I feel like, I'm always doing this reintroduction - because, the times in between my writing have been so sporadic. Nonetheless, I'm back. I've stepped away from writing for a while, because well - new mom life and then, mostly because I'm honestly tired of my words, my art being weaponized against me. I can't tell you how many times, someone has used my own words to try and harm me. It's disgusting and I'm over it.
Being vulnerable has N E V E R come easy to me and I mean N E V E R. Almost every time, I've chosen to open up and be vulnerable with someone - the wrong someone. They've used it against me, if it's former friends gaslighting me, my ex husband making jokes about mental health - acting as if I'm crazy. Fake friends twisting things I've said and lying for the approval of others and so on and so on.
As far back as I can remember at least. To be fair, we'll say January 2001. I think that was a pretty big focal point for when things started to change for me. My foundation was shaken, when I lost my grandfather and to be completely honest, I don't think I ever bounced back. (I know, I know 19 years - let's not put a time limit on grieving).
For most of my life, well most of my dating life and especially after being divorced at such a young age. I vowed to never march to the beat of a man’s drum again, anyone's drum but my own. I vowed to not get caught up in a man’s world, anyone's world - so much that I forgot about my own. I stayed up late nights, making these promises with my best friend. And yet, the enabling part of me resurfaced and I found myself right back to my usual pattern of being “Jessica, the enabler, the fixer." Many of you know (and probably more of you don't if you're not following and because, it's not something I discuss often) my husband has a child, from a previous marriage. - See, Married With Children That Aren't Yours As, I watched my husband pleading for a relationship with his son. I would watch him go from this happy go-lucky guy, to furious, to broken to defeated in a matter of minutes during a conversation with his son's mother. It would break my heart. I wanted to help. I wanted to fix this for not only him, but for his son - who deserved to have two parent's who could effectively communicate. So, after being harassed on Instagram/Facebook - the Empath in me, the enabler, the fixer against the advice of those who were more aware of the person they were dealing with - I decided hey, let me be the bigger person and extend an olive branch. Boy, was I wrong. I should've NEVER opened that door, it is one of my biggest regrets in life (and I was married at 19 and joined the Navy). You ever wish you never met someone or that you had a time machine, to go back and continue to act as if someone didn't exist? Because, I have mastered the art of ignoring. Some people, just aren't worth your energy. They don't have peace and so, they don't want anyone else to either.
It wasn’t until after much self reflection and a multitude of pro/con lists, I realized I was enabling the broken child in myself through all these other people, I wanted to fix. I was subconsciously trying to fix them in hopes of fixing myself. All the times, I'd wished someone were there to help me out, to be a shoulder for me to cry on, to be the voice to speak up for me. - It was me, it was always me. Granted, I do want to help others, sometime's to a fault but, I felt so strongly about it because, it was about me.
How many of you have realized you are subconsciously trying to heal yourself in helping others?
B I R T H S T O R Y.
It's been a while, I've been taking some time to manage my life, yield positive vibes and keep up on my mental health. It's been amazing; during my break, I joined the motherhood club and it has been the most empowering and enlightening thing I've ever done. My birth photos have been circling social media, (see Kate Carlton Photography on Facebook) so I wanted to share my amazing birth story.
Our daughter made it earth side, in water and en-caul; some say, she was born in with a veil. This is a very special and rare type of birth. Many cultures believe that this is good luck and a blessing to baby. I'd seen a photo from a water birth a few weeks before at a birthing class and hoped I would be lucky enough to experience and en-caul birth and when I tell you God answers prayers, he gave me just that. I asked the heavens for a full moon birth and got that as well. I am so beyond grateful.
If you’ve known me for a while, you know I’ve always dreamed of having a natural water birth in my home. Even as a child, I'd always been amazed by the beauty of birth. I was always amazed at how a woman's body could change so drastically during pregnancy - creating, nourishing and nurturing life. I'd always taken this seriously, probably a little more seriously than my peers as my husband would say. I've always known the importance of choosing a loving, caring and supportive partner; among other things. I remember telling my girlfriends in middle school, how whenever I had a baby, I wanted my baby in water and they would come out swimming, we all laughed. I mean, those aren't the exact logistics of water birth, but you get the point. On Aug 15, the night of a full moon; that dream came true for me. I was able to let go of myself and give in to the instinctual drift of my body and roar my sweet daughter earth side with my carefully picked birth team. My super supportive and amazing husband, the sweetest doula ever and my midwife with her team.
Birth is such an amazing an empowering experience, if we don't interfere. I know this isn't the case for everyone, but for those who are able to just let their bodies do what they will without intervention as a lot of Western medicine has made us believe we need; I am grateful to have been able to experience an all natural, non-medicated, non-invasive birth. I am literally still in awe of my body and myself. I cannot express enough how amazing our bodies are. We are so blessed & happy right now. This is our greatest adventure yet. So grateful my birth photographer was able to capture the beauty of this moment. I am forever blessed.
Did you have a birth story similar to mine? Share yours with me. Was it completely different? Do you have questions about home birth?
It was the betrayal that blessed me, she said. Have you ever been betrayed by someone? I have. I've been betrayed by so many people, I started thinking it may have been me with the issue. I started thinking have I possibly done things to deserve the deceit I was receiving. Did I put myself in situations for this to happen, or could it just possibly be karma? Am I finally reaping something I had sewn and had long forgotten about?
I can count how many times, I've been betrayed by people I trusted. I'll give you a few different scenarios - because, I think this is just crazy. 1) I thought I had a friend, we were "friends" for many years. One year around holiday season, I was rushing around visiting so many people that I did not link up with them. When, I didn't link up with them, this put ultimate betrayal in play. - This person, lied on me, befriended someone who was trying to harm me, slept with my ex, threatened me, lied on me again & ultimately tried to assassinate my character. Crazy right? When I asked them, what I had done to deserve such a betrayal, they simply said - "nothing, I was upset that you didn't come to see me like you'd said."2) I'd befriended someone who wanted to be me. It was evident in so many ways, yet I completely ignored it. She made up a story about me trying to get with the guy she was dating at the time. It wasn't until later that, I realized I had been lied on; because, I never even met the guy or knew his real name. We laughed about it, once we put two & two together. 3) I was married to a completely different person than I thought I'd married, we'll just leave that one there. Talk about a betrayal; ha. 4) The last and most recent betrayal, I opened my heart, my family, my home to someone. I gave them shelter, refuge, clothes, food, a safety net; I would've given them the shirt off my damn back. In fact, I think I had before. And man, let me tell you, if you don't pick up the phone for some people it is obviously a trigger and a reason to usher in, you guessed it - BETRAYAL.
Am I to blame for their betrayal? No. Am I to blame for being too trusting? Eh, that's a tough one. I could've been more diligent in choosing people to befriend. However, they also could have been better people. It's hard to make an assumption on who is right or wrong in these type of situations. People will only use you as much as you allow them to, so self-awareness plays a big part in that. I can't say whether or not they were wrong or I was wrong in allowing them in my life. What I can say is, I've been learning discernment with each of these situations. I've taken lessons from each of them & I am learning to use better judgment. Honestly, some of these people probably didn't even look at their actions as betrayal & that's important too. You have to befriend people who have the same levels of loyalty and respect as you do.
As much as each one of these betrayals through me for a loop, in the end it was the betrayal is what blessed me, sis. Although, these people preyed on me while I was praying for them, I am still going to come out the victor because I allowed myself to do what was right in my heart. My blessings will still be large and bountiful. Don't allow anyone who has betrayed you or been disloyal to you STOP you from being you. Be mindful, have discernment but don't close off your heart. What are something's that people have done to betray you? How have you dealt with the betrayal you've faced in your life?
I'm married to a man with a child.
People I meet are always shocked when they hear that from me. I always get stares and then, "Oh girl, how is that?" "Whaaaaat? You? Girl, I know that's the last thing you wanted." And my favorite one - "Do you have baby mama drama?" So, then I get all Kandi Buruss irritated face like sis.
Don't get me wrong my husband is amazing & we have the most solid, healthy, beautiful, loving, honest relationship I have ever had in my life. I would marry him 10x over, but this stepmom thing is for the birds; So, I'll break this down for you really quick.
- His ex and I used to be able to be cordial. We didn't start off that way though; she found out he was dating someone and immediately starting bashing me. She and her friends scurried to my instagram page & commenced Operation Name Calling - I'll list a few of my favorites: (So, you just gonna let the world know you're a home wrecker? His mistress, someone who's mom didn't raise them right) you know the typical things exes & their friends say. I tell you, a lie doesn't care who tells it. Mind you, their divorced had been finalized. I'm a divorcee, so I get it. I figured, you know what ... that's probably my karma from when I was nasty to my ex's new girlfriend. Nonetheless, I was a bit irritated. I was watching it all go down at work like ... I let it slide & continued basking in my relationship. A few months had passed, his child fell in love with me. I thought to myself, if I were a mother, I would really want to know who was around my child so, I reached out. (You can read about that here: StepMom Feels Despite the bad blood, I'm all let's bury the hatchet. I wanted to make sure she was comfortable with her child being with his father & understanding that I would be around. I wanted an open line of communication to make sure everyone was on the same page. Things were going well for let's say, 3 months. 90 days. A whole probationary period. A trial period. Like, you're not even eligible to take PTO or get insurance yet period. 90 days and then all hell broke loose.
When I tell you, I've heard stories from my guy friends about their exes and the "baby mama drama" they were dealing with, but I never fathomed anything quite like what I was about to experience. We went from adults trying to maneuver co-parenting a toddler; communicating through bruised egos and harbored emotions to strangers battling one another in court. I watched my husband break into pieces as his son was ripped away from him again and again and again. I watched my stepson break as his father disappeared from his life. I watched my mother, father and brother in laws break as they watched their son & their brother hurt. I watched my parents become increasingly anxious as they watched me juggle everything that transpired. I began to ask myself, why the hell am I here? Why the hell would I purposely put myself in this situation? Why am I with someone who purposely put themselves in a situation, with someone who was so intentionally evil. Am I crazy? Is he crazy? I battled myself. Then, I realized her actions did not have anything to do with him nor myself. Did I say, this stepmom shit is not for the weak at heart.
I found myself caught in a battle that had nothing to do with me. Granted, I added some gas to the flames. I just didn't expect for the flames to set the entire city on fire. I was collateral damage. I was being blown away by the crash because I was too close. I had become accused of kidnapping, holding a child hostage, barricading myself in my home with a child. I had, had my home rushed like an episode of Chicago P.D. I mean, I love Voight, but I wasn't trying to live that shit. This happened when no one was even home. I had been in a high speed chase almost run off the road. I'd been in the middle of an altercation in an airport atrium. I'd been on high alert at every interaction as if I were still active military - in a war zone. Like, did I get married to a man with a child or did I join the Army & go to Afghanistan? Can you imagine my psyche? Sis, these kind of things are not normal. These kind of interactions on a daily are not healthy. These types of reactions are common in violent and abusive environments. This is how people who don't know how to communicate effectively react to situations. By lashing out and using violence as a speaking tool. This is not acceptable.
If you are thinking about being in a relationship with someone who has a child, please evaluate the situation. Evaluate the entire situation. That goes for if you're looking at being in a relationship with anyone. Evaluate their family, their upbringing, how they react to situations, if they overreact, if they don't react at all. If you find yourself relating to the person, do some self-reflection. These types of behaviors have become common and acceptable in "baby daddy-baby mama" dynamics. Why is that? If the roles were switched, the man would be looked at as a violent monster, who was abusive, aggressive, a danger. He would be intertwined in the same shackles and chains that intertwine the minds of the people who make the final decisions in this being acceptable behavior.
I'm married to a man with a child. An amazing, humble, hardworking, delicate, diligent man. A man who loves with every fiber of his being. I would marry him 10x over. But, when I tell you sis - think again, if you're thinking this task is easy - because, this stepmom shit, is not for the weak at heart.
Poison (n) -
We too often surround ourselves with poison. We allow toxic and poisonous people to inhabit our space. We fill our minds with poisonous thoughts, we indulge in poisonous behavior and we look at it as normal. We often try to decipher why our spirits aren't filled with the positive energy we are looking for and why depression and anxiety seem to consume us; but we never look at the toxicity we allow into our lives.
Toxic and volatile relationships, toxic jobs, toxic atmosphere's, it's almost impossible to breathe any sense of relief when we are engulfed in these ever so suffocating habits. So, you ask how do you move forward? How do you let go of that toxic relationship that you're so used to because you're afraid of branching out, or maybe you're comfortable, or maybe you enjoy toxicity. How do you quit that job that doesn't pay you what you deserve and also makes you wish you could just catch the flu for a week so you didn't have to go in. How do you tell your friends their problems are draining you and if their boyfriend keeps cheating on them to just leave? You just do. You have to find time for yourself, time to breathe, time to acknowledge this toxicity. Sometimes, we are so used to toxicity consuming us, we don't even realize why we're suffocating.
It's is 16 days into New Year. Normally, when the new year rolls in - I take a look at all the things, I don't want to bring in with me before the end of the year and I make a decision. This year, was different. I had already let go of so many toxic behaviors, friendships and loved ones that the only thing left to look at was myself. I'd dropped everything that was causing me to feel smothered that the only thing left was myself. I'd let go of jealous friends. I'd let go of behaviors that would bring poison into my heart. I'd let go of loved ones who were draining me but never replenishing. I can't tell you how freeing that is. For the first time in a long time, I started to just deal with and worry about myself. Although, I still dabble a bit in situations - I've learned the art of disengaging and that's freeing. Letting go of all the poison in your life and allowing yourself to heal, is one of the greatest things I could have done for me. What are you holding onto? What toxicity in your life is weighing you down?
- A few years ago, I wrote about the chronicles of the women from the fatherless tribe. We are always hearing about fathers not being apart of their children's lives, more than we hear about the women who are apart of the motherless tribe. It may be less common but we are definitely here, whether it be due to losing a mother to death, sickness, career, inability to be a mother, or those of us who grew up without a figure we considered a mother. Being a part of these tribes teach you lessons you may have never learned had you not been from them. A few lessons I learned that I didn't appreciate until I got older are listed below:
- Resiliency (adj.) - (of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. - Discernment (noun.) - the ability to judge well. - Empathy (noun.) - ability to understand and share the feelings of another.When I was younger, I didn't acknowledge the gift I had been given by being apart of the motherless tribe. I didn't understand why I was chosen to be apart of a group I wanted no parts of; I didn't understand why so many of my friends had relationships with mother's I could have only dreamed to have. Life had thrown me so many curve balls, I should have been a baseball player. I had taken so many different paths, I should probably own stock in some automobile company. I have learned that even playing the best hand with the cards you are dealt may not always guarantee you a full house. I learn a lesson each time. I always recover. I am always moving forward to something better. I am always making a mental note on how to not make the same mistake twice. I am always looking for a lesson in each mistake. I don't trust people easily, I try to weed out the people who don't mean me well and although, I'm not always the best at it. I've done pretty well thus far. I am constantly, putting myself in another person's shoes and simulating how they would feel. I had taught myself that this is and how life was and how it would continue to be. Then one day, it hit me. All the while, I was envying the relationships my friends had with their mothers and focusing on not having a birth mother, I had something much better. I had a mother who wanted a child as much as I wanted a mother. I had a woman who taught me resiliency, empathy and discernment. I had a woman who taught me to be self-aware, who taught me that there is a lesson in each and every mistake I would make. I had a woman who loved me unconditionally, no matter the mistakes I would make, even if I didn't learn from them. I had this amazing, powerful, strong, intelligent mother the entire time. Often times, we are so focused on what we don't have, that we aren't paying attention to things that are right in front of us. A lot of us have these same mother figures and we don't acknowledge it as we should. There are women who are mothers that surround all of us, you just have to take a deeper look. -- The Woman from the Motherless Tribe.
Today, I acknowledged something I had been looking over for some time now.
jeal·ous - ˈjeləs/ (adj.) feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages.
Jealousy - let's talk about jealousy. What is jealousy to you? Most of the time I hear, well I'm prettier than this person or I make more money. I'm smarter, I'm in better shape, I have longer hair, I drive a newer model car, I have more freedom, I have the ability to do things they can't. This person likes me more than they like them, I got the job they wanted, I slept with whomever they liked and the list goes on...
Rarely, do I hear that jealousy has to do with the way people love you. Seldom, do I hear people are jealous because the heart a person possesses or the character, their charisma, their willingness to persevere through obstacles in their lives. Today, out of twenty five years on this Earth, it hit me. The majority of what I've witnessed and experienced were not the materialistic things people reflected their jealousy on but the intangible things that they wish they could get.
I realized that most of my life had been saturated with people who were jealous of the way other people loved me. People who were jealous of the fact that I could overcome obstacles that would have torn them apart, people who pretended to be praying for me but were preying on me. You hear me, sis? Pretending to be praying for me, but we're preying on me.
I had unknowingly surrounded myself with people who had no good intentions for me. They were just eager to find out how and why people were loving me the way they were. How I was overcoming so much, how I continued to keep a smile on my face while things were coming apart around me. How did I get there? How did I not see it before? It was like an epiphany.
Why were there so many people in my circle who weren't in my corner? Why were there so many people who wanted to sabotage relationships I had with other people? They didn't understand why they could love me as they did and not feel the same about them. It hit me like a ton of bricks, a light bulb went off, a boulder fell on my chest. This had always been the case for so many people I allowed in my life. They were just there to observe. I had done this to myself. I had family like this, friends, relationships, I'd seen it before. Beware of the people who serve no purpose in your life but to just try and find out why others flock to you. Steer clear of people whom are in your circle but not in your corner, the people who don't clap when you succeed. The people who criticize every move you make. Recognize the faces of those who pretend to love you but are truly snakes in the grass. Acknowledge the people who hurt you but don't apologize. The people who try to make your feelings invalid with excuses, a great friend of mine once said pray for discernment and accept what people show you rather than what they tell you and I have asked God for that ever since.
What are some characteristics you possess that you think make people jealous? Tell me in the comments.
- I've started to realize more so lately, that everyone is not going down the same path as you, be it friends, family, loved ones or just people you've grown fond of over time. Everyone is not meant to be on the same journey you take in life. Sometimes, we are so busy making excuses for people's behaviors that we overlook distinctive character flaws as someone just having an off moment. We have to remind ourselves that we deserve the same respect we exude. We make mistakes when we place temporary people in permanent positions. It can be difficult to decipher who deserves to be in which places. We take people places they should have never gone with us for far too long. I know I've been guilty of this many times and I wondered why things weren't going my way, it was because I had the wrong people placed in positions they didn't deserve. People don't support you like you'd think they would when you are heading in different directions than them. They don't reach out as much, they start to dwindle, they start to become busier than they ever were when you knew them. I've been trying to plan out how things will be once we relocate and which people will still be in my life and which people I am okay with letting go, and the decisions are difficult. We want so much for the ones we've become close to, to follow us and support us in our dreams and goals but I've realized that this isn't always what is best for our lives. More often times than not the people who we want to be there for us are never there the way we want for them to be or in some instances not there at all. When I questioned friends about starting my blog and my goals in the very near future, I was met with so much excitement and encouragement I was assured I had the confidence and the talent to excel. As, I got more into my blog that excitement and encouragement began to diminish. I didn't understand until I reached out to other women doing the same thing, and I did not truly understand until I read another one of these amazing women's blog post. If you're going through this, you can find this blog post here: Support From Friends - But seriously, I contemplated on whether my friends were truly my friends and analyzed if it had been me, what I would have done and then it hit me, everyone is not like me. I needed to be placing the people that were supportive of me in the positions I was placing the people I expected to be supportive of me. Sometimes, we are so busy making excuses for why people aren't doing what we want them to do instead of recognizing who they are and placing them in the correct position in your life, so you aren't disappointed.
- A tribute to my best friend, my life partner and my forever valentine. I couldn't think of better man for God to have paired me with. Thank you for being the best teammate and uplifting me when I'm down, for always giving me encouraging words when I need it. Thank you for always having my best interest at heart and being the extraordinary man you are. I am so honored to be marrying you, I will forever say YES. Being with you has made me proud, I'm a better person because of it. I know I say this a lot but I love you, you ask me why I reminisce so much and it's because I like to go back and compare the way you looked at me then, to how you look at me now. I like to examine how your eyes are still the same. I like to sit back and hear the songs you introduced me to and realize how 409 days have passed and how that song still makes me feel the same way it did when I heard it the first time. I love knowing that I have an amazing teammate who even if my team is losing is pushing for the win.
- I didn't think I would ever fall in love with anyone else's child. I never wanted to be apart of an already made family. I have always been selfish with my time, my sleep, my food, especially my food but then comes this little innocent child who wanted nothing but to be under me. (If you've read the other blog posts, you'll know my fiance has a child from his previous marriage). It took me a while to even accept this as I've never wanted anything to do with men from the fatherhood tribe, but there I was completely taken by a child who had nothing to do with the circumstances he was born into and wanting to spend more time with him. I was introduced to my fiancé's son last year unexpectedly. Actually, his entire family was thrust on me in mere minutes and I had no chance of running away. A friend of mine & I were supposed to meet him & a friend of his at the mall before they left to go back to Virginia; little did we know, we would be meeting his son, two brothers, mom and dad. I tried to run away immediately. I had been bamboozled. I acted like I didn't even know who he was. I continued to walk with my friend and pretend I didn't know him. Little did I know, I would be more involved than I thought. A few months passed and we got his son a couple of times, within about two to three-month intervals (he's military so, he's had little time off, in my previous posts I've discussed this) I was a little anxious this go around, because this was the time I was supposed to meet his son's mother. The first time we conversed which was over Instagram wasn't the greatest. So, I had reached out to her in hopes of smoothing things over for the good of their child and was hopeful things would go smoothly this time. Fast forward to the meet, we ended up meeting in not the best circumstances (she had to take their son to the ER, he is fine) but it went over very well. Later that night, my fiancé, his child's mother, her boyfriend and I all met for dinner to go over how things would work moving forward. I don't think any of us actually came to a concrete decision on what exactly to do, but things seem less chaotic than before. We had his son for about four days, it took me a little less than a month to fall in love with his father after reconnecting with him; so, I should've known his son would have been as lovable, but I wasn't aware it was possible to fall in love with someone else in such a short amount of time. His little boy stole my heart. I joked with friends that I had become a mother overnight. I found toys in my purse, I was waking up early and going to sleep late; making breakfast for a child who was a finicky eater, looking up how to make healthy meals more fun for toddlers and trying to find family friendly things to do (mind you we have two large dogs as well). I was at Walmart in the middle of the night trying to find the most homeopathic cough syrup for a toddler under 3 (Zarbee's is awesome by the way). I found myself sending my fiancé to the store to find things to help with his congestion just so he could sleep through the night without such a stuffy nose. My heart was broken at how congested he was and he got better within a couple days, I was overjoyed. I couldn't help but think how did I, someone who last year was out until 5am with her girlfriends bar hopping, trying to plan road trips across the US, the friend who found any occasion to celebrate with Tequila was now apart of an already made family. I had a ninja turtle in my purse, guys and I was okay with that. I was more cautious of the things I said, how I pronounced words that were important. I watched as he imitated me, how I stood, the things I said, the facial expressions I made and it made me a more conscious person. How could someone so small, in such a short amount of time change such a big portion of my life? He gravitated to our dogs immediately, I would find him sitting next to them having a conversation and my heart smiled. I realized, I may have been missed out on such a blessing in my life trying to avoid the men of the fatherhood tribe. I am so grateful that my relationship with my soon to be husband blossomed into what we are and that his mother continues to work with us to keep their relationship healthy. This two year old has taught me in such a short amount of time to be more conscious of myself, time-management and opening your heart to love more and he had no idea. I am forever grateful and I look forward to a long-lasting relationship.