I’m Sick of Pretending

I’d like to make a confession.

I am terrified right now. I know what I need to do to go forward. I know what’s required to survive. I used to be so resilient. I’d bounce back from anything the fates threw at me.

But there’s been too much bouncing. Too many times I’ve had to find the pieces of my shattered life and putting them back together.

There has been too much goddamned loss. There ate too many scars. There are too many pieces of me cut off. This last time was too much. I just knew deep in my soul that he lives me. But he didn’t. I was wrong again. And I broke my own heart.

Moving won’t bring any if what I’ve lost back. I will always be missing pieces. I will always have this hole in my middle. I’ve run before. Then I came back and lost even more. I’ve hurt myself beyond measure. The fates have taken my confidence. They’ve left me dangling in the wind. I’m not getting stronger here. I’m not finding what I’ve never had. I had it. And then it was gone. Poof!

I have a story to tell and it’s a long one, folks. I hope you read to the end, but I think you already know the end.

I don’t know what age is “normal” for loss to begin, but I was 10. I’d lost pets before, but this time was different. I lost my grandfather, who was the only positive male figure I’d ever had in my life. He was more of a father to me than the sack of shit who actually sired me. He was kind and gentle. And I was there when he dropped dead.

He was mowing when he had a massive heart attack. My brother saw it. I was taking a nap. My grandmother woke me up and loaded us all in the car while the medics worked on my grandpa. I didn’t quite grasp the urgency of the situation. Grandpa was alright. He was just sick. We were going to go pick him up. It seemed like forever before we got to the hospital. My aunt and grandmother left us in the car. It was my brother, me, and someone I can’t remember. After a while I became bored and started singing. I was singing the song we were working on in school – something cheerful and bright. I don’t remember what it was but it made my grandmother angry when she heard me singing. That’s when she’d come to tell us he passed. I didn’t understand until later. They’d called my father in prison to tell him. When they said he was crying I lost my shit. And that is the last thing I remember about that entire period.

My mother convinced me to stay home from the funeral and then convinced me that side of my family hated me. I’d lost them all in one fell swoop. That was the first time I learned that people didn’t give a shit about me. So I didn’t give a shit about them. To this day I don’t care about those people. I even have a younger sister who lives close that I have never met and have no desire to meet. My mother really made me believe I was no longer a part of that family.

I spent the next few years trying to find a way to fit in, but we moved schools once a year. We were never anywhere long enough for me to make friends. So I became a loner. I was ok with no friends. I was the odd kid who got bullied every time. Until I fought back. I always fought back. I’m still always fighting.

Three year later we finally settled in the town where I live now. And I finally made some friends. I finally found a best friend. I fit in somewhere. I fit with the misfits and outcasts. Prior to this I was a very strong student. I always made sure I did well in school. That stopped when I got in high school. I learned to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, smoke weed, and sell my mother’s pills.

That’s the year my mother first allowed a boy to stay with me. And sleep in my bed. He was 16 and his mother had kicked him out. We fought like crazy, which made everyone crazy. And we had a lot of sex. Finally we broke up and he left.

So, I went back to being the hated child. Biff and I plotted our escape. We were going to run away. So, we got out a map of the US and dropped a dime on it. Wherever that dime landed was where we were going.

Sometime after we were at a party. We always went to parties. I met a 20ish year old guy (I was friends with his brother) and talked to him for a while. Then he asked if we could talk outside. I said yes. He took me to his car and raped me. That wasn’t the first time I’d been raped, but that’s the first time since I was 9. I didn’t tell anyone. There was no point.

And after that is when I met the Colombian. He had been hanging around the school, doing gymnastics for people. He and his brothers did flips off everything. Those were the days of breakdancing and this guy was good. But I didn’t formally meet him at the school.

Biff and I were at a grocery store when we ran into him and his brothers. He said that it was live at first sight for him. I didn’t even like him until he said he was from Tampa, Florida. The city where our dime landed. I was over the moon. This guy was going to be my ticket gone. I immediately got close with him.

After we were together for a week or so my mother let him move in. He was allowed to sleep in my bed with me while he was in Ohio as long as he paid the rent. He went further and bought furniture and a car. She allowed him to have full control of me. One time she even encouraged him to just beat my ass – and then watched him do it. At the time it seemed normal. My friends thought it was so cool. And two of them even dated his brothers and friend (bodyguard). My mother started sleeping with his older brother. She never let up on me though. Everything was for the money. I was drinking, smoking pit and sleeping with a drug runner. She was perfectly fine with it.

That’s when the most exciting adventure of my entire life happened. That story isn’t going in this blog. Suffice it to say I was living with a drug runner and shit got crazy. That’s the adventure I’ll be putting in book form.

Then I came back and was dropped back into my teenage life. I was back with a whole new attitude. I was still quiet, but something about me commanded respect. The rumors about my adventures were circulating thanks to Biff. No one quite believed her, but they didn’t fuck with me just in case. Except for one girl. She hit me in the face and I broke her nose. I was quiet, scared JJ anymore. I was all grown up now. I turned 17 that summer and ran wild. Biff and I were always up to no good.

I took the test for the Air Force and passed with flying colors. I was going to go in, do my time then use the GI Bill for college. Until I got pregnant. That was that.

I was a beast for years after that. When I met Bobby we became a power couple. When people talked about us it was never singularly. We we always “Bob and Jen”. He was a total alpha. No one fucked with him. Except me. And he used to beat the ever-loving shit out of me. Eventually he’d beat my head off a wall for any slight. I’d smack him in the face with whatever was handy. We stayed together for 4 fucking years. That’s another chapter in my book so I’ll skip ahead.

Then my great-grandmother died. She was my idol. She taught me how to be strong. I was devastated. Still I trudged on. She was old. It was time.

I was completely and totally sure of myself until my son died. I’ve already written that story. His death killed my soul. I was no longer invincible. I gave up and gave TheMan all control. What was the point? Guilt consumed me. I blamed the life I’d lead. Time to go by someone else’s rules.

Then my mother died. Again the guilt. We’d made peace, my mother and I. WAe finally became close and I finally forgave her. She thought I was murdering her at the end. It was a horrible experience.

Each time I lost someone or something I managed to get on with it. I was so used to people leaving. I was used to being alone in my head. I became someone completely different. But I kept trying. I counted my blessings every day. I reminded myself constantly that life could be worse and that I needed my kids to be safe.

A lot of stuff happened in those empty places of my story. Lil’lady is friends with the daughter of a man who helped himself to my body, for example. Stuff that made me hate people. Things that made me hate myself. I lost my dignity and a good chunk of my humanity.

And you know what else I’ve lost since then. Those parts are on my blog. Mostly. I lost my security and all of my confidence. When I got free I tried to love again – to start a fresh life. Both attempts were miserable failures. I think that’s why I got on an airplane to go see.folks I’d only know from the Internet – to force myself to be brave again. To believe in people again. To believe I’m someone worth loving.

It worked for a while. I am so happy to have met my friends. But then I had to come back to real life. And the struggle to find some peace in my life. I thought I had some. I thought a lot of things and I was wrong about all of them.

Now I’m terrified. I’m afraid of what’s coming next. I just realized that today. I’m grasping at anything to prove that I’m still capable. I’m making quite the show of it. I’m going to do this and I’m a master of this and wow I’m super awesome. Haha it’s so great. But I’m too afraid to hold on. What’s the point, right? I have so much life to live. I am so ready to run off i to the sunset and have more adventures. Except I’m missing the pieces that made me so bold. I’ve got too many scars. I’ve stuck my hand in the fire too many times.

I’ve always known that to beat the fear you have to face the fear head on. You can’t pretend it doesn’t exist, but it can be overcome. That’s why I’ve always jumped at the chance at adventure. Fuck fear. But this is deeper. It’s stronger and better defined. This isn’t the neighbor’s snake slithering across my floor or taking a chance to love a much younger man. I am afraid of my future.

How do you face that fear? Sure, I just keep chugging. But there aren’t many good parts of me left. Which parr gets chopped off next? How do I face my fate with strength and dignity when all I want to do is hide away in my room?

I’m letting my mask slip because it’s gotten too heavy for me. I want peace and calm. I want to end my days with someone who loves me. I want to be proud of my life. Except I’m afraid to even try at this point. Can I even handle more pain? It’s coming. It always does. I’m just so tired of it.

I like geeky stuff, politics, squirrels and monkeys.

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