Remedial

I recently became a volunteer advocate at the Rape Recovery Center, a local nonprofit that provides counseling services, a crisis hotline, and hospital teams for survivors of sexual violence. In order to become an advocate, one must complete a 40-hour intensive training program. I’m at the midpoint of my training now, and while my experience so far has been one of empowerment, solidarity, and fulfillment, it’s also forced me to re-examine and really process (for the first time) my own rape.

I’ve come to realize that due to many contributing factors, I have yet to take the time to really process what happened to me, and how it’s impacted me physically, cognitively, and spiritually even now, a few years after the fact.

My initial response was one of damage control. Immediately after regaining control of my body, I sped to a pharmacy to pick up a plan-B pill, inquired a private feminist Facebook group that I was a member of about STI testing, and took the proper steps to ensure that my perpetrator would not be able to contact me again.

A member of the aforementioned Facebook group took it upon his (or her)self to notify my father of what happened to me. This member screen-shotted my original post about inquiring about STI testing, and emailed it to my father, which gave me more damage to control.

I’ve been floating around from day to day, somewhat numb, ever since. I’ve always been kind of a distant person, but since this occurred, I’ve been even more withdrawn, even less in-touch with my emotions and my ability to connect with people, especially men.

A guy that I’m not personally friends with DM’d me on Facebook the other day, and asked me if I was a rape victim.  I responded in the affirmative, and he proceeded to tell me that I’m so much stronger, and my spirit is more alive since I was raped.

I found this response both appalling and offensive, for a handful of reasons. First of all, this man does not know me. He didn’t know me before the rape, and he doesn’t know me now. How, then, can he feel confident in making such a statement? Furthermore, I was strong before this happened to me. Nobody needs to experience sexual violence in order to become strong. I had the strength to cope with this trauma before it even occurred, and I refuse to credit this incidence for giving me any such thing.

As for my “spirit being more alive,” I have felt quite the opposite. This incidence swiftly changed me into the cynical, numb person you all know and love today. I struggle with my emotionality every day of my life. I don’t know how to connect with people. I don’t even know how to process my own emotions without enduring a full-fledged panic attack. My sense of security has been breached, and I’ve realized that there are infinitely many things that are completely out of my control.

The man who made these comments did so with good intent. However, he does not know my experience, and therefore should refrain from telling me what it did to me. Perhaps I’m over-reacting, but I don’t feel like anyone is qualified to make such bold statements about an incident that had such a severe impact on my life except for myself.

Anyway, I am sincerely honored and excited to become an advocate in my community, and hopefully be the support that I so desperately needed when this happened to me. It’s going to be triggering, difficult, exhausting work, but I feel like taking it on will be a healing experience for me, overall. It will, however, force me to rely on others for support when the burnout inevitably hits, and discouragement sets in.

So I’d like to thank my amazing support system in advance, for helping me through this.

M.

 

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Lucubrate

I am in a particularly difficult stage of my life. Nothing makes sense. I’m right on the threshold of adulthood, but not quite there yet. Plans change by the second. Nothing feels right.

However, the hardships of this weirdish-almost-adultish state of existence, provide excellent opportunities for learning frustrating, reality-check giving life lessons. Here’s a few i’ve learned lately:

1. I am thoroughly convinced that moving out of my parents’ home will solve 99.4% of my problems. 

Before you slap a label on my disproportionately large forehead that reads, “Snobby, Spoiled, Over-privileged, Ungrateful Brat Whose Daddy Gives Her Everything,” check yourself before you wreck yourself. Then explain to me how you managed to fit so much writing on such a little label. And then hear me out.

One of my greatest growing concerns in my own life is being dependent on other people. I am a lone she-wolf. OWWWWW.

Seriously, though. All I want is to be able to take care of myself completely on my own. I acknowledge that I am nowhere near realizing this goal, but moving out would be a huge leap towards becoming Miss Independent. There is nothing I desire more than to be the dirt-poor girl in the tiniest, hole-in-the-wall apartment with thrift shop furniture and a budget just large enough to sustain life. It’s not even about feminism or having something to prove. I just want a modest place to call my very own-a place secluded from family and friends unless I choose otherwise.

On the other hand, i’m not exactly equipped to take care of myself entirely just yet. I moved out my first semester of college to a faraway land (well, about 350 miles away), and, long story short, I lost 10 pounds and took 2 trips to the E.R. over the span of 4 months. This occurrence should not be disregarded when it comes down to “should I stay or should I go?”

2.. Even if I survived on the thriftiest of diets (we’re talking ramen-noodle and cans of generic spaghetti-o’s) there is no way in hell I will ever be able to afford a place of my own. 

I am a very modest girl with a very modest-paying job. Turns out $700 a month is about 1/4th the income I need to get an apartment of my own with out a damn “cosigner.” Needing a cosigner makes me co-dependent and that makes me want to vomit.

Then there’s utility costs, which is a load of bullshit on its own.

3. When you’re done, it’s time to quit. 

Yesterday, I had a bad day. It was significantly worse than my typical bad days. I broke. My own papa taught me something very valuable that evening; when you’ve had enough, it’s time to pop an Ambien and watch New Girl until you fall into a deep, drug-induced slumber.

4. If Exercise Endorphins aren’t doing the trick, Comfort Food Endorphins sure will. 

Nothing makes me feel like an invincible warrior quite like a 4.5 mile run on the treadmill, fueled by Fall Out Boy and the current day’s rage. But even after that, the persistent Blues can proceed to cling to your back and weigh me down.

Fortunately, we have Molten Lava Chocolate Cake to remedy that.

5. When People Say, ‘I Care About You,’ Let Them. 

Probably due to my independent nature, I don’t allow other people to help me with my problems. I let my frustrations bottle up and attempt (in vain) to solve them on my own until I simply burn out. It’s probably a pride issue, but I need to let other people care about me sometimes. It’s a work-in-progress.

6. We All Have Problems

My problems aren’t any more or less significant than my peers. We all have plenty issues, but some of us are just better at coping with them. I prefer the “break down and bawl under my covers until I feel like my problems can’t find me” method. Other people choose the “be a reasonable, mature adult and push through it because it’s not going anywhere” method.

Hey, i’m learning.

I am quite the hot mess, my friends.

M.

Conclusions

Seven days ago, I began my anti-makeup experiment in which I gave up wearing makeup for an entire week in an attempt to observe how much appearance affects the way people treat me. To my disappointment, I did not notice any drastic negative reactions to my not getting as “dolled up” as usual. The most drastic reactions I noticed were the changes in my own brain-the way I thought about myself. This experiment has taught me a number of things in which I have neatly outlined in a numbered list:

1. Wearing Makeup Does Not Necessarily Mean That You Are A Conformer: although the media places immense pressure on women in today’s society to look a certain way, using cosmetics to highlight and play-up our features does not mean that we are submitting to societal views on how to be beautiful.

2. It’s All About How YOU Feel: Personally, I feel like crap if I don’t at least have a little mascara on. Something about that stuff makes me feel more awake, alert, and ready for my day. I noticed how much more sluggish and drowsy I felt without it. And trust me, as a full-time college student with a job, I am already a hopeless victim of energy deficit as it is. So I will resume my ritual of minimal eye makeup application.

3. Makeup Helps Reduce Negative Self-Talk: I’m not just saying this in regard to appearance. I am guilty of excessive insults toward myself, in virtually every aspect of my life. So if I can make myself look a way that is visually satisfying to ME, I will. It helps me be a little nicer to myself at least when I look in the mirror.

4. The Only Person You Need To Impress Is You: Seriously. Who cares if your sister thinks you’re wearing too much makeup? If YOU feel pretty, shut her up and keep doing what you’re doing. You are not here to impress the people around you. Screw ’em. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Surround yourself with people who like you for your entire package-including how you present yourself.

The bottom line is, it’s all about what makes you feel your best. Makeup is not bad, and it’s not a sign of insecurity. But it is also important to remember that your appearance does not define you, and that you are more than just something to look at. So don’t let those commercials featuring the beautiful models with the eyelash extensions and airbrushed skin be the standard in which you compare yourself to. Those models spend hours in hair and makeup where professionals perfect every little flaw and blemish, and even that isn’t good enough, because photo editors still spend hours editing what can’t be fixed with cosmetics. Let’s be honest, we everyday women don’t have time for that! We’ve got lives to live. So live life, be happy with the way you are, and don’t give what anyone else thinks a second thought.

That was loads of fun, but I’m excited to wear mascara again.(:

Have a good day, lovelies, and thanks for reading!

Miss Maddie