Jess' Stroke Recovery Journey

UPDATE: This started out with me just trying to get back home- and now it has the same goal- however, so much has happened since I started this in mid-October. Please read the updates. Please donate anything you can. Please share share share. Currently I am still in a nursing home in a location where I know no one. I'm working hard to get to a place where I can travel back home. I will need to ship all of my things. Additionally I will be flying or taking the train home. Life sure is strange. I'll find purpose in this pain- I will. 

ORIGINAL POST: I worked really hard at building an incredible life, one with purpose- where I could use my own life story, my own struggles, and trauma, and eventual triumphs to empower other people. I cleaned up my messy past, and got sober, went back to grad school- rebuilt everything. Thing is, when you have been in so much pain and through so much darkness, well sometimes you forget that just because things are better doesn't mean they are good, and that just because you did the hard work of changing and healing, does not mean that everyone will...

So, May 2018, the day after graduating with my MSW from The University of Southern Mississippi and the day before Mother's Day, I was forced to leave behind everything except what would fit into my car and flee my home, my friends, my life that I had worked so hard to build. And so I did. I started over, with the help of friends and family and my son- in Los Angeles. I slept on the floor on a mattress. I did whatever I had to do, until I could do more...and I did more. I started work on my clinical license. I was accepted into USC's doctoral program- I found a job I loved. I filed for divorce. I went to therapy. I went to a support group. Life was going on. I then accepted another position at a treatment center. I won't go into details, but I was not prepared for the unregulated, unethical mess of CA addiction centers. I did all I could do to get my clients to better places. I helped other employees to find new jobs. And I had to do my mandated reporting duties. That left me resigning suddenly, going from place to place, tent to my Jeep- wherever. Meanwhile, life back home goes on- and I am missing things I very much need to be there for. And people who I very much want to be there for.

It has been a tough year and a half. I know that I am strong. is time to come home. I am strong because I have built a life of kind, loving, compassionate beings around me that show up and are authentic and honest. And at the end of the day, they are not in California. So, even my best attempts at being strong, at surviving, well they just are not enough. I belong in the South. I always planned to take what I could learn from "experts" and go home to elevate the South. Continuing working for social justice and criminal justice transformation.

The events of the past 3 months especially let me know that, well, Huck and I really need to go. To do that I am asking for help. Home is 3000 miles from here, that is quite a bit of travel. It will take gas and stopping. I reckon I will need to eat, and Huck will too. I have several expenses related to relocating. Including the normal stuff like housing, but also things like switching my professional licenses, etc. Also, while I do drive a Jeep with some room, I will also have to ship several things back South. You guys know the deal- just moving costs.

I really want to come home. I need to come home. I'm not built for California y'all. I need kudzu and humidity, great BBQ, Friday night lights that go into Saturday SEC games, into Sunday's WhoDat celebrations, cornbread and greens, twang and sweet tea. I need people who will stand with me during rallies and marches and sit with me in the dark times, at a bonfire, and in church. Mostly, I need my tribe. I need people who get me- who get what makes me Just Jess. Please help me come home. It is time-
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Jessica Ryon Whatley
Joshua Tree, CA

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