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Unpopular Opinion: I’m proud to be an American

Never forget” at least that is what we said.

Seventeen years ago today, history changed forever. September 11, 2001. It started just like every other day for my brother and me. We woke up and went to the elementary school a mile from our house. My brother was excited about his birthday the next day. It was a normal day, until it wasn’t.

I was in fifth grade. I was ten years old. I didn’t know that my life was about to change forever. That America was about to change forever. I vividly remember being SO upset because the school announced recess would not be allowed because ‘it was too hot outside.’ Shortly after that announcement my mom checked Ben and me out of school. We thought she was doing it as a birthday surprise. I remember reaching the front office and seeing tears streaming down my mom’s face. There was a multitude of parents checking their kids out of school that day. I was confused because it didn’t feel that hot to me so I didn’t understand why so many kids were getting sent home early. Once we got home my mom tried explaining what was happening and let us watch the news. Obviously, my ten year old self didn’t grasp what was unfolding on the television. There was no way this could be real! It was just supposed to be hot outside! Ben tried to stop my panic by calmly explaining that if what we were seeing WAS real that the power rangers would swoop in and save the day. He said we had nothing to worry about. (except making sure his birthday party was still happening.)

In the weeks to come, I felt like everyone was living in constant fear. I was still not fully understanding what happened on 9/11. I was still only ten. I saw the news, I listened to President George W. Bush address the nation, I saw the flags appear on every window front and house around town.

“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.” former President George W. Bush.

September 11th caused a transformation to sweep the nation. Americans were proud of the flag. Singers were writing songs about freedom. Neighbors helped each other. We supported our troops. We stood together.

“Remember the hours after September 11th when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran upstairs and risked their lives so that others may live; when rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon; when the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation’s capitol; when flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.” Senator John Kerry.

Over the years, as I got older, I slowly realized the gravity of the acts of terrorism against America that day. You see, in school, children are taught about history. My whole life I was reading these history books with huge accomplishments for mankind but also about horrendous tragedies from the past. But now, September 11th is written down in American history. I was alive for something that changed my country forever. It is something I was a witness to. It blows my mind that there are people in high school now that were not alive that day in September. I guess that is the funny thing about history.

Growing up, I was always taught that we had history lessons so history wouldn’t repeat itself. We learned about WWI and WWII to prevent another world war. We were taught about the fall of dictatorships and communism to prevent future governments from failing. We were taught about the division of America in the Civil War to prevent this nation from becoming so divided again. We were taught to NEVER FORGET. So let me ask you this: How did we get here? Seventeen years later? Our country is divided- and not just between democrats and republicans. We don’t support our troops. We idolize cowards who “sacrifice everything” by NOT standing for the National Anthem. Our veterans don’t get the healthcare and opportunities they should. We are making movies about monumental moments in American history, but removing the flag.

When did it become an UNPOPULAR opinion to be proud to be an American? When did we stop letting our enemies be foreign and start attacking each other? When did we remove the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance from schools? How did America let so much hatred and fear cover our history? How could we forget?

I did not know anyone personally who lost their life that day, nor know anyone who lost someone. And I can’t imagine what this day is like for the ones that did. The heroes that sacrificed everything.The heroes that have sacrificed themselves in all the events stemming from 9/11. The men and women who are still fighting and risking everything today. It has been seventeen years since 9/11, but with heavy hearts we WILL remember the sacrifice. It was not in vain. We will stand together under God and make America the greatest country again.

xoxo
a PROUD American
jojo

Tell me a secret

Tell me a secret you’ve never told anyone. Tell me a secret you thought you’d go to the grave with.

Tell me what your greatest fear is.

Tell me how you choose to suffer.

I am not one for small talk. If I’m being honest, I’m not one for much of any talk. I don’t believe in wasting time talking about the weather or how Alabama is still number one (Nick Saban will always be number one). I want to get past the superficial fake things. I want to know what makes you who you are.

I’ve learned over the years there are a few ways to REALLY get to know someone. Get a person to tell you a secret. Learn a new secret every week. It’s such an intense experience when you know the things that matter, that most people don’t get the privilege to learn.

Ask someone what their biggest fear is. Not the normal spider, snakes, playing against the undefeated Alabama football team, etc. I’ve learned people’s greatest fears have prevented them from their passions and dreams. Some people let their fears paralyze them while other accomplish so much despite their fear. People often lie when asked this question because they are afraid to be judged or being vulnerable.

Ask someone how they choose to suffer. Odd request, yeah? This may be the best way to truly get to know someone though. It’s easy to ask people what makes them happy, what they want. Most people essentially want the same things out of life. Love, happiness, success, good health. In order to get these things though, you have to suffer. You have to have pain. What pain are you willing to endure? What suffering do you choose because whatever/whoever on the other side is worth it? This question will tell you who a person is.

I have a horribly ugly teddy bear named ‘Purp’ that I still sleep with on really bad nights. (I’m 27 and married). I’ve been sleeping with him a lot lately.

My biggest fear is being inadequate. I’ve never been enough for someone to stay. To be someone’s number one. The racing thoughts in my head daily tell me I’m not good enough. I’m not a good enough wife. I’m not a good enough sister and daughter. I’m not a good enough nurse or friend. Eventually, one day I’ll be all alone. The internal dialogue in my head is constantly on repeat. Bonus secret: I shake my head or close my eyes really tight to try to stop the thoughts. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

I choose to suffer for my marriage. I choose to have to painfully long silences, the awkward conversations, the nights I cry myself to sleep. I choose to let people make judgements on what they think my relationship is like because of our age difference. I choose to be a step mom of three kids that despise me. I choose to battle the bloody monster in my head telling me that I’m failing as a wife. I choose to do all of these things. I choose to go to therapy. I choose to suffer because at the end of the day, I have a marriage worth fighting for. I have a man that loves me. That’s how I choose to suffer.

So don’t waste my time. I’d rather read a book.

I don’t want to know what your favorite color is. Even though mine is black. I don’t want to know what college team you root for. Because Roll Tide.

I want to know your secrets. I want to know your greatest fear. Tell me how you choose to suffer.

Xoxo

Jojo

February 28- YEAR 2

Another year has come and gone. I can’t believe it’s February 28th tomorrow. And that it’s such a significant day for me and I’m apart from Rj for the second year in a row. I’m not digging this trend. February 28, 2016 is when I made biggest decision I’d made in my life (at the time) and decided to move back home for good.

I’m currently in my hotel room in Augusta for SANE training.I’ve been in Augusta for three days now and it’s crazy how distance can change how a person sees things. I went to nursing school in Augusta and couldn’t wait to get the heck out while I was here. It took me until a month before graduation to realize how much I was truly going to miss this place. Ironically, I had similar feelings toward Savannah. Driving on I-20 and coming into Augusta city limits felt like a tiny piece of my heart was home. I even creeped by my old town house and snapped a picture.

Just like Savannah though, this place holds countless memories. Bad and good. It’s where I cried countless times because I was so homesick I couldn’t breathe. It’s where I constantly felt I was going to fail nursing school because I made a ‘B’ on a test. It’s the place I learned my ex boyfriend first cheated on me. It’s where I escaped when my mom finally served my dad divorce papers. I lived with three complete strangers; one of which I now consider family. It’s the place I experienced my first heart surgery and fell completely in love with the human heart. The place I reached one of my dreams and the place I had my first ‘date’ with my husband.

As hard as it was to leave Augusta, it was one million times harder to leave Savannah two years ago. Last year, I was really emotional. I wrote how I longed for this day to not be such a big deal. I wish I could say that it’s not, I still have it circled in my calendar. I wish I could say I haven’t looked at all my time hop pictures and gotten emotional, but I did. (And I’m not prepared to see all the time hops for tomorrow- the actual day…)

Last year, I think I was so distraught because the ‘new’ chapter I envisioned when I moved home wasn’t the case. Naked truth- it’s still not. But that’s okay.

In Savannah, I had this big important job. I was in charge and had power. I found worth in the title I had.

I was in the best small group ever and involved in some pretty great ministries.

I had a condo that felt like the ‘home’ I had always longed for. I had a best friend that saved my life. I had a group of friends that were incredible. I found myself- the real me in Savannah. I finally started to love myself in Savannah. When I moved home, I essentially felt like I lost all of that. And a lot of the things I worked so hard to rebuild in my life crumbled. I started drowning again. I had this timeline and vision in my head of where I should be a year out and when I wasn’t there, it was hard.

Now I’m two years out, and I’m slowly starting to see my plan wasn’t big enough. I don’t have this power job title anymore, but I’m still able to do what I love to do. I get to do heart surgery, and bonus- I actually get to sleep and have a life now.

I am also allowed this extraordinary opportunity to become a SANE nurse (more on this to come). Something I would have never had the chance to do if I stayed where I was. I haven’t found a small group that has been a good fit for me at home, so I started my own. A group for high school girls struggling with anxiety, depression and self harm. I love every second of this group and even gained a ‘little sister’. I now don’t have to include quotations when I say ‘home’ because the house I shared with my husband IS my home. Including the red front door. Friends, now that’s a tough one. The best friend I had in Savannah is no longer in my life and that was a bitter pill to swallow. It broke my heart, but I will forever be grateful for her and laugh at all our stupid memories together. [the blog “when you lose your best friend” isn’t about her though, FYI. It’s about my other bff. It’s been a tough year in the friends category.]

Fun fact of the day: I was at dinner with my brother and Rj the other night and my fortune cookie said, “you are surrounded by great friends.” Ben laughed and commented that my only friends were at the table. And even if it’s a little sad because it’s mostly true, I’m okay with that.

I lost myself in Savannah, then found myself. I moved home and essentially lost myself again. But two years out, I’m still growing. I’m loving myself more everyday. And that’s not selfish. I’m finding myself each day. I even played the piano and SANG our first dance song to Rj last week. Y’all, that’s HUGE! Last year, I wrote about being excited about February 28th one day not holding any significance. This year, I’ve changed my mind. I love the date. It’s the day I got one step closer to living the life I always wanted without fear anchoring me down. I wish I could be with Rj and celebrate this anniversary, but tomorrow, I will celebrate alone. And in its own way, it’s the perfect way to honor the day.

Xoxo,

Jojo

Becoming the girl behind the red door

Growing up I never dreamed of the typical things I believe most little girls do. I didn’t grow up dreaming about a princess wedding or being a mom. I didn’t dream of being a prima ballerina or becoming a rock star. I didn’t really allow myself to dream at all. I was a realist- even from a young age. Instead, I set goals. I set big goals and small goals. Make straight A’s. Make the softball team. Get into nursing school at Medical College of Ga. Save money for my 401k.

The one thing I allowed myself to wish for was having a home one day- all brick, all hardwood floors and a red front door. I think all I really wanted was to feel safe and secure. These things might sounds weird or insignificant, but to me they were the only things I felt important. I wanted all brick because the house I grew up in was fake stucco. It was falling apart and molded, but we couldn’t afford to fix it. We had carpet with stains, and with each stain came a bad memory. The most crucial piece of my future home was a red front door. When I was a little girl, growing up in the south, a red front door meant your mortgage was paid off. I wanted a life where I could have a home and not be living pay check to pay check. I didn’t want to stay in the cycle of cleaning houses to keep the power on (which nothing is wrong with this at all. My mother with the help of my brother and me kept our bills paid and food in our bellies for many many years by cleaning houses). A red front door can also symbolize obedience and protection to God that dates back to Bible times. Some countries paint their doors red for good luck. Brooke Davis from One Tree Hill had a red front door. Bet you want to paint your front door red now, huh?

As I got older I kept a running list of goals for my life. (Of course I have my weekly and monthly goals too). But this list has transformed into my Bucket List. I have a wide range of things on this list. Things from learning how to drive stick shift to vacation places to saving a certain amount of money. If you know me well, you know about this bucket list- even if I won’t show you. Sorry not sorry. I’m always adding things and trying to check things off.

A few month ago my mom gave me an assignment I did in 2nd grade.

I was eight when I decided to be a nurse when I grew up. I made a goal at the age of eight and I worked hard until it was met. I made the varsity softball team. I made straight A’s. I got into MCG’s nursing program and graduated.

And from my first big girl paycheck I’ve saved 10% into my 401k. I reached a lot of the goals I’ve set for myself when I was younger, but I think I was missing the bigger picture all along. Being a realist at such a young age because of everything that happened in my past made me think having dreams were dumb. Yes, most little girls don’t grow up to be mermaids or have the wedding they planned when they were five. Their dreams just evolve. I’ve come to realize that all anybody really wants is to be happy. To be safe and secure. To really experience life. The goals I made were to set myself up to be happy. And for the most part they did; that is why I continue my epic bucket list.

I didn’t dream of a princess wedding because I thought marriage was bad, like my parents. I didn’t think I was worthy of love. I didn’t dream of becoming a mom because I didn’t want to pass on my genes. I didn’t want to be a prima ballerina or a musician because I needed a steady and reliable job (like a nurse with health insurance). I wanted a strong house with no rot or ugliness because I never had that. I became what I wanted when I was eight years old. I have the all brick house with a red front door. But now, I have things I never allowed myself to dream. I have a wonderful husband that reminds me everyday how worthy of love I am. I finally have a partner to help me finish my bucket list. NYE17 we had a vow renewal and I got that princess wedding I never knew I wanted.

I have the most perfect fur baby. My brother just got his dream job after graduating less than a month ago from the University of GA- and is also in the process of teaching me to drive stick.

My mom is engaged to a fantastic man who treats her the way she should be treated. None of the above are cleaning houses to survive anymore.

My life isn’t perfect. I still haven’t reached all my goals and I constantly add things to the list. But for the first time in my life, I dream. I am so unbelievably happy. I am finally the girl behind the red door.

Xoxo

Jojo

How We Broke Up- Part 2

Picking right up from part one…

June 2013 I officially became a licensed RN and told Rj I loved him. It was one of the best days of my life. Unfortunately, it also meant my moving to Savannah was one step closer. We spent every day until I moved squeezing in as much time together as we could. We drove over an hour to go to dinners. We wore hats and sunglasses. I got a burner phone. We went to hole in the walls concerts. We danced to no music. We stayed up all night laughing and talking. Every day we fell more in love.

The last week before I moved we went on our first vacation together (and two friends for my alibi). We went to Orange Beach and it rained EVERY SINGLE DAY. We loved every second of the trip. We knew we had to enjoy our limited time together, so we did. The better things got with Rj the worse things got with my family.

The day I moved to Savannah, my mom wasn’t even home. It was a harsh realization. I met Rj in Atlanta so we could spend our last few hours together. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry in front of him, that I would be strong. YEAH RIGHT. I sobbed the whole morning. I was terrified of moving and not knowing a single person (except my controlling cousin I was temporarily living with). I was terrified to start a new and first nursing job and signed away a three-year contract. I was devastated over my family. And broken-hearted over leaving Rj. Now I know what you are thinking- if you truly felt this way, why don’t you just tell everyone about your relationship? And if it would have been that simple, we would have. Looking back, would we do things differently? Of course. But then I wouldn’t be writing this story.

I think I cried the entire 5 hours to Savannah. I had two days to get settled before my first day at work. I Skyped with Rj and wrote letters and emails. (I am terrible with communicating, so I write. Letters, notes, emails. You’ll learn the importance soon enough.) We started a count down to the minute of when he would come visit me in Savannah. We only had 6 days. We could survive 6 days. We did. My new job was overwhelming. I started doubting I would make it as an open heart surgery nurse. The first week actually flew by.

Before we knew it, it was Friday. I told my cousin I was hanging out with I friend I reconnected with from high school for the weekend. Rj was finally in Savannah and while I was on my way to meet him downtown, I got in a hit and run. I’d never been in a car accident when I driving. And of course, the car that hits me takes off! Who does that? Should that have been some ominous premonition of what was to come? Probably. We ended up having a great night exploring River Street together. I felt like my heart could beat for the first time in over a week. Saturday morning we woke up and started apartment shopping. We spent all day driving around figuring out where the best place to stay in relation to the hospital. I think we toured 20 different places. Saturday night we went to this cool little place downtown with live music (let’s be real, everywhere in Savannah is cool.) We were finding a place for us together. We could do three years of just weekends if it meant forever together. We had some cocktails and danced. It was going to be the best night. Savannah was going to be okay. Maybe I didn’t make a mistake….

And then my mom started calling. She had tracked my phone. With my cousin’s help. She said she knew I was doing something I shouldn’t have been doing. She asked me who I was with. Side note- I’m aware at this point I was almost 22, a nurse with this bad ass job, etc and my mom was tracking me. Psycho? Yes. But to be fair, I had never done anything like this in my life and she was worried. Did she only make things worse, yes. Again, why didn’t I just confess? Because when I told her I was dating a guy 10 years older she almost fainted, I didn’t think she could handle this 25 year age gap. Obviously, I was so flustered, we left the restaurant and went back to our hotel. I didn’t know if I should go back to my cousin’s or what I should do. I was stuck in a horrible place. That was one of the longest nights of my life.

Sunday morning I decided I needed to get back to my cousins.’ My cousin wasn’t talking to me, my mom wasn’t talking to me. I was a wreck. With puffy eyes and a snotty nose, Rj kissed me briefly in the rain in front of the Bohemian Hotel. If either of us would have known that was our last kiss, we would have done it differently. We would have done a lot of things differently. That was our last kiss for over a year. The last time we saw each other was standing in the rain in July 2013.

I got back and faced the music. I didn’t really talk to Rj the next week. The following week my mom came to Savannah. She asked me how I got so lost. To just tell her the truth. Another opportunity to come clean wasted. I saw how damaging my behavior was. Not only to everyone I loved, but to myself and Rj. That was when I began to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. To walk away from Rj. To walk away from this unconditional love and peace I’d never known. I KNEW my family would never be okay with our relationship, and at that point, I had to choose them. Who could choose someone they’ve only really known 4 months over their entire family? What kind of person could love that way at 21?

The answer to that should have been me. But it wasn’t. I walked away from the best man I’ve ever known without so much as a fight.

This is part of the goodbye email I wrote to Rj. I knew if we talked or I saw him in person, I would break down. I was a coward…

“Sent: Monday, July 29, 2013 9:59 PM

 Augusta, 

I don’t know how many times I have been failed by words. Because there aren’t enough words that can illustrate and describe all the things I need to say. So I am sitting here, at a loss for words. I am crying because my heart is breaking as I write this. But I don’t know any other way. I know that if I skype you or even talk to you right now, you will be able to change my mind. And I can’t change my mind. I need you to understand and I am asking the impossible from you. I try to not ask much, so know that this is something that I need. I am asking you to let me walk away. 

I love you, in every way that I can. That will never change, no matter what or who I become. And I hope that one day I will make a difference and leave a positive impact on this world and walking away from you will have been for something. 

“This above all, to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night and the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man.” I have to really believe in this quote. I have to be true to myself. I have to be able to look in the mirror and be the person I want to be, to be the person I am meant to be. That is one of the things you are always saying to me. “What do YOU want?” “Be true to yourself.” After this weekend, I took a long look in the mirror and I didn’t recognize the person I saw looking back at me. I am not blaming that on you, by any means. I am just telling you the truth. I have never felt so lonely or isolated or miserable. I felt like I was hurting everyone in my life that was important to me, including you, and I didn’t know how to stop. So I had to take a step back. 

I had to think about my priorities and how to get back on the right path. And the only way to get back on track with my family, is to walk away from you. Like I told you the other day, I didn’t want that option. I still don’t want to pick.I started thinking about the future. I knew, down deep in my heart that there would come a day when I would have to choose. I think that I may have subconsciously always known… I know you may not understand, but I can’t not have my whole family in my life. I know that they may be a little crazy and a lot dysfunctional, but I love them more than anything and I just can’t live without them. I also don’t want you to think that I am choosing them over my own happiness, because I am not. I truly can’t be happy without them being a part of my life. This past week was one of the hardest of my life. I was miserable and honestly was tempted to do self-destructive things. I haven’t felt that way in many years, and I got to a place so low that I was almost at that point. I am not telling you this to make you feel guilty or sad or worry, but I am trying to just help describe where I am coming from. This whole thing with my family has hurt you too. Everyone I love is being impacted by my decisions, and it isn’t fair to anyone. It goes without saying that when I am with you, I am such a happy version of myself. I am at so much peace and even from that first day, we just fit together. I can say without a doubt I was swept away by you and fell in love with you. When you are with me, everything is okay, but when you aren’t, it is too much to bear. Sometimes you lose sight of what matters the most, and I think that is what I did.

Some days, you may not be able to stand back up when you fall down. And that’s okay. Sometimes, it’s okay to be broken. Because someday, someone will help you back on your feet. You won’t be alone forever, it just feels like it sometimes. You can into my life at a very pivotal moment. And while it may not have been the best timing and I absolutely hate the way that Danny and I ended things, but you came into my life when I was more than a little bit broken. I was in a relationship that wasn’t where it should be, I was finishing school, moving back home, finding a new job to start a career, studying for boards and so many other things. You held me together and gave me a peace that I’ve never experienced before.

‘Just don’t give up because times are hard, especially if that person means so much to you. Keep fighting for what you want until you can’t fight anymore, until giving up is the only option left.’ I know you may not believe it is the only option, but for me, right now it IS my only option. I have stayed up countless nights and cried myself to sleep over this. I honestly hate the term ‘heart broken’ because it isn’t just my heart. My whole body aches and is breaking. And I don’t want you to think that I am being weak and giving up, I have to think that I am strong enough to let go. You taught me what it feels like to love deeply and be so consumed it’s a little crazy. You gave me confidence and taught me so much about myself and life.

I have to let go, because we can’t keep doing this. It is taking a toll on both of us and our family. As much as we fit so naturally together and is the easiest thing in the world being with you, our families could never blend. And I thought about maybe it would be easier when I moved out (whenever that would be), but even then, I would know people here so we couldn’t even go out here. I don’t want to be this way. We don’t deserve to have to hide out and sneak around, but unfortunately that would be the only way for us. You deserve better than that and so do I. 

Sometimes I wonder if anything is absolute anymore. Is there still a right or wrong? Good and bad? Truth and lies? Or is everything negotiable, left to interpretation, grey. Sometimes we are forced to bend the truth, transform it, cause we are faced with things that are not our own making. Things that simply catch up to us. And while the challenges that we have dealt with were not of us, but of our situation, we are the ones that are being held responsible. And as much as it kills me, I have to change my situation.

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to change your life? What measure of time is enough to be life altering? Is it four years, like high school? One year? Sixteen weeks? Can your life change in a month, a week, or a single day? I feel like I’m always in a hurry to grow up, to go places, to get ahead. But I’ve come to realize one moment can irrevocably change your life. There have been many of those moments I have shared with you. 

You’ll get over it. It’s the cliques that cause the trouble. To lose someone you love is to alter your life forever. You don’t get over it because ‘it’ is the person you loved. The pain stops, there is new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The hole in your heart is in the shape of that person and no-one else can fit it. And I’ll miss you, I already do. So much it hurts to breathe. I miss the times we’ve shared together, I miss not being able to talk about them to anyone. I’ll miss what our future could have been. I hate more than anything that it is going to have to be like we never existed.

I know that this is the worst thing, and I am so sorry that it has to be like this, but I just don’t see any other way. This is one hundred times harder than I ever could have imagined, so much harder than leaving Atlanta that Saturday. It kills me that I don’t know how to say goodbye. And I am sorry that I am not calling you or skyping you, but I know I would have just cried and I could have probably been wavered. You said in your email that if it was what I needed and it came to a point that it was too much, you would let me walk away. So I am asking that of you right now. I am begging you actually to let me go, I need you to be the strong one and understand this is what I need,

You have changed my life forever and I will always love you.

I am so sorry

Augusta

Bloody hell, just typing this and reliving this is hard. Stay tuned for Part 3.

xoxo,

jojo

Part 1- How We Met

How we Met- Part 1

Let’s rewind to the almost beginning. 2011. I was dating this guy* that was in every aspect ‘perfect on paper.’ We knew each other through high school but didn’t reconnect until college a few years later. In May 2011, he invited me to go to our church’s college night with him and then dinner after. We had so much fun we decided to go see a movie after dinner. It was probably the best first date I’ve ever been on. I felt like we just clicked. His family loved me and mine loved him. After a few months of dating I moved to Augusta for nursing school. We decided there was no distance that would keep us apart. I drove home every weekend and stayed until the last minute possible and cried every single time I had to leave. Our families started getting really close. It seemed like the perfect relationship.

While I was home for Christmas break my first year, we wanted to have a sweet Christmas together. So we filled his truck up with blankets and pillows and drove out to his family’s farm. We drank champagne out of solo cups, danced in the fields while his favorite playlist played and then cuddled in the truck watching the stars. That was the first time he told me he loved me.

We started talking about our futures together and how we will make things work. We wished all our dreams to come true. We promised they would. We would check all the boxes.

I head back to school after break and things are still great. We have an amazing one year that he completely blew me away. May also means the end of first year of nursing school. We spend the summer together and things slowly start to breakdown. There wasn’t something exactly that I could put my finger on, but I just started noticing different things. And over time those things turned into big things.

Right before I moved to Augusta, he got signed with a talent and modeling agent in Atlanta. So I’m not sure, if that had anything to do with the change in behavior or attitude or whatever. My friends noticed it to and warned me they were seeing red flags. I guess because I only saw him on weekends I didn’t realize the change instantly. Until February 2013 rolls around. We were supposed to get together for Valentine’s Day, but my mama fell, so I spend my weekend with her and taking her to doctors appointments. But don’t worry guys, he sent me a framed head shot of himself that he signed for my Valentine’s Day present. (I’m a little disappointed I didn’t break up with him then). The following weekend I was supposed to meet my mom and him in Madison (halfway from Dacula and Augusta), and last minute he bailed because he had a ‘meeting’ with his trainer. So we decide he would come to Augusta the following week, spend the night and drop me off at school so I could head to FEMA. The night before he is supposed to be coming to see me, he calls me and tells me he doesn’t think it’s worth it to drive two hours to see me to just spend the night and drive me to school the next day. (Keep in mind, we hadn’t seen each other in almost two months at this point, he has skipped Valentine’s Day and bailed on coming to see me in Madison). I said I’ll just grab a ride from a classmate. End of discussion- for now. My whole nursing class went to FEMA disaster training. It was the coolest, most intense thing I may have ever done. But while I was on that trip, I realized I had gone almost a whole week without talking to him, texting or anything. He didn’t try to communicate with me once, and I didn’t miss him. I don’t know which part scared me more. So I finally text him, and he gives me a shady reply that he had been crashing at his trainers house for a couple days. His trainer was a female… Straight from FEMA I had to work a 12 hour shift on no sleep. After all of that- we finally got to talk. Best timing for that conversation? Probably not. I asked him if he truly wanted this, if he missed me? Because I don’t know what my answer would be. We don’t make the effort to see each other and now he is sleeping over at another females house. Long and short, he cheated- but didn’t admit until a couple months later.

But after that conversation, our relationship nosedived. I was months away from graduating and already had job interviews lined up. I was setting up 401K and health insurance. He was still in the same spot he was two years ago. No more college classes, no shoots, no commercials. Still living at home so mom can do his laundry. We sat in that field and made plans and goals and dreams. And I’m reaching mine. I’m doing what I said I was going to do. I’ve checked almost every box. And he wasn’t. He hasn’t. We wanted different things. Everybody was getting bad vibes from him. So I opened my eyes and really saw. And sometimes, it’s just better not knowing.

On one of our last weekends before my graduation, I was home going to church with him and my family. And I ran into the infamous ‘Mr. D’ he was with his daughter and my [ex] best friend. He gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “you need to ditch your boyfriend.” I was so shocked! I thought I imagined it until I text my friend about it. And she admitted he was serious. I joked about it back and forth a few times and she was like if you ever want to make that happen, I’ll help coordinate.

Well lo and behold, I’m back in Augusta and as a chairman of the social committee I am looking up places to have our class graduation party. I inquired information about a county club type venue. And guess who owes the damn building. Mr. D! Small world. We go out to coffee, neither of us drink coffee and we talk about the venue and our class budget. Then we talk about my boyfriend that he thinks I should ditch. Ironically enough, after that conversation I had the validation I felt I needed to demand if I was cheated on. I was.

So I went home and broke up with him. We were both crying. We were just in different places. He made me promise that we could try again after summer when I was settled in Savannah for work. I told him I would think about it.

Then I reached out to Mr. D (RJ) and told him he was right and we broke up. He asked if I’d like to go out for dinner one weekend before I moved? I said why not? Then I remember he is 25 years older than me and I said hell no. But then I remember that he isn’t a stranger. I’ve known him for years through my friend. I agreed to go out on a date with him as long as my friend could come with me. She did. We all three went out and had a blast. We were all in this group message for a while, but when I felt comfortable enough that Rj wasn’t going to kill me, we starting texting and skyping and talking on the phone. Every free minute.

Summer of 13 was the best and worst summer of my life. I graduated from Medical College of Ga with my RN BSN.

Passed my boards and got my dream job offer in Savannah. I started sneaking around with Rj because I knew my family would never be okay with our age difference. My relationship with my family has never been worse. But I was really living and loving for maybe the first time in my life. Most nights we just drove around at night with ball caps on listening to music. Or dancing around in the kitchen while he sang to me. He helped me do flash cards and study for my boards. We would have to drive out of town to go eat without anyone recognizing us. On nights we couldn’t see each other we Skyped until 2 or 3 AM. We talked about everything. Right from the start. He said after hanging out with me once, he knew I was different. We talked about religion, politics, family, money, sex, children, Alabama football. There was no topic off limits and I’d never felt my walls crumble down the way he got them too. I told him things I’ve never told anyone before. He knew me.

After two months, he told me he loved me and he kissed me. Another month passed and I got the results of my boards exam. I passed. My mom and brother cried in the kitchen with me and we drank champagne and laughed and cried some more. She said I should go and celebrate. So I did. I went over to RJ’s with two envelopes. The first was my passing official letter. And the second was a letter I wrote telling him I loved him too.

So ladies and gentlemen, that is how our story began. Summer of 2013. Crappy cheating boyfriend. Run in at church. Coincidence in Augusta. Whirlwind Summertime Romance.

And it was just the beginning…

Xoxo

Jojo

*psa- I know in the first part I use a lot of pronouns, but I’m leaving out unnecessary names because I’m the better person. That is all.

when you lose your best friend

When you lose your best friend…

Let me start off my clarifying- this is not a letter to my “ex best friend.” This isn’t some angry letter because of a fight or growing apart. Nothing like that, at least not in this case. This is the heart wrenching, can’t breathe, worst feeling in the world lose your best friend thing.

“Losing a best friend is like losing air. It’s painful and slow and there’s nothing you can do about it. You just watch the world disappear.”

Sometimes life just really sucks. One bad decision can ruin everything. One mistake in a moment of weakness can change everything. And that is what happened. My best friend did something stupid, and she is paying greatly for it. But that one moment caused a ripple that soon became a tidal wave trying to destroy everything in it’s path. One mistake shouldn’t define a person. One mistake doesn’t define a person. To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.

But sometimes, some people can’t see past that mistake. And you are forced to make hard decisions. You choose the option that you can’t live without. That option being losing you as my best friend. I wish we had a big falling out, or we simply grew apart. I wish we had an irreconcilable difference. I wish we had anger, because I can handle anger. But we don’t, that’s not the case. We both just have broken hearts.

“Promise me. That’s all I want. Just a promise that you will never forget me. Tell me I changed you somehow. Let me know that I had an impact on your life. Promise me that you will always remember me. You won’t forget our laughs, our jokes, our smiles, our conversations, our plans, our tears, our memories, our experiences. Our friendship.”

The best kind of people are the ones that come into your life, and make you see the sun where you once saw clouds. The people that believe in you so much, you start to believe in you too. The people that love you for simply being you. The once in a lifetime type of people. I’ve never had a friend that just clicked instantly- especially since it made no sense. For once in my life I had a friend that understood my anxiety and depression without having to explain. (and tummy issues). I’ve never had someone that just got it, because they struggled with it too. Every single thing about me.

I feel like I’m dying. I can’t sleep again. My anxiety is trying to consume me. I cry all the time. The only person I’ve ever met that just gets it from a single glance, I can’t talk to anymore. I feel so isolated and alone. I lost my person and I can’t even grieve the loss of that friendship without if effecting my marriage. It’s not that I don’t miss hanging out or all the stupid things we planned for the future, because I do. But I miss most having one person that understood and was there for the bad. My person that stood with me in my darkness.

“I know you’ve lost someone and it hurts. You may have lost them suddenly, unexpectedly. Or perhaps you began losing pieces of them until one day, there was nothing left. You may have known them all your life or you may have barely known them at all. Either way, it is irrelevant- you cannot control the depth of a wound another soul inflicts upon you.

Which is why I am not here to tell you tomorrow is another day. That the sun will go on shining. What I will tell you is this; it’s okay to be hurting as much as you are. What you are feeling is not only completely valid but necessary- because it makes you so much more human. And though I can’t promise it will get better any time soon, I can tell you that it will- eventually. For now, all you can do is take your time. Take all the time you need.” -Lang Leav

So I’m praying time will heal all the hearts involved and allow a third option to magically appear. I’m trusting in God’s timing and His plan. I’ll (try) to be patient in my waiting.

xoxo,
Jojo

Same man, same.