BEST SELF, HAPPINESS, LIFE CHANGES

Fun with Clippers // My Adventures in Haircutting

01/16/2018

It may sound silly, but one thing I have always wanted to do is cut my own hair. There’s something I find really liberating about the idea of taking scissors to my own head, but it’s also terrifying because cutting your own hair in a straight line is not an easy task. I’ve had plenty of bad haircuts before, so even a trained professional can screw it up.

This time last year, I decided that I wanted to go blonde. This was a task I took on myself as well. Several boxes of blonde hair dye, or should I say bleach, later I was relatively blonde and I was pretty impressed with the job I did. I left the blonde in for a short while, but I didn’t feel like the color suited me and so I decided to get another box of dye and go back to my roots.

I think over a 6 week period I probably used 4-5 boxes of hair dye or bleach. Needless to say I destroyed my hair. Since then, I have tried to take care of it the best I can using Beautycounter products and DIY natural hair masks and remedies, but there’s no real coming back from that type of damage.

I decided that a haircut was a necessity. I spent some time asking around about hair salons in the area and also pinning ideas of hairstyles I was interested in. But I never pulled the trigger. I really enjoy having long hair. I feel like I have mermaid hair – a little out of control, never quite in place, slightly hippyish – and I feel like it’s part of my identity. But managing the fried ends has become a little bit too much. So, again I decided it was time to get a haircut.

Last week I spent a little too much time playing on hair apps trying to get an idea of what I would look like with really short hair. I mean, really short hair.  I’m not sure if the pixie cut is really for me since I have slightly bigger ears that stick out a bit and in my opinion, a bulbous upturned nose, but I still haven’t completely ruled it out. I tend to really like the stacked wedge/bob cut too.  Either way, I knew a good amount of hair was coming off in order to bring better health to my hair once again.


I have already decided that I’m not going to dye my hair again with conventional hair dye do to the toxins within the products, so I felt like a good haircut would give me a fighting chance for healthy hair.

Instead of going straight to the stylist and chopping it drastically short, I decided I wanted to go in phases. I know it may sound counter-intuitive being that I write a blog about myself, but I really don’t like a lot of attention – and a new hair cut, especially a drastic one brings just that. So I figured if I cut it shorter, in gradual steps, it would draw less attention.

So I came up with a brilliant idea of cutting it myself!  Something I have always wanted to do!

My hair is a bit wavy, so I figured I had a little room for error in regards to cutting it perfectly. I also figured if I did a really bad hack job I could always go directly to the salon to get it fixed. I was definitely not cutting it too short as compared to the styles I like, there I was leaving plenty of room for them to work their magic without compromising the end result.

Instead of using scissors, I used the electric clippers that I used to do the boys hair. I cut my daughter’s hair with this recently and it worked well.

It was a lot of fun.  Not necessarily something I would recommend for others, but definitely something I wanted to do at some point in my life and I’m glad I did. I’m really happy with the result and doing it myself bought me some time to figure out what hairstyle I actually want without having to spend extra money at the salon for my in between look.  The end result is not perfect and I’m sure a hairstylist would have plenty to say about my attempt and technique, but I’m happy and at the end of the day that’s what matters.


I’m glad I wasn’t too scared to do it. I can’t say that I will necessarily do it again, but I’m glad I scratched that itch!

What have you always wanted to do but fear keeps you from doing it?

GRATITUDE, HAPPINESS, HEALTH, MY TRUTH

Goodbye 2017…Hello 2018!

01/09/2018

2017 brought much to be thankful for, but health and happiness have certainly topped our list.  At the end of last year, I was struggling with the recovery from my explant surgery and was unsure what the future of my health looked like.  Today, I stand here with full health and feeling better than ever.  Grateful would be an understatement.

This year also left my husband and I with a  major life decision which I feel has brought a level of happiness to our family that we had been missing in the early half of the year.  The decision of whether to stay in a less than ideal work environment or leave with no plan for future employment meant walking away from a home we were in the middle of purchasing.  We abandoned all set plans for the future and chose happiness.  Three months of unemployment was scary, but we worked together to take full advantage of our time together and ended up having one of the best summers of our lives.

At the completion of summer, the kids went back to school and my husband found a new job that puts a smile on his face.  I have personally received several phone calls during his lunch break, where he tells me how thankful he is to work for his organization and under such great leadership.

To close our year. we flew to Florida to celebrate Christmas with my entire family.  Ten grandkids  running around meant a little chaos, but a lot of joy in the air.  And a few days after Christmas, my husband and I slipped away to Jamaica for several days to celebrate our 10 year anniversary, sans kids.  We spent our entire trip reconnecting with one another and planning for the future.

 

I love that our anniversary falls so close to New Years because each year we naturally plan for the following year of our marriage and what better time to start implementing new goals than around the new year?

I would not necessarily call my 2018 goals resolutions, but I am certainly going to focus on reawakening my soul, refocusing on love, recommitting my efforts, reinvigorating my drive, and rejuvenating my spirit.

So, what exactly does that mean?

I am going to continue making efforts to live a very conscious and intentional life.  I want to come from a place of love in all that I do.  I want to be conscious about my decisions and intentional in my actions.  I know there is a great growth edge here, but practice makes perfect.

I have also decided to commit 2018 to being a dry year – which means no libations for this girl.  I have goals that I want to reach and I am not going to let wine or cocktails distract me.  And for those of you out there thinking that seems silly – I know myself well enough to know that I am more productive without allowing myself a glass of wine at the end of the day or even that occasional cocktail here and there.  So, decision made – no booze of any kind.

Physical fitness is another one of my focus areas for 2018.  Now that I have my health back, I want to exploit it – just kidding.  But seriously, I want to take advantage of feeling good and focus on working to feel even better.  I am signed up for the 2018 Marine Corp Marathon in October and I want to be prepared to run it uninjured.  I also want to focus on increasing my functional fitness – so pushups and pullups.  The goal is to be able to keep up with any physical obstacles or opportunities that come my way!

With the focus on fitness, nutrition naturally hits the spotlight as well.  We have been diligent in crowding out less healthy food options in 2017, so 2018 we will just continue our focus on whole food plant based eating.  We have been eating some fish and eggs in 2017, but after watching a documentary (What the Health) with the kids, we are working on crowding those out too and truly going WFPB.  I am going to focus on finding and creating new recipes to entice our pallette and enjoy the natural flavors mother nature brings us.  I will also be continuing my journey of safer beauty products through Beautycounter, which I kind of lump under nutrition in a way since it is in a sense feeding your largest organ.

Furthermore, I want to focus more on my  spiritual journey.  I had started A Course in Miracles when we first moved here, but life got in the way and it ended up back on my bookshelf.  It is my goal to complete at least the first part by the year’s end.

And lastly, I want to focus more consistently on my writing.  I have a few works that I have let slip into the shadows as of late and I want to recommit myself to finishing them.  Whether or not they ever see the light of day is a different story, but I certainly think there is power in completion.

That about sums up the major focus points for 2018.  Realistically I will be reassessing and refocusing depending on what comes my way, but ultimately these are the areas of importance to me at this point in my life.

I am beyond grateful for my life thus far.  2017 was no exception.  I have a wonderful and supportive group of friends and family, two amazing children, a dedicated and loving husband, and two wonderful dogs.  This doesn’t mean that life is all rainbows and butterflies – it certainly comes with its dark moments, but I am learning to let go of the petty things that slow me down and focusing on being present and grateful for what I do have.

Life is about balance and it takes some pretty solid core strength and a strong foundation to stay balanced during rough winds.  Balance is a continual process as I am learning, but with practice it becomes less work and more of a natural reaction to situations.

I hope you have been able to have an attitude of gratitude through 2017 and look forward to all the opportunity the new year brings.  I’d love to hear what is on your agenda for 2018 if you are open to sharing!

 

BEST SELF, GRATITUDE, HAPPINESS, THE SIMPLE THINGS

Flexible Living

12/15/2017

The main of focus of The Hourglass project is to find balance in our lives. And that looks different for everyone. One of the aspects of our lives that we needed balance in was our living situation.

I am constantly changing up our furniture as we better understand our needs. I look for better functionality as I try to minimise the amount of stuff we have. This was true when we lived in our house in Florida, and has not stopped since we moved into our apartment in DC. In fact I find it even more important here as we have such minimal space and we need to make the most of it.

We recently made a major shift in our layout as a way to maximize the use of our apartment. It actually began as a happy accident.

At the beginning of Summer my husband and I were struggling to sleep through the night due to a very loud barking dog who shared a bedroom wall with us. One night after several days of poor sleep we moved our mattress in with the kids.  We moved the desk and toys from under my daughter’s loft bed and shoved our king size mattress under the bed in its place.  It was a tight squeeze, but it worked.

We left our mattress like that for a few weeks and we started to enjoy the extra room our master bedroom provided once we had moved the bed. And the kids loved having us in their room.

At this point in our life we were only a couple weeks away from closing on our new home in Maryland so we figured we would just keep our bed in with the kids and enjoy the extra space until we moved.

But then everything changed. My husband left his job and we rescinded our contract on the house. We decided that we would try to stay in DC and look for a new job. Meanwhile my husband also began the process to set up a business structure in case  he was able to start his own small business.

He was now going to be working from home and so it was important for him to have some dedicated space where he could quietly work – especially as we approached summer and the kids would be home. As he finished up the final two weeks of his work contract I decided to surprise him with a home office. Although I knew we definitely made better use of the now spare room the master bedroom provided, the functionality of the kids bedroom as our sleep space was very tight – so I decided to move all the beds into the master bedroom as it is a little larger.  I moved the loft beds into an L shape in the corner and shoved our king size bed under it.

I then set up the bookshelves that were originally in the family room and in the kids room as a base for our bed.  Eventually I changed this layout and stacked them one on top of the other five high, loading it up with our books and work materials as well as the kids toys.)  I then set up my husband’s desk in an L shape as he likes and added my desk.

When he came home that day he was overwhelmed with gratitude. He now had a place to work this summer while we were all home. A dedicated office.  And a family that supported him come what may.

Over the next few weeks we modified the layout to best suit our needs.  We even used it as a guest room by moving a spare twin mattress in there when my mother in law stayed with us for three weeks over the summer.  It was working out great.

The bedroom situation worked out really well also.  It allows us to focus more on sleep.  The kids also seem to love the fact that we share this space with them.  We are lucky that our kids are relatively respectful of their sleep schedule and also are sound sleepers once asleep.  We have been able to  keep to our bedtime routines without issue.

Recently we moved the kids desks into the office which has really made a positive impact. We are all able to take time to work quietly and independently at our desks while still being together as a family.

This layout and choice may not work for everyone but it seems to work perfectly for us at this point in our lives. Living in 850 square feet after coming from a 2,200 square foot 4 bedroom home (with attic, patio, and 2 car garage), has been an adjustment, but one that I’m thankful for. It has definitely made us more intentional about our use of space as well as the items that we hold on to. It also has freed our time in regards to cleaning and upkeep. Now instead of taking care of the house and yard we are off adventuring or spending quality time together as a family.  This layout probably won’t work forever, but right now I do consider it a gift.

BEST SELF, GRATITUDE, LIFE CHANGES, THE SIMPLE THINGS

Audiobooks // Life Game Changer

11/15/2017

I’ve been having a difficult time trying to figure out what to write after my last entree.  The vulnerability and intensity of the last article really took more our of me than I had anticipated.  And although the comments, reactions, and personal contact I received as a result was greatly appreciated, it was overwhelming.  But I realize that if I don’t write because of the fear of not living up to the last article, than I might never write again.  After all, I don’t want my writing to only be focused on the negative struggles I’ve had to overcome.

So today I am writing about something really positive in my life.  A gift and a game changer.  Something that I take advantage of daily that is simple, easy, free, and has allowed me to transform my view of daily tasks from a chore to a well needed escape.

Today, I am writing about audiobooks.

I love reading.  I love the feel, look, and smell of a new book.  I love curling up in bed and getting engrossed in the chapters and completely losing myself in the characters and plot.  I adore the feeling of picking the book back up  after having had to put it down for the evening and it welcoming me back like an old friend.  And I long for the heavy eyes and just one more chapter promise I make to myself as I read a book in bed at the night’s end.

But, the reality is, since having children, I rarely get to curl up with a good book and lose myself for hours on end.  I still read physical books – sure – but they take ten times longer to read and I rarely get through an entire chapter at night before my eyelids slam down shut like iron gates due to sheer exhaustion.  Library books need returning far before I find time to finish them.  I end up rereading pages over and over due to the distracting nature of being a mom.

A few years ago though, in Florida, I learned that my library had a system for checking out free audiobooks that are downloaded directly onto your phone.  Okay.  Awesome. Game changer.

The program the library used is called Overdrive.  A simple app that you download to your phone and then link to your library account.

I started to use this app for running.  I don’t love running to music because I tend to change my cadence to match the music and while this is okay for short runs or sprints, it really messed me up for long runs.  I burn out easier and cannot easily find a good rhythm.  So audiobooks we’re perfect.  I would often lose myself in a story and find that I actually ran over my expected mileage.  I enjoyed the app a lot and it allowed me to flirt with an old pastime, reading, in a new fashion.  The only time I had otherwise used audiobooks was on long road trips.

That said, my relationship with audiobooks changed dramatically when we moved to DC.  We live in a very small apartment.  It is a 2/2 and is 850 square feet with no patio or balcony.  The kitchen is a small closed off cubicle and our laundry machine is a shared entity located on the other side is the building.  Daily chores that I had to typically done while watching a show or engaging with family now became a rather solitary event.   Additionally, we had sacrificed one of our cars when we moved to the city, so mode of transportation became my feet.  There were plenty of hours that were taken up, simply by mundane tasks.

Enter stage left – audio books.

DC’s library was also hooked up to Overdrive and I noticed quickly that they had a huge assortment of books that I had been longing to read.  Sometimes I could check them out immediately, but for a lot of the new hot best sellers, I had to get on a waiting list.  It was all done digitally and so I filled my hold list, made a wish list, and checked out several books.

The ability to have a story playing at the same time as doing dishes, laundry, or walking miles on end totally excited me.  My list of books ranged between fiction and non-fiction and on a good week I have listened to three books!  They pump me up, encourage me, get me lost in plots, allow me to release emotions, and transport me to new worlds.  I love them.
The best part of listening to the audiobooks is that they have totally transformed the way I feel about doing chores.  Suddenly these tasks that I dreaded are now my little getaway.  It provides me some much needed “Me Time” without any residual guilt.
And as icing on the cake, my brother got me a bluetooth headset for a present last year which has completely upgraded the experience. I am able to place my phone down somewhere safe in the kitchen or throw it in my back pocket without having to be connected to it by a chord.  I always worried about the chord getting caught as I was moving around and then dropping into the sink while doing dishes, but now I have the freedom to move without restriction.  It’s awesome.
 
If you haven’t already checked in with your own library to see if they offer audiobooks, I’d highly encourage you to do so.  They are free and have been a true game changer in the quality of my life.
 
Also – if you have any recommendations on books to “read” – leave me a comment!!!  I’m always up for suggestions.
 
UPDATE:  Someone mentioned data in a Facebook comment, so I wanted to address it.  You do not have to use your data with Overdrive. I download titles offline (using wi-fi) and then they are stored temporarily in my “bookshelf” until I am done or they “expire”.  I believe each book has a “rental” time of 21 days.  And as a woman who is always having to delete pictures of my phone to take more, I still have never had an issue with not being able to download a book.  Hope that helps!
 
Here are just some of the books that I’ve “read” in the past year and would totally recommend to others:
NonFiction:
  • You are a Badass – How to Stop Doubting your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life – Jen Sincero
  • Big Magic; Creative Living Beyond Fear – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Power of a Half Hour – Tommy Barnett
  • Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes
  • The Power of a Positive No – William Ury
  • Rising Strong – Brene Brown
  • Unlimited – Jillian Michaels
  • I Know How She Does It – Laura Vanderkam
  • Triggers – Marshall Goldsmith
  • The Sweet Spot – How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work – Christine Carter
  • Originals – Adam Grant
  • The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
  • Unlimited Power – Anthony Robbins
  • Awaken the Giant Within – Anthony Robbins
  • Joy on Demand – Chade-Meng Tan
  • The Sleep Revolution – Arianna Huffington
  • Leadership and Self Deception – The Arbinger Institute
  • Wake Up Happy – Michael Strahan
  • Do Over – Jon Acuff
  • Spark Joy – Marie Condo
  • Salt Sugar Fat – Michael Moss
  • The Practicing Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
  • Essentialism – Greg McKeown
  • Spirit Junkie – Gabrielle Bernstein
  • #Girlboss – Sophia Amoruso
  • Conquering Fear – Harold S. Kushner
  • A Life at Work – Thomas Moore
  • Become Who You Were Born to Be – Brian Souza
Fiction:
  • Pretty Girls – Karin Slaughter
  • Little Deaths – Emma Flint
  • My Husband’s Wife – Jane Corry
  • Today Will Be Different – Maria Semple
  • 1984 – Orson Welles
  • All The Missing Girls – Megan Miranda
  • Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty
  • A Piece of the World – Christina Baker Kline
  • If I was Your Girl – Meredith Russo
  • Summer Secrets – Jane Green
  • The Girls – Emma Cline
  • One Second After – William R Forstchen
  • Where’d You Go Bernadette – Maria Semple
  • The Last Anniversary – Liane Moriarty
  • Unbecoming – Jenny Downham
  • Big Little Lies- Liane Moriarty
LIFE CHANGES, MY TRUTH, TIME FOR CHANGE

#MeToo // It’s Time To Start Telling Our Stories

10/18/2017

   

When the #metoo posts started showing up in my feed I stayed quiet.  Despite being a victim of sexual assault and having been harassed for my gender and sexuality uncountable times in my life, I try to stay positive in my facebook feeds and promote positive energy.  I see the purpose of this hashtag, but I didn’t want to participate.  Perhaps I did not want to be lumped into a group or a statistic.  As a victim, each of our stories are unique (regardless of whether they have commonalities) and becoming a stat can feel more demoralizing than helpful. And although I tend to be an open book and am happy to share my life stories with anyone who asks or may be positively affected by them, I wasn’t ready for the whole world to know.  I don’t carry my #metoo as a badge of honor and truthfully, there are still seeds of shame so intrinsically woven into my spirit that I wonder if I’ll ever get them out.  So I didn’t want to water those seeds by adding my #metoo to the masses.  

But then in my feed I see this post – written by someone I love and the seed of shame began to grow.  I felt like someone punched me in the gut. I felt angry and hurt beyond words. This person wasn’t talking to me directly, but at the same time, he was.  

I reached out to my older sister, who is quite the bulldog in these circumstances, and she let him have it.  Her comments even sparked interest of other women who were infuriated with the post who gave them their thoughts as well.  I still felt paralyzed though and didn’t want to get into the conversation until I saw another loved one – a male who is significantly younger than me – stand up to the post. This is what I wrote (names removed):

“I hate getting involved with facebook arguments. But I found this beyond hurtful. To the point where I reached out to to my sister to vent and she was willing to speak up. I don’t speak up because it is comments like these that continue to shut me down. I fully admit to being a people pleaser and one who doesn’t like to rock the boat, but enough is enough. I was sexually assaulted while in grad school. It tore me apart and broke me down in ways I can never fully express. He stole something from me that was not his to take. It put me in a dark hole for a while. It was NOT my fault. It was horrible, but it is a part of my history now and it makes me a stronger woman. I’ve used my story to help other women who have been assaulted work through their own pain and suffering. Working as a college counselor for 6 years I worked with numerous students who were sexually assaulted. It is terrifying to know how many of us don’t stand up because of the retraumatization that is caused by going to the police, standing trial if it goes that far, having fingers pointed at you telling you it’s your fault because – fill in the blank (or see your above comments). It truly infuriates me and breaks my heart to read this post and this thread. I wrote so many responses to this and erased them because I was scared. I don’t mind talking about this to people as a way of healing – but don’t you EVER tell me I deserved to be raped. EVER.”

I received no direct response and the back and forth banter continued.  I chimed in another time to express my feelings yet again – trying to come from a place of peace and understanding, but I’m not sure that this is the right forum or if this person will ever truly understand the power of his comment.

What I did realize from this interaction is how important it is to stand up for ourselves and to share. There is a piece of me that will always regret not going straight to the police station and filing a report, but I was in shock and I simply reacted.  I don’t know if Facebook is the perfect place for these dialogues, but I know that without awareness and without dialogue we cannot change.  It takes grit, honest conversation, understanding, and a willingness for change.  We cannot simply come at each other with our fists up because if we do, we are destined to fight. Perhaps it is hard for some to understand the concept of a social media hashtag as a prompt for serious discussion, but it is a platform where dialogue can begin and people can take notice of how many people are truly affected by this. It is a movement to bring awareness to how pervasive the issue of sexual harassment and assault is. I truly believe that there are individuals out there that are using the #metoo as their very first time to share what has happened to them in their own lives.  

It may be too much for some, so you can stop reading here, but I am choosing to share my story for the very first time outside of therapy. I have shared with others that I have been raped and used my own experience to help others in their healing, but I’ve never shared the story.  I wrote this awhile ago as a way to help me heal. If you read this, please do so without judgment.  Perhaps I did not make perfect decisions, but in no way did I ask to be or deserve to be raped. And that is true of EVERY individual who has ever been raped or assaulted. Rape is by definition non-consensual. Here is my story:

I finished my shift around 3 am.  The bar closed at 2 and it always took a while to closed down the bar.  That evening I was working with two other employees.  A barback and another bartender.  He sat at the bar with his friends and we chatted as we typically did.  He was a regular and someone I had considered a friend.  I enjoyed when he came to the bar. He had a sweet personality and a great smile too.  Soft and trusting.  He was charming, but not in a way where he seemed to be trying.  Just sweet.  

I looked forward to the days that he would come in.  He made me feel special and I felt like we had a good connection.  I often would hook him up with reduced or free drinks and he tipped well.  Our friendship had never deviated much from this.  Once in awhile if I had the night off and found myself downtown, I may run into him and talk for a bit, but that’s as far as it went. I never had any romantic interest in him.

This night was different though.  He stayed while I closed the bar down.  We had a few drinks after work as we typically did.  My manager was very laid back and as is notorious in the world of nightclubs and bars, the staff were big drinkers so we’d often have a couple of beers while closing the bar.  I had a beer as well while I cleaned up the bar.  When I was all done, he asked if I was interested in hanging out.  I was excited and intrigued.  Could this turn into something more than just a friendship?  Was he interested in me?  Although, I had always thought he was cute, I never really looked at him in that way – he just wasn’t my type and my heart had been stuck on someone else, but that night he seemed appealing and I thought perhaps it was worth exploring.   

He invited me over to his place to watch a movie.  To others, going to a guys house at three in the morning to watch a movie seems like the stupidest idea, but neither of us were intoxicated and my life had a different time schedule to it than others.  Working at a bar, we often hung out with coworkers till 6 or 7 am watching movies, drinking, playing games, or just simply hanging out and talking.  It did not seem outside of my normal at the time, albeit an obvious choice I would make differently in retrospect.

He offered me a ride to his apartment.  He was only a few blocks away.  I was hesitant as I knew he had been drinking, so I declined.  I also had no intention to spend the night, so I wanted to have access to my car.  My dogs were at home and I needed to be there in the morning to take care of them. I got my car from the garage and let him lead the way. I parked on the street about a block and a half from his apartment.

When we got to his place he invited me to sit on his couch while he flicked on the television.  He made his way into the tiny kitchen attached to the living area and opened the fridge, he grabbed two beers and walked back to the couch offering me one.  I politely accepted and he sat down next to me, with a beer in one hand and a remote in the other.  

I was feeling nervous, unsure of what I was doing there.  I knew I enjoyed his company and I felt safe with him as I had known him for a while and we had several mutual friends, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be fraternizing with a regular at the bar.  I wasn’t truly sure what his intentions were.  Did he actually like me or was he trying to find an easy hook up? I was not easy.  In fact I was quite prideful of not being a person who slept around. I believed in monogamy and relationships. I took sex seriously.

He scrolled through the menu guide on his television to see what movie offerings he had.  We decided upon a movie and he put the control down.  I had a couple of sips of my beer and he edged closer to me.  He took my beer and placed it on the coffee table in front of his.  He had already placed his down and dropped the remote.  He leaned into me and kissed me.  I kissed him back.  

He leaned in more as we gently explored each others mouths with our tongues.  He pressed in harder.  He was a little more forward than I had expected.  It did not feel like it was coming from a place of actual interest, and rather a place of hooking up.  His kisses became more intense and his hands began to wander up my body.  I pulled back a bit and he read my hesitation.  I was not interested in a hook up and I think he sensed this and backed off.  It felt a bit awkward, but I could tell he was trying to keep it as casual as possible and not make it so.  He grabbed his beer and kept his arm around me in a, no worries kind of way.  He made me feel that it was okay that I didn’t want to take it any further and we watched the movie.  I sighed a deep breath of relief and we continued to watch the movie side by side for a bit while we finished our beers. Crisis avoided.  He was respecting my choice and trying to keep the awkwardness at bay.

By this point I was feeling pretty drowsy and starting to nod off.  He offered to let me sleep over. I was apprehensive, but he soothed my worries by saying that he would sleep on top of the sheets. I decided it was safer to sleep over than to drive home drowsy.  I also felt that we had comfortably glided back into the friend zone and so I agreed. He grabbed me a pair of boxers and t-shirt from his draw and showed me where the bathroom was.  I was thankful to get out of my work clothes as I smelled of the bar.

I changed in privacy and when I came out of his bathroom, he was already in bed.  He had stayed true to his word and was lying on top of the sheets with a blanket on top and had the sheets pulled down on the other side of the bed so that I could get into a space of my own.  

“Well”, I thought, “at least he is a nice guy.”  My worries diminished and I felt less nervous about how it would be the next time he came into the bar.  He really was a good guy.  Perhaps he was interested in something more than hooking up.

I walked over to the bed and climbed in.  I was so tired.  My eyelids felt like cement.

I laid my head on the pillow and he leaned over and kissed me on the forehead.  He then turned out the lights and I fell into a deep slumber.

I woke up startled.  There was a heaviness on my body and a pressure in my groin.  I felt confused and disoriented.  I realized quickly that he was on top of me.  In me.  Thrusting himself back and forth into my sleeping body.

My body jolted and he sensed that I was awake, quickly rolling off of me and pretending to be asleep.  He said in a groggy voice “what’s a matter?  are you okay?”.  I felt like I was in shock.  I was stunned and confused.  I began to weep and slowly crawled out of bed.  I had taken my glasses off and could not see very well.   The boxers were no longer on my body.  I crawled on the ground as he continued to ask, as if he was asleep, if I was okay.

My mind was spinning.  Did this really just happen.  Had he just raped me?  Had he really just raped me and is now pretending that it never happened, that he wasn’t just inside me moments before without my consent?  Without my awareness.  I searched with my hands in the darkness for the pile of clothes that I had laid by the end of the bed last night.  I found my skirt and I shimmied it on.  I had no underwear on and did not know where to start looking.  I took his shirt off and quickly put my work shirt back on.  

I crawled out of his bedroom and carefully lifted myself up onto my feet using the wall to brace myself.  I was dizzy.  So dizzy.  I felt like I was going to throw up.  My mind was going a million miles per hour and the world was seeming to slip from my feet. I felt uneasy but I walked forward making my way to the front door.  It was nearly pitch black.  The clock on the microwave and the slight glow of the street lamp outside provided the only light in the apartment.  I fumbled with the front door.

I heard him yell for me – asking yet again if I was okay and what I was doing.  

I said “I am going”.  My voice was shaky and uneasy.  I fumbled with the lock.  Why could I not get the door open.  I wanted to cry.  I heard him get out of bed and his footsteps approached.  I fumbled some more, but could not get my hands to work properly.  I could not get the door unlocked.

He was right behind me now and raised his arm over me placing his hand on mine.  He asked where I was going.

I felt scared.   I was unsure of what was happening.  Was he going to hurt me?  Was he going to let me go?

He asked me why I was leaving.  He was still holding onto the ruse that he was simply sleeping next to me as he promised.  

I said I just had to go.  

He removed his hand from mine and gently guided my hand away from the lock.

I felt weak and powerless.

He unlocked the bolt and opened the door.

He smiled his normal, charming smile and said ”Okay, if you really need to go.  I hope everything is okay though.”  He then followed up by saying to get home safe and that he would call me the next day.

I walked out the door, not looking behind and started walking forward.  It was pitch black except for the glow of the street lights which illuminated the walk way.  The world was a blur as I had quickly realized that I had left my glasses on his bedside table.  I was numb.  I walked.

I was not familiar with his neighborhood and could not find my car at first. I walked aimlessly around until I finally found it. Walking downtown alone in the early morning was not safe – nor was driving home without glasses – but safe was a word I couldn’t relate to at the moment.  Nothing was safe. I remember not feeling anything at all.  Completely numb. Black. It was as if my mind had shut down and I went into autopilot.  The next thing I knew, I was pulling into my driveway.  I parked and got out of my car.  My legs felt like they were 100 pounds each.  I walked zombie-like into the house, turning off the alarm and then punching the numbers back in to reactivate it.  Numbers that gave a false sense of safety.  Nothing felt safe anymore.

I walked through my house and into my bedroom. I passed by my bed dropping my keys on my night stand.  I continued walking past my bed towards the connected bathroom.  I opened the glass door to the shower and I walked in.  I turned the water on as hot as I could and sat on the shower floor as the scalding water rushed over my body.  My clothes became soaked and clung to my body as I sat there on the floor of my shower, arms wrapped around my legs hugging myself close.  My brow bone resting atop of my knees and the wet hot tears streaming down my face mixing in with the warm water.  All I kept thinking was that this was a nightmare and could not have just happened.  That I knew better than to have this happen to me. I trusted this person. I made conscious choices not to engage. How did this happen? Time felt frozen and I sat in the shower until the water went cold. I was in shock. I began to shiver and slowly got up and turned off the water.  I peeled my wet, cold clothing off of my body and wrapped myself in a towel.  I curled up in my bed, wet with the towel draped around me and fell asleep – as hot tears silently streamed down my numb existence.

My life was forever changed.

The days and weeks to follow were excruciating both emotionally and physically.  I told no one.  I was ashamed and depressed. To make matters worse, the stress of the assault caused a dormant virus in my body to come alive which caused lesions on my cornea and inflammation of my eye. The pain was beyond words. I couldn’t open my eyes and my sister had to drive me halfway to my parents in order for them to pick me up and care for me.  Luckily my dad is an ophthalmologist and was able to tend to my eye. The infection was the most pressing issue at hand and I let the rape slip to the background as best I could. I did not want to tell my family. My parents had been through so much in the recent years that I did not want to burden them. There was nothing they could do about the situation anyways and I swore to myself that I would never tell a soul and just move on with my life. I went back to school and work as if nothing ever happened. My assaulter even had the audacity to continue coming into the bar. I could barely stand to look at him and let others take over serving him, claiming I was too busy. I died a little bit inside each time he showed his face where I worked.

In the weeks following I used alcohol to numb my pain.

One evening I drank too much and lost control of my emotions. I broke down and shared my story with a friend.  She was the only one I had told and I swore her to privacy. Talking to her helped relieve some of the built up pressure and pain, but I was not ready to do anymore.

I continued to drink.  I even drank before going to some of my graduate classes (in mental health counseling) – where we were exploring counseling trauma victims.  I would often excuse myself from class and break down in the bathroom.  At one point one of my professors noticed the change in my behavior and called me to her office after class.  I broke down and shared everything with her. It is certainly helpful to have a professor who is also a clinical counselor be the one you finally break down to.  She helped me work through surface fears and that night I reached out to my mother. She helped me get connected to a therapist and slowly I started working through my pain. I shared my story with a few others and began the healing process. I still had not shared with my entire family – especially my father, who may be learning about this for the first time through this post.

The subsequent months were hard. I lost someone from my life who I thought would be there for me through everything which only added to my pain. I also tried feeble attempts to make myself feel whole or to regain control of my life, but the reality is that the healing takes time and work. The months passed and I continued to share my story with others, in my journal, and in therapy.  It was not long after that I met my now husband. I remember the first time we fooled around breaking down completely – shaking in complete fear. He stood by my side and heard my story. We spent the rest of the night on the couch cuddling and this time when I fell asleep next to a man I trusted in bed, he stayed true to his word and I slept peacefully through the night, untouched.  Safe.

My faith in men slowly regrew and I learned to forgive myself for things I held myself accountable for. I began to understand emotionally that it truly was not my fault and that I did not deserve to be raped. As I said earlier, there are still seeds of shame I can’t seem to get rid of and I do believe this is caused by societal influence.  I pray that the #metoo movement does create conversation and lead to change in how we view seuxal assault and harassment.  It is time to stand up for ourselves and to hold people accountable for their actions.  

I hope this gives others the confidence to share their story – the confidence I did not have for so long. Perhaps not on a public platform, but at least to trusted friends, family, and counselors.  

I respectfully remind you that this story is written from a place of love and healing. No negative, blaming, or shaming comments will be tolerated. Happy healing.