O, Hi there, my name is Jen and I am an addict, but that's not all I am.
I started the “She Skis Strong” community about a month and a half ago. It started as a simple desire to have a place where women water skiers could support, encourage, and empower each other. What I didn’t expect was how inspired and empowered I would be through the process. Empowered enough to start telling you who I am and the gifts water skiing has brought to me.
This is the first year I’ve really delved into the art of water skiing. Yes, I’ve been skiing off and on since I was a teenager. I’ve dabbled in trying to learn the course, but without any real course practice, it’s next to impossible to learn. This was the first year I have been a real part of the water skiing world. And what a year it was!
I look back on where my life was going at one point and it has made me grateful to where my life is today. On most days this summer, my biggest worry was if I was going to come off 1 ball in a good position to run the course. My biggest frustration this summer was when I flew past 1 ball, deciding instead of turning, I was going to stare at it and wave to it as it went by.
That’s a far cry from the time in my life where my biggest worry was if I was going to go to jail that day, or if I was going to accidentally overdose and kill myself. O, hi, by the way, my name is Jen and I am an addict. A brief recap into my addiction, by the end of it, I was shooting cocaine and heroin. Yep that’s all you really get about that story right now, but there will be more stories later.
I really don’t put myself out too much to the public about this topic because my concern has always been that I will identify too much with being just an addict. For the last decade, I’ve spent a lot of time working on myself to gain clarity about who I am. And who I am is not defined by my addiction. It’s not defined by a lot of things.
Part of who I am is a private person and I don’t like letting other people get to know me. I have a very small set of people that know all of me. A handful of people that know all my fears, my doubts, my struggles, and my accomplishments. I mostly sit in the shadows and let people guess what is going on with me. And I possibly even “mean mug” the world so no one will find out how scared I really am of, well…everything. (Mean mug means I put my mean face on so people won’t talk to me)
I take for granted where my life has gone sometimes and I don’t realize how amazing my accomplishments are. Since I quit drugs, I left my husband (which is weird because I’m totally gay) Oh, by the way, to parts of my family that don’t know I’m gay yet…I’m gay…and I’m good with it, I hope you are too because it’s not going to change. Since I quit drugs, I have gone back to school, got a bachelor’s degree, got a job where they made me in charge of some people. I also learned I don’t like being in charge of people.
And here I sit owning who I am to the world.
I also started a community called “She Plays Strong” where I am writing articles that shed light on ordinary women and their extraordinary strength. These two communities created to focus on women’s strength and inspiring stories have made me feel like it’s also my own time to come out of the shadows.
This community of women has helped me sit back and reflect on some of the things I’ve learned this year.
I’m also learning how to not let fear get in my way of owning who I am including what I am capable of.
As I am busy shedding light on other women and their extraordinary strength, what’s really happening is I am shedding light on my strength.
So, to quote Toni Morrison, “You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”
Today, I’m giving up some things that weigh me down.