therapy

Letter Series Continued

To the jackass I work with:

Yo, it’s me. You know, that girl you assaulted a few months ago?

Come on! You can’t have forgotten already.

Oh wait! I forgot. You were drunk.

Oh wait! I forgot. You were “in a bad place”

Oh wait! I forgot. You don’t remember.

Can’t remember

Won’t remember.

No matter how many times you change your story when you straight-up lie to me about that fateful night I will never, ever forget what you did to me.

And I will never forgive you.

Because you are a predator. You are a manipulative, dishonest, violent douchebag that only knows how to deceive and hurt.

You are not a good person. It is so painful to work with you because I see my colleagues/my friends/people I care about interact with you and they are so kind to you.

They don’t know you like I do.

Even the ones who know what you did to me smile at you and happily interact with you. Sometimes it hurts to see this. Sometimes it is just confusing.

Occasionally I will see you or hear you at work interacting with others and I think maybe I should just ‘get over it’ and be pleasant with him at work.

And then reality reminds me that you fucking sexually assaulted me.

You put your hands on my body when I told you not to. You kept going when I told you to stop. You ignored all of my protests so that you could get what you wanted.

But now you’ve conveniently forgotten. I wish I could.

What you did to me was not the worst thing that has happened to me. But it is so similar to those even more terrible things that every time I see your goddamned face I only remember terror and pain.

You’ve noticed that I don’t like to be scheduled to work with you and that I go out of my way to not work with you. Why would that matter if you never did anything wrong? Why would I do that if you never did anything wrong?

Guess what, jackass? You did something incredibly wrong.

So when you tell me “I know you don’t like working with me. I always try my best to stay out of your way. I know you don’t like me. I don’t really know why but it’s whatever” all I hear is “blah blah blah I’m a predator blah blah let me try and manipulate you.”

So fuck you. Goodness gracious good gully gosh, fuck you.

And that’s really all I have to say.

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My Trauma Narrative Continued

Trigger Warning: Rape, sexual assault

…this is a long-ass post. Buckle up.

It has been about two years since I actually posted on the internet that I am a sexual assault survivor.

In those two years I have come leaps and bounds past where I thought I would be and I get so emotional when I think about Past Jess and her hopelessness.

This blog has been a huge part of that. Telling my story, even in stages, has helped me understand and process my own feelings on what I’ve been through.

But I’m not done yet with my trauma narrative. Just about, though so that’s cool.

I want to talk about the two most recent attacks on my body. I’ve blogged about them both before but they were terribly reactive posts instead of being reflective like this narrative should be.

Enter the DC chapter of my story.

I moved to DC in June of 2015. I got a job immediately and made so many friends there. I had also made hella connections with my housemates and had a solid support group. So when my housemate said “let’s go to a Juanes concert!” I couldn’t turn that shit down. And when my friends from work asked if I wanted to go out with them after my concert I was stoked to have a Friday night full of fun with people I cared about.

Of course that concert was dope as hell. And my housemate kindly accompanied me to the bar to meet my colleagues before dipping out. I got real real drunk and had a lot of fun with the friends.

Then we decided to go get some late-night ihop and traveled across town.

Here is where I forget much of what happened. Of course, it’s the integral part. It’s the “you will actually believe me if I could tell you all of these details” part. It’s the “I can totally describe what he and his car look like” part. The part that makes it real.

It still doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel real that I came to awareness while my head was being forced down on a stranger’s body. I realized I was crying and began to sob and scream. He slapped me in the face and told me not to cry. That I should like it. And when I didn’t stop crying he stopped the car and told me to get out. Dazed, drunk, terrified, and confused as all hell I got out of the car as he sped off.

I didn’t know where I was. I was sobbing uncontrollably and wandering around a neighborhood without any idea of where my phone was, what time it was, or where I was going. A stranger parked his car nearby and got out with his groceries- he asked me if I was okay, and if I needed to go anywhere. I just answered with a wail and fell to the ground crying. He helped me up.

He helped me up and he led me to his car and he asked me where I lived. I said the name of my street but didn’t know or couldn’t remember the cross street and I just described the surrounding area of my house. He drove me home, and watched until I got to my front door before he left. I was too drunk to remember where we kept the key on the front porch and I sat outside until I was able to wake up someone to let me in. I immediately went to my housemate’s room (the one I went to the concert with) and told her what happened.

So drunk. So sobbing. Much terror.

I tried to call my sister, my brother, my mom, my dad. Could not remember a single phone number. I fell asleep with mascara on my cheeks.

The next morning I came to and my housemate had messaged my sister on Facebook and my sister had called the cops and sent them to my house. I eventually called and reported the violation.

I was in the hospital for so long waiting to get my exam. DC provided me with someone called an advocate. She came in to the room while I was waiting and explained she was there as a legal representative for me. Free of charge. To help me cope with what happened and get through the investigation.

DC provided me with a human who understands the horror that is the aftermath of being assaulted. And she was amazing. She held my hand while the doctor asked me questions. She wrote me weekly emails in the months after the attack. Checking in, offering support. I am so grateful for that. She got me therapy at the DC Rape Crisis Center and she got the city to send me a check to cover the value of the clothes that forensics had to cut into tiny pieces so they could try and find the man that assaulted me.

The detectives came to my house the next day and the entire time I did not feel validated. I wish my advocate had been with me for this first interaction. I felt cold and like it was my fault. Because I was drunk.

IT IS NOT MY FAULT BECAUSE I WAS DRUNK. IT IS NOT MY FAULT. 

Sometimes I have to remind myself…

The conversation with the detectives was recorded. But my tears weren’t. All that was recorded were my answers to their questions. Usually some form of “I don’t know” or “I can’t remember” or “that part is fuzzy.”

Do you know how hard it is to report an assault you can’t remember? It is so frustrating and so toxic to know you were violated but to not be able to explain the details of the event? It physically hurt every time I had to tell them I couldn’t answer their questions.

The conversation was recorded but my internal feelings of shame, confusion, and absolute certainty that I was attacked were not.

On and on more stuff to do with the investigation. blah blah.

Basically they still haven’t found the dude and I doubt they ever will. But I reported it. And I jumped through the hoops. And it was incredibly hard.

I am sobbing right now as I write this because I haven’t thought about the humiliation of shouting “I was attacked! Me! I was hurt and I was used and it’s not okay!” and the first questions being “Were you drunk? How drunk? What were you wearing? And you can’t remember the color of the car?”

“Why did you leave your friends?”

“Why didn’t you call an uber and make sure the license plate matched?”

“Why did you leave your phone in his car?”

“Why did you get into a strangers car?”

Shit. I was drunk. And I was taken advantage of. Put drunk me anywhere and that doesn’t mean I’m going to be taken advantage of. The only part of the equation that got me assaulted was the man willing to assault me.

It is all on him.

It is not my fault.

Why don’t we tell men not to rape women instead of telling women what to do in order to not be raped? Get your shit together, America.

My narrative isn’t even fucking done there, either. Because trauma is forever and because I was assaulted again more recently. By a coworker.

And now I’m mad. I’m thinking “when the hell will this end because I am tired of getting attacked.” But I digress. Let me tell the story.

Bartender at one of my million serving jobs. On valentine’s day he gives me one of the roses the restaurant was giving to guests and he tells me I’m beautiful. Asks for my number.

Texts me 7 times in a row.

I tell him I’m doing shit and I’ll see him at work.

“Oh so it’s like that.”

Of course it’s like that I don’t know you stop texting me so much.

Fast forward to me having to return to work late one night to pick up the jacket I had left there. He asks me to go have a drink with him. I don’t see the harm in it and sure I had a long day so I’ll go for a drink.

He puts his hand on my leg in the car- I take it off and ask him not to touch me. He does it again and I tell him not to touch me.

We get to the bar and I’m glad it’s one near my home. We get drinks and I finish mine real quick. He has to take a call and the bartender asks if I’m okay. No I’m not okay I think he’s going to hurt me. “Yeah I’m fine, thank you for noticing my discomfort.” I text my housemate groupchat and they all tell me it’s okay for me to leave and that I should leave.

He comes back from taking the call and asks me to kiss him. I tell him I don’t want to and he pulls my head toward his and kisses me. Then he gets mad “why don’t you kiss me back do you not want me?” No I don’t want you. You scare me. “I don’t want to kiss you.”

I start to cry because I’m fucking triggered and I tell him I’ve been assaulted before and I don’t like the way he is making me feel and he says “stop crying I didn’t do anything wrong” and I call an uber and he tells me to stay. “Just stay here with me. We can go back to my place. Just stay.”

No. I go outside and get into the car. He follows and attempts to pull me out of the uber and my driver, a wonderful woman, asks if she needs to call the cops. That makes him let me go. I slam the door shut and start to hyperventilate, trying to hold back a massive panic attack.

My driver tells me I’m safe. That she’ll take me home or to the police station, whichever one I want. She takes me home, gives me her card, and tells me to call her if I ever need a ride.

Work has been pretty supportive but I’m still kind of pissed that they accidentally schedule me with him on the reg. I’m trying to work with HR but legit this shit ass should be fired. The work part’s a little more intricate but I’m tired of thinking about that right now.

You know what I’m noticing in both of these stories? Immediately after my assaults in DC I was faced with incredible people who are completely worthy of trust. I am able to trust a stranger right after being attacked by a stranger.

I don’t know if that makes me crazy or kind or just normal. But I am so grateful for the fact that I am able to continue trusting people. I wake up and usually am not afraid of the world. I feel stronger every day when I can find genuine joy and feel positively about my self and my body. Because it is hard to do that when your body has been stolen from you. When your self has been damaged seemingly beyond repair.

And thus ends my narrative as far as my past goes. But every day I’m writing my story and I am in control of where it’s going. I will always be living with trauma but I will still look for joy in every moment possible. This absolutely doesn’t mean I’m done blogging about my story (sorry not sorry) but I have finally concluded this portion of my therapy, of re-telling my trauma narrative and reflecting on how to take my story from here.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, friends.

 

Letters: Part One

Trigger warning: rape

This is a letter to the man who violently raped me in Spain.

You,

When we met you seemed like an awkward yet kind person who wanted to make a human connection.

We got drunk on tinto de veranos and the night. Your friend enchanted mine and suddenly my walking buddy was gone.

It was us. You and I in a bar together. I didn’t have exceptionally good feelings when I realized I was alone with you but I ignored my gut and decided to trust you.

I trusted you the bare minimum of human trust. I trusted you to respect my space, to respect me as a person, and to not hurt me. That’s it.

But the night was in your favor. And we left together. I looked for my friend and you told me not to worry. So I worried.

You pushed me up against a wall and kissed me. You said you had been waiting to do that all night. I asked you not to do it again.

You did it again.

So I got sassy. I told you to go home and I would do the same. You said okay and sulked away.

But I didn’t know that you didn’t keep walking. As I made my way to the main street through a convenient alleyway, you hit me on the head with something ridiculously painful.

Were you intimidated by me? Is that why you had to sneak up behind me and knock me unconscious? Was I just that sexy? Was I so attractive that you very literally needed to take me?

I don’t know, nor will I ever know the motivation behind hitting a woman in the back of the head just to drag her into an apartment entrance so you can violate her.

I woke up feeling intense pain and the weirdest pleasure. I absolutely hate you for that. I came out of unconsciousness and for a split second I felt good. And then, as my splitting headache made itself aware, I understood what was happening. And I felt sick.

All I could think about was getting as far away from you as possible. So I kicked you as hard as I could while you were penetrating me. It didn’t stop you but my screams of agony that I thought were only in my head alerted three angels nearby. Three men that came when they heard my screams. And they removed you from me. One even pulled my leggings up as I sat crying in the alley.

And he grasped my shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and told me to run.

And I wanted to run. But what I really wanted to do was hurt you. And when I approached you with my fists clenched I wanted to take your life. Because you had just taken a strong woman and yanked her all the way back to when she was a frightened teen who has just lost her virginity to rape. I wanted to beat you bloody- I was ready to. And when I hit you it felt good. But then I didn’t want to touch you any more. So I stood there, fists at the ready, sobbing because I had been reduced to nothing but a vessel for terrible memories. And as I turned and ran I heard one of the angels tell me not to worry and not to listen.

You broke the wall that had been holding my memories back. You unearthed the mountain of pain and self hatred and guilt that I had been burying for years.

Thanks for that, asshole.

Because of your bullshit, pathetic, disgusting display of dominance and “manhood,” I have talked about my assaults. I have looked at my trauma head-on and have done my very best to come to terms with it.

You terrible human. You awful man made of hatred and greed. You disgusting creature bent on controlling others… I won’t let you have me.

I won’t give you my fear. I won’t give you my tears or my sadness or my guilt. I will shoulder those things. I will pack them up nicely and only sort through them when I want to. When I have the time. I am my own human and what you did to me will not take my identity away, you fucking waste.

You were not my first assailant. But your letter was the first I chose to write. Because you were the most integral to my recovery. Had you not been the mass of idiotic dick-brain that you are, I might never have been so traumatized that I had to reach out for help.

I may have never found my road to living with trauma.

And while my nights of sleep are sometimes interrupted by your voice or the feeling of you inside of me, I’m still here. And I get the fuck up out of bed and make something of myself and my life every day. Because fuck you. You tried to take my feelings of security and self-love. You attempted to rob me of myself.

And you failed.

I am here and strong and I am telling my story.

Sorting Through Stuff

Do you ever start cleaning your room and find that random box full of old letters and pictures and report cards? And you sit down and go through and look at everything in the box? You let all of the memories wash over you with every flick through the photo album. You feel your feelings associated with your baby blanket or that binder full of notes your best friend passed you in eighth grade. You take everything out of the box and hold it in your hands before setting it aside. Then, you might throw a few things away or you might choose do display some stuff but you pack everything else up and put it back in the box.

That’s what this blog is for me. My recent series of posts related to my trauma are me unpacking my baggage and sorting the fuck through my emotions and memories. Getting a grip on my experiences and my personal identity.

This blog is really important to me. I am always safe when I’m writing. I am able to be reflective and basically talk to myself without getting any weird looks on the train. And it means the world to me when someone I know (or don’t know!) reads my thoughts and tells me I’m not alone.

The next few posts on this site will be letters I have written to those who have traumatized me. The men who sexually assaulted me and the individuals who I encountered directly after certain assaults.

But it’s not all going to be trauma-centric and sad. I also have a series of letters to write to the people who have supported me through my suffering and who have never let me forget that it is Not My Fault.

So these next few posts are potentially going to be graphic. They will definitely contain strong language and sweeping emotional realizations. These letters will allow me to say all the things I have never even known I need to say. They will be another step on my road of surviving with trauma.

Join me on my journey if you’d like.

Therapy and My Trauma Narrative

TRIGGER WARNING- Rape, sexual assault

Hey friends-

I haven’t posted recently so while I wait in the lobby of the DC Rape Crisis Center, I figured I would write a little somethin’ somethin’.

It has been four weeks since my last therapy appointment….and it has also been about four weeks since I have given a shit about myself.

These last four weeks I have distracted myself with friends and family and a sort-of boyfriend (who, I am sure, would not appreciate that title)…distracted myself with work and binge-watching Netflix.

It is actually sometimes a solid choice to distract myself. It is an effort to not feel feelings and an effort to not succumb to the healthy act of just feeling a little bit shitty and allowing myself to process my shitty feelings.

I am scared to go to therapy today. Because I know what is on the docket to talk about…

Today will be the first time I have ever talked about the two rapes that followed losing my virginity. Both in my sixteenth year of life. One sick and violent and almost life-threatening. One sad and depressing and a moment of almost rock-bottom.

These last four weeks have taught me that I really do rely on therapy to keep me accountable. And that is good- it keeps me accountable! It is also kinda shitty- because I have been bad about keeping myself accountable in my self-love. I have fallen off the bandwagon of working out, my self-love-activity shortened to just three or four minutes of stretching in the morning in place of the 15 minutes of yoga I was doing, which was a replacement for the 30 minute full-on workouts I was keeping up with so well. I missed my last two classes of my Financial Peace University class because I was on vacation, and thus I fell off another bandwagon. Not like I had much money to waste, though.

So…yeah. Four weeks of distracting myself. Partially because I think that I moved my source of validation. I went from being really awesome at loving myself and saying “good on you, Jess! You’re great!” to searching for external sources of validation (namely, boys). That’s dangerous. Because I went on a spree of needing attention in order to feel good about myself. Which is what all of the fucking therapy is supposed to be changing. Jesus. So I went on a shitty bender of bad habits. And I knew I would have to fess up to the therapist as well as talk about these two assaults and I am nervous as hell. So I kept ignoring the problem instead of fixing it.

After Therapy

Balls. That was a rough sesh. I think it was the second time I’ve cried while in therapy with the DCRCC. Talked about the ups of the last month- vacation, boyfriend, how incredible my support system (housemates!) in DC is, new job. Then the last 40 ish minutes were a continuation of my trauma narrative. A part of my story that I’ve never told before. I talked about the two sexual assaults that occurred after I lost my virginity to rape. Unfortunately, they were also the next two times I had sex.

A few months after my first assault, I was invited to a birthday party of a moderately close acquaintance. I had met her through J, my first assailant. I was hesitant to go, but she apparently wanted me to come really badly, so I convinced my mom to let me have a sleepover at a different friend’s house….and I did the shitty teenager thing- went with the friend my mom allowed me to spend the night with to this “rager” of a 17th birthday party. Ha.

Got there and her stepdad was already drunk. He called me by the wrong name and told me I looked pretty. I ignored him ’cause he was gross, old, and drunk, and I was happy to hang out with a bunch of teenagers. Stepdad came to the gaggle of teens and asked if anyone would help him go down to the basement to get more beer from the fridge or whatever. I volunteered, because I am just too damn helpful. 

He calls me the wrong name again, and sends me down first. He said the light is out, but to make a left at the bottom of the stairs and go through the first doorway. The basement was smelly and unfinished, but seemed to have separate rooms. I went through the doorway, and the door shut behind me as he turned the light on.

There is a bare mattress on the floor and a set of chains on the wall. Fucking chains. He kisses my neck and pulls at my clothes (clothes I still remember and have never worn since).

And it wasn’t until he had just gotten me on the mattress that J, of all people, pushed the door open and got the guy off of me. I look back now and find some sick irony in my first assailant pulling my second off of me. At the time I was just mortified and broken. I rushed getting my clothes back on, and left with the friend who went to the party with me. She got her mom to pick us up…and I actually did end up spending the night at her house. She was the only person I ever told this story to. 

In my therapist’s office, a comfortable place that always smells like cookies and has a big, comfy IKEA couch, I sat frozen in fear with tears streaming down my face as I recounted that buried memory. Just thinking about it now, in my own dining room, surrounded by familiar and comfortable things, I feel unsafe and uncomfortable. Because I always think about the “what ifs” of that situation. And my stomach turns. And the tears come back. Because that was probably the single most terrifying experience of my entire life.

A few months later, I had gone through a hella rough time at home and school. I had gotten caught shoplifting (eyeliner and cold medicine for a friend- I know, I’m an idiot) and mom got called. She basically exiled me and told me that I was the scum of the earth. Fair enough, mom. Thieves and liars are the scum of the earth to ya, and I had fallen into one of those categories. (FYI- mom and I are cool now. I understand where she was coming from. She’s a damn good mom.)

So for the first time in my life I was grounded. And I was pretty depressed. And on the third night of my grounding, a boy from school texted me and said he was down the street from my house- did I want him to come over and hang out? I told him I was grounded and he asked if there was a way he could sneak into my house. I said yes. So he hopped in the window of my sister’s old room and we chatted for a while. I told him it was getting late and he should probably leave when he pulled a bottle of Kahlua out of his backpack and chugged some (super gross, I know. Silly teenagers). He offered it to me and, you know, how could I say no? So I drank that shit. And I got a little bit drunk off of it in like thirty minutes. And I told him he should go. But he told me I was pretty. So he wanted to stay. And he started to kiss me and I felt like that was okay.

Then he started to put his hands on me, and I pulled away. I told him I wasn’t ready for that. He just told me do drink more and it would be okay. I had another drink and he undid my pants. I kept pushing him away and saying no. 

Well, there’s a pattern with my stories so I won’t finish that one in detail. But that was big ‘ole number three. I never told anyone about him, either. Because once in that school another girl claimed he had raped her. And the fucking school turned on her. Now I’m inclined to believe she was telling the truth. But at the time I just didn’t want to get a nickname calling me crazy or having people put notes in my lockers that said “do you really want to get raped?” Because that is what happened to her. And I wish with all my might that I could go back in time and be the only person in that school to believe her.

It has taken me a week to write this post. Because these stories are hard as fuck to tell. And because yes, I want to make you feel uncomfortable, dear audience- but I don’t want to scare you or give you too much at once. Because I want you to come back and keep reading my trauma narrative. Because I want you to share these stories with anyone you think they might help. And because I want to give you the confidence to share your own truths.

I think this one is as good as its gonna get. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my narrative. I’m doing this for me and my healing process, but I am also doing it for all of the people who contact me and tell me that they read my story and it gave them hope, or gave them confidence. Thank you for being so brave and strong and keep on being the beautiful you that you are.

Until next time, friends! ❤

If I Could See You Again

If I could see you again, I would tell you that what you did was wrong.

I would tell you that you took my trust and used it as a weapon against me.

I would say that you treated your only true friend as if she were disposable.

I would say that for the rest of my high school career….I felt disposable.

If I could see you again my body might freeze in paralyzing memory.

Or I might punch you in the face.

Because what you did to me was not okay.

If I could see you again…. I would probably cry. From the anger, the fear, the resentment, and the hurt.

I would tell you I’m crying because you took from me what others give away for the first time. I would say that it is unfair that you took my virginity as well as my pride. You took my dignity.

You robbed me.

But…if I could see you again…I would tell you that I am okay.

I would say that you may have robbed me, but I found better things. I rebuilt myself and now I am stronger in spite of you.

If I could see you again I would let you know that I am happy. I have people, a job, and things that bring me joy.

I would ask you what you have done with your life.

If I could see you again, I would ask you how you feel about what you did to your high-school best friend.

I would remind you that it was rape.

And I would tell you, again, that I have begun to know what true peace is. I know what strength is. I know these things because I have had to rebuild my entire being because of what you did.

And I would cry…

But if I could see you again, if I could really tell you all of these things, I would smile. Because I know they’re true. And I have come to learn what true happiness is. I don’t feel it all the time, but I’m sure that, on the whole, I feel a whole lot better than you do.

And that brings me joy, too.

Stories

Hey friends!

Two posts in one week! What is this magic?!

So. I want to kind of give an introduction to the next series of posts and also explain the content of my last few a little bit. Because I like to talk about this shit. In a strange way, I really like to tell my story even if it brings up feelings I haven’t felt in such a long time thanks to my incredible ability to bury the hell out of my responses to trauma.

TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE 

I love stories, guys. I love listening to them, watching them, reading them, and recently I’ve found out that I love telling them. My story, to be exact. It is cathartic for me to tell my stories. Whether they’re about my day or about the trauma I’ve survived, I love it. And the best things that has come from my posts about my trauma are all of the stories people feel comfortable sharing with me. Women and men who I have never had a real personal connection with have messaged me on Facebook to thank me for my story and to share theirs. And that is amazing. Because I hope people share their stories in any way they can. Write a book, paint a picture, sing a song- whatever. The fact that I have been able to help even one person share his/her story makes the difficulty of sharing mine completely worth it.

Aaanyway, I’ve been to three sessions with my therapist, now. And we’ve gotten through the preliminary talks and we’ve done the “easy” homework. Now we are going to shortly begin what is called my “trauma narrative;” AKA My Story. We have discussed how I am going to do it and I’ve decided that I’d like to blog about it. Because I want to share my story with the world. And because I want people to see that it is okay to share your story.

So here is blog number one, I think. A general introduction to my narrative. I don’t know how these posts are going to unfold. I never really know until I write them- which is totally my favorite part of blogging. Having a conversation with myself a little bit and being egotistical enough to assume that other people want to read it 😉

My Story is a long one. It is pretty intricate and it involves so much outside of the actual incidents of rape and sexual assault. My Story starts with my childhood, really, and the fact that I was always pushed to be beautiful. I remember really shitty talks with my mom about how I would be beautiful if I lost weight or how I could solve my issues of boys not liking me if I could fit into a smaller size. Now, my mom is not a bad mom. She just doesn’t word things the best sometimes. And I don’t blame my mother for anything that has ever happened to me- because my mom is fucking amazing and she now knows how much those conversations hurt me and has apologized for saying things that didn’t help my self-esteem. Of course it would have been better to be told “your problem isn’t that boys don’t like you- it is that you don’t like you,” but maybe she didn’t know that. I know it took me a while to learn that. And, all-in-all, I’m a pretty okay human now. She (and daddy-o!) did a pretty good job making me not an axe-murderer.

I digress.

(Next up: my first traumatic experience. Skip this if you’re squeamish) 

Anyway, my story unfolds into a night with my best friend at the time. I was allowed to spend the night at his house because he seemed to be a good kid, my mom knew exactly where he lived, and his parents and my mom were friendly. They weren’t friends, but neither party had a problem calling the other if the kids got into shenanigans. So it was a Friday night and I was spending the night. We got into our usual shenanigans of playing videogames and cussing like we had just discovered those delectable words, which we sort of had. I was fifteen. As I began to get tired I complained of a headache and he got up, went to his medicine cabinet, and came back with two blue pills. He told me they were Tylenol P.M. I thanked him and then took them. We went to bed- I on the futon in his room and he on his bed. I remember tossing and turning and not being able to fall asleep. After what felt like hours of electrified muscles and crazy physical sensations, he asked “are you still awake?” And I said yes. I couldn’t sleep. I felt weird. He sat on the edge of the futon and asked how. I explained that I felt as if my body were turning to silly putty and I just felt fluid and restless. So he got into bed and began massaging my shoulders and told me that would help. I don’t remember the next transition…

Then he raped me. I remember feeling physically good but mentally uncomfortable and I tried to push him off I don’t know how many times. I said “no” often and the only thing I remember him saying during the act is “your cherry is already popped, I might as well keep going.” It seemed to last for days, but I’m sure it was only a few minutes. He got back into his bed, leaving me alone, confused, and terrified. He said “you’ll come down in a little bit and sleep like a baby.” I went to bed thinking that at least I was pretty enough for him to want to have sex with me. I am so sickened now when I think about how, in some fucked up way, that made me feel good. It made me feel wanted. What the shit.

It didn’t hit me until the next morning when my mom picked me up that he had drugged me.

He fucking drugged me! I was no longer sad, I was furious. My mom asked what we did and I told her about the videogames and the going to bed. I never told her about the other half of my night. I never told anyone (except my bff S) about that until after I came back from Spain.

(Retelling over, you can resume. Still TRIGGER WARNING for the rest of the post. I don’t know your triggers)

Losing my virginity to rape set the stage for my sex life. And I’m still trying to recover from the fucked up notions it gave me about sex. It told me that all I was good for was my body and how well my body could please someone else. It told me I was only worthy of love if my body was worthy of sex. It said that I couldn’t make my own decisions about my body, that I had no rights to my body. It seriously fucked me up.

I never saw a therapist for my trauma. I never acknowledged the trauma. I just decided the best thing to do was to push on and pretend it never happened. To focus on other things so I wasn’t bogged down. Which is so freaking unhealthy. After seeing a therapist for other reasons I realized that I really needed to do some work on my self-love.

Which opened lots of more discussions and thoughts and realizations. But I’ll leave this for now. This thing is long enough as it is and I can’t tell my whole story in one go.

Plus, I have a date to go on with this awesome dude. 😀

Until next week, folks. Let me know if this made you feel uncomfortable or sparked a new line of thinking. But ESPECIALLY let me know if it has made you think about sharing your story. I would love to hear from any or all of my readers. Thank you!

No Excuses

Buenas noches my darling friends!

Today began my journey to taking my life back. I’ve been coasting these last few months and I can’t allow myself to do that any longer. I’ve been ignoring pain, evading responsibility, and giving up on my physical and mental health. And in no way do any of those things ever make you feel good.  So I (and my new therapist) have decided that I should probably get my shit together at least a little bit.

Last week I told you about the goals I had to do for homework in therapy. They were: Start creating once a week, stop making excuses, and change how I prioritize decisions and remember to make sure I’m accounting for my feelings.

Today I’d like to talk about my stop goal. I need to stop making excuses for myself. “Excuses are the nails that build the house of failure” is one of my favorite quotes by my favorite college professor. She’s right. Excuses allow you to cut corners and get lazy. They insult you and the expectations of those around you. They say “yeah, I could do that, but I simply won’t.” And that’s silly. Because I should work hard every day to be the best fucking me there is.

So today, I re-started my journey to fitness. But this time I’m not going to focus solely on my physical fitness. This time I’m going to remember that my emotional and mental fitness are just as (if not more!) important.

So, no more excuses. No more “I’m tired,”  “I walked an extra mile today,” or “but it’s easier to not think about.” No more “Chinese is more convenient,” “I woke up late,” or “I deserve to feel this way.” No. No more of that. Because it is bullshit and I need to call myself on it.

Basically, my biggest excuse is that I’m really just afraid. I’ve been getting really anxious these past few months. For my entire life I have been fat. I have been able to hide behind a screen of stereotypical unattractiveness. I have been able to develop a rapier wit and charming personality so everyone who got to know me did so on a basis of them being a relatively awesome person and actually getting to know me for how awesome I am. I had good friends and anyone who pursued me romantically did so because they liked who I was. Guys. I hated myself every day for waking up and being society’s opposite of defined beauty. Because society also told me that beauty was all I could ever get.

Tangent aside- I have been able to shield myself for a long time and the people who I didn’t want in my life sort of weeded themselves out before they actually met me. In all actuality- it was pretty awesome. But since my journey to fitness began last September, I have chosen more often than not to love myself. And to put work into myself. As a result, I’ve lost over 40 pounds and I look damn good. Add a hair cut, great friends and family, and a solid year of feeling like I was being a successful college grad and you’ve got yourself a hot-and-ready confident lady.

The thing is, that confidence shows. And it makes cat calls happen. And it makes general harassment happen. And it has opened my eyes to the fact that when I walk out and about in the world I am 100% unabashedly me and that makes me feel so damned vulnerable.

So I’m afraid. Since I was assaulted again recently all rules for my fitness have flown by the wayside. I guess I figured that if I just stopped caring about my food choices or working out that I would just get fat again. And that would help keep me safe again.

But hey… then I remembered that I was assaulted when I was 15 years old and I was the fat kid in my high school. I was bullied daily for how ugly I was- but somehow I was desirable enough either in lack of self-esteem or in body to attract a rapist. Then I remembered that I was assaulted again when I was 16, in the same context but at a different high school. Then I remembered that when I was in Spain I was almost at my heaviest weight and I still managed to attract an asshole with no regard for others.

Then I remembered that no matter how beautiful or ugly you are, how skinny or fat, how tall, wide, fit, or weak you are, you are always vulnerable if you don’t love yourself. My fat never saved me, it only gave me the illusion of safety because it gave me slight anonymity. Loving myself is the best protection I can give me because it tells most people “hey, fuck you. I won’t stand for any of your bullshit.” And that is a better safety net than a plus size.

I didn’t expect that to get so deep. Sort of sorry. Also I don’t know how to conclude this post so it’s probably just going to be continued.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, gorgeous humans!

P.S. I worked out for forty-five minutes today! And I did 30 burpees! THIRTY! Even if I don’t wake up early and work out tomorrow morning, I’ll definitely work out again after work like I did today. I feel electric. 😀

Stop. Start. Change.

Hey folks!

Holy shit, it has been wayyy too long. I’m sorry for that. I’m not sorry because I imagine you pining away the hours until I drop some more me into your life- I’m sorry because I find this blog very cathartic. It helps me dissect myself and my life and the world around me in a way nothing else does. And I’ve been feeling very unfulfilled. So here I am.

News!

I got a new job! I teach at a private Christian day care in Arlington, VA. I’m in a toddler Montessori classroom. It has its quirks. The kids are amazing and I am learning so much. There’s some not-so-great stuff I might get to later.

I have an interview for a new job! Tomorrow! Because where I work right now is actually pretty awful when it comes to how they treat me (and other employees that aren’t related to the main group of administrators).

I went on an awesome date yesterday! So awesome that I was completely unstressed all day today!

I got a therapist!

That last piece of news was actually the inspiration for this post. I had my first session last week at the DC Rape Crisis Center. My therapist is male. He is amazing. And he gave me homework! My homework was to come to this week’s session with a list of goals. Something I want to stop, something I want to start, and something I want to change.

And, to hold myself accountable. I figured I’d write about those goals in a post.

Stop

I want to stop making excuses for myself and my body. Every morning I snooze past my 6AM alarm because I’m still tired, or I got to sleep late, or because I hate my job and don’t want to get up. Instead of just waking up and working out. Like I did for a year. I am making excuses and that is making me lazy. I’m not happy with myself. This will be my hardest goal to meet. Because I am really good at making up excuses.

Start

I want to start creating once a week. I want to write a blog post, or paint a picture, or take a photograph that I’m proud of at least once a week. Because creating makes me happy. And because it keeps me in touch with my thoughts and feelings…and that’s pretty important.

Change

I’m going to try my very hardest to change the way I make decisions regarding people. To put it simply, I’m going to try and change how “nice” I am all the time. I will change the way I evaluate what is important to me and put my comfort and my wishes before others’ happiness. Because trying to make people happy and glossing over my dislike or discomfort toward a situation has gotten me into trouble before. And because I really need to make myself happy.

Soooo I finished my homework! And I am super stoked to talk to my therapist about these goals and about this date I just went on yesterday because I was straight-up respected for five hours straight and that has never happened to me before in my entire life. I am so thrilled.

That’s it for now. Super short update on my life. I’ll share more later about how Montessori is so strange to me and how my babies say the darnedest shit.

Until next time, friends!

Living With Trauma Part One: Living a Little Bit Broken

Hey, friends. This will probably be sort of long. Also not very fun to read. I don’t know how it’s gonna turn out. I’m sorry in advance for, well, anything I guess.

TRIGGER WARNING: rape, sexual assault (Dad, you might not want to read this)

Folks, I have a problem with how trivial people seem to find traumatic experiences. I have a problem with how uninformed the world seems to be on how just one experience can change someone’s life and can be a major hindrance forever.

In the past year, I have been very open about being raped while studying abroad in Spain. I discussed the matter on this blog earlier this year. I have been writing about it and talking about it to help me heal. Maybe it isn’t very comfortable for you to read, and for that I am a little bit sorry- I hate making people uncomfortable or unhappy- but I have been told so many times that people are grateful for my lack of silence. I am determined to not be silenced. I know it is uncomfortable to hear about, I know it is unfortunate to read about- but I will not keep quiet. People need to know their friends, sisters, brothers, and loved ones that have been through even one traumatic experience need love and patience.

Every day since I lost my virginity to date rape at the age of fifteen, I have lived with trauma. It isn’t something that you “get through.” Trauma stays with you forever and you just have to adapt to living a little bit broken.

Every day since I was raped again at the age of sixteen, I have woken up wondering if I would ever actually be worth someone’s love.

I haven’t been sure of any of my decisions since I was fifteen. I can never tell if I want something because I actually want it or because it will make people (i.e. men) like me more.

I haven’t loved myself fully….ever, I don’t think. Before losing my virginity, I didn’t love myself because I was a silly, angsty teenager. After it, there’s like I live every day trying to find something to fill that little hole so I can feel me again. Because being taken advantage of over and over again made me feel as if I had no say in the matter- I didn’t (and won’t ever) have a choice of what to do with my body.

So you know what I did to help myself get over it? I consented all over the place. I swung that pendulum way over and did everything I could to have the control of the outcome of my sex life. And that did help in some ways. But in other ways it just made me feel worse about my body and reinforced the stupid, terrible, cancerous idea that I am only worth what I can give to someone who wants me. I am only pretty if I am wanted. I am only loveable if I am wanted. And that constant discourse in my head- “I’m me, I’m amazing and charming and kind and loveable and I am cared for greatly,” and “I am trash, I am nothing but a slut, I am dirty and deserve nothing but what I’ve gotten and will inevitably get again,” drives me bonkers every day.

It is so hard to wake up and hate yourself….and go on living anyway. I can’t say every day I want to die, not anymore. I’ve learned how to live a little bit broken. But I often find myself wanting to put myself into dangerous situations so I can end this war within my head of my true self, my happy, whole, loving self and my sad, rejected, shadow of a self. I look in the mirror and think “I look incredible! Thank you, Beachbody! I feel great!!” and then, quick as a whip, I also think “you’re wantable.”

That second thought weighs on my soul.

It weighs there because I’ve been taught my whole life by most of my world that I am only as good as my worth to men. And if I’m only worth what my body can provide, then I deserve to be raped, I deserve to be taken advantage of, because that’s all I’m good for.

And that is fucked up.

I live every single day trying to deliver as much kindness into the world as I can. I throw compliments and smiles and random stranger high-fives out like candy at a parade. I do this because I understand that so many people live with something that weighs them down. No, not everyone is a sexual assault survivor, but everyone has bad days and everyone will have something really shitty happen to them in their life and if I can brighten anyone’s day, then I feel as if I’m making a difference.

All I want to do is show people that kindness still exists. Because things like being assaulted by a man who is just supposed to drive me home and take my money for that business transaction shouldn’t happen.

I should never hear “stop crying, now keep going so I can finish” from a cab driver.

I should never have to try to find and stumble my way home because all I wanted to do was get home safely after a night out with my friends.

Yes, I was drunk when I was assaulted this weekend.

No, that doesn’t make my story any less legitimate.

If you think that I put myself into a dangerous situation because I was wearing a dress and drinking that night, I want you to take any comment you have, think it in your head all you want, and get the hell out of my life because that poisonous thinking is what makes me never want to report it.

That awful rape culture makes it hard for me to be sure of myself when detectives are asking me questions.

That line of thinking makes me cry while I’m going through an exam at the hospital. Because what if they don’t believe me because I was drunk?

That is not okay.

Assault is never the victim’s fault. No consent means no consent. Period. End of story.

And that’s why I live with trauma. I live a little bit broken, because no matter how much healing I do, there’s always going to be a scar, and things like what happened this weekend rip that scar open and pour in a whole new batch of self-loathing and awful, scary thoughts.

It is so hard to love yourself in a world that perpetuates things like this. It is hard to heal when people always ask me “well, were you drinking?” It is so hard to not blame myself when so many people blame me.

And that is what living with trauma is like. That is just a short (yes, short. ha.) glimpse into the fucking terror that I wake up with every day. Night terrors that send me into panic attacks because I know it is happening again. Anxiety when I’m doing literally anything. Anything could trigger me into a weeping shell of a human.

So if I scream when you come up behind me and touch me or if I call you out for making a rape joke, deal with it. I have bigger problems than your pride being hurt because it was “just a joke.”

My dignity has been stripped from my very soul and I live every day trying to rebuild it.

That’s why I live a little bit broken.