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I feel a bit on the edge tonight, it’s the first time I’ve had space to breathe in weeks- or at least it feels like weeks. I’m a bit torn up inside, because, contrary to what I’ve been demonstrating on the outside, things just aren’t sitting right with me. You came home… not because I invited you, but because someone on your side of the fence made me feel guilty about keeping you out. Despite my trepidation, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see you-maybe I have my own addiction.

You came home as a model partner, regardless of the fact that you were rubbed raw yourself. Prepared to tow the line, and not for me, but for you this time. You invited me to your meetings and I met your counselor. You are taking the right steps… I got flowers at work yesterday and it was lovely… but tonight I just don’t feel lovely. I feel… tortured? Torn? I want to feel good about you, about us. I love you, without a doubt, I just think that these last two months have perhaps left bigger scars than I realized. 

I talked to an old friend tonight. There’s just something warm and fuzzy about connecting with some one that has known you since before forever. It makes you really look at your life; where you’ve been, where you’re going. And it made me scared. I’m scared I’m never going to be happy, scared that I’m always going to have to be the strong one. Maybe I’m just broken now.

When do I get to be weak? When do I get to lose it a little, go a little crazy? I feel on the edge tonight, I feel like maybe it’s my turn to make a mistake, or be reckless. 

J

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I am a broken person.

 
I feel like I gave everything I had, and I supported you the best way I knew how, and I got nothing back. I have nothing left, nothing left to give, and nothing left for myself. Just nothing, nothing, nothing. 
 
I went for days and days before and after you were in rehab feeling neglected, unloved and unwanted. And still, I tried to be there for you, I tried to support the person that I loved more than anything in the world. The person that I thought was my future. I pushed past the hurt, to give you what I thought you needed, to manage your care, your life, when you couldn’t. I did the things that I foolishly thought could make you “better”. I wasn’t sleeping, wasn’t eating- but I told everyone around me, “he’d do it for me”. And in return, when I thought things were finally getting better, when I thought we were at a beginning rather than an end, I was tricked, I was lied to. I was allotted 48 hours of hope, of optimism- just to find out it was all false, that you had been looking me in the eyes and lying to me. It makes me feel like everything was untrue, none of it was sincere and I wish I could erase that weekend from my memory, because it just makes the here and now hurt with a ferocity that is physical. I can FEEL this pain in a place deep inside. It’s twisting and eating up every scrap of sanity that I had left. 
 
I am an angry person.
 
The manipulation, the roller coaster of highs and lows has bubbled and fermented, emerging as a deep seated anger. Hatred at you for making me believe you loved me, and then taking every action to demonstrate the contrary. Hatred at myself, for putting up with it, for not being strong enough to walk away after you proved you couldn’t give me what I needed. I’m angry at every seemingly kind word you send my way now because it’s not fair- after everything you’ve done, everything that your addiction has put us through, you don’t deserve to send kindness my way. Where was the kindness and love when I needed it, when I begged for it? Why show that you are capable of it now, after everything is dead and buried in the ground? No, you don’t get to feel better by sending shallow niceties my way. Little nothings just designed to make you feel like more of a man. 
 
I am a vengeful person.
 
I am out for blood, and I can’t help it. I want to make you hurt, make you burn with the same pain that’s eating me alive. It isn’t fair that you were behind all of this, you caused the suffering, this neediness- you created this version of me that I despise. And now you get to walk away and be applauded for your decision to seek space, clarity, maybe sarcastically claim sobriety again. But every interaction with you makes me want to hurt you; I am not proud of this, this isn’t who I am or ever who I wanted to be. But this is the monster that you’ve created, and now you get to be my judge and jury too. Because I don’t respond to your “too little, too late” in the appropriate manner. Fuck you and your continued manipulation. Fuck you for trying to hurt me once again when I don’t pat you on the back for being kind for ONCE, for reaching out to me for ONCE. What a joke, I’ve spent weeks being “kind”, trying to make you “feel better”, and what did I ever get in return?
 
You are right, for the last two days, since I walked out of our home because your lies broke me, I don’t have anything nice to say. My remarks are full vitriol and venom. So forgive me for not showering you with praise, when way too late, you decide to throw a few scraps of kindness my way. 

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It’s been a rough start to 2014 or rather a difficult end to 2013, and the sadness has followed us into the New Year. AJ and I are animal people, it’s one of the greatest things that we have in common. But this past week, we had to say goodbye to one of our little darlings. LB was a fabulous pet- sweet, cuddly, easy going- really you can’t ask for more in a ferret.

Five days ago, he started suffering, and it was clear he was in pain. So at 1 AM AJ rushed him to the emergency vet, where they found not one, but 3 stones in his bladder. One of the stones was blocking his bladder completely, to the point where it wouldn’t empty and was ready to burst. The poor little guy had to go worse than ever, and the pressure just continued to build.

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Worse still, was the fact that even if the offending stone was removed, there were two more ready to take it’s place. With tears in her eyes, the vet explained to AJ that LB likely wouldn’t make it through one surgery, let alone three. Here’s where I have my biggest regret- I wasn’t there to hold AJ’s hand when he received that news. He had to absorb the fact that LB couldn’t be helped without being able to lean on me. As soon as we had realized that LB required acute care, AJ had whisked him out the door, and told me to stay put. I had no idea that it was a life or death situation, but something told AJ to protect me, and spare me, as much as possible from any difficult decisions that were to follow.

After a solemn phone conversation, we decided that the only option was to spare LB any more pain- since the vet had advised he didn’t have long and would be in constant agony until the end. So AJ made the final decision, signed the paperwork, and got a few more LB kisses before they ended his discomfort for good.

Now we don’t have any children, so for us, this truly feels like losing a family member. I know my perceptions will shift if I someday become Mommy to a baby with two legs rather than four; but for now, our little circus is all I know. We spent the rest of that long night in alternate tears and silence, sitting on the couch staring at, but not really watching the television.

So as we move farther into 2014, we’re still struggling to shake the sadness and focus on the opportunity for a fresh start. We did adopt some adorable little friends fairly quickly, as LB’s sister was left behind. Ferrets who are paired don’t fare well when they lose their best friends, in fact, they are known to die of a broken heart. To ease her pain ( and in turn ours) we added these guys to our brood:

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Until Later,

Jessa Jay

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Every little girl dreams about the white dress, the ring, and of course the groom. But as of a few years ago, I retired that dream entirely. After a series of failed relationships, I was under no circumstance looking for a committed relationship, let alone the white picket fence. I was completely content with my apartment, new puppy, and gym addicted life style- what more could a girl need?

Then along came AJ. In all respects he was the one that got away. In college we were buddies, and we tap danced around the fact that we were both in relationships during those years- we shared a few clandestine moments in my dorm and his west Philly condo (sorry Ashely and Bill- but you’re both married now, so all’s well that ends well, right?). But to my dismay, nothing serious ever evolved back then, at least nothing beyond a solid friendship. So when we started chatting again, I was thrilled with the chance at a real date.

That first real date turned into an entire weekend, and a few weeks later he packed up his stuff and we somehow found a way to cram it all into my one bedroom place. From there came a bigger place, new jobs and a distinctly intertwined life. We share a space, bank accounts and things- we own kitchen gadgets, pets, furniture together. If a ring suddenly appeared on my finger tomorrow, would it change one thing about our daily lives? Not one bit.

As a result of our year and a half relationship, my desire for the white picket fence and all of it’s accoutrements has reared its ugly head once again. To the point of secret pinterest boards, and lofty web searches for the perfect ring. But alas, the man who captured my heart has no desire for marriage- no understanding of how a piece of paper can validate our feelings- and as I stated just in the previous paragraph, it wouldn’t change our lives a bit- except that it would.

I can’t quantify the reasons why its important, why husband and wife is so different than just Jessa and AJ. But it just is. As an atheist and agnostic, we don’t associate the typical religious or spiritual ideologies with matrimony- so those justifications don’t hold any water. I guess I just see it as a commitment, a binding agreement, in front of family and friends to navigate life together. To be, and create a family. But could we do those things without wedding vows? Yes. Are we already doing some of those things? Yes.

As each day passes, and more Facebook friends change their relationship statuses to “engaged”, do I resign myself to be forever “in a relationship”? AJ isn’t heartless, he is a good strong man, who is in fact willing to do the marriage thing- for me. But can a wedding really hold the significance its supposed to when the groom’s heart’s not in it?

Until Later,

Jessa Jay

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During the holidays my thoughts often wander to those who have experienced some hardship, or loss during previous year. Some times the inherent joy of the season just seems to amplify loss or heartache, it’s a time of year where the size of those missing pieces can expand like the Grinch’s heart on Christmas day. But you know what they say, without experiencing sorrow, how can we recognized and appreciate joy?

Anyhow, it seems as though there is lots of heartache in the world around me, or maybe I am just more perceptive than I used to be. Various friends have posted photo memorials on Facebook- a good friend lost her father suddenly this year, a college teammate lost hers a few years back after a long illness- these experiences impress upon me how lucky I am to have so many wonderful people in my life, and how deep it would cut me to lose any of them. Of these many tradgedies, there is one that has weighed heavier on my heart. And interestingly enough, this was a loss that happened on the very periphery of my life- I viewed it from arm’s length, and yet it has really stuck with me.

Earlier this year, one of my colleagues very unexpectedly passed away. He was very senior in his department, and despite the fact that we worked in completely different facets of the business, our cubes  were situated mere feet from one another. Our interactions were fairly limited, cordial hellos and goodbyes. When I first joined the company, he was kind enough to sit with me, and explain how his department fit into the larger puzzle. So we weren’t close in any respect, but you end up learning a lot about a person, when you work quietly beside them.

DD was a quiet person, with a slight accent from his years living abroad. He was articulate and seemed as though he would have been just as at home in front of a lecture hall full of college students. Smart and exacting he worked closely with Marc, and I was privy to their daily conversations about work and life. Frequently they would break for lunch, strolling down to the deli in the basement of our building, and selecting a sandwich to share. They had known each other many years, and worked together with an enviable ease and comfortability.

Most days DD would receive a call (or several) from his daughter. Jenna was an addict, and although I am not certain about her drug of choice, I know she wasn’t safely in recovery. He would take almost each and every one of her calls- his cellphone had a distinctive ring assigned to her, I quickly learned. Even when he couldn’t spare a moment to chat, he would answer and quickly reassure her that they’d talk soon. And he handled her needs very publicly- never scurrying into a conference room and closing the door. He didn’t seem to be ashamed of her misfortunes, which always impressed and puzzled me.

Jenna was struggling- always looking for/quitting a job, asking for money, or perhaps reeling from a recent break up. But DD’s devotion never wavered. I remember one conversation in particular, where she had claimed to have gotten a job as a dog groomer, and desperately needed money for grooming supplies, as she had already booked her first client. Another time, she must have requested funds for some other venture, and DD questioned her about a rather large sum of money that she had been provided only days prior. I always wondered how DD felt, working a few seats away from myself- a girl of very similar age to his daughter, who had made different choices, and been handed different proclivities. I never considered how her difficulties must have worn on him.

It was springtime when we received the mass email. The birds were chirping, flowers were beginning to bloom, and the earth was coming alive, after months of bitter cold. DD was dead. There was little explanation, and a lack of direction about how to proceed with condolences. For days afterwards I searched for an obituary, but always came up empty handed. Rumors swirled around the office- it was so very sudden, and given his age it was likely a heart attack, maybe an aneurysm. The day that Marc came back to work my heart broke for him- he sat in silence, no one to chit chat with, no one to share lunch with.

We never received any further answers or clarifications. We were told the family had chosen to intern DD privately, and that was that. Marc was relocated to opposite corner of the office, and soon new hires sat in the little alcove where DD once was. I didn’t forget though. I wondered about his daughter, and how Jenna was fairing without a father- I can’t imagine losing my Dad, and I certainly don’t depend on him to the same extent. Who was answering her calls now? How was she surviving such an immense loss, given her obvious hurdles?

Recently, we got some insight into DD’s death. As we sat and enjoyed lunch on the last work day before the holiday, our boss discretely let it slip that it had been suicide. This newest revelation threw me for a loop- DD had decided to end it, it hadn’t been an accident- it had been premeditated. Suddenly I was consumed with questions- how, where, who must’ve found him… What about Jenna?

Until Later,

Jessa Jay

Ps- there is always a way out: 1-800-273-TALK http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

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Well its been a day. An enormous decision sits on my shoulders, I know I should try to unwind, but my thoughts constantly wander back to this potentially life changing decision.

Last week I took a leap, and expressed my interest in a new position at work. It’s a sales position, and I would earn commission on top of the salary I’m currently living on. The possibilities are endless, the workload, and drive required are immense. In a year, I could earn enough commission to buy a house. But the stakes are high as well.

If I don’t meet my quota, I’ve got a good chance of losing my place within the company. Is the risk worth the reward? Or do I continue to work under an old classmate, who runs hot and cold without warning? I’ve got support from my current colleagues, and a recommendation from all of my colleagues who currently sit on the sales team. It seems like a fabulous opportunity and it is. But soon the moment will arrive where I’m asked yes or no, do you want to take the leap? How excruciating it is to be certain about anything.

For example, a couple that AJ went to school with recently confessed that things just weren’t working out. We attended their wedding less than a year and a half ago… I’m sure on their wedding day they were certain that they were making the right decision, promising to be there in sickness and in health… And until things got too tough, apparently.

Not that I should compare my career to a marriage, but each of us only gets a short time on this earth, and as a result there’s an intense pressure to make all the right choices. How dreadful, and what an absolute waste of time to choose poorly. But to choose to play it safe could be the ultimate failure, and result in forgoing the greatest successes.

For tonight at least, I’m going to try to enjoy the chili I’ve had bubbling on the stove, and indulge in one more glass of wine.

Until Later,

Jessa Jay

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I think as I grow older, quirks about my personality become more apparent to me. Especially relative to my relationships, those vast and tenuous ties I have to those I surround myself with.

One thing I’ve really noticed late!y is my need for control. For schedules to be exact and agreed upon, for rules to be set and followed. Even the lack of a plan is planned; for example- last Sunday the name of the game was staying home and not scheduling anything that could turn into an obligation, and yet deviation from that “un-plan” would have met with some resistance from me. This realization does shed some light on past fixations-some issues with weight, food and exercise that I was always told were rooted in control, or lack thereof, I suppose. It makes more sense now than it did then.

Even at this very moment I am overly satisfied with the plan to deliver AJ to the airport tomorrow morning, and fetch him upon his return on Friday night. Since I will be behind the wheel, I will be effectively in control, and not depending, or waiting on someone else to act.

Little by little I am understanding how important it is to recognize your own idiosyncrasies, to better understand how to function and excel in the world around you. In large part, I owe these little introspective gems to AJ. These self realizations are a direct result of learning and growing together. Not only do I learn more about him each day, but I learn more about me too.

How we manage to function, what with his free spirited nature, and penchant for floating whichever way the wind blows him, is another story. We’re a study in balance, that’s for sure.

Until Later,

Jessa Jay

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Dear AJ,

I might not remember the first moment we spoke, (like you do) but I do remember how you’ve made me feel in the many moments since then. You started out as my friend, my teammate, and even in those days I could trust you to catch me when I fell. 

You gave me the type of indescribable butterflies that jumped into my throat each time we spoke. Beautiful, intelligent and independent, it wasn’t long before my feelings for you went further than friendship. We’d inevitably find ourselves in the same places- our paths crossing in the athletic center, at parties, and during nights out in the city.

With the exception of a few chance encounters, there wasn’t much room for romance between us then. We both had the type of obligations that we weren’t quite ready to walk away from, but we  harbored just enough curiosity to test the boundaries a few times. My affection for you then was the young adoration of a girl not yet tested, or trampled by life. It was pure, lustful and mostly unspoken.

I never forgot those days, as life post graduation took us down different paths. You were traveling the country, chasing your dreams while I stuck closer to my roots and struggled to salvage my first entrepreneurial effort. You were never forgotten, and I was thankful for the few times our paths crossed during those years, conversations here and there, held mostly through social media. I couldn’t help but wonder what if; you were the epitome of ‘the one who got away’.

Fast forward a few years, and we yet again found ourselves in the same space, this time both literally and figuratively. You were heading back to the city where we first met, staying for a few nights to perform at some comedy clubs. I hadn’t strayed far, living just outside the city in the suburbs, and suddenly I found myself with a second chance.

What if?

We arranged to meet outside your hotel. The moment I saw you things were different, but oh so very much the same. You were still beautiful and imposing, but slightly roughened by life’s hard edges. Adulthood had taken us far from the carefree kids we had been in school. We spent the evening driving aimlessly to a theater we never found; settling instead for drinking red wine and talking until the sun came up. Shy cuddles turned into kisses, and I was once again that smitten college kid.

The next day reality seeped in, I wondered what the night before had truly meant, if your feelings had any chance of meeting the depth of mine. In the afternoon I headed back to your hotel, riddled with the fear that we’d once again tested that boundary just to remain on the platonic side of the line. Weary from lack of sleep, you opened the door to your room with a rueful grin. You plucked me off my feet and tucked me into the down comforter on the king size bed. Snuggled in safe, sound, and right by your side; I knew was finally home.

After three weeks of traveling across the state each weekend, spending every spare moment together, we were once again sprawled on my couch. Sundays had become a routine, both of us dreading the week ahead because it meant five more days apart. But that weekend you decided you weren’t leaving, and upon my simple invitation, you picked up your life and and we began again together.

Almost a year and a half later, I still get those butterflies.

All My Love,

Jessa Jay

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I have never been the type to have a large group of girlfriends. I’ve always tended to stick closest to one or two people; the ones I know I can trust. Corie is one of those people. Friends from the first day of art class in 7th grade, there isn’t much we haven’t shared in over 13 years of friendship. And despite her frequent relocations and the many miles between us as a result of her military career- we continue to remain extremely close friends.

So today Corie and I were messaging back and forth, catching up on the holiday weekend’s festivities. She had met up with some old friends from high school, girls that she was closer with than I had been. One of them in particular- a short, serious brunette named Bree, had seemed to have finally found happiness. She had met an attractive, friendly guy, and they had moved in together. This information was par for the course- our conversations often revolve around old friends who have coupled up, gotten married, or had babies.

However there was an unusual exception to Bree’s happily ever; Bree and her new man were waiting until marriage.
Hold the phone- no sex? They were going to sign the papers without ever having taken a test drive?

Apparently, Bree had become quite dedicated to her faith over the years, and her new man shared her beliefs. Despite living, showering and sleeping in the same home, they were keeping it in their pants.

Unbelievable.

Furthermore, I suppose to cut down on temptation, they also had separate bedrooms. Because, I’m sure, that must’ve been the way god intended it.

Now hold on a moment- before anyone gets their panties in a twist- I am not hating on god, jesus or their various ghosts or spirits (or something like that. My personal lack of faith also comes with a healthy dose of ignorance- I’ve never been to bible study). I understand and respect the fact that some people have faith. Who am I to judge anyone’s relationship with religion? But no sex? That I can judge.

What if when the fated wedding night finally arrives, she’s breathlessly waiting to consummate the marriage, and it’s a disaster? Awkward elbows, knees, and angles that just don’t work. Imagine the disappointment, when she realizes that this is what she has just signed up for until death do they part.

I mean obviously no one expects their first time to be earth shattering. The most memorable part of my own first time was after the deed had been done. After the five minute marathon was over, I sat up from my uncomfortable position in the backseat and said, “that…was it?” I mean, we were seventeen and in the backseat of a car- but still, a wedding night shouldn’t be fraught with the same awkwardness as two teenagers in a Pontiac.

Until Later,

Jessa Jay

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So I’ve come to semi belong in the “office clique”. This means things like going out for happy hour on Fridays, the occasional lunch date & having others to commiserate with on a rough day. But there’s always that strange disconnect with office mates-they are real people, but in my mind, they exist only within the walls of the of the online journal aggregator that we work for. Their adventures outside of the office weren’t something I’d ever considered, and really, it had been just fine that way. I liked knowing my friends through their various abilities-account coordination, tech support, email marketing.

But one day all of that changed. Karen decided to bridge the gap and take a horrifying leap of trust.

“Can I tell you something you can never tell anyone else?” she says, as we drunkenly stand outside the local margarita joint, Karen flicking her cigarette into the puddles from that day’s rain.

“Of course.”

“You know Derrick, right?”

Of course I do- he is Karen’s boss, and an all around nice guy. We tease Karen often about Derrick, the two get along like two peas in a pod. Derrick’s name had been coming up more frequently in our conversations recently, so despite his wife and two kids, (and despite Karen’s 6 year, live-in relationship) it had become pretty obvious that Karen might’ve had a bit of a crush. But I was not prepared for what Karen had to say next.

“I know I’ve been joking around about Derrick-but what if I told you something had already happened?”

I think I just nodded, I was pretty shocked, and for once I was completely speechless.

“I gave him a blow job, in the single restroom at work.”

Now what in the fuck was I supposed to do with that tidbit of information?! My version of Karen in tech support was completely shattered, and in her place stood a secretive, sultry adulterer.

“Oh my god!”, I said, unable to hide my complete shock. She just smirked and nodded, giving her spent cigarette a flick, and turning to head back inside.

So now, I know about it, and I can’t un-know about it. In fact Karen had taken it a step farther later on that night, saying that she wanted to get Derrick alone in the hotel room she’d booked for our upcoming company holiday party. Personally I wasn’t amped enough on the party to book a room and stay, but I could certainly understand Karen’s motivations.

Additionally, Karen’s cube isn’t far from mine, so now each time I hear giggling behind the divider my mind treats me to an image of Karen on her knees in the single bathroom with the ugly tile.

But I guess anyone whose ever lived in the kind of glass house where Karen’s currently residing, shouldn’t really dare to throw any stones.

Until Later,

Jessa Jay

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