Thursday, January 18, 2018

2018 Goals -- Part 2 -- Boundaries

In my last post I talked about authenticity being one of my goals going forward.

It has been something I struggled with during my faith crisis. and to be honest I will probably continue to have a few of those walls up as floods of messages came in telling me how sad they are for me, and how much they pity me. BUT I also got a flood of messages coming in of people telling me how much they loved me, not in spite of me leaving, but just because they know who I am as a person and my religion doesn't matter and never has. 

Boundaries is a big one that I have been struggling with my whole life. I have constantly let people over step my boundaries in ways I haven't actually been okay with, but I have either been to scared to enforce those boundaries or I was worried that person would feel like I was being uncaring and rude; a problem for me emotionally because i can't stand to have anyone feel like they are not cared for, or that I am rude. 

I have had many friends help me in learning about boundaries. Both those who have crossed them and I had to learn to cut them loose, and those who have called me out when they know I am not enforcing them. 

The biggest example of this is me in the adoption world. You guys, I have so much love for adoption. It is a MASSIVE part of my life. I wouldn't be sitting at this computer typing these words if it wasn't for adoption. When I started blogging, I started because I had so many emotions and I have always processed my emotions through writing. I wasn't ever in a million years expecting readers to actually read my blog. I started going to conferences, and birth mom activities. I started creating retreats and other events. Because when I was surrounded by these people, by some of you reading this, I felt heard and understood. I felt loved and cared about. I felt whole for just a split second. And a good majority of those I met because of adoption are still my best friends. 

The only problem with completely engulfing myself in this world was that I started to lose all sense of boundaries. I welcomed birth moms in my home, some of which were amazing experiences, while others stole from me or it turned sour. But the main issue was always that I would drop anything to drive them somewhere, I would spend money I didn't have to help them. I also would message 10-100 birth moms a day talking to them about their problems. The only thing is, I noticed that few if any asked me about mine. I just threw myself completely into adoption without any regard for my self. My friend Desha, and a few others saw the stress this was causing me, and after much internal fighting with myself, I ditched my old Facebook and made a new Facebook page. 

I didn't get the new Facebook because I hated helping people, I didn't do it because I hated adoption. I did it because I needed to. I had to. I had to take back my life and my boundaries. 

Ever since then, I have been working hard to do some type of self care regularly. 

I stopped limiting myself on Jessa time and because of that beautiful things came about

Retreats started to become easier to come by and plan. 
I started focusing on my true friendships and growing in those. 
Traveling and Concerts and Staycations have become a regular thing for me and I come back every time feeling refreshed and ready to conquer. 
I took control of my mental health and started seeing an incredible therapist. 
I built a beautiful relationship with God. 
and I just became more engaged in the career I love and with my family. 

boundaries will always be something I struggle with. Every time I fight with someone, or an acquaintance ends, or a friendship fades...I harp on it. I overthink it. I cry about it. But it is okay, because at least I know who my true friends are, I know I am whole and taken care of , and I feel better. 

I love my friends. I am endlessly and completely loyal to them. They are my rock through so many trials and tough situations. But because I focus on quality over quantity, my life has been greatly enriched and blessed tremendously. 

So here is to Boundaries!! 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2018 Goals -- Part 1

Been thinking and pondering a lot about what my goals for 2018 will be. Yah there is the usual “i need to eat better, and be better at picking my clothes off the bathroom floor” But this year i wanted to pick a character based goal. 

It’s no secret i have no problem speaking my mind. But one thing i greatly struggle with is being full authentic with the small parts of my life. Some people already know about my journey these past two years, but i feel all the private messages and questions i’m getting would be better in black and white for everyone to see.

The Mormon church is an incredibly special thing in my life. It gave me a great moral background and a lot of fun activities growing up. I loved (and still love the memories) of Girls Camp, OakCrest, Youth Conference and Pioneer Trek. My parents used those values to teach me the value of service, compassion, and loving other people. I met many friends because of the Mormon church. 

I haven't gone to church but a few times in the last couple years. I didn't stop going because of John Dehlin or issues with church history. That just wasn't the case for me. (Although I don't think people who stop going because of that are wrong). I didn't stop going to church because I was offended. I stopped going to church because of how it made me feel. 

As shared in my previous post, I went through some really interesting experiences as a 14 year old. After that, the church for me was tainted emotionally. Anytime I walked into a church building after that, I felt shame and unworthiness rush over my body like a giant tidal wave. I tried so hard though to keep going, maintain faithfulness, and do what I was supposed to. I worked hard to become worthy, I got married in the temple, I blessed my children, I converted friends. I did it all. Yet, the pangs of unworthiness and shame still remained deep within me. Anxiety and panic setting in every time. I decided to take a break. 

A break I took. I didn't do anything wild. I just chose to not go to church. I went to other churches but they didn't feel right either. One took God out of the equation completely, one was fire and brimstone, one was just a little loud for my taste. I began to feel discouraged - I love Christ. I love my Heavenly Father. I love scriptures and the stories they have to offer, and I don't really care if they are historical, they to me still represent wonderful stories of how to be a good person. I wanted to find something where I could still worship God, I wanted a community, but most of all I just wanted to feel completely accepted for being unabashedly me. 

I started seeking God. Not just in a religious sense, but in a personal sense. I started attending a Christian church and things changed for me a little. I was able to hear of God. I didn't feel pressure to be a certain way, or be a certain person. I didn't feel judged about my career. I was just an awesome mom who loved Christ and wanted to feel his love. 

Something in me in the last year has changed. I am happier. I am emotionally lighter. I am more confident. I am no longer weighted down by intense shame. I am worthy. I am worthy. And I am able to tell people to their face when questioned, Just because my happiness and fulfillment does not come from the LDS church right now (or possibly ever) does not in any way diminish your happiness and fulfillment from your religion or faith. We are all brothers an sisters just trying to find what keeps us happy and fulfilled. 

So this year I am going to be authentic. I am going to be me. I am not going to apologize for things that make you "sad for me" or make you uncomfortable. Deal with it or don't. What I really hope and wish for is that you can see that I am very happy. That my faith in Christ and most importantly MYSELF is stronger and more brilliant than it ever has been. 

In the light of Authenticity, here are my confessions/declarations that I need you to know. 

1. I Love Christ, My Heavenly Father, and I believe very strongly in a higher power. I have had so many experiences that mean so much to me, that I have a hard time every disputing the fact that there is a higher power. And If you don't believe in the same higher power, or a higher power at all, I don't care. I love you. Not in spite of your choices of worship or lack there of, but because of who you are. 

2. I have tattoos. I actually have quite a few. And, I am not ashamed of them. In fact, they boost my confidence. They are beautiful. They mean something to me. They mean a lot to me. I will probably get more tattoos. There are people who have asked me to keep them covered around them, and I will continue doing that as best as I can out of respect. But It is me, it is my body. 

3. I am a huge supporter and serious ally of the LGBTQ community. I realize it has its own complications for people. But I really just love everyone. If I don't like a person, its because of who they are as a person, or because I don't jive with them, not because of their sexual orientation. Within this confession or declaration I am also telling you that I am bisexual. It is something few people know. But I don't really care anymore. It is a part of me. No, it is not a choice. No, that does not mean I am attracted to a bunch of women. This is just how I am wired. It is who I am and I can't really change that. Trust me, Ive tried. lol. 

Lastly (for today, cuz who i am kidding lol)

4. Being a working mom is not something I do because I have to. It is something I do because I want to. I am soooooo proud of my career. I am proud of being a working member of society. It gives me purpose. I love and cherish the fact that I am the breadwinner of the family. I love that I am teaching my daughter she can do ANYTHING she sets her mind to. That you don't have to have formal training in something if you are willing to learn and to hustle. I want my son to know it is okay to support women in their dreams and in their careers. It is more than okay, its awesome. Being a stay at home mom were some of the darkest times in my life. Days of sitting on the couch, being so incredibly depressed and hating my life. Not engaging with my children at all. Now, I get up in the morning, I talk to my kids and get them ready. I tell them I love them about a million times. When I come home, I am engaged. I take them to experience things, to do things, to enjoy this life they are living. I read them books, I cuddle, I get on the floor and play with them. They are happy kids. they are loved kids, and they know they are loved. I am not ashamed of having a career. I also do not think having a career makes me better than those that Stay at home. I think they are amazing humans and there are those who were just meant to be stay at home moms and thrive in that role. 

So there is me, writing a journal entry/blog/answering questions. Next one will be on why boundaries are hard for me :) 

Love who you are. Be who you are. Unashamed. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Know Better. Do Better. -- LDS Worthiness Interviews and Lay Clergy

TL;DR -- Listen to THIS PODCAST and think about signing THIS Petition

I have talked about this publicly before. And I am not trying to beat a dead horse, but this needs to be said and it NEEDS to be talked about. 

I am not the only one this has happened to. And this doesn't just happen to "those types of people". This is also not because bishops are bad men. This is a practice issue. This is a culture issue, and authority issue. This is an education issue. Also, the following article is not a dig on my parents, nor is it a dig on the church. It is a know better, do better call to action. 

At 14 years old, I was accused of something horrific. At that time in my life, I was a compulsive liar when it came to my parents because my anxiety leaves me with an intense fear of disapproval. So, there were moments that I lied, even when I didn’t have to because I was scared. Not because my parents beat me, but because I love my parents so much I want their extreme approval for everything. So this horrific accusation, made by some family, was not what they were making it out to be. I was immediately blamed for it, being the older child in the situation, and my life fell apart before my eyes.

I lost one side of my family completely. They rarely if ever talk to me, and when they do, they are superficial and forced. It killed me because this side of my family was the side of family connection I craved the most at this time in my life. I felt completely pushed aside by all of them.

Then, I was forced to go the bishop. Where I sat alone with a 50 something year old man, and he asked me some pretty gross, personal, and inappropriate (in my opinion) questions. This same bishop also told me that I could never actually truly be forgiven in this life and It was up to God on whether he wanted to forgive me when I passed onto the next life. He told me that our lives would play on a big screen in front of everyone and they would all see the disgusting choices I have made. He then disfellowshipped me, which is a very public and shaming punishment for such a young child. At this age, church was everything to me. It was all I knew. Now I had to ignore the sacrament, refuse the request for prayers and talks, then I was released from my calling in Young Women’s. For a teenager, a young teenager, your life may as well be over.

Following that you see my journal (following are actual excerpts) in a matter of weeks go from
“I am so excited for mutual tonight” and “Ward choir today was so amazing”
“I will never be able to get married in the temple now” and “I am a horrible person, no wonder my parents hate me”

I found these journal entries the other day, while going through my memory book. I cried through the whole last half of it. It is heart breaking. Throughout this journal, You can see all the things I loved, but you could also see that my anxiety was just taking over my life little by little and I didn’t know at the time, what that was or how to deal with it.

I describe myself in my journal many times as Jessa 1 and Jessa 2, while this may seem scary to some and slightly schizophrenic, what it actually was, was my way of explaining that when my anxiety took over I became a completely different person and when I came out of that anxious state I would feel self-loathing, remorseful, and suicidal. At 14 I mentioned suicide MANY times in my journal, saying how easy it would be for my parents and family if I left, because I was constantly being told I was the cause for all contention, so why live.

I wasn’t a perfect child by any means and will never claim to be, but I was also very deep in a mental illness called anxiety that I didn’t know how to control or even what it was.

While you may think that "this is not a widely run issue, and this doesn't happen often." And you may also think "It is her fault for being a problem teen" STOP. LISTEN.
This is common. It happens all the time. I find it so odd that members use the justification of "Well they are just men, doing their best, trying to help." EXACTLY. They are just men. They are not professional counselors. They are not sexual experts. They are mailmen, businessmen, accountants, etc. They do not and should not have the authority to talk to young children or ANYONE for that matter about sexual practices. It is just setting our children up for situations they should not be in.

Members see these men as some of the utmost authority in our wards and religion. As a child/teen/adult we sometimes have a hard time seeing the line blurring of appropriate/inappropriate. I didn't even question the questions my bishop asked me, because he was a man of God, he must be asking me these questions because God told him to.

Here are my pleas to you.

1. Don't allow your children to go into an interview alone with a bishop, young women's leader, or stake president alone EVER. You just shouldn't.

2. If you choose to allow your teens and children to still go to these interviews alone. At the very least, you better educate them. You tell them what is appropriate and what is not. We spend so much time teaching your children what is appropriate with the law of chastity. We forget to tell our children what is appropriate/inappropriate to be asked from a bishop. And if it is uncomfortable, its probably inappropriate. If it is anything more than are you worthy, its probably inappropriate.

3. For the love of all that is holy. Stop the shame cycle. I really in my heart believe pornography is a yucky thing. But I also believe and have read many research showing that the reason why so many Mormon men have become addicted to it is because of Shame. Masturbation IS natural. Read any number of scientific journals on it. It is normal. What is not normal? Excessive masturbation, using materials to aid in masturbation. Those are what we should be worried about.

I truly hope that even if one person can learn from my story, or so many others, we can stop this. Together we can change this and fix it.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Who I am

While I realize I have spent the last 28 years figuring out who I am, I have spent the last 2 years REALLY discovering who i am.

At 26 years old, I was working what I thought was my dream job, Running a successful non-profit that meant the absolute world to me, and just all in all ecstatic to be alive. I knew who my friends were, and what they meant to me. 

Later that year, my world completely changed. My husband's mental health went down the drain, one of my "best friends" destroyed any sense of trust I had in humanity, and I was put into the behavioral health unit for daily horrific panic attacks. I quit my job (slightly because I felt obligated because of said "best friend" and slightly because 24 hr/day adoption was too much for me), and I started fresh. I began once a week therapy and leaned on a very small inner circle. I had to soul search, REALLY search.What I knew was that I loved my family, my non profit was important to me, and that I needed better boundaries. The question for myself came on how to do that. 

I had forgotten a little bit about what my ultimate goal with my non profit was. That was to help birth parents. Help them grieve, help them feel loved, and to know they weren't alone. I decided to take it slow. Planning just one retreat at a time, and being conservative and careful. I put up so many walls, even my very closest friends and family were held at arms distance. 

What I found was, people still wanted the retreats, they still found out about the retreats, and they still came to the retreats. I realized that although I was not a perfect person, my heart was still in it and still the same old overly compassionate and empathic me. 

I found my love with e-commerce and marketing and had fun with my inner circle. I learned the hard way that this life is about quality not quantity. I decided to start really participating in my life for me, not just for others. I took one vacation every month that year, and it was G L O R I O U S. I was starting to remember what made me laugh, what made me cry, and what I was about. 

I got really sick, and my close and loving friends banded together to support me through it all. I started to realize that I had left many old friends in the dust and that made my heart hurt. I started to reconnect with them and with what mattered. 

That year included many tough blows, but also many amazing miracles and moments. 

While I realize this post is so far discombobulated, I needed to write it for cathartic reasons. 

I am Jessalynn. 

I am beautiful. While I may not be as thin as I'd like to be, or as graceful as I wish, I am beautiful. 

I have a good heart. One thing that has never changed about me is that ultimately I will always put others above myself. ALWAYS. I will make every move possible to ensure someone's happiness. However, my heart now has some more boundaries, where I make sure that I am protected. The boundaries don't change the fact that I love others fiercely and loyally. I feel their pain and feel their joy. I want to always be someone others can turn to. 

I have a voice. A voice that matters. 

I am a mother. My children need me, but I need them more. They are everything to me. 

I am spiritual. I believe in God deeply. I know he is there for me and he hears me. 

I love adoption and I will continue my non profit as long as I remain able. I am still currently able due to many angel friends (and some unicorn ones) who also felt passionate about my work. 

Through all of this, I have so much more to discover, so much more to learn. 

My second reason for writing this post was to say, 

If I have offended you, I am sorry.
If you have questions, you can ask. 
If you need me, I am here. 
If you question me, that is fine, I am trying and learning and becoming a better me.

p.s. shoutout to my kick ass therapist, friends, family, and animals. You da hero. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015


the other day i was driving my kids to an appointment. i reached back and grabbed something for Mina, then i realized i could have gotten in an accident. 

this triggered me into remembering a time when my mom was single. i remember she reached back into the backseat for something and we crashed. 
it got me really thinking... my mom was single, she didn't have expendable income, that crash must have been really stressful for my mom. i don't know if she cried after it all or during i don't remember that. 

but i wonder if she did. 
i wonder if she just wished for someone to give her a hug to calm her down as she did for me and my sister. someone to tell her it would be okay and make her believe it, if only for a moment.
i wonder if she sat pouring over her checkbook wondering how she was going to afford to get a new car if it was totaled. 
i wonder if she was worried how she would cover the medical bills for her whiplash.
i wonder what else was on her mind that day that was already stressing her out, and the crash was the straw that broke the camel's back. 
i wonder how she made it through all she did and still held her head high. 

just so many things i didn't even realize she must be going through when i was so young. i just was. i was just me, living my kid life, playing outside, making plays and talent shows with my sister.

so many times i am stressed. stressed to my limit. 
how will i keep on working from home while juggling 2 kids?
how will i deal with the health issues?
how will i make it through this miscarriage?
how will i ever raise my kids to be functional adults if i myself don't feel like one?

but i know. there is something to be said about unconditional love and trying your best. they are alive, they are fed, they are loved. loved so so much. 

yes, i know. 

the kids, will be okay.

Wes and Jessa

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