Karma is… Getting My First Cease & Desist Letter

Writing out this conversation feels just as bizarre as having it. I don’t remember what she specifically asked because all her texts are deleted from my phone. I remember the door opened for me to mention tentative plans. Even now it’s unclear to me what is so hurtful about my words. All I can think is there must be so much more going on behind the scenes. Right?

Continue reading below.

Karma is my first cease and desist letter.

“Is this the certified letter?” I asked, looking in the center console of our still new to us car.

“Yes,” Mr. Sexy said. “But can we talk about it later?”

We sat in the parking lot of the California Science Museum, all of as excited for our first CAVA K12 all school outing day.

“Ummmm no! I need to know right now!” I said. The idea of walking around a museum all day with a mystery certified letter addressed to me is not my idea of a good time. I didn’t like the not knowing. The not knowing put a pit in my stomach that would only evaporate once I faced the monster. I prefer to face Resistance head on and know exactly what I am dealing with. Mr. Sexy understood this. So, as we stood under the pavilion waiting for our group tour to begin, I learned the details of my first official cease and desist letter. 

The cease and desist letter came from a person I least suspected.

My brother Randy held the crown of being my favorite brother for a long time. I’m not sure why. We seemed to always be able to click and we didn’t fight much. Maybe that’s what made us work. And perhaps that’s also why adulthood has not been kind to our relationship. In December of 2016  Randy married and enlisted in the Navy. We both sucked at keeping in touch though we both tried. Sometimes trying isn’t enough, though. I did, however, begin to build a friendship with his wife.

Randy and Jackie on their wedding day.

I met Jackie when our Pullman house was still new to us and she in a new relationship with Randy. We clicked right away. At least, that’s what I thought. She and Randy asked that I MC their wedding, which I did with enthusiasm. I danced my ass off mostly to cover up how uncomfortable I felt. If I remember right, I was not on speaking terms with Gary, Dana or Jerry. Even so, we all managed to pose for a “family” photo. What a facade.

After a few years of bouncing around the US going where the Navy told them to go, Randy made the big choice to leave the military instead of re-enlist. I remember what a big decision this was for them. I’m not sure all the council they sought for making this decision. All I know is I wanted to encourage them to make the decision based on what is right for their family and not so much about how much money could be on the table. So when they made the announcement that they were moving somewhere more local to us, I felt a lot of hope for the future of the family I grew up with. 

Even though for so long Randy and Jackie lived across the country, Jackie and I figured out how to build a friendship. For me it began after a quick check-in call turned into six hours of gabbing and spilling tea. Not exaggerating. Mr. Sexy even brought dinner to my room so she and I could continue. I don’t think I have ever talked to someone for that length of time other than Mr. Sexy. I suppose she and I were finally positioned to let each other in. For a time at least.

We talked often after that. Our main topic of conversation was usually about the family I grew up with, more specifically, Gary and Dana. We talked so much shit about them that I actually started to feel bad. Sometimes after we hung up I would think to myself, ”Jackie, these are my parents. You have not earned the right to defame them and speak about them like I do.” I never actually said this to her. We couldn’t ever reach that next level of friendship. And who knows, maybe I was completely out of line to expect to be the only person spilling all that tea.

She and I grew closer and I invited her to be a part of my life more and more. Randy, on the other hand, not as much. I don’t know what changed between him and I over the years. Probably a lot. Regardless, I could no longer feel that connection with him from when he would hold Evan’s hand during their walks when we would visit. Randy is a gentle, sweet soul trapped in his own trauma cycle. I hope he gets out one day. The journey towards healing will likely be the most painful thing he will ever do. As someone on that journey and entering my healing era, I can say the pain is worth the freedom.

Karma is my first cease and desist letter.

Jackie and I started leaning into each other more as confidants. I helped her navigate some life things and I she did the same for me. I would call her in moments of crisis and she returned the favor. She even came to stay with me for a few days when she needed a safe space to land for a minute and figure things out. Like TS says, “Life is emotionally abusive.” None of us are exempt.

Eventually I invited her into business with me and Mr. Sexy so she could start learning a few new skills making a little extra money. During this time we talked almost every day and we met weekly for me to train her so we could start giving her clients. She was becoming my best friend. I knew I would probably never be hers, she has her own die hard crew of a few gal pals. (Her crew and I started planning her bachelorette party together… until they excluded me and did the party without extending an invitation or explanation of any kind. I should have seen the signs all those years ago.) But none of that bullshit mattered because I needed someone. Anyone.

You play stupid games you win stupid prizes.” – TS

Well, at the start of our business venture together I thought a lot about our future as a trio. What if it ends badly? I thought. (“I can’t even say it with a straight face.” – TS) I value honest communication. So with this in mind I opened up a frank discussion between us on how we would handle any issues that would come up. Jackie’s biggest concern was overwhelm. She made it clear that if any part of the business became too much for her, she would communicate that to me. This sounded like a good plan to me. But now that I’m looking back, I’m not sure overwhelm had anything to do with what happened a few months later.

I opened my phone to see a text from Jackie saying: I’m not doing the business now. I’m not ready to talk. Maybe soon. (This is not verbatim. It is a generalization from my memory.

My jaw virtually hit the floor. At first I felt shocked. I couldn’t be sure what made her seem to quit our business and friendship at the same time without the mature conversation I remember us agreeing to have.

Sadly, we never did get to have that talk. 

I reached out to her a few months later because we planned attending Eras Tour together. At this point, however, I didn’t have a clue on where we stood. I mean, I could make certain assumptions about her behavior, but I don’t like assuming the worst in people. (Hence the parking lot incident.)

In the end, Jackie did not go to Eras Tour at all as far as I know. When I didn’t hear from her, I started thinking of who else could I possibly take? My oldest daughter, Ciena, came to mind. We hadn’t visited since she moved to live with her grandparents in Texas. What a fun way to reconnect!  

Not knowing what to do with my extra ticket felt stressful. I didn’t like being in this limbo of waiting for her to finally reach out and wondering if I should sell my ticket or bring a friend along. The event would be here soon and I already felt behind in planning for it. So, I began one of our very last conversations. 

Please note: The texts scribed below are based on memory alone. They are not verbatim quotes.

Me: Hey! Can you send me the TS tickets again? I think I missed it the first time.

Jackie: Sure, I can do that in a bit. Who are you taking?

Me: I have been thinking about flying Ciena in for the show.

Jackie: Wow that is really hurtful.

Me: *hearts her message

Jackie: I’m glad you are getting so much joy out of this.

Writing out this conversation feels just as bizarre as having it. I don’t remember what she specifically asked because all her texts are deleted from my phone. I remember the door opened for me to mention tentative plans. Even now it’s unclear to me what is so hurtful about my words. All I can think is there must be so much more going on behind the scenes. Right? 

We spoke two more times after that.

Karma is my first cease and desist letter.

Jackie’s first text came during our traumatic move to Long Beach. It said something like, “We wish we could send you money but can’t right now,” and “Regardless of how things are, we still want the best for you.” I sat in our motel room reading that last text and asking myself, “What is she talking about? How are things? She still won’t communicate with me.” I couldn’t find the logic in this supposed rift between her and I. So I switched my thinking from logical lens to an emotional lens. This when things started to click for me. If I am right, I believe cutting these invisible strings was always unavoidable. 

Here’s what I think happened months earlier around the time Jackie sent me her initial break-up text:

Gary sent a group text to me and the siblings I grew up with. The text said, long story short, to call my grandmother to support her as my grandfather was about to pass. I responded with a text to the group saying something like, “Don’t tell me what to do. You are not in my life. You have no business contacting me.” My response upset Randy. I believe we argued about it in a separate chat. What’s cool for me is how untriggered I felt through those interactions. Instead I felt the opposite.

I felt good speaking my truth and standing in my own sunlight.

My response to Gary upset Jackie, too, now that I think about it. I texted her to warn her I sent a text Randy would see that might be triggering for him. If memory serves, she texted me back saying my response is hurtful and that she is overly emotional because of her own grandparents. And that’s all fine. I didn’t expect any of them to understand my response at all.

The under current problem with Gary’s text is that he included me at all. The last time I spoke with him, which is the first adult conversation I have ever been able to have with him, he hung up on me after properly gas lighting me for my concerns about the mental health issues that exist in the family. The last time I allowed us to be in the same room together he spend the entire event in the back, arms folded, ignoring whatever it is he needed to ignore.

Let’s also not forget this dissension between me and Gary started when I was 13. 

Jessica  and Jackie posing in front of a backdrop at a bar called Etsy Bravo.

I believe Jackie could not separate personal life and being in business together. Gary’s text and the aftermath had nothing to do with Jackie, our supposed friendship or our business. These should have been separate issues. I deserved the decency of a conversation or an explanation. But the path of least resistance is so easy to take. 

About one month later I received a text from her that should be the beginning of the last conversation we have together. After going back and forth with Emily for a day or two she reached out to me with Dana-grade passive aggressiveness. Her texts said something like,”I know you know we are here and we want to see the kids.” Big sign. I saw all the signs. And I ignored them.

I felt super enthusiastic and said something like, “Great! We’ll be at the beach!” The plan formed to meet in the beach parking jot around the same time we were picking up our apartment keys.

How stupid of me not to ask who all Jackie meant by “we.”

The situation continued to feel off. At about the time we were supposed to meet up, Jackie asked me to bring the kids to Vons, the grocery stare right behind our apartment. She offered no explanation and I didn’t ask. We planned the beach and at the beach we would remain.

Even though my Life Coach (who is also a therapist) told me there is no logic to be found in this story, I looked for it anyways. And for that reason, friend, I writing this story for you today. I am searching for the logic, even it it doesn’t make sense to me. When I write with the intent to publish, something magical typically happens. I get new clarity or healing or, like in this case, the “aha!” moment. And so, as I sat here free writing, it clicked. I found the logic. Well, their logic anyways.

They wanted an audience.

The beach, at that time, was mostly empty. Considering the deception, this logic makes so much sense to me. And it makes me even more sad for everyone. I believe they expected to meet a fragile, desperate girl. Instead the strong, kind hearted woman I am showed up. The funny thing is, had we met them at Vons, the Mad woman would likely have come out in full form. But here, on my beach, in my new city, I maintained control over myself and the situation. For this I am so damn proud.

Jessica B standing facing the ocean, hands and arms stretched out on both sides.

Under the circumstances, I think we had the best outcome we could have had. Their actions had absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with them. You can read more about that incident here.

To bring this conversation full circle, the cease and desist letter is dated the day I published the blog, Karma Is A Blip Soon Forgotten. Yes, it is completely legal and no, you don’t need a lawyer to make one. The letter doesn’t bother me. In fact, I expect the family I grew up with to discuss taking legal action against me in the future at the very least. And that’s okay. This threat is over a decade old now.

There’s not enough rope to tie me down.

There’s not enough tape to shut this mouth.

Wild hearts can’t be broken.” – Pink

I can’t tell you how good it feels to see the broken behaviors for what they are. I am no longer stuck on that merry go round. I’m fucking burning it to the ground! I never want to get back on that crazy ride.

I love what snoop dog says here about growth:

If you’re not willing to rise to my level, then please, get the fuck out.

*Some names are changed to protect those who “would very much like to be excluded from this narrative.”

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