ULTIMATELY CHANGING BAD FOR GOOD

Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of my sexual assault.

And while I still feel the need to acknowledge it, I can say in all honesty that 24 September 2011 is no longer the worst day of my life.  Unfortunately that title now goes to 7 August 2017.  That is the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Neither of these events are things it ever occurred to me that I would have to deal with in my life.  Ever! And yet both have found their way into my experience.  The really weird thing is there are so many similarities between the two: neither were expected; I was/am fighting for my life; my body was/is in total shock; I had to/I have to now learn a new way to be, figure out a new ‘normal.’  Also, my startle response, which has never gone completely away, is back with a vengeance.  All I can think is, how did I not learn these lessons after my attack and why do I have to go through it all again, albeit from a completely different event?

What I really would like to do now, though, is change my mindset around my current situation.  To me, this means thinking about it in completely different terms.  For example, I am refraining from calling the chemotherapy that is running through my body as poison.  Instead, I think of it as the sweet elixir of life that is shrinking my tumor away to nothing.  Instead of lamenting that I cannot walk as far or play tennis for as long, I am doing my best to enjoy being able to rest during this time.  I know when it is all over, my strength and stamina will return.  I’ve always been more of a go-go-go-all-the-time kind of person, so this is simply as opportunity to relax and slow down.  Instead of wondering what I did wrong or what I may have done to deserve this, I am learning to accept that I did nothing wrong nor did I do anything to deserve this, it just happens and, unfortunately, it happens to millions of people.  All the care that I’ve taken up to this point most likely has saved me from far worse diseases, and will play a huge role in my beating and defeating the cancer I do have.

I am very fortunate.  I have a loving, supportive husband. I have great doctors and nurses and all kinds of support from family and friends.  I have people sending prayers and positive, healing energy to me from all around the world (thanks Facebook!)  So as much as I hate what I am going through, as hard as it has been on my body and will most likely continue to be, I am actually very, very lucky.

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OUT, BUT THANKFULLY, NOT ON THE STREET

The day I’ve been dreading since DCD was sentenced to prison on 25 June 2012 has arrived.  I knew it would eventually get here, and have known since 21 June that the date he would be released was today,  11 August 2017.

While I was on vacation in Zion in July, I received a call from a probation officer with further details of DCD’s release.  Although he is getting out, he is not being released to the ‘street’ as the officer told me.  He is being sent to the state mental hospital in Atascadero, a city in San Luis Obispo County, half-way between SanFrancisco and Los Angeles.  The facility is for men only and has approximately 1184 beds.  The largest group of patients, 48%, are considered Mentally Disordered Offenders (Penal Code 2962/2971.)  According to the hospitals web site, “Parolees who committed one of a specified list of crimes and who were treated for a severe mental disorder connected to their original crime can be committed to a state hospital as a condition of parole for a period not to exceed the length of their parole term.  If the person still requires treatment at the end of their parole term, they can be civilly committed under P.C. 2972 if it is determined that they are a substantial danger to themselves or others. These commitments last for one year and may be renewed annually by the court.”

I am hopeful that he will receive the help he needs.  I also know that he has to want to be helped, and I am afraid that is not the case.  All the help he had prior to my attack did nothing to stop his escalating behavior.  I am just very fortunate that my guardian angel came along and saved me before he was able to follow through with his intention to rape me.

I was also told that once he is out of the hospital, if he is released into the county that I am living in at that time, I have the option of having him removed to another county.  I guess that gives me a small degree of comfort.  As I’ve said before, though, I do not believe he will come after me.  That has never been, nor is it now, my fear.  At the same time, however remote the chance, I do not wish to run into him on the street.  Ever.

As I said at the end of my last post, I do pray for him and truly hope that no one else ever has to experience what I did on  September 24, 2011.

 

 

NOT GOOD NEWS

I received a letter in the mail today from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.  Inside in big, fat, black letters it said —-

NOTICE OF RELEASE – CONFIDENTIAL

This notice is provided at your request.  The inmate is scheduled for release.

The inmate will be:

Released to parole under CDCR supervision.

The inmate is required to register pursuant to:

Penal Code Section 290 – Sex

 

It also has other information about his name, prison number, scheduled release date and which county he will be released into.  What the letter does not tell me is how long his parole lasts.  Let’s just say I am happy I am not longer in the same county.  And it is not so much that I am afraid of him or that I think he’ll come after me.  No, it’s more I simply do not like the idea of him being anywhere near me.  Do I think he has been rehabilitated?  That would be a resounding NO.  Given the violence of my attack, his lack of remorse at the sentencing and the fact that he will have spent almost 62 months in prison, I seriously doubt he will be anything but angry.

I do pray for him and truly hope that no one else ever has to experience what I did on  September 24, 2011.

 

NOT AT ALL RIGHT

Yes, it has been a long time, over 5 months since my last post.  With all the changes taking place in my life, I simply did not take the time to write.  More on that later.  Right now, though, I need to vent about an incident that just occurred.

As many of you already know, my husband and I have moved away from Coronado, up the California coast to Ventura.  We are still in the process of doing our best to settle in.  That is also a story for another time.  This morning, though, I was taking my walk.  It was not even early because it was so cold last night, I had to wait until it warmed up a bit before leaving the house.  Not that the house is warm!  Anyway, I was walking one of my longer routes that takes me down Main Street and out to the bike path along the Ventura River Estuary and to the path along the ocean.  As has always been my habit, when I see someone passing me from the opposite direction I say, “Good morning.”  I think it is simply a polite thing to do.  I am not looking to engage you in conversation.  I am only acknowledging that I see you and that it is morning.  After I made the turn onto the beach path, I said ‘good morning’ to a guy on a bicycle.  He then proceeded to start yakking at me.  I did not slow down or respond to him and I have no idea what he even said, nor did I care.  Little did I know that he followed me.  Didn’t know it until I went to cross the street to go up and over the 101.  I wasn’t scared, but I was pissed.

He then continued to follow me at a distance.  I did not turn around because I didn’t want him to know that I knew he was back there.  After a few blocks I was able to look back when I crossed another street.  My main concern was that he not know where I live, so I started zig zagging on blocks.  I ran when he was unable to see me to put even more space between us.  I eventually wound my way around to my house and, again, made sure he was not able to see where I live before crossing the street and going up the driveway.

I came in the house and told my husband what had happened.  And now I’m telling all of you.  My questions are:  Which part of I-am-completely-ignoring-you-and-anything-you- have-to-say-to-me do you not understand?  Why do you think it is okay to follow someone who has clearly NOT engaged with you in any way other than to be polite and say good morning?  What gives men (I know this is a huge generalization here, but my experience has been it is men and not women) the ‘right’ to harass someone who is clearly not interested?  Do I have to be a bitch in order to get my intent across?  Now, given my history, this is an even bigger deal than it might otherwise be.

Part of the reason we left Coronado was that I continue to not feel completely safe.  I do understand that it wasn’t Coronado who attacked me, and I was able to go back to loving living there again.  And yet, there is still a part of me that was hoping a new place might, just might, allow me to feel safe like I did pre-sexual assault.

I am not saying that the guy this morning was anything other than a normal person, BUT I wanted nothing to do with him and he was ignoring this.  Is it kinder to tell someone to ‘fuck off and leave me alone?’  Okay, maybe not in those words, but why should I have to specifically spell it out?  I have been accused of being a stuck-up snob because I don’t speak to people, and yet when I do, I am followed.  I have also been told that I seem to have a shield around me and a look on my face when I am walking that says, ‘don’t fuck with me.’  Most of the time this works at keeping unwanted attention away, not always though.

So, is my only recourse to not speak to anyone ever when I am out walking?  Is it okay to say good morning to women but not men?  I seem ‘damned if I do, damned if I don’t’ in this situation.

BIG CHANGES ARE A COMING

Change is a part of life.  Sometimes, though, it seems that changes happen so fast and furious that it’s hard to maintain any kind of balance.  It feels, at times, like the world is even spinning faster than ever.  We want everything right now.  We ask or pray for something in our lives and do not understand why it doesn’t instantly manifest.  Some changes are welcome, some not so much.

My life has been changing in huge ways for the last several years.  Since there seems no way around this, I’ve decided to embrace it.  So my word for 2017 is CHANGE and my phrase is EMBRACE CHANGE.  I think my biggest change I encountered last year was getting married, which was/is a wonderful thing.  I am happy to say that I am finally in the perfect (perfect for me) relationship and married to the right person for me.  Still, going from single, living alone to married and suddenly having someone around all the time is an adjustment.  Not a bad thing, just different.  Luckily, even though my husband and I both work at home and we live in a pretty small house, this has not been an issue.

One change I’ve been wanting to make for a while now is figuring out a way to combine both of my blogs since I find trying to write two completely different ones impossible. I never wanted to have A Little of This That and the Other (www.alittleofthisthatandtheother.blogspot.com) be anything but a happy place to share my work and that of my friends.  At Long Last Heard, this site, was about my sexual assault and to a larger degree,  my past life and how I got to where I am now.  The two sites are extremely different.  After my wedding I came up with a new domain name and a ‘plan’ to have only one blog/website.

I still have not figured out when I want to launch it, though I will tell you the new name:  Exactly the Same but Different.  This is a phrase I have used for many years and in talking with a very good friend, it was obvious that this was the new name.  Because my life now is exactly the same as it always was, but different.

Another HUGE change that is coming in the next few months is we will be moving.  Egad, just writing the word here gives me the willys.  I have lived for almost 15 years on Coronado and the idea of leaving all that is so familiar to me is a bit scary.  Truly, I know that leaving will be a good thing and Jim and I need a house/space that is ours and not just mine that he moved into.  It is good and it is frightening at the same time.  We are even contemplating leaving San Diego altogether, which also adds to my anxiety.  Again, I know this is a good thing, it just doesn’t always feel like it is.

Hence, my desire to EMBRACE CHANGE this year.  Change is good, right?  I am going to keep saying this to myself until I believe it.

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VERY MIXED FEELINGS TODAY

Five years ago, on Saturday the 24th of September, my life changed in ways I could never have predicted.  And though my life now, 5 years later, is amazing, the road to where I am now has been challenging.  Understatement of the year.  All in all, for the majority of the time, I am happy, healthy, newly married (in May) and ‘completely’ healed from my attack.  I have to put completely in quotation marks because I am not sure I will ever be completely over what happened.  That has been very apparent this last week.  Physically I have been a bit of a wreck.  My body seems to understand what my mind is incapable of grasping:  my attack is still stored in my cells, in the muscle memory of my physical self.  Well, crap.

On Monday I decided I needed to know exactly when DCD was being released from prison.  According to my calculations it should’ve been right around now.  He received a 6 year sentence and has to serve 85% of it, less time served at sentencing, which was 317 days.  When I put his name in the ‘who’s in jail’ web site, I got nothing.  I remembered he had used another name, looked through my files to find it, put that name in, and got the same result…not in the system.  I thought I had signed up to be notified when that happened, but, it turned out, I had not.  Crap, again.  So I called the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to find out his status.  The officer I spoke with asked for his prisoner number, which I did not have.  He asked if I was the victim.  I told him I was.  He gave me the number I was lacking and told me where he is now housed and that he would not be getting out any time soon.  He also suggested I call the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services to find out more information about his release date.  I did this and that’s when I found out I neglected to actually sign up to be notified when he would be released.  It’s not that I am afraid he will come after me once he is released.  I simply want to know when he is out.

Life does go on, and as much as I’d love to never have had this happen, it did.  The following quote pretty much sums up how I feel about it now:

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We all get to choose how we react to what happens to us.  I choose to see it as a blessing, and to share my ongoing, ever-changing story.  My hope is that I am making a “difference by being the difference.”

A BETTER THIRD WEEK

Just a quick update…

I am definitely feeling better, though still haven’t had the burst of energy I’ve been waiting for.  I am still sleeping a ton more than normal, too.  It’s all good, though.  If I really think about it, it took me pretty much 55 years to get my body into the state it is currently in, no matter the reasons behind it, and realistically I cannot expect to be all better in just 2 or 3 or even 4 weeks.  Of course, that doesn’t stop me from expecting it.

I saw a friend yesterday I had not seen since we started The Whole30 and she noticed a difference.   Said my skin looked really good.  That must be the bone broth I drink every morning.  I also ‘convinced’ her that she should be doing it as well.  Since she was just diagnosed with carpel tunnel syndrome, eating clean on this program will most likely help her out tremendously.  Even if it doesn’t exactly cure her carpel tunnel, she will at least still be wheat, sugar and processed food free, and that’s a very good thing.

Because I am still having a lot of hip pain and wasn’t sure if I should really be walking/stretching/playing tennis/doing yoga or just resting, it finally occurred to me that my pain was probably being caused by my old walking shoes.  When I used to walk 60-90 miles a week, I was very good about replacing my shoes every six months.  Lately, I’ve not been so good.  Plus, I’ve been wearing the shoes that have absolutely no support.  So yesterday I went to Road Runner Sports and got myself analyzed on their ShoeDog machine.  I already knew I had high arches, but, dang, when I stood on the blue pad that records the bottom of your feet, the only thing that showed up was my toes, the pads that my toes are connected to and my heals…nothing in between.  I have an extremely high arch, which basically means any kind of non-supportive shoe is probably a bad idea.  It also explains the hip and IT band pain I’ve been suffering from.  So I got new shoes and custom molded arch supports.  I walked this morning and what a difference!

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As far as the eating goes, no cheats.  Sure I miss some particular foods, cheese and yogurt the most, but I see no point in eating them until we start the reintroducing process, which we may not even do.  I mean, why ‘gum’ up a clean system?   I can already tell that dairy is probably not my friend.  Bummer!  Really, nothing is off-limits expect the crap we shouldn’t be eating anyway, so I haven’t felt deprived in any way.