Weekend Winks – Cheers to Seven Years!

It’s my seven year blogoversary!

Celebration Queens.

When I started Cowboys and Crossbones at the urging of my sister one wine filled night seven years ago, I didn’t quite know what kind of content I was going to create. Maybe ways to look fashionable on a budget? Or a nail painting blog? A lazy in the kitchen, you can do it too recipe blog? As I played with different ideas and posts, the more I shared about my life in general as a single Nashville, crazy cat lady, Iowa Hawkeyes, Skinny Pirate and wine loving gal, a lifestyle blog surfaced.

The photo above was taken on the same day I started CBXB and just appeared on my Facebook memories. Back when I thought the worst thing that could happen to me was my then boyfriend running over my cell phone on our way to eat Italian one Friday night. Oh, how life would school me.

Wait a second…you’re telling me life isn’t all sunshine and fuckin’ rainbows?

Naturally, with life milestones coming and going, I’ve been thinking about what has taken place since I started this blog. I loved so hard on Ted, moved three times, found a career I adored in the music production business, adopted New Cat, broke up with relationships not healthy for me, gained a niece and nephew (!), loved on Precious, lost my Gma, got promoted to an executive in a career I adored, lost New Cat unexpectedly, was sexually harassed at the career I adored, forced out of the career I adored, guzzled countless family tradition Hawkeye touchdown shots, hosted celebratory for anything parties, endured Rapegate (and the shit show that still ensues), adopted three pussies in one day (and love the shit out of them), lost Ted, gained a happy work environment, lost Aunt Crazy Pants, fell into depression, grew boobs as an adult woman due to weight gain associated with Rapegate, lost Precious, twirled my way down to a concussion, have discovered who my ride or die life peeps are and remain in therapy with my super hero Sheila to this day.

I’m still standing.

The amount of band aids I’ve required over the last seven years rivals the amount of silicone in a Kardashian body.

Finding joy again has been a long overdue relief. And while I’m focusing on me, being happy and moving forward, those steps that take you back can feel like falls that rival the depth of the Grand Canyon. My stress level has been off the charts and to cope, I’ve been looking into getting a dog. A constant companion that can travel with me (I’m still a pussy galore gal but none of my current posse loves an errand filled day in a car). While I’d just been thinking about it, First Mate knew a friend of a friend of a friend who was a foster and here’s what happened this weekend.

It was just one of those things that was meant to be and it was further solidified when her foster mom sent this photo to me…

Waiting on her forever home.

My response…

I’m ready for her.

The Pussy Posse and I are pleased to introduce you to the newly named Prissy. She’s a four-year-old Pomeranian that was being fostered by Russell Rescue TN.

We really hate each other.

Obviously.

While celebrating her arrival it was discovered she has a taste for boxed wine, just like her mother.

Booze Hound.

The Pussy Posse gained a new member but are still a tad on the leery side regarding Prissy.

The Big Three questioning their mama’s sanity while watching Prissy frolick about the Mini Manse as if she owns it.

I let the animal queendom work itself out as I headed to soak in some summer rays.

And ended the weekend as I always do…

Stressless soak.

Please send your good juju and patience to me as I attempt to run a zoo.

Cheers to another seven years!

CBXB

CBXB!

From Totally Geek to Totally Chic…

Ever had a friend who has zero problem making a gigantic asshole out of herself with you?

Ahem. Let me rephrase that. Ever had a friend who has zero problem with you making a gigantic asshole out of yourself while patiently standing by?

One asshole. One fabulous birthday gal.

On college Friday nights while everyone else was out and about drinking copious amounts of beer but you wanted to stay in and make greeting cards with rubber stamps (I was such a slut in college, obvies) and your bestie did, too (I think the love of craft making on weekends kind of sealed our friendship forever fate). Or instead of putting your best black pants on for a Saturday night out (with no coat on in an Iowa December while walking to the bars), you two decided to give being in a band a whirl instead and play air drums and a mean air guitar to Journey songs?

Friday night fun night in Slater Hall

Weekend fun night in Slater Hall. We oozed nothing but fucking cool.

Now we still stay in, the cool just looks different.

Ever had a friend that hid what you thought was a double chin (what the fuck was I worried about back then?) in photos for you?

It ain't easy being cheesy.

Always there with the assist.

Definitely a two hand job she’s failing me at today.

Ever had a friend geek out with you while studying in the sun, trying to scope out boys on Sunday afternoons? Where, I apparently thought that washing one’s hair and putting makeup on was not necessary (and this was pre-Rapegate!) while trying to land a boyfriend – and I didn’t even have a booze hangover (I didn’t really partay in college – don’t die of shock right now). I had a crafting hangover. Jesus.

Fashion forward study buddies

Fashion forward study buddies.

Now we’re sweating into our oldies.

Ever had a gal pal who didn’t mind that you framed a picture where her eyes were slammed shut (I’m such a sweet friend) because you thought the rest of the fabulous crew looked on point (and extremely shit faced) on her 21st birthday?

Eyes wide shut

Eyes wide shut.

I’m still an asshole.

Ever had a friend where you thought it necessary to share the same hairstyle?

Grown up?

I know! Let’s cut our hair so it looks like we’re trying to grow it out.

Ever had a friend that loved the holidays as much as you – making them all the more memorable?

Christmas

Santa, where the fuck are you? I mean, it is Christmas in July!

I’m drinking to that today!

Ever had a friend you don’t get to see very often but when you do, you pick up right where you left off no matter how much time has passed between visits?

Ladies who lunch

Ladies who lunch like they just did it yesterday.

Ever had a friend who knows your best stories and lived a lot of them with you? Lucky us.

I guess it’s best to say we’re two pretty chic geeks in a pod and proud of it.

Happy Birthday Tdawg!

Love you!

CBXB

CBXB!

Weekend Winks – Christmas in Retrograde

Anybody else’s life been feeling slightly off lately?*

*slightly off for me is the understatement of the fucking century but you get what I’m saying.

Ever heard of Mercury in Retrograde? I have but I thought it only had meaning for those who comprehended astronomy or astrology (neither of which I have any sliver of understanding). I mean it involves a planet and a fancy word that means backward so what the fuck would I know about it?

The Farmers’ Almanac explains, “Retrograde is when a planet appears to go backward in its orbit, as viewed from Earth. Astronomers refer to this as “apparent retrograde motion,” because it is an optical illusion.” According to Horoscope.com, it may be an optical illusion BUT “when Mercury is in retrograde, technology, communication, travel, logic, and information all get disrupted.” Ah. I see.

It is an explanation as to why life is a shit show for periods of time (if you’re looking for an excuse and I am always looking for an excuse for the complications in life no matter how minor).

Apparently, this shit happens a few times a year (it’s over August 2 but starts again on October 31 – be prepared for a freak show of a Halloween!). During this ass backward Mercury rotation, I have had a car tire almost fall off due to negligence during my last tire rotation (one lug nut was holding the tire on – there are supposed to be five), ruined an entire work outfit due to white paint around the Mini Manse door that didn’t have a fucking ‘wet paint’ sign, discovered mold in my kitchen cupboard above the stove (which we all know doesn’t get used so what the actual fuck?), found mushy, rotten wood is holding my patio doors together – barely (been 30 days and counting for maintenance), and these are just small examples. Could it be worse? Fuck yes.

Me. Until Mercury exits retrograde.

Speaking of could it be any worse, Podunk has really had a fucking bout with this spin of the planet.

Instead of sandwiched between two blondes, it was marble.

She had a bundle of marble fall on her and sustained four broken ribs, a torn spleen accompanied by internal bleeding, a bruised liver, a partially collapsed lung and a contusion on her arm.

Please send my gal all of the good juju you have for fast and proper healing of her injuries. I’m doing that, as well as hoping she has some leftover feel good meds to share.

I was so excited to see the end of the week I couldn’t get my ass in bubbles quickly enough Friday. I stayed in the tub nearly three hours after work.

Yes, I use every single product you see in this photo.

Prince B has had zero problems with this Mercury bullshit. In fact, he celebrated his Ninjaversary on Saturday. Not familiar with that holiday? It’s when you have an anniversary for ninja class. Duh.

The two faces of Prince B.

What’s a celebration without cake? Chocolate cake with lemon frosting to be exact.

Sweet ninja.

And of course, it’s not a celebration without balloons and matching party accessories.

Par-tay done right.

Always a prince and princess to me.

While Prince B was kicking serious ninja butt, I was trying to keep my legs attached to my body at a spin cycle class. I may have come in last place on the scoreboard but goddamnit I showed up.

What my shirt says.

Wondering about my ever growing gaggle of pussies? Welp, I trapped, spayed, neutered and released two adult cats. When I finally caught the third adult cat and took her in for surgery, she’d already had another batch of kittens. Please be aware of the adorableness below.

Beyond.

There are three kittens total that I’m going to catch and have spayed/neutered. Anybody want one?

The photo below gives me multiplying chills just like Danny in Grease.

Family tradition on the horizon baby!

Longtime friends passed through town and we had a pool party Saturday. I really made quite the impression on their youngster (surprise).

“Dad, she drinks more wine than you.”

I also got to see Uncle Toddy and Aunt Crispie as they made their way through Music City two weekends in a row. They really love posing for photos with me.

There’s always that one asshole in the family.

Keeping it cool on National Ice Cream day were the royal members of our family.

Ice cream dreams.

They’re always loved the cold stuff.

About to scream for their ice cream.

I wasn’t as excited over frozen dairy as I was the Hallmark Movie Channel marathon of Christmas movies. Why? Because Christmas in July. Duh.

Merry Christmas.

July decor in tact on the year round Celebration tree.

The pussies thought I’d lost my ever loving fucking mind (this tends to happen quite often).

The fuck is she doing now?

They got used to taking turns cuddling during the massive cheesiness in the Mini Manse living room for 16 hours straight.

Heavy rotation of pussies. Thank gawd there’s five of them.

I’m not mad about it.

This week, my ass is going to be planted on my leopard couch, adorned in my Gpa’s 45-year-old robe, along with my sequin Santa hat and rosé. Always, always rosé (during the week).

Suck it Reverse Mercury!

Aside from that, my excuse for anything that goes sideways before August 2 is Mercury in Retrograde. Please feel free to use it for yourself, too. You’re welcome.

Superhero Sheila can’t wait for my session this week.

Merry Retrograde!

CBXB!

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!

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!