A CREATIVE LIFE

When I was 5 or 6 years old,  I wanted doll clothes for my Barbie dolls, but my mother wouldn’t buy them for me.  She said,”They are too expensive, and they are not made very well.”  So if I didn’t want naked dolls, I had to learn how to sew.  If you ask her, she’ll tell you that she taught me to sew.   This isn’t true, although I am certain she helped me to the best of her ability.   My grandmother, her mother, was the one who really taught me.  Since my entire reason for learning how to sew was to make doll clothes, this was pretty much all I made for the first couple of years.  By hand.  I cannot remember exactly when I graduated to a sewing machine, but I do remember the first dress I made for myself when I was 8 years old.  It had 3 arm holes (on purpose) and was a wrap-around dress.  It had only the side and shoulder seams, and the whole dress was banded on the raw edges, so really easy.  I chose a yellow (we are talking school bus yellow) kettle cloth, which I do not even think is made anymore, and orange binding.  Yikes!  What I wouldn’t give to still have that dress, though.   As far as I know, there isn’t even a picture of it.  Bummer!  By nine, I could install a zipper, and I do have a picture of that dress:

old family pictures

I continued sewing, mainly because my mother would buy me fabric whenever I wanted it.  Unlike today, fabric used to be inexpensive, and it was far cheaper to sew your own clothes.  I never had to worry about anyone wearing the same thing as I had on.  I never took Home Economics because by that time I was too far advanced.  The truth is, I could have taught the class.  I did make money sewing while in high school.  I was on the swim team and every Friday before a meet, we had outfits that we had to wear.  The skirts were some kind of purple cotton, and  I ended up making the skirts for all the girls on the team.  Apparently, no one’s mother sewed.  I probably got $10 a skirt.  I also made and sold Holly Hobbie dolls for $15.  Those things were a lot of work, but, I guess for the time, that was pretty good.  Also, these were not dolls to be played with; they were to be sat on a shelf and admired.  If someone wanted to buy one for their daughter to actually play with, I wouldn’t sell it to them.

I took my sewing machine to college with me and used to get up super early to sew before my first class.   I always had new clothes, and would make my outfits for special occasions, usually the night before.  I was always aware of just how long something would take for me to make and I would always wait until the very last-minute to do it.  Some things never change!

I always sewed.  Except, that is, when I went off to Europe to model.  I could not take my sewing machine with me then.  Whenever I was back in the States for even a week, I would drag out the machine and whip up something to take back with me.  When I moved back to the States for good in September of 1990, I continued to model, but started sewing on the side.  I made vests, teddy bears, all kinds of things.  I retired from modeling sometime in 1992 or 1993, and then realized I had to get a ‘regular’ job.  I got one at Loomcraft (a Calico Corners-type store) in the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago.  The store did custom labor for the home, and though I had never done much of that kind of sewing, other than simple curtains or pillows, I decided that was what I would do.  I worked at Loomcraft for 2 years, until I had enough business to quit and sew full-time.  I am proud to say that I never once poached a customer from the store.  It would have been easy to do that, but it was against the rules.  I built my business back then the same way I do today – word of mouth.  And as anyone who is self-employed knows, you work many more hours a week than 40, but at least you are working for yourself.

Today I am happy that my mother forced me to learn to sew.  It has allowed me to have my own business for the last 23 years.  I have the best clients and each one of them comes to me just as my very first one did.  My business has gone through several name changes through the years until several years ago when I changed it to A Little of This That and the Other.  Even though I only make things for the home, I don’t want to limit myself.  You never know when I might decide it’s time to start a line of t-shirts or bathing suits or yoga clothes.  This way, I’m covered.

I have always lived a creative life and cannot imagine living any other way.  Creating beautiful things for people’s homes gives me great joy.  I get to go into all kinds of houses that I would normally never go into.  I’ve been in 14 different magazines over the years, although this has never gotten me work.  Still, I love to see my work in a magazine.  As of right now, I am awaiting a home in Carlsbad, CA that was shot for Coastal Living and another home on Saint Simons Island, GA in Country Living.  I never know until it comes out exactly which of things I did will end up in the magazine, which is really hard.  But when it finally does come out, I am excited and happy to see my work in print.

My other creative outlet is writing and this web site.  It is a completely different kind of creativity and something I have done for most of my life, as well.  Telling my story, at times, is hard.  I think it is important, if for no other reason than to help me make sense of my life.  And in the process, if I help others, then so much the better.  It’s all a part of the healing process.

MY DAILY DECLARATION

Sometime last fall I came across a web site called Build Your Confidence.  There was this ‘manifesto’ called My Daily Declaration.  The instructions were ‘read aloud to yourself every day.  I have been doing so ever since.  I love it and thought I should share it here:

“My name is _______.  I am a STRONG and powerful (man/woman.)  I am capable of anything I set my mind to because I have complete FAITH in myself and my abilities.  I am strong enough to face all of life hurdles because I know they are sent to make me a stronger, better person.  I believe that every situation is an opportunity to learn something new about myself and to grow into my full potential.  Sometimes life is tough, and I know I AM TOUGHER.  I know that my purpose in life is _____________, and every day I do something to achieve my goals because I am a unique and special person who is deserving of every good thing the Universe has to offer, and in return I offer myself to be of service to others.  I am GRATEFUL for all that I have, for everything that has ever happened to me and for all that the future brings because I know that I am supposed to be where I am right now at this very moment because it is preparing me for where I need to go and what I need to do.  Every day is an opportunity to LIVE, LOVE and LAUGH and to revel in the beauty of the world around me.  I am connected to myself in the deepest of ways and I love and appreciate myself 100%.  I am committed to making myself and my life better so that I can help others do the same.  I know that LOVE is all around me and I live with a PURE HEART and good intentions.  I breathe POSITIVITY and HOPE and I know that I can change the world around me by changing the world inside of me.  I live to be inspired and to inspire others, and I know that my power comes from my belief in myself.  I make a daily choice to do what is right for my BODY, for my MIND and for my SPIRIT, and because I have the power of choice, I am able to create the life I want for myself with every action and every thought.  I start my day with a still mind, a kind heart and a positive attitude, and I believe that I am good and valuable person who has much to offer.  So today, I will be the BEST that I can be and do the BEST that I can do.  I love myself for my achievements and forgive myself for any mistakes, because they teach me how to succeed in the future.  I refuse to allow negativity into my life, and I remain STRONG  and POSITIVE through the good times and the bad.  I am a CONFIDENCE WARRIOR and I am determined to live up to my limitless potential.  I LOVE, HONOUR and CHERISH myself and those that I love, and I am committed to making today and every day AMAZING.”  So be it, and so it is.

Obviously, you would fill your own name in the first blank and in the second your purpose in this life.  My purpose is to share my story, which is what I do weekly on this website.  Ironically enough, I just today found out that the author of Build Your Confidence is Tony T. Robinson.  Do yourself a favor and check out his website.  And print the Daily Declaration out and read it each morning.  It really is quite powerful.

WAITING FOR THE SUNRISE


This morning, after an abbreviated workout at the gym, in an attempt to beat the predicted rain, I was walking home along the bay.  The sky was stormy-looking, but no rain was falling.  The sun was still behind the clouds, and it looked to me like it would be a spectacular sunrise.  So I sat on the rocks and waited.

IMG_3202

This was the first shot I took with my phone.

IMG_3204

And the second.

The sky was continually changing, the clouds moving slowly, as I waited for how I thought the sunrise would unfold.

IMG_3213

The third shot.  You can see that there is more light on the water and the sky is a bit brighter where the sun is coming up.

IMG_3219

The fourth one.  As you can also see, the clouds are getting thicker instead of dispersing, and all the hoped for color isn’t showing up.  Really?  Why isn’t the sunrise coming out like I expected it to?  Where are the reds and oranges I felt certain would appear?

IMG_3229

And finally, after 30 minutes of waiting, the last shot.  It never did rain, nor did I get the sunrise I thought I would.  Funny thing, though, in spite of it not coming out like I wanted, it still came out, and was still beautiful, if in a more subdued palette.   The sun still got higher in the sky, the clouds came and went, and I continued on my way home.  It reminded me of life and how we expect one thing and another shows up–neither necessarily better than the other.  Just perfect in its own way.  It was a good lesson for me.  And tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, if I am up and outside, I will have another opportunity to experience another sunrise.  It will never be exactly the same, just as every day is a little different, even if we are doing the same thing day-to-day.  Each day is perfect in its own way.  I have only to keep my mind and heart open.

SEX IS A FUNNY THING – PART 2

As I said last time, sex after sexual assault is especially challenging.

I think I was very lucky to have been in a loving relationship when my assault happened.  I cannot imagine how much more difficult it would have been, on so many levels, had I been single.  Right after my attack, and for longer than I would have thought, I was afraid of everyone.  And I do mean every single person I encountered.  Men, women, boys, girls – anyone and everyone scared me.  My rational mind knew this was silly, but the irrational part was in control.  As I also said last week, I know, and knew at the time, that sexual assault of any kind, whether it be rape, attempted rape or any other variation, it not about sex.  It is about power or lack thereof.  Another aspect that a lot of women have to deal with is feeling dirty or ashamed of what happened to them.  I never felt either of those emotions.  I was very clear from the beginning that I had done nothing wrong, that I had nothing to be ashamed of.  That being said, I was still unable to have sex with my boyfriend for some time.

For at least the first few weeks, I am certain I wasn’t even willing to try.  Oh, I was fine with just being held and kissed, but beyond that, I was unable to even contemplate it.   I was never repulsed by him in any way.  And although, I was afraid of men in general, I was not afraid of my boyfriend.  My body and mind instinctively knew he was safe, that I was safe with him.  Still, ‘convincing’ my body that more than just cuddling was okay definitely took time.  Because I was in shock, and stayed there for 15 weeks, I could not cry.  Nor, it turned out, could I have an orgasm.   And when we did attempt to have sex, though my body responded to him, I was still ‘blocked.’  For a long time, every time we did make love, I would ‘leak’ 3 or 4 tears.  I called it leaking because it wasn’t real crying, and all that would ever come out were 2 or 3 or 4 tears.  I may not have been actually crying, but, clearly, it’s what I wanted to do.  It still was upsetting to my boyfriend.  I was not rejecting him, but I think he still felt that way.  I was doing my best to not let it happen, but it always did.  Looking back now, I am not even sure how long this went on.  At some point it stopped, but I do not remember when.  And as for the lack of orgasm, I am happy to say that that eventually came back as well.

What I can say now, too, is that after my attack, our sex life was never the same.  It seemed to never completely recover.  Oh, things worked like they were supposed to, but something fundamental was lost that September morning, and, unfortunately, we were never able to get it back.  It is only with hindsight that I am able to see this now.  I can’t really think too much about how much almost every aspect of my life has changed since my encounter with cockroach boy.  It pisses me off and I don’t want to live my life in a pissed off frame of mind.

So I choose love and joy and happiness.  Is it always easy?  Of course not.  There are times I’d like to go to the prison he is housed in and, well, you can just imagine what I might do.  Thankfully, those days are few and far between now.  I have many more good days than bad.  Though I am still dealing with a lot of physical issues that I attribute to my attack, those, too, are improving.  I have great faith that though my life may never be exactly as it was before, it is better.  I am better.

SEX IS A FUNNY THING – PART 1

Especially after a sexual assault.

Not that there would ever be a good time for an attempted rape to occur, but the timing of mine seemed especially cruel because later that morning of my attack, my boyfriend and I were supposed to be going to Santa Barbara.  We had been together for 6 months at this point and this was our first trip together.  We were going to see Don Henley and Emmylou Harris in concert.  It was for 2 days and 2 nights.  And because we would not be getting to our accommodations until late, my boyfriend made a reservation for that first night at Motel 6.  (The next day we moved to a lovely Bed & Breakfast in Summerland.)  Let’s just say of all the Motel 6’s around, this one had to be the worst ever.  I never knew they actually made sheets with a thread count of about 10.

When my boyfriend came to the crime lab, which, by the way, is in a secret location, to pick me up, I had not yet been ‘processed.’  That meant that we could only speak at a distance.  He was not allowed to hug and comfort me because any DNA evidence that might have been on my clothing or skin had to be preserved for the rape kit.  I remember telling him that I had not yet cried and thought that it would probably hit me a bit later that day or night.  Kind of funny thinking about it now since it took me 15 weeks to come out of shock.  That day, I truly  had no clue how bad it really was and how hard I would have to work to get through it.

When we left the crime lab, we went back to Coronado to the Police Station so I could look at a lineup of photographs.  It’s not like it is on TV, where they show a 6 pack of men who fit the similar description of your attacker.  In ‘real life’ I was shown one picture at a time.  I was not allowed to compare and contrast them.  I eliminated those that I was positive were not him, and was then left with two.  The one I ended up choosing was him.  What I told the police officer was, although the picture didn’t look exactly like him, it looked as close to what I remembered him looking like.  I also worked with a sketch artist when I at the crime lab.  I would love to see that picture to see if it looked like him at all.  When we finished at the station, Bill took me home so that I could shower and pack for our trip.  All I really wanted to do was lie down, but as it was already 2:30p, Santa Barbara is a good 3 1/2 to 4 hours drive, it was Saturday afternoon and we had to get through Los Angeles, and we had to go to Bill’s house for him to pack, I got in the shower.

Driving to La Jolla, Bill asked me if I wanted to call my mother.  I said no.  What I meant was that I didn’t want to call her then, I wanted to wait until, oh, some other time, or maybe never.  He said that I had to call her and thought that I should do it while he packed.  So I did.  First thing I asked was whether or not my step-father was in or out-of-town.  He was out.  Then I really did not want to tell her without him there for moral support.  I really do not remember what I said to her except I tried to tell her in a way that wouldn’t be upsetting.  I doubt I succeeded, because, really how can you tell your mother that someone tried to rape you and her not be upset by that?

I slept most of the way to Santa Barbara.  It seemed easier than having to think about what I had been through.  We left La Jolla a little after 3p, hit traffic in L.A. and finally got to the concert around 7p.  We missed Emmylou Harris, but Don Henley had not yet gone on, so we at least got to see/hear half the concert.  When I think about it now, I was pretty freaked out being around that many people.  Really, I don’t know how I did it.  I think I was just on autopilot and doing my best not to fall apart.

I remember the room being cold when we finally got to it at 11:30.  And the blankets were just as bad as the sheets, so I slept in my clothes.  The bad thing was that my hip bones both had big abrasions on them and hurt to have fabric touching them.  Really, all my abrasions hurt.   It was a terrible night.  I had taken a pill (can’t remember now what it was, but my physician mother assured me it would be okay for me to take) that, instead of having the desired effect of helping me sleep, did the exact opposite and I was wide awake and having weird hallucinations.  At some point I did fall into an uneasy sleep, and then woke up really early, as usual.  I couldn’t wait to get out of that hotel.

We could not check into our B&B until late afternoon, so we drove to Santa Ynez to go wine tasting.  While there I got a phone call from the Coronado police informing me that they had apprehended my attacker the day before.  That was good news.  They also told me I needed to come back in to have my injuries photographed again once I got back to town.  It was all so surreal.  Even now.

When we finally got checked in, I remember lying on the bed, telling Bill that I knew rape was not about sex, that it’s about power or lack thereof, but that for a while I was afraid that it was going to be messed up in my mind.  He said he knew.  So he just held me.  And since I was in a lot of physical pain from the attack, we went in the jacuzzi, which both hurt my injuries, and felt good for my sore arms and neck.  I think I slept a little better that night.  When I woke up on Monday morning, I was so hoping it had all been a nightmare.  No such luck.  I told Bill he could just leave me there, that I did not want to go home.  I think we stayed in bed until we had to check out.  The drive back to Coronado seemed especially long.  I cannot remember now if Bill stayed with me at my house or if we stopped in La Jolla and I stayed there.  All I do know is that for the first two weeks I was unable to sleep alone.  Either Bill stayed at my house or I stayed at his or my friend Laura stayed at my house.  I wasn’t scared in my house, but I could not be alone.

 

WHAT WERE YOU WEARING?

Believe it or not, this was a question I was asked by more people than you might think.  Even more surprising to me was the fact that most of those asking that question were women.  In this day and age!  By women who knew better;  intelligent women; women who work out and know exactly what one would wear to walk; women who, as soon as they asked realized how inappropriate and blame-the-victim type of question it was apologized.   As if what I was wearing had anything to do with being attacked.  As far as I am concerned, if I want to walk down the street stark naked (not that I do), even that is NOT a reason for some cockroach-type person to attack me.  There simply is no excuse.

I have to admit that even today I do wonder if I had worn yoga pants, if that would have made a difference.  I am pretty certain it would have, at least to a degree,  in that my new yoga pants were a size small and fit kind of like a tight glove.  As easily, and quickly, as he removed my skort, because it was loose on me and offered no resistance, my yoga pants would have probably stayed in place when he tried to pull them down.  Would this have deterred his attack?  Would he have given up and run away?  My guess on this would be no.  I mean, he didn’t run away when I screamed or when I continued to fight him, so why would my clothes not coming off easily have stopped him in any way?

What I did not know at the time, but now do, is when he saw me the first time on Ocean Blvd, my goose was cooked, so to speak.  He zeroed in on me because I was his ‘type.’  The girl he assaulted (if this is the correct word to use) in the month before my attack was tall, thin and blonde.  The fact that she was more than 30 years younger than I didn’t seem to matter to him.  He went up behind her and pulled her bathing suit bottoms down, fondled her butt and ran away.  Luckily, she reported it to the police, though not right away, and somehow they were able to pick him up and charge him, in her case, with a misdemeanor.  This put him in the system, and so the police in Coronado were familiar with him.  After my attack, when I started saying what he looked like, the police knew exactly who it was.  This contributed to his being apprehended that same day.  As soon as they put the word out, they picked him up soon after.

So back to what I was wearing…I was wearing what is appropriate to do a 7-mile walk, in the early morning, 24 September on Coronado Island, California.  It was probably in the low to mid-60s that particular morning.  It was cool enough to need a jacket, but not too cold  that I needed to wear long pants.  Plus, walking as fast as I did always warmed me up rather quickly.  And so what?  Who cares what I was wearing?  This should never be the question out of anyone’s mouth.  Ever.  There is never, ever a reason or excuse for someone attacking someone else, with the intent to rape or do any other kind of bodily harm.  The fact that it still happens as often as it does, and usually goes unpunished and even unreported is extremely distressing to me.  Part of the reason I decided to do this blog was to help in my recovery and healing, and also to get people to talk about a very unpleasant subject.  Am I making a difference?  I do not know.  I hope so.  What I do know is writing about my experience at the time and what I continue to deal with today, 2 years and 5 months after the actual attack, is necessary.

For the record, I was wearing a black tennis skort (my favorite, ever,) a tight-fitting white top with a built-in shelf bra, an aqua zip-up jacket (also a favorite) and New Balance walking shoes.  Everything I was wearing that day was ‘donated’ to the crime lab, and I never saw any of it again.  As someone pointed out, I really wouldn’t have wanted any of it back, given what had happened while I was wearing it.  True.  And I still miss that black skort.

TOO MUCH EMPATHY?

Back in October when I went to see “Captain Phillips,” I wrote about the reaction I had of being (somewhat) traumatized by the events in the movie, even though I was never kidnapped.  What I am discovering now is certain books and movies are incredibly upsetting in ways I have never experienced before.  While I was in Atlanta for Christmas, I went to see “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”  I, of course, knew about apartheid while I was growing up, and you’d think I’d remember how bad it really was in South Africa during that time.  I guess, though, that being so far away and so removed from it, it simply did not have any effect on my life.  When I lived in Europe in the late ’80s, a time when Americans were still not allowed to go to South Africa, there was an agency in Cape Town that wanted me to come to work.  Since I was in Spain, I could get around the fact that I was technically not permitted to go there.  In the end, though, when they found out that I was 29, it was decided that I was ‘too old’ and they withdrew their offer for me to go.  Anyway, I was plenty old enough to know what was going on.  What I did not know was the extent of just how bad it truly was.

The movie made that very clear.  I left feeling extremely sad, but not necessarily for the reasons one might expect.  Of course, what they, both the blacks and the whites, endured over the many years that apartheid was the law of the land was beyond horrendous.  In the past I would have felt sympathetic, and that would have been the end of it.  I would have felt bad, but, really what did it have to do with me?  Now, however, what happens, what I feel, on top of the sympathy and empathy is a sense of knowing exactly what the people who lived through that kind of trauma are going to go through emotionally, for possibly the rest of their lives.  And I also know that most, if not all, will not get the kind of therapy that is needed to heal from such trauma.  That breaks my heart.  Even writing about it is hard for me.  I have no way of knowing if this is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life or if it will fade over time.  I am hopeful it fades in time because it is a hard way to live.

The acute feelings that seeing (even in a movie) or reading about traumatic, tragic events brings up in me makes me think that my brain still has some healing to go through.  I do think it is mostly healed because I am able to focus and work, things I was unable to do while I was in the process of getting through it.  I am able to do most everything I did pre-attack.  And while there are worse things than being highly empathic, I always feel like I am on the verge of tears.  After the movie, on the way home, I tried to explain to my parents how I was feeling, without sobbing.  I guess what I am trying to say here is the kind of knowledge I now possess because of being sexually assaulted isn’t necessarily a good thing.  As hard as I work at being happy and putting it all behind me, I think there is an underlying sadness that hasn’t yet gone away.  These days it does not take much to push me over the edge.  So, I will continue to avoid certain books, or at least skip the parts I cannot bear to read, and I will not see some of the movies I might otherwise enjoy.

ONGOING ISSUES

In November, there was an article in MORE Magazine called, “A Hidden Cause of Chronic Illness,” written by Alexia Jetter.  It was about the long-term effects of domestic abuse.  I was not, nor have I ever been physically abused by a partner, BUT the information was enlightening to me.  Ever since my attack I have had one physical thing after another come up.  At first it made sense, sort of, that this was happening.  While I was in therapy and was in quite a lot of physical pain, not to mention the psychological and emotional turmoil I was experiencing, it was at least understandable that I would have stuff come up.  And, really, for the most part, my body did remarkably well, considering all I was dealing with.  The truth is, until cockroach boy was sentenced to prison, I did not get sick.  Not even when my boyfriend did get sick (now I know it was my attack that caused this) and stayed that way for close to 2 months, and even with all the time I was spending with him then, I never got sick.  So when I did get sick after the court date (just a cold, but annoying nonetheless, especially because it was summer,) it made perfect sense that the entire 9 months before, my body was, essentially, keeping me where I needed to be to get myself healed.  And if you’ll remember, 5 days after my therapy was finished, my back went out and I spent 96 hours not being able to move at all.  Again, I realized that my body had been holding onto the physical trauma until I was through the emotional work and could then deal with another aspect of the entire process.  I got through that, and then about 2 months later, my boyfriend broke up with me, which resulted in more trauma, both emotional and physical.  In this case, my emotional sadness and heartache manifested itself into my foot, resulting in a neuroma in my right foot.

So I have spent the last 10 or so months having acupuncture to heal my foot.  Some people choose to have surgery to deal with this type of injury, but I opted for the alternative route.  Besides not wanting to pay for surgery, and already knowing how my body responds to surgery, there was no way I was putting myself through another traumatic experience when there was another option.  Being injured proved very challenging for me.  After my attack and the sharp decrease of my physical activity, I had had to learn how to, basically, walk again.  As I mentioned in the story of the day of my actual attack, I went from walking 60-90 miles a week to zero.  That was a huge loss.  My walking was not only my physical exercise, but it was also my praying/meditating/me time. Even after I was able to walk again on a somewhat regular basis, it was just not the same.  And then my injury occurred and I was once again sidelined.  I was still doing yoga, at least to the best of my ability, modified to allow me to practice in spite of my hurt foot.  But, at least for me, yoga will never be enough exercise for my body.  I started getting depressed again with the lack of ‘moving.’  Luckily, I realized what was going on and looked for other ways to move my body without walking.  I rode my bike to the store or uptown to the book store or library, activities I normally walked to do.  I joined the gym again, and rode my bike there, as well.  I sometimes just rode my (beach) bike around the island, though that was a more leisurely activity than anything else.  And I kept going to acupuncture each week.

After my attack, with the loss of my ability to exercise in the way I was used to, I gained ten pounds.  I was pretty much able to limit my weight gain (in that year and a half) by walking, in time, as much as was possible.  Then when Bill broke up with me almost a year ago, I gained ten more.  You have to understand that when I was attacked, I weighed 135 pounds, and at 5’10” that was thin.  So I eventually ended up at 155 (maybe even a little more, but as I do not have a scale, I am not exactly sure) which really isn’t too much for my height, but it is too much for me.  My clothes did not fit and I was not comfortable in my own body.  For me, exercise and moving my body is as necessary as food and water.  Without that outlet, I am not happy.  Something had to change.  I was still self-soothing and it was definitely taking a toll on me.  In the summer and fall it wasn’t so bad when my clothes did not fit; but once it got colder and I needed to be wearing something besides loose dresses or yoga pants, I had to make a choice to stop what was clearly not working and do something different.

What I did was a whole food cleanse with Elizabeth Hirsh and Charlette Preslar.  It was 14 days and it changed my attitude about food and my body.  I cannot say that I am exactly where I’d like to be, but I am more accepting of where I am.  Although the cleanse was not a weight loss program per se, I did lose some weight.  And I am happy to say that my jeans fit me again.  I learned a new way to eat, and though I am not 100% good, I definitely have incorporated the recipes we used on the cleanse.

Back to the article about the hidden and long-term  effects of domestic abuse…although I do not know of any studies that have been done about the hidden effects of sexual assault on our bodies, I KNOW this is the case.  Since my attack I have had more things happen and I been sick more than I have in the last 20 years.  I have no way of knowing if and when this will stop.  I am ever hopeful that, in time, these things will at least lessen.  It is very frustrating not knowing what else may come up.  All I can do is continue to put one foot in front of the other, literally and figuratively,  and believe that it is possible to completely heal.  Clearly, I am not there yet.

On 3 January this is what I wrote in my journal:  “Not sure why I am surprised that I am still healing from my attack.  Matt (this is my acupuncturist) pointed this out to me this morning. I guess I think I should be all better by now.  The mistake I seem to have made was in thinking I would be finished when my therapy was done.  Ha!  Joke’s on me, except it isn’t so funny.  I suppose the best thing I can do for myself and my state of mind/sanity is to just let go of all and any preconceived notions I’ve had or continue to have around how long or exactly the path my healing will take/is taking.  I keep thinking I’m done/it’s done and clearly this is not the case.  So, I’ll say again, I am not sure why any of this comes as a surprise.  It will take as long as it takes and no amount of wishing it were different seems to be working.  Well, rats!”

A NEW YEAR

One of my resolutions for this New Year is to be better about posting on this site.  Once I finished with my story, with what I had written while going through the healing process, I was at a bit of a loss as to how I should proceed, and, clearly, since I have not posted since the middle of October, I am still having trouble with which direction to take.  Because of that, and because there is much more to share about the ongoing issues I am experiencing as a result of my attack, and there is a lot more to my larger story that I haven’t even touched on yet, it is my intention to post at least every other week.  And I’ve decided I need a specific day, and since it is Wednesday today, this first day of 2014, that will be my posting day.   I would love to say I’ll post every week, but I realize I need to get in the habit of actually writing (instead of just thinking about writing, which is what I’ve mostly been doing) before there is even a chance that I can do it more often.

Last year at this time I did a post about choosing a word for the next year.  Well, I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and because I did not want to pick TRUST again, though it would be appropriate, I went through my angel cards and 5, yes 5, cards more or less ‘spoke’ to me.  They are, in no particular order:                                                         

FAITH

                                                                   PATIENCE

GRATITUDE

FORGIVENESS

PEACE

      I guess this means that I have my work cut out for me this year.  And, really, that’s okay. because it means I am still here, still plugging away, doing my best to not let what happened to me determine the rest of my life.

       I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous New Year!!!

THANK YOU LETTER TO MY GUARDIAN ANGEL

 

19 October 2012

Dear ************

This thank you letter is long overdue.

You, literally, saved me from being raped, and quite possibly, saved my life, as well.  I am certain that when you left your room that morning to go for a run, that you never suspected what was about to happen.  I know I didn’t.  I cannot tell you how incredibly grateful I am that you saved me from my attacker.  As I was fighting with him, I KNEW that he was going to rape me and I just as strongly knew that I could not let that happen.  Without your intervention, though, that’s exactly what would have occurred.  Even now, after all the therapy and dealing with it, that thought still makes me feel like crying.  I know it could have been far worse than it was and YOU are the reason it wasn’t.

Thank you so much for being in the right place at the right time and for being willing to come to my aid.  You made a huge difference in my life by preventing an even worse tragedy from happening.

I had, and still have, a very loving boyfriend, a great therapist, and friends and family members who helped me through the last 13 months.  In all my trying to make sense of what happened and trying to figure out the why, I decided that I need to talk about it on a much larger scale than just friends and family.  To that end, I created a new web site called At Long Last Heard.  My intention is to give women who have been victims of a sexual assault, whether it’s incest, attempted rape or rape, a place to tell their story and be heard.  I just launched it on the one year anniversary of my attack.  I am still figuring it out as I go.  I am telling my story and the incredible journey it has been for me this last year.  It has not been easy and I have made it through and out the other side.

You are in my thoughts and prayers and I trust all is well for you.

Again, thank you for saving my life.

Most Sincerely…

 

And in response, I received this letter from him:

 

Tamerie-

Thank you for your kind letter.   I am so glad to hear that you are recovering and are using your experiences to help other women.  I pray that others will be helped to recover emotionally through your efforts.

I know what it is to sustain significant trauma.  My wife was stalked for several years by a ‘friend’ of mine (a long story.)  I learned of it and had to deal with the situation about 6 months before my trip to San Diego.  Our whole situation was pretty traumatic and I can imagine what you’ve gone through.  Ironically, I’ve got a counselor/therapist, too; she helped me a great deal.  I’m so glad you were willing to get help.  I am grateful that you want to help others through this experience.

You are welcome to put me in your story but leave my name out–I don’t really deserve any praise.  I really didn’t do much of anything–I was too confused and bewildered by the whole scenario that I didn’t have the capacity to think much about it.  Afterwards, I was really mad that I didn’t go after him and I was afraid that he would get away.  I was really relieved to find out that the police picked him up later.  My counselor told me later that it was probably for the best–I have so much pent up anger at ‘bad guys’ that if I had run after him and caught him, I might have beaten him to death!  Then I’d be the one in jail!

Thanks again for your letter.  May God bless you throughout your life and in your ministry to others.

 

Sincerely-

***********