International Day of the Badass

* TRIGGER/SEXUAL ASSAULT CONTENT WARNING *

Today marks the five year anniversary of being raped – my rapeversary if you will. Last year was the first time since January 29, 2016 that I felt even a sliver of my “old” self on this day. I declared the 29th day of this month the official International Day of the Badass, making all things related to rape and the aftermath of trauma my bitches. No apologies. Sorry not sorry.

Always and forfuckingever nasty.

I was feeling really fucking fabulous. Seeing the world through my pre-Rapegate rose colored glasses again and ready to celebrate any and everything but most specifically, honor all things ME. This motherfucking badass bitch was back.

And then, that cunt Rona showed her ugly face a little more than a month later and my entire world (along with the rest of the global population) went to shit a matter of days.

Who the fuck invited you here?

My trauma ticks (as I call them) that I worked so fucking hard to kick in four years of therapy cropped up whenever the fuck they felt it inconvenient. Stuttering, leg and foot bouncing, incessant itching at imaginary hot spots on my skin, stress induced cortisol dumping into my system, insomnia, the severity of my anxiety was back at its skyscraper height and my stomach hurt 24/7 with a deep side of sciatica (a new place my stress manifests itself in my bod).

Fun self inflicted times on my wrist, inner arm and ankle.

Feeling these regressions bubbling up sent me on a downward spiral so fucking fast, I was constantly treading water that was circling the drain. For me, it’s been the hardest part of Rona because I was JUST feeling foxy again, ready to strut my stilettos and resurfaced sassiness all over the pace. I hate the feeling of going backward (but who loves it unless we’re talking about aging?) and the grief attached to my trauma ticks, along with being isolated when I was ready to mingle with the world again about did me in.

Thank fuck for emotional support animals.

I had a four year out-of-body experience where I had to mourn the loss of my pre-rape life, the death of myself as I knew me –  as well as construct my resurrection. I’d trudged my way through an avalanche of the five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But Rona took me straight back from a happier place of acceptance to the prior four stages any time she felt like fucking with me.

I think I chose my closet as my panic attack recovery space in 2016 because it’s small and sparkly for comfort.

Then, I was reminded that grief (and all of the shit that comes along with it) isn’t linear. 

Queen of the pivot turn.

I gave myself grace (or at least tried – still trying) and remembered Superhero Sheila’s sound advice. If you wouldn’t say it to one of the twins (that woman goes right for the dagger when she needs it), don’t say it to yourself.

It’s like Superhero Sheila is good at her job or something.

So I got my self talk back on some semblance of a cordial track and proceeded to make my way through the additional perils that 20fucking20 threw at every single citizen of the world in its own unique, shitty way.

I choose to wear sunglasses and fancy headpieces to cope.

But even as I try to forge ahead on this International Day of the Badass, my body and mind are constant companions leading up to this dreaded fucking day, kicking my PTSD into the highest of all gears. I wish there was a WD-40 for the bones because the worst is being in your body, not able to control it.

All because one thousand, eight hundred and twenty five days ago, I was raped by my best friend’s boyfriend while I slept on her couch, in her 600 square foot apartment after a wine and cryfest, grieving the sudden death of a young friend. I woke up to her boyfriend of five weeks on top of me, pajama pants at my knees, arms at my sides, his face in my neck. That was the moment the me as I knew her, died.

Later that day, I sat with my ass cheeks on thin paper, protecting me from any other prior ass cheeks that unfortunately found themselves sitting on the same exam table in the rape kit performance room. The overwhelming fumes of bleach almost resurrected me from the protective shock in which my body had retreated.

Emily Doe later revealed herself as Chanel Miller, the woman Brock Turner raped behind a Stanford dumpster.

“Do you want a rape advocate?” Detective Stupka (soon-to-be renamed Cuntka) questioned me after she recorded my statement of the illegal, intrusive sexual assault that took place several hours earlier. I couldn’t recall Shane the Rapist’s last name (that was listed in my phone, which was dead from being at the hospital waiting for eight hours on a rape kit), how was I able to know if I needed an advocate? What was an advocate? Did I need one? Detective Cuntka said she could not advise me and I somehow communicated that I did, in fact, want an advocate.

I still can’t wrap my brain around my bff not believing me nine hours after being raped, do I look like I can make a goddamned decision about anything?!

I believe rape victims should be assisted with an advocate, period. No questions asked. Just have one show up and let them do the talking because it was a good three years before my typically decisive as fuck ass could make any decision about ANYTHING.

I will just have one of everything on the menu because what do I want?

When Barbie the advocate tenderly walked into the room, careful not to touch me (when I just wanted her to sweep me up in her arms and tell me everything was gonna be OK – although that would have been a disservice on her part because nothing about being raped is ever OK, so, therefore, no hug took place). She spoke with the same amount of tenderness she used when she was inching toward me.

Where was one of my goddamn pussies when I needed them?!

Barbie resembled more of a Skipper than the actual Barbie doll with a petite frame, carrying a Louis Vuitton bag (that naturally, I admired and wondered if she had a phone charger tucked inside I could use) and was such a pleasant sight after the day kept spewing like uncontrollable bowels. After a few minutes of fill-in-what-horrible-thing happened to you, she looked at me straight in the eye and said, “Honey, there is going to be a before rape and an after rape moving forward in your life.”

It was one of those moments that you just know what’s being said is true, no matter how much you want it to be a lie.

My immediate thoughts of life after rape.

Barbie left the room to sit with Dada CBXB who was most likely wondering how in the fuck his Friday turned out so inexplicable. I sat waiting for the rape kit exam to commence after yet again being hazy on decision making when asked, “Do you want the Plan B pill? Did he wear a condom? Do you want to take the HIV preventative even though it will rob you of 30 days of your life since its effects are so brutal? Do you want to be tested for every STD in which science is aware? Have you eaten anything today? Here are crackers to take with the handful of pills we are giving you.”

I seriously can’t compute.

Upon completion of my rape kit and consumption of no less than 51 pills, I was handed a folder of information with numbers to national hotlines I could call, pamphlets of what to expect in the coming days, and instructions of when to take the next round of pills to rid my body of any other foreign substance left behind when Shane the Rapist raped me. It was like onboarding at a new job or getting every class syllabus on the first day of college. It was literature on what my life after rape was going entail.

I had no inkling of what the fuck I was up against.

Open ended ticket for one, please. @deepfriedfreckles

Nobody wants to be in this club. Nobody wants to be an expert on matters in which we never want to be associated. But rape happens. And there I was and here I am.

All too familiar when I wish I had no clue.

I miss my pre-rape life in the way your heart breaks when someone your world revolved around dies. The me I’d always known, died on January 29, 2016, and I had no idea how to bring myself back to life. Thing is, I was still breathing. I wasn’t dead. I just had no feeling left inside, which made me feel like a shell. Hollow, empty and alone.

You don’t have to cry for me because my eyes leaked enough fluid for nine lifetimes.

I found out who could withstand the shell of myself and who needed an exit. I immediately realized I was going to become a walking, talking rape victim stereotype (the victims that report, anyway) when interacting with Detective Cuntka when she told me 37 days after being raped over the phone that I was “one of 29 other cases she was working on. This was a he said/she said case so not much will come of it.” Oh sorry, this is my first time being raped and dealing with anything that accompanies. Please excuse my incessant questions about how this shit works. Chasing my case and any details became a second full time job.

Daily routines ceased existing and the depression bombarded its way in. Brushing teeth, washing my hair, applying make up (I was Ronafied ahead of the times), no polish on my claws because they became unbearable chores.

This is my version of silent screams for help.

No more hot yoga. No more running. No activities where I was alone with my own thoughts. I couldn’t get off of the couch and into my bed for six months to sleep, further exacerbating the endless cycle of depression, anxiety, nerves, self-loathing, shame, blame, fatigue and stress leaving me empty. Literally dead inside.

I gave zero shits.

Therapy has given me life-saving coping mechanisms. Medicines have made my daily life manageable. The kindness of human beings has been astounding and reinstated the belief that simple acts and words of love can do some serious healing. The outpouring of support once I was able to openly talk about my rape case after the grand jury found insufficient evidence to take Shane the Rapist to trial was astonishing.

After all of that recovery, after all of the therapy, after the shit show of 2020, now more than ever I understand that we all carry invisible wounds. And Rona brought all of my luggage back but this time around the baggage felt excruciatingly heavier.

Others can’t see the shame I carry. Others can’t see the guilt I hold (did I somehow ask for it?). Others can’t see the blame I assign myself every single second, minute, hour, day, month.

The year 2020 made it achingly obvious that people I love haven’t been listening to me and can’t – or worse yet – DON’T WANT to see mental anguish caused by society and the normalcy of rape culture.

Judgment is a fucking beast and after rape, it becomes an unwanted daily acquaintance at your breakfast, lunch, and supper table. I started eating at this fucking buffet again last year.

One thing I know to be true is that people who love you – really love you for you, don’t waiver. It’s been my family, my rock-solid friends, the folks who have come to my rescue via virtual friendships (silver lining of 2020!), the people who have re-entered my life to lift me up when I was sure I was going to drown…that all exists.

Here I stand five years later, my heart beating the last 1,825 days, feeling like a motherfucking badass once again. I now understand that grief is an emotion that exists even when life still is within. I died but I lived.

When I think about the people I love and the fur babies I’ve lost, I choose to celebrate them. Drink their favorite drinks, watch a favorite movie, look at photos, read old cards, love on my current Pussy Posse, share fucking funny stories with others that loved them, too. After forfuckingever five years, I am back to celebrating ALL THINGS ME again.

Sorry not sorry.

Join me in celebrating the International Day of the Badass.

This pussy grabs back.

“I won’t back down. I will stand my ground.” – Tom Petty

What are you celebrating on this International Day of the Badass? Because if you’re reading this, you’re one too.

Cheers to all of my best Badasses.

BELIEVE SURVIVORS.

CBXB

BUY ME A DRINK

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!

 

Going Mental

Sometimes we become experts in subject matter in which we never wished to be associated.

Sexual Assault Center of Nashville

For me, the aftermath of Rapegate is one that I will grapple with daily for the rest of my life.

Not necessarily in re-living the rape itself but the triggers, the daily reminders due to dealing with PTSD, chronic fatigue, severe stress, anxiety, nerves, handfuls of pills that I now take that have 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) and therapy.

That is a perk of Rapegate that will surely have me in weekly sessions forever.

My Therapy Thursday saving grace.

There’s stigma in being a victim of rape – especially within victims themselves. The embarrassment, shame, feeling dirty, like somehow it’s your fault.

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

The questions from others. What were you wearing? Had you been drinking? Why didn’t you scream? And so on, don’t help even though they may come from well-meaning places. The questions above were all asked of me by the Nashville Sex Crimes Detective after my body was violated by a man’s dick. You know, what if a Kim Kardashian sized diamond ring (one can wish) had been stolen off of my finger? Would any of those questions suffice in an investigation? Hell no.

Take my coffee mug advice.

But then here we are. 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 and his girlfriend of five weeks – my now ex-best friend, backed his play.

That’s a super neat feeling of betrayal beyond words.

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.

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).

I’m known for being a beautiful bawler.

And killing boxes of tissues in one cryfest.

It’s improbable that someone can experience any kind of trauma or loss (death, divorce, career, disease, disorder, assault, etc) without consequence to them (I had the pleasure of experiencing all of the above examples in the two years since rape – so yeah, I’m a tad done with being overburdened by grief and loss).

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.

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 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? 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 (among 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).

Thankfully the situation of Louis acting as my vomit trashcan has not yet taken place.

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 recent passing of celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, both of whom reportedly took their own lives within two days of one another. 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 often feel 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.

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. I’ve never experienced substance abuse but I can easily see how that would have an even bigger impact on one’s state-of-mind. Mental issues are sometimes a lonely, isolating experience of despair.

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’ve constantly seen the suicide hotline phone number everywhere. 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.

So if you see someone, know someone, sense something’s off and can have a conversation or need advice, you, too can call this hotline for another person. I’ve done it.

You know what you can also do? 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 persistant.

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’m so self deprecating to the point of starring 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.

Please remember that as you move forward with your days. 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.

Unless of course it’s the person who raped you, in which he’ll get a throat punch at the very least. See, I’m still a bad ass motherfucker when I wanna be.

Obviously.

Be fucking kind.

CBXB

CBXB!