Thank you, Barry.
I had to go through hell and back before our paths would cross. You met me at a fork in the road.
Skydiving was a choice I tried to make for myself earlier in life, but I was told I had to finish my degree first. If I wanted to finish my degree, I needed more money for tuition.
So I got a job at the restaurant. A few months later, I was a rape survivor, but I didn't feel like I had survived a damn thing. I felt broken. Fucked up. Unworthy of love, joy, happiness, health. The only thing I felt worthy of was exactly what I got - emotional and physical violence.
My mind and body completely disconnected from each other and my soul?
Nowhere to be found.
I failed chemistry. Changed majors. What am I good at? Telling stories and writing. Let's give PR a shot.
Dove in headfirst. Got internships. Got hired at a prestigious agency. Got selected to speak at SXSW. A big wig in the industry was a licensed skydiver and invited me to join before my panel. I loved it the first time, so I was a full body hell yes.
My boss told me not to jump, or at least wait until I was done speaking. It would be bad for the agency if I went splat before my big debut. I was a full body hell yes for the jump, and a full body hell no for my boss's reaction.
It was the first decision I made for myself in a long time. Not to make my parents happy. Not my boss. Just me. I went back to Chicago. Found a DZ. Met you. The rest is our-story.
You showed up for me in ways I couldn't show up for myself. Loved me in ways I couldn't love myself. Saw beauty that I couldn't see. Your patience cultivated a safe space for me to share my whole story for the first time.
Now look at us. Our someday plan is our right now plan, and every day we wake up, we have a chance to make a difference.
Every time I share my story, I show up for myself the way you showed up for me, in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, ONE survivor of any kind of trauma will see what that kind of love can do.
Thank you for seeing me when I can't see myself. Thank you for believing in me when I have a hard time believing in myself.
Thank you for being by my side, every step of the way. I wouldn't be the person I am today without you.