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These are my thoughts, yo.

Filtering by Tag: Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

All Saints Day

jasmine banks

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Do you know about All Saint Day? Do you believe in heaven? Do you believe God wipes away every tear from every eye?Apocalyptic salvation and such.

I don't know what I believe about all that. I don't know what I believe about heaven. I hope there is one... But mainly I try to be present. I try to remember that grace and redemption are present powers we all have.

I know living Saints: those who struggle and suffer and still love, forgive, and move forward. Though she would roll her eyes reading this and scoff and argue, one of my Saints has been Kim Tate.

I met Kim when I was in a wheel chair. I was recovering from a major surgery on my right ovary. Thirteen years old with staples and the voices of doctors ringing in my head, " you will likely not have children." My abdomen was opened up and cysts and a tumor were removed. I sat in a wheelchair outside of the building where my youth group met for Wednesday night worship. Kim and I still laugh about that night, because she thought I was paralyzed when she saw me. Paralysis isn't funny, usually, but for some reason we both giggle. Dark humor, I guess? That was the first night I met Kim. Shortly after that evening she adopted me, for some reason. We connected. She listened to me, trusted me, and believed in me. Through junior high and high school Kim guided me.

Our lives have delicately woven in and out of each other. Our stories have been narratives of growth, suffering, and the realization of the utter grace that surrounds both our lives.

One day, in high school, I woke up from yet another nightmare about the sexual abuse I'd experienced as a child. I was covered in sweat and my heart raced. Another night of fighting off aggressors and watching as my small body was hurt, over and over again. In my dream I'd float above the younger version of myself. I would watch over and over as I was abused. In my dream I always tried to fight, but I could never win and no one ever came to save me. I sat up on my futon shaking and breathing and tired. Could I keep doing this, these nightmares? I couldn't. I told my mother about my abuse... her response was not favorable. I hated my mother for a long time for lack of response to the abuse I received as a child. I hate her and I suffered silently. The suffering worsened after the death of my best friend's mother. I worked on Joan the day I saw her lifeless on the couch. I executed each step to CPR the way I was taught in my babysitting courses. Paige, my best friend at the time, came to my house frighten: "my mom won't wake up." I left her at my home and sprinted toward her house up the hill. I called 911, I did rounds of CPR, but Joan was dead. Shortly after her death the nightmares started to worsen. It is clear, now, that I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had PTSD like the soldiers from Vietnam.

Oh, the things I'd seen on the battle field. The battle field, though, was my life.

That Wednesday morning I woke up and wrote the letter that many others have written before me. I said my goodbye. I said I love you. I said, " I can't do this anymore..." I made my plans to take my life. I had the pills. I went to school and paced myself through another day. I'd stare off into space, not hearing the teacher lecture, and not feeling my body. Therapists and psychologists call it "disassociation". I had no one around me to understand what was happening, and I didn't know what was happening either. I just knew I couldn't do another day of pretending and struggling and fighting to be alive and tortured.  That evening I went to church because I wanted to sing one last time. Singing was something that held me together. I would miss singing.  I sobbed as I lead worship and looked at the faces of my friends. I said a silent goodbye to each of them in my head.  When church was over, I packed up my things and headed toward my car. Kim stopped me and hugged me with the deep embrace she is known for. She put both of her hands firmly on my shoulders and looked in my eyes. I could feel her oval acrylic nails pressed into my shoulder. I stared at her hair slicked back and pulled into a ponytail. She had weave wrapped around her bun to add volume to her hairstyle. I avoided eye contact as much as I could. "You know how much you are loved, Jasmine" she questioned me. She corrected, "You know how much I love you, don't you Jasmine?" I faked a smile and responded, "Yes, thank you." I couldn't look up at this point. If I did I felt all at once I would melt and she would know what I planned to do. I don't know if she sensed the disbelief in my voice, but she doubled down: "Jasmine, The Lord has amazing things planned for you. He really does. I KNOW he does. You are so young and you are already changing the lives of people around you, you've changed my life... and I am so grateful for you." I teared up. Kim smiled at me and continued, "I love you. YOU need to know that you can come to me if you need anything, anything ever." I nodded and hugged her back.

I got in my car and drove home. The 15 minute drive felt like mere seconds. I parked my car at the lake across from my neighborhood. I took the letter out of my bag and read it and cried. I sat at the edge of the grass by the water and emptied the pills into the water. I placed the letter on the surface of the water and watched as the water slowly seeped through the paper. The dark bottom of the lake claimed the letter, and with it my intention to kill myself.

It wasn't until I left for college that I received my diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a diagnosis I am still receiving care for.  I didn't take my life that night, or the three other nights I've planned to kill myself. Truth be told, there are other ways I try to kill myself. We all do, really... don't we.

Kim has been my Saint. In some of my darkest moments I listen to her words echo in my heart. When the suffering rings too loud, she is just a call away. When I think about those who die and wonder about passing into a heaven after this life, I think about Kim. She is proof of heaven. How could there not be a second life for hearts like hers? Saints are the people who save us over and over again and never even know it.

The Day The Bloggess Tried to Kill My Mother-In-Law and Steal My Husband.

jasmine banks

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There are moments in time where the clarity that one possesses is so strong, so very clear, that what is going on in the world becomes laughably obvious. This was the case on Sunday, July 1st, 2012. This day was the day that I realized that Jenny Lawson, also known as The Bloggess, and my husband, Garrett Brown, had been colluding to kill my mother-in-law and frame me with her murder. While I imagine the reflex to shrug off my accusations facts as nothing but hysterical drivel, I assure you that this well timed strike on my mother-in-law, Connie, was so perfectly orchestrated that it was undeniably an attempted to  put me in jail. I don’t know why The Bloggess wants me in jail, probably because she is a racist, or wants to marry my husband, after I am dead, and start her own brother- husband commune where she bosses Garrett and Victor around, making them procure more of her collectables for her petrified death house... I mean, what else could you expect from someone who continually talks about zombies, vaginas, and may or may not have her home on an Indian burial ground. I contend it is because she is a racist. Did you know she has a huge ass metal chicken that she named Beyonce? Uuuh yeah. Hello, Bloggess! Not all Black people like chicken! Sheesh.  

So. I was on my way home from Kansas City, Mo.  My mother-in-law was with me, as I had turned my Biggest Loser casting call into a mini-vacation with her. I brought along my fancy schmancy Kindle Fire. The FIRST book I downloaded on my fancy piece of book technology was, of course, “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)”.

I have been a fan of Jenny’s for years. YEARS, y’all. (That is why this attempt on my life and plan to steal my husband is extra hurty. Shut up. “hurty” is a word.) We were driving along and I was reading “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” aloud to my mother-in-law. I was reading the chapter about the time Jenny decided that she’d OD on ex-lax. As I was reading I got a text from my husband and a conversation ensued. This conversation, I have realized was the way that Garrett and Jenny were working together to frame me for my mother-in-law’s murder. This is how the conversation went:

 

 

Garrett: “When will I free you.”

 

Me: “I am pretty free already motherfucker! Is that why you married me? You wanted to feel morally superior one day? Besides! Who asks that question? As if you are just considering freeing me, but aren’t sure yet.”

 

Garrett: “Ha! It was supposed to say see. I saw it and left it thinking you would think I meant that I was asking when I’d free you from my mom. That is even better.”

 

Me: “So now your mom owns me? This is an unsavory conversation {to have with a Black woman}. It all makes sense now.”

 

I resumed reading and only looked half squinty at my mother in law, because as it turns out- they thought they owned me. Me. An emancipated Black woman. Which makes sense, since she was always calling my children “her babies”. If I am correct about my slave history, when you own the momma slave you get the baby slaves too. Remember that moment of clarity? Yeah... this is the one I am talking about. So I continued reading as if Garrett had not just revealed their dirty little slave secret to me. Connie was laughing and enjoying herself. I read the line, “So I yelled, “I’M CALLING THE POLICE! AND I HAVE DIARRHEA! From... AIDS!” I began laughing. My my whole body trembled with laughter. The scene I played in my mind of Jenny sitting on the toilet, OD’ing from Ex-Lax while a psychopath passes her notes under the bottom of her door. I mean... that shit is literary gold! Move over “The Odyssey”! We will soon find “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)” bound in those classy antique looking collections of novels. You know what I am talking about, right? Those book collections that are on fancy book shelves in smoking rooms. I can envision Jenny’s name right up there with Homer, Shakespeare, and Dostoyevsky. Well, I could, until she plotted to kill my mother-in-law and pin it on me. The next moment I noticed the car was swerving. I looked up from the book and glanced at Connie.  In that moment she went from smiling and laughing to something else.

She was red, gasping, and her eyes were bugging out of her head. She quickly, so quickly I had to hold on to the roof of the car, barreled onto the side of the road. She was doing this wheezing gasping thing and coughing and sputtering. She started to slap at the dash.... I quickly put the car in park. “Do you have your inhaler!” She hacked and gasped and grabbed at her chest and managed to shake her very veiny and red face back and forth. No no no no. Fuck! She does not have her inhaler! Because awesome. She is having an asthma attack- brought on my The Bloggess and her account of shitting herself. Connie turned the air conditioner on full blast. I placed my cold hand on her forehead and told her to breathe. I mean... what the fuck else was I supposed to do? I had just found out she and her son, my husband, thought they owned me and weren’t even planning on freeing me. If this woman died in this car the police would OBVIOUSLY want to check my phone and then they’d see that I had just discovered their very racist secret. Then the police would be all. “How did she die” and I’d be forced to say that I was reading a story about a fellow blogger who wanted to lose 3 pounds and so she OD’ed on Ex-Lax. I’d be forced to further explain that my mother-in-law choked to death on water because The Bloggess was shitting and screamed, “I have AIDS.” The officer would, no doubt, not believe me because that story sounds too far fetched in the first place.

My mother in law finally started breathing. She explained, “I took a drink right before she screamed, “I have AIDS” and when I laughed I inhaled water and began to choke.” IT was this moment I realized we’d all been laughing about someone having AIDS and it turns out we are all huge assholes. I waited to make sure she was REALLY okay before I was all, “I am so blogging that shit!”  She agreed that I could blog about her spitting and coughing and almost dying as long as I didn’t mention the reason why she had to sit on a towel to the next exit.

 

I stayed true to my promise. It is NOT my fault if you inferred that while almost dying from   choking on water while reading The Bloggess’s book my mother-in-law almost peed on herself. It is not my fault my readers are really good with context clues. I can neither confirm or deny that she might have peed herself while laughing/dying/being murdered by The Bloggess.

As fate would have it my mother-in-law did NOT die and I was NOT framed. Your plan was foiled Jenny Lawson! Besides, you don’t want my husband for your brother-husband commune, he likes Nickelback...no one should be married to another person who actually enjoys Nickelback’s music. I didn't know about his musical tastes before we were wed... else I would have cut my losses and moved on. Because seriously. Nickelback. Ew.

Your plan to murder my mother-in-law and frame me sucked. Your book however, was amazing... It will be forever remembered as a highlight of our trip! Thank you for such a fun piece of work.

Interested in Jenny's Memoir? Find it here