Nov 29, 2016

Win a Baby

(This is what our video looks like)

Hey everyone! As most of you know, Dave and I have been unable to make a baby in the past 8 years of our marriage. Infertility has been a constant struggle, and such an incredibly hard trial. About a month ago I heard about a contest on our local radio station 97.1 ZHT They are giving away a baby! Well, they're giving away IVF (in vitro fertilization). It's the process used to help couples with infertility issues, be able to get pregnant and have a child. The whole process is worth $25,000!!  You heard that right! They're giving 1 lucky couple the chance to be parents!

As I'm sure you've guessed, the reason for this post is to ask for your help. We had to make a 4 min. video asking for people to vote for us, so that we could win the opportunity to be parents. Dave and I both know that we're not anymore deserving of becoming parents, than any other couple in this contest. Every one of them deserve this gift. We're just hoping that after you watch our video, you'll find it in your hearts to vote for us.

To vote, you click on this link. Then, scroll through the videos (because I don't have a direct link) and look for the video that looks like the picture above. That's us!!
ONE THING though. You can only vote ONCE from ONE EMAIL. If you vote more than once, we will be disqualified. They have to keep this fair for everyone, so we ask that you only vote once from one email address. Other than that, you're good to go!

We can't tell you how much we'd appreciate your help, in helping us create our forever family. We have so much love to give, and want to share that love with a little baby. We'd be eternally grateful for your help in bringing baby Strasburg to us.

Thank you for all your love, and all your incredible support over the years. We're so lucky to have each of you in our lives. Thank you for taking the time to watch our video and vote for us. Have a wonderful Holiday Season from our family to yours!

Love,
Jilly and Dave 
Strasburg

Jul 23, 2016

Jilly's Bi-Polar Self

Yesterday was a fabulous day. I went out and about, saw friends, went out to eat, and ended the day by talking to one amazing lady. It's amazing to me that I can have a day like I did yesterday and wake up today, unable to get out of bed and tears streaming down my face. It's moments like this when I have to take a deep breath and remember that tomorrow will come, the sun will come up, and 95% of the time this darkness that is surrounding me today, will disappear, and I'll even out. Even knowing that though, there are still those days where sometimes I cry.

I know having a Bi-Polar 1 disorder is something that will never go away, and it will always determine a little bit of my life. That's not bad though because my Bi-Polar makes me who I am, and I'm very proud of that girl. I look back in life and realize all that I've overcome, all that I've learned about myself and my illness, and how I've taken back control of my life. It's an incredible feeling. It's the feeling that I try to hold onto when I'm surrounded by darkness. That's not always easy though.

I know that today is going to be a hard day. I'll cry uncontrollably for no apparent reason. Most things are going to make me sad. I'll turn off my phone, and shut out the world, and I'm okay with that. Days like this only come once a month, and I now know how to manage them. I know what dosage of what medications to take when it gets to be too much. I know how to refocus on the tears, and not let them overwhelm me, but accept that they're just going to come. I know what to do when the darkness becomes too much, and I have to reach for help from Dave. I know that if it goes into tomorrow, that that's too long, and so I take a pill that will make me crash for 24 hours, but it will restart my system. Most of the time though, I have learned to embrace the pain, and allow myself to hurt. I embrace the tears and know that they won't last forever, and this too shall pass. I have learned to accept this rapid cycling disease I live with, and know that tomorrow isn't too far away. I can make it. I'll get there.

We all have bad days. We all have moments that aren't our best. There's nothing wrong with that. It's okay to take a "me" day and do anything and everything you have to do to just make it through the day. Whether that's watching mind numbing TV all day, or listening to your Nirvana (my current choice) as you lay in bed and let the tears fall from your eyes, or if it's forcing yourself to take a walk out in the sunshine and feel the heat on your face to help remind you that you're alive, there's nothing wrong with any of this. We all need a day that's just for us regardless if we're happy or sad. The sooner we learn to accept that we need a day to become a better you, even a day to just survive, so that tomorrow you can try again, it's okay. Don't feel bad about it, regret it, or allow yourself to put yourself down because you need that. You're human. You have good days and bad, and the sooner you can embrace that fact, the better your life will be.

I used to try to fight the darkness. I still do when it gets too dark, but part of me has learned to embrace the dark. I have some of my most beautiful thoughts, talks with God, and journal entries, when I'm wrapped in darkness. What I've learned is that I just can't allow myself to stay in that darkness. I've had to learn how to escape it when it becomes too encompassing. When it becomes too overwhelming, I've learned how to ask for help. I've learned how to reach for the light, when that darkness is so strong I can't simply "pull myself out of it." It's been a learning process, but I'm there. I still have so much more to learn, but I feel so good about how far I've come.

Today is a "Jill" day. Today is all about me, and I'm going to choose to be selfish. I'm going to choose to stay in bed, and not step one foot outside my door today. I'm going to stay in my pajamas, have mascara stained cheeks because I'm not spending the energy to get up and wash my face, and I'm going to allow Dave to love me, cater to me, and make his day all about me, and it's all okay. 

I'll wake up tomorrow ready to try again. My rapid cycling will kick in and most likely by tonight this darkness will be gone, and I'll be back to being me, but for this moment in time, for this day and this day alone, it's all about me. I'm allowed to hurt. I'm allowed to cry. I'm allowed to be swallowed up in self pity, and pain. I'm allowed that because I know I won't allow it to last. For today though, it's going to be all about me, and that's okay.

The beauty about my Bi-Polar is that all of you can relate whether your emotions are dictated by an illness, or just life. All of you understand what it's like to have a bad day. Those bad days give us the capability of loving another when they are having a dark day. It makes us more empathetic, more loving, more kind, softer, more understanding, and more selfless. Embrace your bad days because you're allowing someone else to become a better person by loving you and helping you through it. We need each other. We need light and dark. We need strength and weakness. What would the world be like if we were all robots that just went through the motions? Life would be horrendous, dull, and awful. We need light and dark so we can be better human beings. It's what makes us different from every living creature in this world. It makes us human, and being human is a beautiful gift.

Today I'm sad. Today I'll cry. Today I'll leave the cell off, and lay in my bed (with the sun pouring in because I still need some light) and listen to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Pink Floyd (specifically "Shine on you Crazy Diamond"), and focus on my breath. I'll focus on the simple fact that I'm alive, and that's good enough for today. Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow will be brighter. Tomorrow I'll be back, but today is a Jill day. Today is just about me. Today is a chance for me to become a better person, so that tomorrow I can love someone through their darkness. So, thank you for my dark days life. Thank you for pain. Thank you for allowing this day to hurt, so that I can become better. Thank you for my depression.

Jul 13, 2016

My Rock

 As many of you know after my last few posts, I was in an abusive relationship, and shortly after that ended, I was raped. During this time in my life, I felt like I was spinning out of control. I felt as though no matter what I did, I couldn't function normally. I was scared to do even the most basic of things, such as walking to the sidewalk to pick up my mail from my mailbox, or leaving my house at all. 

These events that had happened to me, were controlling my life, and therefore I was literally disabled from living. I could barely breathe, let alone confront the outside world. It was at this time that I started therapy. That decision to go every week for those 7 years, was one of the best decisions I've ever made. It gave me my life back. It made me be able to live without fear. It gave me a 2nd chance.

After I was raped, I had to take life 60 seconds at a time. What I mean by that is that I would have to tell myself, "Okay Jill, you made it through the last 60 seconds, so you can make it another 60 seconds." Anything more than those 60 seconds, was impossible to face. There were some days where it was every 30 seconds. During this time, when my PTSD was controlling my life, I had to find something that would bring me peace, something that would help get me through the day. That's when I found my rock.

When I started therapy I was a wreck mentally, and emotionally. I felt as though I was used, and would never be lovable again. I felt like I was a dysfunctional woman and I'd never again be a whole person. I was broken. After all, how could someone love me, want me, and accept me, after all I had been through? How could someone want to have someone in their life that's broken?

It was at this time that my therapist recommended having a physical item that could bring me peace. Something that I could focus all my energy on when my anxiety made it impossible to breathe. Something that made it okay for me to slowly start leaving my home. Something that gave me courage, strength, determination, and peace. That "something" was a perfectly oval, and pure white, river rock. Yes, a physical rock.

When I first started carrying my rock with me, it had little bumps, and crevices, all over it. Whenever my PTSD/Anxiety, would grip me, I'd hold that rock in my hand and rub my thumb back and forth, all over it. Over time I slowly smoothed out that surface. My once bumpy, and rough rock, started to become smooth, and even more beautiful. It also made me able to start to live again.

I carried this rock with me everywhere I went. I would have it in my pocket, and when I felt like I couldn't take another breath, I would start to rub my rock, and force myself breathe. I had made it 60 seconds. I could make it 60 more. 

At night when my thoughts overwhelmed me, and I couldn't sleep, I would hold my rock and rub it, forcing myself to take deep breaths. I don't know exactly what it was about this rock, but it was helping me cope. It was helping me focus. It was helping me live.

After about 4 years of having my rock, it started to wear down in the middle where my thumb would run over it. It almost looked as though I was starting to make a very small bowl. The bowl shaped rock, was proof that I was gaining control again. 

This rock showed me that I could do anything. I could have strength to overcome my obstacles. It symbolized that what I had gone through, was not going to control my life. I was going to take that power back. I was going to go from being rough, sharp, and bumpy, to something smooth, strong, and beautiful. Those were things that I never thought would be possible again.

As time went on, I no longer lived 60 seconds at a time. It progressed to 3 minutes, then 5, then 25, then an hour. Over the course of those 7 years, I was finally able to live without being overtaken by time. I was able to simply wake up and live. I was finally able to start seeing the good in life again. I was starting to become "Jilly" again.

After those 7 years in counseling, I had slowly started to not need to go as much. I was now having an appt every month instead of every week. I was able to go back to the park where I was raped. I was able to speak to women in abused women classes about what happened to me, and how I was overcoming it. I was able to take these horrible experiences, and shape them into something beautiful. I was healing, and it all started with that rock.

I'll never forget the day when I realized that I didn't need that rock anymore. I had gone from carrying it with me 24/7 to carrying it in my purse, to then leaving it in the car, up to the day when I put that rock on a shelf in my bedroom, and walked away. It was the most carefree that I had been in over 7 years. It was the most peace I'd felt in over 7 years. It was the most beautiful feeling I'd ever had. The only way I can describe it, is that I felt alive again. I had overcome the darkness that enveloped me, and started to exude light.

The other day, Dave and I were having our pictures taken by one of the most beautiful Humans on the planet. Keith Baskett has a gift that I've never seen in anyone I've ever met. He has the ability to see light in someone, and then capture it. He has the capacity to see you as the most incredible person on earth, and he makes it possible for you to see that as well. He's simply an incredibly gifted photographer.
While getting these pictures taken, I was telling Dave about my rock, and why it was so special to me. The story got brought up because we were on the bank of a creek, and looking at all these beautiful, and unique rocks. As I was telling Dave my rock story, tears filled my eyes. I hadn't really ever told anyone about that story. The reason I was crying was because I saw for the first time, how far I had actually come. How I had overcome those particular trials in my life. I realized that I was able to love again, but more importantly I KNEW that I was once again lovable. It was such an amazing moment for me.

This picture is the most beautiful picture I've ever had taken, because it captured that moment. It captured everything that I had feared would be lost forever. It showed that I could tell my story without pain. It showed that I was proud of the woman I've become. It showed that I was able to be loved completely, and unconditionally, by another person in this world. The most incredible moment that this picture captured though, is that I was finally able to love Jill again. I love the person I've become, and it all started with my rock.

If you are struggling, or experiencing any of the feelings that I've experienced over the last 10 years of my life, you're not alone. Those feelings of loss, self criticism, pain, worthlessness, sorrow, guilt, remorse, anxiety, and feeling like you're unlovable, are very real, but they're not true. 

You're worthy of being loved again. You're an incredible person, and you touch people's lives. You're important to many. You're important to me. You're enough just as you are. Most importantly though, is that you can do hard things, and come out on top. I know this because I've done it.

My hope to any of you reading this post, is that if you do feel some, or all, of these feelings, you'll know that you're not alone. You'll never be alone. I know that because you have me. You have someone that understands your pain, and heartache, and I still love you. You matter to me, and you're special to me. 

If you can find the smallest piece of faith, know that you can overcome your hard times too. If you're too weak right now to have faith in yourself, let me offer my faith to you. I know you can do this. I know that you can become all that you want to be. I know that because I've done it. It is possible. You can get your life back. I promise. You can learn to live again too.

Jun 5, 2016

18 and Worthless

I'll never forget that sunny morning a few days after my Birthday in 2002. It was 2 days after my 18th Birthday, and I was living in Sugarhouse (a suburb of Salt Lake City). I woke up that day and decided to go run around the lake at Sugarhouse park. I wasn't scared, or apprehensive in the least. It's an extremely safe park, the sun was coming up at 5:30am because it was summer, and I was all ready to listen to my new playlist I made specifically for working out.

As I made my way around the lake, I was completely unaware of my surroundings. I was rocking out to Britney Spears, and I was focused on my run. I didn't notice as this car had slowly inched up next to me. When it got super close to me, I'll never forget the feeling I had. All of my senses started firing, and I started to panic. I went to run as fast as I could, but it was too late. He had grabbed me and forced me into his car. I knew this was a horrible start to what would come to be one of the worst days of my life.

He was an African American man, at least 6'9", over 300 lbs of pure muscle. He was terrifying. When he grabbed me, he picked me up like I was a rag doll.  I knew I had to fight because if I got in that car, I knew what would happen. It was no use though. He had me, and I there was no chance for me to escape.

When I'm scared, my body freezes up. I can't move, I can't scream, I can't function. I start to shake uncontrollably, and I'm not even able to cry. If you've ever been this terrified, you know it's one of the worst feelings in the world. You're unable to defend yourself, let alone think to do anything that will help your situation.

He drove on the still empty streets of the park and found a secluded area. He then proceeded to rape me. I kicked, I clawed, I tried to bite, I did anything my brain could think of, yet nothing helped. He was too big, too strong, and too overpowering, for me to be able to defend myself whatsoever. It was one of the scariest and worst feelings of my life. The only thing I could think is, "Jill you have to survive. You MUST survive."

You have to realize that when something like this happening to you, you're terrified of what comes next. Basic human nature is to survive, and now knowing that I was defenseless against him; all I could focus on was letting him do whatever he was going to do to me, but I just make it out alive. It worked.

As he finished with me, he threw me out of his car with the pile of my ripped clothes. I was now standing in the park, half naked, terrified, and alone. I didn't have my cellphone, so all I could do was run back to my house. All I could focus on was the dirty, and disgusting feeling that surrounded me.  I somehow thought this was my fault. I didn't want anyone to know about it.

I got home, threw all my clothes in the garbage, went inside, and called my therapist.  She called me back instantly and had me come in. I knew that I wasn't supposed to shower after an attack, so I didn't. I went and spoke with my therapist and she recommended going to talk to the police. That's exactly what I did.

When I was sitting with an officer, I explained what happened. He had me do a rape kit, and then proceeded to tell me, that rape cases don't ever get solved. It's his word against mine. Especially since I didn't know who it was, it would be in my best interest to just let it go.  That's exactly what I did.

I can't describe how hard the next few years were after that.  I felt dirty, as though no one would ever want me. I felt used, and disgusting; like garbage. I felt like I was nothing. I didn't matter, my life wasn't important, and mostly, God didn't love me. He allowed me to get raped because he thinks I'm a bad person. I took all the blame from that day onto me.

After years of therapy, I'm finally able to speak about my rape with no bad feelings. I can tell other women about it, and let them know that they too can heal. Your life is yours, and no one can make you dirty and disgusting. A special gift was taken from you, but it doesn't need to define you. You're not bad, or evil, or unloved, because of a situation that was out of your control. Something bad simply happened to you, but you can heal, and let love in again. 

About 9 years after my rape, I finally got justice. Over 47 women had now come forward against the same man that raped me. They too had been violated. They were much stronger than I was. I'm so thankful for their strength. They are the women that put this animal behind bars for life. Thank you for your courage, and resilience. These women allowed me to feel safe again.

It's amazing what we can go through as human beings. It's amazing how something can damage us for life, or how we can use what happened to us, to help others. I had to figure out a way to recover from that horrible day, and then use that recovery to help other women going through the same thing. It's been an empowering tool for me to use to help other women not feel so alone.

There's a quote that I saw this morning that stuck out to me. It's by Brigitte Nicole. 
"One of the most courageous decisions you'll ever make is to finally let go of what is hurting your heart and soul."

You can recover. You can move on. You're not worthless, or unworthy of love. You had something bad happen to you, but you are not bad. You are more important that you realize, and more powerful than you think. Be brave. Be strong. Be courageous. Be You. Most importantly though, know that you're never alone. Reach out. Someone will be there to catch you when you fall. You can do this. I know you can because I'm living proof.

Apr 7, 2016

Pearls Before Swine

I don't know how many of you know the scripture Matthew 7:6, but here it is, "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." 
I'm starting my blog off with this because this is the basis of how my husband treats me. Let's start from the beginning.
When Dave and I first met, and even on our 1st couple dates; Dave looked at me as a girl he'd date a few times, make out with, get drunk with, and then, onto the next. If we're being honest, that's how we felt about each other. Neither of us were looking for a relationship. We thought the other person was hot, so let's kick it for a few days and move along. Isn't this the point of dating? Meet a ton of different people, learn what you like and don't, and have as much fun as possible?! At least, that was my point of dating experiences.
After hanging out with each other a few times though, things changed between Dave and me. We both felt it, we were aware that it was happening, and that meant that things were going to be different. Nothing scared me more in my life. It scared the hell out of Dave too. What scared him the most though, was realizing that I was the girl his Dad has raised him to love, and protect.
A little about my Father in Law. He and my mother in law have been married 40 years (I think. Don't quote me). Lou, (my father in law) treats Paula, (my mother in law) like she is the most precious thing on this earth. I've never met a more respectful, classy, protective, and non-controlling man, in all my life. He treats his wife the way that he taught his son to treat his future wife. He treats her as though she's the hope diamond. The most precious thing on this earth. He never degrades her, speaks poorly about her, and really just chooses to leave her out of conversations, unless it's speaking about her in the most high regard.
When my friends met Dave, they thought it was weird how he wouldn't talk about our intimate life. He would smile as his friends and mine, spoke about their relationships. He'd laugh at their stories, and have great conversations about them and their lives. He simply chose to never discuss ours. My friends thought that he was controlling, insecure, and didn't love me like I claimed. I would simply smile and tell them that I understood why they felt that way. The truth is though, is that he loves me perfectly.
To this day my Dad will make funny jokes, he's a pervert and is always making some funny comment about sex. Dave and I are constantly laughing at him. Dave's friends will text him about little funny quirks in their personal relationships, and he simply listens. Something Dave has never done though, is follow up about a story with me. He protects me. He keeps me safe. He keeps me separate from the world. Why does he do this? As Dave told me today in a text, "You're too good for this world."
I'm not telling you this to say how amazing I am, because that's simply not true. I'm telling you this because I never in a million years, imagined that I would be treasured in such a way. I never knew that THIS existed. I didn't know that there was a love and respect above anything that I had ever known in my life. I didn't know that there was a love where your entire purpose is to protect that person. Now I do.
You moms and dads understand this love. You protect your children. You shield them from the world. You make sure you don't say certain things to them. You don't allow them to hear certain stories, you don't like them to be cussed in front of, and you protect them from people that would otherwise hurt them. You protect them like they're special, because they are. Dave doesn't love me like you love your children, but he protects me in the same way.
Dave is part of a group of men online. They're all friends and they discuss everything. Just like I have my friends that come sit on my couch and talk about everything with me; he has them. We'll talk about stuff that they say, and it cracks me up. I asked him one time if they know about me. He said, "Of course not. They're not good enough to know you." It hit me then, stronger than it ever had before. For the 1st time since we got married 3 years before, it clicked why he would always say, "You're my Pearl." He loves me and protects me as though I'm the most special gem in the world. He doesn't talk about our life, share our intimate details with others, or let people know the truly unique parts of our life, because he chooses to not "cast his pearls before swine." It's a choice.
I'm not saying that people are bad, and that I'm amazing. If that's what this sounds like, forgive me. That's not my point. My point is to simply thank my husband for treating me like my Dad always taught me to strive for. The way that he loved and protected me when I was little. He treats me how I deserve to be treated, because I cherish him like he deserves. I love him the way he deserves. I respect, and honor him the way that I was taught by my mother. 
Dave loves me, and I love him. Because of that love, we protect ourselves from everything in this world that would look to hurt that bond that we have with one another. We've chosen to put our marriage first. We've chosen to love the other person, respect the other person, and protect the other person, the way that we want to be loved, respected, and protected. 
Marriage is a sacred experience. I'm talking about EVERY MARRIAGE ON EARTH. Marriage is sacred. It's special. It's something to be treasured and protected. You've made a commitment to one another that it's you against the world. You've chosen to walk with that person by your side, as your partner in crime. There's nothing more special, rare, or sacred, as a marriage between 2 committed human beings. It's sacred because it's a choice that you both make. You both sign on that dotted line. You both hold hands and jump in. You choose them, and they choose you. What's more special than that?
I'm honored to be Dave's chosen love. I'm blessed that he's allowed me to choose, and have him. I'm lucky to get to wake up every day to his beautiful face, and face everything this life throws at us, together. It's a gift. It's special. There's nothing I'd rather do more. It's hard, it takes work, and it takes commitment. It's the hardest thing that you'll ever experience, and the most beautiful choice you'll ever make. 
The honor I have of being Dave's "Pearl" is the greatest gift I've ever been given. My marriage is the most special thing to me on this earth, and being allowed to do it with the man that cherishes, and loves me, is something that no word could ever do justice. It's simply special. It's beautiful, and special. Nothing will ever compare, and I'm thankful that God loved me enough to send that boy into that gym that day. It'll go down as the greatest day in my life. The day my life changed forever. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Mar 15, 2016

Because God is Here

Yesterday I was walking around downtown SLC. All of the sudden this insane storm started, and I had to take cover. I was close to my most favorite Cathedrals here in the city. I walked inside, and sat down on one of the back benches.

This particular Cathedral is very near and dear to my heart. When I was inactive in the Mormon church for 11 years, I still spoke with God daily. I still needed that connection. I wasn't able to entertain the idea of even giving the Mormon church a chance to give me that Godly peace, so I had to find another way.

I was 18 and living in SLC when I first went into this Cathedral. It's stunning. You walk in, and the Holy Water is in this beautiful dish. The music is playing ever so softly. Candles are lit, and people are on their knees in front of the statue of Christ our Lord. It's one of the most breathtaking things I've ever seen in my life. People, humbling themselves before God, asking for help. What is more beautiful than that?

Yesterday when I went in and sat down, after about 10 minutes the Priest walked over and sat by me. We started a casual conversation, and then he said, how long has it been since you've been to church? I told him that I was Mormon, but that I hadn't been in this Cathedral for about 8 years. He sat there and thought for a moment in silence. The peaceful feeling that this man gave off was beautiful. He then looked up and said "If you're Mormon, why do you come to a Catholic church?" My answer was simple. "Because God is Here. Just like he is in my church. I wanted to spend some time with God today." He smiled and thanked me for being there, and welcomed me back anytime.

I truly believe in my church. Even if I don't always agree with everything, I know it's true (for me). You that read my blog know that I don't care what religion, energy, faith, or spiritualism, you have. All that matters is that you have one.

Dave and I were talking last night about how every religion is based around the same idea. I can find pieces of my belief that coincide with Pagan's, Catholics, Islamic, Buddhism, and so on. We all have the same core. We all need someone, or some energy to turn to when things get hard. We all need that release when we feel like we can't go on. No matter how you find it, or by what means, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that you believe, and have faith, that you matter to someone or something. You have a purpose on this earth. You have the strength to do the hard things in this life. It doesn't matter that I get my strength from a different being than you. All that matters is that you find it.

As I got up to leave this beautiful, peaceful, and reverent, building. I got on my knees and thanked my Heavenly Father for allowing me to feel of his love in all things, and all places. I thanked him for the gift of life that I get every single day. I thanked him for giving me the will to keep going, because without him I don't think I could. Lastly, I thanked him for loving me no matter what I've done in this life. Thank you for being my Father and loving me unconditionally, and accepting me as I am.

As I walked back onto the wet and cold SLC streets, I felt renewed. I felt strengthened, and I felt loved. Thank you to the wonderful Priest that welcomed me into your Holy Church and allowed me to have such a beautiful experience with my Father in Heaven.


Mar 12, 2016

No More

I've thought about this post this entire week, as it is the week to end domestic violence. I'm embarrassed to say this, but I was actually questioning myself wondering if I should talk about my experience. Then a commercial came on, and they talked about how even when it's hard domestic violence and rape, need to be talked about. I don't know everyone's stories, but I do know 2 of mine. I hope one of them will bring some of you peace. I hope it'll let you know that you can move on. You can heal. You can be the best you ever. We just have to say No More.

I had just turned 18 in the summer of 2002. I was so excited to be an adult, start college, and all those other fun life experiences that come at that time. I was also very interested in boys, and back in those early days of AOL, I went on chat rooms to talk to guys.  Not so different from today.

One night a guy sent me a message. He sent me a picture, and I thought he was gorgeous. He was 35, so obviously mature, and he was into me! I was blown away! We started talking all day everyday for about a week. After 7 days we met up, and it was like fireworks. He said hi, and within a matter of hours he told me that I needed to lose weight. I was already so aware of how overweight I was that it crushed me. I knew if I didn't lose the weight I'd lose him. I knew that because he told me that he wouldn't be with a fat girl. Overnight, I stopped eating.

It was crazy how fast this guy wanted to start our life. He wanted to be with me all the time. He wanted to know where I was all the time, and what I was doing. He would tell me that it's because he loves and cares about me that he wants to know where I am. He wanted to make sure I was safe. I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. I mean other than his swearing, putting my weight down, and constantly belittling me by telling me I was lying to him; he was perfect.

After 2 weeks we moved in together. I literally packed up my car in the middle of the night, moved out of my parents home, and into an apartment with him. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to have this gorgeous, older guy, love me! I felt like a million bucks.

After 2 weeks, I had dropped 14 lbs. From there though, he started to control how I dressed. Suddenly he wanted me in professional business attire all the time. He picked out the clothes I would wear, tell me the way I needed to wear my hair, and what shoes would look appropriate. He even made me the manager of his real estate firm. It was as if we were starting a real life together.

Then suddenly, out the blue, something changed. It changed for the worse. Not only was I going over in my head every little thing I would say before I say it, just so he wouldn't get mad (which never worked), he started to cut my family out of my life. I wasn't allowed to talk to certain people. He refused to meet my family, and constantly told me that it didn't matter what they thought of him as long as I loved him.

He use to pop into the office 8, 9, 10 times a day, just to see where I was, if I was there, and if I wasn't, "Where in the hell were you?! Were you out with another guy?! You're such a whore. I knew you were cheating on me." I couldn't believe he would think I would cheat on him. He was everything to me. It was him and me against the world. How could he think I could do that to him? I loved him.

One day he decided that I was too close to my family. We packed up and headed to Vegas. I didn't know about his poker addiction.  I didn't realize that in days we'd be out of money and sleeping out of my car. He literally went through all my credit cards, my bank accounts, everything he could to find money so he could sit and play. All the while he demanded that I look like a 10 while I sat next to him for 18-20 hours a day. I'd literally be bathing and doing my hair in a casino.

I remember looking at myself in the mirror one of those days and wondering how in the world I got here in under 6 months. I was sleeping in my car, and wasn't allowed to have any contact with anyone but him. This isn't what it was supposed to be.

When I'd bring up my concerns to him, he'd instantly apologize, tell me that he'd make it all better, and he's so sorry for causing me pain. He's just under a little stress. I always forgave him, and we started the cycle all over again.

After Vegas was done, we drove to Colorado and started staying with his friend. They were wonderful and kind, but had no idea that constant hell I was living in. He was always checking my cell phone, he made me go everywhere with him. I remember sitting in a little run down bar while these old men played poker for 24-48 hours a day. There I sat/slept on the couch.

I'll never forget one day I had fallen asleep after being awake for more than 2 days. Instantly he got up and came over and sat by me. He grabbed my hand tightly and through gripped teeth he said, "You are to be here with me. How do you think it looks to these guys if my girlfriend isn't even on board with me?" I told him how tired I was, and I needed sleep. He grabbed me hard by the arm, pulled me outside and slapped me hard across the face. "There, that should wake you up. Now get the F out of my face. You're disgusting." 

I fell to the ground sobbing. I couldn't believe he just slapped me. I was in shock. I went into the bathroom, cleaned myself up, and we went home. When we got home, he told me how sorry he was and that he would never do it again. He was stressed about the game, and flew off the handle. I guess I could understand that, so I let it slide.

From there it got progressively worse. Finally I had the courage to run back to Utah in the middle of the night. He hounded me on my cell 24/7. I was so paranoid that he was around I could sleep, eat, or function. Within a week he had talked me into coming back out to CO. I did. I left in the middle of the night like always.

It goes on and on and gets worse and worse, until Christmas one year. I was in a dirty hotel room in Vegas. Only 6 hours from my family. I begged him to please let me go see my niece who was just 2 hours away (It was a complete lie, but I missed my family so). He told me that I could go, but if I wasn't back in 24 hours, he'd hunt down my now 3 year old niece and kill her.

I drove through the night only to get to my home 6 hours from Vegas at around midnight. I got a few beautiful hours with my family, and then I waved them goodbye. I felt like I was driving to my death. I felt like that was the last time I was ever going to see my family.

When I hit my Uncle and Aunts house 2 hours from Vegas, I stopped to thank them for putting gas in my car yesterday. I had just called my boyfriend to let him know I'd be "home" in 2 hours. I couldn't find my relatives house, so I just decided to screw it. I turned a corner, and there was their house. It was a miracle from God.

I went inside and thanked them, and told them that I had to go. My uncle looked at me and said, "Jilly, what do we need to do to make it so you never go back there again?"  I made up excuses that all my clothes were there, my computer, etc. He looked at me again and said, "I'll go replace all of it today if you'll just stay." I was sobbing. I told them I couldn't and I had to go.

I ran out to my car, got it in drive, and then screamed out loud. Tears were pouring down my face, and yet something inside of me told me that if I went back, I would never see my family again. He would kill me. I turned off the car, went back inside and said, "Okay, what do I need to do?"

From that day it was a really long road back to feeling normal. Back to not being scared that I was going to walk out of my house and have him there in my driveway. I couldn't go out places for awhile, I couldn't even function. I was a zombie. It took years of therapy to deal with these emotions, and the damage that was done by this sick, perverse man. But I did it. I made it. I'm one of the lucky ones.

My 2nd story will have to wait. I promise I'll tell you all about it some day. I just want any girl, teen girl, adult female, or any men too, to know that you can leave. You can get safe. You can rebuild after an abusive relationship. Reach out. There are so many that want to help you get out. They love you, and are genuine. Your abuser will never love you the way you want them to. They can't. They're not capable. Therefore you have to leave. I promise it will be the hardest thing you've ever done, but I'm sitting here typing this today because I did it, and I came out with my head up.

If anyone is in a situation that they need help to get out of, go to the link that I posted at the beginning. It's nomore.org You'll find tips, and avenues that are there for you to take to get back yourself, and to make sure you're safe in the process. You're not alone even though you feel so isolated. You have people that love you. Let them in. Let them help. Choose to Live.

Jan 8, 2016

The Thoughts I Hate

It will always get Better. I Promise.
This week has been extremely tough. My Bipolar was acting up, and I had this day of depression. It was some of the worst depression I have ever felt. All I could think of, was that this is what I lived with for weeks before I was 18 and on medication. It was crushing. It made my entire body physically hurt. My heart felt like it was literally being ripped in 2. It was excruciating. The worst part were the thoughts. Suicidal thoughts squeezed their way into my brain, and I couldn't breathe. Those are the thoughts I hate.

When I was 18-22 I was in the psych ward quite a bit because they hadn't found the right medications for me. I remember vaguely how horrible that depression was. I never thought I'd experience it again. That was, until yesterday. 

First let me tell you that I'm not suicidal. I was having suicidal thoughts, but I didn't have the desire to act on them. I knew I could make it through this because I wasn't suicidal. The thoughts were draining, painful, scary, lonely, and agonizing.

There was a moment when I was home all alone. I had just got off the phone with Dave, and I had sobbed the entire time. When I hung up I was sobbing uncontrollably. I didn't realize what I was doing, but I wrapped my arms around myself and rocked back and forth. Looking back I knew I just needed to be comforted, and so I had to comfort myself.

As I sat there rocking back and forth with these suicidal thoughts playing in my head, I felt like I couldn't breathe. Then without realizing it, I had the thought that I hadn't prayed and asked my Father in Heaven to send me comfort. Instantly I cried out and asked him to heal my heart. I don't know how to describe what happened next, but I felt physical arms around me holding me tight. The feeling of love and comfort was something I had never experienced before. Slowly I stopped sobbing and was able to breathe. He sent me peace the moment I asked. Ask and ye shall receive.

The depression didn't go away. I didn't expect it to. What I asked him when I cried out was to just help me be able to handle this pain, and to please take those dark, evil, and crushing thoughts out of my head. He did. He listened to me, and he answered me. He answered me because he loves me. Just like he loves you.

You all know that I don't care what religion or beliefs anyone has. That's not my place to judge. I want each of you to know though, that no matter what you believe in, you can always ask for peace and comfort. It can be from my God, your God, Mother Earth, The Light and Energy, all of it. Just know that you can ask for peace. You can ask to be comforted, and you will be. You'll be comforted because whatever you believe, that spirit, soul, or energy, knows you. It loves you, and it's always there for you.

I don't know how many of you have had suicidal thoughts before, but they're terrifying. I knew I was okay because I didn't have a desire to act on them. Over the last 13 years I have learned how to deal with my illness. I know my limits, I know when I have to change, and I know when I'm in too deep. 

When I'm in that deep, numbness, the hardest thing is to reach out and ask for help. You have to though. Don't allow those thoughts to suffocate you. Don't give up. Keep going. Keep fighting. Your story isn't over. There's so much more to live for even though you can't see that now. I promise, you will make it through if you ask for help. Please, ask anyone. Email me. Just reach out, because you're never alone.