As I sit here on this incredibly rainy day in Louisiana, I’m racking my brain to think of the sequence of events that led to this moment. I’m reminded of a plethora of confusing and exhilarating choices that have altered our path multiple times in order for us to become the people we were “supposed” to be, instead of the people we were.
My name is Jansen. I was born in a small Louisiana town in the Bible Belt. I met Chris almost 17 years ago at a red light when I was in high school. He pulled up next to me and asked where I was going. I told him that I was headed to Johnny’s Pizza, a popular pizza joint in town, to meet my boyfriend. I should have known this guy was different when he asked if he could go. I tried to shoot him down but failed miserably and, after parking my car at the pizza place, Chris walked up to me and asked for my phone number in the parking lot as my boyfriend stood holding the door, waiting on me to come inside. All the while, I was giving Chris a death stare and thinking, “this guy had the nerve to ask this in front of my boyfriend.” But I couldn’t resist. Who was this guy, and where did he come from, I thought to myself? I had never met anyone like him so, naturally, I did what any intrigued person would do — I gave him my number. Chris called a few days later, and my life has not been the same since!
After I graduated high school, we got married. This was the first time I had friends and family think I was crazy! Marrying a guy that walked to the beat of his own drum scared people, and they didn’t find it very suitable for me. After all, I was meant to be a sweet and innocent little housewife for the purpose of cooking and cleaning for a man, like all the southern belles that came before me. I was different. I didn’t want the life I was “meant” to have; I wanted the life I choose!
From the very beginning, we both knew that we wanted something different than what our families had or what the stereotypical marriage was. We just didn’t know what that would be, yet.
We both worked long hours in order to save enough money to invest in our first rental house. While trying to adapt to married life and being business partners, we soon had to adapt to becoming parents. We had our daughter, and things changed more than we could have known. It was no longer about only what we wanted so, once again, we had to adapt and overcome.
One afternoon, we received a call that Chris’ father, who had adopted and raised him, wasn’t answering his phone. We rushed over to check on him, and I waited outside for Chris to see what was going on. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he came out of the house. Chris finding his father the way he did ignited a fire in both of us to realize how short life was and that we are not promised tomorrow. This prompted a chain of events that, unbeknownst to us at the time, would change our trajectory again and demand that we adapt and overcome once more.
Working the traditional 9-to-5 jobs felt like a slow death to both of us. We both realized this was not the life we wanted. It was a future that we had seen play out with everyone around us, being pretty predictable and mundane. This was a now-or-never moment for both of us. We decided to hit the reset button. Chris quit his 11-year orthopedic job, and I quit school to purchase our first business. All of our family and friends thought we were crazy; they were not wrong. Leaving a comfortable world that had our future safe and stable was crazy in the eyes of everyone else, but to us, remaining in that life, was crazy.
Our First Business
Our first business was an hour away from where we lived. It opened at 4 am and closed at 10 pm, and there were times we stayed the night at the business, as driving home would be pointless to just turn right around and come back. We had to homeschool our daughter because the business was so far away and we could not juggle the travel, the school, and learning the ins and outs of the new industry that we knew nothing about. Once again, we banded together and charged with full force, doing our best to adapt and overcome. Our daughter is now with us 24 hours a day, learning as we learn.
As if we didn’t have enough on our plate, God and religion became a prominent part of our conversations. Chris and I both had different views on the topic. We were both Christians, but our views of Christianity varied. This allowed both of us to give one another a new perspective, to see through a different pair of glasses. Having our daughter really pushed us into analyzing what we were teaching her. Being a mother can be challenging on its own but, for me, I found it hard to answer all of her questions from a very young age. One question, in particular, was when she asked if God watched her the same as Santa Claus. Now, for some, this might not be a big deal, but looking at my kindergartner in the backseat from my rearview mirror asking such an important question was very powerful and had to be answered appropriately. I wanted her to believe in as many true things in life as possible. I no longer had that answer, and it’s very hard to continue to sell her something I no longer bought myself.
Indoctrination, comfortability and, above all else, FEAR was what kept me there as long as it did. I had to accept the decision that I no longer believed, and I had to start digging and unpacking the box of how to raise our daughter as productively and mentally healthy as I possibly could. This turned into priority number one and, once again, our families and friends thought we were crazy — some of which still refuse to talk to us to this day. From their perspective, we understand why they think we are crazy, but we had uncovered something so profound that it needed our immediate attention. That “thing” that we found was a sense of wonder that we had lost a very long time ago when we were children. We then both realized that we had been doing this without even knowing it for years — not accepting the life we were meant to live because we were wondering!
Entering the Lifestyle
We left the stable jobs and secure lifestyle because we had pondered questions that others wouldn’t. This new sense of wonder then led us to a lunch date at a local sandwich shop where I dropped a bomb on Chris and told him that I thought I was bisexual. Sitting in the restaurant booth, discussing feelings and emotions on how best to navigate these waters, lead us to discovering the sexual liberation of the lifestyle. Through that journey, we discovered things that we did and did not enjoy about ourselves and others. We unboxed our insecurities and, not having the tools to navigate the land mines from emotions to jealousy, didn’t make for happy endings — pun intended! LOL
Both of us were having an intense curiosity for the new lifestyle, and it made us determined to push through and find what works best for us. Having a religious background, I knew that people would not accept us. I looked back and thought, “when in the hell has it ever stopped us from living our life because people didn’t accept us?” We found our own drum to beat to, and it has made life more fulfilling!
We started with strip clubs and adult sex clubs and then found ourselves in the world of BDSM, baby-stepping our way through something neither of us really understood.
Being in a monogamous relationship up until that point was all that we knew and all that anyone around us knew. It was hard pioneering through something that we had no information on. Once again, it was time to adapt and overcome. Accepting that you are who you are, and you like what you like, could very well be the biggest relief anyone can give themselves. This can be a bitter pill to swallow for others sometimes but is, nevertheless, crucial for growth. Fast forward a few years — a hundred more conversations, several psychology books, and a few girlfriends later — and we started noticing a common theme that revolved around most married people. The theme seems to be that most married people forget that, once upon a time, they were friends. It seemed that everywhere we looked, all we saw was fighting, arguing, resentment, and pain amongst the married.
Once again, people thought we were crazy when we decided to do our own psychological experiment with ourselves and get divorced to try and reinvent what a couple should be in the 21st century. No longer did we have the dogma from religion to stay married. Now, marriage was only a governmental contract that put our particular situation at a disadvantage. We pulled the trigger and got divorced. We kept thinking that viewing your partner as an individual with their own likes, dislikes, strengths, and faults is a great way to keep the respect and individuality of the unit. Many times, we took for granted our significant other because of a strange cultural sense that because we are married, there are rules and laws that are imposed by society that we must follow. Horseshit! “My husband” or “my wife” were just words alone that showed ownership that you may have never once realized.
This newfound energy has been channeled into what we now call Relationship Riot, a podcast for adults to think about things from a different view and outside the box, to ask questions and challenge the status quo, and to freely wonder what your full potential could be.
The ABCs of life stands for always being challenged because, once we get comfortable, our inner growth slows. So, ask yourself this question, “is it time for you to ‘kill’ the person that you were meant to be in order to become the person that you want to be?”
– Jansen & Chris
This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of ASN Lifestyle Magazine.