Lean Into It

We all have a super power. I discovered mine tonight.

I’m currently away on a course ( I got a job, yay!). This has meant leaving the safety bubble I created for myself, and I felt ready.

On the course, they advise against drinking and getting sloshed, which is fair enough. I decided to be sociable, instead of hiding myself away, this weekend. I bought a wine I’ve drunk a hundred times before, and went with my roomie to a different hotel room to unwind with some course mates.

It was only a small group of us. 2 guys and 2 girls. During the course if the night, I briefly divulged my awful experience from last year to one guy, and felt understood and comfortable. I felt okay.

I was my first time out, without my boyfriend and drinking, and I couldn’t have felt safer. Oh how wrong I was.

A little while into the evening, my roomie felt tired and went off to sleep, one of the guys kept going to check on her, and naturally I was concerned for her safety and well-being. Especially given my experiences, this wasn’t exactly a strange response.

Remember my thing, where it takes a little bit longer to get drunk than normal and that I have a steel stomach because of my alcohol tolerance. Well, I was 5 drinks deep, drinking water now, snacking on Burger Rings (.a greasy, savoury chip product, and not the least bit enjoyable)and feeling a bit sleepy, so I figured I’d head off.

I asked the guy if my roommate would be okay and he said she’d be fine. I believed him, he seemed like the trustworthy sort.

Then he leaned in to kiss me. I backed away, anxiety rising rapidly.

“I have a boyfriend,” I reminded him. I’d only been yabbering about him for the past week.

“It’s ok,” he said. It really wasn’t. Mind racing, I had to figure out how to get myself out of there as quickly as possible.

The burger rings. They really weren’t sitting well, and my heightened anxiety wasn’t helping, so I went with it. ” I feel sick,” I said, hoping that’d give me an easy way out, since the boyfriend reminder and the fact I was saying no and pulling away wasn’t working.

Again, “It’s ok”. So I leant into it. Not the developing assault. No. The sick and anxious feeling. I made myself vomit. I was momentarily shocked at how easy it was.

I went straight to work on my new found distraction. Apologising profusely and starting to clean it up, I was glad for my new found super power, gross as it may be.

He wanted me to take off my shirt, there’s no way that was happening, spew or no spew. Leaving behind an orange stain on the carpet (which I do feel bad for), I quickly gathered my things to head home. Once again, there was an attempted kiss. Mouth clenched shut as tight as it could go, I knew I needed to get out of there.

I turned and left and he insisted on walking me home. Walking faster than I ever have in my life, I got home. And fumbled for the key. It was somewhere. I couldn’t find it. Dude was right behind me and went back for my roommate’s key. Exhausted, I sat on the ground and dug through my handbag. He returned with the key, and let me in. Quickly telling him I’d be right, I went in and cleaned myself up.

I’m so upset. Clearly the only safe place to drink is at home and majority of guys seem to be controlled by their penises.

In the morning, I’ll be known as the chick who drank too much and spewed.

What they won’t know is that I’m really the chick that leant into her anxiety and made herself sick to get out of a really bad situation. No one has to know that, and I’m okay with that. It could have been much, much worse, and I know that.

Goodbye 2013

This year, to put it frankly, has been shit.

It’s been a fair while since I’ve touched base. I’ve been trying to deal with the myriad of shit that has followed my assault.

Since my assault, I’ve been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, seen so many different counsellors only to be shunted around until, finally, in November, I managed to see the head of mental health at our local hospital.

The post traumatic stress has meant I am unable to work, as it’s brought on severe depression, severe anxiety, moderate panic disorder, insomnia, trichotillomania, restlessness, loss of appetite, loss of energy and weight gain. Huzzah!

Aside from the mental and physical things that have happened since the unfortunate incident, there’s been a whole lot of other things that have gone wrong too. The decision to cancel our trip to France really hurt, but was necessary as I really wasn’t well enough to leave the country. So hopefully we’ll be able to go sometime in the near future.

My partner and mother also lost their jobs. So not only have I spent the last 7 months recovering from my assault, but for the better part of 5 months, I’ve also been under a lot of financial strain. My workplace also decided to let me go and replace me. Which I understand, as they couldn’t wait for me forever, but they’d told me to take my time and just focus on me. So it came as a shock to be let go from a job where I’d been rewarded for my top sales skills.

I won’t lie, it has been really hard, and it still is.

I still wish very terrible things on the people that have caused me this pain. The fact that they have tried their hardest to tarnish my reputation whilst defending a rapist absolutely disgusts me. It really goes to show how far we have to go as a community to win the fight against rape culture.

What can I look forward to in 2014?

At this stage, I don’t know. Hopefully, with the help of the medical professionals around me, I’ll be ready to take on the world again. My partner will have a job, so things like “Can we afford food?”, “Do we have to sell the car?” and “Will we have enough money for our mortgage repayment?” won’t be things that are filling my mind every other day. Things will start to feel normal again.

One thing I am doing next year is Shave For A Cure. This is a fantastic fundraising event, raising much needed funds for blood cancer research. I’m hoping for 2 outcomes;
1. That I reach my goal.
and 2. That I have enough hair left to actually shave it off and have it make an impact.

The thought of shaving my hair is both scary and exciting. So that is something huge to look forward to.

Another thing I have to look forward to is the Soundwave tour. I managed to get a ticket for next March. I am very excited, as my favourite band, AFI, are playing. Seeing them, especially after the year I have had, will just fill me with such immense joy.

This is a very rushed and quick post, but I am hoping to come back to posting regularly, but about my artistic conquests, cooking adventures and other shenanigans of a (hopefully!) more pleasant nature.

My biggest goal for next year though:

To take a leaf out of Ricky Vasquez’s book and completely own the dance floor that is life.

I hope you all have a fantastic 2014 and join me in dancing like you just don’t care.

Baked Goods

Skip to the end for my White Chocolate and Strawberry Muffin recipe!

For the better part of the year, my over has been broken. This has led to me mastering all things stove top, grill, slow cooker and microwave oven (A gem of a cookbook I found in my mum’s house, “Microwave for Health” was great for a laugh in its over the top 90′s fashion).

The one thing I really missed was baking. Whipping up the classic chocolate mug cake really isn’t the same, as delicious as it is. As someone who had once wowed everyone at Christmas with my individual mini croquembouches with spun sugar, I missed the more challenging and technical aspect of baking.

Passion-fruit Microwave Sponge

Passion-fruit Microwave Sponge

Trying to get it fixed turned out to be harder than I thought. I called the repairman, and he visited within a week and said that a par needed replacing, but he should have it within a few days and he would call.

It was 2 weeks later and I hadn’t heard anything, so I phoned him. He had the part and wanted to come over to fix the oven right at that moment. I told him that since I was at work, I’d be unable to leave, but was available every morning until 11am. He, once again, said he’d call. After a few weeks, I phoned back, only to be given the “I’ll call you back” line.

After nearly 4 months, I was more than a little bit fed up, and told my partner to phone the repairman. The repairman said he could be over at our house in 30 minutes. He turns up, part in hand, and tells us there’s another part that needs replacing. It took 3 days to come in, and he came back that same day he received it and fitted it.

I didn’t care so much that it took my partner to call to get anything done, I was just so glad to have my oven back!

Over the weekend, I decided to make a few batches of cupcakes and muffins for an event I was going to.

BAKED GOODS!

BAKED GOODS!

2013-09-14 17.52.01

Marbled Chocolate Cupcakes

Pictured above is my Marbled Chocolate Cupcakes (of which I am making a few batches of tonight).

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Pictured above is my Cookies and Cream Cupcakes, complete with mini Oreo.

And, as requested on the night; My recipe for my White Chocolate and Strawberry Muffins:

White Chocolate and Strawberry Muffins

White Chocolate and Strawberry Muffins

Ingredients:
375g Self Raising Flour
1 1/2 tsp Bicarb Soda
150g Caster Sugar
250g White Chocolate, roughly chopped
Pinch of Salt
3 Eggs, lightly beaten
150g Unsalted Butter, melted.
200g Natural Yoghurt
2 tbs Milk
12 Strawberries, washed and hulled
Raw Sugar, to sprinkle

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 200 °C and line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases
2. Mix flour, bicarb soda, sugar and chocolate in a large bowl with the pinch of salt.
3. Beat together the eggs, butter, yoghurt and milk and then stir briskly into the dry ingredients. Do not overmix! This will make the muffins tough. The mixture will be lumpy.

4.Divide mixture amongst paper cases and insert a strawberry into centre of each cake, making sure that each berry is completely covered in batter.
5. Sprinkle with raw sugar and bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden and skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.
6. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

7. ENJOY!

An Update

A few months ago, at the start of July, I was excluded from working due to my deteriorating mental health.

Was this a blow? Absolutely!
A shock? Not so much.

In the weeks after my assault, I had tried going back to work, only to have my attacker and his wife come into my place of work. After another few weeks off, I went back again.

Customers would approach me and introduce themselves. I’d forget their names almost instantly. If they were male, I’d feel the panic start to set in. If they were angry, the panic would set in faster. I felt trapped behind my desk. In a place that was all about putting customers first, I knew I was doing far from that and unable to change. People would sit down and I’d just focus on getting them out the door as quick as possible, all the while trying not to panic-vomit all over them.

In the few minutes I’d be serving a customer, I’d finish the transaction feeling dizzy, gasping for breath, sweating and needing to excuse myself for a couple of minutes. Working in a sales environment with performance based incentives, you can imagine how my work was being effected.

I felt like a complete and utter failure. As a high school drop out, I’d always felt compelled to prove myself. There’s that ever popular stereotype that a high school drop out is a bit dim and sits at home playing computer games and collecting welfare. In a world that misunderstands rape and sexual assault so much, I knew I’d be forever feeling guilty while I was at home and constantly needing to prove myself while off work. I’m constantly being met with questions of why I’m not back at work yet, and if I should just go back and distract myself with work. I wish it were that simple.

I’d worked so hard for so much, and because of the actions of a few horrible people, I’d lost the career I’d started to build for myself. The day after the assault, I had a job interview. This job I was interviewing for was more hours, with slightly less responsibility but nearly a $6000 pay raise. I’d been after this job for over 2 years and I felt really confident.

However, going into that interview, everything fell apart. I forgot important questions to ask, I felt like I was reacting slightly to slow to questions and was shaking and pale, and my eyes red from crying. I knew I’d stuffed it. Not only had the events at Project Group ruined my mental health, but they’ve essentially destroyed my career. A career I’m going to have to build back up again.

One thing I was grateful for was the fact that I’d upgraded my income protection last year. So we weren’t without my income, this would prove to be an enormous blessing in disguise later. Three weeks after my going on extended sick leave, my partner was informed he’d be made redundant. I figured it would be okay, though. He had the same income protection as me, so at least our finances would be okay.

That would not be the case, as we would later find out. I’d been caught out by tricky wording and his redundancy was not covered under the protection. We were now on one wage with 2 cars that need repairs, a broken oven, blocked pipes to the en suite, a mortgage and car loan, and my mounting medical fees.

After a chat, we decided our much anticipated trip to Bordeaux and Paris, France, would need to be cancelled so that we could get the refunds to tie us over until he could get a job again. We got about $6000 back from the cancellations ($3000 of which we are still waiting on), which bought us a couple more months. Our town had been hit hard, job vacancies had hundreds of applications. Of the many applications he has filled out, he has been short-listed for one. That was a month ago and we haven’t heard anything new since then.

We also decided that it would be best to broaden our scope and look for work in the south of the state. This is where his family is located, and right now, I do not want to be in this town any more. I’m haunted everywhere I go and I honestly feel like my only chance at healing completely is to leave.

The only thing that has kept me out of a psychiatric unit is the fact that my partner is my personal carer at the moment. I am grateful for this and he is so wonderfully supportive. But I feel guilty. When I was still in shock and processing what had happened to me, my partner’s work had been amazing with letting him come with me to appointments with doctors and the police, and come home to me when I was hysterical. When he received his redundancy, my first thought was wondering if I was the reason he was let go. Was his broken girlfriend making him just too unreliable? I’ll never know, but the thought will always be there.

This week has been a big one for me, in that I’ve taken a few major steps back in my progress. I felt like I was taking control back over my life, when I went to a local art prize and saw a photo of me, which had been displayed with no permission sought. As it was taken at a private function, and it was up for sale, it was in violation of quite a few privacy laws. This was not the issue, aside from me using my likeness in much of my personal artwork, this person had used me against my will and sold a picture of me, to be hung who knows where, without even trying to contact me to let me know. I felt hugely violated, but unfortunately there was very little I could do.

Our local race round was also coming up. I’d always been a regular to the Ladies Day, which is well known for its fashions. I adore dressing up, and was excited to go this year. Considering the state of our finances, I decided to give it a miss. I’d normally spend the day in an exclusive tent, which I’d pay a few hundred dollars to get a ticket for. I did not want to spend the day in general admission, as I figured the risk of running into Person D and Person E was too high. Person D had done superbly well in spreading a smear campaign against me, helped along by her daughter, who I did consider a friend. Apparently my story is “cock and bull”. Since they enjoy cosying up to a rapist, if they were going to be there, then Person A surely would, as would his wife. The thought of seeing that poor woman with such a monster, and probably having no idea what had happened hurts. She is far too nice to be with such an awful person, and her so called “friends” are truly worse than I thought if they’ve kept all of this from her.

I knew running into Person A, D and E (or Rapist, Bitchface and Cuntbag, as I’ve been angrily calling them) would just be too much for me to handle. The thought of being around lots of drunk people also made me uncomfortable. So I was content with staying home, but angry that yet another thing was taken away from me due to their actions.

I was then advised that, for the safety of myself and others, I was no longer allowed to drive. I figured it wasn’t best for me to drive, but there was, yet again, another thing taken from me. The after effects of the assault were nightmares, insomnia, loss of appetite, low energy, restlessness, migraines, hallucinations, poor memory and poor concentration, just to name a few. The concern was mainly that, if I lost focus while driving, that I could cause an accident.

I’d been stage managing a play, which finished up on the weekend. This has been one of two things getting me out of the house, and since I’d been a member of this club since I was 17, I was comfortable around all of the members and felt very safe. I decided I wanted to have a good time and forget my worries for a bit. And boy did I have a good time. It was the best fun I’d had in ages and I really felt I could let loose and come out of my shell a little bit.

There was much laughing and chit chat, deep and meaningfuls in the ladies room and putting lipstick on my partner. In all, I drank close to 2 bottles of champagne and a quarter of a bottle of peach schnapps. Oops.

True to form, I was just a bit stumbly (very stumbly though, on the way back to the taxi), giggly and chatty. There was no passing out, no vomit and no hang overs. I love my liver and my liver loves me, which is why drinking like this is not something I do every weekend (and reaffirms the fact that something must have been put in my drink at Project Group, jerks).

I have been trying to be very careful with my drinking lately, as drinking in public makes me quite nervous now, for obvious reasons. My medication increases the effects of alcohol, plus, the fact that I’m dealing with PTSD, severe depression, panic disorder and moderate anxiety disorder means that putting a depressant into the mix, is probably not the best idea.

After my stumbly walk to the taxi, my partner and I got home. Shortly after getting home, I was triggered into a severe flashback. It was so bad that I don’t remember it. I got to hear about it from my poor, very tired partner.

Apparently I was panicking over the people watching me be intimate with my partner. I wanted them to stop watching me and didn’t like that they were looking at me while I was in a state of undress. I was in hysterics and kept forgetting where I was. I was clutching my head in pain, and was scared because my budgies were chirping and I wanted the noises to stop.

Now, I love birds, so the fact I was suddenly terrified of the noise was very odd. I was worried that I may be sick and I didn’t want the vomit to get over me. Physically I wasn’t close to being ill, but I was clearly back at that night and so convinced I was ill. I came around after about an hour, to my partner asking me if I knew where I was.

I was rattled for the next day. I felt the same as I did the day after the assault, in that I was confused and trying to make sense of the way I was feeling, but not remembering a whole lot. It is an overwhelming feeling and one I do not like feeling.

It’s bad enough when you can be triggered by something as simple as spilling a drink on your foot. I did that a week ago, and I was just so devastated. So I think It’s really something that is hard to explain unless you’ve personally been through it yourself.

These past few months have really shown me that it isn’t just rape culture that needs to be dealt with, but our society does need to better improve its understanding of mental health and the impact things can have on different people and the way these things can manifest themselves.

One thing that has made for lifting my mood, was finally getting our oven fixed. I’ll do a post on the baked goods I made for the cast party tomorrow. (Despite the flashback, it is still probably the best cast party I’ve been to).

I can’t wait to put something a little positive on this blog, that’s what it was intended for!

Shortcut to Style: 3 Picture-perfect Short Hair Tutorials

emmalouise:

What I forgot to think about when I chopped off my hair; You have to be so much more creative when styling!

Originally posted on Story by ModCloth:

After we ran our tutorials on formal updos for thick hair and stylebook-inspired hair, many of you asked for tutorials for short crops. So, here we are! Whether you’re gearing up for school portraits or just want to look picture-perfect, these short hair tutorials will ensure that you’ll always be camera-ready.

View original 467 more words

Screaming On The Inside

The doors burst open and I am standing there. I am wild with anger. I look around the Project Group. They are hosting a function. I make my way towards the bar, ignoring the stares being thrown my way.

“You shouldn’t be here.”

I turn and come face to face with Person E. I glare and turn my attention back to the bar. Person A is behind it, serving alcoholic beverages.

I am dumbfounded. “He shouldn’t be there”.

I realise I’ve not said this inside my head. People have moved away from me, watching. I can feel some want to pull me away, stop me, but a morbid curiosity has frozen the room.

I repeat myself. “He shouldn’t be behind the bar.

How can you people, knowing what he has done, let him serve drinks to people? To women?

Are you just giving him another opportunity to take advantage of a person in a vulnerable state after his wife leaves?”

Person E goes to grab my wrist. I pull away.

“Oh, for goodness sake! Stop this rubbish. You’re embarrassing yourself”.

It’s Person D. She looks really angry.

I retort, “Embarrass myself, like how I ‘just vomited’ on the couch. I see that Person A’s wife looks just as confused as most of the other people in the room. How about we talk about how my drink was tampered with by that man and how he later sexually assaulted me? That sounds like a great idea. We’ll also talk about how he was going to go all the way through with it until he was interrupted.

What about if we bring up the fact that,  once Person E heard something had happened, instead of approaching me to hear my side of the story, he instead did everything in his power to help cover Person A’s tracks, intimidate and scare me into being quiet and was clearly more worried about his precious group, he didn’t care who he hurt.

That goes for all of you. This group shouldn’t exist! If this is how you treat your peers, then I’d hate to see how you treat your enemies. I am legitimately fearful for every female in this room. If something of this nature happens to you, prepare to be swiftly kicked out on your ass.

Person A knows exactly what he did. His poor wife deserves better than a monster like him. How can you all call yourself her friends, yet not tell her that her husband is a sick pervert? The little regard this group shows for women is disgusting. I encourage everyone who has a shred if decency to boycott this group to take a stand against Rape Culture and Victim Blaming. I don’t know how you lot can live with yourselves.”

I’m aware my ramblings probably came out as an incoherent, emotional mess, but I didn’t care. There were mixed emotions in the room. It was like the group didn’t know how to react. I take one last look around and leave.

I leave hoping this is the end for the Project Group. I smile deeply, deeper than I had in the past 6 weeks. We were on our way to stamping out rape culture in our town. I was excited for the future.

Except that never happened and it never will. Instead, I’ll be sitting in my house tonight, fearful that he is on the bar. Fearful that he is serving women. I’ll shed a silent tear. A tear for the loss of innocence at the hands of monsters. A tear for the people who insist on protecting their friends, so much so that their judgement is clouded. A tear for the wives, married to the scum of the Earth. A tear for me and the part of my soul that was taken away by these events. A tear for my loss of a social life and these events I so badly wanted to participate in.

I know I’ll be haunted for a while and my revenge fantasies will plague me as long as the flash backs, nightmares, and PTSD continues. I am looking forward to the day it is all a distant memory. I will take comfort in the fact that I believe in Karma.