Hi, hi. 👋🏻
So, let’s try this again. My name is Josi Denise, and I am just like every other basic white bitch with a blog, except I lived a double life for a decade. In fact, my years like fireflies have flickered by, so fast and bright, that I have sixty-five thousand unsorted photos.
I write every single day. But in the past 365, I have published very few words. And they were never the best ones, in hindsight. Never the ones I wanted to say, never the ones that you probably needed to hear. I could probably confess that only the most toxic and overflowing dark matter from my messy mind made it onto the internet in twenty seventeen.
Last night, my oldest friend and newest husband, on the way out the door to bust his ass working second shift for our family, gave me his condolences. “I’m sorry the blog didn’t really work out for you..right now. I know you deleted everything.”
We haven’t spoken a lot lately. When you have limited time together, touch takes priority.
I asked him if he heard himself, stuck my spoon back in the jar of peanut butter, and kissed him goodbye. This is what I look like without makeup, by the way.
Internet, meet natural eyelashes.
But of course he’s right. It didn’t work out for me. To be honest, the very last thing I wanted to do was write on this blog. How could I possibly be real?
I cancelled a trip to an influencer conference last year at the last minute, where I was supposed to speak about authenticity, because my life was so chaotic that I could not balance a writing career with the weight of motherhood in the Midwest.
After my divorce, there was no girls-weekend-away on some island, or celebratory brunch at whatever bullshit VIP club in South Beach as should have been expected if you followed my previous life on Instagram. No, I landed flat on my ass in my hometown, washing dishes every day in a trailer park full of Trump signs — just in time for the twenty sixteen election. I almost suffocated, and for some reason instead just getting the hell out of there, tried my best to translate it all into some kind of book that would sell.
And that didn’t work out, at all. In fact, I think it’s safe to say I narrowly escaped the Rust Belt before it destroyed me. Less than two years in that conservative, chemical wasteland, and I had gained 40 pounds, pre-diabetes, postpartum depression, a possible brain aneurysm, and a fourth child. We won’t talk about what I lost. Oh, and my entire family came to hate me. Probably because I wasn’t picture perfect like I had portrayed. I was recovering from a toxic relationship, and then a rough and unexpected pregnancy in a place where the nearest real Planned Parenthood is four hours away.
So last spring, we emptied a bottle of Sailor Jerry, filled it up with cash, and made plans to say fuck it all…sort of. I am finding it damn near impossible to explain the overwhelming shitshow that is working-class parenting when you live in the rural equivalent of 1958, without sounding melodramatic. We found ourselves planning mediocre holidays we hated, in beige sweaters, in the home improvement store, on a Saturday, and realized we had to do something, fast.
Long story short, we kinda sorta just ran away.
Committed to minimalism, packed the rest of our things in our pickup truck and SUV, and planned a road trip across the entire country with only one goal — find a place to settle, and build a better life we loved. We left the kids with Gramma for three weeks, tied the knot in our teenage dream come true on the Vegas strip, watched wildfires and the sunset over the Pacific Coast Highway, and fell in love with what I affectionately call our new “treehouse” in the state of Washington. Then we all but collapsed, exhausted and in desperate need of healthcare after surviving on cigarettes and swimming-pool-sized diet fountain sodas all summer. Not recommended of course, but hey, I lost 40 pounds, and I am no longer on the verge of needing insulin the rest of my life.
The morning I was referred to a neurologist, my literary agent let me down gently with rejections from the first round of submissions on my book proposal. I was in a bad mood and decided that if I was going to die of a damn aneurysm, I didn’t want to know about it, so I never went to the appointment. The terrifying headaches stopped, thankfully, and I have since had a CT scan – I’m fine. But it pushed me to live my life, and write about it later. So I bailed out of the rest of the submission process and suffered through explaining to everyone we knew that no, we weren’t selling my book and instead, we were moving to the West Coast, see ya sorry. It went way, way rougher than expected, and people we loved were beyond unsupportive, and we just didn’t have anymore time or energy to make things right.
Those sweet summer kisses in Malibu though….mmm. And now I watch the sunrise over snow-covered mountains every morning and afternoon when we walk to and from the elementary school, where our children actually have a chance at an equal public education, and a better future.
But I am taking it one day at a time.
It is not normal to live a double life for a decade.
Recovery is a word I have mixed feelings about. I dislike it because it implies an intention to return to what was, and regain what has been lost, which is never quite possible. It’s misleading because you cannot chase the past, and even if you found what you were looking for and fell upon your knees before it, the nature of recovery would not allow you to keep it. To recover, we must first release, and make room for all the beautiful parts of the world we still want to take in.
In the past month, I have learned to be patient with myself. Life, when you live it fully present in the moment, is a lot slower. My mind has taken awhile to adjust to the new speed, tripping over itself more than a couple times in the process. But I press my lips against the impossibly tiny toes of my last son, and I know that he will grow into a man, and I remember that I already know so much about how this works. Four times now I have witnessed tiny little feet learn to walk, and I know it takes practice to find balance.
This is just my first step.