What if?

What if you knew your life was changing because you’d been in the process for a couple of years now but suddenly you felt like that change shifted into high gear?  Like you notice you’re doing more of something good like working out and less of something bad like negative thinking. You’re consciously choosing happiness and letting yourself be in anger, sadness or whatever emotion comes up, then letting it go, knowing you’re just growing and going through a process. A little like driving through a rain storm, having looked at a map and realizing that you’ve got a few miles to drive in it then you’ll drive out of and away from the storm. Only you’re without a map.

The only thing you have is hope and faith. No, really. I mean, you have your friends and family who, thankfully, don’t think you’re crazy. They know this to be a fact and they love you anyway. You knew this was coming, you just had no idea when and now it feels like it’s on top of you and your job, your privilege, is to glean everything you can from it, knowing it’s going to move on once you’ve learned all you can. But the trick is, you have to face this by yourself. Because it’s inside of you. You don’t know what’s there but you know you must face it in order to get through it and move forward.

I ran my first Spartan Race on Saturday, July 26th. It’s triggered a tremendous amount of change in a weeks’ time, with more to go. This past week has been one of the toughest of my life. When your go-to’s are wiped away, when your world is turned upside down, when the things you thought you knew aren’t so, when giving up is NOT an option, the only option is to face your fears and keep moving forward.

I realized on Sunday driving back from DC that one of my Inner Mean Girls (aka my ego) was trying to sabotage a friendship of mine that I value. I said nothing to my friend (still haven’t) but started working on obliterating the fear that’s provoking my ego to send out a message that is motivated by fear, never mind that it isn’t true!

I’ve said what if? so many times this week. And not how you think. It’s not “what if I’d _____?” It’s what if all of my passions are fueled by anger and not by a joy passion? And there’s no anger left to fuel them? Then what? What if the stories in my mind aren’t me, they’re just stones in my path, learning opportunities?

What if I can–? What if I must let go of everything in order to move on, trusting that whatever and whoever is meant to come with me will be there when I’m on the other side?

Honestly, this last week has been one of the scariest of my life and I’ve shared it with very few people. From the outside, I’m sure it would look scary and sad, and downright painful. I’m not going to lie, it was and it still is.

My team, the Red Sox, was always my go-to when things got crappy. 9 innings, 3 up, 3 down, same pl-. And then it happened. The trading deadline came and suddenly my team, like my internal life, was coming apart, being ripped to shreds before my eyes…are you kidding me?! Honestly, I wasn’t even angry. Just dismayed and disappointed. I let go of it.

I was dying inside and I was finally just letting it hurt, letting things go, releasing things, ideas, beliefs, people I once had a death grip on. I was letting go of control. Amid the tears and the pain, the hurricane that was going on within me, trying to let myself scream (I still have issues with being vocal in my pain), my Inner Wisdom/God was reminding me that it was going to be OK, which somehow amid the chaos, I knew and know. It’s going to be OK.

Granted, I have no idea what OK looks like. I am just having faith that I’m either going to land on solid ground…or I’m going to learn to fly.

In the meantime, I realized that my passion for politics, my ability to write, my love of sports all seem to be fueled by an angry passion that’s now nearly gone. Part of my caterpillar life that’s now gone. (I’ll talk about that in an upcoming post.)

So, alas, while things were falling apart, and I realized I couldn’t even get angry about my team’s disintegration, and ownership’s seeming to not care one iota about the fans or the current season, because I realized that I had no control over it.

Now, I’m in a strange place. Letting go of the stories, my stories, my stuff, things I’ve trusted and known my whole life and I’m suddenly asking “What if that’s not so?” “What if I have to give this up in order to make room for something new?” “What if I’m no longer going to be passionate about sports or politics because the passion was anger fueled and the anger is gone?” 

So many “what ifs”. I don’t know what’s next or what will be left when it’s all said and done. I feel like I’m going to a great place, to great things and great people. In the meantime it’s scary and sad and I’m mourning the death of my old self and pondering the birth of my new self.

It’s not about “going back to” anything because there’s nothing left to go back to. I’m looking forward to being a baby again, in a manner of speaking. A clean, empty vessel full of possibilities, ready for as much joy as another person can handle. It’s time…it’s just about time!

And in the midst of waiting, I’m wondering, “What if-?”

 

 

 

 

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How Running a Spartan Race Can Change Your Life

 

Roughly 2 weeks ago, a friend of mine in one of my Facebook groups posted that she was possibly getting time off from work to run the DC Spartan Race Sprint. I was thinking about it but iffy for a variety of reasons. So on Tuesday of that week, I gave it to God. I literally said aloud, “If this is meant to happen, show me the way. Make it happen.” Within 48 hours, I had another Facebook friend urging me on, I signed up to race in the morning and volunteer in the afternoon, I had a place to stay and the money to do it. I was blown away.

Friday the 25th I drove to DC, picked up my friend at BWI then we drove to the hotel, getting lost along the way. I met more new friends, was up way too late, got up at 5:30AM and we got dressed and raced at 8:45 AM.

As I ran the course with my team, facing fears, doing a few burpees along the way, encouraging and being encouraged, I realize in retrospect that I left most of the old me on that course. The me that beat the holy hell out of me for failing the rope climb when I’d never done it before in my life. Never mind how completely illogical it is, I was so angry with myself I sobbed doing the burpees. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a get-this-crap-out-of-my-body-thing. I expected tears. I expected my inner demons to come out to play at some point and they did. And I let them because I had decided 2 things:

1) I was going to finish the course no matter what.

2) I was going to let whatever emotions came up, come up. I needed to leave it on the course.

I had my happy moments, my terrified moments, my “I can’t do this!” moments and, as I said, my breakdown moments. I let myself have all of them because sometimes the only way to deal with something is to go through it, as tough as that may be. It’s not optional, it’s necessary.

I ran with an amazing team of people, clear obstacles I didn’t think I could do, proved to myself that I’m stronger and tougher than I knew anything about.

I missed 2 of 15 obstacles, crossed the finish line with my team and earned the first of many medals. I’m glad I didn’t wait til next year. I wasn’t ready but that’s life. Sometimes stuff happens that you don’t think you’re ready for. You just do your best.

Turns out, the race seems to have been the catalyst for more life altering stuff. But that’s another post. I finished my first Spartan Race and I can’t wait to do it again!!

 

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1 Year Anniversary

A year ago today, I got brave, took a deep breath and told the story of my rape to Jenn at InterAct. It’s been a year of ups and downs, tears, tears and more tears and letting go of lots of gunk I had no idea was there. Don’t get me wrong. I knew something was askew, hence part of the reason I was there and part of the reason for my self-imposed dating sabbatical 2 years prior. I needed to heal. I just had no idea how much pain and emotion 5’5″ of human could hold!

I filled out the paperwork, burst into tears on telling Jenn my story over about a 2 hour conversation, and cried so many tears I lost track. I was absolutely sure the world would stop turning or I’d get struck by lightening though it was a clear, sunny day, or that I’d get busted for speeding even though I was going the speed limit for once.

I was sure he could hear me or that God would be mad at me or something! Your brain will tell you some crazy stuff to keep you from changing your mind, body and spirit! You’ll die if you tell or something bad will befall you or no one will like you or believe you or, or, or…or what?

Truthfully, I couldn’t hold onto it anymore. I needed to let go. I needed to stop hurting already!

I held onto it for 11 years. 11 years of hell and dysfunction and well maybe you wanted it and don’t– No, I remember it, the details, frame by frame like I was watching a really bad porn movie.

I’ve spent the last year peeling off layers, letting go of pain, anger, shame, guilt and everything else you can imagine. Healing my rape, discovering new things about myself and my rape. Sharing it selectively with trusted friends.

It’s like a clog in a pipe. You pull out the clog and the original event is buried underneath grease, hair, and whatever else has gone down that pipe and gotten stuck to the clog until one day, it stops up. Or you get fed up. I got fed up!

Truthfully, I was in shock when it happened and the sense of shame, guilt and dread kept me from speaking at all. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that my boyfriend, someone I trusted and chose to share myself with, would do something so horrible to me. Especially when he had 2 small children at home at the time.

It shattered my life, my sense of trust in everybody and everything, especially myself and, of course, men. I’ve learned to make decisions and have confidence in those decisions again. I’ve had to re-teach myself things I didn’t even realize I’d stopped doing.

I know now that I am not my rape. It happened to me. I didn’t relinquish control and it’s not my fault. I have given myself permission to heal and to heal my rape. I know I am worthy of a beautiful, happy, joyous, abundant life and I am working on building it, day by day.

I am using my voice to speak up and speak out, both in writing and in public. I told my dad and step-mom and told my mom and step-dad again. In April, I spoke publicly for the first time, in front of an audience of roughly 40 strangers and  2 friends of mine, telling my story because it needs to be told. Because I deserve to heal. Every victim of rape, sexual assault or domestic violence deserves to heal into a survivor!

So, today I start year 2. I’m ready to start dating again, to find a man worthy of my time, love and attention. Someone who will be by my side as I continue on my journey to healing. I AM READY!

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Letting Go…Again

Letting go is not a one off thing, just FYI. I’ve recently realized that there are indeed some things you can ‘just’ let go of but the things that define you, or the things you think define you, you have to work harder at, often having to let go of them repeatedly.

Repeatedly. To the point of annoyance sometimes.

I’ve written letters to people, ideas and things I want, need, deserve or desire to let go of “letting them go”. I’ve also shredded and burned the letters. The problem isn’t me. Or you, if you’re doing this and thinking, “Wait, I’m not the only one?” The problem is your sub-conscious, or Inner Mean Girl(s)/Guy(s) in my world, or ego. It holds on tightly to what it knows, with a death grip when you start trying to let go.

The good news is, it can be done for real. It just takes persistence. I’m a “How” girl myself. I like processes and step-by-step instructions. How exactly do I let go? Sadly, I can’t give you instructions because it’s different for everyone.

Looking back over the last year and even the last 3-6 months, a lot of letting go happened, some of it I didn’t even realize but as I have struggled recently with letting go, it’s been a great reminder that I know I can let go because I have let go before. It’s a good feeling.

This version of letting go has been lots of tears, lots of emotion, lots of me getting angry with and frustrated at myself, wondering how much more I don’t know about is lurking, how much I need to let go of, how much more needs to be excavated and oh what a process!

I will tell you that I know it can be done, I know there’s more to do and I know it’s worth it. I see the changes in myself and I am proud of me for being brave and letting go, trusting God, His plan for me and tomorrow!

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A New Challenge – Writing Every Day for 30 Days

So, it’s June 6th. I’ve gone a month and a half with no posts. Good job, self! OK, that’s all the beating up there will be. I forgive me as there’s been a lot going on! For June, I have taken on 3 fitness challenges and the writing challenge. Creating a habit of writing a page a day, minimum, for 30 days.

30 Days of Writing

Most days I’m writing at least 2 pages, and it’s all over the place. And that’s OK. Writing isn’t linear. It’s creative and it’s emotional. And every emotion is O.K.

What am I writing about?

Change, lessons from my past, facing fear, learning from mistakes, forgiving myself (“I did the best I could with the information I had available to me at the time.”), learning what works for me, what speaks to me and what has me in the land of ‘what on earth?’

I’m writing as randomly as I’m doing. I have no idea where it’s going, where I’m going or where I’m going to end up but I do know everything’s going to be OK.

The tongue in my mouth and the tongue in my shoe are almost in the same line. Finally.

So I keep going, keep writing and keep learning!

Would you like to join  me in this challenge?

https://www.facebook.com/events/665212973527517/

We all have a story. What’s yours?

 

 

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How I Spent My Saturday Night

It wasn’t fun but it was necessary. It wasn’t glam and it had nothing to do with baseball, one of my most beloved loves in the world. There are some things baseball can’t fix.

So, what how did I spend part of my  Saturday evening?

I let myself out of jail. I shared my secret publicly for the first time in a room of 40 some people, including 2 friends of mine and today I’m sharing it with even more people.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The event Saturday  night was meant to raise awareness.

My counselor emailed me about a month ago and asked if I wanted to share my story. She said I could write it out and read it if I wanted to or I could have someone else read it at the event. I said, “It’s my story, I’ll read it.”

Saturday Evening

The lights were turned down with only a row of spots in the back on for some dim lighting.

9 people, myself included, sat in the audience and one by one, our stories were announced. I was the 5th of nine to speak. I left my seat, walked up and sat down in my chair in the row at the front of the room. I turned on my flashlight, read a statistic “42% of rape survivors told no one about the rape”, and then paused.

Then, I read my story.

My mom introduced us in the fall of 2001. He was a “good Catholic man”, widowed, with 2 cute little kids. He was my type, according to my mother. Tall, dark and handsome. Fine, introduce us. So she did. We dated, went out to dinner, I got to know his children and ours was a happy relationship. For a variety of reasons, Friday night was our date/stay over night. We’d talk and go to lunch during the week. Fast forward to October of 2002.

I don’t remember which Friday it was, just that it changed my life forever. We made dinner, ate with his kids, put them to bed, did chores, watched TV and went to bed about 10:30.

I woke up around 2AM on my knees, Mark attempting to have sex with me doggy style. I was groggy, still in pain from consensual sex earlier in the evening. I said, “no”, and tried to pull away. He grabbed my hips, pulled me to him and proceeded to tell me I’d wake up and get into it. After I tried to crawl away, I closed my eyes and prayed to get out of it alive. Along with wondering why this was happening to me. He proceeded to rape me, even as I was saying “no”, asking him to stop and telling him he was hurting me. To no avail. I remember everything starting to hurt and feeling completely alien in my own body.

Then he asked me if I’d ever had anal sex. “No, I haven’t. It’s of no interest to me,” I responded. He then said, “I’ll just put the tip [of his penis] in and see what you think.” In that moment, I wanted to die. I wanted to be absolutely anywhere but there. I said, no. He said he’d wear a condom. I remember saying no, I just wanted to go to sleep.

But no, he wouldn’t listen and before I even got the word “no” out, again, he was sodomizing me. I remember being curled up in a ball on my knees. There was no place to go. He was angry with me. I was vacillating between just wanted to get out of this alive and wanting to crawl under a rock and die. Crushed. Shattered.

My body began spasming, amidst waves of pain. He finished and let me go.

At one point I remember feeling like I was on the ceiling looking down at the entire scene. Filled with shame and guilt. I felt like I was living in an alternate universe.

I remember getting up and hobbling into the bathroom. My entire body ached. It hurt to walk, it hurt to sit, it hurt to pee. How did I let this happen? I trusted him. He’s my boyfriend. I thought I was going to be sick.

I got into the shower. It was filthy. Just like Mark. I scrubbed for I don’t know how long. There is no scrubbing rape, sodomy, shame, anger and the rest of it away. My skin was red. I dried off as best I could, hair still damp, got dressed and drove home. It was probably 3AM. I have no real idea what time it was. I also have no idea how I got home. I remember showering again and crawling into bed.

2 weeks later Mark broke up with me. I was in denial. I was devastated. For his kids. They thought they made their mom go away and now, I was gone, too.

In case you were wondering why I never reported it, there are a couple of reasons. First, I was in denial. Even after I admitted it to my best friend/roommate and to my mom and step-dad after that, and found out that Mark admitted to cheating on me, it took me a long time to wrap my head around the idea that I had actually been raped. I mean, how could my own boyfriend rape and sodomize me? I even tried to convince that I was OK with it. It turned my world upside down. Any sense of trust I had in myself was shattered. My trust and faith in men was shattered. The idea that a man would want me for anything other than sex? Yeah, no. I had no self-worth or self-esteem.

I saw him at church once after it happened and hid behind my mother, admonishing her not to move.

I’ve just recently regained faith and trust in myself and others, men in particular. It’s taken almost 12 years. Someone did ask me, sometime after the fact, if I wanted to press charges. I declined. First, Tallahassee is a really big small southern town. Had I reported it, it wouldn’t have been quiet for very long and I was ashamed that I ‘let’ it happen. After all, he was my boyfriend. Should I not have seen it coming before hand? More importantly, however, I didn’t want his kids to lose their dad. They’d lost mom, I didn’t want to be responsible for their losing him too, even if he was a rapist.

Fast-forward to this past summer. I found this place and shared my secret with Jen. I was assigned to Marlo and have been working with her ever since. I recently healed my rape enough to give up my space to someone else whose journey has just begun. In writing this out again, I’ve discovered more layers of pain and anguish. I’m working to heal those as well. It’s a process that’s starts with being able to say, “I was raped” aloud. I’ve rung most of the emotion from it, done my best to forgive him, for me, not him, so I can move on. I realize that I deserve love, joy, an amazing man who adores me and that I am not at fault. Letting go of the shame is still tough at times, especially when you think it’s healed…and then something triggers you and you realize it’s not. I’m committed to my happiness, though, so whatever it takes, I do.

As a final note, I saw a meme on Facebook the point of which was to advocate for gun control, with a photo of a woman, head in her hands, with the caption “A rape can last 30 seconds, but a murder lasts forever. Guns Are Not The Answer”. When I saw it for the first time, I burst into tears and shook violently for a good 20 minutes. My rape itself lasted roughly 30 minutes. The after affects have affected my life for almost 12 years. My rapist effectively stole 12 years from me. Rape and sexual assault, left untreated, do more damage than even I could ever have imagined.

I owe a very big thank you to a dear friend for putting out the brochure at her function which led me here, to Jenn for listening the first time and to Marlo for helping me heal.

After the event was over, someone whose name I don’t know came up to me  gave me a big hug and thanked me for sharing my story.

Prologue
I waited about 3 weeks to tell my best friend/roommate and then my mom and step-dad. It took me over 11 years to tell my dad, which is one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. But that’s another post.

Needless to say, it’s been a rough road. Some people reading this have been with me every step of the way and if you’re one of those people, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am lucky to have an incredible support system.

If you’re reading this and you’ve been sexually assaulted or raped and you’ve never told anyone, please, please, PLEASE tell someone! Reach out to me if need be. Or reach out to RAINN.org.

Know that you have a right to heal, you have a right to a beautiful life and so much happiness that you need a group of friends to share it with but first you have to be brave for 5 seconds. It takes less than 5 seconds to say, “I was raped” aloud, to someone who can help you or get you help.

I can’t change what happened to me but I can raise awareness and be an advocate. I’m sharing because this ISN’T about me. It’s about reaching out and being brave, lighting the way for someone whose journey is just beginning.

 

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I Have a Confession

I failed. I blogged daily for 31 days straight. I knew I would probably not be able to maintain that pace once the challenge period was over but things have gotten challenging. And I’ve failed. I haven’t kept up with my blog as I intended to and I have SO MUCH to share!

I commit to myself and to you, if you’re reading this, to do better. I’ll be posting at least 3 days per week. I’m working on a schedule. Brain dumping if you will.

That’s failure number 1.

I also failed at part of my trip. Or the intention of the trip. I wanted to bring dear friend with me when I head to Boston this weekend. I failed to raise the money to cover the expenses to do so. I’m bummed but last week I realized that while I’m staying with a very dear friend of mine, the trip is about me. Me surrendering a lot. Me letting go of a lot. Me facing some things I didn’t even realize were issues. So, I didn’t really fail, I just had to fail to meet my goal to see that I was misaligned. I’m still nervous about this trip for a number of reasons. But more on that later.

That’s failure number 2.

I’ll have more Lisa Nichols, more revelations and I’ll be blogging while I’m on my trip so stay tuned…and please forgive my brief failure/absence.

 

 

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