregnant was to get in his big work truck and start the engine in my direction --- His eyes yellow and raging like a rattled snake.
He did not see me, but beyond me, that moment.
It did not give me relief to know he was also homeless.
For years actually.
The day after the episode at his job, the 4 brothers who owned the company and had daughters my age fired him.
They had been absolutely mortified at what Charlie did.
So he spent years after on the streets. Doing god knows what.
He then lived with a woman for a while and "helped" with her triplet teenagers.
One of them contacted me and we even met up at the mall.
As it turns out, we had something major in common.
We both hated Charlie.
After we met, I never heard from her again.
But I put to rest any ounce of sadness or curiosity I had of his existence. He was real shit to them. And did nothing to actually help provide or be a "dad".
But it was one of those things that just put the cherry on top.
He'd told them Cathy wouldn't let me talk with him.
He had made himself out to be a helpless hero who was stripped of his own child.
He had told them stories about me, ones he wouldn't have known ---> unless he made them up.
The breadcrumbs he had gotten out of my Nana that I was in college and a young parent, he used to his advantage.
Everything was always to make him look good.
To pass as sane.
He was back out on the streets not long after I met her.
Again on drugs. Homeless and jobless.
I found out last year he had been hospitalized for a heart attack. Twice. Also a stroke. Organ problems.
Still not wanting to seek help.
He had been brought in because someone called 911.
And like a FRANK, he made sure to take photos to soak up the "are you oks?"
He then reached out to me via social media.
He had a prepaid phone and would use Facebook to connect with old friends + distant relatives.
So he wanted to connect with me.
And when I WOULD NOT give him one -- yes, he meant me -- he got hostile.
But within a few weeks time and messages between us, I tried to be calm + patient.
It had been so many years and I was now married with 3 kids. In a safe space. Grown.
I thought I would handle it just fine.
Try my best to rationalize his mental illness. His addictions.
Not seek out a father. Or a friend.
Just accept this person and situation for what it was and trail away silently after.
But all the drama and stories came rolling back in.
The gas lighting.
The guilt games.
The clear delusions that I now knew were part of his sickness.
So I tried my best to do what I thought was "being a bigger person".
Over the years, on and off I'd wanted to reach out.
I can't tell you exactly what it was I wanted.
I did not "miss my daddy".
Growing up he had acted like a big child.
He would converse with me like so and want to hang out like we were friends catching up.
He was messy and dirty, often quick to snap or explode from confrontation of any kind.
He was poor but he made damn sure to let me know who made him that way.
What was everyone else's fault.
I'd heard years worth of why everyone abandoned him.
He would also ask me advice with women. He dated quite a few throughout my 15 yrs of him.
And each time they hated me + wanted him to move away with them. Then dropped him out on the street shortly after with nothing.
"Just like my mother did".
I learned from a young age that daughter meant "emotional consultant", "psychiatrist", "bullshit buyer", "punching bag".
He never hit me. In fact, he never hit anyone in his life besides the one hit that ended his marriage to Cathy, after he finally snapped at her for all she had done.
But I also learned young that words hurt much much more than hits. And so do "no show, no call" waits at the window.
I tried my best last year, before starting my blog or tackling my own emotional issues.
I hadn't thought into healing or facing my trauma yet.
I thought years passing meant healing.
That "time healed all wounds", because that's what trauma victims are told.
Go on. Laugh with me.
I was wrong.
It was painful to talk with him.
When he would be nice and friendly, I felt safe to keep talking.
When he would tell me the great details of his life, I felt pity. And sadness.
He was homeless, living for years on the streets in his favorite town.
A town his parents loved when he was little.
A town he had brought me to for years, when I was a kid.
So many fond memories had been since tainted by truth but were in that place.
Like a ghost, he wandered those streets and "built a life" as he puts it.
Playing his guitar on the streets.
He was doing something amazing, he said.
Charlie told me he was playing guitar for the youths of the town. And the great people at Starbucks.
He was talking with a youth leader at the local church theater program and would soon be teaching music.
A homeless man with addictions, health problems and no education or training what so ever.
He swore to this and said they all told him how amazing and talented he is. That he would be such a high value to the program.
And that this would be his big break.
So I said ok.
I kept the line open.
He soon asked how I was and how my kids were. Hesitant, I replied and told him my kids were well. That I was fine. And happy.
He said things like "you are so smart" and "you are so beautiful" to compliment where I was at in life.
He told me he was going to make slingshots for my sons.
And that one day we should plan to meet.
I knew I was brushing off something I should say NO to.
And I knew some children of addicts spent their whole life caring for their parent + not leaving them in spite of the abuse.
But I vowed to never live my life for my parents.
So when each let me go, it was just as necessary for me to let go of them.
To let adults live with the consequences of their own actions. To let sick people be sick if it was of their own choosing.
I was not aware of definitions like Trauma or Disassociation then.
I only knew the life of addicts and what mental illness looked like when it came knocking at my door for something.
Shortly after, Charlie announced via Facebook that he was in love and dating.
As a homeless addict, he was dating what Facebook checked out to be an 18 yr old high school senior.
He told me, searching for a congrats, and then told me she was a celebrities cousin. And she loved his music.
That she was in love with him too.
Days later he would message me again, this time asking for dating advice. Wanting to know my thoughts because as he put it "I was wise in this area".
Me, his child who dated way too young -- got pregnant and abandoned at 16 -- then dated an abusive sociopath for years mixed in with several NARCS in between.
His adult, legally emancipated and fed up daughter.
He wanted to know if they should have sex already or wait.
At that point, my head spun.
I was blinded by anger. We begun to argue via messages and I thought to myself "Why in the hell did I let myself even begin the contact with him?"
What I really needed to ask myself was why do I expect an unhealthy person to be healthy?
What would make me think that someone in his position could be any different without the help or the rehab? Without long term rehabilitation.
Longer than 18 months?
Longer than the few years he spent as a teen living at a facility after his father died...
He had been sick his whole life.
And I answered the door every single time chaos knocked.
And then scolded it for ruining the party.
I ended the connection that day. I blocked him and made sure to vent after about my feelings to my partner, whom I feel safe to confide in.
I felt shame, more than anything else.
Every year I had felt hurt. Not by the man who existed but for the man who never did.
I never had a real father figure.
I had something no one inherently wants.
Weeks later I would come to find out he was on the news and articles were published online.
He had robbed a car of Christmas gifts right in the driveway and the owner tackled him down til the cops came.
Today, one year ago, he thought it would be a brilliant idea -- while high -- to steal someone's gifts.
I don't know why but that article made me weep deeply.
Not for him.
Maybe for me.
Maybe just for the situation.
The idea that Charlie was and will always be a FRANK.
I decided to Google his name in May, when I was forming my blog and diving head first into what "trauma" actually looked like.
Charlie had been in the news twice.
Once as a criminal, once as a hero.
A duality shining light on his illness.
In the other article, he was interviewed about planned development of his beloved town.
"despite the project providing new income and growth for the small city, some residents are opposed to the project. [Name removed for privacy] is a street performer and aspiring actor in Glen Cove. For thirty years, he drove a tow truck until a heart attack forced him to retire. He feels that the redevelopment has some benefits but is more of a money grab."
I've wanted to talk about that article since discovering it.
To write about mental illness and its many faces.
I wanted to share with you how is got angry and commented on the news blog that they were incorrect and had quoted a homeless criminal. And actually got the comments shut off.
I was pissed. Again.
I realize only now that Charlie was a pain point in my life long after he left it because I lacked awareness and education of what he was and what I was for experiencing it all.
The flashbacks, the nightmares, the panic attacks.
The PTSD I did not know I had.
Outside of myself, the things wrong about his behaviors and the decisions he made...
He was not acting like a healthy adult because he isn't one.
He is likely going to leave this world in the same condition.
I've struggled with how to write about Charlie because I think people need to know what it feels like to be raised by addicts. To have a father that had an amazing father. Who then died suddenly. And left his family of 5 in poverty and extreme depression.
My father hovers around that beloved town like a ghost from haunted hill, repetitive in his steps and cyclical in his down fall.
It was his fathers favorite place.
In many ways, my father left this world when his father did. Emotional stability cracked.
He swears the day my grandpa passed he saw him in the mirror saying goodbye.
He knew before the telephone rang and my Nama dropped to her knees in grief that his father had left the world.
He said he told him.
Spiritual or practical, what I feel about that story is that my 14 year old father took the wheel.
And has been driving on autopilot ever since.
Drugs numbed and blurred the memories that haunted him but all he ranted about for years was the way everyone would abandon him.
How everyone always left.
14 year old Charlie was devastated.
And no one was equipped to notice.
I want to write about my experiences to raise awareness.
To invoke all different emotions.
There is no one and no right way to feel.
Not as the victim of someone else's abuse.
Not as the child who played psychiatrist to her parents.
Not as the grown woman who now has to get educated and understand what mental illness and addiction does to the brain, body, and soul.
All the while still feeling angry at the man who only ever let her down.
If everyone else idolizes their hero father but you loath him, does that make you wrong? Unaware? Apathetic?
When you are the abused person and you do not see the ailments, just the abuser --- should you have to stay quiet?
My journey now is towards education and awareness because I wish to be informed AND express my emotions even at the risk of feeling irrational.
Of feeling angry and sad and bitter and detached.
For weeping at the loss, no the absence of a healthy father.
Of a grandfather for my kids.
Of a parent to have given me off at my wedding.
As a father to have gotten out of bed at 11 pm to find me cold and shivering in the snow.
I expected more.
So I wont let anyone shame me for feeling like I got so much less.
Some of you may have a FRANK.
I had a FRANK AND MONICA.
"Shameless" [the series] gives me panic attacks and crying fits. But I can't look away.
I feel normal when I see or hear about situations like i had.
It was the loneliness that hurt me most growing up.
I don't feel good that more people struggle with abusive parents.
Or addict parents.
But if I don't speak out about it, or hear someone else's story ---> I will perpetuate my trauma and own struggles.
So I choose to process it all.
And to share it visibly.
Today is my father's birthday.
I don't know where he is or how old he is. I dont know much about him now that I created my boundary and honored it.
I would rather heal than extend a hand to an illusion.
I can't say if I will ever have closure. Or be able to breathe without holding my breathe all the time.
I don't know when my anxiety or depression will go away.
But I'm thankful for my life. For raising myself.
For learning what not to do and how to survive.
J.S. Jaded Savior
#poverty #christmas #joy #identity #giving
Poverty does a lot to our body, mind and spirit.
We get lost and confused about who we are. The sense of identity and self worth we once had diminishes.
For many, self worth is not even developed. It's a luxury to love yourself when you have so little.
As a mom of 3, with a lot of expenses and no income ---> I have learned to take what I can get.
As someone with a husband who works his @$$ off and is away from us a lot to accomplish that goal, I absolutely will never ask to use any money we obtain for things for myself.
I can have little to no underwear, broken bras, and all the hand me downs in the world.
For my birthday this year I had the opportunity to buy myself a sweater and a few leggings. That was a super duper painful trip, as I tried on tons of things at a local juniors sized shoppe filled with crop tops and belly shirts, plus the skinniest size 15s I ever saw in my life.
Still I was so grateful for the opportunity to buy a few things and try my body in different styles.
It forced me to look at myself and step out of my comfort zone. To spend a little without regret or worry on myself.
Today I received 7 bags of shirts, sweaters, jackets, blazers, pants and beautiful dresses. All my perfect size. Some never even worn.
I cried my eyes out, squinting through the burning mascara, at what will be my Christmas dress.
A lace cocktail dress. A black cashmere cardigan on top.
I cannot tell you how much gratitude I feel for these things.
These items that may just sit in someone else's closet, untouched or unnoticed.
Maybe even items that once brought them joy but now they have moved on from.
When I was in college, as a single young mother of a toddler, I applied and was accepted into an internship. This internship fit both my degree requirement and my passion for leadership.
I scowered the target clearance section 2 weeks before it started for on sale blazers and silk shirts. A black dress and a black shirt, all office wear and chic, professional styles.
When I showed up, I sat in the front by the advisors. I walked in, heels smacking the tiles, leather bag in hand. Black and splashes of colored silk. A pop of red lipstick and cat eyes. Sleek hair.
I wanted to fit a role.
Not a teen mom.
Not a college kid.
Not a Lit or WAGS major.
Someone who wanted to be there and own it all.
The leadership and the passion I had burning within me.
I loved that internship and in many ways I felt lost after college because I left behind more than a black and white striped pair of heels.
I left behind a strong, prepared character that I loved wearing the shoes of.
Today, as I ripped open garbage bags and dug my hands deep into the soft, black textiles I cried to release.
For every beautiful new piece I pulled out of the bag, 2 or 3 old shirts or leggings got tossed into a bag.
Acceptance and release.
I allowed myself to get rid of the things I told myself were me.
My lack of identity in wardrobe and emotions since becoming a wife and mom to two more babies.
The mismatched clothing that never fit my body and the items I'd collected along the way --> I wished them well.
I thanked them for serving me as they did.
And I thanked this new clothing for coming to me.
For reminding me of the time I felt my best.
Black silk and fierce leathers. Soft, comfy sweaters. Heels and tights that said:
I. Own. My. Look.
This is me.
It is so fitting that I feel like I've been through the flames this year.
And surprisingly, though I dove deep into the burning flames I rose again unburned.
And ready to become something new.
Whenever we think we are forging a new identity and path, it is actually more like we are uncovering foot steps down a road built just for us.
A familiarity with each foot step through the ash and into the light.
When you follow it, you will discover you are being led to yourself.
A 360, right back planted into the heels of who we once longed to be and now we realize we were all along.
This Christmas season I have been vocalizing my struggles for awareness and to release my emotions.
In return, I have casted stones out into the universe.
So many gifts, love, support and items we need have come back our way.
Some people dear to my heart have sent us items for our little family and I have been a pile of tears the last two weeks as I keep getting surprises at my door.
I have worn struggle for years, often afraid to speak up about it. Things like pride and shame kept me from wanting to ask for help. It was not until I felt scorned by life and cornered in my options that I would ask for assistance.
Now I realize that there is bravery in being honest.
And that receiving is not hard when you just trust the universe and tell yourself you are worthy of abundance.
Worthy of love and care.
Worthy of an identity and honoring truths.
Worthy of welcoming gifts in all shapes and sizes.
For the joy of giving and receiving this holiday season ----> do something new!
Go into your closets and through your material things and DONATE to people you actually know.
Do this by casting the offer into your spheres. Your family. Your friends. Your groups.
Gift and regift to those who would fall to their knees in gratitude and joy to receive what you no longer use or need.
Take it further.
Pick a skill, a talent or a passion and gift it.
Not for a sale. Not for a promotion.
To give joy. And to feel joy while doing it.
Stop crunching numbers and void the urge to keep score.
Give joy for Christmas.
And in return allow joy to come to you.
Make some wishes.
Ask for what you want. What you wish. What you hope for.
Without a "this is stupid", "this is materialistic" "this is frivolous".
Just allow yourself, with pureness and gratitude, to honor your desire.
And know you are worthy of it. ♡
Christmas and the holidays feel different now.
I will be wearing my new dress on Christmas as a reminder that I am worthy of all the things and take two steps closer towards my authentic self in the new year.
J.S. Jaded Savior
#selfproclamations #identity #poverty #poormentality #trauma
I've written before about being poor and living in poverty, but consider this the Christmas edition.
For the past 3 days, my husband and I have stayed up in Utica in a place that he is renovating with his brother to turn into rental apartments. My husband has been learning all about real estate, flipping and renovation projects from scratch because we want to head down that path next after almost 5 years of struggling in previous businesses.
Today my husband and I had to treck to walmart, in the snow, with our kids so we could get more food + warm clothing for our two toddler boys. We packed for this trip with whatever groceries we had in the house before we left and what clothing fit the kids.
We left my inlaws and headed up here hoping to be alright and not need anymore. But, as all parents know, it happens.
Needing more outfits because the kids grow like weeds. Because hand me downs are starting to run low. Because kids get into everything and 7 outfits can run out in just a few days with these little whirlwinds.
So there we were, both feeling overwhelmed as we counted our budget and went over what 3 more days of food would cost + 4 more outfits. Seeing how far pasta can stretch and if the clearance section would be kind to us.
My husband stared at me as I picked out fleece pants for the boys, and asked "How can you stay so positive every day even though we are struggling?"
I saw love in his eyes as he watched me laugh at a joke I had just told. And I realized he was dead serious.
I also know what he partially meant was, "How can you love me even though we are poor?"
I thought about how triggering it is for him that we struggle. Because he wants to be the strength and the provider for our family. And he feels in so many ways like his hard work has still failed us. Meant nothing because we still struggle.
He does not realize what it means to me every time he feeds me and our kids. Every time he plays a board game with us. Every time we cuddle on the couch.
He does not realize that every single joke we have shared and the belly rolling laughing he has given me since the day we began talking [via dating app] that he has made me feel so rich and so full.
In that moment I do not "see" struggle, but an outing with my family. We look like every other family in walmart. 3 cheeky kids not using their indoor voices. A mom and dad asking what dinner should be. Dad shrugging and saying anything is fine.
We blend right in. And there is no need to feel triggered or sad.
So we walk, me pushing the kart filled with 2 fleece pairs of pants, 2 long sleeve shirts, 2 boys leggings and 2 hoodies. 4t, 5t. Hip colors. Golden dinosaur head. Silver monster truck.
I know I took 15 minutes to sift through the same 3 tables of clothing. Looking for the cheapest, while feeling around like a mad woman for the right textures and designs.
"I want my kids to feel cool, not poor", I think to myself as I search and have a big smile as I land on cool dinosaur geometric pants that my 4 yr old will go wild in excitement for.
Laughing as I tell my husband that our little guy will ROAR when he puts them on. And instead of being met with laughter, watching my husband lock eyes with me and smile in such a deep way at me that it touches my soul.
We walk past the pjs and Women's section, my eyes following the tops of racks and flirting gently with the fur lined hoods of cheetah print and rose gold puffer jackets. Oh to be young, and in style. But I don't linger long.
My husbands thick XL jacket feels good on me. Good enough for winter. Good enough to not need anything else.
Now we are coming up to the home section, rows of wood decor and industrial farmhouse table settings. Plate and serving sets.
I grip the wheel. Intoxicating, I think as I close my eyes and breathe deeply in. It smells like a home. Like a home well decorated and cared for during the coming holiday season.
I see Christmas mits and towels, "If you need me, I'll be watching Hallmark and baking cookies" which usually makes me laugh and nod in agreement.
But now all I can do is choke, force down a hard swallow and then begin panting.
These carts, these people are just not moving. I want to go faster or ditch down an isle but instead I am locked here between baking Betty and decorate it Debbie who are trying to decide if they should just get 2 of each and maybe some for their grown kids.
These are my triggers, I suddenly realize as I try to fight off a panic attack.
Almost 5 years in with the man of my dreams, both of us feeling beat TF up from entrepreneurship and parenthood. Us both feeling defeated by the mistakes, mishaps, breakdowns, blunders, and headaches our last business gave us.
The ways it showed us our best and worst selves. The way we were at our best AND worst simultaneously as business partners and marriage partners.
The way we both learned to "make the best" of everything as we slid hard down that mountain right into mud. No. Quicksand.
I finally get to dodge down bedding and catch up to my husband who is looking for the last thing he needed. My child is having sensory overload in the top seat of the cart, spotting every. Single. Thing. He. Wants. Santa. To.bring.
Me too, buddy, me too.
This christmas I want to ask Santa for that BIG BREAK.
That one we see in movies and sitcoms.
You know it, don't you?
That turn of fate after struggle that FINALLY gives the lead character what they DESERVE in the end.
You see, being poor looks like many things.
And though no one knows us here in walmart and we pass as any other family, we know weeks of pasta and beans. And we are hiding out because we should be SO LUCKY we have a roof and my inlaws. We are.
We are not poor enough or struggling enough to come out about it socially. That is a trigger for everybody.
We are struggling "light". Kinda like a "lite icetea".
But we are not just struggling because we have less than many and we are not doing "well" just because we have more than some.
Our struggle is layered.
We both have unhealed trauma. We have little kids that are being raised by 2 people with so much love and good intentions but a HUGE responsibility to start fresh [after ending the cycles of abuse we knew].
We both have passion and hard work being put into outlets that do not pay well yet.
For me, not at all.
As everyone talked about black Friday and cyber Monday, I spent my time OFF social media.
I could not handle all the triggers.
Because I have been taught, through poverty, to not want things that I cannot afford.
I am not supposed to view websites or deals or sales when I know I cannot afford them.
I am not supposed to think about beauty or fashion or fitting in when it is just a fantasy.
I enjoy the little things and I window shop. I get panic attacks and cry a little when I stroll home sections of stores and I feel FUCKING WEIRD FOR IT.
But you see, tears do not come from poverty. They come from trauma.
I come from a broken home.
I spent years fearing being in my room and sleeping with furniture infront of my door because the only worse thing than being grounded to my room for years was possibly being attacked by what dwelled in the living room, drunk and hazy.
I then lived with family for a short time and wanted so badly to feel like I had parents + safety. I know my family did so much for me but after I moved out to spread my wings for college it no longer felt the same.
In fact, my relationships have mostly dissolved over the last 10 years. I feel alone mostly.
Self sufficiency is my fashion. My style. That thing I choose to invest in. It's a lonely shade of rouge.
All I used to ask "Santa" for every year was my own home. Like on Miracle on 34th street.
Gah that movie makes me bawl like no other.
I feel the same swell of tears and build up of emotions from that movie, precisely when the little girl says "mommy, mommy it IS our home".
I get that same rush running my fingers through a shag carpet and matching throw pillows while my kids cry out "PIIIIZZZAAAAAA please mom???" And my husband breaks my daydream to tell me it's time to go.
As everyone checks out their karts, filled to the brim with decorations and stocking fillers, I am calculating our stock before we ring it all up because I am sweating literally at the idea of going over budget.
Even though we calculated 3 times already.
We go $10 over and he hugs me.
"Its ok. We will do better this year."
And with his embrace I want to melt like a tiny child and pause time.
In this moment, I force myself to remember what this all feels like. What STUFF can do to a person.
What Christmas shopping does to people.
And how much people take for granted what they have already.
Their home. Their tree. Their belongings.
The wishlists their kids make that they can easily fill, maybe even twice.
But none of that is even the point.
I realize poverty teaches us about gratitude. Sure.
It teaches us about love. And kindness.
But it also teaches us longing. Despair. Fear.
It teaches us compliance and defeat sometimes.
When we clutch those things that trigger us most, the material desires we crave.
And we say things like "I can't" or "this isn't for me".
When we feel utterly defeated by the woman on the line who is buying her kids toys for that moment, because 23 days is still far away.
Not because we hate her. Because we want to be her.
I want to be her.
I want to pull up the driveway of a lit up home that is MINE, knowing it has all the trimmings and perfection inside that I put together myself. Out of love and appreciation for the walls. The carpets. The hard wood floors. The high rise ceilings.
I want a train running round the tree and a crystal star so bright it shines rainbows off the ceiling.
Some day, I want things.
And I still want to be the same girl who laughs with ease as my husband stares adoringly. Unchanged. Just secure.
Because being poor my whole life, it is the stability and peace I crave more than the dollar amount in my account.
But this year I am no longer asking Santa for a home with the trimmings.
I decided though I still believe in his magic, this year I just want the gift of believing in myself.
And seeing what it feels like to walk around knowing the gift was inside me all along.
I want to do the things that my heart feels called to do.
I'm tired of the poor mindset of "I am not enough to be better. To have better. To give better."
Of "this is just my lot in life."
It's not. It is no ones' lot in life to just suffer.
Sometimes we just need help.
Sometimes we need to change our course.
Sometimes we just need to be reminded that we are capable AF and resourceful AF.
Let this be the last year we struggle.
And the first year ahead that we thrive.
J.S. Jaded Savior
#poverty #christmas #gratitude #joy
I've been writing a lot about my experience with poverty as well as my fear of joy.
I want people to understand the emotions that come with being "chronically needing".
Notice how I said NEEDING and not just POOR.
The first 5 years of my twenties, I spent as a very low income single mother in college. I raised a little baby for 7 years total alone while juggling full time college courses, living on campus in a small apartment [$1400/mo] and paying my own groceries/books + our needs.
We needed things. Not just the regular items a college kid needs but actual home items. All year round items. All year round groceries. Toiletries. Diapers + baby wipes + baby products. Shoes. Coats. All weather wear [here in NY].
I was out on my own very young, sans parents. Lived with family by the grace of goddess and then out on my own completely. I was always in need.
And that brought a ton of shame.
So much, I still wear it even in the last almost 5 years of my twenties.
I have bargain and clearance shopped at all times. Because I feared full price.
I have saved all my coins in jars. Because as people wrinkle their noses to pennies and dimes, I know those cover expenses when you add them up.
I have sold items, sometimes that I really loved. So I learned not to get attached.
Buying things for myself was hard but over time I made more money at my job, got nice tax credits back and finally decided to treat myself sometimes.
When I graduated school, I sold it all.
Every favorite dress. My favorite framed pinup photo. My pots and plans. My christmas tree. My little tv. Most of bellas toys.
And I felt really bad doing that.
I was about to enter a relationship with someone. To have a family with them. I'd met my soulmate and wanted to be married + have babies.
But my gut instinct was to burn bridges. Get rid of everything. Start fresh.
An epic rise out of the ashes, again.
Now I feel shame for those choices.
I didnt have to strip myself of the joy I'd mustered up the courage to give myself over the years.
I just did instinctively.
Then i spent 4 years working my butt off along side my hard working husband. And entrepreneurship handed our asses to us.
We also realized many things that were not a good fit for us.
We realized we needed to shed, strip, start fresh.
Again, burn bridges and then rise from the ash.
So this year we did just that. After 4 years of working hard instead of efficiently, we got rid of everything to try and pay off debts. Start from scratch. We are still paying it all off.
Only now, with very very tight income. Very very little wiggle room. Very very tight quarters to live in. And with other people, not on our own.
It brings a lot of shame.
If we did not have this roof over our heads because of someone else, we would not have a place right now.
We had 2 babies along this journey. We welcomed our first baby boy our first Christmas together and our second 18 mos later. Those babies came out of love.
But do you know what people say when you have kids and are poor?
"Why did you do that?"
Why did we do this?.....
We fell in love.
We had a plan.
And now, we are forming new plans.
Because shit does not always work out how you plan it to.
What gratitude and joy I have though when I look at my babies faces. All 3 of my kids are beautiful, smart, kind, creative, and best of all they SWEAR I am the best mom. Little ole me.
My husband is my best friend and my partner in everything. We have trusted eachother and held eachother through all the obstacles.
We feel in need.
But it is embarrassing to tell people we need anything.
Surely, we work.
Surely, we are capable adults.
The world is not built for people in need.
We are called "needy" if we ask. Or mocked. Or shamed. Or guilted. Or indebted.
So when someone gives to us out of the kindness of their hearts, I am a hot mess of tears and gratitude.
I have racing thoughts of how will I ever pay them back?
And it's funny, but when you are in need for so long you actually need things people do not even think of.
I am in desperate need of a little alone time.
The luxury of little breaks here and there. Friends to go out with or an errand to run.
Because I'm home in a little space with 2 toddlers all day + every day while I work on my blog. Then my 12 yr old with ASD comes home from school and needs me. I am needed.
But sometimes, I am needed by me.
It's a luxury to serve myself.
Next, even though I need clothing and a coat and socks and underwear like any other person ----> I want to feel fashionable. Sensual. Stylish.
A person is still a person.
When you are homeless or poor or low income, YOU STILL FEEL IN NEED OF BEAUTY AND FASHION.
And even if the most elegant top and trendy shoes cost a dollar, if you are seen looking good while being poor it is shamed.
Without even knowing where the items come from.
Without knowing my jewelry is from dollar stores or my coat was a hand me down.
You might shame me for looking or feeling good.
Money is a piece of paper and yet our worth is dyed right into the print of the serial numbers and letters across the bill.
Our very worth is mass printed and distributed ----> with people caring very little about what a prized possession money can be.
For someone who is poor, money feels like its everything.
THE END ALL.
You might not realize how hard the people around you work for money.
How they trade hours with their loved ones for it.
How they climb through mobs of people to spend it on gadgets and toys.
How a name brand or a label or a print or a color of an item can make someone seem rich for owning it.
And no one wants to look like they are in need.
They want to look like they have it all.
When you are in need, it is not just material but psychological.
You want comfort. You want happiness. You want fun. You want experiences. You want emotional connection. You want to feel like you are not stuck. Or lacking. Even if just for an hour.
When you gift someone something because they are in need, consider THEIR needs. Depending on the situation, a grocery gift card would be amazing. But also, things that bring joy. A fancy chocolate. A candle. An essential oil or a first aid kit. A gift card for coffee. A nail kit.
There are a lot of things people NEED but also want. Just to feel human. And loved.
I am teaching my kids something I find very important about giving and receiving.
Give with joy.
Give for joy.
Receive with joy.
Receive for joy.
For not the price tag but the transference of emotions and worth.
We feel worth it and we give worth to others when we show an act of compassion.
Compassion is giving a woman $100 for groceries and an extra $5 coffee card JUST FOR HER.
Because you know she feels like absolute poop while struggling. And a little trip for a coffee might be the ounce of human experience she is craving.
When you think about doing a secret santa or a white Christmas game with your family, also consider this.
PEOPLE WITHIN YOUR OWN FAMILY ARE IN NEED.
And if you could give someone close to you a CHIP IN towards their car battery, towards groceries, towards tree trimmings, towards home items, towards a human experience ....
Imagine with any amount or THING or EXPERIENCE you give, and with joy, that person feeling such a DEEP gratitude for it.
For exactly what they were in need of.
I get a bit frustrated every year at Thanksgiving because I hear mindless small talk and see posts even about Thanksgiving being the "family time holiday" --------> but many people do not truly engage with one another.
It's just "you'll never believe what suzie did last week " or "I hate my job. But you know, its work" or "Hows the family by you? ---> ehh you know same old".
NO TODD. WE DON'T KNOW.
I wish families and friends would gather around this time of year to be vulnerable and honest.
To say what they NEED. To say what they DREAM of doing next. To speak about their goals. To go around saying what they are thankful for and then ask what eachother could possibly use for the following year. Or the present time.
What could you use to end off this year well, Uncle Todd?
"To be honest with you hunny, my coat is so worn and it's so cold outside when I shovel."
What I would do is get uncle Todd a warm robe and slippers. And pay for shovel service for his house that year.
Because I want to give joy.
And I can only imagine the joy he will feel warm and wrapped up on the couch to relax while something he always does gets taken care of.
A little taste of being cared for.
This holiday season, I URGE YOU to care for someone else. Give joy. With joy.
And gain a new emotion you never felt before. While witnessing it first hand on someone else's face. Caused by you.
That is love.
That is compassion.
That, my friend, is the poor mans' Christmas.
J.S. Jaded Savior
And I want everyone to know it.
Because I know my truths will set me free.
I write about it on social media because this might resonate with some of you and validate your life experiences.
Since I was born, I was in the poverty line. It did not help that my parents were 20-something undiagnosed mental drug addicts who dropped out in high school [both in 10th]. So we lived in section 8 housing and could barely afford to survive in it.
My mom remarried not too long after the divorce, marrying "up" as she put it which meant sort of middle class? Because he had enough with his parents help to buy us a house to live in. But we lived with very little and have to behave like we were poor. That is because my mother did not function well since she was always on something and spiraling.
I left my house at 16, after becoming pregnant with a h.s. boyfriend. No one wanted to be in the picture, as a baby could ruin their lives. I retreated to a relatives house to live with them senior year of h.s. in a new place and for the first time learned what it meant to be cared for, both in shelter/needs and emotionally.
I moved 3 years later when I finished community college, to move to a University campus. There I was able to get a job and go to classes full time. I qualified for some scholarships and student loans. I spent 4 years total which ended up being $75,000 ish not including those scholarships and such.
A debt I still owe but need to defer every year.
I met my husband senior year of college and began a relationship that turned into my now little family of 5.
Together we ran a business for 4 years that needed tons of upfront investment and left us BROKE. Even after leaping in 100% together, spending my pregnancies working + no maternity breaks. Even after no holidays off besides Thanksgiving and Christmas day [though we still replied to emails]. In the end, for all sorts of reasons, we failed. It failed.
This year, we each got into new ventures. We have been living with his family all this time, pleading with the universe for a miracle in our success. Begging for a life purpose + our goals to be achieved.
We have adopted all the successful habits, the ones we learned off YouTube. We have become obsessed with our new passions, at the expense of not spending a lot of time together. We talk daily still about our dreams and goals. And we keep ourselves accountable.
But still we struggle with debts. No time or money to date. To shop. We can barely cover food but are thankful for that. In the moment, meaning real time, we have NO money to move. But we want to and need to desperately. To have our own space as a family, with our 3 kids. To not have to rely on or live with someone else.
Because that is HEALTHY. NORMAL. TRADITION.
To meet, fall in love, move in /get engaged, get a pet, get married, get a home, get pregnant, get amazing careers ---> somewhere in that mix to discover what we love to do.
I have never made it to the tradition line.
My life was chaos from the moment I entered it and I am just lucky to even be alive now. I am lucky my kids were ever born and that I met the great husband I have now.
But if we did not have the family we stay with, we would have nothing right now but a few outfits and ...well that is it. No wifi or service so our computers would mean nothing. Our phones would be gone. We would have to apply for social services programs and hope something helps while we find the most available jobs. Most likely just him, so I can be with our kids.
You get the picture right?
We have money trauma, poverty trauma, are both first generation to attend a college or start a business from scratch.
And it is hard each day we know we have to live this way even though our dreams are so big.
I do not want to ask my husband to spend any money we do not absolutely need to spend. Any time I can sell old clothes or any belongings, I jar the money.
When we go grocery shopping I have tunnel vision to stick to the very cheap and healthiest basics possible to make sure my kids are fed nutritiously. We do not do snacks or juices or water bottles. We literally cannot afford it.
We tried to give ourselves each a tiny little allowance just to buy something we like once in a while. A coffee. Or an item we have wanted. Our date time is holding hands on the couch at midnight to watch Netflix.
But my kids, they are so happy. In the tiny bedroom they all share, in the small area we have ----> they have no clue what it means to be poor. We do say NO alot. But more in like an "ok, put it on your holiday list" as we both look at eachother with a knod.
Right now I'm home with our toddlers while my girl attends public school. We are AGAIN starting up business opportunities after some research, but now in our passions. We know that means our dreams will take a little longer to be achieved. But that is ok...for now.
I tell you this because we do not have the Instagram lifestyle so many people see. We do not attend events or go away. No vacations. No fancy parties. No splurges.
But life still goes on.
We still make do. And teach our kids other values besides owning objects. Like making friends, playing outside, reading free books we get from the library etc.
We find ourselves craving things because we feel like everyone has things.
We rate our worth often based on traditions. Based on what the neighbors have.
My husband doesnt really use social media but I dwell in it.
I window shop here, for a lifestyle I hope to someday have.
I'm caught between a rock and a hard place here.
If I want to have things, it is a bit materialistic, no?
If I WANT a modern country home with a rustic appeal. To decorate it head to toe... to be the entertainment home EVERYONE wants to come to. The game night house. The house all 3 kids have slumber parties in. The dream.
Its frivolous? Ridiculous?
I don't know all the things people say about it.
I just know that when a poor person gets told it is GOOD to live like a minimalist anyways, they are ignorantly missing the trauma that comes with NOT BEING ABLE TO have anything.
Because it is not a simple choice to become successful.
If you are poor, then you know it. The many pieces that move. Daycare. Bill's. Schedules. Hours.
I am so supportive of my friends having businesses.
But I literally cannot buy any mascara, candles, earrings, or sweaters.
I cannot spend that if it means I have to ask my husband to buy less chicken this week.
And I cannot join your team if it's a start up cost of 2 weeks groceries.
Some MLM reps come on facebook and say joining is the miracle a poor or struggling person needs.
And I am not about to question everyones speeches on success.
Maybe for some people, it is the answer.
But from my POV ----> it is triggering as all fuck to be messaged and provoked about joining teams or making money.
To be told it's the answer, when it might not be... its manipulative for me. I am not saying they are trying to be. I am letting you all know that my trauma and my triggers make me feel that way.
We are private about the new ventures we are in because of trauma too. Because we have thought somehow bragging or mentioning it will JINX us right back into poverty.
I feel it more than my spouse does.
That black cloud. That doomed to fail feeling.
As I adopt spiritual + manifesting ideas from my Facebook feed ---> I use them with caution. I want to study and predict outcomes.
Again, I am triggered and fear nothing will work.
"You have to believe it or it will not work."
----> k. Thanks.
Brb. I'm going to go let my trauma and anxiety know they need to sit tight and STFU so they do not become the debbie downers at my fullmoon circle.
The point is, being low income ---> being below the bracket ----> being unable to afford NY living [ $2000+ apartments, $300+ insurances, $400+ groceries per month....
It is all hard.
We have to fight our own fears daily and keep trying. We cannot afford in any way to give up.
But we have also had to release the idea of tradition. We have had to let go of the idea of success we held so tight onto that it nearly suffocated our relationship.
We have had to adopt survival skills + keep our low levels of optimism appeased by having dream boards and enlightening conversations.
I realized lately, as I have gone deeper into my healing from trauma, that my biggest problem is I think Poverty is an antonym of Success.
I think that having nothing means being unsuccessful.
I also think I currently have nothing.
I have also realized how much I have.
An actual little family that I made with someone I love.
A lot of talent, skills, and ideas.
A partner who has the same dreams and goals.
A society that now makes it possible [with technology and modern tools] to become self employed, which then means self sufficient.
And we do already have freedom. Even though we feel stuck at the moment. What are we stuck in?
I have had stability in a partner and got to raise my babies from home in general. Now full time. Something I never had as a teen mom who's baby went into daycare at 5 months old.
I have the ability to have success in the "money" sector of this complicated talk.
But I already HAVE success in many personal aspects.
I have been so blinded and overwhelmed by what was around me ----> by what I was lacking <----- that I did not realize I have a pretty effen amazing list of great things.
So I leave you with this.
So many people are low class. Struggling. Fronting online. Acting like they have a lot. Showing images that are not even their own. Making websites and insta feeds full of backgrounds of perfection. Using backdrops in their messy home.
And shit ---> do what you gotta do.
I love aesthetic. I LOVE all the pretty lifestyle things I see every day.
BUT I no longer want to count my worth on dreamboards.
I want to look in this tiny room, at my babies who are happier than ever.
I want to remember, after a childhood of abuse and teen years from hell ---> all of that led me to this abundance I have now.
And no mantra taught me more than "Love what you have, not what you want".
A lesson I hope to hold onto no matter what comes next in our lives.
J.S. Jaded Savior
Content mention of Rape, Abuse, Neglect, Addictions, Mental Illness, Kidnap, Molestation, Child abuse, Teen Pregnancy, Abortion, birth, body image, gender/identity dysphoria, sexuality, personal trauma, domestic violence and other extremely personal stories. Please practice caution. I am not a licensed physician or mental health professional. No medical prescribing is provided on this site, Only personal insights, experience stories, and advice; All stories published have had prior authorization. Questions? Contact Jean at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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