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!

A Forever Face of Rape

I was raped three years ago today.

36 months.

156 weeks.

1,096 days.

1,576,800 minutes.

94,608,000 seconds.

I used to be an unfuckwithable badass. Then, I was brought to my proverbial knees.

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

Mine.

During the wee hours of January 29, 2016 in an affluent neighborhood of Nashville, I woke up to my best friend’s boyfriend of five weeks raping me while I slept on her couch. Sleeping on this bestie’s sofa is something I’d done 4,209 times without a second thought before. I’d arrived around 9pm in mismatched pajamas, distraught with eyes so puffy from bawling over a friend’s death a few days prior that I looked as if I’d been fighting Rocky Balboa. I went to her for company, solace and what friends do best for each other – support.

Why can’t my lips get puffy when I cry instead of my eye lids?! WHY?

Her young son was asleep, her large, lovable pit bull mix jumped on my lap and her boyfriend of 35 days poured us generous glasses of wine while we watched Pretty in Pink. After more tears, lots of laughs and three glasses of vino later, I watched the two of them go to her bedroom, as I snuggled in after taking a sleeping pill, putting my glasses across the room on the coffee table, along with my phone.

A few hours later, in darkness so deep it rivaled a haunted house, I groggily awoke on my back to something very heavy on my chest, with my arms down by my sides, my pajama pants at my knees. There was hot breath and a human head in the right crease of my neck. There was an unwanted, unwelcomed and disgusting rape taking place. The rape of me.

Upon gaining my bearings and piecing together what the hell was happening to me, I silently freaked out, put my hands up on his chest and hissed, “what the fuck are you doing?” Without uttering one word, he retreated from my body, stood up and walked back into the bedroom where his girlfriend was sleeping. Through the fucking door that had been wide open the entire time – if my friend had woken up, she would have seen the rape occurring, due to the closeness of her quarters.

Scared shitless at what could happen during a confrontation with a man I barely knew, my first thought was of the sleeping four-year old in the next room. I was frozen. I didn’t know if Shane the Rapist was awake, passed out or going to come back out to finish what he started…or worse. My glasses and phone were across the room. I barely was able to muster the courage to pull my pajama pants up for fear of making noise. I remained a statue on that couch for at least two hours – until the sun came up.

Looking back as I hustled out of that apartment, I now know that I was in shock. Deep shock. And, I didn’t know what the fuck to do. Did that really just happen? What do I do? Did that just really happen? Where do I go? Did that just really happen? Who should I call? Did that really just happen? I was desperate to tell my girlfriend but wanted to do it while she was away from her boyfriend out of fear of what he may do to her.

When she was at work a few hours later, I called and told her to sit down as I had something life changing to tell her that would have a great impact on the both of us. Then I went on to say that I awoke in the night with her boyfriend of five weeks, having sex with me. Her initial response was, “did you finish?” Did we finish?

HOLY FUCK.

She immediately went home to him and called me back saying that she believed him when he told her it was consensual.

This was my first encounter with victim blaming. From my best friend.

My second encounter with victim blaming came from Shane the Rapist himself via a text to me after that phone call.

WISH I WOULD HAVE TOLD HIM NO?

I WAS FUCKING DEAD ASLEEP.

After taking a sleeping pill with three glasses of wine and being unbearably sad the entire day with endless tears coming from my eye holes, I was out cold. He had sex with what was basically a corpse instead of turning to his girlfriend he was next to in bed and tapping her on the shoulder for a piece of ass. He got up out of the bed and came to the couch. He knew exactly what he was doing. Oh and a side note, as soon as I was conscious enough I did say no. I said fuck no as I pushed him off.

My third encounter of victim blaming came from, once again, someone I held close to my heart. I couldn’t believe my best friend’s stance.

I ruined her life because her boyfriend raped me.

To read about the rest of the day Rapegate began, please click here.

Shattered.

My life was shattered in a matter of mere minutes.

My joy was robbed without my consent in seconds.

My trust in almost everyone gone in a few fleeting moments.

A rape counselor at the hospital said, “there is going to be a before rape in your life and an after rape in your life.”

And she sure the fuck was right.

A lot of my post Rapegate life.

As the days, weeks, and life in general went on around me, I couldn’t help but feel like I was responsible for “letting” myself be raped (how fucked up is that?). I was ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed and disgusted with myself. Insecurities formed I’d never experienced along with adjustment disorder, PTSD, chronic fatigue and severe stress.

In an instant, Shane the Rapist turned me into a girl who could no longer withstand being in my own mind.

He stole my stone cold solid pride. My life long unwavering sense of confidence. My will. All in one act.

The weight of profound grief is and can be all consuming. I was a stranger to myself and struggled to fight the will to get up out of the bed on a daily basis. I never wanted to die per se but you bet your motherfucking ass I wished my eyes wouldn’t open most mornings because the pain seared into my soul was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I didn’t really care about much of what I once did – a clean Mini Manse, washed hair, painted nails, working out, decorating for holidays, celebrating anything, taking a shower and so fucking on. Thousands of hours of sleepless nights. Panic attacks out of nowhere. And luckily and not so luckily, I was unemployed and looking for a job when Rapegate began.

What my laundry pile has looked like the last three years.

My sink has resembled that of a restaurant for years.

The most mundane tasks feel like climbing Mt. Everest.

Trauma happens in various of forms in this life, as we are all too aware. Loved ones die but it’s inevitable that we all have expiration dates. People desperate to be parents sometimes cannot conceive. Illnesses and disease that have no cures plague us. Auto accidents occur resulting in life altering injuries and changes. Children are molested. The endless cycle of domestic violence. Life is cruel. Trauma is brutal.

I’ve been in therapy for most of the last three years. It is hard as fuck. It is hard as FUCK. It is hard as FUCK. If you find yourself in a state after any kind of trauma where you can feel comfortable reaching out to anyone that you can trust, it will be for your benefit. I promise.

This program saved my life.

I started therapy with my Rapegate hero, Sheila every Thursday afternoon. We began with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and then later, EMDR. I’ve done countless hours of reflecting and homework and revising my thinking that I wanted to give the fuck up and just pretend Rapegate never happened. But for me, that was not an option. Once I started, I had to keep trudging ahead because trauma isn’t truly stored in your brain. It’s stored in your body. It’s why I’m unconsciously bouncing my knee to the ceiling right now. It’s why I stuttered for a solid 15 seconds until my boss finally finished my sentence yesterday. It’s why I have been inexplicably tearing up every few hours the last week.

One thing for people to understand whether or not you or someone you love has been raped, recovery will be a long struggle. Being a survivor isn’t something you do once. Being a survivor is waking up every day and doing your best to carry on. It’s a journey, not a destination. I mean fuck, I’m sitting here awake three years to the day later because my body won’t let me sleep on my Rapeversary at 4:00 am. The body remembers. The body stores trauma.

I was raped before the #MeToo movement began and when I first shared my story, I could not believe the droves of people who reached out to say they, too, had been victims. And not just women. Some I’d never met in person, only virtually but they felt comfortable enough to reveal their truth and I was honored to listen. Speaking your truth is an unbelievable weight lifted. Speaking your truth also makes it very real and that is scary as fuck.

Then you live with triggers that fellow survivors and I deal with on now, a daily basis. I can’t know and don’t know when it will hit. Not sure if being woken up in a startling manner will make me punch someone in the face. Not sure if a news story will make ice run through my veins. Not sure how provoked of a poked bear I will become over injustices occurring on a daily basis in our judicial system. Not sure if my ears will start bleeding when I hear a person defending a sexual assaulter. Because believe you me, they do it once, they do it again. And why wouldn’t they if society doesn’t think the punishment should fit the fucking crime?

Six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster because the judge didn’t want to ruin his life. Fuck the victim.

Four counts of sex assault? No prison time? Eh, fuck the victim.

But then again, America also voted a self-described pussy grabber into the White House and that’s just the fucking norm these days. AND. IT. SHOULDN’T. BE. If you think that’s OK, you are part of the gigantic problem of rape culture that this country has, so fucking stop it. Your children are watching.

And yet, we question over and over and over and over why victims don’t come forward at the time of their sexual assaults.

I. FUCKING. DARE. YOU.

The thing is, it takes a fucking village to overcome any type of trauma – and my village is as strong as an army. In instances such as the one I survived, it’s an experience I can hopefully convey to others and create awareness. Over 70% of all rapes occur between acquaintances (it’s an even higher percentage if you add in rape by family members). I never once thought I was putting myself in danger by going to my ex-best friend’s house to grieve a loss of life, only to start the unraveling of my own grief of life as I once knew it.

Instead of gaining comfort by reporting, I became a statistic that is all too familiar. My treatment as a rape victim by the Metro Nashville Sex Crimes division is and was no less than abhorrent. I was re-victimized by the very people supposed to help, support and guide me. Hundreds of hours were spent by yours truly following up with my detective and some of her peers, chasing information and answers that should have simply been provided. It exhausted me to my core. My rapist walks free because it was a “classic” scenario as my detective brought to my attention –  a he said/she said. And still, we question why victims don’t report.

The cost of being a rape victim has a tremendous impact for those who do (and even those that don’t) report it to authorities. Missed work, therapy visits (if you can afford it), police follow-up, doctor visits (that are required every six months for two years, just to be sure you didn’t contract HIV) prescriptions (for mental problems or STD medications contracted during rape), etc… is at an estimated $122,461 per victim according to a 2017 National Sexual Violence Resource Center . Pocket change.

I’m currently in surthrival mode –  that space in between surviving and thriving and I owe it to my support systems of thousands. You guys rock my world. Truly. You are my lifesavers from one to a million. With your help the last three years, I’ve become one hell of a survivor through your letters, texts, phone calls, cards, gifts, flowers, financial assistance, sharing of your own stories – I know I’m not alone. This is a horribly isolating trauma that reduces you to a solo existence. You feel like an endless burden. But I know I’m not alone. I think of the many who haven’t had the ability, freedom or support to breakthrough to the other side of rape.

You are not alone. You are never, ever alone. My once again unfuckwithable badass has your back and mine.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You will never know what it means.

XOXO –

CBXB

CBXB!