When taking Uber’s, I always have the same fantasy. In it, I’m a Lebanese British human rights lawyer like Amal Clooney. I’m wearing a satin gown, and white gloves, and being escorted to a fancy hotel where I will be joining, not my friends for dinner, but the President of China’s wife, Peng Liyuan, whom I will be meeting with to discuss the advancement of women’s education and what she and President Xi Jinpin like to do for fun. And always, my fantasy comes crashing down around me when my driver, most recently named Carlos, strikes up conversation with me. “Where are you from?” “I am from here, from LA.” “Oh my God, wait…are you Caucasian?” Carlos will look at me in the rear view mirror disappointed, and I will look down at my gloveless hands. “Yes, I am white,” I admit, ashamed. “And I will not be seeking resolution for world conflict with the 58th most powerful woman in the world according to Forbes tonight. You can just drop me at the corner by that donut shop.”
Half of me loves to be among a big crowd out in a public setting. If I have one close friend with me I truly enjoy going out. With one other person, you never find yourself sitting around discussing the weather or the lamp fixtures at the restaurant. You can talk about the real thoughts you have on a daily basis, or the true happenings of what’s going on in your life. You aren’t going to confess the thorn of all your unpaid parking tickets that’s wedged in your ribcage to someone you’ve just met, that’s a burden only a true friend has to bear. There have been countless times where I’ve been sitting at a table among a group of people who are deep in discussion about triathlons, when I suddenly bring the conversation to a chilling halt. “Jennifer never speaks,” someone will feel the need to bring to everyone’s attention and silence will form around me, the bug eyed mute who has been stealthily working her way through the bottle of wine for the table, unnoticed while everyone was engaged in conversation about multiple-stage physical competitions.
If I’ve gotten through enough of the bottle, I’ll take this entrance into the conversation like walking onto a stage and just tell them what I’ve been thinking based off the conversation. “Sam, thank you for the introduction. Is it just me or have any of you ever thought about creating a pill that makes hair waterproof? Imagine, when swimming you wouldn’t have to wear those rubber caps that make your head look like a safetly protected penis.” To just one person, or among the right group, you could exchange that thought safetly. But with a large group, crowd mentality sets in, and you have now presented yourself to the crowd as sketchy, untrustworthy, and possibly mentally retarded. People will allow you to be silent after this, but their opinion has been formed of you, and good luck trying to change anyone’s mind after they’ve judged you once.
If I’m consciously trying to create a good impression, which most people are actively trying to do when interacting in public with one another, I can respond to everyone by saying something conscientious and within the normal realm of reason and logic. “I have never done a triathlon, how long did it take you to prepare for your first one? Two years you say? That is incredible determination. Good for you!” The group will carry on and I will fight the urge to ask, “But when do you use the restroom during the race? Do you just..release into your spandex? I’m sure in the swimming portion it’s much easier, but doesn’t that come first? Do you have to shit right away or does it take awhile?”
Small talk is exhausting to me, it drains all the energy I have tried to pump into my body and soul with cups of coffee and meditative yoga, to sit around and talk about sports teams or how nice New York is in the fall. When working in a retail store, I could sincerely build a relationship with one customer a day and usually that customer was one of those honest types. I’d overhear them blurt out, “This scarf is more than my fucking car payment!” My ears would perk up because that’s the person I wanted to talk to, and know, and gift that scarf as a thank you with a note instructing her to re-sell this tacky overpriced piece of neck fabric on eBay to cover her car payment that month. But sales were down with me as an active employee and those people were rare. Mainly, I was talking to the highly medicated about the traffic, thread counts, and the color Labrador. It killed me to strike up random conversations out of the blue with strange women adorned with jangly gold bracelets. I usually would just stand behind an innocent customer trying to think of something to say until they felt my presence and turned around frightened. “Cashmere so soft, that’s not on sale.” I’d let them know and then walk into a dressing room and shut the door behind me. Some people are so good at socializing, they naturally love to just talk and talk, it’s like they gain energy from interacting with many people, all the time. And they do, these people are known as extroverts.
To an extrovert, introverts seem mysterious, antisocial, and aloof- but not in the sexy Latin lover way, in the unibomber way. If I told people the truth, that I won’t be attending their party because the thought of mingling among twenty to fifty people is basically like working in a busy retail store for me, except without any monetary reward- they would think I’m the next Texas Chainsaw Massacurist. Jennifer would rather be alone, rolling around on the floor of her apartment eating peppermint ice cream and watching multiple Heath Ledger documentaries than come to our party. Who the fuck does she think she is?
Who I think I am, is not far from who you think I am-which is the unibomber. But what extroverts don’t understand is that the same way they are gathering energy from other people, I am gathering energy from my own private little world I’ve created within myself. I gather energy from reading, and writing, watching television shows or movies, researching things on the Internet, taking a walk in the city alone, running in the mountains or hiking alone. It’s called recharging, and I need that time and space to process thoughts, form ideas, and create things. It is essential to my mental health, and my survival. If dragged around to multiple social events without time to recharge in bewteen I will start to malfunction, get overwhelmed, and possibly stick my head in an oven and end it all.
I’m not sure what happens to other people at social gatherings, but I absorb 100 percent of my surroundings and I’m actually listening and paying attention to what people are saying or doing. I notice every detail, every facial expression, every comment, every detail such as what color the carpet is, social cues, body language- I will take everything in, and the information isn’t pumping me up like filling a balloon with helium so I can float around the party and make people happy. It’s making it hard for me to live in the moment because all the information is weighing me down. Like adding bricks to a backpack that I have to carry around with me until I can go home, dump them all out, and eventually build them into something interesting and useful, like a well or a birdbath.
When I lived in my jungle shanty, I’d get home from work or going out with friends and bolt the doors and windows shut and my friendly landlord thought I was painfully unfriendly. “Want to cut down banana trees?” he’d stand on my porch and ask on Sundays, and I’d poke my head out the door and tell him I had a bad case of the clap and had to stay in bed so I could go to work the next day. When he added me on Facebook, he started to read my writing and one day he cornered me at the washing machines. “Your blog is….not like you in person.” My eyes narrowed, “Wwwwhaaaat?” “I had no idea the girl living in this studio is the same girl with all those interesting thoughts!” My eyes narrowed even more. I wasn’t dare going to ask him what I’m like in person because I already knew what he’d say- “you’re like a sad ghost!”
Introverts may roam spookily through Bar Mitzvah dance halls and New Year’s Eve parties silent and dull, but if we do connect with you, we will let you into our world, and the world is usually surprisingly vibrant, like my former landlord found out. We’re really caring, and loyal, and we form strong, sincere bonds. We will protect your most private and vulnerable thoughts because we value them and understand their importance. If there’s ever someone you can relax into your true self and express your feelings or worries to, introverts are the people to be around. I may not want to talk to you about what I heard on the news the other day, but I’ll glady talk to you about your biggest childhood fear, or places you want to travel to. We aren’t uppity or hate people, which to me is the biggest misconception of introversion. I actually love people a lot, and am very interested in the others I encounter, and need and want to talk to others and have friends, but in small groups or one on one. I thrive differently and charge differently than other people. Comparable to Apple products and their lack of a universal iPohne charger- each version requires it’s own specific adapter and humans function in a similar way. And just as I imagine forcing an extrovert to sit alone in their house for an entire weekend and not speak to anyone would leave them at 5% battery, depressed and muttering to themseleves in a pile of their own drool, that’s how introverts feel in crowded places where they are expected to socialize, or if they aren’t allowed time to unplug from reality and live in their imaginary world.
All throughout my childhood and until a few months ago, I had always been ashamed of introversion, most likely because it’s such a wildley misunderstood dimension of personality. Society tends to favor extroversion, which is much simpler to understand. Why am I happy alone? I’d ask myself while alone in my room in complete ecstasy. I should feel sad and pathetic but I don’t, I feel safe and empowered. I’d try to force myself to be extroverted but I just ended up feeling like a phoney baloney. Masking anxiety and fear with forced merriment at social gatherings comes off alarming, and makes others feel like you may have a gun in your purse. So now, I have just come to just accept this about myself, and will no longer fabricate sexually transmitted infections as an excuse to dip out of a social engagment that happens to fall on a day or night after a long bout of social interaction. Your true friends and family will always just accept you, because they actually know and understand you. My immediate family consist of three introverted hermits, and my very dear friends have always leaned towards introversion and I feel very lucky to be a trusted member of their inner worlds. They are my favorite people. And while society may favor extroversion, society has always needed introverts:
Albert Einstein. …Rosa Parks. …Bill Gates. …Steven Spielberg. …Sir Isaac Newton. …Eleanor Roosevelt. …Mark Zuckerberg.. ..Mahatma Gandhi….Jimi Hendrix…Bob Dylan..Audrey Hepburn…Elon Musk…Neil deGrasse Tyson….Oprah…
Just to name a few.
Sometimes life is so serendipitous. Today, I was stopped in traffic on Sunset Blvd when WHAM’s “Wake me up before you go go” came on the radio and I just so happened to be eating Cheetos with the aid of chopsticks, when I realized there was a cute blonde boy in the car next to me staring at me like I was doing something out of the ordinary. The traffic was so congested (that I could use chopsticks to eat Cheetos) and right at the perfect verse, point a single, traditional American puffed cornmeal snack cradeled between two tradional East Asian eating utensils, out my car window at him and serenade him with the line, “don’t keep me hanging on like a yo-yo.” The perfect moment had happened, traffic started moving, my cheeto fell out the window and onto the street, one of my press on nails snapped off, someone honked at me, I turned right, the song ended, and I’m sure that innocent blonde driver was scarred for life.
When I was 19, I was so eager to experience my 20’s. A decade loosely portrayed in the media and by old people as a decade of carefree adventures and self discovery. “You will look back at your worst moments in your twenties with fondness, you will never get another chance to experience a life like the one you will live in your twenties,” said scripted TV characters and heroines in books I loved. I couldn’t wait to have those moments. Other people wanted to get married and I couldn’t understand, why would anyone waste this decade of freedom on settling down when you have your thirties to really anchor yourself down into adulthood? Your twenties were meant to set sail into the open sea and see what happens. I knew deep down somewhere in myself that being the fully formed, interesting, compassionate woman with depth and character that I wanted to be would not come from within the safety of my comfort zone. Some girls collect purses, I wanted to collect stories. And your twenties seemed to provide the right amount of youth, freedom, and “maturity” to do certain things. So when I graduated, newly 21 and educated, I went out into the world seeking new stories, foriegn teritory, hungry for experience. And I was fearless. And so clueless.
Instagram handle: Buttabeehoney
Hollywood Jenny was twenty-two and had no intention of being in Hollywood for any of the reasons all the best looking people from every other state in the U.S. came to Hollywood for. I did not want to model, act, design, style, produce, direct, be a screenwriter, a singer, or have my own reality show. This removed me from the competative grind of it all and allowed me to creepily watch what was going on from the sidelines. And everything I saw disturbed me. I was introduced to Hollywood by a job as an art assistant for photographer David LaChapelle, who I had to Google before going to the interview. “Mom he took that Rolling Stones picture of Britney Spears with the teletubbie.” “I thought he was that black comedian with the cocaine, you know the one?” From there the jobs just got weirder and weirder and my grip on reality became looser and looser. I entered into Hollywood enthusiastic, hopeful and a complete idiot, because I had no idea what I was doing. In the middle of it, I started to question others sanity in relation to my own sanity, and at the end I was boiling V8 juice on the stove while blasting Avril Lavigne’s “It’s Complicated” and wondering if I should get headshots, or work at the weed dispensary that was attached to the Urgent Care Center. It was here that the following things happened to me:
-I met celebrities but it wasn’t what I expected. My left hand was photoshopped onto Katy Perry’s after she rushed off set and David didn’t get “the shot.” I supplied Amanda Lepour endless cups of coffee while she sat topless on a fake unicorn. Pamela Anderson ran around me and everyone else on set barefoot like a little kid, I want to say she was sans shoes and pants, but I’m not entierly sure. Brad Pitt is underwhelming in real life, short and not that dreamy, incredibly disappointing.
-I briefly dated one of the retouchers at the photo studio who kind of looked like a really pretty girl, had insomnia, was a wandering nomad, and chain smoked to the point of his lung deflating one night while he was at work alone. On one of our dates we drove to a National Park and photographed huge sycamore trees all night long. I never had an experimental lesbian phase, but if I did, dating this guy would be it.
-I lived in a tiny studio apartment next to a strip club “Crazy Girls,” and across the street from Ross Dress 4 Less, which was frequently getting robbed by a group of stylish transvestites. Besides strippers and trannys, my other neighbors were homeless and urinated on the bushes below my bedroom window.
-I learned my first two real lessons in love. I say real because for me, I always think I know something about love and then another experience makes me realize I knew nothing and I learn something else, and have a new “revelation.” The first, is that love is a recognition, it’s not necessarily wild butterflies at the sight of them, or a feeling of intrigue or complexity (like what drew me to the moody retoucher, “you want to spend all night driving around a National Park with a huge flashlight on the top of your car scanning the forest for cool looking trees? Yeah I’m- let’s go now.”) It’s more of a familiar feeling- like oh, there you are, you’re my friend, let’s go explore. The second is that real true love is not possessive. A sign of love is not to hold you closer and smother you to death, love lets you go, you let someone you love go because you understand that real love knows that to be yourself and in sync with another person requires freedom. Freedom to just be.
-I worked for a director who after two weeks of working for, took me to lunch and revealed to me that he enjoys dressing up as a lady and going out to bars, and it’s ok because his wife knows and she doesn’t care. “Well, that’s wonderful!” I beamed. It didn’t pose a problem until my boss realized how tolerant I am and suddenly there were no boundaries between us. When people talk about tension at work, I now nod. “There is nothing like when your boss texts you about possibly getting breasts. I mean, my chest is pretty similar to a middle aged man’s so there’s that, but also, how do you go about handling that professionaly?” My biggest regret is that we never went to Ross Dress 4 Less, or got boobs together.
-I discovered that my Sociology degree did not equip me with the power to solve societal problems like I thought it was going to. I wore it out of school like it was a superhero cape and when I landed in LA everyone just thought I was a street peddler on Hollywood Blvd. My knowledge had not given me any power to change anything whatsoever, it had just put me in debt, and basically had equipped me to be a whiner. One of those people who is always bitching outside of Vons and handing out flyers about how corrupt everything is and why doesn’t anyone care? It had created within me a moral fiber so strong that unless you were directing and producing a documentary on how to open a rehabilitation center for Hollywood’s homeless, starring Ryan Gosling and Selena Gomez so everyone would actually watch it, I viewed everyone in the entertainment industry as a selfish, superficial, crook. When I watched David photograph a Spanish billionaire and pocket $200,000 at the end of two hours, or when I was playing hostess and serving up wine and cocktails at the end of every work day and drinking with my co-workers at the office just to return home and pass a homeless man passed out on the bench next to an open bottle, or cover for a CEO’s mistress at lunch so she and the CEO could..rendesvous, and have to answer the phone and speak to his wife on the other end, all my “knowledge” and “moral prowess” did, was create chaos in my soul. This cannot be the real world, is this the real world?
Which leads me to my next “self:”
Trailer Park Jenny
Instagram handle: Aloha_Big_Jenny
Where to go after spending a year living in la la land? The obvious next step would be a crusty trailer in the jungle. Although I don’t think I had any reasoning except some odd gut intuition and the fact that I knew there wouldn’t be any strippers or producers, or actors on an island, I can now start the list of things I will be forever apologizing to my parents for the rest of my life for. “That time I went to live in a stranger’s trailer on an island…” But this “self” was one of my favorites, this experience was one of the biggest gifts life has presented to me. It was here that:
-My neighbors changed from gypsy, tramps and theives to jungle boars, chickens, geckos and a peacock.
-I discovered that there are places on this Earth so naturally beautiful and untouched that they feel sacred, like a sanctuary. And I realized how important it is that we, as humans inhabiting this Earth, need to spend at least a portion of our time here on it, fiercely protecting it. It was the first time I felt true feelings of loss at the thought of this powerful waterfall drying up, or this euphoric jungle turning dead and barren, or this beautiful warm, clear water that when you step into it, it embraces you like a hug, became polluted and toxic. I saw how magical the Earth is, how much the Earth supports our life here, an obvious truth that seemed totally lost on day to day city dwellers, and more recently, the majority of the Republican party.
-I walked everywhere. I rode buses. I hitchhiked. I stood on the side of a two lane road flashing the shaka. I rode in the backs of trucks, I met people who lived all over the island who had all, it seemed at one point, been without a car or any sort of transportation, and who did not want to kidnap me or rape me, but who actually felt the struggle of walking what felt like thousands of miles into town, and who wanted to pay it forward. I learned how to ask for help and how to say thank you to strangers. I also learned how important it is to be one of those people who does not kidnap or rape people, and who just genuinely is there to help out their fellow humans, because those people don’t just help others, they inspire hope that not everyone is bad (which there are people who are, but this “self” was a very optimistic and hopeful self, and this is what this “self” experienced). Now, when I go out into the world and something I see takes a piece of my heart, I remind myself of this time in my life, a time where strangers offered up generosity of spirit for no reason at all, and I’m able to fight to take that piece back.
-I was the third wheel ALWAYS to a couple who I befriended and I didn’t pity myself. I’m not sure if I drove them crazy, but when they invited me to camp, or hike, or surf with them I went and through our friendship I learned to celebrate other’s love. To a lot of people I know, being single is so tragic, and the last thing a single person would want to do is be around a couple, but it’s really not. It’s actually important, it’s important to be happy in love’s shadow and for others. In a way, it’s a time in my life when I felt fully whole as my own person, not trying to escape into the what if’s of the past or the anxieties of the what should I’s of the future- just happy to be where I was, and thankful to be surrounded by positivity.
-I cleaned hotel rooms. My generation gets accused all the time for feeling entitled, or not knowing how to work. And I admit, my jobs in Hollywood made me feel that way. I felt bad about myself when I spent the day picking up my bosses dry cleaning, or being on set and doing coffee runs for the executives. I felt like I had a greater purpose, I was supposed to be doing more, that’s what college told me I’d do. Well, I cleaned toliets to sleep in a trailer in the jungle and I didn’t feel like I was doing anything “beneath” me. And after that, I never felt like any job or task was too small, because it’s not- and that applies to anyone in my generation and not in my generation. There is honor in doing a task to the best of your ability, or perfecting that task, and for seeing something through. Work is work. Hustle harder and don’t quit.
After three months of jungle living I came back to Los Angeles, renewed, energetic, and not at all ready for what was about to happen. Which brings me to my next “self,” one of my worst selves:
Serial Dater Jenny
Instagram handle: Regular_Old_Jenny1973
I learned how it must feel to re-enter real life after being in a rehab facility. It’s like driving a brand new car into a wall. My new self assured glow was back in la la land and it began to attract…everyone. And this is what I learned:
-Male models are so pretty to look at, but any male who pursues modeling, (this may apply to females too), has some sort of void in his heart, one that is screaming for the wrong kind of attention and validation, and one that has elevated him completely out of touch with reality and entirely fucked them up. They may tell you, “it’s just such good money,” but when the waiter compares them to Clark Kent and they are just beside themseleves at such a compliment that they immediatly tweet about it, it’s not just becasue it’s “easy money.” True, authentic, lasting beauty cannot be seen with the eyes, or heard with the ears…or tweeted.
-I became a bar wench at Formosa in Hollywood. Raffi, the sweet bartender, would watch in horror as each weekend I returned with a model, or an actor, or a guy I met in Malibu, and listen to them talk while getting lost in their dreamy eyes or swishy hair. Weekend after weekend of random bar escapades, so many cute men everywhere and they all wanted to buy me drinks and horrible lobster and truffle mac and cheese. The truest relationship I made there was actually with Raffi, who I would always spend time getting to know. The only other fond memory of Formosa was when I went with my best friend Connor, and we sat at the bar with our laptops, watching old Jennifer Lopez videos and drinking Port. Raffi would stand in between us, “Is this new Jlo? Can you play the one where she’s dancing on all those video screens, what’s that one called?” Formosa was the furthest thing from a library, or a Starbucks, or a living room, but the upside of being a bar wench was Raffi allowing you to plug your laptop in behind the bar and use the prime real estate at the counter as your own personal space, which you decided to use to watch JLo throw her bling off her mansion’s balcony and dance in between greased up Puerto Ricans.
-I lost girlfriends because I kept dating everyone who asked me out and who I was attracted to. I began to develop very deep connections to my friends who were male, gay, and somehow the only ones able to say “what is this new phase? I think Jenn is going to need us” and still continued to be friends with me. When you’ve grown up looking like a dodo bird, blossoming into something men found desirable felt like walking down a Victoria Secret runway, finally living every girl’s dream, to wak 100 meters in a pair of wings, a thong, and lots of feathers. It was exciting to meet new people who were interested in you, and I was buzzing with this new self confidence and I put men before a few of my girlfriends. And I paid the price. I learned how easy it is to get swept up in the superficial glitter Los Angeles throws around, and how shitty it feels to lose yourself in it. I wasn’t sharing anything significant with these people I was dating, I was creating and escaping into this alter ego of being carefree and wild- a mysterious woman back from…the jungle. I learned how to play off “not knowing what you’ll do next” as something intriguing and in doing that I ended up not knowing where to go.
-I discovered how dangerous it is to lose yourself, because when you do you are succebtable and vulnerable to predetors. In the jungle predetors are different to each species, a boar can be a predetor to a dog, a dog to a cat, a cat to a mouse, a gecko to another gecko, and it’s no different with humans. My predetors were handsome narcissistic men who saw my kindness and earnest nature as weakness, not strength. I started collecting them, and with no sense of self or grasp on who I was, I began falling for their deceptions. I latched onto what was giving me attention, and I began believing lies, accepting poor treatment, and allowing myself to get beat down, because I felt like I deserved it. I look back on this and my heart feels weighed down in disappointment in myself. It would be right about here when if I was re-writing my life I would delete this phase and make revision after revision. I would have written in distance bewteen me and any other human being. I would have put me in a nunnery for a year, or joined a cult that lives underground- anything where I was alone and forced to turn all my patience and forgiveness inwards to myself. But you can’t do that, I did not become a nun or a mole person, but looking back I have to be glad because, this was the beginning of transformation.
-I made one of the most rash, emotionally fueled decisions of my entire life, spurring another bullet point on the list of “things I will have to never stop apologizing to my parents for.” I decided to move back to Hawaii with one of these scummy garbage can of a human being guys I had been dating. It makes me want to jump off a cliff now, thinking about it, but I also have to marvel at the sheer dumb bravery of both of us. We blindly put faith in one another, and without knowing the enormity of the adventure we were about to embark on, we decided to just go and try. I now feel completely confident that I could go on Survivor, paired with a literal garbage can, and survive. And we did pretty good at first. Landing with no place to live or jobs, we both hit the ground running and we were succeeding, we made a good team at first. It wasnt until we were all settled and I really took pause to notice who I was dating when things went south. What’s important though, is that we did work together, we got through some really tough situations together, even though we didn’t work out, our faith wasn’t all blind. I’ll always remember our wins.
Hawaii Jenny 2.0
Instagram Handle: Free_Lunch_Jenny
-Once I realized I was dating a human garbage can, I knew I needed to somehow take my power back. This was important because prior to this, I never had any awareness of how much power I actually had until I lost it all. He had taken my money, my self respect, and all my sanity and I finally snapped out of whatever fog that was clouding up my judgement and I started to recognize myself again. It’s only hopeless when you, yourself have given up on you. And I realized life is just a series of losing and finding yourself again and again, and the success comes from learning from your failures and rising each time with more grace than the last, because that’s how you build a strong backbone to support your own heart and soul and being. You earn strength.
-The human garbage can had a car, which after I broke up with him, he refused to let me borrow or even give me rides. I think he was looking for a fight, but instead, I quietly walked the two miles from our house to my work each day. I left around 6 am, I worked, I walked home, and I continued to do that while we still lived together. When I signed the lease to my new place, a little studio out in the jungle (across the street and a mile down the road from my OG trailer), I had a little more of a problem. Now I was ten miles away from work, which was not walkable. A bike was out of the question because the roads were dangerous. But there was a bus. I would leave my shanty in the early darkness of the morning, walk through the jungle, onto the main road, and to the bus stop, ride the bus to work, and then do it all again after work, returning to the shanty in the darkness of the evening. I was so poor, and so exhausted all the time, I’d get home and just collapse into my bed. But this was the human garbage can’s purpose in my life. Never had I ever faced someone who was rooting for my failure, or hoping that I would come crawling back after realizing I couldn’t make it on my own. And a strength was forming in me that I would never ever have, had it not have been for this situation or for him. He taught me resilience. I was learning how to be tough. And I was not tough before. I was an emotional ninnymuggins who was hanging out in bars and dating models and crying myself to sleep at night wondering why I felt so confused and unfulfilled. Now I was on my own, on an island, with no family, no car, and no money. There was no time for pity parties. In a state of hightened distrust in other people and myself I had to trust both and move forward. I remember thinking everyday,”Jenn you made this choice, here you fucking are now, you better fucking fix this.” You can own your mistakes and overcome them, or you can run away from them. This was possibly the first time in my life that I faced my mistakes head on and I felt this characteristic, this quiet strength imprint itself into my core foundation of who I am, into my backbone. I had changed.
-As I slowly stabalized on my own, I learned to take each day one at a time, find success in small victories, forgive, let things go, be a better friend. But at night I would lie awake and just replay all my failures, all my misjudgements, all the people I’ve disappointed, all the good people I treated poorly. While I was gathering experience and insight into these different avenues I had never been down, I was feeling all the pain from it. This must be why people avoid change or transformation, because a lot of it is horribly painful, confusing and lonely. In a moment of misery, I reached out to that first love, and I felt like a human garbage can. It’s so unfair to call exes when you are feeling low, to find comfort in their familiarity, to ask them to remind you who you are. It’s so shitty, but out of desperation, I did it. I though he may ignore me but he didn’t and in his response and his comfort I learned that while I was making many superficial connections now, there was a time when I had made a really strong one. And now I knew the difference. The discomfort of being with someone who doesn’t see you makes you hyperaware when you’re in the presence of someone who sees you crystal clear. And I realized I was in the thick of figuring out how to see myself clearly, so I could remind myself, all on my own.
-I moved on. I got a car which enabled me to get a better job, and I became stable on my own, but a piece of me was still not fully mended. I think I was tired, physically, mentally, emotionally. I just wanted to sleep for a few years. When you’re tired like this, learn to rest. When you are not at your best, you can invent “signs” and convince yourself the universe is trying to talk to you, or prove something to you. But you may just be tired of being disappointed or let down. Don’t fall into someone else, or find solace in someone else. Just take the time to rest, alone. This tall guy zeroed in on me, and honestly I was too shaky to do anything else but accept the love he started piling onto me, it was like having rain wash away all the dirt that’s been caked onto your skin. He seemed driven, was handsome, and he ironed his pants, he seemed like the opposite of the human garbage can. But the rain froze, turned to snow and I found myself at the base of Mt. Everest with an avalanche heading straight towards me. I began feeling similar, familiar feelings, they were just packaged differently, and I couldn’t be let down again, I didn’t know if I could take it. So I did something new, I spent awhile ignoring everything and I settled into complacency. Instead of trying to fight the bullshit, I just accepted it, I stopped fighting for myself all together, and it wasn’t until the Presidential debates began when some fighting spirit returned within me. I realized that watching others arguing with Donald Trump felt familiar, but why? How? The disillusionment? The arrogance? The lack of any and all self awareness? The condescending nature? This man I was now dating had opened my eyes to a lot but the most frightening was inauthenticity. One of the most hurtful, cowardly, and dangerous things to be as a human capable of choice and conscious thought. A sure fire way to waste the valuable and short amount of time we are given to live a life. I was lost in what was true and what was fabricated, lost again, a new type of lost. I felt like I was in a maze taking the same turns over and over, the same route that just lead me around and around. I needed to go a different way. I was about to learn another lesson: how to listen to myself.
-When your brain and your heart sync up, your inner voice will speak up, but you have to be aware, you have to be open to hearing it. Sometimes we create so much noise in ourselves so we can’t hear our intuition, probably because we know it’s going to tell us something uncomfortable, or a truth that will surely be followed by painful obstacles.The lesson is to quiet that noise. You HAVE to. You’ll know your heart and your mind are working together because you won’t feel panicked or have a rush of adrenaline like you’re about to jump off a cliff, you’ll feel calm. You will have a moment alone with yourself, a conversation, and at the end of it you’ll know what you need to do to survive, and that whatever challenges lie ahead you will be able to face them. It starts with standing up for yourself- whether it be with an abusive boss, a significant other, a friend, a parent, a co-worker, the first step in surviving anything is brushing off all self doubt and confirming to yourself that you don’t deserve to be treated in any way that is harmful to your well being. Some bridges must be burned. You don’t owe anyone a million chances just because you’ve also made mistakes and no one is perfect and ah, but love, what would Desmund TuTu do? No, it’s ok to say fuck you and walk away. I’m sure even Desmund TuTu has done it to someone, and boy I bet they really deserved it. The thing about being treated poorly, is if you flip it, which you should, you learn how to treat others whose bridges you can leave standing and in tact, correctly. I have to wonder if some of the kindest souls you meet are that way because they didn’t run away from pain they encountered. Life is too short to pretend to be perfect, you will fail sometimes, pain will touch us all at one point or another, how you treat others is kind of the only thing that matters.
2016 is coming to an end (thank the Lord), I’m 28 now and I’ve done what I can only really do, and learned from every moment of my own unique journey thus far. Some people never really learn anything, they go about their life and just age, they grow old and dull and are basically garbage. I have to admit though, I have never felt so secure in who I am, as I have of recently. And it’s really from falling down and standing back up so many times. It’s when your face hits that floor, collides with the Earth that you have to face your own humanity, which is hard. It’s realizing you aren’t perfect. You are human. And you realize that’s not your weakness, that’s the very reason why you can rise after falling. So embrace your humanness, embrace other’s humanness. And you rise better, smarter, faster, more equipped to handle situations, to handle the uncertainty and unexpectadness of life, a better team member, a better daughter, a better son, a better lover, a better friend. But more importantly, if you’re courageous, and willing to have faith, you refuse to let anything bad that’s happened to you, any mistakes, anyone who has let you down including yourself, make you bitter or discouraged. I know part of my backbone will always be forgiveness, hope, and faith in others- it’s the only thing that hasn’t wavered no matter what mess I’ve gotten myself into.
I think the people who look back on their twenties fondly, are the people who really learned from them, developed themselves from them, and took advantage of the amount of time given to them to be free. Because you can’t go back, you can only go forward. You can only grow upwards.
For a small period of time I worked at the Four Seasons in Hawaii. I had originally applied to work in Human Resources, they called me in to interview, I went, and at the end, the hiring manager told me they had filled that position two weeks ago. “Let me find something for you though,” she said scrolling through a list on her computer. ” What about retail?” she asked. In Hawaii, on the Big Island specifically, there is very little employment opportunity. The Four Seasons is like The Capitol in The Hunger Games. In Los Angeles, if you said you are a manager at a hotel people would just feel sorry for you (they did on the island too), but on the island it was really the only place where there were young, “mainland mentality” driven professionals. “I could work retail I guess,” I said, a foot in the door is a start. And I did and I welcomed an influx of new people into my island world. One of them was Dakota. He came into the store I was working in to introduce himself to me, and when I shook his hand and looked into his face, I knew he would be significant to my story. You know that sometimes when you first meet people, deep down you can tell if they are going to become apart of your life. Dakota was very tall. I’m five ten and in heels my legs get even longer, and he still towered over me when he came into the store. He came with a reputation though, the nicest things my co-workers said about him was that “he was handsome.” I was born and raised in Southern California, land of the tall, handsome, asshole. His looks were unintimidating to me, and I believe in giving everyone chances, so when he asked me to go on a date, I said yes. I don’t think I’m completely delusional but I’ve noticed that when one on one with people, no matter what kind of person they truly are, they are kinder, softer, and more vulnerable around me. Maybe because I am self deprecating, and gentle with people, I allow them to speak, I listen, I create a safe space for them to relax into themselves. Dakota was kind when he was with me, he seemed to be an ambitious person with good character, and so we dated. It worked well when I was working in a retail store and he was in management in hotel operations. But I am not a very complacient person, I enjoy challenges and learning and taking on new roles- dressing up and being pretty in a store and selling dresses is too boring for me, I want more, I need to use my brain.
I ended up getting a job as a Project Manager for a solar company. It was the first job I’ve ever had that I was truly truly excited about, and I’ve worked in some pretty exciting places in Los Angeles. But working in renewable energy I felt purpose, I felt challenged, I was learning, and my work had an impact on the enviornment. I loved it and I wanted to do well. They flew me to Vegas for training and I spent a week driving a white Mustang around Vegas with other Project Managers from all over the states who were training too. It was fun. The people I met were smart, they cared about their work, they had great senses of humor. But my relationship with Dakota changed. Where once he was almost love bombing me with attention and validation, he had now distanced himself- being short with me while I was away, and then, telling me he thought it wouldn’t work out between us. I remember sitting in my hotel room in Downtown Vegas, looking out wall to ceiling window views of the city, totally confused. When I returned to the island, glowing from my trip and all the new knowledge I had gained, and excited to start working- Dakota and I parted ways, abruptly and with really no explanation. Months and months later I would be told by friends of Dakota that he had slept with a girl who had a boyfriend, and months and months later I would defend him, because he never admitted that to me, and I stood by him and his word. He would “unfriend” these people, calling them liars, and I would come to realize it wasn’t because they were liars, it was because they told me the truth.
The island is small and underdeveloped, if you connect with someone there is a higher chance of you reconnecting simply due to the fact that there are not a lot of people inhabiting the space you live in. It’s the complete opposite of Los Angeles, where connecting with anyone is challenging because there are too many options. Somehow, Dakota and I reconnected and went through excutiating ups and downs. During this time I began isolating myself into Dakota’s world. I had my work, but a lot of my energy went into my role as being Dakota’s girlfriend. I learned that it was very important for Dakota to be “the man.” This wasn’t entirely new to me, we all are surrounded by straight white men, but Dakota disguised his insecurity to me in arrogance and in phrases like, “I want to provide for you,” “I want to take care of you,” which sounds “honorable” and elicits a type of false trust. When “providing” is transferrable with “control,” that’s when you should find the nearest exit and never look back. The most serious relationship I’ve had in my life, Taylor, was never like that. Taylor and I were partners, we cheered each other on, we wanted each other’s personal dreams to come true, we were happy when the other succeeded. There was no mysoginy, or sexism. And I learned that with Dakota, my role was not a partner in crime, it was a supporting character in his leading man life. And at first, for whatever reason, it didn’t bother me as much as it was bothering all my friends and family. “You shrink when you date him,” one of my co-workers said. “You get quieter, and your vivaciousness dies.”
I am curious by nature, and this was a new type of relationship. But it’s true, I stopped writing, and I think this is because I stopped having anything to say. Most of the time, I was ok, it didn’t seem that bad, and like every new experience I’ve had, I began to gather information. Dakota likes when I wear this dress, Dakota likes this drink at the end of the day, Dakota likes to be told he’s succeeding at work- let him talk about his day, listen, build him up. And as I did those things, I watched him bring me flowers, buy me dresses, take me out to dinner. It was like slowly I was regressing into a 1950’s housewife, even though I was still working full time, paying my own bills, and had been raised by a feminist father. I rarely talked about my work, rarley talked about work that I actually, for once in my life, was really excited about, and really wanted to share with someone, especially my significant other. There were some days when I would feel like something was off, and I would stay up in the middle of the night and read my old writings. I would go back to 2012 and read about Taylor and I staying in a Budget Inn in San Francisco, or my neighborhood in Hollywood, or my job working as a director’s assistant, and I would see for myself that my co-workers were right. Vivacious. Teeming with imagination. Witty. I liked my old self, but it now seemed like..an older version of myself.
When I started to wake up to those facts, I would start to rebel in my role as Dakota’s girlfriend. I would fight back a little bit, I wouldn’t hold my tounge. Instead of nodding and agreeing with him, I would voice my opinion:
Leading Man: “You should feel special because I chose you, I picked you.”
Supporting Character: Swoons?
Jennifurious: Silence. Followed by, “Do you realize how arrogant that is? How can you say something like that?”
I was messing up the script and needed to be re-cast. In Dakota’s world of being the leading man, it was time to find a new supporting character because this one was doing something even worse than stepping into his limelight, this one was deciding to turn off the limelight and ask him to get real for a second. I got booted out again, just as abruptly as the first time, but this time I didn’t want to ever go back. I deleted, blocked, threw away, and I began to thrive on my own. I had more energy, I was better at work, I was spending time with my friends, I was exploring the island, I was writing again, I had re-birthed myself. And one night I met the only other haole guy who was taller than Dakota inhabiting the island. His name was William but he introduced himself to me as “Leao.” He looked like a Disney Prince, and when he explained “Leao” was a tribal name that meant “Lion Spirit” or something along those to-have-the-strength-of-a-lion lines that was given to him when he was traveling around Brazil, I forgot all about Dakota, who shared his name with the dull, midwestern state dominated by the Great Plains. Around the same time I was seeing the Disney Prince, Dakota started seeing a hostess/model named Cherokee who worked at the Four Seasons. In a way, I wonder if during that seperation Dakota and I were spending time with the versions of what we subconsciously wished the other one would turn out to be. Disney Prince was an intelligent, intellecutal, adventerous soul with a huge heart, and Cherokee was the flashy, hot model/hostess for him to show off on his arm when he went out.
I wish the story ended here and I sailed away to Tibet with my nomad Prince and Dakota and Cherokee lived happily ever after, but it didn’t. Dakota and I ran into each other, and somehow managed to end up having dinner together one night, and his phone rang and I saw the name “Cherokee” flash across the screen. I didn’t say anything except “Dakota and Cherokee? If you guys have kids, you have to name them something like Tigerlily,” but he silenced the phone call, and soon after that I stopped talking to Disney Prince, who if we had kids would have probably named them”Fearless” or “Moonbeam.” And this is where the story gets all fucked up.
I got laid off. It had been looming like a dark cloud over all of the Hawaii Project Managers for a few months, and even though all of us knew it was coming, packing up my desk and leaving was one of the most discouraging moments I’ve felt. When I was in a low moment in life, one of transition or turmoil, Dakota was always there for me. “I’m here, whatever you need. Don’t worry, you are not alone in this.” Again, the island is, an island, and he reappeared in my life and at the time, I viewed it as some cosmic love connection, not a coincidence of living in a small town where you literally can never escape anyone, or worse- a manipulation tactic on his behalf. I had lost my favorite job, and I was heartbroken over it. I could have taken unemployment and returned to the Mainland, and found another renewable energy job, because as I had discovered I really enjoyed that field of work. But I didn’t. It’s a choice I will always look back on and cringe in regret.
Instead, Dakota saw his moment, and stepped in to save the day. He bought me a ticket to LA to visit my family, he wrote me love notes, he was always with me, he began to aggressively love bomb me all over again, because he could, I was weak and vulnerable- like every other time he loved me “most.” And it worked (for awhile). I decided to stay and instead of filing for unemployment, I got another job right away. It wasn’t one that I wanted but I would rather work than live off unemployment and bum around an island (as crazy as that sounds). I’ve never wanted to take the easy way out of anything, I’ve always wanted to work, and do meaningful work no less. I got a job as a manager at RipCurl, which is a surf clothing store, and I kept looking for a more challenging, better paying job. Disney Prince and Cherokee faded into the background and Dakota and I (to all my friend’s and family’s dismay) were back together.
I am trying to grapple with the fact that even while holding a bouqet of red flags, I got back together with Dakota. I had seen the versions of myself with him, and without, and the contrast made it so obvious to everyone else that I did not in any way or form, belong with him. I needed a partner in crime, and he would never, ever be it. If I felt this deep down, I ignored it, and just kind of gave up on myself.
I worked for RipCurl for a few months before I got another good job. I was going to work in PR at The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel which would involve me curating marketing content, writing, and meeting travel writers and bloggers. I was hired on the spot by a woman I absolutely fell in love with. The director of PR at The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is a tall, attractive, funny, smart as a whip, go-getter and I admired her instantly. She was one of those bosses who encouraged your growth, cultivated your ideas and thoughts, and wanted you to shine. She arranged for me to have my own private office (which included my own private bathroom) and I was so excited to work. I was back in the full swing of throwing myself into work that I cared about, learning new things, overcoming challenges, and I was happy. Flashback to first getting my renewable energy job- instead of celebrating, Dakota began to slowly change. He began to distance himself once again, but much much slower than the first time. Whereas I thought the job helped us as a couple, I think Dakota began to feel that familiar “threatened” feeling I sometimes gave him. This is when I realized- when I was having a down moment, Dakota being there was not out of love for me, it allowed him to step into the role of “being the hero” which made himself feel better. And I without even realizing it, abandoned myself and stepped into the role of the “damsal in distress” to please him. When I was myself, and could be his “funny, smart, brave, ambitious, and kind girlfriend” I seemed to displease him. And slowly the insults started being cast my way to cut me down (“Jenn have you had braces?” “Yes,” “But how? Why are your teeth crooked?” “You were too skinny” “Why are you wearing your workout pants so high, roll them down” “Are you going to wear that out?” “You’re so insecure”) And slowly I grew more and more unhappy in my own skin.
There were a number of factors, but the main one that lead up to The End started with Dakota drinking with his friends (followers, Dakota liked to be surrounded with people who he was “in charge” of, people who would never challenge him, and only fawn over him, once you challenged him, you were cut out of his life) on a weeknight. I was going to stay home because I had work early the next day and him and his friends returned late and slept on an air mattress in our studio. We lived in a studio, it was small, there were no walls between my bed and the air mattress and I felt bad waking up early, showering and leaving to go to work while all of them were scattered around, passed out. But it wasn’t really a big deal, until Dakota began to consistently go out. “Going out” on the Big Island means you go drink at one or all of the four bars with names like “Dolphin Spit” that are offered to you. I was coming from Hollywood, where my friends and I would go to Formosa which was historic, back in the day it was a famous hangout spot for old Hollywood stars like Humphrey Bogart, but now I was on an island, having drinks at “the spit” with the same people over and over again, it felt like Groundhog Day. I was getting bored of it, the same setting, the same people, talking about the same things (work life at the Four Seasons) so I stopped going with Dakota.
There is an “uptight” category that girlfriends who don’t want their boyfriends to drink a lot get placed into. I’ve been placed into it before, and I could sense I was being placed into it now. Dakota’s friends would roll their eyes, or give each other looks, and I would sit quietly, wishing I could explain why blacking out wasn’t….exciting to me. A lot of people grow out of their college party phase, but once in the real world, you start to see the people that continually drink to the point of blacking out, every month have an issue that was caused by abusing alcohol and drugs, and you can tell there’s a dependency and an addiction that separates them from someone blowing off steam at the end of the work day. If you’ve totaled a car, gotten a DUI, or often get in fights when you’re drunk- check yourself, bro.
One night, Dakota and I were out with his friends, it was a weeknight, and around 11:00 I was ready to go home because I had a meeting the next day. Dakota offered to walk me home because he wanted to stay out longer and I refused because I didn’t want to ruin his night. I said goodbye to his friends, who were all drunk and rolling their eyes at me, the “buzz kill.” And I walked home in the dark.
Around 12:30, 1 am, Dakota returned. His eyes were glassy, but he seemed ok and I could hear his friends outside in the parking lot screaming and mocking me. “Jenn don’t worry I told them they can’t stay here,” he told me. “Are they ok to drive? I don’t want them to drive, they can stay..” “No no no, you don’t want them too,” Dakota insisted. I exhaled. “Dakota?” I asked. “You’ve been..drinking a lot lately. Why didn’t you just leave with me, it was 11. I walked home alone, it just seems weird, is something wrong?” Silence. And then-
Dakota began to FREAK out. He raised his voice, he towered over me, his words were coated in disdain for me. “You SAID NO. I WANTED to STAY. I PROVIDE ALL OF THIS for you Jennifer,” he yelled. “What? But I pay for half the-” He cut me off, he was ranting, he was saying things that were starting to overwhelm me, I felt sad, defensive, anxious and a new feeling- I felt afraid. I started to cry and I croutched down by the door. I had seen Dakota drunk before, I have watched him get knocked down to the floor in a fight with a Hawaiian before when he was blackout drunk. (I don’t understand how you get blackout drunk more than a few times in your life, you are your WORST self when you are blacked out. I fell off a porch once when I blacked out and had to be carried home, it was MORTIFYING and I never did it again). He didn’t seem that drunk to me, he just seemed vengeful. “You degrade me!” he said. “You don’t write about me (well now I am, you’re welcome), you don’t brag about me, you don’t care! You text your old boyfriends! If I did that to you, you’d be SO MAD!” It’s true, I’ve always stayed in contact with my ex-boyfriend Taylor, we have always been friends- mainly because we had a really nice relationship and we ended it in a way that both of us have always maturally stayed friends. I began apologizing, “I’m sorry” I said quietly. I tried to calm him down, but nothing worked until there was a knock at the door.
At the words “Police,” Dakota turned a switch on and the drunk monster I had been dealing with disappeared and the person who answered the door was a smiling kiss ass. “Hello sir,” Dakota chirped. “Is there a Jenn here?” the cop answered, moving Dakota to the side and shining a flashlight into our apratment. The light landed on me, still crumpled up in my corner of the room. “Jenn are ok?” the cop said. He moved closer to me. “Yes, I’m fine, everything is ok.” “Are you sure?” he asked me. There are some moments when you feel like your true self leaves your body and is watching the mess you’ve gotten yourself into as an audience member. I could see my true self shaking her head at me, get up, she was saying, this is not the life you want, how did you get here? I stood up, “yes I am.” The cop left and Dakota looked at me in silence. “I would never hit you,” he said and then he collapsed onto the bed and fell asleep. I went back into my corner of the room, in FULL panic mode. I was totally creeped out by Dakota’s ability to flip the switch and be a totally different, fake nice person to the cop, and I realized he does this quite often, and he does this with me. And I didn’t want to fight anymore, because the person I was always fighting for wasn’t him, it was what I had just witnessed now with the Police, it was a mask he frequently put on and took off.
Dakota got up a few hours later, opened the back door, and peed on the patio. Then he came back inside and fell asleep. That was when I realized how drunk he was. Dakota had been blackout drunk when he was yelling at me, and I don’t even know if he knew what he was saying. I imagined the scenario in the morning, Dakota waking up, confused, his urine drying up on our patio, and me replaying what happened, trying to communicate my feelings of disappointment, my anxiety about the situation, why this situation of him getting so drunk that he creates chaos seems to happen over and over, my fears that he will do something even worse than worry our neighbors to the point where they called the Police the next time it happens. And then I imagined another scenario. One where I was back in Los Angeles, back in a city with thousands of jobs and opportunities, back with my family and friends, and far far far away from Dakota. And I felt relief. And my strength came back. Flight.
I packed all of my stuff into my car and when Dakota woke up the next morning I informed him I was done. In his hungover state, I don’t know if he even comprehended what was happening, but I will never know because I left and I haven’t spoken to him since. The first thing I did was drive to work. I told my boss everything, and she hugged me and cried with me, but she also looked me in the eye and told me I was doing the right thing. When your inner voice speaks to you, you can ignore it for awhile, but once it’s yelling at you- you know you have to act or you will spend the rest of your life unhappy.
Living on an island is magical, because there is so much beauty surrounding you, but it’s isolating. My truest self is too ambitious to live in such a simple and small place for too long. I had originally come to Hawaii to live a different lifestyle, to have an adventure, to learn new things. My adventure had come to an end. Dakota made it happen abruptly, but he was also the one who I had stayed for. I hung around longer on that rock because I couldn’t figure out if I would regret leaving him, in moments of isolation you can’t think clearly. But when I saw the cop at my front door I knew, I would have had a much much bigger regret if I had stayed with him.
I met some of my favorite people I have ever met on the Big Island of Hawaii- I can’t wait to start writing about all the good times. But Dakota and my story is the one I have to get out first, because it’s so sucky and unfun. But once it’s out, its done, and it becomes just another part of my history. It’s one of the more painful parts, but you can’t just exclude those out from your personal timeline- which is what this blog really is. It’s a collection of my life lessons, and I learned MANY from Dakota. I feel like an entierly new person. Maybe one day if I have a daughter, she will read about this, and she won’t have to go through something so difficult- maybe it will grant her a bit more self awareness.
Now, in clarity, I am trying to understand why I let people like Dakota into my life. I’m not sure why some of us just know to avoid the Dakota’s, why they intrinsically pick up on toxicity and stay away. I think my handicap is my underlying faith in people, the chances I deal out to others in hope that I’m proved right, and my inability to give up or write someone off. I just don’t want to believe people are cruel, that someone would hurt a person who sat all day in the crazy Hawaiian hospital with you (when Dakota got dehydrated) next to a woman who was so sick with Dengue fever, and then who took care of you after. I’ll always want to fiercely protect my partner’s heart, admit mistakes, help someone in need, or find the good in a human being. I don’t want to “give up” on people or believe people are “bad.” The human spirit is much more complex and life is too fragile for that kind of intolerance. I will always want to encourage the underdog to win, always want to cheer people on, always want people to achieve their dreams. But you can’t give everyone a chance, and if someone isn’t fiercely protecting your heart, then you have to stop protecting theirs and protect your own. Some people are toxic to other’s well being, and you have to set boundaries between yourself and people, otherwise you will constanly invite chaos into your life.
What I do know is this: everytime you fall, it means you tried. You may have failed, but if you pay attention, and you process what happened, and you take the time to heal, you can decide to turn all your empathy and acceptance for other people (that sometimes gets misplaced onto the wrong people) inward to yourself or onto all the good people in your life, and you rise with a strength that is insurmountable. And what happens after that is the beginning to a very important story.
So thank you Dakota.