Love breakthrough

Emotional roller-coaster. That’s the best way to describe my feelings this year. Ever since that one ugly marital fight a year ago in September, I’ve felt it all. Well, almost all. Frustration and resentment stemmed from that day, and lasted through couples therapy. It  transformed into sadness and longing as I transitioned into individual therapy to process my Mom/abandonment issues. After I peeled off that Mom layer, all hell broke loose as I processed the sexual, physical and emotional abuse that followed. Fear, shame, sadness, anger, disgust, guilt, depression…basically months of negative emotions. It seemed as though it might never end, but it did. Little by little, I started having happy moments, empowered moments, fun moments. Like a pendulum, I would swing back and forth between the highs and lows, though luckily I could see some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. I kept up my “work”… therapy, writing, meditating, nurturing myself… trying to love myself.  Sometimes, I was just going through the motions, but that’s just part of the process. The positive moments eventually started to outnumber the negative ones, and I turned the corner.  I started believing in myself. I started to feel a little less unworthy. I shed a lot of that heavy guilt and began to learn, appreciate and accept…me. Though, throughout it all, one thing kept bothering me. I couldn’t feel love. Through my painful, exhausting work, I rewired my brain enough to believe that the people around me loved me. I knew it to be true, in my head. I just couldn’t feel it. So many times, I would find myself nervously admitting to my therapist that I couldn’t feel anyone’s love or caring for me, not even my children. I was ashamed of this. It made me feel ungrateful to admit it, like I was not appreciative of the people around me. Especially when I said I couldn’t feel the love from my children. What kind of mother says that? This type. This mother who is nothing but raw, open and honest sitting on that couch. I give therapy…I give me…my all. I’m not wasting time playing games or pretending. I want to be “normal” so desperately, so I tell Susan everything. Everything. Each time I told her this, I looked down in shame, imagining her thinking I’m ungrateful or selfish or whatever it is I’m thinking of myself when I say it. She didn’t.  Each time she reassured me, “It will happen in its own time”, smiling. Smiling, like she knows. I never believed her, because I knew I was different from her other clients. She thinks she knows, but she doesn’t know.

Well, she does know. I’ll be damned if there’s a thing about the human soul this woman does not know. I’ve been not feeling love since…well, since…hmm. I don’t know. I guess that’s a long time. I’m sure I’ve felt it at some point in my life, but right now, I can’t recall. I can remember feeling it, but with conditions. Knowing it was at risk if I didn’t play by the rules, and is that really love? Anyway, it happened. It happened at my butterfly party (see last post). I wasn’t sure if it was the alcohol, or maybe the song, or just that I was with a fun group of people, or I was tired. I felt like I had to blame it on something, because I was afraid to let myself think it really happened. If it really happened, something else would happen to make it not real, or go away, and I would be left feeling empty. Feeling loss. Feeling that hole inside my soul again. It’s much easier to just set myself up to not let the things I want to happen occur, then I won’t be disappointed. But you know what? It happened. And it wasn’t the booze. And it wasn’t the song. I know this because it happened Saturday night, and each day since then, I’ve thought about it…and cried. Oh sure, I cry all the time, but not this type of cry. This one is hard to describe…a feeling of love, joy and belonging, mixed with the sadness of knowing it’s something I’ve been missing for so many years. As I was surrounded by that circle of friends, as I looked into each of their eyes as they smiled and sang to me, I felt it. I felt love and I cried, because I honestly thought it was just never in the cards for me to feel that…to have people want to give me that. This is what I’ve been working on all year.  I went from a girl who felt she didn’t deserve a damn thing in life… not love, not kids, not attention, not even going to therapy, to a girl who felt she deserved to throw herself a birthday party. A party to acknowledge her freedom from the heavy shame she’d been carrying around from her childhood. A party to acknowledge her bravery in getting divorced so she could preserve her true self. I stood right in the middle of that freaking love circle and accepted it all. I felt no shame. That’s when I realized I had accomplished my greatest feat yet…I had learned to love me.

“People smile and tell me I’m the lucky one….”



Butterfly party




I can remember when we were deciding to buy this house. It was about 8 years ago, and as we toured the open floor plan, we both kept saying how great of a house it would be to throw parties in…and we were right. I’ve hosted so many birthday parties, Christmas parties, craft-night parties, baby showers… you name it. I love entertaining. If I was not out doing something fun with my friends, I was having them over to do it here. Social butterfly, always something going on. I was a good time!

I was not consciously aware that by constantly socializing and developing new friendships, I was covering up the “real me”…the me that I hoped no one would ever see. The me that was insecure, and unlovable. The me that had done so many shameful things in the past. The unworthy me.   I was desperately trying to fill the hole inside me and create that feeling of emotional intimacy I didn’t even realize I was craving. I was trying to create a feeling of being needed and wanted… “worthy”… the feelings I never felt in my marriage, or from any boyfriend, or from my parents, or really from anyone other than my children. It fascinates me that I was oblivious to all of this as I went about my socialization. I knew it was an accomplishment that I went from being that “loser me” to the “popular me”. I had worked hard on changing it, but honestly never thought in a million years it would work. I slipped into this dream role so effortlessly, no one had a clue. I was so good at it, even I didn’t have a clue.

Fast forward to earlier this year.  I started therapy and the journey of processing my entire life. Opening up Pandora’s box was painful and raw, and made me realize the role I had been playing was not the “real me”. I felt like a fraud, and knew that if my friends found out who the “real me” was, they would know I’m a fraud, too. I couldn’t imagine keeping the act up with them, now that I had acknowledged who I really was. I dropped out of the public eye for a few months. I couldn’t face anyone. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere… except my therapist’s office.  This is when I realized where I was my entire life…in a cocoon. It’s one thing to live in a cocoon, blissfully unaware. Sure, it’s uncomfortable, but when it’s all you know, it’s not so bad. It’s a whole other thing to be aware… to realize you are trapped inside. It’s crazy how shame can be such a bully. Trauma causes your brain to protect you in the most bizarre ways. Blaming and shaming yourself is so much easier than acknowledging the horror of what really happened to you. I became my own worst enemy. No one could judge me harder than I was judging myself, but I couldn’t understand that at the time.  I understand now.

I understand now, because I spent the past 9 months working hard to rewire the thought processes in my brain. It took me 9 months to  crack through the layers of that cocoon and start my real life.   I’m now on the outside, with the cocoon pieces surrounding me, admiring these beautiful new wings amidst the dark remnants. I think it will take me some time to figure out how to use them to their full potential, but that’s ok…I’ve got my whole life ahead of me.

Last night, I entertained friends for the first time in over a year. I just turned 45, so I threw myself a party. It seemed fitting, as it’s been 9 months since I started this journey. Sometimes, you have to die a little bit inside in order to be reborn. I called it my “Re-Birth Party” and invited my tribe. My tribe consists of friends who have met the “real me” and didn’t think I was a fraud at all. Friends who didn’t judge me one bit (something I still occasionally have to remind myself to believe) for those horrible things “I did” over the years. Friends who saw me feeling unworthy and unlovable and instead of running away like I assumed they would, stayed and valued me and loved me. Still, I have had a hard time feeling that love, even though I now know it exists. This work takes time, I guess.  I actually have quite an extended tribe, which is pretty amazing. I couldn’t have all of them here… you gotta start in baby steps. Anyway, this party was perfect. We ate and drank and laughed and danced, and even had a disco ball! It lasted till 1am, which is pretty late for a group of 40 and 50-somethings! Everyone was happy. I was happy. I was surrounded by empowering, uplifting, loving friends, and it was real. Towards the end of the night, we linked arms and sang along with “Danny’s Song”. I ended up in the middle, with me singing to them and them singing to me. “And in the morning when I rise, bring a tear of joy to my eyes and tell me everything is gonna be alright…”  and that’s exactly what happened. I was moved to tears, but for the first time since I started this journey, they were tears of joy.  I was worthy. I was lovable. I was happy.


Pretty amazing dysfunctional Thanksgiving sleepover #SOCS


(This post is a part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Basically, I’m supposed to write organically…no rewrites or edits, just let it flow. The word prompt is “pretty”. )  So, here goes nothing…

This Thanksgiving was pretty amazing. It went down pretty much the same way it’s gone down the past several years…my mother in law (and her dog), sister-in-law and her husband, my husband’s two nieces and their husbands (and their two dogs), me, my husband, my two sons and  our dog, all at my house. It’s only my husband’s family, not mine.  Everyone comes around 2pm, as is tradition.  I cook the turkey and desserts and they all bring a side dish, as is tradition. We eat dinner then move on to playing board games while drinking and being merry, as is tradition. Someone inevitably brings up politics or some controversial conversation, which of course never ends well when people are drinking. Someone inevitably starts yelling, which I think is pretty common at family gatherings…especially when you combine alcohol and dysfunctional family dynamics. This time, it happened to be about Trump and Muslims. (Funny how hidden family racism is not so hidden after a few bottles of wine). Nothing ever too major, since this family is used to fighting, and nothing that can’t be smoothed over with a few distractions…then we go on with our business of having a good time, as is tradition. The majority of the evening is full of laughs and quality time spent together. I especially enjoy the nieces and their husbands. They are all in their 20s and a blast to hang out with. I’ve known the girls since they were little kids, so it’s cool to have a relationship with them as adults…as equals. Around 1am, everyone (including the 2 boxers, 1 golden-doodle and 1 bulldog) packs into our 4 bedrooms and spends the night. (Someone usually passes out on the couch from having one too many shots…and one of them fell in the bathroom and crushed my dryer vent this year…one more thing to add to my appliance repair list). Every year, this is what we do. Same food, same conversation, same games, same fights, same drinking. It’s a giant dysfunctional family sleepover, and even though someone always has an argument, and most are extremely hung over the next morning, they all seem to love this tradition. My boys laugh so much at the bantering and storytelling. It brings me joy to see them interact with family.


So, what makes this dysfunctional Thanksgiving sleepover “pretty amazing”, compared to all the other ones? My husband and I separated a month ago. He moved out, and I am living here in our home with our two children. It’s still fresh…the separation. Some heavy shit went down between us this summer. Yet somehow, despite all of said heavy shit, we have been able to continue being a family with our two boys. Last week, we went to the Patriots game (damn Seahawks…grrrr….) as a family. The other night, he came over for dinner. And last night, he and his entire family came and we broke bread (and wine glasses and dryer vents) and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. Why? Because I want my children to understand that family doesn’t end just because Mom and Dad don’t live together anymore. I can remember family holidays when I was a little kid. We would all gather at my grandmother’s house…my uncles and cousins…so much fun. Then, one by one, they all got divorced. And next thing you know, there’s no such thing as family gatherings anymore.  No more bonding. After the age of 10 or so, I never saw my cousins again…and two of them lived the next town over. We finally reconnected in my 20s, when a cousin happened to deliver a pizza to my house. We looked at each other for a few seconds, and realized “hey, you look familiar…”  We rekindled our relationship and have since become close, but I regret the time lost over the years. I don’t want my boys to know the feeling of family disappearing. It leaves a void, whether you realize it at the time or not. I want my boys to feel as much love, as much belonging, as much happiness as I can give to them. Things may change down the road. I have no idea if my husband and I will still be amicable a year from now. I have no idea if one of these dysfunctional drunken fights will be between me and him instead of my mother in law and sister-in-law. I have no idea if he will be married to someone else next year. All I know is this year. All I know is we are amicable right now. So right now, my kids just had a great, fun, traditional family Thanksgiving, bonding with their grandmother and aunt and cousins and mom and dad, a month after their dad moved out…and that’s pretty amazing.

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Nov. 26/16



Today I turn 45. I’ve never been one to regret growing older. I’m grateful to have made it this far. Since I was a teenager, I’ve always had this feeling that I was going to die young. I never really knew how young, but I knew I would never make it to grandparent age. I think I often pictured it to be in my 30s or 40s, so to make it to 45 is pretty good. Why? No idea. Just something I’ve always “known”. Not a suicidal thought, just regular old dying…like disease or accident or something out of my hands.  Kind of like how I’ve always known that living “happily ever after” was never in the cards for me. I grew up knowing I wasn’t the type of girl who was going to have someone fall madly in love with her and want nothing more than to spend the rest of his life with her.  Sometimes, I would imagine it, but inevitably scolded myself for dreaming about things I didn’t deserve. I was never quite sure why I didn’t deserve them, but I was smart enough to be aware of it. Like not living to be old, it was out of my hands. These are things I’ve just inherently known, like knowing I was female, or I was Native American, Italian and French…you are who you are and the things that are going to happen, well…they just happen.


Now that I’ve started on my journey this year, I think I’ve started to unravel the mystery of why I’ve always had those feelings. They seemed so normal my whole life, up until this year. Now I know they are not normal feelings…unless maybe you have unresolved childhood trauma. It makes sense for me to feel my life is not in my control. How could it be? It never has been.  At 9, I learned the first lesson: It just wasn’t in the cards for me to have my mom want to stay. At 13, I learned it wasn’t in the cards for me to choose with who and when I wanted to have sex for the first time (and second, third, fourth….15th…20th time….). At 14, I learned I could not control the anger of my stepmother, nor her impulsive rage towards me. It was out of my hands. Just how things were. At the same age, I learned it just wasn’t in the cards for me to have a dad that could protect me from her. Through the rest of my teen years, I kept on learning that first sexual lesson I received at 13. Actually, for the rest of my life I kept learning that lesson. I can’t remember at what age I figured out that it just wasn’t in the cards for me to ever know what real emotional intimacy felt like. It’s sad that this realization didn’t make me sad. It was something I accepted before I even realized it. I knew I wasn’t worthy. I even had come to the realization that it wasn’t in the cards for me to have kids, because really…how can that happen when no one is going to love me? Thank God I was wrong on that one…I have somehow been blessed with two of the most lovely, compassionate, amazing boys anyone could ever dream of having. I’m always surprised at how these two awe-inspiring human beings were created from the nothingness of me.  I knew I didn’t deserve them. I figured I must have slipped one past God, and was so terrified that he would realize the mistake and take them from me. So far, he hasn’t noticed, but the fear still exists.


I’ve come a long way in the past year. I’ve started to understand how I’ve become who I am. I understand why I have that hole inside my soul. Heck, even understanding there is a hole in my soul is pretty amazing. I always thought my feelings were normal. Just how I was. Now I know they are from trauma. Lots of trauma. So much trauma that I kept hidden in a box, deep down inside of me. The jagged edges of that box are what carved the hole inside my soul. That’s often how it works…one trauma sets you up for the next, and so on and so on. It’s a pattern that keeps repeating itself because it’s all you know. Since it’s all you know, as far as you can see, it’s normal. It is what it is. People can live and die without knowing any better. Luckily for me, I happened to stumble across a little glimmer of light while in couples therapy. It turns out, that little glimmer of light was a crack in that box I kept my trauma in. Amazing how a little bit of therapy with the right person, at the right time, using the right tools (writing in my journal, meditating) is powerful enough to crack open that box. I ended up spending the past year diving head first into that box. I saw the darkest parts of my existence and for a while, I thought I might suffocate and die in there. By the grace of God, I came out. I’m not all the way out…I think my feet are more often than not, still standing in the box, and sometimes, I get tired and just lie down in there, but other times I step out of it. I stepped out enough to realize that I actually have some control over what happens to me. The trick is to understand that I can’t control what others think or do, but I can control how I respond, how I act….what I’m willing to let happen to me.  It took me reaching the age of 45 to realize I control me. I control me. I could have just taped up that crack in the box and went about my business. I think that would have been a lot easier, but you know what? That just wasn’t in the cards for me.



#SoCS: Yes

This post is part of SoCS (Stream of Consciousness Saturday, with Linda G. Hill). The word prompt is “Yes”.:

(Basically, I’m supposed to write whatever comes into my head, using the word “yes”.  Meaning, no re-writes, no editing…just let it flow, baby)

“Yes”. I grew up only saying “yes”. I never said “no”. Don’t get me wrong, I often felt like saying “no”, but it never worked out that way. Even if I didn’t actually utter the word, “yes”, I said it with my actions, or more often, lack of action. I didn’t learn how to say “no” until I was almost an adult, and even then, it was difficult.

Why “yes”? That’s a good question. It became so routine, I just figured “that’s the kind of girl I am”. I had no answer to why I never said “no”, why I never stood up for myself, why I was so submissive. “It’s just the kind of girl I am”. I hated being that girl, but was powerless to change her.  I was raised in a generational household where children were seen and not heard. Talking back was not an option. We were permitted to have two emotions, “happy” and “sad, when appropriate”. My dad had no ill intention with these rules, it’s just how he was. Raising kids isn’t easy, and he certainly had no manual. Even if he did, I doubt there would have been a chapter on “how to raise your kids when your wife moves across the country”.  That being said, my mom could’ve used the chapter on, “How to raise your kids when you yourself were raised by an alcoholic and a schizophrenic”.  Too bad there was no manual for us kids, either. I could have used the chapter, “how to grow up normally when your mom moves across the country”, or “how to say no when a family member touches you”, or “how to say no when you’re treated like Cinderella” (meaning Cinderella at home with her stepmother, not at the ball). Hmmm….looks like if there ever is a manual to be made, they should make the kid’s version first. Parents are probably too busy and too damaged to read theirs, anyway.

I’m an adult now. I’m a parent now. I know how to say “no” now, though only recently, have I learned to say “no” when it really counts. When it’s about me and my rights and my body and my values and morals.  I’m turning 45 years old this Monday, and I just now learned how to say “no” to people who crush my spirit. That’s a long time. But not as long as “never”, so I can’t complain. Learning how to say “no” has changed my life. It’s changed me. My journey this year has been the most excruciatingly painful process I’ve ever experienced, and it’s far from being over. Tears are being shed by everyone because of my decision to say “no more” and I feel bad that my choices now are affecting people I love. The thing is…I love them, but now I love me, too.  If I had to do it over again, would I?      “Yes”.


This post is part of SoCS:



Why women don’t tell

We’ve all heard this question…”Why don’t women tell?” It’s a common one, especially in the wake of allegations against our president-elect. I’ve seen, and partaken in, many highly charged discussions about whether or not those women were making the story up. “Why would a woman wait 30 years, just before an election, to tell her story? Seems fishy.” Sure, it’s possible they aren’t telling the truth. We all know that some women do make up stories, which is unfortunate. However, it makes perfect sense to me as to why they would tell their stories now.  I know because, well… I waited 31 years to tell mine. Well, one of mine. Yeah, I’ve got more than one…which I think might be pretty typical, unfortunately.

See, these women all came out right before the election because that just so happens to be when the audio tape came out. You know, that “grab em by the pussy” tape. That’s when they were validated. I can hear their inner voices now, “That’s exactly what happened to me”.  I’ll bet they’ve spent all these years thinking badly about themselves…ashamed, guilty, second-guessing…”am I over-reacting? Did I lead him on?”  They often end up feeling disgusted with themselves, “how could I let that happen?”,    and the last thing they want is for other people to know about it. I know, it doesn’t make sense, but those emotions are really what a lot of women feel after sexual assault. It’s the brain’s bizarre way of making the event easier on you. If you minimize it, or blame yourself, it makes what happened to you a bit more palatable. That is, until something happens and you realize the truth.

One of my less traumatic stories only took 3 years to tell. I had received a gift certificate for a massage as a birthday gift from my sister. Turns out, the massage therapist was a former co-worker of mine, someone who I’d heard was let go for sexual harassment. I never really knew all the facts to the story, so even though a red flag appeared when I saw it was him, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Plus, I was already harboring my almost 30-year-old, much bigger story, so I was in no position to stand up for myself. Anyway, the massage starts out normal enough. Half way through, I roll over, under the sheet, for him to work on the front. You know, they rub the front of your legs, your arms, face, shoulders, breasts…oh wait, that’s right. Breasts are not normally part  of a therapeutic massage.  Unfortunately, lying naked in a corner office on the second floor of an isolated building while harboring 30-year-old secrets of sexual abuse does not make one feel very strong. I hightailed it out of there as soon as it was over, just wanting to put it out of my mind.

I kept this story to myself for 3 years. Do you know what made me decide to tell, after all that time? A news story. I read a news story about him being charged with inappropriately touching a woman during a massage. The police were asking anyone with more information to contact them. Should I contact them? It’s not like he raped me.  That’s right, I seriously believed “groping” was not sexual assault. While working at the hospital, I remember telling another nurse the story I read in the paper, and describing my massage event with her. As I was saying, “what if I say something and I’m making a mistake…what if it was just part of the massage?” , one of the doctors overheard, and interrupted me. “Are you kidding? A man touched your breasts and you’re wondering if it was just part of the massage? Have you ever seen me touch a woman’s breasts during an examination? No, you haven’t. That’s because I’m not a gynecologist”.  Wow. I felt dumb, yet validated. I ended up calling the police station and giving my statement. I never did hear what happened to him. I’m sure he got off on some technicality, or some lenient judge, or any of the other reasons men get to keep doing these things to us.

Like I said, that’s just one of my stories. That’s the least damaging one. Just groping.  Compared to the other things that have happened to me, it seemed silly to even talk about it, except really,  I know it’s not silly. It’s serious. Damn serious. It’s too bad that all my previous sexual trauma normalized this experience, and made it seem silly. It’s too bad that groping, sexual comments, inappropriate touching…all the “minor” unwanted sexual assaults are so common in society that it really is no big deal for people to hear about it. It’s accepted as something that men do. Women who complain about it are often brushed off, not believed or thought of as drama queens or prudes. Who wants to go through that, after having gone through the damn assault? No one.  And the thing about telling is… no one will ever look at you the same again. Even if they don’t believe your story, you won’t be just you anymore. You’ll be “the woman who lied about being groped”.  I’ve just started telling my story. No, not the massage story. The bigger, dirtier, more traumatic story from my childhood. The hardest part about telling was wondering what people…what my friends… were going to think of me. 30 years of shame led me to assume everyone was going to think of me as dirty, as disgusting…as shameful. They didn’t. But they do look at me differently. I’m not just Jami anymore. Now I’m Jami, the childhood sexual abuse survivor. People can’t help but associate that with me now. I don’t blame them. If you’d heard the story, you would too. I spent 30 years telling myself a different story. I spent 30 years trying to create a new person…”Fake Jami”…someone who was not dirty, not insecure, not weak. Once I shared my story, the jig was up. People were going to know I was a fraud. It was really,and I mean REALLY hard to share my story. It took months of intense therapy to get me to the point where I could say it. I can try to explain it here as much as I want, but honestly, if it hasn’t happened to you, you probably won’t get it. And that’s the problem right now…people don’t get it. Half the country doesn’t get it. They don’t get what it’s like to go on Facebook and see a meme making fun of the accusers. They don’t get what it’s like to have your sexual assault compared to 50 Shades of Grey.  It’s a fine line between standing up for yourself and being the “annoying feminist friend”. So, I can shut up, stay out of it and let things stay the way they are, or I can speak up and try to change even a tiny bit of this rape culture that our society has normalized. Guess which one I choose?







“You need to have a good cry. I mean the kind of cry where you are wailing, and it comes from deep within you. And after it happens, you need to set aside time to nurture yourself…take a bath, make some tea, be comfortable”. I remember my therapist telling me this back in February, back when I started therapy. Right away, I didn’t like the idea. I hate baths. And nurturing myself? That’s selfish. We had spent a few weeks trying to peel back the layers regarding my mom leaving me when I was 9 (a story for another day).  We had spent weeks on it, because it seemed like this was the unresolved trauma that was affecting me as an adult. I can’t remember crying much about it, when it happened…which is weird. What 9-year-old would just be quiet and go with the flow with  her mom moving away? Me. I would. I did. So, we started processing it, thinking that if I could get to the point where I could cry, where I could let out all of those pent-up emotions, I would start to heal the 9-year-old Jami. And if I started to heal her, then I could start to heal 44-year-old Jami and work on what was keeping her from not feeling anything in her marriage. Then she could become a better wife, the marriage would be healed and we could all live happily ever after. Just as soon as I fixed what was wrong with me.

The problem is, I couldn’t cry about it. Well, I could cry, but not cry…you know, like the cry she described. There was no wailing involved, which was strange to me, because I’ve always considered myself a crier. I tried channeling the old days, the days of me crying for weeks over a broken heart. I journaled. I talked. I remembered. Then I journaled and talked and remembered, again. Still, just some regular old tears…the kind that form so easily, because they are always right there, bubbling just under the surface. Just waiting for the slightest trigger. They are slightly cathartic, but not healing.I guess it’s like a volcano. You know, how they simmer and bubble, but you can’t really tell because it’s all under the surface. Every so often, they release a bit of steam, and that eases the pressure enough so it doesn’t erupt. I guess that’s the kind of crying I’ve been doing all my life…just enough so I don’t erupt.

A few months later, I let out a whole lot more steam. I guess peeling off that layer of Mom was just the beginning of this giant onion we call Jami. Turns out, there was a whole lot more than just her that I needed to process. My brain had hidden it from me. Not really hidden, as I knew it was there. Disguised is a better word. My brain disguised the other layers as a weird way of protecting me. Once we removed that outer shell, the next layer was suddenly right in front of my face. I don’t know how I hadn’t seen it all this time, but there it was… a raw, stinging layer, just ready to be peeled. I remember going into her office…crying, trembling…not wanting to tell her but having to tell her. I blurted out the story of my childhood sexual abuse, which turned into an epiphany, resulting in me tearfully asking her,  “Is this why I don’t like having sex?” I remember her staring at me, wide-eyed, nodding her head. It turns out, 13-year-old Jami needed a hell of a lot more healing than we could ever imagine.  I can remember her, a month or so later, commenting “you did not originally present as a typical abuse survivor”…referring to when we first started seeing her, for couples therapy. I said, “I know! My brain was so good at disguising it, even I didn’t know!”  It’s true…I had spent my entire life thinking I was a bad person. A month earlier, if you had asked me if I was sexually abused, I would have replied “no”, and that would have been an honest answer. I spent my life thinking I was responsible for all those horrible acts. Thinking I did bad things. Not once did it ever occur to me that bad things were done to me. It’s funny how the brain tricks you like that. I guess it’s much easier to blame yourself than to acknowledge the horror of what’s really happening to you.

8 months later, and we can see the game plan has changed. I went into therapy to try to fix myself so I could become a better wife and save my marriage. Turns out, I did fix myself..well, some of it, at least. And I probably am a better wife now, except we’ll never really know, because I left my husband. Come to find out, I couldn’t save my marriage and save me. I had to pick one, and I chose me. The thing is, this work is never done. I am going to need to work on saving myself for the rest of my life. If I stop working, I stop healing, and I turn back into 13-year-old Jami. I’m not going to be her again. So, I’ve been using my voice. I’ve been speaking out, standing up to comments that perpetuate this awful rape culture our country is so accustomed to. The problem is…not everyone likes what I have to say. In the past few months, this election has brought sexual abuse into the spotlight. I have been made extremely uncomfortable by the words of friends, strangers, media, politicians…and I have made others uncomfortable, too. I’ve called them out on comments made about “locker room talk” and “fake Trump victims”. I’ve lost friends over it, though most probably weren’t really my friends. Though this evening, one of them was. As I typed out to her how her words made me feel, how they triggered deep emotions of fear and  shame, and while I told her how people not caring about any of this reminded me of feeling like I didn’t matter…it happened. I erupted. I cried, and cried and cried. I wailed. I shuddered. It was loud. It came from my soul. I heard myself talking out loud through the sobs, “Please help me”. I was talking to God. I was talking to my angels. And, I think maybe…I was talking to me.  

I think it lasted at least a half hour. It ended with a yawn, which for some reason, I found funny. I thought back to that day in Susan’s office, when she perfectly described this cry. Ah, Susan…you’re always right. I wish I would just do what you say the first time you tell me…I could save so much time! I know how she would reply to this…”Trust the process”. I heeded her advice. I’m going to nurture myself.  So, I made myself comfortable. I put on some comfy clothes, made myself a cup of raspberry tea in my new butterfly mug, cuddled with the dog…and told my story to you.




Post election triggers

I cried today. I haven’t cried in weeks, maybe longer. There was a period of months this year when I was hard pressed to find a day where I didn’t cry. I’m not like that anymore. I’m better now. I’m stronger now. I’m out of my cocoon…aren’t I? I thought I was. I peeled off those painful layers and processed each one…sobbing, aching, fearing…I did that already. I’m all done with the part of therapy where you physically feel your emotions and memories. I’m all done with flashbacks, nausea, hyper-vigilance, insecurity, depression…fear. I made it out to the other side. I found my voice. I told my story. I released my shame. I became confident. I became me. Right? Isn’t that what I’ve been telling you all about? About finding me? Becoming the butterfly? I’ve been admiring my wings for weeks now. That part was over….wasn’t it? I’m confused. Why would I start crying today? Why would I feel nauseated, nervous, and small? Because someone I didn’t vote for was elected president? That happens all the time and I just roll with it…that’s how democracy goes…you can’t win them all. No, it’s not because my choice didn’t win. I knew my choice wouldn’t win. I voted 3rd party. What the hell was going on?

It started this morning, driving to work. My eyes started stinging and a few small tears rolled down my face. Where did that come from? I rubbed them away and went into the office. Coming home a few hours later, it happened again. I went inside and it just flowed. Sobbing, I started to release pain I thought I had already released. Wait…why is this still here? I already did this. I spent thousands of dollars on therapy this year. I’m better now….aren’t I? As I realized those emotions were real, and I was turning into an earlier version of me, I panicked and  I stuffed them down. I stuffed those emotions back into that box that held on to them for so many years. I had to sit on the lid to make them fit, but I did it. Snap out of it, Jami. Stop being such a baby. You’re acting like a drama queen. I scolded myself, which I’m not supposed to be doing anymore, but it worked. I proudly pulled myself together, pulled up my big girl panties,  stopped crying and went back to work.

As I went about the rest of my morning, I held the lid to the box down pretty good.  I could tell it was trying to open, so I had to be vigilant. I kept busy with work…my go-to distraction. Still, in between those distracting work thoughts and chores, I did my “other” work. You know, the thinking work. The work you do during therapy to process everything that’s happening. The work you don’t really want to do, but you have to do. The work that comes with the package of opening up that damn box.  I kept thinking about why I was so tearful. What was it, exactly, that was making me so….so what? I couldn’t even come up with a word for it. Sad? Angry? Scared? Disappointed? Sort of. I did feel a little bit of all of those things, but that wasn’t “it”. I started to judge myself. I mean really, how would I feel if she had won, instead? I know I wouldn’t be happy then, either. I hate what happened in Benghazi. She’s politics as usual, and I hate politics as usual. So, what the hell is wrong with me? I thought of all my friends who voted for him, along with half of the country. Oh. Wait a minute. I think I’m on to something. As soon as I started to think of his supporters, I started crying again. Weird. What is it? What is THIS feeling? Oh, I’ve got it….abandonment. Of course! This is triggering feelings of abandonment in me.  That’s why I was feeling so small, so invisible, so…unlovable. So similar to the feelings I had when I was being abused and the people who were supposed to support me, supposed to nurture me…looked the other way. I know, I know…the people who voted for him weren’t knowingly telling me my feelings don’t matter, they weren’t intentionally telling me I’m not worthy, but that’s how it felt. Intent or no intent, feelings are feelings. Ha! And here I was, all cocky, saying things like, “Back when I had PTSD”. I just figured I had conquered PTSD because I went to intense, frequent therapy. I worked at therapy like it was a full-time job, and I was successful. I crawled out of that hole and the PTSD was gone. Poof! So easy, really. All you have to do is put in the work. Symptom free for months now. Ha ha. So not true. I  haven’t been having any PTSD symptoms because I had removed the triggers. I removed my husband, I removed my toxic family members, I spoke up for myself, I gained confidence, I spoke up against misogyny …all was well. But only because I removed my triggers, and I never even realized that was what I was doing. Then, the election neared. Yes, he was a giant trigger. But somehow, he seemed so distant, and by speaking up against sexual assault, I felt powerful. No way would America choose someone like this, someone who likes to intimidate people, speak down to people, mock people…just because of their race, gender, religion, disability or country of origin. No way would they choose him, especially with Republican women like me speaking up. No way.

But choose him, they did. And that is hard for me to handle. They are just words to them. Words said 11 years ago. No matter that those words were him admitting he sexually assaulted women= No matter that those words were him admitting he entered the dressing rooms of 15-year-old girls= No matter= No matter that it bothers me= No matter that I’ve been sexually assaulted= I don’t matter. Intellectually, I know that is not true. I know I matter. But, that’s the thing with trauma. It doesn’t really give a shit about how intelligent you are or what you understand about trauma. It bypasses your intelligence and hits you where it counts…in your soul. You can’t just talk yourself out of that shit. You just can’t.

I emailed my therapist today. I had a check in with her a few weeks ago after my husband moved out. Nothing major, just checked in. I’ve been kind of proud for not needing to go there anymore. I’ve been feeling like the badass, appliance fixing, independent single mom that I became over the past few weeks. Today, while I was crying, and not crying, and stuffing emotions back into that horrible box inside my soul, I wasn’t badass anymore. I was ashamed. I felt ashamed for feeling so emotional about something as routine as an election. Do I need more therapy?  I felt like a failure. How could I have gone through all of that intense therapy, done all of that work, felt so damn good…fixed my damn washing machine TWICE… and be right back where I started?! I sent her an email, just looking for validation, I guess. Honestly, I don’t really know what I was looking for. I asked her if I was normal. I asked her if this was what all women like me were going through today. I asked her, “It’s going to go away, right?” I figured I would get a response tomorrow morning, as that’s when she seems to check her emails. So, when she called me, I wasn’t ready. I already stuffed the damn feelings down, Susan…I can’t talk about them now! I stared at the phone, deciding to let it go to voicemail. I just couldn’t bring myself to answer. I felt ashamed for feeling ashamed. God, I hate this. At the last second, I answered. She asked me if I was OK. I started crying, but I didn’t want her to know I was crying, so I kept my answers short. I was embarrassed. I was driving and hoped the sound of the car would hide my cracking voice, but we both knew better. I said I was fine, just surprised at the emotions I was having. She let me know I was not the first one to call today, and that a lot of her clients were upset and crying. I said, “Oh good, that makes me feel better”. But I was lying. I’m sitting there crying, listening to her tell me that there’s other women doing the same thing, and a voice in my head is calling them whiners. And that voice was calling me a whiner, too.  Jesus, what the hell is wrong with me? She asked again if I was ok, if I wanted to come in. I’m fine. Just surprised.  I think I said that phrase 3 or 4 times, acting as though she’s the one who initiated contact, not me. We hung up. I went in my house, flopped on the bed, and let it out. I mean LET IT OUT… crying like it was last February and I just told her about my abuse for the first time. Crying like it was this summer and I was confronting my husband with things I can’t share with you right now. Crying like I hadn’t done a damn bit of therapy. Like I was still “damaged goods Jami”.

I posted a tweet on Facebook about asking people to be nice because many women are going through what I was going through today. The first comment was from an old coworker, saying something about the men that died in Benghazi. His comment totally dismissed what I said. I told him to “fuck off”. I never do that. I always try to be respectful, even when I disagree. But you know what? Today, I just did not have it in me to respect people who would cause me to feel this way, specifically after I asked them to be nice.  I did not have it in me to be respectful to people who only respect things that are convenient or easy for them.  I have no problem respecting people who vote for Trump, when they acknowledge how horrible his behavior is. I get it. We had two shitty major candidates to choose from, and you have to choose someone. I get it. What I don’t get is choosing one and not acknowledging the horrible things, and only acknowledging the horrible things the other candidate has done. Not fair. I told him that Benghazi has nothing to do with sexual assault. I am sick and tired of people justifying bad behavior simply because other people have demonstrated worse or equal bad behavior. Like saying Trump’s “words” are not as bad as Clinton’s “actions”. Bullshit. They are both bad. Both Trump and Bill Clinton sexually assaulted women. One is not worse than the other. Why can’t they both be denounced? Benghazi is bad. The emails are bad. It’s all bad. How can they decide which “bads” to dismiss, and which “bads” to be angry about? I don’t get it. I don’t want to get it.

So, that’s my vent today. I can’t be badass every day, you know.




Appliance repair chronicles, part 3

So, we all know what went down with my washing machine Tuesday night. Since then, we’ve done a few loads (I’m still feeling kind of cocky as I turn it on, because, well…you know…I’m kind of badass for repairing it).  Anyway, today I throw in another load. I sort of strut away after, still riding the high from Tuesday night’s success with the socket driver. A bit later, I walk into the living room and stop, dead in my tracks. I take a breath to yell at Eric because “someone” (and he and his friends are the only ones home) spilled what looks like at least a few 2 liter bottles of something soda-ish and foamy, all over the floor. The foam had literally splashed up the walls on each side of the hallway. It’s the hallway near the bathroom that houses the washing machine, which really, is a weird place for that much soda to be spilled. OK, let’s get real here… I think at this point in the story, we all know that it’s not soda. The washing machine leaked what seemed to be every gallon it had of soapy water all over the bathroom, into the hallway…and it was slowly seeping toward the living room. My heart went in my throat. Damn. I didn’t fix it after all. I’m not badass. I swore out loud a little bit (just 3 or 4 F bombs) and hung my head in shame as I grabbed an armful of towels. As I spread them over the small pond in my hallway, I wondered if I should call Sears or an independent appliance guy. I called my husband to ask his opinion on who to call. He didn’t answer. This was way more in-depth than that noise it was making the other day, and obviously not something I’m going to be able to fix. It seemed to me that this was most likely a result of my “fixing” it the other night. What were you thinking, Jami? Of course it was easy to fix…you didn’t fix it. You broke the damn thing. As I sopped it up in despair, and was calculating how much it might cost me…I was surprised by a little voice inside me, who whispered, “Just try it”.  So, I reset the machine to see if I could tell where it was leaking from. Water POURED out of the soap dispenser area! I’m talking Hoover Dam water release type of pouring. Yikes! A picture popped in my head of my children finding me electrocuted in the bathroom, so I unplugged it before heading to my trusted resource…Google. Sure enough, there were plenty of answers to “water leaking out of soap dispenser Kenmore front load washing machine.” Go figure. It said to check for a blockage in the pipe leading from the soap to the drum. Apparently, small articles of clothing can get wedged in that pipe if you over stuff the machine. I usually have to close the door with my body weight to get all the clothes in there. Oops. I read on to find that all you have to do to check it is feel around for the hole to the pipe on the top left hand corner of the drum. Sounds easy enough.  I put my upper body INSIDE the drum with a flashlight, trying to find the hole where the water enters. Nothing. I kept rubbing my hand all over the inside. There’s nothing there, no hole…just the little holes in the drum. I’m thinking that’s where the water comes in, through those little holes. They must make it that way so you HAVE to hire a repair man. Google just scammed me. Just as I’m about to give up, I get this idea, maybe from that little voice who told me to try this in the first place,  to stick my fingers behind the little flap of the rubber part that lines the door opening. It’s kind of a tight seal, so I wedge my fingers in there, feeling around. My fingers were pinched and red, and I was fearful I was going to break that rubber seal thing.  I focus on the area that’s near the soap dispenser and…BULLSEYE!!!! I found the culprit….a lone sock, wedged in where it didn’t belong, shoved there by yours truly when I used my body weight to over stuff this damn thing. I shared this appliance repair adventure with my friends, because you know…not much happening on Cape Cod in November. One of them congratulated me on finally solving the mystery of where missing socks go, so that’s a pretty good thing in its own right. I don’t think anyone’s ever figured out what happens to those missing socks before.  Anyway, it’s working now…and I’m back to being badass. Carry on.



Bitches get stuff done

My husband moved out 10 days ago. That weekend was full of anxiety for all of us. I’d say he was stressing out the most. It can’t be easy to pack up your things and move away from your children, even if it’s only 5 minutes away. Especially when you don’t want to move out. My anxiety stemmed more from wondering if I’ll be able to manage. Not emotionally…more like, “will I be able to manage the bills? Will I be able to snow blow the driveway?” Over the years, most of our arguments were about two things: sex and household responsibilities…and they often came up together. An argument about sex would inevitably lead to me complaining, “WELL, maybe if you helped out more around the house….” I always felt like I did more than he did, and he always felt like he “did plenty”.  He always thought I was a bitch for complaining about it. I remember him telling me, not too long before he moved out, “You’re going to miss me doing the things I do around here. I’m not going to be here to fix something when it breaks”. He had a point. The man is the handiest person I know. He can fix just about anything, even if he has to invent a way to do it. I pushed that thought right out of my mind, as he was saying it to try and persuade me to let him stay, to coexist for the sake of the children. Roommates. No thank you.

So yesterday, I hear a sort of screeching, not so good sound coming from the washing machine. Shit. One week after he moves out and the washer is crapping out on me??  I video tape it and text it to him. “Any idea what’s going on here?” His quick reply, “Nope”. I wondered if that meant “nope, never heard that noise. Sorry, I wish I could help you.” Or, “Nope. Bet you wished I was there to fix it, bitch.” He never really called me a “bitch”, but we both know that’s what he thought.  I decided to assume it was the latter, and used that thought to motivate me. I’m going to fix this. Now, I have never heard of any of my girlfriends ever fixing their washing machines. I really haven’t heard of any of my male friends fixing their washing machines, either… other than my husband. Most people just automatically call the appliance guy, right? Well, seeing how I’m now in charge of paying the bills around here, and I’m about to take a giant pay cut and I really have no savings and I’m panicking about money…I’m not hiring the damn appliance guy unless I exhaust all my options. I post the video on Facebook, asking if anyone knew what it was. Plenty of guys responded, none with any real certainty. “Might be a belt…maybe the bearings”. OK, I know they are trying to be helpful, but a bunch of “maybes” is not going to fix my machine. So, I decide to use my most trusted resource…Google. Turns out, there’s volumes of videos on home appliance repair, FYI.  On Youtube, I learned that if the high pitched sound only occurs during the spin cycle, which it did, then you would want to check the drain pump first. I happen to know what the drain pump is, because my husband often had to empty it when the washer would leak all over the floor from the boys not emptying their pockets. It would usually fill with pencils, coins, candy wrappers…but it never made this screeching sound, it just leaked. I read up a bit more, and found that if you manually rotate the drum and don’t hear the sound, it’s not the bearings. That was easy enough to do, and sure enough, it wasn’t the bearings. So, I watch a few videos on accessing the drain pump. I head into the garage to grab a socket driver…and stare at the empty corner. I forgot he took his tools with him. I scold myself. Why didn’t I think to buy tools? I make a mental note to add “tools” to my shopping list. I forage around our junk drawers and only come up with a few screwdrivers and a hammer. At this point, it’s 8pm. I need to get this done. Well, no…I don’t NEED to, but I really want to. I’ve got something to prove here, dammit! I head over to my brother in law’s and borrow his socket set. It’s funny how I just said that, because I obviously had no idea it was called a socket. “Um, I need a tool that will unscrew these things…they aren’t really screws….sort of like hexagon flat things….like a screwdriver but skinnier with a thing on the end. You know, a thing…like it has a hole shaped like a hexagon, or maybe octagon. I don’t know. The screw things in the washing machine go inside this non-screwdriver thing”.   OK,  so now we all  know what a socket driver is.  You’re welcome.  I race home and  set myself up on the floor with the SOCKET DRIVER and flashlight and get to work. Let’s do this! I find the socket driver attachment thing that fits the other socket thing in the washing machine and start unscrewing. After a good 30 seconds or so, I realize all my twisting has accomplished nothing.  The tools aren’t the right size. Why are the appliance gods forsaking me tonight?  I keep trying, because I really couldn’t stand the thought of failing. Like, if I just keep repeating the same twisting motion, it will suddenly change it’s mind and fit. I spend another 20 minutes there, twisting, pushing, sweating, swearing….almost crying, willing it to work. It doesn’t.   I can’t do this. Hanging my head in defeat, I realize what I have to do. I call him. “I just need to borrow your socket drivers” I say casually, like I’m borrowing a book or a cup of sugar.  “Tonight?” he asks, as it’s now closing in on 10pm. “Yes, tonight. I know what it is, it’s the drain pump. I Googled it”.  I drive over to his new house and follow him into the garage. It’s nearly empty. He still hasn’t moved most of his things from my house. But he had to move the damn tool box, didn’t he?  “I don’t see how the drain pump would cause that noise” he tells me.  I knew he was thinking I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing. I also knew he was right, but I wasn’t about to let him in on that. “I watched a lot of Youtube videos, so yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what it is” I replied, as I walked out the door. I kept hearing his voice in my head on the ride home, You’re going to miss me doing the things I do around here….


By the time I find myself lying on the floor again, it’s after 10pm. No, I did not need to finish this right that  minute, but damn, I was not about to give up now. I was on a mission. This task was going to prove to the world that I wasn’t wrong for making him move out. No, that’s not true. No one thinks that…other than him. This task was going to prove to him that I could survive without him. Wait, was it? Did he even care about me doing this? For all I knew, he was watching the ball game, drinking wine and me an my washing machine were the last things on his mind. No, this task was really going to prove something to me. It was going to prove that I can do this. Not “this”, meaning just the washing machine, but “this”, meaning survive this divorce. Manage things. Not need him there. You’ve got this, Jami.  I lie on my side in front of that damn washer, aim my flash light and get to work. The socket driver fit! I removed the front panel…Hell YEAH! I felt powerful! No wonder he thought he walked on water around here. He fixed things! My moment of empowerment was short lived, though…the drain pump didn’t look like the one I saw on You Tube. Crap. I tried twisting it open, but it wouldn’t budge. The last thing I wanted to do was break the damn thing, so I bit the bullet and called my him…again. I’ve got the front panel  off…just wondering how to get the pump out. It won’t budge”. I say it so casually, like I remove panels from washing machines every day. I didn’t want him to think I really needed him, just that I wanted some advice…one repairman to another.  He tells me it’s really hard to unscrew and he had to use tools to open it last time. That was validating. He had greased it a bit, but said I probably would have a hard time getting it open and should maybe ask my 16 year old to help me. He then reminded me again that he doesn’t think it’s the pump. I quickly thank him and hang up. It has to be the pump. Please God, let it be the pump. I NEED it to be the God damned pump.  It was do or die time.  I placed a cookie sheet under the drain to catch any water and summoned up the strength and fury of all scorned women and started twisting. My fingers turned purple and this weird sound came out of me, sort of like when you’re 7 centimeters dilated and the baby’s pressing on your sciatic nerve. Just as I feel as though I might pop a blood vessel in my eye, it loosens. Water flows out onto the cookie sheet, with not a drop on the floor. I let my hands collapse and smile at the draining water, like I’m looking at my newborn son. I just made that. I pull the pump out to find it’s completely clogged with two broken pencils, a nickel, and a shredded zip lock sandwich bag. Pretty much the typical contents of my 13 year old’s pockets on any given day. Who the hell carries pencils in their pants pockets? Everything smelled awful and was covered with this strange black slime. I think it was wet lead mixed with whatever was originally in that zip lock bag. I scrubbed it out and reassembled the pump, gently placing it back in it’s little nest, like the efficient washer repairwoman I now was. Wait…why is it that every time I feel accomplished in this story, something goes wrong? As I went to put the front panel back on, I realized I could not operate the socket driver while holding the panel in place. Each time I tried to screw it in, the panel would slide down and the little sprocket thing would roll under the washer. It was so frustrating…I was so close! I used my feet, propped it up with a shoe, tried to tilt the machine backwards…nothing worked. No way in hell was I going to call my husband again. Think, Jami. Just think. I quieted my mind and walked into the garage. It’s filled with every possible thing you could put in a garage… except for tools, of course. As I scan the clutter, it comes to me. I end up using a broken broomstick (yes, we like to keep broken broomsticks around, just in case) to hold the panel in place. I have one end wedged between my chin and chest and the other between the panel and the floor. It was scraping painfully against my neck. Suck it up, Jami. It’s just a flesh wound!  Finally, it’s all back together. I exhale and smile. It’s now after 11pm. I yawn. Oh hell no…we are finishing this shit TONIGHT! I fill the washer with clothes, turn it on and say a small prayer. Please God, let this work. Let me know I can manage. Thirty minutes later, I remember our washing machine takes an unusually long time to run it’s cycle. I mean, really unusually long. It will say “4 minutes remaining” for 40 minutes. I think it’s laughing at us, because we believe it every time. It’s almost done, just 4 minutes to go… Damn. It’s now after 11:30. I settle in on the couch and check my Facebook. People are seriously waiting to see how it turns out. “Well, did it work?” “We’re still waiting to hear”  “Was it the pump?” Not much happening on a Tuesday night in November on Cape Cod, I guess. I go back in the bathroom and just sit in the dark, staring at the clothes. I was so tired. I’m sure I could have dozed off right there, sitting on the bathroom floor. Why the hell does this machine take so long to run? Are we that dirty? Just after midnight, it happened…the spin cycle. Suddenly, I’m as alert as a gazelle on Animal Kingdom. My heart was palpating  and I held a hand over my mouth in anticipation. 30 seconds…one minute…two minutes… Oh my God.  It worked. It freaking worked! Nothing but the smooth sound of a normally working washing machine on the spin cycle. Yes! I pump my fist in the air and strut around the house. Do you hear that? No, no you don’t…because I freaking FIXED it! God, it felt so good! I have to admit, I had no idea appliance repair was so empowering! Why aren’t more women doing this? I took a video of the beautifully quiet spin cycle and posted it to my eagerly awaiting friends, soaking in their praise and admiration. They thought I was pretty badass, and you know what?  I was badass. I just accomplished the one thing my husband said I would regret about him being gone.