Live and Let Die

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Jennifer Gulbrandsen reporting to you live from in the trenches outside the beautiful city of Chicago, where it is raining and my office is around ‘meat locker’ degrees. I know I haven’t posted much anywhere in the last couple of weeks, but I have actually created a lot of content. I have written pages, photographed some neat things, and did some podcasts, but I haven’t posted anything because none of it feels right. I’m not sure what my voice needs to be right now. So for today, I am going to write just as a 40 year old woman who is in an ever changing state because that’s life.

Looking for updates? Well, I can happily say that a life of living your purpose is the best life. My purpose is mother, partner, friend, slayer of middle management, and writer. I have accomplished more than I ever thought possible in the last two months, and for the last three weeks, I have gone to bed exhausted with a smile on my face because hard work, patience, and trusting my gut is allowing everything to fall into place organically. Many of you did not agree with or support my decisions over the last four years, and you may not agree with how I’m approaching things now, and that’s a main reason why I don’t blog much about it. There is no road map, and nothing is cookie cutter in these situations. You have to not make it about you all the time and be flexible. Time will handle a lot of it on its own. I can tell you that everything is status quo with some wonderful additions. I care more about nurturing this more than I care about blogging about it. The only message I can convey is that respect comes quietly and peace is lonely. That’s why you have to be totally okay with yourself for ANYTHING in life to work. The end. Thanks for reading.

However, it is my life we’re talking about so of course there’s random shenanigans…

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that one of the things I firmly believe in is that happiness is a misnomer. It’s a dragon we’re conditioned to chase because we believe once we capture that mythical creature, all of our problems will be solved. I grew up surrounded by adults always chasing something, and sinking further into their misery when that something didn’t cure a damn thing. I spent most of my adult life until about three years ago in the same vortex. IF I CAN JUST METHODICALLY GET THROUGH A TWO YEAR PLAN MY LIFE WILL BE AMAZING.

Then I met someone who taught me that you can make the plan, but the plan is going to present itself and you have to work with it otherwise life is a series of endless disappointments. It’s true. The second I gave up that ghost and went, “welp, this is me,” and leaned into my realities, things drastically changed. I may not be a ‘success’ by other people’s measuring tape, but I literally have everything I need in this moment. If it changes, I pivot and change with it. I guess I can thank skating for that, because I always assume there’s going to be the required amount of shit eating and pain with every endeavor. It’s that “nobody owes you shit, put on an apron and work,” mentality I have. It takes what it takes and you just do it. I have a goal in sight, and I have to eat shit and take lumps. Life. I ain’t even mad, bro. You can’t always get what you want and all that.

Anyway, I’m in a place right now where I’m self assured, confident, and taking life as it comes. Are there low points? Yes. However, low points are ALWAYS going to happen. I just walk through them now and deal with the shit. I’ll be very honest, a couple of weeks ago I had some VERY uncomfortable feelings bubbling up that I talked about very openly on the podcast. At first I shamed myself and I was like, “NOOOOOO THIS IS BAD AND THIS IS WRONG.” But thanks to therapy, and let’s be honest, I will probably be in therapy for the rest of my life, I just kept chanting, “Feelings aren’t facts. Feelings aren’t facts,” and they blew right over. It’s okay to feel weird things. Whatever.

It’s also okay to feel compassion for other people. So the good and bad thing about returning to my hometown is that you have these lifelong relationships with people, but they aren’t necessarily healthy. We have seen each other go through a lot, and we are all very tight. However, as we all get reacquainted, you can’t necessarily get the band back together because you aren’t twelve anymore. Adulthood is complicated like that.

My friend Tuna is one of those guys who knows everything. It’s a raging superiority complex that makes you feel like you’re on a hidden Alex Jones podcast eating crazy pills and Ashton Kutcher is going to jump out from behind a ficus. Tuna is that personality that keeps coming up in my life because the lesson repeats itself until you learn it. As Whatshisbutts™️ pointed out, I do attract a LOT of hot mess Professor Morons.

Last week we had drinks, and I became his target for higher learning. Clearly I am an idiot, and I need to learn about life. So everything got picked apart and criticized. He really honed in on my ‘inability to relax’ which was a backhanded compliment served on a bed of insults. I explained to him that I am the same way I was when I was a kid. I have a motor. I like to keep moving. I am up at 5am no matter what. Somehow, this pivoted into insomnia and I explained that I love my roofie cocktail of Valerian, Kava, Melatonin, and Advil PM. GOOD NIGHT, GRACIE.

OH MY GOD YOU ARE ADDICTED TO BENADRYL AND MELATONIN WILL KILL YOU TAKE XANAX AND AMBIEN. AND YOU DON’T HAVE AMBITION YOU HAVE THE INABILITY TO BE BORED WHICH MEANS YOU ARE TERRIBLE.

Um, well, no. Addiction runs in my family. The last time I took Ambien I sleep-drove 22 miles. I’m good. Pretty sure that benadryl/melatonin combination isn’t going to ruin my life. Weird flex coming from someone supposedly in recovery, by the way.

Hey, I’m just telling you like it is, Jenn.

And there we have it. The red flag. Ok, I’ll play. Look, he was my friend for a very long time, and I had compassion for the obvious need to overcompensate in my presence. Maybe putting me in my place so to speak made him feel better? I don’t know. But ‘telling it like it is’ is a HUGE red flag because it’s basically a veiled way of saying, “I am going to gaslight you now by projecting all of my insecurities on you.”

Again, this is my lifelong friend, and maybe this is a weird old crush working itself out kind of thing. Tuna gets a chance to comeback. Benefit of the doubt and all that.

This debate about my life ruining Advil PM addiction took a HARD left turn into his expertise in how alcoholics are the living worst, and opiate addicts are just tortured souls or some such. I’m like, any addiction can make anyone a monster. It’s a bit more fluid than that. But ok, you’re telling it like it is. I brought up my dad and my mom. Two addicts, two substances, one was a monster when using, one was a monster at all times. Spoiler alert… it wasn’t the alcoholic who abused me.

NO JENN YOU ARE STUPID AND YOUR THERAPIST IS A QUACK

At one point I was just like, “Shut the fuck up,” after every weird lecture because there I was sitting there feeling like I always do in these situations. Like, you know you are of sound mind, but you’re questioning if that’s actually true. Like, I’m sitting here with a guy I’ve known forever, who is in recovery, yet has a mint tin full of ‘prescribed’ pills currently living with his mom telling me I am a benadryl junkie not adulting properly.”

Now, when you have history, your first inclination is to dig in and ride it out. Maybe he’s just having a dick moment? We’re still having hope for Tuna here. He’s gonna save it. C’mon, Tuna!

Oh Jennifer, you sweet summer child…

The next day I got my ‘rules’ and that it was INCREDIBLY HORRIBLE AND NOT OKAY THAT I TOLD HIM MULTIPLE TIMES TO STFU HOW DARE YOU. You need to become a better listener, Jenn. Add that to your list of flaws I gave you last night, yes I am typing this text from my mother’s basement.

I do have my flaws. Boy do I love to run my mouth and I did tell him to STFU a LOT. But a bad listener? No one in the history of me has ever called me a bad listener. That is a new one, and I reject your expert analysis, Tuna.

I literally said to my phone, “You’re a fucking moron.” Funny how this exact personality always elicits that response from me. So I decide that afternoon that I’m gonna do the slow fade because we have people in common, and this personality LOVES starting shit. They are the super loud people all over Facebook with VERY IMPORTANT OPINIONS FROM MY MOTHER’S BASEMENT DON’T TELL ME TO SHUT UP EVER AGAIN.

I didn’t hear anything all day yesterday and I was like, “Thank you baby Jesus for a perfectly executed Irish exit out of this disaster!”

Then my phone chirped at 7pm.

Shit.

Ok, he is my friend, I can just keep this neutral. Here’s how my day went, Tuna. How was your day?

I apparently did everything wrong. Good to know. But he’s used to it because he just spent an hour on the phone explaining something so simple to anyone but a complete idiot, and this is a personality defect inherited from their useless mother.

Ok. Now you’ve lost me. No. First of all, you’re making my ex-husband look charming and reasonable, AGAIN. Second, I remove any man from my life that badmouths the mother of their children. Period. RIP, Spongebob. Go ask him how telling me that his ex was a shit because she didn’t clean enough went. I haven’t spoken to him in 4 years because of it, and Spongebob is a good guy married to one of my OG girlfriends. Boy, BAI. That tells me EVERYTHING I need to know about a person. I don’t even drag my ex like that. You can give fact based answers, but you chose that person and made a human with them. You now have a responsibility to deal with it for the rest of your life in a healthy way, you fucking moron.

I let him bloviate some more about how his pain is so much deeper than everyone else’s and no one understands. Again, I’m rolling my eyes because I only had my children stolen from me for four years 1,000 miles away, but please tell me more about that hour drive, pal. Finally I had enough, called him a ‘pontificating blowhard’ and that I was over it. GOODBYE, KYLE. (I say this all the time, btw. Thank you, Ken Todd)

And for the record I didn’t say ‘fucking moron.’ I used my extensive vocabulary, and I’ve grown as a person. After all, he’s clearly a gentleman and a scholar.

I just hated the way he made me feel. Like, what kind of friendships has he had that acting like that is okay? Like why are you so in love with being miserable? What do you get out of all of this projection, obsession, and navel gazing? So many people are just in LOVE with their misery and chasing the dragon of happiness. If you have time to be this miserable you don’t have enough going on in your life. GET A JOB AND SUCK A DICK. Literally no one wins a medal in the Martyr Olympics. You’re convincing no one you have life figured out. EVERY SINGLE PERSON who acts like they have it together is a complete shitshow. People who ‘tell it like it is’ in a way that demeans someone else is an insecure child. There’s nothing wrong with owning who you are and staying in your own goddamned lane.

I went to bed happy with my dogs in my little shoebox of a living space after being an active and involved parent and making a living doing things I enjoy. The world doesn’t owe me shit, and I don’t owe anyone else shit. My life works for me. That’s all it needs to do. Your stamp of approval changes absolutely nothing.

At precisely 5:55am my phone dinged, and I just assumed it was Louis or Whatshisbutts™️ because time zones are hard sometimes.

You already know it wasn’t them. It was Tuna.

It never fails with this personality type. You say something benign like, “You’ve been a pontificating blowhard for the last four days, I’m over it,” and they unleash a wrath of unholy hell on you and yo mama. You would not believe the SCREED that I was reading. At 5:55am. I sent the STFU text at like 8pm. Totally the behavior of a healthy and well adjusted person. Sure.

It was literally 4,000 words of projection. Again, it made my ex look sane. ONE DAY YOU WILL WAKE UP AND REALIZE BLAH BLAH BLAH AND NOW I AM GOING TO TELL YOU TO STFU

Yeah, but I’m not going to wake up in my mom’s basement at age 40. So there’s that. Sorry, Tuna. I’ll drink to the memories, but you just earned yourself a block. 5am texts are only supposed to be about money or sex. Thems the rules.

Live and let the toxic shit die. Seriously. Peace is lonely. You have to weed that garden a lot. I’m sure every emotion Tuna conveyed in that ‘festo was real, but it had nothing to do with me, so I don’t have to carry it, and I don’t have to stand around and be flogged just because we’ve been friends for 30 years. I’m blogging about it today because I feel like the universe puts the right people in front of us at the perfect time for better and worse. I feel like this happened to remind me why I wanted better for myself in the first place.

I want to close with something for any of you going through a major life change. You will be misunderstood. You will be lonely. Late nights, early mornings, guys like Tuna are going to feel like the norm and you’re going to question your sanity. Scared dogs bark. Not everyone wants you to succeed. You and only you know what’s best. You’re going to do it. As Jesus said, “Let the dead bury the dead.” Life is meant for living, and a lot of people are afraid to just live.

Live and let die…

(Bad ass guitar solo plays…)

Jennifer Gulbrandsen