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

What The Fuck Catch Up

What in the actual fuck?!

I think just about every motherfucker on the planet was cautiously optimistic about leaving the year 2020 in the dust. I’m also fairly certain the first week of 2021 told its predecessor to hold its beer.

The clusterfuck that ended up being an encouraged attempted coup by a sorry excuse of not only a human being but leader of the free world caused five deaths, utter dismay and shock seen around the world. All over lies fed to an easily manipulated portion of America’s population. Words matter. As we witnessed the domestic terrorists be escorted (not arrested, not pepper sprayed, not shot with rubber bullets), away from the Capitol they stormed, startling images started pouring out.

The utter evil and creepiness of the image of a dude who was soon dubbed “Zip Tie Guy” just made my skin crawl. A few days after the insurrection, it came out that Zip Tie Guy, Eric Munchel, is a resident of Nashville who, on a mother/son bonding trip, drove to Washington DC with various items for destruction (guns, ammo, zip ties).

Neat news. Three days after ZTG was identified as a Nashville resident, it was further revealed that HE. WAS. MY. FUCKING. NEIGHBOR. In my small apartment complex. I saw him walking his dog daily with a stupid gun around his leg (yes, that’s legal in Tennessee with a carry permit) and I could NOT wrap my brain or any logic around the fact that I’d looked evil dead in the face, while demanding Prissy take a piss with my fucking “United Not Divided” sign on my front porch every.single day. for the past few years.

When he was arrested an array of unsettling items were discovered in his dwelling.

My nerves and anxiety were beyond thankful that he was behind bars, awaiting sentencing and what I assumed would be an impending trial for federal charges. Never once did it dawn on me that he could be a candidate for bail. But he was – and he got it. The judge declared he wasn’t a “threat to his community”…um BEG YOUR PARDON? Here’s where it’s impossible for anyone to disagree that there are two justice systems in America.

Zip Tie Guy was part of a mob of terrorists who stormed the Capitol, mere feet from the vice president of the fucking United States of America and the fact that he even gets consideration for bail? Fucked up. White privilege at its fucking finest. He most likely wouldn’t still be breathing if he was Black or a POC. Thank fuck a federal judge stepped in late Sunday and blocked his release on bail.

The sheer anxiety (to an already overloaded person with severe anxiety) of a domestic terrorist coming back to await trial mere buildings away really frayed my nerves. Thankfully, I had something to look forward to, not knowing just how fucking much it would impact my body, mind and soul.

If you’ve been any part of my bubble since 2016 personally, socially or via social media, you are aware of my feelings on the former person elected to be president. I knew, as a survivor of rape, how triggering it was for me knowing America only perpetuated rape culture, electing a man who opening admitted to grabbing women’s pussies and has been accused by 23 women of sexual assault. Would you have supported my rapist, Shane to be America’s leader? Because he was never arrested. He was never charged. He only stands as “accused”.

 

Boy did I underestimate how much JOY would fill my being. I mean, what was this feeling? Happiness? Hope?

I documented inauguration day on my Instagram stories, sharing my “what the fuck feeling is this” moments.

The fact that not only a racist, rapist, xenophobic, sexist, insurrection encourager was out of a job BUT THE FIRST FEMALE VICE PRESIDENT was sworn in almost made me spontaneously combust. Oh the fucking representation and encouragement that gives to females across the globe.

Turns out, America got a new President and Veep but the real star of the day was Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, bundled up like he was a fourth grade teacher on recess duty instead of an attendee at the inauguration of the POTUS.

The Internet immediately went into meme overdrive, doing what it does best. A few of my faves…

Senator Sanders put his newfound meme fame to good use, slapping the image on a sweatshirt, selling it and giving all proceeds to Vermont’s Meals On Wheels program. Now that’s working for the people.

In other fabulous news, the twins turned eight and a week later it was Sister CBXB’s turn to celebrate her trip around the sun.

Birthday babes.

Always so photogenic.

Princess B got an ugly ass hermit crab for Christmas, named Brownie. She received another one for her birthday, named Marshmallow. I believe these two crabs are possibly the most spoiled crustaceans on the planet, as she’s crafted them a fucking playpen. 

Their new digs is decked out with nothing but the finest art – pics of the twins.

While Princess B decorated her crab dwelling, I threw love on my celebration tree for Valentine’s Day.

With all of the extreme ups, downs, turnarounds, nerves, stress, anxiety and relief felt within a matter of days the last week of January for me, has looked a lot like Prissy in the picture below. 

The only animal I know who sleeps with her eyes open.

I’m waking up daily feeling the need to pinch myself because my stomach isn’t in knots and feelings of existential dread are no longer hanging like low clouds over my head. I had no idea the lengths my body was going to in order to fight off daily triggers due to friends, family and 70+ million Americans electing a rapist to the highest position in this country. I was in a constant “fight or flight” mode daily since 2016. It feels so good to be back.

Believe survivors.

Cheers to hoping your end to the first month of 2021 is also winding down with a bit of relief.

Mask up. Stay safe. Love ya, mean it.

CBXB

CBXB!

 

 

 

 

 

BUY ME A DRINK

For the Love of the Game

It’s no secret that I’ve had a rough go in my personal life the last few years. Of course, no one has perfection and bad shit happens to everyone, however, I’ve been numbed to the point that I don’t expect the worst but am surprised by nothing. Nothing.

Martians falling from the sky? We believe you.

It’s also no secret that I love college football – especially my alma mater, the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Fans #1 and #2.

It can be hard for those who experience trauma to remain in the moment, appreciating what life offers up for enjoyment. No matter how small the pleasure.

The last day that I can truly say I was ‘in the moment’ was December 5, 2015. I got to experience the first Big Ten Championship with my dad, The Silent Indian (who cheered for the wrong team) and Camo with my Iowa Hawkeyes taking on Sparty of Michigan State.

Big four at the Big Ten game.

It was one of the best days of my life even though Sparty won in the literal last second of the game.

All the after morning feels.

Four days upon returning home from that game, I was pushed out of a career that I’d worked my ass off to obtain in the music business. Eleven days after that, I experienced the worst Christmas of my life – a day I cherish (almost as much as my birthday) due to family dynamics shifting and my unwillingness to accept it. Less than one month later, a woman who was like a little sister to me died in a car accident. That evening, I went to my best friend’s house and was raped by her boyfriend.

I went into deep personal hibernation.

Somebody wake me when it’s 2025.

The day I was at the hospital awaiting my rape kit to be performed, I was asked if I’d like an advocate to come sit with me. I didn’t know if I did or didn’t because as my bare ass was hanging out of the back of a hospital gown, I was in a state of shock. An advocate was called on my behalf. Aside from her beyond sweet demeanor, her name being Barbie (I mean, c’mon!), her fabulous Louis Vuitton purse (obvies the right advocate for me), she said something that still rings true to this day.

“There will be a before rape in your life. And there will be an after rape.”

A before and after. Seems like a simple enough concept but I did not comprehend then how fucking true this would be in my daily life moving forward.

The Before: last selfie I took before Rapegate.

The After: first selfie taken after Rapegate.

It’s now been 1,277 days since the saga of Rapegate began. At first it was all-consuming, eating me up – a worm in my brain, invading every moment of my sleep, thoughts, feelings – I had no idea that I might as well have been standing at the bottom of Mount Everest, readying to climb 29,029 feet with zero conditioning.

My thoughts on hiking.

Thing is, life goes on all around even though time stands still for victims of any sort of trauma. For me, I was stuck on January 29, 2016 but I still had a job to find, bills to pay, fur ball mouths to feed and personal hygiene to maintain (this took much insisting from Mrs. America and my sister). I just wanted to wallow on my leopard couch and have it swallow me whole but of course that didn’t fucking happen.

Not so fresh and so clean clean.

With the support and love from my family, friends, and readers of this blog (my sparkly army), I was encouraged to put one (semi-clean) foot in front of the other and got into counseling. I’ve tirelessly acted as my own advocate with a horrendous detective, found a job, kept my lights on, was diagnosed with PTSD, adjustment disorder and severe stress and stumbled forward.

I don’t wanna but I’m gonna!

Through what felt like a continuous avalanche in my life, I put on the happiest face possible and plowed forward. Although, everything had less meaning, was less fun, was just not right. I went to my fave watering hole Dalts, invited girlfriends over, tried to read books but couldn’t remember the page I just read, watched TV only to forget what the episode was about as my mind couldn’t stay focused, stopped going to yoga and jogging due to not being able to be alone with my thoughts – because the aftermath of Rapegate was never far.

SAY WHAT?

Trying to trudge through life, every step felt like I was moving through snow waist deep. Yet again, life stops for no one. Aunt Crazy Pants was diagnosed with terminal cancer almost six months to the day after I was raped. She passed just a little over two years ago, ten days after I suddenly lost the fur ball love of my life, Ted. The searing dual losses not only felt like unusually cruel timing but also like a hot iron had been stabbed into my chest. I’d never experienced the throes of despair (navigating my way out of Rapegate), alongside devastating, life altering grief (losing those we deeply love) at the same time.

There’s not enough wine for this.

While I was home for ACP’s celebration of life, I had an opportunity to go tailgating with my Uncle Toddy, Aunt Crispie, my cousins and their many friends at the in state rivalry of the Iowa Hawkeyes versus the Iowa State Cyclones. It was a thrillingly unexpected day jam-packed with tailgating shenanigans.

The friendly family rivalry…

Battle of the birds.

The fun of endless booze all around…

I hate tailgating.

The classiness of passing time while waiting to use the port-a-potties…

Shotski for three please.

Having to ask your uncle if there’s anyone he’s friends with in his season ticket section just in case I embarrass him with my big, loud pie hole…

A beauty and a sparkly beast.

Embarrassing my youngest cousin with all the right moves…

Cousin love is acceptable below the Mason Dixon line.

Up close and personal for the live action overtime win didn’t suck!

End zone win baby!

Afterward, I realized how much fucking fun I truly had that day. I lived in the moment for the first time in almost two years – at yet another football game. I didn’t think about anything other than what I was partaking in every. single. second. The bands marching through the tailgates. The booze. The Hawkeye buses arriving. The booze. The food. The booze. The rivalry. The family and friends I was enjoying the fuck out of spending time with. The game I got to watch from the end zone and the exciting win by the Hawks in overtime.

Some cousins took it well.

Others were sore losers.

Point is, for a brief day I got a taste of what it will be like when I transfer from survivor to thriver. I felt normal. I felt the fun I was experiencing. I felt like pre-rape me for once in almost two years. And it was fucking fantastic, freeing and I caught a glimpse of my old self starting to shine through the cracks I still carry.

Fist forward.

I’m happy to report that in the two years after this fun day of football, I will be there again this upcoming Saturday as a thriving survivor. And holy shit Ames, look the fuck out. This survivor is gonna be there in the wee hours of the morning to secure a spot to see my 82 year old boyfriend, Lee Corso, with the rest of the College Game Day gang.

At the end of every episode, Lee picks one of the two teams featured and my fucking fingers, toes and legs are crossed that I get to see him don a Herky head.

Everything else is triple fucking crossed that I not only get to lay eyes on Lee but also, hopefully, maybe just maybe, get my hands on my other boyfriend, Herky the Hawkeye.

Stud.

I attended the University of Iowa for four years and never once got close enough for a pic together. But you bet your ass I tried.

Wait. Stop. I love you.

The Hawkeyes are almost always considered the underdogs. And it’s not lost on me that both the last and first time I realized I was living in the moment were at football games, watching my favorite team with some of my favorite people.

I love you too, Lee.

The love of the football fan experience was and is a much needed reminder that I’m doing the best that I can every goddamn day. Aren’t we all?

Appreciate what life offers up for enjoyment when you can.

ON IOWA!

CBXB

 

Chasing Happiness

Attempting to retrieve happiness and joy in the aftermath of trauma often seems in vain.

But it’s not.

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

In those desperate times after trauma, we become experts in subject matter in which we never wished to be associated.

If you know me, follow me on social media, or read this blog on a regular basis, it’s no secret to you that I am a survivor of rape. In that one act of power over another person, my life changed in a split second – like so many of our lives do.

In an instant, I was split into two.

Life as I knew it – my regular happy, filled with normal drama, surrounded by friends, and my hilarious sense of self was paused with such immediacy, I believe my body cocooned me the best way it could.

A pause that sometimes still feels permanent.

Disassociation from the body is an adaptive response to trauma. It doesn’t mean I don’t remember the exact feeling of waking up with an uninvited human inside of me. It doesn’t mean I don’t remember laying on that couch, waiting for the light to shine through the living room window to get the fuck out. It doesn’t mean I don’t remember my sister saying “fuck her” when I was on the phone, worried about telling my best friend that her boyfriend raped me. It doesn’t mean I don’t remember saying over and over and over “I can’t believe this happened to me” when my dad was taking me to the first of two ER trips that next day. It doesn’t mean I forgot how sharp the blade was when my best friend’s first response to the news was, “did you finish?”

For me, the aftermath of Rapegate is one that I will grapple with daily for the rest of my life. While you may think that time heals all wounds (bullshit in my book), the aftermath to my mind, body and soul ebbs and flows like heavy fog in a forest. I’ve learned over the last three years that past trauma can mean not feeling fully alive in the present. The body remembers.

Would the gleam and beam ever return?

I couldn’t help in the seconds, minutes, days, months, years since January 29, 2016 if I will I ever feel happiness again. Or will it be something that I forever chase?

The thing is, the finality of rape is like death in a way. My life as I knew it before was gone forever. The person I was before was gone forever. What innocence (don’t laugh) I had left was gone forever. I am still grieving the life and person I was before Rapegate. Nostalgia can seep into a pore of my skin so quickly and quietly, it feels like the Grim Reaper is trying to take over my soul.

Hours after reporting my rape to the police, I sat in an ER with a dead phone, my dad in the waiting room and a nurse practitioner guiding me through a rape exam. Then, question after question after question that seemed so important kept being asked and my brain was on auto pilot. Did he use a condom? Do you want to take the anti HIV pill? If so, it will be a horrible experience for the next 30 days. Do you want the Plan B pill? Here’s a handful of antibiotics to ward off any STDs that could have been transmitted to you. What do you want?

Somebody tell me what to do. Nobody could.

I sat there, gulping down medication after mediation on an empty stomach. I took all the pills. I took the Plan B pill.

Against abortion? Then you can carry my rapist’s baby if I get pregnant, thanks.

As my body started to recover from shock, I was diagnosed with PTSD, which I truly thought only applied to military veterans who’ve seen and endured horror far beyond. But this was my own personal, close up, front seated horror beyond.

For follow-up appointments (you know, to make sure I hadn’t contracted HIV or any other disease that can take time to manifest in the body), I had the choice to visit the hospital where my rape kit was performed for free but thankfully, because I had private health care, I was able to see my gynecologist. The first object I saw when I started to walk toward my doctor’s office for my first post rape appointment was a truck that read “Shane’s Trucking.” Shane was my rapist’s name.

Fuck off universe.

The meds I take have had side effects of brain fog (which coupled with blonde brain is a triple shit show), dizziness (like I needed any more help being a fucking klutz), and weight gain (oh the welcomed happiness of gaining 40 lbs – mostly in my belly because of cortisol levels being out-of-whack).

One of 4,713 battle wounds on my already klutzy before Rapegate body.

Being a victim of rape causes embarrassment, shame, feeling dirty, like somehow it’s your fault. Would I ever have the strut in my step, the confidence of a queen and the ability to simply see the joy in life again? This period of recovery wasn’t dark. It was black.

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

And, I have absolutely, 100% felt the self wrath, the aftermath, the internal tornado, the tsunami of emotions that surge whenever the fuck they feel like it and eruption of tears, hotly flowing down my face, onto my chin, into my shirt (accompanied with a river of snot and lemme tell ya, it’s a doozie of a look).

Innocent questions from others can seem like accusations to victims. What were you wearing? Had you been drinking? Why didn’t you scream? Why were you there? How come you didn’t go home? These questions were all asked of me by the Nashville Sex Crimes Detective after my body was violated by a man’s dick. Keeping up with my detective was one of the hardest parts of my recovery. Once she was done interviewing me the day of my rape, she said she would be in touch. Then a week went by. Then another. I finally reached out and got this response…

The constant state of keeping up with my case provided superb evidence as to reason 4,618,599 why rape victims don’t come forward. Or come forward to then drop charges. It’s exhausting. Exhausting. EXHAUSTING.

Me. Every day the last three years.

The most important thing for anyone to learn when supporting a rape victim is believing them.

pc: @makesdaisychains

Because victims who become survivors of rape, already question themselves endlessly, the damage done by friends, family and strangers’ judgement can be severe. I am a walking, talking, rape stereotype. I wasn’t believed by those closest to the case. My detective said it was a he said/she said since the Shane the Rapist said it was consensual sex. My best friend believed her boyfriend over me.

In between being raped and the year and a half it took to close the case, where Shane the Rapist walks freely out and about, it would be insane not to think someone might go insane. I don’t think he ever even knew he was in the hot seat until my detective reached out to interview him NINE MONTHS after the day I was raped.

It’s improbable that someone can experience any kind of trauma or loss (death, divorce, career, disease, disorder, assault, etc) without consequence to them.

The best face I can muster some days.

For me, this is where my once stable strength of fuck off confidence got lost in the swirl of circling the drain. Would it ever be back?

The emotional, mental, and physical tolls sometime feel beyond debilitating. Combine that with life – which most certainly goes on around you – and it can make the most mundane tasks like making your bed seem like winning an Olympic gold medal if you ever get around to completing the job. I can still sometimes barely muster the courage energy to get out of bed, brush my teeth and wash my hair.

I made my bed. Where’s my accolades?

And the usual worries of life are still abound while grappling with sometimes crippling days. Money worries. Hoping your car doesn’t crap out on your worries. Can my cell phone hang on for another year? Are my friends and family OK? Am I paying enough attention to them? Do they think I’m ignoring them? Did anyone see me crying at work? Am I going to be punished for leaving early for therapy even though my boss already said OK?  See how this shit can snowball?

Avalanche.

Now more than ever, I feel it’s important to speak up if you can about what can sometimes seem like taboo subjects. I was raped. Think that’s fun topic to bring up to new people? “Oh hi, my name is Captain, I’ll have a Skinny Pirate please, I was raped, how are you?” Of course this doesn’t come up immediately but still, I talk about Rapegate, and if we’re gonna be friends, it’s gonna come out.

Did I scare you off?

Taboo also is this fucking stigma that comes along with mental illnesses. I have PTSD (along a myriad of other lovely conditions). When I was looking for a new job after Rapegate, I had to put down on applications whether or not I had PTSD. Now it’s considered a disability. So, OK it’s a disability. I’m dealing with it the best that I can but do I need to reveal that to a potential employer? Yes, I have had panic attacks silently at work in bathroom stalls and in my car but I’m still showing up and doing my job (although my panic attacks always end with me throwing up, so that’s fun to do out of my car window while attempting not to get vomit on my work attire).

And some days are dark. Like calm before storm, clouds rolling in, so quiet it may just drive you mad blackout dark. I think about the passing of celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, both of whom reportedly took their own lives within two days of one another last year. Both had loved ones, both were celebrated among their professional communities, both had achieved success in different fashions and both had children. So much to leave behind.

But can you even imagine the pain they must have been in to think that their only way out was to “unburden” those around them? That’s really scary to me. Because I’ve often felt like a burden to my family and close friends. Over the past five years, I’ve experienced loss and grief and change beyond my imagination and while I am learning to cope in therapy, I still feel like I’m so needy. “Can I borrow $20 until payday (while swallowing pride for 1,976,000 time)? I can’t go out because I am on a spending freeze (you know those handfuls of pills and doctor follow-ups aren’t free. I’m beyond lucky to have health insurance with co-pays). I just had a panic attack, so I’m going to have to miss your birthday celebration. I am going to stay in because I can’t fathom the thought of getting out of bed.” Mostly, I keep these emotions to myself but I still feel like one motherfucker of a burden.

I. just. can’t.

Will I ever feel like I’m not a burden?

It’s easy for people to say that suicide is selfish. I can see why one would say that but if you haven’t ever grappled with your own dark demons that sometimes you push deep down inside of you, or think they’re gone, only to have them pop up and taunt you over and over and over again – it’s not easy. Mental issues are a lonely, isolating experience of despair. I think this is often in part because not a lot of folks talk about their mental health and share stories from their lives.

pc: @makedaisychains

How others see me.                                           How I feel inside.

My darkest times since Rapegate (and everything else that has occurred in between), have never eluded me to think about ending my life. However, have I been in a place where I wished my eyes wouldn’t open in the morning because it seemed easier than fighting the anguish of deep depression? Yep. Has my chest been so heavy that I thought my heart was going to burst out of it Indiana Jones style because it could bear no more loss or grief, physically hurting? Fuck yes. Do I hit my snooze button 3,719,003 times in the morning (even though I have been up for three hours already) because the thought of putting makeup on and gussying up for work and putting on a “happy” face seems like too much to bear. Damn skippy.

Hi there. I’m getting pretty fucking sick of these feelings popping up whenever they fucking feel like it. Byeee.

That all being said, it’s not uncommon for someone to have these types of thoughts once or more in their lifetime. Some people do shoot sunshine out of their assholes (fuck, until three years ago, I was one of them) but more often than not, it’s a combination of rain, sun, sleet and hail as we trudge through life. On top of all this, I always see the suicide hotline phone number accompanying every death by suicide story. You know that is fucking great, but you know what’s hard? Reaching out when you need help. And let me say this – if you offer to help someone in any way and they reach out, for the love of God, do NOT shut them down. It’s already exceedingly hard to admit you need help.

How can you help someone that may not even be suicidal but just really down in the fucking dumps? Tend to them the best way you know how – if they are typically social, try to get them out of the house. If they aren’t up to it, stay in and binge watch some TV. Or go on a walk. Just don’t ignore them. Don’t give up on them. Don’t stop inviting them places because they always say no. Be persistent.

You can also help by researching options with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. I have friends who would greatly benefit from therapy but haven’t been able to find the correct place. I’ve called this number before, searching for answers when someone was in need. In the research I have done around Nashville, there are places that offer sliding scaled payments for those who don’t have insurance, or whose insurance doesn’t cover mental health (so fucked up). However, like in many other situations, the persons who need the help must be willing to go for themselves, not for anyone else. So if they refuse or keep handing you excuses, just do your best to listen.

My mental journey in the aftermath of Rapegate has been eye-opening. I’ve been so self deprecating to the point that I star in my own version of Mean Girls in my head some days.

Regina George, get the fuck outta my head.

However, I luckily have a solid circle of support. A very large sparkly army that isn’t confined to face-to-face relationships. My circle has expanded as I’ve talked about my struggles. The support system I have now extends from Nashville, to Iowa, to California, to England, to Italy, to Australia…and more. The “checking on you” voicemails, direct messages through social media, “thinking of you texts” to words of encouragement in my comment section, random gifts showing up in my mailbox, snail mailed letters, a cashier’s check just because…Every word, every action, matters.

This is what you do for me.

Moments of happiness and real, solid feelings of joy have burst back into my life more slowly over the past few years. Some moments of smiles are more fleeting than others but regardless, I’m proud as fuck of myself for sticking with therapy, shamelessly taking the medications I need to cope and move through life without becoming a victim of my own personal version of the Titanic.

Celebrating is still in my DNA.

Those struggling the most are sometimes people who you’d least expect. One smile can go miles – and it’s a universal language (as fucking cheesy as that sounds). A small compliment can turn a day around. An out of the blue “how are you” text can save a major cry session. Check on each other. Love on each other. Hug on each other. Raise some hell with each other.

Know that if you’re experiencing grief of any kind, it’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to not be OK. Two steps forward, one step back is still progress even though I want to leap 10 feet at a time. It’s a constant job to mentally remind myself to be kind to myself.

While there’s been more dark than light the last three years, the chase for happiness and healing has seemed less and less like a daily marathon. There’s now room for bright light and hope. I’ve been a victim. I am a survivor. I will be a thriver the rest of my life.

I’m right here if you need any help chasing your own happiness.

Thank you for helping me find mine again.

Love ya, mean it.

CBXB

CBXB!

 

The Birthday Bitch is BACK

Getting ready to start another 365 fresh days, I’m BAAAAAACK. I’d lost (now found!) the “celebrate everyday” mantra that I was so used to pre-Rapegate. Three years without any of my usual March references…”it’s my birthday month” or “did you know my birthday is exactly three months after Christmas,” (I mean, maybe we can say I’m god’s gift, OK?) to “we’re gonna do what I wanna do because it’s my birthday MONTH.”

YOU WILL CELEBRATE AND YOU WILL FUCKING LOVE IT.

Since I was a kid, my life revolved around Christmas, my birthday and then, the Iowa State Fair. Much to my cousin B’s dismay (I can only assume), I was born right smack dab in the middle of his birthday, therefore he was forced lucky to share his special occasion with me at every March family gathering. (He’s the super happy kid to your left in the pic below).

It’s all about meeeeeeeee. Sorry, not sorry B.

Instead of forcing myself to get it together and sorta celebrate like I have the last few years, I readily have my sparkly party stilettos on and am ready to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the fuck out of my day of birth. Like, for the remaining days of March. And also, because my birthday is on Monday, it’s really only fair to make it a birthday week.

I’m gonna huff, puff and blow those motherfucking candles out. Even if I light my own.

(side note, I’m gonna need someone to make a gluten-free yellow cake with chocolate frosting with one billion multi-colored sprinkles on it, thanks).

Huff. Puff. and Blow.

Huff.

Puff.

Blow.

I’m gonna act like my mom and document the fuck out of every.single.second of my special day. Like she did with my sweet pink and purple pony cake, accompanied by my lovely oversized spectacles and semi-mullet hair do.

My most gorgeous birthday photo ever.

Hello Gorgeous.

Documenting attire like the time she allowed (like anyone could ever allow me to do anything) me to celebrate my birthday with sweet wispy bangs and a crocheted vest that looked like one of my Grandma Vogel’s doilies she so effortlessly made.

Crochet nightmare

Always so fashion forward.

Celebrate

More my speed these days.

I’m going to open every text, social media well wish, card and gift like it’s the one and only thing I’ve ever received in my life.

Always act surprised.

Holy shit! I love it! No, truly I do.

I will not be holding up fingers to commemorate the age of which I am turning because I ran out of fingers after the age of 10. (side note: how hilarious is it that I have a shirt on that says First Mate, First Mate?).

Insist

I’m this many today.

I may, however, enlist the peeps around me to count other birthday fun.

When you’re out of fingers on both hands, just count drinks.

When one of you does show up at the mini manse door with my gluten-free cake in hand, I am going to need a shit ton of frosting on it. And having a crown crafted of construction paper wouldn’t hurt either.

Scoobs.

Paper Princess.

Then I may need assistance with eating the delivered cake if my hands are full with cocktails.

Keepin' it classy. As usual.

Are your hands clean?

I’m already practicing my ‘birthday adorable’ look that I mastered oh so few years ago for photo capturing.

Mug for the camera.

Oh who me? Why yes it is my birthday. I’ll just hold this pose for the rest of the day.

It’s a tradition I am still working on.

Adorableness FAIL.

Work in progress.

I’m going to dance, jump and twirl (but not down) to my heart’s content, acting as if I have one ounce of rhythm somewhere in my body.

PARTY!

Mosh pits before mosh pits were cool.

Dance

I may try a high kick, which for me is possibly as high as my hip…if I’m lucky.

Head banging also accepted.

This seems to be the appropriate dance moves when we run out of fingers in which to count cocktails.

I’m probably going to invest in some sort of kazoo or party favor to carry around next week so when anyone asks how my day is going, I’ll just blow it in their face. Like a classy lady.

Blow it out.

I’m fabulous. It’s my birthday week.

I’m gonna surround myself with my fabulous friends forcing in celebratory fashion.

The more, the merrier.

Oh the variety of bangs…

Did I mention it was all about me?

Along with gluten-free cake, diamonds, Louis Vuittons, rescue cats, anything sparkly, Iowa Hawkeye football season tickets, anything skull, stilettos, bubble bath, a new deep jet bath tub for said bubble bath, I will also be accepting birthday shots, wine and Skinny Pirates.

Why thank you

Birthdays taste so good.

I may or may not have consumed all liquids at this table.

Birthday Skinny Pirate in the house!

They just “get” me at Dalts.

This year, I’ll be drinking to the wise words my Gma always told me as I bitched about growing another year older, “having another birthday sure beats the alternative.” Jesus, it sure fucking does. I’ll drink to that!

Truth.

Now, who wants to celebrate with me?

Cheers!

CBXB

CBXB!