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Outside of the school I attended for four years is a set of stairs leading into the library. When I was in school guys from my class moved a car that belonged to my friend in front of the stairs, before that my parents sat on those stairs together talking about the future. They decided that they both liked the name Jessica, the cynic in me would like to say that my name was one of the few things they agreed on however my romantic side wants to believe that at one point in time my parents were in love and treated each other the way that new parents should.

When I was a baby my mother had a very small apartment and a friend who wanted to give her a break. I was a little baby but neither of my parents are very big people. My mom said that I was the baby who never slept and never ate but she also said that I was good which I find hard to believe. When I was ready for kindergarten my teacher didn't believe that I was really five. I remember crying because I was the only person shorter than the wagon wheel we had to stand by for school pictures.

My younger sister was almost always at least as tall as I was. People thought we were twins which I didn't care for at all. I'm two years older than she is, it doesn't matter anymore but at the time I wanted people to know that I was the big sister. Growing up my parents had very little money. My mom is a very thrifty and resourceful person so she planted a huge garden. We spent a lot of time in the kitchen canning tomatoes, making jam and eating hot breakfasts because they were cheaper and more nutritious than cold cereal.

As a child I was a picky eater. I hated tomatoes, I didn't like potatoes, my sister ate peanut butter and jam almost every day but I ate it only when I didn't have any other choice. I couldn't stand eating sandwiches, I loathed spaghetti sauce but my mom wouldn't let me eat the noodles by themselves. My parents thought forcing their children to eat food they couldn't stand was good parenting. I remember my dad making us eat green balogna and my mom telling us we couldn't leave the table until we had finished our serving of lutefisk.

My childhood wasn't all bad. I have some good memories of my uncle taking me and my sister fishing. I walked to school with tons of my friends and for the most part I enjoyed school until I accidentally wound up in an advanced math class in the sixth grade. No one in my family liked the school guidance counselor, I'm not sure why except she was short and fat. My middle sister told her we had a dog when we really didn't, my parents had taught us to tell the truth but in my world sticking up for my sister was more important than telling the truth about a pet we didn't own.

When I was in seventh grade I drove an ATV into a large ditch full of abandoned farm machinery. I could have been seriously hurt but thankfully wasn't. Seventh grade was awful because for the first time ever I looked into the mirror and saw myself as fat. I think I weighed less than ninety pounds, I was ninety-three pounds when I started high school but I remember sitting on the bench in gym class wearing red gym shorts and watching this girl who was rumored to have an eating disorder. To me she looked good although when I look at pictures now I can see there was really nothing to her.

Eighth grade was the year my family moved. It was not a good year for many reasons however since I had moved to a smaller school I was a much more prominent member of the sports teams. I served the winning point in our final volleyball game. Most of the time I was an average basketball player but I was aggressive so I was able to steal the ball on several occasions. I loved softball and I started dating the son of our coach which had nothing to do with the fact that I got the first base position. I hit a homerun during our first game and it didn't matter what other people thought about me outside of the game, when I was in it nothing else mattered.

My dad used to wake me and my next youngest sister up early to run before school. Cross country was not the sport for me. My muscles were always stiff and sore even at that age. For most of my life I have been tense, anxious and nervous. Now that I know more about myself I can see why some of these things were issues before I understood the terminology. My parents didn't have much money, I didn't have the clothes or the looks or a lot of the other advantages I wanted so I pretended that those things weren't important to me which was my way of trying to save some pride.

During high school I met people that I thought I would always be friends with. It was a lonely time for me. I had friends but they ended up not always being the best kind a girl could have. A lot of girls used me because I was on good terms with most of the guys in our class. They would want to hang out with me until the guys came over and after the guys were there they stopped talking to me. My parents, my aunts and uncles and my grandfather had all gone to school where I had. All the faculty members knew who I was which made my life difficult because everything I did eventually traveled back to my parents.

I wasn't really a bad kid but I was loud and outspoken. Apart from math I did reasonably well in school. History was my favorite class primarily because at that level it was all memorization. Anything I could read and remember was easy for me. Things I had to figure out were more difficult but fortunately I had roomates who were good at the things I wasn't. Cheating became a way of life for us all. In the end it hurt us more than it helped but at the time we did what we thought we had to in order to get by. If our teachers wondered why we were good at homework and had trouble with test taking no one said anything to us about it.

Instead of going to a school I could afford for college I went to an expensive private school so I could get a good liberal arts education. I always had at least two jobs and I resented my friends whose parents were paying for them to go to school. History was my major and if I could go back and do it all over again I would have chosen to study something else. Maybe I should be embarrassed at how little I remember from school but at the time I studied to get good grades and my grades had to stay high enough so I could keep the scholarship money I had.

My education was good enough but I didn't learn much about life which is what I think school should prepare you for. Because I worked I had some money of my own so I bought clothes and went out to eat with my friends. They liked me because I had a car and a credit card, when we went out they would promise to pay me back if I put the bill on my credit card. I wanted their approval so even though my head was against the idea I went along with it because I didn't want them to be mad at me. My aunt was hired to teach English the year I graduated from college. That year was probably one of the highlights of my life.

Since I had taken so many credits my first couple years I was able to take fewer easier classes as a senior. That meant I could work more and when I graduated from college I thought my life was pretty good. I had a job, I was offered an entry level position at a brokerage firm, I got engaged the summer I finished school and I rode that high through the rest of June into July when I found out my parents were going to get divorced. The people I worked with were nice to me the day I came in obviously upset. Two of them I will remember in particular, one went through it as an adult, the other as a child and I appreciate the time they spent talking about their experiences.

That summer I decided I wasn't going to live with either of my parents. After dating the same person for three years I thought I knew him fairly well. He had a good job that he hated. We spent a lot of time talking to each other and I liked how we could talk about things that we disagreed about without arguing. A lot of the things I did made sense if you remember that I didn't have a lot of self confidence. I couldn't afford to move out on my own without going into debt, getting married meant I would have more money and a place to stay. My mom came to me the day before I got married and told me not to go through with it.

She came after I received a letter from my grandmother on my father's side which I dismissed as her being bitter because my mom had left her son. When I think back to how naive and optimistic I was it makes me wonder how I could have been such an idiot. I took a job that paid a lot less than I was worth. People knew I was good, they also knew I didn't know how good I was so when my branch manager told me I was getting a one and a half percent raise I took it and went home to vent instead of telling him to go fuck himself like I should have.

Working in finance during the boom time was fun and interesting. I learned a ton working there and much like my E2 experience not all of it was information that came without a price tag. I left that job to work for an accounting firm that no longer exists. After a brief stint with another big player in financial planning I went to work for a car rental company. I should have been promoted but I left before that ever happened. Actually I never should have taken the job in the first place but again I didn't think I could get a better offer.

I should be ashamed to admit that I slept with a couple of the guys I worked with but I'm not. I wanted someone to love me and I think at least one of the guys felt something or we wouldn't have ended up in bed together the night we did. At home I was viewed as worthless and people at work thought I was fun. All the trouble I didn't get into during school I played out as a twenty-something. I didn't hide anything I was doing. I didn't respect myself and I doubt other people respected me either however at the time I told myself I didn't care what other people thought.

Eventually my husband and I went to counseling. He admitted that he loved me. I told him I was sorry I had cheated on him, we patched things up temporarily. I left my job after I had a miscarriage at work and went back to finance because that's what I knew and that's what I thought I was good at. Being pregnant and working full time was horrible. I was sick for months, I called in the second day of my new job and my boss was furious with me even though I had gone home, gone to bed and thrown up everything I ate for supper after I woke up.

My daughter was due on the day after Mother's Day. My husband was scheduled to be out of town at the end of April and when I went in for what would be one of my last checkups my OB-GYN said I was done working and he was going to induce labor if my blood pressure and the baby's heartrate didn't stabilize. I developed a head to toe rash, it was allergy season and I couldn't take anything stronger than Tylenol so I was miserable, unable to sleep and praying that my baby wouldn't be born too early. Nothing about my first labor and delivery went the way it was supposed to.

At the hospital no one knew for sure whether my water had broke until the doctor came. She announced that I was staying but since I hadn't planned on that I was at the hospital with nothing. I walked around for hours without a contraction and finally my physician said she was going to induce because you have to deliver within 24 hours to reduce the chance of infection. After everything she had been through before birth I thought my brand new daughter was perfect and so did a lot of other people.

For three months I stayed home before going back to work. Not long after I returned I quit to stay home with my daughter. She was colicky, I was exhausted and that first year was tough because until she had tubes put in her ears we went back and forth between the pediatrician and the ENT. She was pretty but she never ate, she couldn't sleep and I don't know how I made it through that time in my life. After the tubes went in she was a much happier baby. We decided to risk another one and that pregnancy gave me more trouble than I had had with the first.

My best friend's mother was there when I passed out. She said she knew something was wrong but I had no memory of anything other than being excessively warm in the room. My husband had agreed to children but he wasn't thrilled that we were having another. I took my oldest to the beach every day that I could, we had a routine that worked for us and after my youngest was born we kept the routine up with her as a newborn addition. Those first few years I did everything with the girls that I could. I took them to the library and the zoo. We joined the Y, I was going to get back into shape and everything was going to be wonderful.

Until my youngest daughter was two weeks old and came down with her first cold. After that we saw the pediatrician and the dermatologist. She went to the ENT and a pediatric gastroenterologist. She ate but she didn't gain weight. Everything she ate came right back up and I was worried sick about her. The allergist said she wasn't allergic to anything. I couldn't get any answers from anyone until we were referred to a specialist at Childern's Hospital. We went there for more tests and it was tragic to see children hooked up to machines and babies who were never leaving from what had become their home.

Organic food was one of the things I latched onto when my youngest was so sick. I made almost everything my children ate because baby food was expensive and not nutritious. People thought I was nuts but I didn't care. Nothing was more important than the health and welfare of my children. Until I became so depressed that I stopped doing anything that didn't absolutely have to be done. My sister complains that her husband doesn't help and I can relate because I did everything for the girls until one day I couldn't do anything.

Being the perfect parent had burned me out and stressed me out. I felt unloved, unsupported and neglected only this time I didn't have a job to go to and I didn't think I could go back to work when my children were constantly sick with colds and ear infections. Medication for the two of them ran about $600 a month, my husband had lost his job when I was expecting my youngest. He never worries about money so I did enough worrying for the two of us. That drove a bigger wedge between the two of us because I tried to cut spending while he bought whatever he thought he needed.

2006 was the year I started writing. It was therapeutic, it was something I could do while I was at home and no one in my family could understand why I was addicted to the computer if all I was doing was typing. I needed a new plan so I decided to go back to school. I did exceptionally well this time around because I was going to get a nursing degree. That meant I would make good money and be able to work some nights and weekends when my husband could watch the girls. Gradually their health improved but their being sick so frequently had taken its toll on me.

That was the year I had two serious allergic reactions in a row. One article I read explained that allergic reactions are the culmination of progressive attacks. That made a lot of sense to me since I could remember having difficulty breathing before the big attacks. Not long after that my insurance changed, a new allergist I saw said I was not a good candidate for shots. I had never liked my allergist but I trusted him to know what he was doing and to take good care of my fragile health. When I was in college I had been sick for months without anyone being able to determine what was wrong.

Most of my life has been me feeling like shit without knowing why. I went back to work in 2009. It was a crappy job but I was glad to have it and the boys who worked for me will always have a spot in my heart because they were such good kids. That job ended when the shoe store across the hall hired me. From the day I started it was clear that they were playing games with me and I let them because I was so grateful to be out of the job I had been working at. I took a pay cut but it was worth it because I liked the people I was working with.

Eventually I was promoted to assistant manager. My numbers were good not because I am amazing at sales but because no one else cared enough to work at their numbers. When the manager from another store asked if I was interested in working for him I mistakenly thought that was a good idea. Last December I put wheat on the list of foods to avoid and I do not have words to explain what my life was like at this time last year. The worst rash I have ever had stuck with me for months. It hurt to shower, putting clothes on was a nightmare, I had busy active children, a full time job, and avoiding wheat helped me lose weight but I sat in the sauna by myself crying and wanting any other life than the one I had.

The summer of 2010 was probably one of the lowest points of my life in terms of my physical health. In the past I had characters who had suicidal thoughts. I told myself I would never do anything but I thought about driving into a concrete structure on my way to work. People in my family would take care of my children and my husband didn't care anyways. I wrote a lot about that and when I first joined E2 I read what TheDeadGuy and liveforever had written about it. When I left the emergency room in 2006 I had friends to take care of me that next day.

When my family came to pick me up that last day in August I could hardly talk because whatever I had put in my mouth had damaged my throat. Thankfully that was temporary but I existed in the strange state between life and death state for a few days. When I started writing I wanted my characters to be people who faced challenges. I honestly never dreamed that the research I had done on things I had given my characters would some day come back to haunt me. I've always had food allergies but until this past November no one ever told me I was unable to handle gluten.

Now that I know that my life has changed. 24% of people who are gluten intolerant are also lactose intolerant. When your body attacks itself you can develop leaky gut syndrome. Small undigested food particles escape from your digestive tract where your body identifies them as harmful. Going on the elimination diet was easier for me than for many others. It revealed quite a few allergies and sensitivities I hadn't known about earlier and as much as it sucks to be allergic to common things like potatoes and lemons not knowing which foods are safe is a terrifying way to almost live.

An article I read recently suggests that children with food allergies are isolated from their peers due to their dietary restrictions. They said they suffer more from anxiety, they're lonely and I can identify with all of this. Formerly I was a social person, now I avoid situations where food is involved. After getting the news that I probably had an incurable disease that would affect the rest of my life I was given a list of supplements I needed to get, a prescription and a reminder to schedule a follow up appointment which sadly is what people in my situation get from the current healthcare system.

Since then I've been back since I thought I should be feeling better by now. I've had another battery of tests and people are on the fence about whether or not I am diabetic. My neighbor told me I was years ago however the woman I normally see isn't convinced. My skin is better than it used to be although I have some several patches that haven't responded to the gluten free diet. I know eating more vegetables would be a good idea but if I don't get enough sugar in my diet I get dizzy and lightheaded when I stand up.

When you feel like garbage and your body is in pain it is difficult to perform well. I used to be very tense, I still suffer from anxiety although now there are times when I feel nothing at all. Sometimes I lie down on my bed sobbing because I don't know where I'm going or what I am going to do with my life. I write to try and figure things out, I also write because the people I want to read things like this don't and it makes me sad that people on the internet know more about my life than the people who brought my life into this world.

This is just me writing things as they come to me so please don't worry. I have a plan in my head, sometimes I feel more on track than other times and I was very happy to join the ranks of the living after so many bad allergic reactions tested my will to live. God has been good to me in many ways, I believe that even when I don't believe in him which I realize makes no sense at all. As a mother I want the best for my children. Today we hung out as a family, it is a day I want to store in my heart because I think one day my children will not have parents who are married to each other.

Writing at night means I have time to focus on what I should have done. I tend to be much more optimistic in the morning except lately I feel as if I can't drag myself out of bed. My massage therapist has been sending me texts lately. She is good for me and so is the woman who cuts my hair. The help ground me and it seems as if I need their help since I am adrift and rootless. Either I don't care at all or I care too much, neither of those paths are ideal and I have to remember that if the road is long at least I have taken the first few steps towards the end.

What the end will bring or if I will go anywhere remains to be seen. Writing this has helped some, I would like to go into more depth on some of the issues however I would also like to go forward, focus on the positive and things that make me a better, stronger, healthier person. Tomorrow I am going to my first yoga class in the hopes that this old dog can learn at least one new trick. I have always been able to talk to people and I believe that people are, for better or worse, in my life for a reason.

If you belong to the group that supports, encourages and wants what is best for me than I thank you for being the listening ear, the good friend and the shoulder to collapse against. If not, I don't have much to say to you. Today my children have new shoes that I approve of. I can still type, I went to the Y and out to eat without getting sick which for me is a minor miracle. Tomorrow will be another day with hurts and hopes of its own. For now I am off, I no longer want to see this or have to read it ever again.

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