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!

A Forever Face of Rape

I was raped three years ago today.

36 months.

156 weeks.

1,096 days.

1,576,800 minutes.

94,608,000 seconds.

I used to be an unfuckwithable badass. Then, I was brought to my proverbial knees.

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

Mine.

During the wee hours of January 29, 2016 in an affluent neighborhood of Nashville, I woke up to my best friend’s boyfriend of five weeks raping me while I slept on her couch. Sleeping on this bestie’s sofa is something I’d done 4,209 times without a second thought before. I’d arrived around 9pm in mismatched pajamas, distraught with eyes so puffy from bawling over a friend’s death a few days prior that I looked as if I’d been fighting Rocky Balboa. I went to her for company, solace and what friends do best for each other – support.

Why can’t my lips get puffy when I cry instead of my eye lids?! WHY?

Her young son was asleep, her large, lovable pit bull mix jumped on my lap and her boyfriend of 35 days poured us generous glasses of wine while we watched Pretty in Pink. After more tears, lots of laughs and three glasses of vino later, I watched the two of them go to her bedroom, as I snuggled in after taking a sleeping pill, putting my glasses across the room on the coffee table, along with my phone.

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, my pajama pants at my knees. There was hot breath and a human head in the right crease of my neck. There was an unwanted, unwelcomed and disgusting rape taking place. The rape of me.

Upon gaining my bearings and piecing together what the hell was happening to me, 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. Through the fucking door that had been wide open the entire time – if my friend had woken up, she would have seen the rape occurring, due to the closeness of her quarters.

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. I was frozen. I didn’t know if Shane the Rapist was awake, passed out or going to come back out to finish what he started…or worse. My glasses and phone were across the room. I barely was able to muster the courage to pull my pajama pants up for fear of making noise. I remained a statue on that couch for at least two hours – until the sun came up.

Looking back as I hustled out of that apartment, I now know that I was in shock. Deep shock. And, I didn’t know what the fuck to do. Did that really just happen? What do I do? Did that just really happen? Where do I go? Did that just really happen? Who should I call? Did that really just happen? I was desperate to tell my girlfriend but wanted to do it while she was away from her boyfriend out of fear of what he may do to her.

When she was at work a few hours later, I called and told her to sit down as I had something life changing to tell her that would have a great impact on the both of us. Then I went on to say that I awoke in the night with her boyfriend of five weeks, having sex with me. Her initial response was, “did you finish?” Did we finish?

HOLY FUCK.

She immediately went home to him and called me back saying that she believed him when he told her it was consensual.

This was my first encounter with victim blaming. From my best friend.

My second encounter with victim blaming came from Shane the Rapist himself via a text to me after that phone call.

WISH I WOULD HAVE TOLD HIM NO?

I WAS FUCKING DEAD ASLEEP.

After taking a sleeping pill with three glasses of wine 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.

My third encounter of victim blaming came from, once again, someone I held close to my heart. I couldn’t believe my best friend’s stance.

I ruined her life because her boyfriend raped me.

To read about the rest of the day Rapegate began, please click here.

Shattered.

My life was shattered in a matter of mere minutes.

My joy was robbed without my consent in seconds.

My trust in almost everyone gone in a few fleeting moments.

A rape counselor at the hospital 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.

A lot of my post Rapegate life.

As the days, weeks, and life in general went on around me, I couldn’t help but feel like I was responsible for “letting” myself be raped (how fucked up is that?). I was ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed and disgusted with myself. Insecurities formed I’d never experienced along with adjustment disorder, PTSD, chronic fatigue and severe stress.

In an instant, Shane the Rapist turned me into a girl who could no longer withstand being in my own mind.

He stole my stone cold solid pride. My life long unwavering sense of confidence. My will. All in one act.

The weight of profound grief is and can be all consuming. I was a stranger to myself and struggled to fight the will to get up out of the bed on a daily basis. I never wanted to die per se but you bet your motherfucking ass I wished my eyes wouldn’t open most mornings because the pain seared into my soul was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I didn’t really care about much of what I once did – a clean Mini Manse, washed hair, painted nails, working out, decorating for holidays, celebrating anything, taking a shower and so fucking on. Thousands of hours of sleepless nights. Panic attacks out of nowhere. And luckily and not so luckily, I was unemployed and looking for a job when Rapegate began.

What my laundry pile has looked like the last three years.

My sink has resembled that of a restaurant for years.

The most mundane tasks feel like climbing Mt. Everest.

Trauma happens in various of forms in this life, as we are all too aware. Loved ones die but it’s inevitable that we all have expiration dates. People desperate to be parents sometimes cannot conceive. Illnesses and disease that have no cures plague us. Auto accidents occur resulting in life altering injuries and changes. Children are molested. The endless cycle of domestic violence. Life is cruel. Trauma is brutal.

I’ve been in therapy for most of the last three years. It is hard as fuck. It is hard as FUCK. It is hard as FUCK. If you find yourself in a state after any kind of trauma where you can feel comfortable reaching out to anyone that you can trust, it will be for your benefit. I promise.

This program saved my life.

I started therapy with my Rapegate hero, Sheila every Thursday afternoon. We began with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and then later, EMDR. I’ve done countless hours of reflecting and homework and revising my thinking that I wanted to give the fuck up and just pretend Rapegate never happened. But for me, that was not an option. Once I started, I had to keep trudging ahead because trauma isn’t truly stored in your brain. It’s stored in your body. It’s why I’m unconsciously bouncing my knee to the ceiling right now. It’s why I stuttered for a solid 15 seconds until my boss finally finished my sentence yesterday. It’s why I have been inexplicably tearing up every few hours the last week.

One thing for people to understand whether or not you or someone you love has been raped, recovery will be a long struggle. Being a survivor isn’t something you do once. Being a survivor is waking up every day and doing your best to carry on. It’s a journey, not a destination. I mean fuck, I’m sitting here awake three years to the day later because my body won’t let me sleep on my Rapeversary at 4:00 am. The body remembers. The body stores trauma.

I was raped before the #MeToo movement began and when I first shared my story, I could not believe the droves of people who reached out to say they, too, had been victims. And not just women. Some I’d never met in person, only virtually but they felt comfortable enough to reveal their truth and I was honored to listen. Speaking your truth is an unbelievable weight lifted. Speaking your truth also makes it very real and that is scary as fuck.

Then you live with triggers that fellow survivors and I deal with on now, a daily basis. I can’t know and don’t know when it will hit. Not sure if being woken up in a startling manner will make me punch someone in the face. Not sure if a news story will make ice run through my veins. Not sure how provoked of a poked bear I will become over injustices occurring on a daily basis in our judicial system. Not sure if my ears will start bleeding when I hear a person defending a sexual assaulter. Because believe you me, they do it once, they do it again. And why wouldn’t they if society doesn’t think the punishment should fit the fucking crime?

Six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster because the judge didn’t want to ruin his life. Fuck the victim.

Four counts of sex assault? No prison time? Eh, fuck the victim.

But then again, America also voted a self-described pussy grabber into the White House and that’s just the fucking norm these days. AND. IT. SHOULDN’T. BE. If you think that’s OK, you are part of the gigantic problem of rape culture that this country has, so fucking stop it. Your children are watching.

And yet, we question over and over and over and over why victims don’t come forward at the time of their sexual assaults.

I. FUCKING. DARE. YOU.

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 (it’s an even higher percentage if you add in rape by family members). I never once thought I was putting myself in danger by going to my ex-best friend’s house to grieve a loss of life, only to start the unraveling of my own grief of life as I once knew it.

Instead of gaining comfort by reporting, I became a statistic that is all too familiar. My treatment as a rape victim by the Metro Nashville 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. Hundreds of hours were spent by yours truly following up with my detective and some of her peers, chasing information and answers that should have simply been provided. It exhausted me to my core. My rapist walks free because it was a “classic” scenario as my detective brought to my attention –  a he said/she said. And still, we question why victims don’t report.

The cost of being a rape victim has a tremendous impact for those who do (and even those that don’t) report it to authorities. Missed work, therapy visits (if you can afford it), police follow-up, doctor visits (that are required every six months for two years, just to be sure you didn’t contract HIV) prescriptions (for mental problems or STD medications contracted during rape), etc… is at an estimated $122,461 per victim according to a 2017 National Sexual Violence Resource Center . Pocket change.

I’m currently in surthrival mode –  that space in between surviving and thriving and I owe it to my support systems of thousands. You guys rock my world. Truly. You are my lifesavers from one to a million. With your help the last three years, 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. This is a horribly isolating trauma that reduces you to a solo existence. You feel like an endless burden. But I know I’m not alone. I think of the many who haven’t had the ability, freedom or support to breakthrough to the other side of rape.

You are not alone. You are never, ever alone. My once again unfuckwithable badass has your back and mine.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You will never know what it means.

XOXO –

CBXB

CBXB!

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Winks – Surprises, Six Degrees and Slaying

This shade of black really brings out the color of my soul.

God I love a t-shirt that speaks for me.

Open for fun.

My aunt flew in to surprise my dad for a mini retirement celebration. It was pretty fucking fabulous.

The par-tay train headed downtown to honky tonk on Broadway.

The Bat Building never gets old.

Robert’s Western World never gets old.

Arriving late after gussying up, as soon as my ass hit the bar stool in Robert’s, I got a message from an old school friend asking if I happened to be around. Seeing as Music City has 100 fucking people moving to the city every.single.day (please for the love of god, STOP MOVING HERE. Come visit, spend some cash and get the fuck out) Nashvillians going downtown is about as rare as a man being falsely accused of rape. So like, 99.9% never.

Downtown used to be a fun hang every so often but now, it’s asses to elbows everywhere. So it was Kismet that I happened to be in a bar right across the street from my old buddy, who still resides in Iowa. He was visiting for work and just thought he’d reach out. As kids, our families would camp (yes, I actually camped (ew) before I knew glamping was a thing) and one of our fave activities was going around Wilson’s Lake and collecting pop cans that we’d turn in for a refund at Cheese’s grocery store. Redeeming five cents per can, I thought we were going to be thousandaires as we packed garbage after garbage bag full of aluminum. I think we each ended up with about $50. Still not bad for 10 year olds.

Six degrees of CBXB.

When I went to meet up with his crew, I didn’t know anyone else at the table. But within the 30 minutes I chit chatted, I somehow had a connection to or through or knew someone they knew at the table. My friend came across the street to say hey to Dada CBXB who, prior to his move to Nashville (and retirement), was a teacher and coach of some sort for over 30 years.

Old school.

Naturally we did what all teachers and coaches do when they reunite with former students.

Shots.

I mean, you know I have an ever classy fam.

Blurred lines.

Saturday came early for my Iowa twins, who were frying up a donut storm.

Then they decided to create costumes since the weather was kinda shitty.

If you guessed bats, you’d be right.

Inspired by my mini bakers, my lazy ass decided to get out a new pancake mix I picked up. Mostly because it was gluten free but really because all it takes is 2/3 cup of the mix and 3/4 cup of water.

Betty.Fucking.Crocker.

My Iowa Hawkeyes had a 2:30 kick off, so I sauntered out to Dada CBXB’s and watched my dudes school the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Hawks won 48-31. You know what that meant….six rounds of our classy Family Tradition.

I’m not good at math but I couldn’t fit six pics into my cute photo collage.

It also meant that the Floyd of Rosedale rivalry trophy will reside another year with my favorite birds.

The pig stays in the Hawkeye State.

After the welcomed distraction of a win, it remained consistently hard to escape the painful thoughts that have been swirling around my noggin for the last three weeks, as America’s attitude toward rape culture continues to shock the ever living hell out of me.

It’s sad. It’s so sad. So much so that I’ve turned to eating my pain away. Which isn’t working for my brain as much as it is my already ample ass.

I’ll have five pounds of wings, please. No, really, we had five pounds of wings. And Shit Dip that was already inhaled when this photo was snapped. And like one celery stick.

We welcomed Sunday by washing Saturday away with margaritas at our fave Mexican joint.

Tasty treats.

Accompanied by what felt like 482 lbs of food after I scarfed my feelings food down.

Another side of salsa, please.

Of course no self care Sunday would be complete without my personal bible, People magazine, and a dip in bubbles.

To those of you weary to the motherfucking bone after the past few weeks, know that it’s OK to feel that way. To those of you who are confused after the past few weeks, know that it’s OK to feel that way. To those of you who feel hopeless after the past few weeks, that’s not OK.

You matter.

The next generation matters.

K. Thanks. Bye.

CBXB

CBXB!

The Underdog

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.

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.

That period of time was as beautiful as I look in this photo.

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 616 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. Because that’s what this last year and over a half has dealt…an excruciatingly slow climb out of (or rather up) the lowest of extreme lows, seeking the summit of a mountain top that appeared further and further away by the day.

What happens when I hike.

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 tirelessly acted as my own advocate with a less than helpful (and that description is extremely nice) 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 a month ago, ten days after I suddenly lost the fur ball love of my life, Ted. The searing losses felt 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 Iowa versus Iowa State. It was a thrillingly unexpected day jam-packed with tailgating shenanigans.

The fun of family…

Mama CBXB, Uncle Toddy and Aunt Crispie host tailgating done right.

Friendly family rivalry.

OR WAS IT?!

The fun of the endless booze all around…

I hate tailgating.

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

Shotski for three please.

The catching up with old friends…

Game ready.

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 loudness…

A beauty and a sparkly beast.

Embarrassing my youngest cousin with all the right moves…

Cousin love is acceptable below the Mason Dixon line.

Seeing a live marching band was fulfilled for the season…

March on.

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.

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.

It was a much needed reminder that I’m doing the best that I can every goddamn day. Aren’t we all?

Happy tailgating!

CBXB