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!

Lucky Charm

Cinderella once sang “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”

I’m talking about the hair metal 80s band, not the princess of course.

I think we all can relate to the sentiment in one way or another. However, when it comes to peeps in my life that I love, you’re either in or out. One quality that I gratefully possess is I am never regretful of time spent with folks that I hold in my heart, nor do I take time with them for granted. That’s why for me, when you love the fuck out of someone and they no longer roam the earth, it can be a heart yanking time when their milestones still appear annually.

Aunt Crazy Pants celebrated her first birthday above on February 23, and in honor of this occasion, Mama CBXB came to Nashville and we par-tayed the only we way our family ever does. Trashtacularly.

On ACP’s actual day of birth, we took her to get her cocktail of choice, gin rickeys, at my fave local watering hole, Dalts.

A hungover day later, we went to get permanent tributes of the lady whose favorite color was green, loved shamrocks and owned one of the most unique signatures ever, which is what we were going to have tattooed on our wrists. I gussied up in my green heels I fashioned at the celebration of ACP’s life, perfected my mani to match and we were ready to go.

Naked and afraid.

While mother/daughter bonding over tattoos may seem odd to you, it’s sort of a family tradition in my clan (which should shock no one hence Jell-O shots with Gma at Christmas and Iowa Hawkeye moonshine touchdown shots are also custom family practices, well shared on this blog).

In summers of yesteryear, our families would spend Fourth of Julys at the Lake of the Ozarks. Which entailed not only in boating and booze but often tattoos and belly button piercings. Yes, yes, you read that right. I even think we made each new girlfriend of our dude cousins get belly button rings on their first Fourth with us. (A dream come true family that acts like a fraternity right here folks).

I was with ACP when she got her first ink from none other than the not even close to being world famous Tattoo Ted in the Ozarks.

We may have had one or eight drinks with sun poisoning but what did it matter?

With our history of classiness, we brought ACP along with us in spirit as Mama CBXB and I rolled into the Rebel Yell Tattoo and Social Club that came highly recommended.

When we traipsed through the doors, I’m fairly certain all four folks in the shop on a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon were well aware that this wasn’t a past time in which we often partook. Especially when I wondered aloud with Justin, our extremely patient artist, how a tattoo on my wrist would look when I do jazz hands. Because I use them a lot. Like, we seriously had a five-minute conversation about it, he put a stencil on my wrist with ACP’s name facing me and let me look in a mirror before I decided how I wanted the fucking three-inch artwork done.

I mean you guys. Obvies we use them.

All.the.time.

Maybe our novice was a dead giveaway when I asked my mom 400 times in the seven minutes it took Justin to tattoo her wrist if she was going to cry when it was over (she did – Tearfest 2018).

My defense mechanism against physical pain is apparently laughing because it’s all I did the entire time my four-minute ink was being perfected. Justin kept stopping to ask if I was OK and all I could do was giggle in the most unquiet way possible.

All in all, mission accomplished.

Shortest time frame yet most annoying tattoo subject ever to grace Rebel Yell.

Getting any type of tattoo makes one a bad ass motherfucker, right?

I mean, look at my recovery plastic.

So what did these bad ass mother fuckers do? Celebrated with cocktails of course!

And it just so happened that two of ACP’s grandgirls came through Nashville that night, so we all cheersed our hearts out to the lady we love and miss.

Bittersweet without sharing the experience with ACP, there’s something ultra comforting to know she’s right here on my wrist. There have been some dark days for me recently, and I’ve found myself flipping my wrist over, admiring her signature, reminiscing on conversations, knowledge, 1,573,982,400 laughs and love we shared over her lifetime.

What I come to think of most is right after Rapegate, ACP was one of the first phone calls I received as the news made its way through my family. Her first words were, “you’re already one helluva strong lady – but you’ll be the strongest woman you know now.” The same words rang true when we found out she had terminal cancer six months later – and I repeated her words of wisdom back to her.

While cancer can go fuck itself, I’m comforted by the fact that I knew what I had with ACP before she was gone. Which is why her absence is ever present, more so now that I’m a bad ass mother fucker with a fancy signature on my wrist.

Know what you’ve got before it’s gone.

Now who wants to go get tattoo sleeves with me?

It could be the experience of your lifetime.

CBXB

Griswold Family Style Fourth of July

Driving a boat at Lake of the Ozarks…

Party Chick

…is a party girl from Tennessee.

Party Girl

As cousins gather every Fourth…

Cousins

…to be with family

The Griswolds

From Jell-O shots…

Jell-O

…with whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

Constant fights over the mic…

Mic Fight

to sing karaoke.

Karoake King

Trivial Pursuit winners, always reign supreme!

Winners!

From new tattoos…

Tattoo

…to pool dunks…

Dunk

…with drunken dancers around a hunk.

Hunk

Our favorite toy is the aqua bar…

Aqua Bar

…that prevents us from floating too far.

Floater

 I’m proud to be from my family!

Family

Where at least I can be me.

Beerpoo

And they never, ever let me forget

Just how handy my booty can be.

Handy

Cousins blowing their muscles up…

Blow Hards

…next to me

Muscles

so I won’t cry and feel left out.

Cry Baby

There ain’t no doubt I love my clan –

Clan

Thank God for my family!

Fam

Here’s hoping your version of the Griswolds has a safe and booze filled 4th.

Cheers!

CBXB

CBXB!

 

Red, Wine and Booze

Driving a boat at Lake of the Ozarks

Party Chick

Is a party girl from Tennessee

Party Girl

As cousins gather every Fourth

Cousins

To be with family

The Griswolds

From Jell-O shots

Jell-O

With whipped cream

Whipped Cream

Constant fights over the mic

Mic Fight

To sing karaoke

Karoake King

Trivial Pursuit winners, always reign supreme

Winners!

From new tattoos

Tattoo

To pool dunks

Dunk

With drunken dancers around a hunk

Hunk

Our favorite toy is the aqua bar

Aqua Bar

That prevents us from floating too far…

Floater

 I’m proud to be from my family

Family

Where at least I can be me

Beerpoo

And they never, ever let me forget

Just how handy my booty can be

Handy

Cousins blowing their muscles up

Blow Hards

Next to me

Muscles

So I won’t cry and feel left out

Cry Baby

There ain’t no doubt I love my clan

Clan

Thank God for my family!

Fam

CBXB

CBXB!

Star Spangled Shenanigans

Driving a boat at Lake of the Ozarks

Party Chick

Is a party girl from Tennessee

Party Girl

As cousins gather every Fourth

Cousins

To be with family

The Griswolds

From Jell-O shots

Jell-O

With whipped cream

Whipped Cream

Constant fights over the mic

Mic Fight

To sing karaoke

Karoake King

Trivial Pursuit winners, always reign supreme

Winners!

From new tattoos

Tattoo

To pool dunks

Dunk

With drunken dancers around a hunk

Hunk

Our favorite toy is the aqua bar

Aqua Bar

That prevents us from floating too far…

Floater

And I’m proud to be from my family

Family

Where at least I can be me

Beerpoo

And they never, ever let me forget

Just how handy my booty can be

Handy

Cousins blowing their muscles up

Blow Hards

Next to me

Muscles

So I won’t cry and feel left out

Cry Baby

There ain’t no doubt I love my clan

Clan

Thank God for my family!

Fam

CBXB

CBXB!