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!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Me Fucking Too

This shit isn’t new.

Sexual harassment has been around as long as …well, FOREVER. There isn’t one industry that a woman doesn’t deal with this issue from men in power (and not in power).

I mean, hello.

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

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

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

As my comrade Slappy would say….

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

Typical office equipment.

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

Decor often left on my desk.

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

Thanks for the miles and memories.

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

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

So we got him one.

The actual day.

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

Uh….u-turn! U-TURN!

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

Fuck the shrink.

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?

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

I stayed silent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, you can imagine how that sat with me.

I was totally fine with it.

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

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

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

I have yet to hear from him.

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

Karma’s coming for you Piss Ant.

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

It’s not me. It’s YOU.

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

I will never be silent. Ever again.

I will shout forever.

For you.

For me.

For them.

ME FUCKING TOO.

CBXB

 

 

A Face of Rape

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

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

Mine.

Pre-rape: Captain of Confidence.

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

This life is living it up above us now.

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

Sleeping Beauties.

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

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

I mean, if this isn’t sex on a stick…

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

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

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

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

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

I know I’m a hot mess…but really?

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

This was my first encounter with victim blaming.

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

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

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

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

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

A real face of rape.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please pay special attention to the fucking relaxing hashtag.

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

And she sure the fuck was right.

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

Well, what innocence I had left.

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

Seriously. Leave me the fuck alone.

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

How did I left his happen to me?

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

At least it’s pretty in here.

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

Cries for confidence I never knew I could lose.

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

Life savers one and two.

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

Life savers three through seven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now let’s get to thriving!

CBXB

CBXB!