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40 Forty Years Of Lessons, 41 months of sobriety

This blog post idea is from a hike I did with therapist Elyse Snipes in California at her weekends event. There were a certain amount of stops and viewpoints along the hike and we took our age and divided it by the number of stops and at each spot were to reflect on that age period of our life. This hike truly was life changing, I learned so much about my life and how it all shaped me to where I am today. It’s very personal, so I am not sharing it here but decided to try something similar to celebrate my 40th birthday post. Hope you enjoy, try it out some time. It’s amazing what you learn about yourself when you truly reflect. I also highly recommend Weekends with Elyse Snipes, it was such an incredible weekend and I learned SO much. She has created an amazing organization, Radical Wellness too. Check it all out:) She is not paying me to say this, these are my honest feelings and I can’t wait to be able to afford so much more of what she offers.

Now to my blog post 🤗

Age 1-5 I grew up in a great home with parents who are still married, my mom was a stay at home mom and my dad worked in construction. I have a brother 6 years older than me. I loved to run around the neighborhood, it was a safe place and country back when I grew up. I began to ride dirt bikes, ride BMX bikes and my neighbors had horses that we always played with and took care of. My cousin Brandon was my best friend, he was the same age and lived down the street. I was a child that never went without, we always had food, were loved, felt safe and secure, we did not have everything in the world and did not live upper class but we were definitely middle class, our needs were met and we camped a lot. That was the traveling my family did to local campgrounds. My dads boss had bought a motorhome my dad was able to use, so we were very lucky to be able to use it and travel farther in the state to camp.

My neighbor owned a gymnastics studio and I guess I tried it out, but being a gymnast was never for me. But they got a cute pic before a routine:)
My older brother and I, check out the smurfs wrapping paper. I loved the Smurfs.

Age 6-10 During this time period I think I was just a happy child, running a muck around the neighborhood. I loved to get dirty, play in the dirt, ride my 50 dirt bike and play with the farm animals nearby. I remember my dad buried a tunnel made of cement tubes in our gully and we loved to climb through it with flashlights. We loved to play with cars in the dirt and rock piles, play in the park and run through the woods at the time and always spied on the homeless guy that lived there (bratty kids we were). We would collect golf balls that we would find from golfers at the golf course next to the woods. We would go there and play on the putt putt course, get hotdogs and a soda. We had so much freedom in our neighborhood, the ability to explore and my cousin and I always were exploring together, and with my best friends Michele and Shanna. I do remember my skin was always horrible and broken out from eczema and allergies, benadryl was my friend and so was laying on the couch with a cold wash cloth over my swollen shut eyes, especially after playing with all the neighbors puppies I was allergic too. I remember meeting a girl up the road, her grandparents had built an amazing house with a pool on our street, we became friends and her pool was so amazing. I think during this age around 10 is when I would begin to get Vitiligo, an auto immune disorder that affects your melanin cells, so my leg became white with no pigment. I always think it was around 5th grade. I did not have it in the picture just posted before this. I also spent a lot of time at my grandpa and grandpa Mortensen’s house and mini farm. It was so fun and I remember always wanting to go over there and spending lots of time with my cousin Alisha there.

I just loved horses and being a cowgirl
1st grade at West Union Elementary School.
When i got my horse Frisky.
My cousin Alisha and I with our grandpa Jack at his farm. We loved him so much and his farm💚

Age 11-15 I think during this age is when we got a pool put in our backyard and it had a slide and was a dream come true. I don’t know how much my mom loved all the work and upkeep of a pool. Eventually my ex husband purchased the house and still lives there. Owning a pool is a lot of work. But I am so thankful for all my moms hard work and giving us the opportunity to have a pool. Before we got one we used the neighbors and we were so lucky that my parents best friends parents had a pool. So it was just kind of the norm growing up.

I loved turtle necks hiding exzema on my neck
1980s or early 1990s versus 2017 with my life long best friend Michele.
With my momma around this age and time period.

Age 16-20 this was definitely an interesting time period. At 16 I dropped out of High School. I wanted nothing to do with it, found new friends since the ones from JR High were not my true friends, some but not all. The new friends I found in JR high transitioned with me and some did great and others did not. I skipped so much of my sophomore year, I absolutely hated school, looking back I honestly think I just hated authority and being told what to do. Whatever it was, I skipped a lot and left school. I might of only been 15 my sophomore year, turning 16 in August over the summer. Either way I thought I had made a mistake and went back to high school the next year, but I was so far behind I had to be a sophomore again. Old habits started back up and I just didn’t see the point and quit. I had got a new boyfriend, 3 years older and he too had dropped out. No big deal, I moved in with him and got a job at an espresso bar at Nordstrom where my friend was the manager. Before that I had worked as an aide in daycares. I think honestly working at Nordstrom is when I really started to change. I at least started to care more about my appearance. I think it was in a good way since I had always felt ugly and dressed differently and never had normal hair. Working there was a nightmare. I quit, I went home to my apartment with my boyfriend. Some bad stuff ended up happening and my friend Janelle was there for me through it all, she was the girlfriend of my brother at the time who ended up living in my same apartments and was the manager of the Nordstrom espresso bar. I still am in contact with her today, over 20 years later. I ended up moving out and leaving my boyfriend, I moved home at 17. This is when I would eventually meet my first husband, someone from high school that I always thought was cute. I was so excited to date him, he was such a good guy. My friend Michele and I spent so much time at his house, she dated his friend. The purpose in all that is thanks to her dating his friend, it led me to my first husband and the father of my son.

When I worked at Nordstrom Espresso Bar in my old apartment 1996 ish

Age 21-25 Oh 21, the age I had been waiting for. I had a fake ID for a year before but was so excited to be able to go to the bar, especially since my boyfriend was 3 years older and had already turned 21. At 23 we would be married in Jamaica, a destination wedding. I was so excited, I had never been out of the country. Looking back, this trip is definitely what made me aware of the world and how much more their was out there. It was a great wedding, perfect for us and where we were at in life. We had been together 5 years and wanted to buy a house and go on vacation so the budget most definitely worked. It was so fun and amazing. I loved Jamaica and the culture. We stayed at Couples Swept Away, and it was perfect in every way. My wedding dress was a $50 gap summer dress. At 24 my new husband encouraged me get braces if that what I really wanted and I so did. I will forever thank him for that and being supportive and encouraging. It helped me gain so much self confidence and love for myself. Right after the braces, I got pregnant with Jaxson. We were super excited, actually looking back on it I think I got pregnant on my 24th birthday. We were not trying, but we no longer weren’t trying and just going to see what happened. I was due May 13th, 2005. I would turn 25 in August 2005. Little did I know, the day my son was born would truly change my life. Not just becoming a mom, but it would change the person I was, give me a new outlook on life, perspective and goals, it just completely changed me as when he was born it did not go well. He spent the first 3 months in the NICU, had surgeries and did not have a good outlook on his life from the medical standpoint. But 15 years later, he is here. He is amazing, so strong and has taught me so much. He has had more surgeries than I have, he has tried to die more times than I have and been in the hospital more than I have and that’s saying a lot. But through all of his medical complexities, I have learned who I am, who I want to be and couldn’t be prouder of the teenager he is. He is my reason, my purpose for so much of what I have done in my life, for so many of my accomplishments.

In the hospital the day after he was born. 5/14/05
Before this kid would change my life forever. The only day he was home before we would find out how sick this baby was.

Age 26-30 This is when life really changed for me and for the better. This is when I would learn who I was, what I was passionate about and what my purpose was. Through all the hardships I found a purpose in the medical field, I started college at Portland State University after the community college which I transferred from, I wanted to be a nurse, but I didn’t get in and began my career as a health educator. I learned so much about myself, I left my first husband, lived on campus and lived life as a college student with a toddler in the daycare on campus. I worked at two local hospitals. I reconciled with my husband after a year apart and we gave it a good try. I learned SO much about myself, what I wanted, what I saw in my future and my hopes and dreams. Better late than never. I had an amazing 30th birthday white water rafting in Maupin with friends and my ex husband, it was the time of my life. So fun. I was super fit and healthy at the time, definitely the best shape of my life at 30. But looking back, that was not necessarily a healthy thing. I may have looked healthy and been fit, but I was definitely still struggling in my mind and with drinking.

30th birthday rafting wildness. This was fun. But the drinking definitely made me out of control.
Dirty 30, driving while drinking while shuttling the rafts. So dumb. Glad I learned from these dumb decisions.
Interning with Planned Parenthood during my last year of college in their sex Ed program. I think I spent my actual 30th birthday at a retreat with the Teen Council for our first weekend and retreat.

Age 31-35 I would graduate college at 32 in 2012 with two bachelors degrees, one in Health Sciences from all my nursing pre reqs and one in Community Health Education. I was doing Americorps, teaching comprehensive sexual health education and volunteering in harm reduction. I loved what I was doing. I was still married to my ex husband, but soon after graduation we separated and were getting a divorce. I met my new husband very early through that, he was there through my whole divorce. Although not ideal, I definitely made mistakes and did not handle things with pride and in a good way, I know that the person I met, the man I am now married to was there for a reason. My ex husband is amazing, I will never say a bad thing about him, I don’t have a bad thing to say and he is the father of my child. He just was not the right one for me. Understandable since I grew up so much through our years together. I am sorry I ever hurt him, but so glad he has an amazing life partner. During this time period I would definitely make a lot of mistakes, I would drink a lot to drown my reality and feelings in life. Easier to drink away my problems. Sadly this led to me breaking my back in 2014 at the Oregon Dunes while riding my dirt bike drunk. I am lucky I survived that accident and I learned to never drink and ride again. But I would still learn so many more lessons.

Portland State Graduation August 2012 with my momma. From high school drop out to two bachelors degrees.

Age 36-40 This range has had a lot of lessons. A lot of pain. A lot of celebrations, triumphs, learning and finally realizing who I am meant to be, who the best version of myself is and what my true purpose is in life. I moved in with Chris, I married him 8/26/17, I got a DUI, I got sober, my husband got sober a few months before me, I discovered gratitude, I had some great career success, I traveled a lot and did some amazing travels, I almost died, I got a second chance at life, I gave up motorcycles and anything else super risky for another brain injury. I discovered myself even more and really learned what’s worth my energy and what’s not and who is truly there for us. I used to be such a social person, all the friends, it was so a part of me. But now I am turning 40 and surrounded by the most amazing people and friends. I have really learned what and who deserves my time and who I need to really be there for, because they were surely there for me during the hardest time of my life and still are. I am now 40, of course there are things I wish were different or don’t like about myself and where I am, but I am proud of who I am, all I have overcome and how I treat people. I am proud of my son and the man I married. I am proud of my parents for their love and dedication for the last 40 years and I have put them through hell so many times. I’m so grateful for all I have learned and all the people I have learned from. I’m grateful for the good and bad, it has taught me so much and I am the way I am today because I learned from it all over the last 40 years and made positive changes. I am content and happy with who I am and where I am at in life, of course I never imagined this is where I would be and living with a brain injury that affects me daily, but I’m proud of where I am and not letting that take me down.

Strength Through Weakness. My biggest motivation, my son Jaxson.
8-26-17 Marrying the one 💙💙

40s and Beyond! I look forward to my 40s. I look forward to continued improvement with my brain. I look forward to being more present in my life, really spending my time and energy where it’s best spent. I look forward to some amazing travel plans and goals, goals for our future, buying homes to go with those goals, obtaining some homes where we love to travel and to to have vacation rentals. I look forward to seeing what my son does with his life. He’s 15 now, but will be 16 this year. I look forward to many more years of marriage and to see how our marriage evolves and grows. I just look forward to living my life the best I can. I look forward to continued sobriety and abstinence from alcohol, because it does not serve me in life and definitely does not make me the best person I can be.

Here’s to 40!

By jessymunch826

I am a TBI Survivor and woman who has been through a lot of good and bad. My goal by this blog is to share what I have learned and how life has happened for me and not to me. I have found purpose in it all and am here to share it. I am also sober and quitting drinking was the best choice for me. I will post about TBI, Brain Injury, life, travel, lessons learned and more. I am not a doctor or a nurse, I am a traumatic brain injury survivor who has lived 40 years of life and have an amazing mindset from it all. None of this is medical advice, that is what your doctor is for or 911 if you are having an true emergency and need help right away. I am here for community and to share all I have learned, you never know who it will help. Click on the white title of the blog post to read, just saying in case you might be confused like I am with all this 🤣

4 replies on “40 Forty Years Of Lessons, 41 months of sobriety”

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