Take No L’s

Photo By: Shane Spangler

I’m Baaaaaaack!

Mostly.
Partly.
Kind of?

If you didn’t notice I was gone, let me fill you in.

I disappeared last weekend.
Vanished, under the blankets on my bed.
Last Thursday I took a pretty big L.

The Trigger:
My two beautiful, wonderful, super fun friends from L.A. drove their big R.V. into Austin last week. You might know them as Alex and Dalton from ARK Project (@arkprojectnow). Well, we had a lot of fun roaming around the city until their RV got broken into, so we decided we’d go out with some of my other friends for a night on 6th street to get their minds off of it. We had a good time bar hopping and dancing and drinking ( I was D.D.) until we encountered Patricia.

I was driving us to get a slice of pizza before the long drive home and CRASH.
My car jolted to a halt. I opened my eyes to a blur and heard a ringing in my ears. I smelled smoke and shouted, “everyone get out of the car!”

We were hit by a drunk driver.
Head on.

There was a lot of shouting. I looked over to see Patricia, our new drunk friend, fumbling with the keys trying to put her truck into reverse to drive away. Hit and run? Not if I could help it. I started to scream when I noticed three men had flung her driver door open and wrestled with her to keep her from driving off. I could see she was very overwhelmed so I felt that 3 men yelling and grabbing was a bit excessive. I walked over to them and shooed them all away. I turned to Patricia and spoke softly. I asked if she was okay and if she had anyone to call. I glanced down and saw blood smeared on her legs. Once she got a hold of the steering wheel for balance, she turned to me with blood gushing from her mouth and said “I’m not drunk”. That’s when the officer walked up and he handled it.

I was marching back and forth between my friends and the ambulance and my car in 6 inch heels. I stood strong and competent and helpful until I watched 4 men roll my poor car onto a tow truck. Then I just stared. My friend came over to me and put his arm around me. I thought about the road trips I had taken in my car, and the long talks I had with people in that car, the dents I put in my car (and in other peoples cars with my car) and the kisses I gave and received in my car. My car was gifted to me from my step mom after I got my license my Junior year of High School. It grew up with me. It was my freedom.

My favorite part of the whole night was actually our Uber (Not actually uber it’s an app called Ride Austin because Uber & Lift don’t exist here) driver who told us how excited he was that we got into a car accident and were going to the hospital at 3 am to pick up one of my friends because his night had been really boring.

I was not taking anyone’s shit so I turned to him and said
“So glad our misfortune is entertaining to you. That’s really fucked up”
He proceeded to change the subject by trying to put down the drunk driver, Patricia
“She was probably just one of those stupid sorority girls, you know.”
Which I again turned to him, looked him dead in the eye and said
“I’m in a sorority.”
“oh.”
Then a voice from the back seat.
“You are just digging yourself into a deeper hole dude.”

Then silence for the following 40 min home.

I didn’t cry that night. I didn’t cry the following days either. My L.A. friends made it easy to laugh…

The weekend was spent getting me a rental car, getting checked out by the urgent care doctor, picking up prescriptions, phones calls to my step brother who is a lawyer and my insurance company and then sleeping.

The Aftermath:
Monday Morning
Monday morning, my friends left. I felt fine until suddenly I wasn’t. I tried gathering myself together for class and had a complete breakdown and called my mom. She told me to call my therapist. And I told them both I got shaky holding my prescription medications from the doctor and asked my roommate to hide them from me. Just in case.

I cried hard. Really hard.
Tipping point.
I felt like I was suffocating.
I went to the park and posted one snap chat and one Instagram story saying I was going to take a week off to heal, then I deleted all of my social media apps.
Then messaged the people I was working with on side projects to let them I know I was taking time to heal and I wouldn’t be available for a little while.
I felt better.
I went home and slept.

Tuesday – Thursday
I slept for 3 days. Literally. Slept.
The following day I felt physically weak and emotionally numb. Tired and still couldn’t do much. I laid in bed and watched T.V. shows all day. I tried to get out once, but talking to people drained me.

Friday
I decided I was bored of feeling sorry for myself and done with thinking about my wrecked car. I got dressed up, put on make-up and went to a lecture.
Then I went to my therapy appointment. I sat down and stared a the wall on the other side of the room as the tears streamed down my face.
Now this didn’t just happen all of a sudden, this was coming. Like the way the sky gets dark before it starts to rain. People don’t just break out of nowhere.
“I’m so scared of this” I said. “I noticed this started last month, when I had a really good day and was smiling in the car and I realized that I haven’t actually been happy in a while” More tears. I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until I was finally happy one day and my smile vanished pretty fast after that realization.

This didn’t feel like me. I felt trapped. I felt like I was being invaded. Like my mind and my body and my life was being invaded by a thick fog. I couldn’t think straight. I thought in circles. Depressing circles. But I knew that some thoughts I was having wasn’t me, it was the intruder. And noticing that made me feel better. I went home and watched more T.V. so I would stop thinking.

I went to the store later that night and bought ice cream, oreos, chocolate chip cookies, and bananas.
I ate half of what I bought that night.

Saturday
I don’t remember much except that I decided to go out that night.
It was homecoming weekend and a lot of old sorority sisters and friends were back in town.
I saw a bunch of people.
Being around people and hugging old friends filled me up a little bit. I felt a little bit stronger.
The people I saw & spent time talking to reminded me that I have many more people to call than I realized. They also reminded me of the impact I can have. And how proud they were of me.
I felt valued.

Sunday
My friend took me to church. The pastor’s wife got up on stage and told people that she wanted to take a moment to pray for the people who were hurting. This isn’t a normal part of the service. And I knew God did it for me.
“Come up to the front of the room to receive your blessing”
HA, HELL NO.
Almost the entire congregation went up there, which I thought was beautiful, but I stayed in my seat and bowed my head to pray Forgive Lord, but there’s no way in hell I’m going up there. But I still want your blessing. I need your help to beat this invader. 
“No pressure. God says no pressure. God is going to do something spectacular today for each of you.” The pastor’s wife said into the microphone.
Okay. I opened my eyes wide….

After church, I went to my other friend’s apartment for breakfast and Game of Thrones.
Suddenly it started to pour. And a smile dashed across my face.
I love rain.
I love the smell it leaves behind.
I love the chill of it.
But most of all, I love the cleansing feeling it gives me.
A lot of times when I am sad it rains. Which is kind of a big deal because it doesn’t rain all that much here.
I re-downloaded Instagram and Facebook

On my way home from my friend’s house I saw a rainbow. Not just part of a rainbow, but the whole darn thing. It was magical. And I couldn’t help but think of church this morning, and of God. And my sadness lifted, and the fog thinned out.
I bumped the song “Yung God” by Russ and “Bounce Back” by Big Sean (Whose cover art for the single inspired the title of this blog post) If you haven’t heard them, look them up.

Conclusion:
Someone responded to my “see ya later” post on my Instagram and said “Oh yeah? What’s a week going to do?” Well sir, let me tell you.

I healed a little bit. I took time for myself to rest and to hurt and to go back to God.

I have no idea when I’ll get hit with the fog again, but I can say that I’m ready to move forward and I ain’t takin no L’s.

I’m too strong to be defeated.

Still though, the idea of jumping straight back into everything I was doing before makes me a little bit light headed, but this week, I will go to class, and that’s a damn good start for me.

 

I didn’t Choose

Warning: The following is really personal. It’s more for me than for you this time. And if you are a younger reader, it might be a little bit uncomfortable for you, and that’s okay. Don’t feel like you have to read it. I talk about sex.
If you are a survivor, know that this post is a lot darker than my usual ones and doesn’t have a happy ending, but that doesn’t mean your stroy can’t be different.
Background Info Part 1:
A few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast sent to me by my mentor/friend, Katie, and it made me think about successful women. I cleaned my room, listened to the podcast, and thought about the women I wanted to be like, and what it was about them that made them different. It’s something I like to think about every now and then. It’s something that sort of helps me to see if I’m on the right track.
I realized that what made them different was also something they all had in common. I noticed that each of them had an unwavering, deep-rooted faith & relationship with God.  They had a deep understanding of what it means to really love people (including themselves) and moved through the world with freedom and strength because they know their identity is in Christ.
I decided what I needed to do. I needed to strengthen my relationship with God and commit to getting to know him better. I knew that if I had God on my side, nothing could take me down. I’d have resilience and love and the ability to really make a difference. I knew that if I want to live my life in chasing big dreams, I needed God on my side…..or rather I needed to follow him
I remember the questions someone asked me once…”If the path isn’t blessed by God, then do you really want to go there?”
No.
I really don’t.
Because I know whatever he has planned for me is more than I could ever dream of planning for myself. 
Background Info Part 2:
I’ve always wanted to get married. In fact, it caused a little bit of anxiety for an embarrassingly long chunk of time in my life… worrying I’d never have a husband or find love or whatever (clearly I needed a hobby).  
One of the talking points for Christians is sex. Or more like not having it before marriage. So a lot of the same women I look up to in business, are also virgins or made a choice to abstain until marriage.

The Point:
Right now, I’m a few thousand feet in the air, on a plane headed to my friend’s wedding in Atlanta, GA.

This morning while I brushed my teeth, my mind wandered around & I thought about the women I’d be reunited with at the wedding. It’s been about a year since I’ve seen any of them. Out of nowhere, something hit me and tears started streaming. I spit out my toothpaste and tried to cover my face in a hand towel to make it stop but it didn’t.

All of the women I’m going to see are Christian. 
And All of the women I’m going to see are waiting.
It’s not until Today that I realized that I didn’t get to choose. 
I didn’t get to choose to save myself for my husband.
I didn’t get to choose to share that connection with someone I truly loved.
If I had not been raped I don’t know if I would have waited, but I do know it’s something that I wanted.  
Before the rape, I was waiting.
But I didn’t get a choice.
And I never realized how dirty I felt until today.
People told me after it happened that I was still a virgin in Christ. THAT made ZERO sense to me but I clung to it. I needed something to make me feel clean.
But I never believed it. 
And it shows. I ended up choosing to have sex with a different person almost immediately after because I couldn’t keep living in the state of uncertainty. The “am I a virgin or am I not” thing was not something I liked or could fix. So I solidified it. I wanted to choose something even though I never really had a choice to begin with. And then I chose again with another person. And again. Because well, why not? 
Today, 4 years, 1 month and 1 week later, I faced myself. I realized that each time I have chosen to have sex with someone it was because I already felt ruined. 
You can’t take that back. No matter how much you want, you can’t make time pass faster or slower, and you can’t take your actions (or anyone else’s) back.
I have never felt anger like the anger I felt this morning.

My relationship with God develops with knowing that I am whole in him.  I know I need to take this to him but I’m having a seriously hard time doing that. 

It’s like my brain is split into two parts. 

The surface part of my brain knows that the sex I’m choosing to have is just hurting me. The part knows the reality and consequence of my actions. This is the part of my brain that has tried to come up with a plan of action to help me make better choices and goes to my friends for advice.

Then there’s the deeper part. The part that isn’t communicating with the planning part of my brain. The part of me that doesn’t care, and doesn’t see anything better. And that part of my brain prays that my future husband won’t wait for me. Because I don’t deserve it.

P.S. I am setting up a counseling appointment on Monday. 

The Devils Hands

Photo by: Brian
IG: @lastis1st

The colors inside your being
are curious to know
how the evil found you
when the only thing you’ll ever need
is so close –  but you turned away
In His eyes you are holy,
but in the devils hands you choose to stay
An empty feeling in your chest
legs that want to run 
but need more rest
a relentless darkness stirring inside
temptation comes out to play.
in His eyes you are holy, 
but in the devils hands you choose to stay
You feel strings tied around 
your limbs – watch
yourself move unwillingly…
when its wrong you let it be.
In His eyes you will always be His,
but in the devils hands 
you will now live.

This is the unfinished story of a christian overcome by temptation. It is unfinished because I know this story will end in grace. I know – because this story is my story and I have already been redeemed. I just need to accept the love that has been poured on me from the beginning.

We are imperfect beings, and as imperfect beings we fall short sometimes.
Make a bad decision
Make a mistake.

And that’s hard to do sometimes but you are worthy and you are loved. Your past does not define you.

I Watched Him Watch Me

I watched him watch me
As I walked I could see his reflection in glass
I could see him as he stared.
Beauty, they said.
Beauty is a curse.
Vanity they said.
Attention Whore
Tease
They hate me for it.
I hate myself too
Paranoid they call me.
Paranoid I call myself
But I watched him watch me
Through the glass
As I walked.

 This poem was inspired by the older man that watched me walk about of a Walmart late one Sunday night, and then developed by the many lies I’ve been told through out my life. Things I’ve heard, that convinced me I was just crazy, over-reacting, or “being a girl” when I complained of disrespect and objectification from men on the street. For some reason I was blamed for their inappropriateness, and chastised for my feelings because of THEIR actions. I’ve been called these names because of my outgoing personality, and petite features. Things made by God that I grew to hate because others grabbed hold of my young mind and told me I should- because the attention I received was not what I wanted and it seemed to come to me even when I wasn’t asking for it. I blamed myself for the way I was created but this is a lie.

This is a call to all people, men and women, to support each other… to believe a victim, and offer support for them.  And this is a reminder to me, I know what I see, I know what I feel, I know what is right and wrong, what is inappropriate and what is disrespect. I know that it’s not my fault.