A Very Jazzy Epiphany

So. Bella and I had counseling today. During said counseling, Bella and I both talked a bit about our shared issue of…honestly…pushing people away because we expect them to leave anyway. Bella does this by making sure they think she’s a bitch before they can decide she’s one on her own. I do this by making jokes. We both know this. We’re working on it.

But…fast forward to my epiphany.

I made a joke on FB about not being likeable. I make these jokes a lot. That’s not new. But someone asked me why I’m unlikable. I was able to answer very matter of fairly and with zero hesitation.

Another joke wrapped in a not joke. Nothing new there. But something hit me after I hit post.

“I’m a lot.”

Not, “Some people think I’m a lot.” Not, “Some people are overwhelmed by me.”

Just a “fact”. I’m a lot.

That wasn’t a joke. I was truly able to answer, people don’t like me because I’m a lot.

Why??? Why is this something I believe so absolutely?

Because…how many times have I heard the words, “I mean…yeah…you’re a lot…but I love you.”?

From family.

From friends.

From lovers.

“You’re a lot, but I love you.”

“I love you in spite of this glaring problem.”

“This is a problem.”

But the last part of what I said was also true. I really do love who I am. I’ve worked hard to be someone that I can be proud to be.

And that INCLUDES all the things that make me a lot.

I think. A LOT.

I’m passionate. A LOT.

I’m in your face with sharing kindness. A LOT.

I’m loud. A LOT.

I love. A LOT.

Every single thing that I love and do…it’s with passion.

Is that A LOT? In a world where many want to fit in and go with the flow…yeah, it probably is.

So: Yeah, I’m a lot…and it is my favorite part of who I am.

I need to change my INTERNAL dialog to, “I’m a lot and that’s fantastic. It may not be someone’s cup of tea, but it’s what makes me a favorite beverage of others.:

So that’s my epiphany. That and…I don’t think we “neg” our loved ones on purpose…but the way we phrase things can become their internal dialogue. “Yeah…you’re a lot…AND I love you” has a much better message than, “Yeah…you’re a lot…BUT I love you.”

That one word can totally change how someone hears your message.

*Jazz hands, bitches*

My Deathiversary

Say HI to Little Sheri Lynn Ryan.

33 years ago today, I basically died. 🤷‍♀️ It sounds dramatic, but it’s a huge step that I can say that now. For YEARS people tried telling me I have PTSD. I would argue vociferously. “You have to have been afraid you were going to die.” It took the executive director of a missing children’s organization looking at me and quietly saying, “But you DID die…” for it to click. Oh.

33 years ago today… I woke up as Sheri Lynn Ryan for the very last time. The life Little Sheri had wasn’t perfect, by any means. My mother was…well, let’s just say she never should have been allowed to have a daughter. Girls are competition and must be destroyed at all costs. And Lord knows she tried to destroy that little girl. Life was weird…no phone…very few friends…secluded. But Little Sheri didn’t know any better. She had her daddy and her annoying brothers. She had her piano. She had her beloved books…her escape.

I won’t go into the whole story again, but…10 years old…and it was the last day I would wake up with any form of innocence.

That night it was all taken away in a sea of blue lights…a high speed run from the police…my daddy turning around and saying, “Sheri, I’m not your father.”…my mother screaming that some man would kill us all…and the police taking us away.

After hours of police showing us that damn missing poster…telling me I’d have a choice one day…trying to explain my new name…my brother trying to explain the very little he knew…

Sheri Lynn Ryan flatlined. Sheri Lynn Ryan had to become Sheri Lynn Chiosie. Immediately.

How do you explain to a child, who has lost everything, that they aren’t supposed to grieve their death? Instead they are supposed to celebrate their rebirth? That’s what was expected. “You must be so happy your ordeal is over!!!” No. I’m scared. I’m confused. I don’t know you. I don’t even know me anymore. I don’t know anything.

But I can see that you’ve been sad and it’s my fault, so I’ll pretend for you. That’s my job now.

And it feels like that’s been my job for 33 years. I must be ok for everyone else’s comfort.

I must be happy for my father.

I must pretend to forget for my brother.

I must be ok and “let it go” for society who won’t accept the reality of something they’ve never experienced.

Grief. We allow it for all people who have passed…unless it’s you that died. When it’s you that died, you should be happy that someone new was born.

I AM happy, in general. I’ve made a good life. But I grieve.

I wonder who Sheri Ryan would have been. Would she still love hugs and people like she did? Would she have followed her dreams to play her piano in concert halls? Would she believe that people loved her? Would she still believe that people stay?

Would she not live a life afraid of the other shoe dropping at any moment?

I’ll never know. She died at 10 years old and…I can tell you without doubt that Sheri Chiosie has very little of Sheri Ryan in her.

A fact that many celebrate.

But I grieve.

The Beauty at Rock Bottom

The Dead Sea…The Lowest Point On Earth

Today’s Epiphany: Rock Bottom is actually beautiful and filled with unexpected blessings.

What brought this on? Well, I’ll tell you.

My heart has been in really bad shape again for a couple of weeks. This morning I had a bit of a meltdown. I admitted to one of my closest friends that I’m afraid. Of my heart…but also…I learned too strong of a lesson that if I can’t do it all, I’ll lose everyone. He was (rightfully) a little offended. He asked if I thought I’d lose him. I admitted that in my heart I knew I wouldn’t, but in my head…

Like many people, I have often struggled with the idea of unconditional love. I never purposely went out of my way to make anyone love me…but I’ve always believed I should put more good into the world than I found…and…deep down…I believed that my TRYING to be a good and giving person was probably the only reason people wanted me to be around. Would I admit that I believed no one could love me without a transactional value? Not even to myself. But I would self flagellate at every mistake because, deep down, I knew.

A lot of us believe that. That we have to have something to give to be loved.

Because of this, the view at the top…it’s great. When you have it all and you can BE it all…you’re surrounded by “love” and you know you’ve earned it. You give freely of yourself…not to be compensated or repayed…but because you feel all this LOVE and you know they’d do the same for you.

I’ve spent some time on top of the world.

And when I fell..when I hit rock bottom…I believed I had lost it all and would never have it back.

As I watched the people who I thought were my ride or die…well…ride away…when I had nothing left. As I felt the fear and abandonment that came with my fall from grace…it was terrifying.

Until…it wasn’t. Because the blessing of the valley? The blessing is that the people who stay there with you until you can rise again aren’t the people who loved you solely for what you could do.

The people who stayed…They were the least expected people ever. It wasn’t the people that I felt I had even been a particularly amazing friend to. I had never brought them dinner when they were sick. I had never helped with their kids. I had never gone above and beyond to EARN their love.

The people who stayed…love me solely for who I am as a person. If I never ran again, they’d love me. If I went completely broke and couldn’t donate to their charities, they’d love me. If I forgot how to do taxes, they’d still love me. If I can never do another thing to EARN their love…

It doesn’t matter. To them I earn it solely by being the crazy, weird, inappropriate, compassionate, train wreck they see before them. And they want nothing more.

They love me. Unconditionally.

That’s the beauty I found in the valley….in rock bottom…a blessing I couldn’t see from the top of the world.

A blessing I’d gladly stay at the bottom to never lose again.

The (Sideways) 8

Hi, I’m Sheri. But you can call me 8.

Admit it. You have a favorite number. Even if you don’t realize it, you do. I don’t know why, but we all do. A favorite number and an unlucky number.

My favorite number is 8.

Most people will never even notice, but I tend to use 8s every chance I get. It makes me happy. Why? Well, as usual with me, there’s a story. See, what had happened was..

My dad and his friends are…weird. I know. I know. You’re shocked that a weird person created this glorious fount of normalcy that you’re so used to. Crazy, right? But…anyways…one game that my dad’s best friend played for awhile was that he would assign everyone numbers based on their personalities. Couldn’t tell you what anyone else’s was, but mine has stuck with me since the day dumbass 12 year old Sheri asked, “Ooooh! What’s my number?!” He immediately responded.

8

“8? Why 8?”

“Because if you turn it on its side its infinity. And, just like you, it goes around and around and around and never changes.”

I was only a kid, but I was pretty sure that I should have felt insulted in that moment. I CHANGE, DANGIT!!!

You know what I’ve realized as I got older? No. I don’t.

I grow. Constantly. It is a life goal of mine to find ways every day to be better…do better…than the day before. I don’t like being stagnant.

But I don’t change.

No matter how much I sometimes wish I could.

I wish I could be harder, but I’m tender hearted. That doesn’t change.

I wish I could be less obsessive, but I live for rabbitholes to fall down. That doesn’t change.

I wish I could be less outspoken, but I’m passionate. That doesn’t change.

I wish I could be quieter, but the more I care the louder I am. That doesn’t change.

I wish I could be more outgoing, but people make me anxious. That doesn’t change.

I wish I could be more girly, but I’m a 12 year old boy at heart. That doesn’t change.

I grow…but who I am…it doesn’t change.

Lately I’m thinking a lot on this. Some people have questioned my recent social media hiatus. This…is the main reason…I’m trying to give my big ol’ 8 self time to truly heal. You see…

There’s a cycle in my life. I meet people. They think this person I am is great. Then they realize I am ALWAYS this person. That I don’t become more like them…that I’m not hiding parts of me that will make me feel safer and like I fit in their box…This personality…doesn’t turn off. They leave.

Generally it doesn’t affect me much. That sounds terrible, but when you had my childhood…you don’t expect anyone to stay…you don’t expect that they can love who you are long term. As usual, not a pity party. And not always true. But it doesn’t hurt when they leave because a part of you always knew they would.

There are one offs of people in my world who love every bit of me. And I cherish them more than they know. I still get scared sometimes.

But a few years ago I made a mistake. I ventured out of my shell and tackled those deeply ingrained beliefs as hard as I could. I forced myself to join a group…was NUMBER 8 all the way…and allowed myself to believe that they truly could love me. I allowed myself to believe that these people would still love me in a year when I was still exactly who I said I was.

They didn’t. Some of that is on me. Not all of my traits are awesome and some are downright exhausting. Some of that is on them. We all made the choices we made.

But it breaks my heart that…once again…they wanted anything other than the number 8. It breaks my heart to see pictures that used to include me, but no longer do. It breaks my heart that I believed…and their lives go on as if I never existed.

It’s not wrong on their parts. The world doesn’t revolve around me. Their worlds SHOULD go on as if I never existed.

But it hurts too much to watch…to the point that the nightmares usually reserved for my mom now include those people. And they hurt SO MUCH MORE to wake up from….because I always knew my mom didn’t love me, but with them…I allowed myself to believe.

And…until it doesn’t hurt that much…I’m FINALLY giving myself time to heal.

I’m FINALLY giving myself time to remember who I am.

I’m FINALLY giving myself time to remember…who I am is pretty awesome, even if it never changes.

I am 8. 8 is great. Like infinity, I’ll always be me.

Plus, if you cross an 8 and an ♾️, you get a pretty little flower. ❤️

WHY I HATE JIM CARREY. AN ESSAY – BY SHERI

So. Awhile back I wrote a blog that mentioned…*cough*…quite forcibly…how much I hate Jim Carrey. To paraphrase a character I love, ““Dear Jim, I hate your stinking guts. You make me vomit. You’re scum between my toes! Love, Sheri.”

Now. Those are strong words. I admit it. Which made a blog friend question…”WHAT?! NO!! YOU’RE WRONG! YOU CAN’T HATE JIM CARREY!!!” (Also paraphrased…and probably a lot more emphatic than it was meant.)

I am here to say…

Yes, Ron…I do indeed mean it…I stand by it…and here is the WHY.

You see…what had happened was…

11th grade. Picture Sweet Little 16-Year-Old Sheri. (Or something. Whatever.)

Sheri has met a new boy who she really likes. No need to protect the innocent because, let’s be real, no one reads this shit. lol Anyway…This boy’s name was Clint.

Clint finally asked Sheri out on a real date. Dinner and a Jackie Chan movie. (Jackie is also on my 27-year-old Shit List.) Clint crashes the car while leaving the movie. Meh, whatever. Not the worst first date I’ve had in life, in retrospect. But, it did piss my mom off. (Also, in retrospect, have to wonder if it pissed her off it didn’t finish me…I mean…ummmm…ANYWAYS….)

So. Clint and I date for the rest of my Junior year and into the beginning of my senior year. (*throat clear* This is where I admit Clint was better off without me…I broke up with him because he agreed with me too much…”Dude. I can tell you the grass is blue and you agree it’s a beautiful shade of blue…I need someone to disagree with me…I’m wrong sometimes…A LOT, actually…and I need someone to tell me that! Seriously…the rest of this story does nothing to make up for how I broke that poor boy back then…eek…)

All through that time we dated…Clint was OBSESSED with Jim Carrey. We had to see all of his movies. I found them rather obnoxious anyway, but EXTRA obnoxious because my boyfriend and his friends were constantly acting them out like they were about to try out for Jim Carrey In The Park.

And then…it happened…

The day before Junior Prom and 2 days before I went to Disney for a National competition of a school club I was in.

We were driving up to a friend’s house. We were in one of those teenage caravans of three carloads worth of friends. The girl, whose house it was, in the lead in her VW van. Her boyfriend (who later became my ex-husband) and his friend next in his friend’s truck. And then…me and Clint. Now, what happened? Here’s what happened. The girl’s van got very far ahead. No problem. Her boyfriend knew how to get to her house, so we’re still fine.

OR ARE WE, CLINT, YOU GIANT DUMBASS?!?!

No, no we were not.

Clint decided to STICK HIS FUCKING HEAD OUT THE WINDOW LIKE HE’S ACE-FUCKING-VENTURA and pass the truck that had THE PERSON WHO KNEW WHERE WE WERE GOING.

“Dude…Clint…We don’t know how to get there…”

“Oh…yeah…”

Clint takes a very fast, VERY unannounced left hand turn into a driveway…right as the truck (with the smarter friends who realized they needed to be in the front) tried to pass us on the left.

Truck…slams into us…we go spinning into a ditch.

<insert world spinning…world slamming to a stop…car doors opening…people running…>

Everyone runs to check out our friend’s new truck and the damage.

I did not.

In the collision and spin, my neck was…how you say in English…FUCKED.

I couldn’t get out of the car.

My boyfriend didn’t even notice. No one noticed. Not until my now-ex-husband’s cousin said, “Hey, guys…Sheri didn’t get out…and I hear her crying…”

They came over to check on me and realized my neck was really bad.

But they told me I couldn’t tell anyone. “This is the second accident with Clint. Your parents will be mad. You can’t say anything.”

They gave me a warm washcloth for my neck…strict instructions on not telling…and took me home.

I went to prom and Disney world having to pretend to all of the adults around me that I didn’t have an, honestly, REALLY bad case of whiplash.

And since then…I hate Jim Carrey. Because that kind of stupidity makes stupid ass teenage boys do stupid ass things…and makes stupid ass teenage girls accept it.

So, if you take away my hatred of JC…you take away very valid life lessons I learned from that boyfriend.

Is that what you want, Ron? IS IT?!?!?!! I didn’t think so.

Thank you for riding Jazz Hands Mom’s Wild Ride. Your exits are here, here, here and here.

*hair flip and flounce away*

Please Don’t Feed The Negativity Monster

Say hello to my leetle friend, The Negativity Monster Actually he’s not so little. He’s pretty big and…if you’re being honest with yourself…you’ll probably have to admit that you have the same friend.

This friend…he takes all of our negative feelings and expands them. Every time we get mad…anxious…scared…sad….every time we feel anything negative and we let it consume our thoughts, we feed him.

I’m not telling you to stop doing that.

1. It’s not actually possible.

2. If you try, it’s fake. (Do we need to have the sugar coated shit conversation again?)

3. It is illegal in most states to purposely starve your friends. True story.

But…consider this friend…this totally normal little monster…as you would your toddler.

Every. Fucking. Time. They go to their grandparent’s house they eat.

Do they need to? No.

Have you been starving them? No.

Did you feed them before you went over there? Probably.

Are they hungry? Nope.

Are they going to get fed a ton of crap…come home as little shits who won’t listen…and probably destroy something important? Possibly…

Your Negativity Monster is the same.

Look. You’re going to feed him. It’s part of life. But you really don’t need your pain in the ass in laws feeding him after you do.

NOTHING GOOD IS GOING TO COME FROM OTHER PEOPLE CONSTANTLY GIVING THEM SNACKS.

Add to that…They’re giving them so many snacks that, when you give them their normal meal, it’s your healthy normal portion that winds up causing them to do the, “I just frowed up…”.

Negativity vomit everywhere!! Anger outbursts!! Public crying jags!! Panic attacks that make everyone think you’ve lost your damn mind!

The monster ate too much and frowed up.

So…let’s all agree to not allowing unnecessary negativity and gossip treats from well meaning friends and family.

Be there for them for THEIR stuff. But watch your daily capacity.

“Do you want to hear what she said about you?” Nope.

“Oh my God, you’re never going to believe…” You’re right. Probably won’t.

“So, I heard something the other day…” Cool! Glad your hearing is working!

“Let’s talk shit!” Or…you know…Let’s not.

Every little bit of gossip. Every little bit of jabs and punches and needless negativity…it all combines.

So yeah…don’t feed my negativity monster. I feed him quite enough by myself.

Also…I can’t speak for anyone else, but every time this stuff starts up, I start researching self help books for HOW TO NOT BE AN UNLOVABLE PIECE OF SHIT…because, apparently, my negativity monster has a real taste for letting me hate myself.

Stop it. Stop it now.

Live Like It’s 9/12.

I can’t love this meme enough. ❤️

On 9/11 We all shared the horror of watching the towers fall. We held our breaths, collectively, as the next hours unfolded. We all cried as the names came rolling in. We all breathed sighs of relief as we found loved ones that were still safe. We all held our loved ones as tight as we could that night.

But those of you who were not in the immediate areas hardest hit may not have seen/felt the full magnitude of the days that followed.

As the ashes and tears mixed, a solidarity rose. A solidarity that I had never before (or since) experienced. Even as we continued to hold our breath in fear…as buildings continued to fall…as loved ones were still missing…as lives were shattered…our broken hearts were one. First responders from all over flooding to Ground Zero to help dig through the rubble and save those they could. Friends and neighbors pulling together in support. I took my dad’s van and two friends and drove to every business in my town to get donations of items needed at Ground Zero. No business turned me away. None.

There was no greed. There was no selfishness. There was no racism. There was no hatred. No questions of sexuality or religion. No one asked who you voted for before offering all the love they could give.

It was a horrible time. I will never forget not knowing where my father was, or if he was alive, for a solid 24 hours. I was lucky and didn’t lose anyone personally. My friends, neighbors and town were not as lucky.

But it was also a time of love and unity that I think we desperately need to remember these days. Instead of the constant fighting and shunning of yesterday…and too many yesterdays before that…let’s try living like it’s 9/12/01.

With Love, Unity, and Solidarity.

The Good

This blog brought to you by my absolute hatred of Jim Carrey. Weird, huh? There’s a point.

So, I got to the gym this morning knowing that all I can really do today is walk on the treadmill. I accidentally ran 18.2 miles yesterday (#whoopsie) so anything else would have been dumb.

ANYWAYS, I got to the gym…went up to the cardio cinema…and…lo and behold…fucking Bruce Almighty. I DESPISE JIM CARREY. I started to be a little cranky about it as I walked.

And then…a light from heaven…Morgan Freeman.

I love Morgan Freeman with the same ferocity that I hate Jim Carrey.

I got excited. And then he went away for a bit.

I still was happy. I knew he’d be back.

Which got me thinking.

Lately I’ve been doing this thing where, when I start to spiral about the things that hurt…I stop myself and remember the good things in my life. And I stop the spiral.

I start thinking about how stressed I am at work. I focus on how lucky I am that I actually love what I do and am supported at work by my boss. A lot of people have neither.

I start thinking about people that have left. I focus on how loved and supported I am by the ones who stay.

I start thinking about the things my health issues stop me from doing. I focus on the things I’m doing that they said I’d never do again.

It’s a fairly constant refocus. Let’s be real. If we allow it, the bad parts of our days do outnumber the moments that feel like a blessing. That’s just life. Adulting, as you will.

But those blessings…even if the moments are fewer…they DO outweigh the bad times. Quality over quantity. Every time.

So, thanks, Morgan. For the Godly Narrator Voice Reminder that today is going to be great because I’m going to focus on the moments that make the bad worthwhile.

Now, excuse me…Morgan Freeman is coming back on now.

The Willow

I will never forget the day that someone looked at me…as I was playing with my camera…and said, “You know…they say you can really tell what someone loves in life by what they take pictures of. Some people take a lot of pictures of people. And then there’s you…and trees.” 😆 Touche. I deserved that. Lol

I’ve always had a love affair with trees. <insert loving wood joke here> Trees are a phenomenal part of nature. They offer us shade…they offer us shelter…they offer us warmth…and they are so resilient. Take a walk through the forest and you can see a million ways that trees survive and thrive, even as they protect those living creatures beneath them and in them.

But the first tree I loved…the first tree I considered mine…was a weeping willow in the front yard when I was a little girl. I loved to hide under this tree, with one of my beloved books. I felt safe. Even as this tree “weeped” around me, it protected me. And it stayed…as so few things do…it survived storms that other trees could never survive, as it bent with the storm and survived…rather than futilely resisting and finally snapping. This soft…malleable…freely weeping tree…couldn’t be taken down…while the trees around it…the trees that seemed so strong…were more easily snapped in two.

I’ve been thinking about that tree today, as I pondered another situation.

I told my boyfriend this morning. I remember…all the way back to childhood…these days where I would wake up…hurt by whatever situation at the time…and I would think. “Today. Starting today, I don’t want to be the nice girl anymore. Mean people get so much further. I’m going to start being like them. Today is the day.” I was resolute…I set out…I was going to lose my “softness” that people took advantage of. Never again would I smile…and be hurt. And then….an hour later I’d realize I didn’t even make it off the bus without smiling at someone and finding a way to make someone laugh. I didn’t even make it out of class before I wanted to hug a friend. I just never had it in me.

No matter what life has thrown at me, I stayed soft. No matter how many reasons to give up on people I was given, I still loved. No matter how many times I decided I’d never trust again, I saw the best.

I’ve been called malleable…too nice…I’ve been considered easy to manipulate…too easily forgiving…too slow to walk away…I’ve been called it all.

And they’re not wrong. I will never be hard like an oak. I will never stand tall like a pine in the forest.

I am a willow.

Like the willow…my emotions overflow from my bendable branches.

Like the willow, I envelope those in my perimeter.

Like the willow, I give you a place to lay your worries and seek refuge.

And like the willow…I may be seen as weak, but it is my very nature of staying soft that gives me a strength to endure.

Respect…The Missing Ingredient

I rarely use my blog to brag on my boyfriend but something happened this weekend, that honestly was SO fundamentally different from what I’ve experienced in life, that it has stayed in my mind since then. To him…it was probably nothing. It’s just who he is. To me…it was…what I’ve always looked for without even knowing it.

What was it? It was respect. TRUE respect.

I’ve talked about my PTSD here before. I don’t talk about it to seek attention…I talk about it because…honestly…talking about it takes away some of its power. Talking about it keeps it from being a shame that lives in my head. Talking about it…I hope…helps keep it from being a shame that lives in others’ heads.

Anyway, Saturday morning I woke up in tears. The nightmares had been prevalent that night and I woke up…scared. My boyfriend, sadly, is used to this. (Sadly for him, not me. I’m as used to it as anyone can be, but I always have a sense of guilt and shame when I wake up and he has to deal with it.) As he always does in these moments, he held me and reminded me that I was safe. He didn’t judge. He didn’t condescend. He didn’t act like I was being ridiculous for the fear that I couldn’t control. He just held me…and comforted me.

Is that what I’m bragging about him for? Nah. It’s amazing, don’t get me wrong. It takes a good person to offer compassion and safety in these moments. It’s a rare quality, but not one that’s been completely devoid in my prior life.

So…after the nightmares started to calm…we got up. I had a long run to do. 10-minute warmup…12 miles run/walk… 10-minute cooldown. Which, basically, equates to 13-14 miles. My boyfriend…does not enjoy distance running. My boyfriend…DOES love me. So, he has agreed to a half marathon with me in October. He is not excited about this. He is excited about ME. Another rare trait in my world…but not completely unheard of. My boyfriend is not a morning person…at all…but he got up early with me and was ready to face this thing that he would never have chosen to do himself. That’s called sacrifice in love. Again…INCREDIBLY RARE in my world…but still not completely unheard of.

Here’s where things went…differently…than I have ever experienced.

We went to the park. You can do approximately 3-5 mile loops at this park. So, not the worst place for this kind of mileage. We set out. And…at 99% humidity that day…plus his severe allergies…he forlornly looked at me and said he just did not feel up to THAT mileage on that day. BUT, he wanted to wait in the car while I ran my miles. He had his phone…he was perfectly content. I told him he didn’t have to do that and that I could just run home (we were already about 3 miles in and we were about 8 miles from my house).

Dude. Ex-Cop-Boyfriend-Instinct kicks in. NO. All the no. EVERY LITTLE BIT OF THE NO. He was staying. He loves me and worries for me. I both accept and appreciate this.

I LOVE this about him.

And…on any other day…I would have said ok. At first, I DID say ok.

But…as we were walking towards the car…I started to spiral. The nightmares were still too vivid…the fear…the terror of those who could hurt me being able to find me…the EASE of them finding me as I ran in literal circles…a prey saying, “Please! Come get me! I’m making it easy for you!” I walked in silence…the fear taking over…I couldn’t control it.

In every. other. relationship that I’ve ever been in…that would have been when I either said, “You know what? Let’s just go home.” or I would have done as asked and let him wait in the car while I ran my loops…never admitting what was happening inside of me.

With Aaron? I don’t have to do that…and a voice in my head KNEW I didn’t have to do that.

Why?

Because with Aaron…for the first time in my life…I know that his love, compassion, and care for me also comes with the one missing ingredient that I’d never had before…Respect. He wants to care for me. He wants to take care of me. He also respects that I can take care of myself and that I know what is best for me.

So, I told him. “I need to be really honest with you. I love you for wanting me to finish my run. I love you for wanting to wait in the car so you’re nearby. But I need you to go home. I’m panicking at the idea of running these loops by myself…of being so easily findable…after the nightmares…I can’t do it. I hate running on the streets, but today…I need to be out in the public eye…on the streets…running in a direction and not a circle…so it’s not so easy to just know where I am. Please. I promise I will call you if I need you to pick me up, but I need to do this.”

Every person I’ve known in the past would have said, “HELL NO. I’m not leaving you!” And, you know what? It would have been out of love and care. But it would have been not respecting my wishes…my fears…or my ability to know what is best for me and to take care of myself.

But, not Aaron. Lord, I could tell he hated it. It went against every protective bone in his body to drive away from me.

But he did.

He respected me.

And then…when I got home…shaky as hell and wanting to fall over…he took me out for a giant steak. Because that’s love.

Love is amazing. Love is wonderful. Love is such an important piece of what we all want from life.

But…love with Respect?

It’s like the missing puzzle piece that I never could place my finger on until I found it.

/ooey gooey crap

*jazz hands*