This MFrs Story So Far
Escape From the Zoo
You know the Inner Critic Shame Thing.
"Don't even look at me, I'm not good enough."
So I go back and forth on thinking anyone cares where I’ve been as part of this project. Then I get a “Finally, someone else has struggled like me,” listener message and feel like an asshole for being all isolatey, protective, and weird about my past.
So here’s my deal.
I was born into an emotionally dysregulated family already formed by CPTSD when my parents got all enmeshed in their abusive relationship in like 8th grade. It was pretty much downhill from there.
I showed up, third and final kid of the litter, and was thrown into the family boxing ring.
Parent against parent. Parent against brother. Brother against brother. Brother against me. Me against me. You know the scheme.
I stumbled through childhood, bullied inside the house and out. Awkward and usually friendless. Unsure why I didn’t understand how socializing worked or how to fit in anywhere. Convinced from the start that something was fundamentally wrong with me. I was flawed. I was ugly. I wasn’t good enough. Everyone knew it.
Cue the increased turmoil.
My dad got in a work accident, got injured, and got some serious opiate prescriptions. My oldest brother got into all sorts of drugs before landing on heroin for about 10 years. And the household got a lot more upset, with fists flying in all directions and unpredictability around every corner. The chaos didn’t bring us together, it yanked everyone further apart with some distinctions along the “gender lines.”
Violence, addiction, aggression, stealing, lying, threatening, manipulation, tribalism, fear mongering, daily instability and unwanted surprises. Run-ins with cops (nothing even that cool).
Oh, and poverty. Those were the names of the game, leading up until I removed myself from the situation ala student debt at 21 years old when I went off to UIUC as a transfer student in Pre-Vet Med.
That’s where I fell into science. Instead of pursuing Veterinary school, I wound up working in cancer biology research and being pretty erright at it. All in all, it was balls to the wall academic performance for a few years there, during which my body and brain hit a few walls.
Like… my PTSD showing up for the first time.
Similar to most folks, my early 20’s marked my downfall from “yeah, I’m depressed and socially anxious” to “holy fuck, I don’t think I’m capable of sanity anymore.”
And so began my autoimmune system failure, my agoraphobia, my social withdrawal, and my life changing very quickly as I had known it.
Importantly, this is also when (I now realize, in November 2021) that I lost my view of “Self” and any confidence I once had in my ability to figure shit out. I got scared. I got isolated. I got confused. I no longer trusted my own person.
And because of it all, I stopped really trying to live.
Then came the abusive relationship.
Yadda yadda yadda, I moved across the country for him and wasted a bunch of years trying to support someone else’s life before I left with two bags of shit one day and didn’t go back.
This is right about when my recent trauma therapy was actually helping, giving me the anxiety control and guts to leave.
It’s also when I was the most alone I had ever been… suddenly being in Atlanta on my own... and decided to channel all that angst into a resource to let other people know they weren’t the only one feeling like the only one.
I made a CPTSD blog and “membership,” pouring everything I had after my 2 jobs were done each day into the project while I lived in a friend’s spare bedroom and drank too much free beer.
Fast forward… With my fleeting “spare time” during the pandemic, I put even more effort into TMFRs, and realized that I had to go for broke. I couldn’t slave for everyone and still have motivation to do this trauma project fully. THIS WAS IT, and I was ready to leap.
So I quit one of those jobs - the abusive one that I started during the abusive relationship (yep, they’re related by what I expected from both situations).
Then I recorded a podcast episode, off the cuff, with a $12 mic in my room one day.
This is right about when I wound up back in my mom’s house during the pandemic, because doctors appointments led to “let’s fix our relationship”… and saw that people were listening to my audio recordings. So began this WHOLE MF ADVENTURE.
Enter “I think this is working,” the podcast. Plus the first Discord community. Which was a little, adorable family of Fuckers.
Since then, during my time at my mom’s in Northern Illinois, June 2020 to August 2021, a lot happened that has permeated/directed the show.
I adopted a severely handicapped (CH) dog - Archie - and taught that floppy fucker to walk.
I went back to school for my MS in Behavioral Science.
My still-estranged dad died in a motorcycle accident. My brothers and I became responsible for all his property. Cue the family realizations.
I officially moved everything from Atlanta to live with my mom to help with these family efforts.
My brothers did NOT want my help with these efforts and made that clear, almost right away.
My mom became increasingly upset about my existence in her home. Some would call it “abuse.” She called it, “how she acts and I should have known better.”
Archie and I moved into the basement and started “indoor camping” for 5 months.
Archie suddenly started going severely downhill in July 2021. An MRI (funded by the best listener's on the fucking planet. thank you.) revealed the extent of his brain defects, and the vets immediately wanted to euthanize.
After two weeks of “the best times I could give with the most car rides possible,” I had to put Archie down… losing my only constant / companion from the past 13 months.
On that day, I immediately moved out of my mom’s house and into… anywhere.
I lived in my SUV / a tent for 6 weeks. Stayed on couches. Near-stranger’s parent’s homes. Friend’s abusive mid-divorce basements.
All the while… Trying to keep this trauma podcast afloat and taking psychology courses, despite my own obvious near-drowning in PTSD.
Learning a whole helluva lot about how brains really work, the whole time.
And I guess that’s about it.
Here we are.
Now, 31 years old. Still pretty well “homeless.” Less than a year from graduation from my MS program, after which I’ll likely end up pursuing a neuroscience degree. Working “three” jobs (this one alone is actually more like five, but who’s counting).
Consistently still alive because I’m treated better by anyone other than my family. Thank you again, best listeners / friends / fake family on the planet, and loyal rl pals I've made in life.
Taking each day as it comes, without losing my motherfucking shit that I have no illusion of stability or control. Pretty happily set out on my next adventure - figuring out where I belong and with who, because it sure ain’t stuck in this cage with these mentally ill people for the rest of my life.
All the while, just learning about how interesting this trauma-developed brain and set of neural programs is, via watching my head do its damndest to comprehend and adapt to the whole rapid-change parade created by mingling with unstable folks who DESIGNED the most self-critical functions of my brain.
And overall this plight to save my brain from 1) capitalist work toxicity and 2) The family narratives that have almost ended me a few times...
It’s what I now call my “Escape from the Zoo.” Props to the band I stole the term from.
AKA. Going no contact with abusive exes, jobs, and family members. Being okay with being transient, so long as I’m always moving in the right direction. Finding stability and validity in my Self (I know, super lame) rather than codependency or “achievement acknowledgment” based on anyone or anything else.
I'm free, that's for sure.
And… I’m here to holler at, if you’re ready to hit the road on a recovery venture of your own.
Or, if you’re just here to better understand yer stupid fucking brain before you tackle that equally numb and frustrating life.
You can do it if I can... probably with a lot less flailing, since you’ve got some fucked up friends around here to lean on.
I’m Jess. This is my really, really made-up sounding life so far. And if you’ve got similarly dumb details to stitch into your autobiography, you know where to find me. In the MF Blanket Fort, on the Instagrams, and through the Contact forms above. Say hey. Hail Archie. Give me a new band recommendation.
Or share your story, and let some other MFs know that they aren’t alone in this mess, either.
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