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Trust your instincts.

Jade’s story: “It never leaves my side.”

Growing up the youngest of four in a new term at the time “latch-key” family, we were left alone quite a bit. There was a sink or swim mentality. My parents did the best they could. However, in hindsight, our family could have dramatically benefited from an adult at home. There were incidents of sibling competitions that resulted in unresolved anger, displaced aggression, and subsequent abuse. I grew up in home where there was little trust, but for appearances sake, everything was perfect. Instant gratification was the order of the day.
When I needed my parents most, I was terrified to talk to them about anything, because I didn’t trust they could keep me safe.
In college, I was in a tumultuous relationship that lasted many years. Only after I truly let go of that relationship could I move on completely. I accepted disrespectful treatment because my self-worth was shot. I lived a dangerous life on the edge. I thought I could change people and this was so incredibly wrong.

My first marriage’s failure was the real wake up call. My father was dying. My husband was a drug addict. I had to face my demons. I went into therapy. I went to church. I finally found myself and decided what I would and would not accept. I would not accept physical abuse. I would not be disrespected. I would not live in fear.

When I told my mom about my impending divorce, her main worry was the appearance to her friends. My mother’s enabling behavior cultivated enablers and an abuser in me and my siblings. My mom and I continue to work on our relationship to this day. Every time I ask her what her motivation is, it causes her to reflect on things. Perhaps she’s not happy about her perceived judgment by me, but that’s her problem not mine. I choose to live in truth now, instead of pretending.

When I met the man that is now my husband, I honestly didn’t trust my judgment or instincts. He showed me respect. He treated me how a woman should be treated. Correction, how a person should be treated. I had always gone after bad boys. It always ended badly. I allowed him to love me. I deserved it. Everyone does. It took me a long time to learn that very basic principle. Learn it, believe it and act on it. I still struggle sometimes.

When we talked of starting a family, there were certain conditions I had, one was I would be the primary caregiver. No latch key. I prayed for boys. In part because I lacked the confidence of what I thought parenting girls would require. I was blessed with 3 girls. It is my job every single day for them to feel loved, blessed, important, smart, safe. I try to surround them with images, people, programs that support my beliefs. People are gifts, teach them young how they should be treated and spoken to with respect. If it is practiced, it will be performed the way you practice. Half ass practice. Half ass performance. It is truly the hardest job ever.

A few years back Tanya gave me a purple key to remind me of lessons learned in my self defense class. I use it every day. In a parking lot, at the ATM, and even at the gymnastics gym I teach at. I want to repeat that. I use it every day.

One day at the gym I had a class for little ones. The ones that remind you of puppies and kittens, falling down then standing up, only to fall down all over again. I truly enjoy my job and it also keeps me connected to my own daughters passion for gymnastics. The gym is nestled inside an industrial complex and its exterior makes it hard to know what is actually going on inside. There are no bright signs denoting the business, no big displays letting others know of its existence unless you were really looking for it. There are no people walking on the streets. There aren’t many cars coming and going unless it was starting and quitting time. There are no restaurants or shops to make one feel at ease with the area. It is a collection of warehouse type buildings, all looking somewhat the same. As I pulled onto the street that the gym was on I noticed a car behind me. Through her rear view mirror I could see him and made a mental note. I was teaching the first class of the day and always did so alone. When I came to the front there was a knock at the main door. A man stood there and stated he had dry-wall work to be done inside. He very well could have had plans there but I didn’t know it and in my mind, in my gut, I said no way. I specifically thought of my purple key, and then denied him entrance to the building. Even with human nature trying to make it feel right, I said to myself no way.

These purple key moments (PKM) in my mind stands for Plans Keep Me Safe. Bad guys have plans, I need one too. I never forgot Tanya said that. I care not about appearances. If it means my safety or question of safety, I think of that purple key and I choose safety every time.
One could say I am limited more now by my fear but I don’t agree. It is the other way around. I feel prepared. I feel cautious and aware. And I use my purple key every day to help me know what to do.