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!

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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

Make Me Love Me

I have loved hot yoga for years – I always called it my natural Xanax because all I could concentrate on during class were the poses and postures – and nothing else (well, except for that pesky under arm fat/boob located in my armpit that won’t go away no matter what the fuck I do that I can’t stop staring at in the mirrors).

Sweat Now. Wine Later.

As the day of celebrating love is upon us, lightning struck a few days ago as I was in my very last pose of hot yoga class – savasana (for those non-yoga peeps, it’s when you lie on your back completely still and reap the benefits of your workout). The lights are dim, the instructor typically is silent as a song plays and you are relaxing/internalizing the ah-mah-zing shit you just did/thinking about the wine you’ll have after class (well, at least I am).

Worth the sweat.

Thing is, it took almost a solid two years to regularly get back on my beloved mat after Rapegate because I couldn’t be alone with my thoughts. I’ve recently been going at least three times a week since the new year and been proud of myself, getting back in my sweaty groove in a room heated to 100 degrees. However, the most fun thing about being triggered by trauma is you never know when the fuck it’s going to come out of the clear blue and smack you in the face. Or gut. Or heart. Or the motherfucking trifecta.

That night in savasana, as I settled in for my thoughts on snuggling with my pussies and Precious the chug while guzzling wine, Bonnie Raitt’s insane voice came quietly through the speakers singing “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”

All I wanted to think about…

While I have heard this song no less than 5,872,012 times, it punched me in the heart. HARD. And I started ugly crying as quietly as one can while trying to act like I was just seriously out of breath. THANK GAWD the lights were off, and we sweat our asses off, so no one could see tears rushing down my red-hot cheeks.

Why though? It’s a stupid fucking love song that is about pining for something you can’t have with another. Except in this case, it was me realizing I haven’t been able to make me love me since being raped. The lyrics hit me faster than I can down a Skinny Pirate. And my thoughts followed the words…

“Turn down the lights”

  • It won’t matter because I won’t sleep anyway

“Turn down the bed”

  • I didn’t have the energy to make it this morning (and I love a made bed)

“Turn down these voices inside my head”

  • “You didn’t scream.” “Did you finish?” “You should have said no.” The voices won’t go away

“Lay down with me”

  • I can’t get vulnerable with myself

“Tell me no lies”

  • If I don’t lie, there’s nothing good to tell

“Just hold me close, don’t patronize”

  • In the fetal position permanently

“Don’t patronize me”

  • I can’t stop condescending myself

“Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t”

  • You’re broken. Damaged goods. Carry permanent baggage.

“You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t”

  • My heart is numb

“Here in the dark, in these final hours”

  • If only I could get hours of sleep

“I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power”

  • Self loathing is beyond power

“But you won’t, no you won’t”

  • I won’t, I don’t

“Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t”

  • You’re broken. Damaged goods. Permanent baggage.

This could get ugly.

Jesus tap dancing Christ. I was a puddle. Here I’d thought I’d come soooooooo far. But in reality, I’ve been having a seriously hard time liking, let alone loving myself over the last 746 days (I mean, washing my hair is still hard – and I love my hair. So I resort to wearing it in a bun on an almost daily basis).

Wake up. Put up. Repeat.

Until friends force me to wash it.

If you knew me pre-Rapegate, self-esteem, confidence and the ability to ignore negative background noise aimed at me from others was ingrained in my personality. Or my core. Or whatever the fuck you wanna call it. I sparkled. I pulsated to my own beat no matter who loved it or not. I gave no fucks. Loud and proud.

Hieeeee. It’s jazz handing me not giving a shit how much my loudness annoys you.

But that was ripped from me without my permission. And it hurt. It aches still. For the first time in my life, I’ve felt lost with myself (like, Tom Hanks from Cast Away, with a fucking volleyball as my companion lost).

No shit behind my mini manse this morning.

It stems from the actual rape itself but it also has to do with the betrayal, abandonment and neglect I was left holding when my best friend believed her boyfriend of five weeks over me when he said it was consensual sex (which as a reminder, he got up out of their bed and assaulted me on the couch as I was sleeping in the middle of the night).

Yeah…she can also SUCK IT.

Rationally, I know none of this bullshit is my fault. But hearing that song about making someone love you if they don’t…well, that’s been me. My super hero therapist, Sheila has been on point in telling me my self-talk is beyond harsh. I’m supposed to speak to myself the way I would to a friend or any loved one in my situation. However, I’m such a black and white person, my coping skills in the past with myself have been “wallow, get over it, it’s life, move on.” With trauma like this, accompanied by PTSD, severe stress and adjustment disorder, I’m not getting off the hook that easily.

For fuck’s sake.

When I am triggered, various emotions come barreling down the hatch like a tsunami. Sadness, anger, grief, loss swirl in my brain and body – and then, I fall down the rabbit hole. I hate The Rapist who walks free. I hate my ex-friend for not believing me and stating falsehoods in her on-the-record police interviews. I hate I never got to confront either of them. And then, I end up hating myself for “letting” this happen to me (beyond fucked up, I know).

Haters gonna hate. Oh and love special places in hell saved for those they hate.

So here we are at the, “I can’t make you love me if you don’t.”

Thing is, I can make me love me. I loved the fuck out of myself before this shit. And I have been working second after second, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, month after month and now – year after year to get my groove back on with my bad self.

January 29th marked my second Rapeversary and a sample of how I am reminded to make me love me?

Family –

Sister CBXB…

Mama CBXB…

And friends like you? Fuck you guys are my sparkly army shining bright. Reminders from you that I truly am making leaps and bounds. Prompts that no matter how exhausting, how minute, how trivial the day feels to me, I matter. And isn’t that what we all need to remember? We matter. We matter most to ourselves. And it’s so easy to forget that in daily life, regardless of whether you’re insanely happy every second of every day or in the throes of despair, desperately trying to figure out why the fuck to get out of bed.

If I can, you can.

Friends from afar have noticed and commented in photos I’ve posted –

Friends who have experienced similar trauma know when to give me a head’s up –

Shit like the above makes the quote below all the more believable…

Folks like you help me, help me…. you know, Jerry Maguire style. Help me, help you. And, hopefully I can help others beat stigmas they feel due to their own experiences.

On this day of love and pondering of when I will be 120% back in love with myself, it’s important to know that the struggles are real. We all have them. And I’m thankful to be reminded constantly by those around me near and far that I am loved. I matter. And so do you.

So, cheers to being the own goddamn loves of our lives.

Being our very own, every day Valentine.

Love, love, love from me to you. But mostly to me (see, there’s more of me back than I think).

Love ya, mean it.

CBXB