Badass Family Therapy

I’m in the middle of EMDR therapy and it’s hard.as.fuck.

My family is joining me in this therapy ride, whether they like (or know) it or not.

Cry Baby

Thoughts on therapy.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is an interactive psychotherapy technique used to relieve psychological stress. It’s often used to treat trauma and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which I’ve had for over three years thanks to Rapegate.

This poop emoji raft really “gets” me. I want to float on it every Thursday after therapy.

PTSD doesn’t necessarily last forever – but it can linger. It’s just the fucking hardest thing to describe a disorder that is invisible. It’s like having a ghost live within you and it comes out to haunt your body where its housed anytime it motherfucking pleases. Just like no two rapes are the same, no two pregnancies are the same, no two diagnosis of PTSD are the same.

I need a tank that reads “Surprise! It’s PTSD!”

So, there are obviously different treatment approaches depending on the person, the therapist, the situation. I started with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Rationally, I knew it wasn’t my fault I was raped. But I could not help but feel that I let it happen to me. I was my own worst enemy, standing in the way of my recovery process due to my black and white thinking. I still wrestle with this after three years of therapy but CBT helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. Coping mechanisms are put into place and for me, mine is – ‘would you talk to a friend like this?’ Fuck no I wouldn’t, so quit talking to yourself this way.

We can be our own worst enemy.  CBT helps anyone learn how to better manage stressful life situations.

Jazz hands also help.

Starting EMDR with my therapist, Superhero Sheila, I was told to think of a happy, relaxing, real life place. Somewhere I’ve experienced first hand, where I felt safe. It took me a minute but I thought about water. I thought about laughing. I thought about what I loved in my life. Maybe it’s the time of year, but my safe place is memories of time spent at the Lake of the Ozarks with my family every Fourth of July.

Family

Clan

We kinda had some fun there over the years.

From wapatoolies, to aqua bars, to tattoos, to boys against girls Trivial Pursuit games (pretty sure the chicks won more), I can envision this place and be at ease. Hearing the boat motors, my family’s belly laughing, smelling the lake water, my uncle ‘washing’ his hair in the lake (true Griswolds move right here), the relentless teasing, remembering my sister getting hit in the face with a can of Budweiser thrown from the boat to the water (ah, memories).

Aqua Bar

Aqua bar doubling as a life saving device.

Tattoo

Tattoo Ted performing his kind of adequate skills on Aunt Crazy Pants.

Winners!

Trivial Pursuit Chicks rule. Dudes drool.

The first thing for me to tackle in EMDR was the exit off of the interstate which leads to the house where I was raped. My ex friend’s house. I pass by that exit almost every day. And every.single.time I think, “oh, that leads to Ex Friend’s house where I was raped.” It doesn’t ruin my day. I don’t ruminate over it. But it’s a thought that pops in my head and can causes anxiety that sometimes spills into my daily life.

To tackle this, Superhero Sheila hands me a device with two knobs – one for each hand. They vibrate, alternating, then at the same time, then alternating, using both your right and left sides of the brain to re-train your thoughts.

“Close your eyes.”

“You’re driving on Interstate I40, coming up to the exit. You see it through the windshield.”

*feel pang in my stomach, think of safe place*

Driving a boat at Lake of the Ozarks.

Party Chick

“You are getting closer to the exit, what are you feeling.”

*pang in belly, think of safe place*

Oh hello boozy party cove.

Party Girl

“Are you going to pass the exit or get off?”

*if I get off here now in my thoughts, it will take me to the place where I was raped…think of safe place*

Laughing with family.

Cousins

All day laughing with family.

The Griswolds

Family laughing all day with help from Jell-O shots…

Jell-O

…and whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

“You are going to pass by the exit. What are you thinking?”

*why are there tears starting to roll down my face..stop it…think happy place*

Lake of the Ozark patio karaoke nights.

Mic Fight

With a microphone hog.

Karoake King

 “Are you OK? Do you want to keep going?”

*yes…even though a river of snot is now accompanying the stream of tears down my neck*

“Take a deep breath in. Take a deep breath out. Think of your safe place.”

After boating pool dunks while our moms fixed supper.

Dunk

“You’re now passing the exit. You’re past the exit. Take inventory of your body. Do you feel anxiety anywhere?”

*a small pang remains in my stomach but it doesn’t ache*

“How do you want to feel?”

*more tears, happy place, happy place*

Drunken dancers around a hunk.

Hunk

*I want to stay afloat, I don’t want to cry, where’s the goddamned aqua bar when I need it*

Floater

 “Deep breath in, deep breath out. How do you want to feel – how do you see yourself?”

I see me cooling off with a refreshing beverage.

Beerpoo

“How do you see yourself?”

*I’m strong but I’m crying*

“You are not alone. Emotions don’t equate weakness. Feel them. Sit with them. Think about your happy place.”

Better together.

Muscles

*I feel strong. I feel like a badass. I am a badass*

“Know that this exit, this representation has a beginning, a middle and an end. You’re OK. How do you feel?”

*I feel…better…no dull ache in my body but what do I do when I drive by the exit…fucking christ, how will I feel then…*

“You will go to your secure place. You will use your coping tools. Now open your eyes. How do you feel?”

I feel safe. I feel happy.

Fam

Therapy of any kind is fucking hard. The interstate exit is the smallest of my issues that root in my Rapegate anxiety but, as with anything, sticking to it is a gigantic key to my recovery process. No matter how much I want to quit. No matter how many fucking tears I shed. No matter what. It’s my key to carrying on.

Here’s hoping you have a secure and favorable place to go in your mind, whenever you need.

Be your own badass – with as much help as you need. Thanks to my own version of the Griswolds family, I am…how bad can that be?!

Happy Fourth!

CBXB

CBXB!

How to Be Loud and Proud

Treat others as you want to be treated.

Sounds pretty fucking simple because it is, however we all know that isn’t the way the world works.

I don’t know how, but my folks somehow instilled embracing my uniqueness as I grew up (most likely because I was an asshole perfectionist who wouldn’t have listened to them one way or another but still). If someone made fun of my vibrantly colorful outfit (think turquoise sneakers with pink jeans), called me fat or four eyes because of my Coke bottle thick glasses, I always retorted “God made me this way. If you have a problem, talk to him.”

https://cowboysandcrossbones.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/photo-38.jpg

Honestly though, forget the glasses, can we please talk about my earrings and sweet blouse?

I was loud and proud before I could even understand the meaning.

It’s not that I don’t give any fucks, I just give zero fucks about the opinion of people who are judgemental. The type of folks who have no right to be judgemental about anything, let alone my clothing choices, lifestyle choices, crazy cat lady status, my loudness, my swears like a trucker but knows my surroundings mouth, my social media sharing, my sexuality, and on and on and on. And, like they (whoever “they” are) say, what someone thinks about you is none of your business. Unless, of course, unsavory opinions about me are shared with me and I can tell one how many fucks I give about their opinion.

That being said, you can imagine my delight when a celebration of all things colorful, shiny, anything goes, you do you partay takes over the streets of Nashville in the fashion of LGBT Pride.  For those of you not aware, LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The month of June was chosen for LGBT Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. As a result, many pride events are held during this month to recognize the impact LGBT people have had in the world.

The impact of my LGBTQ+ friends in my life has been enormous. To me, their sexual preference means nothing more than what they eat for supper. I’ve stuck to those peeps in my life who treat others the way they wanted to be treated and I must say, I have one helluva large quantity of folks I love and adore. If you’re reading this, you’re one of them. And Pride is really a large celebration of love and being whoever the fuck you are – loud and proud.

Pride just happens to fall on the birthday weekend of my friend OMG. Last year, we went and turned up the snark because we thought we were oh so fabulous.

Until I took the meaning of “drag stage” a scosh too literally.

All the snark left the stage.

Outfits are one of the best things about Pride. Anything – and I mean anything goes. OMG just happens to be the most creative person I know and he bedazzled the shit out of some kicks.

Too bad he has no talent.

I decided on a t-shirt from fringe + co for my razzle dazzle.

This New Orleans chick has a love for sparkle that rivals mine. Thing is, she can sew like a motherfucker and creates the most bad ass pieces.

Mastermind behind all things sparkly.

My sidekick creative director, OMG put the finishing touches on my Designer Pussy giddy up.

Just a tiny bedazzle.

My gal pal, M.Star really upped her makeup game from neutrals to mauves in honor of Pride and when I commented, we had this spot on exchange.

My normal crazy turned out fiercely, felinely fabulous.

Not hating my vibe. At all.

When it comes to supporting Pride, Nashville steps up (as any city should in 2019). Local business, news stations, conservative restaurants (thumbs up, Cracker Barrel) and even the Metro Nashville police department join in on the color parade.

The only time I want a ride in a cop car.

Love is love. Love breeds love. This is why I adore that Pride is a family friendly event. Although my Iowa munchkins were enjoying a Peppa Pig (love is love and they love this pig) live show, Princess B adorned her sparkly rainbow in solidarity.

I tried showing everyone my rainbow when we posed for a pic but I couldn’t get my leg quite high enough.

Seated high kicks are not as easy as they appear.

After sweating our asses off while sitting and looking fabulous drowning in our own sparkly sweat guzzling cocktails, we decided to hit the dance floor. Said dance floor was the fountains typically reserved for the squeals of delight from small children and drunk people. We might have fallen into the latter category.

The negative side effect of continuously quenching your thirst at an outdoor festival is the restroom availability.

Ew. Just ew.

Upon barely surviving the stench of the enclosed commode, I came out to find OMG slightly sideways.

Tipsy at its gayest.

When we were walking to our Lyft, OMG was stopped to give his thoughts for a podcast on whether one chose to be gay or one was born “that way”.  He slayed.

Slay Queen, slay.

Needless to say, the day was full of fun celebration for all of the right reasons. I woke up feeling like the most beautiful woman on the entire planet the next morning.

So…Pride was fun.

I applied my eyeshadow with such dexterity, it lasted through sweltering heat, fountain water rhythmic dancing, face washing, drunken slumber AND pool shenanigans the following day.

Still proud.

I basically had to take a jackhammer to it on Monday morning before work, as my lids looked like this – even after washing my face.

MAC glitter shadow base with Too Faced eyeshadows.

All in all, I’m still on a high from the laughs, the people watching and most importantly, seeing everyone at Pride celebrating in however fucking fashion they chose.

We came. We saw. We slayed.

All kinds of proud and always loud.

Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

However you live and love in life, here’s to doing it loudly and proudly.

Cheers!

CBXB!

Weekend Winks – A Wonder Dog and Dads

All is well and good until you kick your weekend off with a purple gin martini.

Then it’s fucking fabulous.

I only like gin when it’s purple.

A gaggle of friends were in Music City and we had so much fun, the time spent together warrants its own post. But what started out like this…

Was raging the following 24 hours like this…

No fun zone.

My Iowa twins were having their own fun on my old work stomping grounds at Adventureland, an amusement park near Des Moines.

You’re gonna have a fun filled day! (jingle)

I used to sing and dance on a stage that rose from the ground six times per day in the sweltering Iowa heat. It was so much more fun than waiting tables and it gave me the performance bug that eventually led me to Nashville.

I was not fortunate enough to be a plush dog. Once I was a fucking clown.

Princess B decided to get a few inches chopped off of her luscious locks and I don’t care that she’s my mini me, this chick can do no wrong when it comes to life her hair.

those. curls.

Saturday called for brunch and while I was busy guzzling bottomless mimosas at the bar, I saw a dog (it’s like my eyes are magnetically drawn to anything furry). The bartender took a beer, the dog retreived it from her hand and gingerly carried it to his owner at a nearby table.

I was so bummed I missed the video but naturally had to go and maul the dog, Dog for his fabulous efforts. Luckily for me, the owner was not a one and done kind of drinker, therefore, I had a chance to get this genius canine in his pet trick element.

*mind blown*

What else would one do on a low key Saturday night than watch your favorite Christmas movie for the 6,380,156 time? I couldn’t even wait until “Christmas in July”.

A fun old fashioned family Griswold Christmas.

Sunday greeted me with a fancy omelette courtesy of Van Waffles.

That drizzle is everything.

Father’s Day celebrations then commenced and I sent messages to my peeps. I have dudes in my life who are fathers to fish, four legged friends, and humans. First photo I received of the day was from my cousin and his one and some months year old daughter (why don’t people just say one? Why does it have to be 16, 18, 24 months? Just a side question for the humanless parents).

Juicy Lucy!

My mini party headed to the ever affordable Chili’s for their all day happy hour (2 for 1 house wines and beer, hello!) to celebrate dear old Dada CBXB.

Chips, salsa and snoozes.

My girl, Sleepy, went out the evening before and the salsa dipping proved to be too much, so she shut her eyes for a second.

Party animal.

While she was regaining her dipping strength, I gifted Dada CBXB with a small token of gratitude that he can share with me, naturally.

Bota Box Rosé. Bring that into the pool next weekend. Thanks.

I then turned my dad into Elton John by adorning him with my new sunglasses that are only missing lights.

Here’s hoping your week is just as extra as my dad’s sunglasses.

Cheers!

CBXB

CBXB!

 

Chasing Happiness

Attempting to retrieve happiness and joy in the aftermath of trauma often seems in vain.

But it’s not.

Please consider this a trigger warning, as well as an uncomfortable but important story I will forever continue to share. MINE.

In those desperate times after trauma, we become experts in subject matter in which we never wished to be associated.

If you know me, follow me on social media, or read this blog on a regular basis, it’s no secret to you that I am a survivor of rape. In that one act of power over another person, my life changed in a split second – like so many of our lives do.

In an instant, I was split into two.

Life as I knew it – my regular happy, filled with normal drama, surrounded by friends, and my hilarious sense of self was paused with such immediacy, I believe my body cocooned me the best way it could.

A pause that sometimes still feels permanent.

Disassociation from the body is an adaptive response to trauma. It doesn’t mean I don’t remember the exact feeling of waking up with an uninvited human inside of me. It doesn’t mean I don’t remember laying on that couch, waiting for the light to shine through the living room window to get the fuck out. It doesn’t mean I don’t remember my sister saying “fuck her” when I was on the phone, worried about telling my best friend that her boyfriend raped me. It doesn’t mean I don’t remember saying over and over and over “I can’t believe this happened to me” when my dad was taking me to the first of two ER trips that next day. It doesn’t mean I forgot how sharp the blade was when my best friend’s first response to the news was, “did you finish?”

For me, the aftermath of Rapegate is one that I will grapple with daily for the rest of my life. While you may think that time heals all wounds (bullshit in my book), the aftermath to my mind, body and soul ebbs and flows like heavy fog in a forest. I’ve learned over the last three years that past trauma can mean not feeling fully alive in the present. The body remembers.

Would the gleam and beam ever return?

I couldn’t help in the seconds, minutes, days, months, years since January 29, 2016 if I will I ever feel happiness again. Or will it be something that I forever chase?

The thing is, the finality of rape is like death in a way. My life as I knew it before was gone forever. The person I was before was gone forever. What innocence (don’t laugh) I had left was gone forever. I am still grieving the life and person I was before Rapegate. Nostalgia can seep into a pore of my skin so quickly and quietly, it feels like the Grim Reaper is trying to take over my soul.

Hours after reporting my rape to the police, I sat in an ER with a dead phone, my dad in the waiting room and a nurse practitioner guiding me through a rape exam. Then, question after question after question that seemed so important kept being asked and my brain was on auto pilot. Did he use a condom? Do you want to take the anti HIV pill? If so, it will be a horrible experience for the next 30 days. Do you want the Plan B pill? Here’s a handful of antibiotics to ward off any STDs that could have been transmitted to you. What do you want?

Somebody tell me what to do. Nobody could.

I sat there, gulping down medication after mediation on an empty stomach. I took all the pills. I took the Plan B pill.

Against abortion? Then you can carry my rapist’s baby if I get pregnant, thanks.

As my body started to recover from shock, I was diagnosed with PTSD, which I truly thought only applied to military veterans who’ve seen and endured horror far beyond. But this was my own personal, close up, front seated horror beyond.

For follow-up appointments (you know, to make sure I hadn’t contracted HIV or any other disease that can take time to manifest in the body), I had the choice to visit the hospital where my rape kit was performed for free but thankfully, because I had private health care, I was able to see my gynecologist. The first object I saw when I started to walk toward my doctor’s office for my first post rape appointment was a truck that read “Shane’s Trucking.” Shane was my rapist’s name.

Fuck off universe.

The meds I take have had side effects of brain fog (which coupled with blonde brain is a triple shit show), dizziness (like I needed any more help being a fucking klutz), and weight gain (oh the welcomed happiness of gaining 40 lbs – mostly in my belly because of cortisol levels being out-of-whack).

One of 4,713 battle wounds on my already klutzy before Rapegate body.

Being a victim of rape causes embarrassment, shame, feeling dirty, like somehow it’s your fault. Would I ever have the strut in my step, the confidence of a queen and the ability to simply see the joy in life again? This period of recovery wasn’t dark. It was black.

Did I deserve it? Why did I “allow” it to happen? It’s all my fault, right?

And, I have absolutely, 100% felt the self wrath, the aftermath, the internal tornado, the tsunami of emotions that surge whenever the fuck they feel like it and eruption of tears, hotly flowing down my face, onto my chin, into my shirt (accompanied with a river of snot and lemme tell ya, it’s a doozie of a look).

Innocent questions from others can seem like accusations to victims. What were you wearing? Had you been drinking? Why didn’t you scream? Why were you there? How come you didn’t go home? These questions were all asked of me by the Nashville Sex Crimes Detective after my body was violated by a man’s dick. Keeping up with my detective was one of the hardest parts of my recovery. Once she was done interviewing me the day of my rape, she said she would be in touch. Then a week went by. Then another. I finally reached out and got this response…

The constant state of keeping up with my case provided superb evidence as to reason 4,618,599 why rape victims don’t come forward. Or come forward to then drop charges. It’s exhausting. Exhausting. EXHAUSTING.

Me. Every day the last three years.

The most important thing for anyone to learn when supporting a rape victim is believing them.

pc: @makesdaisychains

Because victims who become survivors of rape, already question themselves endlessly, the damage done by friends, family and strangers’ judgement can be severe. I am a walking, talking, rape stereotype. I wasn’t believed by those closest to the case. My detective said it was a he said/she said since the Shane the Rapist said it was consensual sex. My best friend believed her boyfriend over me.

In between being raped and the year and a half it took to close the case, where Shane the Rapist walks freely out and about, it would be insane not to think someone might go insane. I don’t think he ever even knew he was in the hot seat until my detective reached out to interview him NINE MONTHS after the day I was raped.

It’s improbable that someone can experience any kind of trauma or loss (death, divorce, career, disease, disorder, assault, etc) without consequence to them.

The best face I can muster some days.

For me, this is where my once stable strength of fuck off confidence got lost in the swirl of circling the drain. Would it ever be back?

The emotional, mental, and physical tolls sometime feel beyond debilitating. Combine that with life – which most certainly goes on around you – and it can make the most mundane tasks like making your bed seem like winning an Olympic gold medal if you ever get around to completing the job. I can still sometimes barely muster the courage energy to get out of bed, brush my teeth and wash my hair.

I made my bed. Where’s my accolades?

And the usual worries of life are still abound while grappling with sometimes crippling days. Money worries. Hoping your car doesn’t crap out on your worries. Can my cell phone hang on for another year? Are my friends and family OK? Am I paying enough attention to them? Do they think I’m ignoring them? Did anyone see me crying at work? Am I going to be punished for leaving early for therapy even though my boss already said OK?  See how this shit can snowball?

Avalanche.

Now more than ever, I feel it’s important to speak up if you can about what can sometimes seem like taboo subjects. I was raped. Think that’s fun topic to bring up to new people? “Oh hi, my name is Captain, I’ll have a Skinny Pirate please, I was raped, how are you?” Of course this doesn’t come up immediately but still, I talk about Rapegate, and if we’re gonna be friends, it’s gonna come out.

Did I scare you off?

Taboo also is this fucking stigma that comes along with mental illnesses. I have PTSD (along a myriad of other lovely conditions). When I was looking for a new job after Rapegate, I had to put down on applications whether or not I had PTSD. Now it’s considered a disability. So, OK it’s a disability. I’m dealing with it the best that I can but do I need to reveal that to a potential employer? Yes, I have had panic attacks silently at work in bathroom stalls and in my car but I’m still showing up and doing my job (although my panic attacks always end with me throwing up, so that’s fun to do out of my car window while attempting not to get vomit on my work attire).

And some days are dark. Like calm before storm, clouds rolling in, so quiet it may just drive you mad blackout dark. I think about the passing of celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, both of whom reportedly took their own lives within two days of one another last year. Both had loved ones, both were celebrated among their professional communities, both had achieved success in different fashions and both had children. So much to leave behind.

But can you even imagine the pain they must have been in to think that their only way out was to “unburden” those around them? That’s really scary to me. Because I’ve often felt like a burden to my family and close friends. Over the past five years, I’ve experienced loss and grief and change beyond my imagination and while I am learning to cope in therapy, I still feel like I’m so needy. “Can I borrow $20 until payday (while swallowing pride for 1,976,000 time)? I can’t go out because I am on a spending freeze (you know those handfuls of pills and doctor follow-ups aren’t free. I’m beyond lucky to have health insurance with co-pays). I just had a panic attack, so I’m going to have to miss your birthday celebration. I am going to stay in because I can’t fathom the thought of getting out of bed.” Mostly, I keep these emotions to myself but I still feel like one motherfucker of a burden.

I. just. can’t.

Will I ever feel like I’m not a burden?

It’s easy for people to say that suicide is selfish. I can see why one would say that but if you haven’t ever grappled with your own dark demons that sometimes you push deep down inside of you, or think they’re gone, only to have them pop up and taunt you over and over and over again – it’s not easy. Mental issues are a lonely, isolating experience of despair. I think this is often in part because not a lot of folks talk about their mental health and share stories from their lives.

pc: @makedaisychains

How others see me.                                           How I feel inside.

My darkest times since Rapegate (and everything else that has occurred in between), have never eluded me to think about ending my life. However, have I been in a place where I wished my eyes wouldn’t open in the morning because it seemed easier than fighting the anguish of deep depression? Yep. Has my chest been so heavy that I thought my heart was going to burst out of it Indiana Jones style because it could bear no more loss or grief, physically hurting? Fuck yes. Do I hit my snooze button 3,719,003 times in the morning (even though I have been up for three hours already) because the thought of putting makeup on and gussying up for work and putting on a “happy” face seems like too much to bear. Damn skippy.

Hi there. I’m getting pretty fucking sick of these feelings popping up whenever they fucking feel like it. Byeee.

That all being said, it’s not uncommon for someone to have these types of thoughts once or more in their lifetime. Some people do shoot sunshine out of their assholes (fuck, until three years ago, I was one of them) but more often than not, it’s a combination of rain, sun, sleet and hail as we trudge through life. On top of all this, I always see the suicide hotline phone number accompanying every death by suicide story. You know that is fucking great, but you know what’s hard? Reaching out when you need help. And let me say this – if you offer to help someone in any way and they reach out, for the love of God, do NOT shut them down. It’s already exceedingly hard to admit you need help.

How can you help someone that may not even be suicidal but just really down in the fucking dumps? Tend to them the best way you know how – if they are typically social, try to get them out of the house. If they aren’t up to it, stay in and binge watch some TV. Or go on a walk. Just don’t ignore them. Don’t give up on them. Don’t stop inviting them places because they always say no. Be persistent.

You can also help by researching options with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. I have friends who would greatly benefit from therapy but haven’t been able to find the correct place. I’ve called this number before, searching for answers when someone was in need. In the research I have done around Nashville, there are places that offer sliding scaled payments for those who don’t have insurance, or whose insurance doesn’t cover mental health (so fucked up). However, like in many other situations, the persons who need the help must be willing to go for themselves, not for anyone else. So if they refuse or keep handing you excuses, just do your best to listen.

My mental journey in the aftermath of Rapegate has been eye-opening. I’ve been so self deprecating to the point that I star in my own version of Mean Girls in my head some days.

Regina George, get the fuck outta my head.

However, I luckily have a solid circle of support. A very large sparkly army that isn’t confined to face-to-face relationships. My circle has expanded as I’ve talked about my struggles. The support system I have now extends from Nashville, to Iowa, to California, to England, to Italy, to Australia…and more. The “checking on you” voicemails, direct messages through social media, “thinking of you texts” to words of encouragement in my comment section, random gifts showing up in my mailbox, snail mailed letters, a cashier’s check just because…Every word, every action, matters.

This is what you do for me.

Moments of happiness and real, solid feelings of joy have burst back into my life more slowly over the past few years. Some moments of smiles are more fleeting than others but regardless, I’m proud as fuck of myself for sticking with therapy, shamelessly taking the medications I need to cope and move through life without becoming a victim of my own personal version of the Titanic.

Celebrating is still in my DNA.

Those struggling the most are sometimes people who you’d least expect. One smile can go miles – and it’s a universal language (as fucking cheesy as that sounds). A small compliment can turn a day around. An out of the blue “how are you” text can save a major cry session. Check on each other. Love on each other. Hug on each other. Raise some hell with each other.

Know that if you’re experiencing grief of any kind, it’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to not be OK. Two steps forward, one step back is still progress even though I want to leap 10 feet at a time. It’s a constant job to mentally remind myself to be kind to myself.

While there’s been more dark than light the last three years, the chase for happiness and healing has seemed less and less like a daily marathon. There’s now room for bright light and hope. I’ve been a victim. I am a survivor. I will be a thriver the rest of my life.

I’m right here if you need any help chasing your own happiness.

Thank you for helping me find mine again.

Love ya, mean it.

CBXB

CBXB!

 

Weekend Winks – Smiles for Miles

There’s something about Memorial Day that makes it feel like summer has arrived. This past holiday weekend was no different. Van Waffles and I kicked off the fun with brunch at The Sutler that serves bottomless mimosas for $17. I’m sure I ruined that fabulous deal for everyone after my guzzling appearance.

I was more excited about the mimosas. Clearly.

One large group of tourists ordered four rounds of 16 shots while we were there. Four rounds of 16 shots. I can only imagine that their total bill was roughly about what I pay for rent monthly, as they were all having mimosas and food.

My Iowa twins are officially first graders! They celebrated their year in kindergarten by taking a mini vacay to Chicago.

Just a scosh excited about school being out.

Long legs in the Windy City.

Ice cream dreams.

Sometimes you forget the excitement about experiencing something for the first time. Smiles for miles about their first ride in a taxi.

It’s the little things.

Princess B got to go to the American Girl Doll store (which is apparently a rite of passage for kids when visiting Michigan Avenue). Instead of selecting a doll, she opted for a puppy which made my heart just about burst.

Mini me.

Sister CBXB was keeping me updated on the dog shopping and I about died when I received the following message.

Remind you of anyone?

Wonder where she gets it.

A very fancy piece of art was commissioned during the vacay.

Along with a fabulous view.

The fam made it back to Iowa in time for Princess B to attend her last dance class of the year.

Dancing Queen.

Speaking of last classes, I partied it up in honor of VooDoo’s baby girl who is all grown up and now a graduate.

A fabulous future lies ahead.

This was also a bon voyage party for VooDoo who is moving to Alabama in two weeks. Bittersweet but so thrilled for her new adventure.

VooDoo, Boob, First Mate and the Captain.

Because we never have any fun when we’re together, our selfie game got a little sideways. First Mate’s arms lack the length to get more than one face in the frame.

That’s Boob in the way back.

Problem solving skills get better the more booze you consume so when it was time to open the wine with no opener, another genius party goer had the best solution ever. A screw and screwdriver got us thirsty gals our vino.

Red neck wine opener.

Due to the holiday, it was important that we stocked up on libations Sunday evening on the way home from VooDoo’s partay. Although the Nashville Predators failed to make the Stanley Cup this year, the swag was still out and we took full advantage of it for photo ops.

Helmet heads.

Van Waffles was kind enough to carry our loot.

I found the purrfect liquor in which I should be the spokeswoman.

My new favorite shot.

Speaking of cats, The Pussy Posse was in full relaxation mode this weekend. Fabio helped me eat leftovers taking up space in the fridge.

Do leftovers make my body look big?

Ruby Sue lived up to her nickname Thundercunt. She tried to commit suicide by constantly walking my porch railing, she enjoyed scaring the shit our of me while opening and slamming cupboard doors, and tried to suffocate herself in a plastic bag more than once.

Who could stay made at that face?

Scooch is taking cues from Elsa Pants (who can’t make an appearance on this week’s blog because she won’t sit still long enough for me to get a photo of her) and runs like a mad man is chasing him whenever I try to pet him. Poor thing.

Rocky just wanted to sleep and loves to lay on my arm while doing so. He just couldn’t because I had a dry cough that kept him from getting his normal 22 hours of shut eye.

Annoyed.

While we were all in relaxation mode, the weather was really making the rounds. Iowa City West High School students had to take cover at their graduation due to an EF-1 tornado. Thankfully no fatalities have been reported.

No Digity texted me from Vail where it was fucking snowing. At the end of May.

Colorado vs. Tennessee

Winding down after a full weekend ended the way it always does for me. In bubbles.

The purrfect ending.

Here’s hoping your start to summer made you smile.

Cheers!

CBXB

CBXB!

Hometown Tourist

You’d think with all of the belly aching I do regarding Nashville’s ever growing population that I hate it here in Music City. That’s not true though – I love this city. I just wish other people loved it the way I loved it instead of moving here and trying my once (and still to some) mini city on for size for a few years before moving on to bigger and better.

OMG. Stop moving here. You are driving me to drink.

The job market is oversaturated, gentrification is becoming a serious side of living here (especially if your income is a single lady living on her own – cannot imagine what it’s like for families), high rises have already murdered the once charming Music Row, First Mate can count 18 cranes (she calls them sky birds and for the record, she’s totally fine with the havoc wreaking taking place) from her downtown office, every.single.fucking. bro country “music” artist has a bar in the once quaint downtown (from Florida Georgia Line to Blake Shelton to Jason Aldean). My once gem of a city is turning into a bonafuckingfide bigger Branson, Missouri, right in front of my peepers.

https://cowboysandcrossbones.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/image2.jpg

Country. When country wasn’t cool.

I digress.

When pals come to town, it’s always been fun playing tourist in my own city. Due to the massive growth the last few years, I haven’t taken advantage of seeing Nashville through the eyes of others lately (and because if one more fucking to-be bride drunkenly steps on my foot, I might lose my goddamn mind and kick her Taylor Swift wearing cowboy boots with skirt outfit circa 2015 to the fucking state line).

There’s enough crazy in town already, bachelorettes.

This past weekend, my college bestie, Tdawg was in town to get her giddy up on with some of her gal pals from Denver.

It was the group’s first time in Nashville and I threw caution to the wind, swallowed $40 for two hour parking (you parking lot people are seriously horrible human beings), and trotted my ample ass down to the swanky hotel on Friday and met the crew at the rooftop bar.

Gorgeous lobby.

Intricate ceilings.

Most importantly, the bar.

The views from this spot did not disappoint.

Three ladies and an asshole.

Because I must always be up to no good, I was more than happy to oblige photo requests.

Oh. Just you three in it? Sorry. Not sorry.

They had supper reservations Friday night and I promised (after she forced me to call the studio by literally holding the phone up to my ear to make an appointment while I guzzled rosé at the bar) Tdawg I’d meet her on Saturday morning for an exercise class at Pure Barre. If you wonder who the fuck works out on a two day vacation, look no further than Tdawg. I have enough trouble sweating in my own city, let alone when I’m traveling.

Unless I’m visiting Yoga Barbie in Denver, I DO NOT workout on vacay.

Needless to say, I overslept and missed the fucking class. It ended up being OK thought because Tdawg was overserved the evening prior and spent the next several hours in her dreamy hotel bed. But she was up and at ’em for the evening and after supper, I took the gals to my fave honky tonk on the planet – Robert’s Western World to see my fave country band on the planet – The Don Kelley Band.

Recovered.

I used to frequent Robert’s so much before the besiege of tourists take over every summer, the last time I was there, Don Kelley said to me, “you don’t get out much, do you?” while I was dancing for the 4,812,654 time in front of him.

You AGAIN?!

Usually, on a Saturday night at 8:30 it’s already asses to elbows on Broadway and it was no different when we were frolicking about downtown. However, luck was on our side and when we galloped into Robert’s, there was an open booth at the front of the bar waiting for our rear ends. This kind of magic hasn’t happened since 2014.

Yeehaws all around.

Tawg was beyond impressed with the twang and spent most of her time at Robert’s on one of many devices.

 

The owner of Robert’s, JesseLee Jones, is the leader of the house band, Brazilbilly. They play every Saturday night from 10pm – 2am. In all of my years going to Robert’s, every single Saturday night, his mom comes and watches his show. Every. single. time. She sits in the same spot and drinks either coffee or Red Bull. It’s the fucking cutest thing ever.

Mama Jones.

Tdawg called it an early night but No Digity, MoHo and yours truly stayed to see The Don Kelley Band’s famous rendition of “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”

We didn’t hate it.

Upon returning to the Noelle Hotel, I tried to fill Tdawg in on what she missed.

No pillow talk for me.

The ladies had to get up at the first sign of the sun to catch their 8am flight. Meanwhile, I was able to get some much needed beauty sleep in a quiet, cool, dark hotel room.

Not so sleeping beauty.

When my lids decided to fling open, I realized that this place was a whole lot fancier than the Holiday Inns in which I’ve grown accustomed.

 

This mastery was just a reach beside the bed and I honestly don’t know how much longer I can live without one.

Controls for the entire room.

 

Parched after my previous evening’s boozefest, I sauntered out of the room to get some water and didn’t know how many choices there were when it came to H2O.

 

I couldn’t figure out where the ice machine was until I saw what looked like a fancy refrigerator drawer below the water.

 

I would have taken some ice packages if I had a bigger purse with me. Because, I’m nothing if not white trashiness at its finest.

Speaking of finest, what about my departing outfit from the fancy Noelle Hotel?

 

I looked like I was a hot mess because I was a hot fucking mess. No Digity gifted me a Robert’s Western World t-shirt that I refused to take off. When I went to retrieve my car from the valet, the dude asked me where I was heading home to (since I looked like a confused, hungover bachelorette from Nebraska).

No shame in my game.

“West Nashville.” Ever heard of it?

I had so much fun being a tourist in my town, I can’t wait to do it again. So consider this your warning if you’re coming to Music City and staying at a fancy establishment. I’m crashing your party. Until then, I’ll be riding as high as the rooftop bar I was lucky to experience.

Oldies but goodies.

Party on.

CBXB

CBXB!

 

 

 

 

How to Join the Mile High Club

How do you join the Mile High Club?

You go to Denver, CO. Get your minds out of the fucking gutter.

My birthday has been never-ending this year (sorry not sorry to those who’ve been forced lucky enough to celebrate endlessly with me), and one of my gifts was a trip to Denver from Van Waffles.

Poor, poor me.

Being the spoiled biatch that I am, the vacay commenced with bloody marys at the ass crack of dawn in the airport.

Time doesn’t exist in airports.

There’s something about the heinous Nashville airport carpet that is a “thing” to local peeps. A shop even sells t-shirts about this beautiful floor accessory. Naturally, I had to join in on the social media fun.

Upon landing, we headed to our hotel downtown (Denver, what the fuck is up with your airport being 35 miles outside of the fucking city?). It was a sunny, 70 degree day that was just perfection. As soon as we left to explore the downtown, I somehow made a wrong turn but in such a right way.

My Mothership.

Yes. I came all the way to Colorado to shop in a Target because I’ve never been in my Mothership that was located in a downtown setting with no parking lot. I mean, it’s all about new life experiences, isn’t it?

Target in the heart of downtown.

Once Van Waffles was able to drag me out of the store that I just scoured the day before in Nashville (they have the same items in case you’re wondering which I’m sure you aren’t but now you know) it was time to enjoy pink wine in the sunshine.

A perfect day for rosé.

We then made our way to a shuttle that transported us to the famous Red Rocks amphitheater for a 311 concert.

I sure the fuck didn’t know what I was about to embark.

I was warned not to wear heels to Red Rocks. I listened. I was warned that it was “quite a walk” to the venue. I practiced hills at my local park in Nashville. But I still almost died (or so I thought) on the way up to that motherfucking theater.

The worst part was being sweaty, thirsty and having to stop to take a piss in the middle of my mountain climb in a hot, humid, stank ass port-a-potty. I’d never wished I had a penis more in my whole life as I tried to stand to pee over the gaping hole of other people’s waste (you know the feeling).

Mouth breathing.

Low and behold, much to Van’s bleeding ears, after all of my bitching…

As soon as I got to the fucking top of the mountain, my iWatch buzzed. I was certain that it might explode from my activity during the climb but alas it was just reminding me that I hadn’t come close to closing my step (in red) or exercise (in green) rings. And I’d had this watch on since 4:30am.

I work out a lot. Obvies.

What I do work out on a regular basis? My biceps. And by the time I spied the wine line, all was right in the world.

Workout more my speed.

All in all the weather was perfect, the band was killer and the night was fabulous.

If you ever get the chance to see a show at this venue, GO. But maybe watch my coaching videos above for reference before you attempt to mountain climb unless of course you’re in shape. Then it’ll be easy breezy for you.

When the concert was over, I walked down the mountain like I was a 94-year-old woman recovering from a hip replacement surgery. Mostly this was due to the fact that I fall down like it’s my day job and I’m not sure how much more my joints can take before I need a true knee, hip, ankle, elbow, and wrist replacement surgery.

Me: Sorry we’re having to walk down so slowly. (Literally taking left foot and stopping. Letting right foot catch up)

Van Waffles: It’s OK. Nobody knows us here.

Me: That’s so sweet fucking true.

After consuming every drop of water in the hotel (along with every bag of potato chips and maybe a Snickers bar because I got contact high from the legal marijuana smoked at the show) I woke up Saturday hacking like I’d been a lifelong smoker.

I soon got my act together because I had told my college bestie, Tdawg, that I would take her yoga sculpt class at Core Power Yoga where she instructs. She was picking me up at 10am and being that I take hot yoga, have taken many sculpting classes, I incorrectly assumed I was up for this challenge after a night out and a mountain hike.

Pre-yoga excitement.

Upon arriving, the serene yoga room had a reminder on the door.

Just what I need after a mountain climb.

Then Tdawg came in and blasted old school Nelly…”Andele andale moma E.I. E.I. uh oh!”

Uh fucking oh was right. She didn’t teach a power sculpt yoga class. She instructed a Jane Fonda on crack cardio class with a few yoga moves thrown in here and there while the room was heated. No big deal. This was just the second time I thought a workout was going to be the death of me in Colorado in a matter of 24 hours.

Yoga Barbie and a sweaty pig in a blanket.

Keeping everyone updated via Instagram stories, Sister CBXB kindly asked if we’d be partaking in our favorite college past time.

Not drinking.

Not doing drugs.

Yes. Embossing cards. We would stay in our dorm on the weekends and fucking craft homemade greeting cards. We were beyond cool.

Obvies.

Heading to her house after class to meet her offspring and hubs, she informed me that I am doing a fabulous job educating the youth of America.

Oh be still my beating heart. This is truly one of the highest honors of my life. Teaching kids the F-bomb and S-word is basically my equivalent to winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tdawg’s hubs, Cdawg was celebrating his birthday and when he offered me a mimosa to start his celebratory weekend, who was I to turn him down?

My Uber descended to their house and both the Dawgs could not have been more gracious, offering me a full-to-the-brim roadie I happily accepted. “Hopefully one day you’ll come out of your shell,” Cdawg’s dad said as I doled out departing hugs.

Shyness doesn’t become her.

Next up? I showered, gussied up in my finest sequins to meet a friend who until today was only a virtual friend. She’s a fellow blogger who lives in Boulder and when I reached out to let her know about my last second trip, she was available to meet! IN PERSON! When does this happen?

It’s Viv in the flesh!

We’ve been virtual friends for almost six years and she’s known me before the twins, before Rapegate, before losing my music business career…so it’s like we knew each other because we did. It just took it to an entirely new level being in the flesh. Best long lunch date ever.

I told her I didn’t smoke at the concert the prior evening because I don’t like smoking but maybe I would try an edible while in Denver. She said if I did, to nibble on the ear of a gummy bear because peeps usually over do it (and let’s be honest, I could eat a bag of regular gummy bears, so eating just the ear off of one would seem like an underperformance on my end).

After lunch, she sent me this very ominous meme.

I chose not to edible.

Avoiding edibles proved to be the best possible thing because I wanted to keep my eyes open to meet up with yet another gal pal SS. Our mammas were sorority sisters in college and we were childhood friends. I hadn’t seen her since 4th fucking grade.

Not much has changed since we were 10…

Then we went and met up with the rest of the Nashville crew.

Hanging with the gang.

Although I didn’t get high, just mostly drunk, I still had the munchies on the way back to the hotel and it was very upsetting when passing a gluten-free bakery that was closed. I handled it like a lady.

I was just trying to fuel up for the flight home, which was occurring in a matter of hours after our night out.

Too many people before coffee, a bloody mary and 6am.

Best part about the early flying is I got to sit by the Easter Bunny and I scored her phone number!

Furever friends. For real.

Immediately upon arrival home in Nashville, I got a bloody nose that was the gift that just kept on giving all goddamn day long.

Dry Denver air don’t care.

Once the door to the Mini Manse opened, Van Waffles looked at me and said in all seriousness, “is your birthday over now?”

What the fuck do you think?

Cheers!

CBXB

CBXB!