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here comes April, again



Nowadays we have the internet, and you can find just about everything on anyone. Julie was murdered before the internet, and all you can find is content about her murder, her murderer, and a little bit about how her loved ones have been dealing with this murder over time. I'd like to add some context to who Julie was as I knew her in school.

Since my point of view has always been skewed, being autism spectrum and surviving a fair amount of childhood trauma, I'm going to share my personal experiences from my own point of view. I know very little beyond this because I was severely introverted throughout childhood with unpredictable break outs of narcissistic features. My story continues after Julie was taken away, but she impacted me intensely, far into my adult life.




Who I was for Julie started with water and ended in fire. In between I was a stringently controlled mess growing up, which I'm sure many didn't understand, afterward I became a very out of control mess as a young adult because she was gone. Because I have PTSD and some dissociative issues, I went through a severe emotional shutdown over the news of her death.

I started remembering in October 2015 and finally really broke through in April 2016. Over 5 years and several blogs I broke apart running into two unrelated things coming up over and over. I am finally connecting how those two things combined into a lifelong tailspin through mental illness and severe depression. My story is complicated and was very difficult for me to understand until I was able to grasp the dynamic. I was a mess, she stabilized me, she was murdered, I destabilized. I was extremely blind to this dynamic for many years. Everything in my life has revolved around two muffled background noises in my head, although I never discussed either incident for most of my life because I didn't remember them properly. And this is how it works when you break apart at a very young age and hide things from yourself. You don't talk about what you don't remember.

I met her in the fifth grade. Her dad divorced and moved her states away from her half sisters. She abruptly became an only child in a strange town. That may partly have been a catalyst behind her sudden irk at me one day, without warning grabbing and biting my hand hard enough to draw blood at the end of recess, the type of behavior I never saw again in her. I was so surprised that I just stared, stunned, but impressed. I wasn't usually outspoken at that age, but I could be blunt without thought or empathy and others rarely stood up to me when I was like that, and because of that, I had no real friends. I admit I deserved a reaction to my mouthy mockery of a boy between us in line. I hid my hand and never told on her. I wrote more extensively about this last November on another blog. Be forewarned that, being autist, I am a bit more truthful than some people feel comfortable with, and I was a bit privy to the inner frustrations that prompted some acting out that was never discovered.

After that I began noticing that I was the only kid in class who could remotely keep up with her academically. When she noticed I had kicked in and caught up with her bookworm and top grade spot on everything, she in turn geared up and gave me a real run for the money. Our silent competition grew fierce, and our teacher noticed and started talking about us to the other teachers. I had never met another kid who could best me across the board, and she did it so easily that I couldn't help but be intrigued and stimulated to do better. It's noteworthy that by the fifth grade she was the only classmate who could consistently stay ahead of me in every way. I'm sure she'd have easily become a MENSA member if she'd lived out her adulthood.

Eventually the ice broke. My desk was near enough to hers to see her quietly drawing horses after she completed tests, and I couldn't help asking how she did the shading. We mildly argued about hooves, since I had a real horse at home and collected Breyer models, but her balance overall was almost perfect for a 10-11 year old without a real horse. I was, again, very impressed, something I rarely felt for others. I have no talent for art, but this is the level I was able to attain with her guidance and a Walter Farley sketch book my mom bought for me.



Apologies for not including one of her own prolific sketches, which she did constantly in letters to me. We'll get to that in a little bit.

one of our mutual friends was a cartoonist
circa 8th grade

Thanks to Julie, I found my focus on my own at a pretty young age. We didn't know back then that I'm autist with narcissistic tendencies, and scored 50-60 as an adult on a couple of GAF tests. She was my first real friend as a person normally sees friendship. She was the only friend I had, although she herself had many friends. I didn't understand why back then, but when I was in her vicinity up through middle school, her other friends stepped back a little. I was not aware of this for some time, and I never noticed anything like jealousy or competition among us. I simply was her sidekick and they all seemed to get it. Looking back, I think she had an intuition for me that I never gave a thought to. My world was a black and white bubble in outer space, but because of Julie, I had other friends by extension, and they gracefully allowed me the space. I saw us as best friends (in my mind she was my only friend) up through the ninth grade, when my family moved to another state. I've written on various blogs about this friendship.

One thing I'm not sure whether I've ever mentioned on a blog was the year Julie started the moochers club during lunch in middle school. There was a 7-11 right next to the school and we were allowed to go off campus during lunch. She'd get a load of candy, walk back and position right on the front steps to the main hall, and start throwing candy. The boys loved it, diving and fighting for colorful sugar treats, and everyone around us loved watching it. Over time it grew into a bit of a violent sport until bloody injuries and depantsing showed up, and the principal put a stern stop to the fun.

From Surveypalooza- "By 9th grade I was being chased by gangs because I wrote honest stuff about them in a slam book that was being passed around (I can’t express enough how serious those beatings would have been if I’d have been caught)." The slam book was something Julie and I picked up from Harriet the Spy. She wrote the name of someone we knew in school at the top of each empty page and then handed it around a bit before I wound up with it. We'd often be allowed out of last class early and go watch whatever sports practice was going on, and the day I got the slam book, we were sitting on the bleachers ignoring several other groups. I quite enjoyed flipping through reading the various commentary and adding my own blunt point of view to some of them, and I honestly don't know how the rest rolled out, but I'm pretty sure I was the star of one of Julie's madcap social experiments. As we were walking away, she said rats, she'd left the slam book on the bleachers, and as we turned back we saw a group of girls handing it around. Julie quickly turned me back and hustled me away, and the next day, all day long, I was accosted by very angry students in all my classes who believed I was the one who had started the slam book. And by accosted, I mean being horribly threatened, grabbed, shoved, hit or poked with hard or sharp objects, and I very perfectly just played my usual self not knowing what they were even talking about. Julie loved every second of it. When it happened in classes we didn't have together, she wanted to hear every detail and never stopped smiling. When it finally dawned on me she set all that up on purpose, I got a pretty good kick out of it. I was so used to being picked on anyway because I'm weird that I wasn't too phased.

Another thing I caught on to her doing was slipping love letters through cracks in lockers, mismatching students who never previously even looked at each other and were definitely not in the same spheres, and watching to see which of them would hook up. And it worked brilliantly a couple of times, one successful match up being so off the wall that it was all she could do not to out herself gloating to anyone. I think I was the only one that got to see that, probably because I never once uttered a word of anything between us to anyone else.

After my family moved far away, Julie and I wrote to each other without fail several times a week until her death in college. I had a pretty good sized box crammed full of all her letters to me. I knew about her meeting James Tuttle (that links to a video), in fact one letter went into mild detail about their relationship developing into having sex. I knew one of her sisters winkingly advised what sort of pillow could assist in experimentation. I knew she was very deeply in love with him and that they would likely be getting married in the future.

I didn't share these letters with my family at all, ever. If my mom or sister read any of them, I never knew about it. Because I'm autist, I'm extremely territorial and defensive, especially moreso before I was able to emotionally mature, a very slow process through part of my adulthood for me. The night I got the phone call about her murder, I had already been 'switching' through my childhood dealing with other stressors, and within minutes of hanging up the phone, switched out through a hard shutdown. Autists already have meltdowns (which were not allowed in our house) and shutdowns, but a hard emotional shutdown for someone both on spectrum and having PTSD triggers for childhood traumas was like erasing a chalkboard in one giant wipe. The last thing I remember before I fell asleep (yes, within minutes of hanging up the phone) was a weird dream about putting a little water turtle into a glass toilet tank fixed up like an aquarium.

The next day I was a hostage in the back seat of my own mind, watching myself like a doll as I picked up that big box, carried it outside to an area where we both butchered (I lived on a farm) and burned trash, and I burned that entire box of letters without hesitation. I felt no pain. It was like I turned all the pain off, put all the memories away into a drawer, and just walked away. I remember watching the smoke go up into the sky. I didn't say anything of any substance to anyone and I don't remember anyone saying anything to me about it. It was like it had never happened, except that it was also like being in a parallel universe.

After that day I made very disastrous and sometimes dangerous decisions. I made mistake after mistake for years until my life was such a mess that there was nothing I could do on my own to make it better until Scott came along.

I was married 22 years before I started remembering. I mean, I knew she had been murdered, but I never looked into it, rarely ever thought about it. The first thing that hit me was that I noticed I slide into a severe depression every April, and then the months after are a mishmash of mixed up weeks and days, to the point where, and this is documented across blogs, I would literally get so lost in time that I would suddenly panic that the fourth of July had already come and gone and it was still June. This grew exponentially worse after my mom died, since her birthday was in June. This cycle has continued for many years, and I never once realized all that time why.

So I did the obvious. I attributed the depression to the way another friendship much later on started sliding apart. There was something about that friendship that pushed some of the right buttons, and I can see now I put all my unconscious baggage into expectations no one could live up to, and being the neuroatypical person that I am, I couldn't see how destructive I am emotionally. I was still locked up and just starting to crack open when that slid out of my grasp and I went through a despair that left me weeping for months. Clearly something was very wrong.

I don't know how many people continue to see a psychologist as long as I have, but I am really glad I hung in there through that roller coaster. The last five years especially have been mind blowing for me.

First, the memory of my dad kicked in. No worries, nothing purposefully abusive, but still extremely traumatizing for both me and my mom, particularly excruciatingly painful for me before my dad suffocated me to stop screaming and then blew air into me to wake me back up. I 'went away' just before I blacked out, reaching out to touch a wall with my fingertips. I have no memory of waking back up from that. After I remembered that, I began seeing the holes in my timeline. I also have no memory of several parts of my life, or the memories are very focused moments, or sketchy and vague, which was odd because I otherwise had a very excellent memory until I got very sick much later as an adult.

I don't remember the rest of the day after I burned that box. In fact and in short, I have very mixed up memories for the next 11 years after that. I wound up in places and with people I never would have if that murder had never triggered me into such a hard shutdown. I've spent years blogging through the jagged pieces of whatever recall I could dig up trying to put it all back together. This is the first time I have put all these things together.

So who I was as Julie's friend started with water as a very small child, and ended after I burned the box. That childhood period was at least sternly controlled by my parents on the surface, even if none of us understood the challenges I was living with. Aside from the initial bite, Julie was very kind to me in a world not yet kind to neuroatypical children. After she was gone and I burned the box, chaos ensued and my mind was not my own for a long time. (It's so weird writing that as if I'm the only one who owns my mind, because I know I'm not alone. It's obvious to me now looking back through blogs that I found a way to talk to myself. Myselves, more properly observed.)

From a post on another blog-

I was in the 9th grade when we moved to another state. My best friend and I snail mailed each other faithfully 3 times a week for a little over 4 years. I'm not exaggerating that at all. I had a huge box full of letters that documented her half of our unending conversation, and when that conversation ended, I was so lost that I completely shut down emotionally. It took me years to understand why that particular friendship was so deep.

I have never felt again that level of unconditional acceptance.

Julie was a wonderful friend, a true gift in my life. She was an inspiration that motivated and guided me far beyond our short years together. She is still the catalyst the continues to drive me forward, and I feel very blessed to have known her in our childhood. I went back after I graduated high school and got to see her again one day, and still being super autie that I was, I could barely handle how shy I felt at how beautiful she'd grown, how sure of all her moments she seemed to be, a free soul unbound by emotional fetters and stigmas like I had been all my life. She wasn't one bit awkward with me, as easy as if she'd seen me all along, happy to see me (a rarity in my life), and treated me like family.

And now I'm going to say something awful. I have absolutely no feelings at all about the man who killed her. I'm dead inside from a very long time ago before I even met Julie, and there is something in the way of me feeling that. I can understand personal histories and how we become who we are, since I've had a very long process of my own, and I can understand the importance of bringing him up in legal discussion since the way that crime was processed over time needed to be addressed. But I can't feel angry. I can feel sick, yes. I describe that in one blog post, because I've experienced having to help butcher pets I had on a farm, and am very familiar with death. In fact, I believe a lot of that is why I shut down so hard and so immediately when I got the news. I got so much more than a visual, and I do believe it would have made me insane, so another part of me took over. I regret that I wasn't able to send condolences and sympathy to Julie's family in a timely manner, and that by the time I was able to function enough to think of that, years had already gone by and I couldn't track anyone down.

If you'd like to know more, you can find out more about Julie Jackson and Escaping the Arroyo ->> in this search list.

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