How to Hit Rock Bottom by Twirling

What happens when something – or someone hits rock bottom?

I dunno. You tell me.

According to the dictionary rock bottom is defined two ways, with a third added by me:

rock-bot·tom

ˌräk ˈbädəm/

adjective

  • at the lowest possible level.
  • “rock-bottom prices”

noun

  • the lowest possible level.
  • “morale is at rock bottom”

 CBXB style

  • hit head as hard as possible on concrete
  • “head hit rock bottom”

I took the phrase rock bottom in a very literal way a few Fridays ago, as I twirled around in a parking lot, lost my footing IN FLATS (Louis Vuitton if we’re keeping track) landing only on my noggin which was cushioned by a yellow concrete tire stop.

An absolute guarantee my twirl was not as cute as this girl’s.

I can also guarantee that the concrete was not as cozy as this cushion.

I lost time but never consciousness. My head didn’t crack open and I didn’t have any kind of bump, so no visit to the emergency room commenced. I’ve fallen down so much in my life, this was just a par for the course in my novel.  I spent the night on a friend’s couch aided with water, ice and a high dose of ibuprofen.

The next morning, I did have quite the headache but only where I’d fallen on my head, so I wasn’t concerned.  I retrieved my car, ate breakfast, drank coffee, water, went to the pool, had wine, snacks, wine, supper and wine.

Totally fine enough to go to the pool.

Then that evening, I took a turn for the confused, belligerent and ended up at my mom’s house escorted by Bird Lady who kept telling me, “you’re not making any sense.” (Author’s side note: not uncommon for yours truly to not make any sense due to my self-described ‘blonde brain’ so this was waaaaaaay beyond my usual rambling).

Wait. What’s happening?

Upon waking Sunday, my entire body throbbed from my hairline, behind my eyeballs, my teeth, my neck, spine, knees and somehow in the middle of the night, my right big toe turned black and blue. I was a fucking mess.

Rock bottom if you will.

Mama CBXB had the pleasure of icing my head, listening to me complain about being nauseous, then getting to clean up after her grown ass daughter as I missed the bowl upon abruptly vomiting, when my symptoms were getting more serious. We called my health insurance nurse’s triage line and the on-call doctor at my general practitioner’s office for advice. It was decided I could miserably wait until Monday to see my doctor.

Ice. Ice. Baby.

I rewarded Dada CBXB for being my dad by giving him a reason to waste PTO days on, again, his grown ass daughter. Really, I’m just looking for more ways to bond with him at hospitals. So far, we’ve endured the removal of my tonsils, a busted face stitched up after an aluminum bat hit in 7th grade, Rapegate, his colonoscopy this year and now, my inability to twirl in a parking lot.

Hospital bonding.

I had a CT scan and X-ray of my foot (Dada CBXB just added my out-of-pocket cost to my ever-growing bill) performed, with the results saying there was no brain bleed, just a severe concussion. And a broken fucking toe (I have no idea how in the fuck I managed to break a toe and concuss myself all in the same twirl down, but somehow, I managed).

My doctor prescribed a week of no concentration and rest. No reading. No screen time on the phone and computer. No driving. No work. Just literally sitting and relaxing. And use a cane to help with the fucking toe. Oh, and I couldn’t be alone, so again, Dada CBXB cashed in four more PTO days and waited on his klutzy as fuck kid.

Oh woe is me.

So I decided the best way to communicate my neediness was to not look at him and ask for something while he sat three feet from me on the couch, but instead, I rang a bell.

I got used to the bell in about .000000003 seconds.

Leading up to my twirl down, I was insanely tired. My chronic fatigue has been in full force almost the entirety of this summer. I’d get restless sleep (because Shane the Rapist appears in my dreams but is just there – like, if I’m at a party, he’s there too. But nothing happens to me in the dream, well really, nightmare). So, I couldn’t remember the last time I woke up feeling refreshed. It’s basically been my job to be as relaxed as possible so that’s even become a chore. How fucked up is that? Three minutes of my life have doled out almost three years of recovery – with many more to come.

But, I’m back doing my beloved hot yoga, which helped me wind down in the past.

I take bubble baths after yoga. I read. I take my meds as needed. I drink sleepy time tea an hour before bed. I have a sound machine. I smell lavender. I put oil on my pulse points. I wear a sleep mask. I have a weighted blanket that is supposed to help with relaxation. I mean Jesus tap dancing Christ, this is my nightly ritual that shouldn’t seem like a fucking chore. But nothing was really working for my exhaustion and I was a train in dire need of some WD-40 on my wheels before they rolled completely away.

GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP.

Something had to give – and so, it did.

It came in the form of a severe concussion and a broken toe, forcing my ass to sit still and let others step in and care for me.

More water, please.

I can’t remember the last time I ate three meals a day consecutively since January 29, 2016. Well, that was remedied quickly.

My dad’s omelettes are my fave.

His BLT lettuce boats aren’t bad, either.

His stuffed peppers don’t suck.

Nor do his chicken lettuce wraps.

Chef Boyarcbxbeeee

I can’t remember the last time I took hour-long naps in the middle of the day.

Let’s get some day zzzz’s.

I can’t remember my dad ever watching the Bachelorette or Bachelor in Paradise, but we did.

New shows on the radar.

I can’t remember the last time I slept ten consecutive hours overnight. But I did.

I know you can’t tell, but I’m well rested.

I can’t remember ever not feeling like I’d swallowed the weight of a bowling ball in my belly since January 29 of 2016. But that feeling is gone.

The feeling of not feeling like I’ve swallowed a 14 lb. bowling ball.

The thing is, I’ve been treading water justenough to keep from drowning to the depths of my own personal Bermuda Triangle. There’s no escaping the aftermath of any trauma but when I started making baby steps in progress, even if I’d regress some later, it seemed so daunting to get up on that goddamn horse and try, try again.

When I saw glimpses of pre-Rapegate me starting to shine through my cracks, I wanted to do everything at once to grasp, hold on, keep the feeling there. I wanted to fight through therapy and come out on the other end, meet with the detective and sergeant of the Nashville Sex Crimes department to discuss the mishandling of my case, lose the 40 lbs I’ve gained since being raped, feel confident no matter what, work out daily, keep the mini manse sparking clean, be “on” and “happy” at work, make my bed without feeling like I should earn a gold medal for that feat, eating even though I have no appetite, grocery shopping, taking and keeping track of my meds, paint my nails, gussy up, take pride in my appearance, not wanting to make people who care about me worry, trying to not feel like a burden to those who do love me, avoiding panic attacks only to have them creep on stronger, listening to the judgement of others not solicited from folks who mean well and like to offer suggestions and the “I told you so” phrase even though they aren’t medical professionals or have experienced my exact trauma, remaining relaxed to try to sleep, trying to save money and pay back loans while keeping my lights on, dealing with life and loss like a normal person when I’m feeling like a tsunami inside (loss of self, ferociousness, confidence, dignity, ashamed of being raped (all daily feelings), my best fur friend Teddy Bear died, my second mom, Aunt Crazy Pants died, a friend of mine cut me out of his life completely with no explanation, a job loss, Precious my beloved Chug died – and this is all just part of fucking life) – I have been exhausted to the marrow of my bones.

Then, I suffered a severe concussion.

I first thought maybe one of those stupid cardinal wings of Aunt Crazy Pants’s was under my head, keeping me out of further harm when my noggin hit the concrete. Looking back now, I’m wondering if everyone who is a cardinal in Heaven and loves me joined forces and pushed my ass down, knowing I needed to stop.the.madness that had become my life. I was circling the drain in a bad way and I needed my ass kicked to stop it.

Thanks for the shove from above. Let’s not do it again, mmmkay?

Thankfully because of my family and friends (virtual and in real life), the Sparkly Army, that – if you’re reading this, you’re a part of– I’m back at it again.

Albeit a tad slower.

Canes are cool, right?

Unless you are my parents, sister, family, friends, or co-workers. In their case it’s me, then you.

Happy to report I’m on the mend, hobbling around on a broken toe, which is like a glimpse into my nursing home future.

If ever I twirl down again, I hope I’m in more appropriate attire.

Twirl at your own risk.

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!

 

It’s All in the ‘Tude

Attitudes are the shit and I burst onto this planet with one in tow. I was born with the confident “I can do anything” stance somehow and my folks continued to nurture that temperament as I grew up. The only thing they cautioned me on was to not get married until I was at least 25 (they may be wishing they’d sung a different tune as I’m a candle lovin’ lady with four pussies, a chug and would now be considered an ‘old maid’ in a different era).  Before Rapegate, there was never an issue with me adjusting my attitude – being able to kick my own ass back into shape as needed.

Lately I’ve been exceedingly inundated with cheerful “I’m thankful for…” countdowns, “reasons for merriment,” and “I resolve to…” positive posts on social media. Going into the holiday season, I struggled to gear up for anything festive – and I hated my attitude. As some of us were excited to be knee deep in gravy for a solid two months, I was hoping this holiday season didn’t linger as long as my 21st birthday hangover.

I may or may not have drunk dialed my boyfriend’s mother at 3am. She answered.

Thing is, I never thought I would fall into latter category, as typically on America’s birthday, I’m salivating like Dracula does over a neck – thisclose to getting my Halloween décor out on the fifth of July. But mentally for the past two years, it’s been a monstrous war inside of my skull, emotions swinging back and forth more extremely than POTUS’s hourly tweets. Not just regarding holiday cheer but being cheery about life in general. Oh Rapegate, thank you for PTSD, adjustment disorder, severe stress, insomnia, panic attacks and all of the insecurities I gained at your reckoning.

Previous multi-seasonal head cheerleader.

In my experience, PTSD (can go fuck itself) is exhausting – not only mentally but physically as well. I’m constantly on edge, have nightmares, difficulty staying asleep, experience major loss of interest in activities I used to love the fuck out of and feel ultra-guilty about “letting” myself be raped (how fucked up is that feeling?). Accompanying these symptoms are feelings of alienation and self-inflicted detachment from friends, family and my old self. Problem is, I’m having trouble kicking my own attitude back into shape and I loathe being out of control of my emotions (so you can imagine how comfortable the last 23 months have been for me).

I think I’ll just stay in bed and wallow.

With mental issues, one can rationally know how lucky they are (or know what happened to them isn’t their fault)– no matter what bad shit has happened to them – or people they love. With this being the first holiday season without Aunt Crazy Pants and the fur ball love of my life, Ted, grief has also been a constant companion even though there are crazy fun memories of hilarity, hijinks, pee-your-pants fun to fall back on. The heaviness of grief crashes like tsunami waves, compounding the sense of loss I carry with me daily due to my personal trauma. I can almost feel my heart hardening at times.

Miss you something crazy.

Miss you something terrible.

Thing is, it super sucks because I missed my old holiday pukes all over the place self (and I mean all over – the mini manse, my office, fucking reindeer antlers on my car, Christmas underwear, socks, sweaters (that others might wear to an ugly sweater Christmas party I wear on the December regular), adorning Santa hats like they’re simply a part of my noggin, blasting holiday  music from my car like I’m Santa himself, watching fa-la-la-la-la Lifetime movies that are so full of cheesiness, I want to kick my own ass for loving them).

Christmas Gaudy Queen of yesteryears.

In therapy, I’m tits high into the thick of processing the act – the moment of my rape and my feelings (ew) – while also constantly reminded, triggered, (whatever you wish to call it), daily by the super cool humans who apparently never learned fucking body basics in kindergarten. Thursday afternoons I see my own personal super hero, Sheila, and as she guides me toward a semblance of my old self, sessions almost always leave me with an emotional hangover that can last days. The mental, emotional and physical fatigue I fight daily, barely leaves me any energy to gussy up for work, so the thought of getting in any kind of holiday spirit was simply draining.

I woke up like this. And just want to go to work like this.

But I’m at a point where I must ban myself from a weekend full of bed lingering when I’m not trying to be social (stepping out of my mini manse and Dalts bubble little by little). I forced myself to get Halloween decorations out to the max because I hadn’t for two years. The fucking nerve of me.

There’s a glimpse of my old holiday mistress.

So, too, it is time to get in the motherfucking thankful, celebrate everything, CBXB spirit again YEAR-ROUND. Period.

When Dada CBXB and I were watching the Iowa Hawkeyes win their first bowl game in four years (yeehaw!) and he suggested I keep my Christmas tree up a little longer because it looked so pretty. (Side note – my buddy Camo insisted that I put my worldly pink, sparkly possession up and almost forced the ornaments on the fucking thing himself – and I’m glad he did).

Once the goddamn thing was up, I couldn’t help but be excited about turning the lights on when I got home from work. I also raced home every evening to see if anyone from my pussy posse knocked the pink tinseled delight over (remained in tact all season) being that this was their first experience with an actual Christmas tree. Turns out, they just like to sit underneath it and stare up at the lights, much like their mother.

Hello Gorgeous.

Speaking of moms, mine suggested that if I still had mine up, I should decorate it with Valentine’s attire. And just like that – I had an Oprah AHA! moment.

If I kept my tree up all year round would that make me:

  • a) Festive
    b) Red neck
    c) White trash
    d) Crazy as fuck
    e)All the above

Guess what my answer is?

  • f) I don’t give a fuck

So, there you have it. I’m keeping my tree up all 2018 in celebration of celebrating.

Getting my ass back into the habit of loving everything about any little out-of-the ordinary thing of the day/week/month/year. If you visit the mini manse, best bring me something to hang on the pink tinsel (yes, mini bottles of Captain Morgan count).

I have a sparkly army – and if you’re reading, you’re a part of it – who has done nothing but encourage me every step of the goddamn way. Via comments. Messages. Snail mail. Phone calls.

Just minor digit change from last year.

I rang in the new year with reminders that I’m facing nothing alone sent to me from all over the world – here’s a sample of my faves:

I even wore armour sent by HJ and CC by way of Denver, CO (and no I wasn’t tipped and yes I was pissed no one tried all night).

Onward Buttercup There’s Fuckery to Spread

Attitude for gratitude, my friends. I have nothing but it for you.

Join me in being fierce as fuck in 2018.

Cheers.

ENOUGH

Did NO ONE pay attention to the lessons of body basics in kindergarten? Keep your fucking hands to yourself. PERIOD.

Sexual harassment in the workplace isn’t new. Yet every time I hear another famous name added to the growing list of sexual harassers, it triggers me in a way due to my residual PTSD from Rapegate…and my own experiences with sexual advances in the workplace.

Sexual harassment has been around as long as …well, FOREVER. There isn’t one industry that a woman doesn’t deal with this issue from men in power (and not in power). But, this morning, I had to sit down with a heavy pit in my stomach after the announcement that Matt Lauer was fired from the “Today” show effective immediately. Why? Due to “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”

While the specifics haven’t been disclosed, the incident reported to the network’s HR department included enough evidence to fire an anchor that had no prior complaints and 20 year tenure with NBC news. I have watched the “Today” show as long as I can remember, welcoming Matt and co-hosts into my home, strangely feeling like we were somehow friends. Savannah Guthrie summed up her shock and confusion extremely eloquently.

Obvious shock.

“How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly and I don’t know the answer to that,” she said. “But I do know that this reckoning, that so many organizations have been going through, is important, it’s long overdue and it must result in workplaces where all women — all people — feel safe and respected. We are heartbroken. I’m heartbroken for Matt — he is my dear, dear friend and my partner, and he has been loved by many, many people here. And I’m heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story, and any other women who have their own stories to tell.”

It’s just that – brave women and men coming forward – telling their awful experiences endured while working in environments where it can feel impossible to share incidents of abuse or harassment. I can’t applaud the decision to severe Lauer’s employment immediately enough.

Although I loved you Matt, boy BYE.

Of course, our always professional President of the United States, who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than 12 women had his two cents to contribute via Twitter:

“Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.’ But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!”

You’re such a fucking ass clown Donald Trump.

New to the NBC network, Megyn Kelly had this to say, “I see anguish on my colleagues’ faces. But when this happens, what we don’t see is the pain on the faces of those who’ve found the courage to come forward. And that is a terrifying thing to do.”

Preach Megyn.

In light of yet another revelation of a man abusing his power, I’m sharing my own story of sexual harassment in the workplace again. Because I will beat this shit like a dead horse because it’s fucking ridiculous.

As chick in the career world, I’ve been told not to wear makeup and dress down working at a construction company home office because I was too “pretty” and the construction workers wouldn’t be able to control themselves from ogling when they came into the office. I abided by the request only to be let go about six months later for not looking “professional” enough. Is that harassment? Maybe just discrimination – but still. I said nothing. I felt disrespected, of course, and I lost my job because of my looks?

I’ve heard men at more than one company bitch about having to provide maternity leave (for women who are carrying YOUR FUCKING SPAWN and need to recover) when I’ve written handbooks with maternity – and paternity – leave included.

Most recently, I encountered sexual harassment at a job where I thought I would stay until retirement. It was in the music business and I started as an office manager. While the company worked with big and small artists alike, the core of its personnel was about 10 full-time employees (two of which were female, including myself, and were also the lowest two paid peeps there…even though we both had manager in our title).

As my comrade Slappy would say….

Going into any business environment eyes wide open, I worked with a vast array of people, which is why I loved the company so much. It was the most non-politically correct place – corporately speaking – and I was a contributor in every way. Lunch banter included topics of a dude asking me about Jesus when I was wearing only a leopard bra, an instance when I was sent a dick pic and I was once told I would be “punched in the tits” from an executive if I pinched him for not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. None of it bothered me because I dished it right back. It wasn’t unnatural to ask a fellow employee how their weekend was with the response, “I got laid,” to which I started responding, “me too.” Swapping dirty jokes, tales of road mayhem and being able to freely be ourselves didn’t create a hostile work environment because we all respected each other.

Typical office equipment.

If anyone fucked with me (say the dick pic sender), I knew I had an army of fellow friends/brothers who had my back no matter what. Once, a new sales person let it be known that he was going to “fuck” me (oh and he was married with a wife and kids). He was immediately terminated when upper management found out after another employee overheard me telling someone. I felt valued no matter what my sex. We were all working our asses off together and I absolutely loved the atmosphere.

Decor often left on my desk.

As the company grew, we opened a new division and naturally, more folks were hired. One of them, the COO of the division and I became friends. Hell, we were all friends – with more of a small business family feel, even as we became a larger company. This COO, who I will fondly refer to as Piss Ant from here on out, was the person who fired the dude who wanted to “fuck” me. Piss Ant gave me airline miles to go home to Iowa and see my ailing Gma one summer. Piss Ant ranted and raved and sat in my office for hours on end and asked my opinions on everything from work to personal matters. Piss Ant was my friend.

Thanks for the miles and memories.

Piss Ant also loved power. And as he was granted more of it through his ability to land deals and bring in the big bucks to the company.  His tiny head grew bigger. And bigger. And bigger. AND BIGGER.

One day, he’d gotten back from a rather rough week on the road. He came to my office and said he needed a drink.

So we got him one.

The actual day.

He proceeded to get shit faced during the afternoon and unload dirty laundry from years past, present and what was to be his future. I listened. I gave advice. I also grew increasingly aware that this situation was about to take a wrong turn.

Uh….u-turn! U-TURN!

While sipping on moonshine at three in the afternoon (almost every office had some sort of alcohol in it – and it was nothing for folks to have a drink around quitting time), his stories got more personal. More sordid. More wistful. Wistful as in telling me I had a nice ass. As in telling me he married the wrong woman…he should have married me (his wife was at home pregnant). As in telling me I would never get married because I was too good for anyone. And, as you are all well aware, I’m no shrinking violet.

Fuck the shrink.

I immediately shut the shit down. I told him to stop fucking talking. That he would regret this later that night and especially the next day. I was being ‘cool’ – level headed, and as I went to get him some water, he followed me out of the office and pulled me into one of our dark rooms where designers could come and rehearse. It was pitch black and he slammed the door shut. He kept saying he wanted to kiss me. I kept telling him to back the fuck off and that he was going to have regret.

Once I manhandled him out of my way, I opened the door and went into the bathroom. When I came out, the note below was on my desk, folded neatly. As he sat in a chair in my office and giggled drunkenly, I responded the most flippant way that I knew how and told him he needed to go home.

Oh, you want to kiss me? In your fucking dreams.

And he did. And he called to apologize. And I told him that we all make mistakes. But I kept the note. Because I knew what happened wasn’t in the slightest bit OK.

Our working relationship recovered because I think as a woman, (and anyone else who has put up with this shit before) I HAD to move past the situation professionally. But personally, I was enraged. And confused. And conflicted. Piss Ant was my superior. Piss Ant was my friend, right? (Obviously wrong). What was I to do? Who was I to tell? What would be believed? Piss Ant was the company cash cow. What would this do to my career? Would this give me a tattletale reputation in the still small music industry Nashville?

WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?

This is what goes through minds when sexually harassed, assaulted, abused.

I stayed silent.

Piss Ant was promoted to CEO. I was promoted to the executive team and I had no problem going toe-to-toe with him and his dictator style of micro-managing. He once called me to ask what my employees were doing. When I rebuffed with a ‘what are your employees doing’ it turned into a two-hour conversation about how he can run his division and I can run my department. He didn’t like that – but was always quick to apologize when he overstepped boundaries or knew conversations got heated for no reason due to himself.

He didn’t just bully me. He abused his power, he fucked with people for his own ego purposes and no one in the company was upset that he traveled 90% of the time. After I was promoted to his level as an executive, the work environment got extremely hostile and toxic for me. It felt like a personal witch hunt. Here was a man who used to show people a video I made while in an ‘80s cover band that showed a helluva lot of skin (you can’t see anything – trust me, my dad made sure of it) – to acting repulsed when he saw a photo of me modeling for a fellow employee’s jewelry line (who later became my direct report).

Said employee’s jewelry site was linked briefly (like 30 minutes) to our company Facebook when she was featured as the weekly team member. When Piss Ant clicked the link and found the above picture (that had been posted 10 months prior), he called and I immediately removed the link. You cannot tell it is me. My name is not mentioned. The company name is not mentioned but I completely understood why it needed to be unlinked. Problem solved, right?

Not so much. Three weeks later, I’m sitting in an office with Piss Ant, the president of the company, and an ultra conservative business consultant who knew (knows) nothing about the music industry and this photo is again brought to my attention. Piss Ant said an employee’s wife complained. When he told me who, I went to discuss the situation with him and he had no clue what I was fucking talking about. It was Piss Ant who had the “issue”.

One week later, the employee I had ‘modeled’ for – a member of my team – was terminated without my knowledge because they were ‘eliminating’ the position. A fucking social media position. Uh huh.

One month later, my position (which consisted of human resources, all administration, marketing, branding, production of new website, public relations, merchandising, company culture, company events, outside events, all things internal and external communication wise) was ‘eliminated’ and I was told by Piss Ant that I could now report to a new hire with 30 years of experience. The hired person was 29 years of age (who no longer is with the company – surprise – and has posted on their consulting website that they created everything I did at my tenure with the company. Classy fucking people, I tell ya). If I didn’t accept the new position offered to me (the social media position they eliminated just a month before), it would be considered a resignation on my behalf.

I was told that after almost four years with the company (who still had a former executive on a six month severance, which included healthcare and phone coverage) that they owed me nothing. As the conversation among us four executives got heated, we decided to take the night.

Well, you can imagine how that sat with me.

I was totally fine with it.

I came in the next day, knowing what was going to happen. I wasn’t going to be put into a corner, lay down and take it up the proverbial ass. When I brought the situation of sexual harassment with the note to a fellow executive, I was told to keep quiet, or I would receive no severance. The president had taken pictures of a box of wine I kept by my trashcan under my desk – again no secret that drinking took place at the office, as every single manager had either a mini fridge or a full bar in plain sight. I was told their lawyer was powerful, to take my severance, and they would send an email out to the company saying they eliminated my position and we would part ways (the email sent said I left of my own accord – again FUCK OFF).

Did you guys know I like to drink? Fucking secret’s out.

After I signed termination paperwork, tears were shed by Piss Ant as he walked me out the office front door and he said he didn’t agree with the way things went down. He didn’t agree with my leaving. He didn’t agree with the hire that was made in my place (FUCK OFF. He went to lunch with the replacement, gave the replacement the budget I had created, handed my department over, etfuckingcetera). He said he wanted to help me find another job. He said he would call. AS HE BAWLED.

I have yet to hear from him.

I can only hope that no one ever treats his daughter the way he treated me. The way he treats women. The way he treats other humans in general. But I sure as shit hope karma gets him.

Karma’s coming for you Piss Ant.

Sexual harassment isn’t new. Hostile work environments aren’t new. Men (and even women) abusing their status of power isn’t new. It’s also not going away anytime soon. But for me, this is about standing the fuck up for yourself. This is about standing up for those who can’t – or don’t – or feel unable (as I did). This is about awareness. This is about placing responsibility where it belongs. On the harassers. The predators. The abusers of power.

It’s not me. It’s YOU.

My takeaway from my horrible work experience(s), the career ruiner (what if I told? what would it do to my career in the music industry? would I be judged?), my anger (I still carry) is this –  it elevated me and gave me the gusto to tell when I was raped a month later.

I will never be silent. Ever again.

I will shout forever.

For you.

For me.

For them.

ME FUCKING TOO.

CBXB

A Face of Rape

This is my story of an act of rape that occurred to me in the early morning hours of January 29, 2016 in an affluent neighborhood of Nashville, TN. I have been unable to write about the details in hopes that the case would make it to trial, which unfortunately, like thousands of others, it did not. But now the muzzle is off of my mouth which rivals the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, so look the fuck out.

Please consider this a warning for any trigger it may cause, as well as an uncomfortable but important story to be told.

Mine.

Pre-rape: Captain of Confidence.

Four hundred and eighty days ago, I found myself without a career I had fostered for four years (the stab wounds in my back are still bleeding a year and a half later, which is most definitely a post for another day), a broken immediate family and received word that someone who was like a sister to me died suddenly in a car accident.

This life is living it up above us now.

In between this news and her funeral a few days later, I was raped by my best friend’s boyfriend of five weeks while I sought solace and comfort at her house.  I found myself not wanting to be alone an evening after finding out about my young friend. Always having her door wide open for me, I traipsed over in my mismatched pajamas to hang with my gal pal, her pit bull mix, her four-year old son and her boyfriend. Something I had done 1,197 times before (especially before the boyfriend was in the mix). I knew I was going to stay the night, sleeping on her couch with the pit bull who thinks she’s a lap dog.

Sleeping Beauties.

It was around 9pm when I arrived with a face swollen from bawling, hair looking as if I was hiding rats within it and a need for comfort so large, I would have stood on the side of the street with a sign that read “hug needed”. My bestie ushered me in, told me her adorable son was in bed already but poured me a glass of wine and we sat and talked, laughed, watched a movie and she just let me cry. Sweet pit bull and the boyfriend were also in the 600 square foot vicinity but us two gals carried on as usual, not paying much attention to anything other than the two of us (cause us self-centered bitches gravitate toward one another, ya dig?!).

The boyfriend refilled our wine glasses and after about three hours, we all decided to hit the hay. I took a sleeping pill, set my glasses and phone on the coffee table across the room and went to bed on the couch while watching my bestie and her boyfriend go into her bedroom together as I settled in on the couch I knew so well.

I mean, if this isn’t sex on a stick…

A few hours later, in darkness so deep it rivaled a haunted house, I groggily awoke on my back to something very heavy on my chest, with my arms down by my sides. Initially, getting my bearings and remembering where I was, I immediately thought it was the sweet pit bull who always slept on my chest with her ass to my face. But as the seconds ticked on, I realized there was a human head in the crease of the right side of my neck heavily breathing. It was my best friend’s boyfriend having sex with me. NON-CONSENSUAL SEX WITH ME.

In what felt like 10 minutes (but was more likely .000000004 seconds), I silently freaked out, put my hands up on his chest and hissed, “what the fuck are you doing?” Without uttering one word, he retreated from my body, stood up and walked back into the bedroom where his girlfriend was sleeping (sounds like someone who has a bit of experience in this, yes?) – into the fucking door that had been wide open the entire time.

Since this traumatic event, I’ve learned that you either fly, fight or freeze. I was frozen solid to the couch with my pink polka dot pants at my knees and all other parts of my pajamas in tact. Scared shitless at what could happen during a confrontation with a man I barely knew, my first thought was of the sleeping four-year old in the next room. While I wanted to get up and beat the living shit out of The Rapist, I couldn’t remove myself from that couch. Being blind as a motherfucking bat, my glasses and phone were across the room. I didn’t know if he was awake, passed out or going to come back out to finish “the job”.

So I laid there until it was light, which must have been at least two hours. At sunrise, I busted my ass across the room, grabbed my spectacles, phone and bounced the fuck out now trying to piece together what the fuck happened and how in the fuck I was going to tell my best friend. I wanted to do it while she was away from The Rapist and her kid was out of the house, so I texted her to call me when she got to work.

I also called two close friends who wanted to know why in the hell I was calling them before 7am (when I typically sleep until noon) for advice. I love a crime show – especially Forensic Files Friday night on the HLN network and knew not to shower or wash my clothes (which are still in my living room, waiting for the Nashville police to collect them). But did this really just happen? What do I do?

I know I’m a hot mess…but really?

The reality set in when my bestie called from work, I told her to sit down as I had something life changing to tell her that would have an impact on the both of us. Then I went on to say that I had awoke in the night with her boyfriend of five weeks – now known as The Rapist, having sex with me. Her initial response was, “did you finish?” Did we finish? HOLY FUCK.

This was my first encounter with victim blaming.

My friend and I hung up while she took time to process the information I had provided. Minutes later she called me back to tell me that The Rapist was sitting right beside her and she’s “not hearing the same story I’m telling.” Oh, no fuck.

  • I wouldn’t sleep with an ex-girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend – let alone my best friend’s current love interest. Girl code bitch.
  • Why is it OK if we did have consensual sex (which we did NOT). Kick that motherfucker out and cease being my pal.
  • WHY WOULD I LIE? We’ve been best friends for years. You’ve known this man for 50,400 minutes.

I believe the call ended with me tearfully trying to shout “fuck off” and two seconds later I receive this text from The Rapist:

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

Shattered into emotional fragments from shock, awe, disbelief and utter dumbfoundedness, I called my sister who immediately turned into a rescue responder. She called my dad, told me to call my doctor and told me to give zero fucks about a friend who didn’t believe what I was telling her.

A real face of rape.

My dad left work and arrived at my mini manse while I was still in my rape pajamas. We were like Tweedle Dee and Dumb, as neither one of us knew what to do. I had called both my gynecologist’s office and general practitioner. In lieu of knowing not to take a shower or wash my clothes, I had no clue where to go. Roll up into a walk-in clinic and casually ask to have a rape kit performed? The fuck? I finally got through to my gyno’s office and they told me to go to an emergency room.

We chose to go to the ER where both of my doctor’s practice. I was admitted, the police were called, and my blood was drawn only to be told after three hours that rape kits were only performed at one hospital in Metro Nashville. I encountered SIX medical professionals and was admitted to the hospital before being informed of this practice.

That’s cool. The worst day of my life needed to be drawn out three more hours by fucking professionals not knowing the ropes. Seriously a fucking shit show.

Of course, like a fucking comedy shit show, my dad couldn’t find his car in the massive hospital parking lot we’d started in, his battery on his key fob was dead and so the responding officer ended up taking me in the back of his patrol car (you can’t sit up front, ever) to the hospital that conducts all Nashville rape kits. So many firsts for one day – losing a best friend, being raped by her boyfriend of 35 days, sitting in the back of a cop car and getting a rape kit performed.

This cop car ride was waaaaaaay more fun – and only a few months prior to my rape.

With a dead phone, hoping my dad was finding his way to the correct hospital, and stripping down into a paper gown, the responding officer left me in the very competent hospital staff hands. When the Davidson County Metro Sex Crimes Detective arrived, I gave her my recorded statement to which my second encounter of victim blaming occurred when she said, “so you didn’t scream?” Oh no, I’m sorry I was too busy being in shock by a foreign object inserted into what the current President of the United States refers to as a pussy (that you can grab if you’re a star!), concerned that a four-year old would wake up and walk into an incident that would scar him for life.

While I sat and had pubic hairs plucked for my rape kit, The Rapist was very busy on social media, posting this photo on his Instagram account:

Please pay special attention to the fucking relaxing hashtag.

A rape counselor arrived. My rape kit was conducted. My dad waited six hours in a hospital waiting room with Barbie, the heavenly rape counselor. And when it was all over, she came in to the room with me and said, “there is going to be a before rape in your life and an after rape in your life.”

And she sure the fuck was right.

In minutes, The Rapist stole my joy and innocence of loving life.

Well, what innocence I had left.

In mere seconds, The Rapist stole my trust in almost everyone.

Seriously. Leave me the fuck alone.

The Rapist made me feel like I was responsible – ashamed, embarrassed and disgusted with myself. Insecurities I still fight to this day in the form of adjustment disorder, PTSD, chronic fatigue and severe stress.

How did I left his happen to me?

 In an instant, The Rapist turned me into a girl who could no longer withstand being in my own mind. I gave up my beloved yoga, my running, my reading, my TV watching…and cried in my closet.

At least it’s pretty in here.

The Rapist stole my pride. My confidence. My will. All in one act.

Cries for confidence I never knew I could lose.

My will to live never left me but I must admit most nights I wished I wouldn’t wake up in the next morning. What helped me take moment by moment and live to fight this ass hat of a rapist were my two little loves in Iowa. I would lay in bed and watch videos of them all day long.

Life savers one and two.

I also had fur babies and reason to put one foot in front of the other (even if it was just to feed their ungrateful asses).

Life savers three through seven.

The thing is, it takes a fucking village to overcome any type of trauma – and my village is as strong as an army. In instances such as the one I survived, it’s an experience I can hopefully convey to others and create awareness. Over 70% of all rapes occur between acquaintances. I never once thought I was putting myself in danger by going to my ex-best friend’s house (again, a story for another day) to grieve a loss of life.

Instead of gaining comfort, I became a statistic that is all too familiar. My treatment as a rape victim by the Nashville Davidson Metro Sex Crimes division is and was no less than abhorrent. I was re-victimized by the very people supposed to help, support and guide me (again, a story for another day). Also, the cost of being a rape victim has a tremendous impact for those who do – and don’t report it to authorities. Missed work, therapy visits, police follow-up, doctor visits, prescriptions (thank GOD I have health care), etc… is at an estimated $152,000 per victim according to a 2008 National Alliance to to End Sexual Violence report.

With all of this being said, I immediately went on defense mode with the help of my closest allies – and folks who have become my closest allies (and also dropped folks who I thought would be my closest allies – again, a post for another day). I dubbed my rape as “Rapegate” in order to having to avoid saying “that thing that happened to me…” Now we all just refer to it as Rapegate, as will I on this blog from here on out. It felt funny trying to post about fluffy matters of nail painting and weekend shenanigans the way I did before with something so heavy hanging over me that I couldn’t talk about outright.

I’m currently in survival mode, with the next step being thriving mode and I owe it to my support systems of thousands. You guys rock my world. Truly. You are my lifesavers eight through one million.

My new suit of armour compliments of college pals and happily married hotties HJ and CC.

With your help throughout this past year and a half, I’ve become one hell of a survivor through your letters, texts, phone calls, cards, gifts, flowers, financial assistance, sharing of your own stories – I know I’m not alone. You’re not alone. We’re not alone.

Aftermath face of rape – a Nasty Woman and proud of it.

So here we go, CBXB readers and supporters! I’m taking you on my Rapegate journey that won’t be hashed out in every post but when I do, humor will be tucked in here and there – like how to become a beached whale while eating your emotions. Or how to shit your car while talking to your pharmacist at the drive-thru because being raped has given you a severely nervous stomach. There’s nothing funny about rape. But finding a reason to laugh has been my saving grace.

And so have you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now let’s get to thriving!

CBXB

CBXB!