Friday, March 10th, 2017

One thing I find exceptionally hard about this whole thing is that this feels like a roller-coaster.

Not too long ago, I had kind of a “breakthrough” at therapy and I felt great. I walked around with my head held high, taking in the world, I had good phone conversations with some friends I missed (since I’m not always fantastic about talking to everybody anymore). I didn’t cry when I saw the BMI building on my walk to work. Heck, I walked places! Forget wanting ubers to be my sad little cage from the world. (Sometimes uber or lyft is fun and/or necessary,  but I use it as a crutch too often.)

Things were going so great. I saw things on social media (or around me in real life) that used to trigger me, and I’d be okay – maybe every once in a while just needing to take a deep breath, but not losing it. And a very astute person with me might notice that deep breath, but it’s not make a scene or ruin a moment type stuff… Just keeping things pretty well under control, and going out and having a grand time…

And then, as the week wore on, and I got so so close to finally making it past the 7-day mark without crying (which I have not been able to do since it happened, ugh), I just lost it. I dunno. There was something triggering-ish and I. Just. Lost. It.

I cried and cried and cried like I couldn’t breathe. Because when it starts, it feels just overwhelming…

Sometimes it feels like I’m falling into quicksand and it just feels inescapable…

And then sometimes I go see my therapist and it feels like she pulls me up and shows me I’m actually just in a sandbox – that it’s much safer and not nearly as all-encompassing as it all seems… (And that feels safer and nice, but even still, it’s a big sandbox I’m stuck in!)

I am so tired of making progress, then feeling tied to my bed. Then crying enough that I decide to work a later shift at work because it’s just too hard to make it in, in the morning. (Granted, I work a job now where there are many days where this is available to me. Had it been The Nightly Show, I like to think I still would’ve gotten up and gone because I wouldn’t have had the option to go in later. But having the option, I took it…)

Better, better, worse.

There are days where I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like I’m definitely gonna “graduate” therapy. (In my program, it’s not a therapist you keep for the rest of your life… You have therapy until you’ve worked through your assault and then you leave.)

And then there are days when I think my therapist is gonna give up on me before I finish. (I don’t really think that’s gonna happen…. I think even *if* she reached the point where she feels I’m not making enough progress that then she’d refer me to someone else or maybe make a case for trying anti-depressants, etc. I do not feel like I will be kicked to the street with no options or help. But I do get worried that I’m not gonna make the full amazing fantastic turnaround that other people have made.

And that’s scary.

Better, better, worse.

It’s exhausting.

 

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Picking up from last time –

So, things are overall getting better… but they’re still not great.

I still don’t take the subway alone. That doesn’t even necessarily make any logical sense. Nothing happened to me on the subway. I used to take the subway alone just fine when I first moved (when I’d go from The Nightly Show to BMI).

But there’s something about – I don’t know if it’s about feeling overwhelmed, or if it’s about the fact that he and I would often take the subway together in the few weeks I spent sleeping with him, and it always made me pretty antsy just being around him in public (even when things were fine-ish). There was something about it – I’m sure not worth getting into now, but I would be really uncomfortable. And I was going to ask if we could start laying out some guidelines – such as me always leaving first because I do not like to ride the subway together… But I never got that far because the terrible thing happened. And if what I really wanted was to ride the subway alone, fantastic! But I don’t know, there’s something about it that just feels… I never used claustrophobic. I loved tight spaces. I loved the subway. But there’s just something about people and tight spaces and whatever. I can’t (or at least don’t) do it right now…

I often don’t go out and about in Times Square. Like, I had vegetables from, I dunno, maybe like 4 blocks away delivered to me the other day. I could’ve gotten my own vegetables. But I didn’t. Sometimes I feel like I’m living like freaking Howard Hughes or something because it’s like, “Well, I can’t go outside.”

He goes to theater a lot and spends a lot of time in Times Square. Maybe I would see him. Maybe I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t die from seeing him, even if it happened – which hopefully it probably wouldn’t. But I dunno… I get stuff delivered a lot like I’m a little hermit. And while I appreciate the convenience, it still makes me sad.

My health is – I dunno what’s going on with my health, really. I feel grosser than usual, and I’ve definitely gained a little weight (again, there will for SURE be a gigantic post about this). I know my resting heart rate is higher – still only around like 63, and I know that’s not high, but for a girl who had to have the alarm specially set in the hospital because her heart rate was so low, it doesn’t feel good or fun…

I’m not doing a tremendous job of tracking my physical health through this. It’s fluctuating up and down in every way (not just weight). So, it’s hard to say if that’s better or worse.

I haven’t seen a Broadway show since I moved into my new place. This is one of the things that upsets me the most. I’m actually crying as I type this (of course).

I live in Times. Square.

It has been my dream to live there forever. And now I do.

I can walk to any Broadway show within a matter of just a couple of minutes! My younger self would be soooooooooooooo jealous.

When I did summer camp at Juilliard as a teenager, I went to a show every. single. night.

I was like, “I’m here in New York! I live in the Juilliard dorms! I can walk to Times Square!” And I was filling up that whole back of the playbill that asks what you’ve seen. I wanted to spend any available time in New York seeing shows because I loooooved musical theater. (Why do you think I wanted to go to BMI?)

And I haven’t been able to do it.

I don’t know if it’s because he was always trying to tell me about musical theater, or if it’s because that’s how I met him, or if it’s because it is devastating to me that I’m not at BMI, or if it’s because so many musicals have love stories and like I just can’t even watch a courting process (that sounds like such a weird phrase, but I think it makes sense), because I just can’t – that’s now associated with abuse for me, in this moment. I can’t.

So, I don’t know if it’s a piece of that or all of that or something I’m not even thinking of. But I practically ignore the fact that I live smack in the heart of Broadway. And I. don’t. even. go.

Excuse me while I sob about that.

Anyway, even with that, overall, things are better. But there are most definitely things I’m still missing, and things that even if they’re there, I need to improve upon. Like, we have not hit “normal Aurora,” but the trajectory does seem to be going upward… And now, I can get to that post I wanted to do yesterday :)…

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

*Rolls eyes at self*

Oh my goodness gracious. Another (ANOTHER?!) post about sexual assault assault (?!) Geez to goodness. I know it’s what’s going on in my life. And I know it’s a big deal in the world. And I also know that if people are reading my blog, they’ve come here to hear about whatever’s going on in my life, specifically. I’m not like interrupting their normal Facebook feed or something. It’s like, you subscribed, buddy!” So, I know I can talk about it as much as I want.

But like, is this gonna be the only thing we talk about from now until eternity?

I don’t really know… I hope to goodness not, right? Oof.

Anyway, what I do know is that I’m tangenting like crazy, and I haven’t even really started the post.

So…

There’s a post I want to post soon (which I’m sure I will), where I talk about getting “better, better, worse”). But before I do that, I want to do a post about where I am right now.

It is undeniable that I am better than I was at the beginning. Like, you can see it in real and tangible ways.

I haven’t cried during sex probably since… November? I’m pretty sure November was the last time. So, 3 whole months of not crying during sex! I know that in real life that’s just completely and utterly normal – but that’s the goal, is it not? To go back to completely and utterly normal?

So, does 3 months mean things are “officially” normal? For good? Forever? I’ll never ever ever cry during sex ever again? I don’t know. But that is definitely a step in the right direction. I remember the poor poor guy who was sleeping with me in like April and May. I literally do not think we tried to have sex a single time in my apartment in which I did not cry at some point. And he was patient and lovely and it was so nice. But goodness gracious.

So, that’s a step in the right direction for sure.

I cry way less during work. I used to cry probably every day at The Nightly Show. I had the perfect job with the perfect people. It was 100% a dream come true. I looooved that place.

And I cried most days there after being sexually assaulted. I’d have to call a helpline sometimes between working with producers – not because the producers did anything wrong (anything!), or anything even close to wrong. No one at The Nightly Show ever did anything to make me uncomfortable by even a millimeter. Everyone there is perfect and I loved the shoe and everyone there. But there was something about just being around people. I was just nervous. It just – being around people, being relied on – it went from something I loved and cherished and needed to something that was overwhelming and scary and I don’t know.

And in a lot of editing jobs, you could probably go days without seeing another human if you really wanted to. But on this one, it did not work like that.

And on the one hand, I’m so thankful that I was in a position where I couldn’t quit my job or take extended time off. I had to be around people. I had to keep leaving the apartment. But I cried, I think everyday. So, yeah, as I was saying before I interrupted myself – I used to call a helpline multiple times a week just to help me breathe in my office and get through the day…

I don’t believe I’ve ever called a helpline at my new job (that I’ve had since October). In fact, the only time(s) I’ve called it at all that I can remember in the past few months is I called twice around the time of the two anniversaries. I was like, “It’s the anniversary. I try not to ever call anymore because I have a therapist now, and I don’t want to waste resources and I’m so sorry. I just – I can’t breathe, and I just – I don’t know what to do.” I was just feeling so so desperate. And I was helped. And it was nice. But I really try not to call anymore (and I so so so rarely feel that bad that I would even consider maybe needing to). So, that’s gone down from a near-daily experience sometimes to a not even monthly (and hopefully going toward even less than that and/or never)…

So, that’s pretty great.

I have been able to go out with my friends more often more successfully. There was a period where I didn’t really see anybody. (I’m gonna link here later to a post about this – I have some posts in the queue I need to publish still). But I had a hard time seeing people for a while… And I’m still not awesome or perfect at seeing people, but I am 100% getting better. I have a handful of experiences I can point to in the past few months of going out with friends, enjoying myself, not talking about sexual assault, and being present. It does not happen all the time, or even every week… But it has happened. It has happened more than once, even. It is happening.

And since this post is getting long, I’ll finish out here tomorrow.

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

We can (and have and will) talk about sex and consent and everything on this blog, but today, I’m talking about consent in a way that has nothing to do with sex. Will you talk about this with me? 🙂

Not all that long ago, I was watching a television show in which a woman was giving birth. And she’s yelling at people not to touch her. And someone goes in all “sweetly” grabbing her hand. ‘I’ve got you. I’ve got you.’ ‘Let me GO!’ The pregnant woman is making it so clear she does NOT want someone holding her hands, but even with two rounds of that, the person very “sweetly” insists, ‘I will not let you go.’

And it is played as a very “sweet” moment. There’s no talk about it afterward. There’s no embarrassment or shame on the part of the person who didn’t listen. No. They’re a saint, it seems.

And as I was watching the show, I was screaming in my head, “STOP TOUCHING HER! DON’T TOUCH HER! SHE’S MAKING IT SO CLEAR SHE DOESN’T WANT TO BE TOUCHED. (AAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHH)”

But I also realized that I have seen so many scenes along these lines growing up, and I never even batted an eyelash. As far as I could tell, that behavior was sweet. That’s what I grew up thinking.

You know? I think a lot of us are taught to think that someone in distress like that is being “crazy” or “too emotional” or whatever. Whereas really, a woman giving birth is going through something incredibly tough and needs actual support – in getting what she actually asks for.

Yes, I’m sure there are some – very, very, very few – scenarios where you must go against someone’s immediate wishes in order to help them. If someone is in a horrific car accident and they’re brought into the hospital and they don’t know what’s going on, and they try to swat a hand away from someone in the midst of saving their life, then yeah, that doctor should probably keep touching them (while explaining what’s going on), because, you know… Life hanging in the balance and all.

But if a pregnant person doesn’t want to be touched, a scared person, a crying person… It doesn’t matter how “sweet” we’re trying to be or how much we think that person might “need” to be touched. Don’t touch them!

I feel like society has been talking a lot-ish about rom-coms and how we are starting to indeed see the bad messages those are sending. But what about these messages of consent in completely non-sexual situations like these?

I feel like a generally preeeeeetty empathetic or even slightly “woke”-ish person if you will, and if I never saw even a spec of a problem in scenes like these, how can I expect other people to? How can I expect the world to change?

Why didn’t I noticed this before? Did this affect how I treated people, or if I made them uncomfortable? I hope to goodness not. But if my brain has been in the wrong place for twenty-something years, how can I know? (I do know I’ve never held the hand of a pregnant person. So, at least I have that, I suppose.)

I am just bewildered in how I used to see the world vs. how I see it now. And I dunno what else to say to end this. So, bye ’til tomorrow!

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Aurora before Divas TemeculaMy first Divas race! (Finally.)

I’ve been hearing about this race series since the 52 half marathons in 52 weeks. If you do 5 in a year, you get this “Supreme Diva” plaque. And I was like, “yeeeeeeah, I’m not gonna do some if I can’t do 5, because I might as well just get the plaque.”

And alas, now we are in a year where 5 makes sense. I was barely able to fit them all in the schedule with the various Rock ‘n’ Roll races I need to do, but exactly 5 can fit. (Although, now with the cancellation of Queretaro, I actually have 6 available Divas races available. Wiggle room. Cool.)

Anyway, I heard that if you’re gonna do a Divas race, you gotta do Temecula. Apparently it has the coolest medals and nicest swag. (As of now, it’s the only one I’ve done. So, I have nothing to compare it to. Ask me again in October.)

Originally, a friend was going to take me to Temecula, but he was called away on business. So, I posted in this random running Facebook group (that I recently found this year and love), asking if anyone was driving from LA to Temecula. And a sweet girl wrote me back, offering to drive. (Yaaaaay!)

I woke up around 2 am, and we ended up leaving around 3ish. (So. Early.)

You had to get there early to take a shuttle from the parking lot to the vineyard. They were pretty intense in the race instructions about getting there on an early shuttle to be sure you had time to get your packet (if you hadn’t picked it up the day before). So, we obliged.

We had a nice drive talking about future races and goals and all that fun stuff.

When we got our packets, everybody got race jackets (not the thin loud ones, but just like a zip-up warm thing), and pink light-up tutus.

As for the race itself, I was actually wondering how I could talk about it any differently than I did about the races I did in wine country from the 52 half marathons. ‘Cause it felt kind of the same – animals, quiet, scenery.

We had to walk over some wooden things that kept mud away from us, so it was nice those were down. That was something random and different about this race…

And that leads to talking about the weather – which leads to talking about losing my coat! And that’s what’s different about this – the race where I oh so irresponsibly lost my coat.

It rained like craaaaaazy in SoCal the day before this. A video was posted online about how outdoor steps at a parking garage had basically become a waterslide. Sinkholes were happening. It was crazy. People were saying they couldn’t even make it to packet pick-up. Driving seemed too dangerous (or maybe even a little impossible).

Weather forecasts called for all of that the next day too. It was supposed to rain during the whole race. So, I went in my full coat (as I did for the San Antonio Marathon in December – it poured there and that coat kept me going!).

But alas, it just kept not raining. It was so hot.

During the 5k, I whipped my coat off as I could not bear to wear it anymore. I ran across the street (in the lane where people were turning around), and hung it on a fence post – thinking that someday, when I get to that turnaround, I’ll just grab it.

Or not.

It was nowhere to be found at the end of the race. I asked the race people if they had any idea where it could be. I told them I was well aware it was my fault it was gone and I can’t expect to leave something and have it be there. But I was just hoping maybe since it was hung, not thrown, and since it was a big winter coat – just maybe it would be around?

Even if it had been picked up – I hoped maybe clothes wouldn’t have been taken in yet to whatever place they were donating them to… And I could rummage through whatever was there. But alas, my coat was nowhere to be found. So, that was a bummer. It had some stuff in the pocket that would’ve been nice to have (including a little cash and a credit card).

BUT, I’m the idiot who just left my coat there. I see how I could’ve been hopeful, maybe, since there was a turnaround… But, I also see how I was willing to take the gamble because I was so very hot (on this day that was supposed to be miserable with rain).

So, that covers it – ran through dirt, but around leftover mud, got a really cool medal, lost my coat (and the Divas staff was very nice and forgiving about it). Made a new friend randomly through social media.

After the race, we went and ate together. Then when I got home, I jumped in the hot tub and one my best friends in the world came by and joined me and we had dinner together.

California was so very beautiful and I really cannot wait to tell you all about it. But first…

After dinner, I went and got on a redeye. That’s right. I have a race tomorrow in Florida. So, it’s bedtime now!

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

(This is sort of a post of me ruminating on my insecurities of any part of my story that isn’t perfect (because no one is, but goodness I wish I could’ve been). Anyway, I think it’s probably skippable if you feel this story’s getting too long and you wanna skip forward.)

Picking up from last time –

It’s hard to say, “Well, I left because of this guy” for a couple of reasons. The main one is because I can practically hear people yelling, “Didn’t you leave because you weren’t doing well? Are you going to use sexual assault as an excuse to make up for your poor ‘grades’?” (I put grades in quotes there because you don’t get actual letter grades at BMI…)

And I don’t know what to say to that. Because it is true that I was not doing well.

I am not using, nor did I use, sexual assault as anything other than what it was  – a terrible life event/obstacle that I needed help getting over.

It did, I suppose, potentially (that remains to be seen) “help” me (I guess, kinda, if you want to look at it that way), in the sense that I now get to repeat BMI, and I wasn’t doing well (and I wouldn’t have asked had that not happened to me), and I might do better next time… But, that wording of “help” still feels very off… I mean, there are no words that I can think of that can accurately be used to describe this situation, because it’s not like sexual assault could ever be a “happy accident,” or “good timing,” or a “blessing in disguise.” It did push me to ask for something I wanted (to repeat) and wouldn’t have otherwise. But it’s not a happy thing.

And, aside from picking the “correct” words, even if you do think that I gained something (deferment) because of it, I didn’t “use” sexual assault for a second chance at the class. I did not mention, nor even allude to it in my email to the co-moderator of the class… He was giving me a second chance because I wasn’t doing well (and had uprooted my life with 11 days notice, so he had some understanding). And then I mainly took that second chance/asked for it because I couldn’t stand to be around the perpetrator so frequently anymore.

And I also think the idea that things turned out better because of sexual assault is not true… As much as I would not want to be failing out of BMI, I really believe, if that was the only other option, I think I would happily take that instead of the nightmares, and having trouble connecting with other people, and all of that business….

I wish I would’ve been doing well (obviously – both because that would’ve been nice, and because anyone reading this could definitively know without any doubt that the reason I left was because of being sexual assaulted… There’s already so much self-blame and societal blame when you’re assaulted that I just wish everything were perfect and I wish I were perfect… So, there didn’t have to be any questions of what was my fault or wasn’t – or whether it “benefited” me in any humanly possible way…)

But it’s also almost nice (for me) to know I wasn’t doing well… It is already devastatingly heartbreaking enough that I felt I had to leave…. But having to leave a program where I’m floundering has to be easier than disappearing from one in which I’m thriving… (Or at least, I think it must be easier… I guess I wouldn’t know.)

And I know this also might feel a little like, “Hey girl, how defensive do you have to be? When people are so defensive, it often means they know they’re in the wrong [or something like that].”

And to that, I just say, I think people can also be defensive when they’re defending the truth. Stuff matters. And this matters to me.

Not to mention, I have gotten SO used to defending myself with sexual assault guy – defending even the smallest things. It felt like my world was a trap and I couldn’t do anything right. We had arguments over the semantics of the fact that in both assaults, I asked questions instead of making statements. I asked, “Would it really be that big of a deal if we went somewhere else, please?” I didn’t “command” it. That’s the word he used. He said I didn’t “command” it. Same thing in the second one. He asked why I was crying. I said, “Am I even allowed to be comfortable around you? Because I don’t feel comfortable right now.” I led in with a question, not a command.

These are just examples of the many arguments I had to have all the time. I had to phrase everything correctly, and do everything correctly, and “correctly” sometimes just means how he wants or feels… Supposedly, I should want what he wants, when he wants it, how he wants it… I have this fight or flight response that makes me feel like I need to defend everything all the time, because as I learned with him, if I’m not perfect, I’m wrong… And I was not perfect in BMI.

Plus, people blame women all the time for sexual assault – they look for all the reasons why it’s her fault. No matter how open and shut the case is, it still often comes back to “but why was she wearing that?” “Why did she drink” “Why wasn’t she paying more attention?” And a litany of other questions. So, I know that an inevitable question (or statement) will be, “But she wasn’t doing well in the class anyway, so what does it matter?”

And I guess maybe to some extent that’s a tiny bit true, in that… does it “matter” if I wasn’t doing well? If Vegas odds are that I wouldn’t have made the cut to advanced, then should we argue that isn’t leaving after most of 1st year, or 2nd year kinda the same? What was going to come of that class for me if I wasn’t doing well?

…But I just feel like even if I’m “failing,” I should still have the right to fail wildly, and feel at least safe while doing so. I technically could’ve maybe, perhaps, maybe, just a little, turned things around. Maybe.

It’s just not fair…

Oh and that second reason at the top that it’s hard to say “I left because of this guy” that I mentioned at the top? I felt very very weird about making a decision basically based on a man. These same thoughts will come up again when I decide to not go back the following school year. So, I will get more into them in the next post. But for now, suffice it to say I never thought I would make any decision off some boy. And I know it’s so much more complicated than that. But uuuugh.

And we’ll get into that next time.

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017
Aurora selfie tired after the New Orleans marathon

(I only have selfies because I was so tired and barely anyone was around to take photos haha)

Picking up from last time –

Just as I was about to the final bit – At the white barriers that lead you into the finish line, I heard “I hear we have our last finisher coming in!” – about the person right in front of the race vehicle (the race vehicle driven by the woman who’s mad at me – all other race vehicles are still tailing me).

Oh my gosh. I am SO close! I can literally see the finish. I bet I can get in before the timing mat comes up…

Then, just as I’m about to pass the guys pulling up the “New Orleans 2017 sticker off the ground” (like, I am SO ridiculously close at this point), a woman’s like “you gotta get out of here”

She’s very firm about it, basically literally blocking my path with her body telling me I can’t be in there.

And I’m thinking “wow, they were not kidding about that forfeit thing. I *barely* didn’t beat the van and they are cloooosing down the finish line”

But then the guys taking up the sticker (and someone else by the barrier) are all like “she’s fine. She’s fine.”

And so I say thanks and start to move forward, but the woman’s like “you can’t go that way!”

And then I’m asking how I leave the barriers (still hoping to figure out a way to run over the timing mat before they take it up). And it’s very confusing ’cause I’m getting down to crawl out from the barriers and keep moving forward. But she seems to be suggesting I turn around and leave the area completely, just not going toward the finish.

And I don’t 100% understand why she’s acting like not only closing down the finish line, but not letting a runner go anywhere near it would be totally normal and not frustrating for a runner… Like, she seems to not understand why I want to keep going forward… So, it’s this whole bru-ha-ha of confusion that no one really understands is happening until…

Someone (I think one of the guys taking the sticker off the ground) says something like “she’s fine. She’s right here. Just let her finish.”

And the woman says emphatically, “she’s not a runner!”

And I yell out “I am!” Weirdly enough some people around me also yell out “she is,” even though I guess they don’t actually know any more than she would. So, I don’t understand why they know or why they’re so caring, but I’m glad they are.

Anyway, she’s like “where’s your bib?”
TA-DA!

Thank goodness I was able to pull it out of my pocket. And I went on.

And I could hear that woman behind me saying “I heard them say the last runner was crossing, and she didn’t have her bib. How was I supposed to know?”

And I felt really bad that she seemed to feel bad like she messed up or something, because her point was very valid.

Anyway, I went on down that last little stretch, and then I saw Annie. And she was like “wait! One more runner! I know you.” And she was saying nice things about me in the mic. And she came to greet me. And I said, “The timing’s mat’s still down, right?! I’m gonna get to finish?!”

And she was like “we got you!”

She said into the mic, “Keep the timing mat down for one more!” And I ran on through and got my medal and the remix medal and the jacket – oh that illustrious marathon jacket…

(And the woman in the van did not have a happy face on that I refused her orders *and* still got to finish, for anyone who’s wondering.)

If it had  truly come down to it, I suppose I would’ve rather finished the actual distance and not gotten a medal (if that really had to happen – even though that would’ve had some dire consequences on the year-long-plan, oof…) than the other way around… but thankfully, I got both! (Yay!)

(By the way, I know I was being a little selfish, and I did take longer than I should have. So, while this is sort of a story of persistence and stubbornness and finishing, it’s also possible the story of an entitled girl who expected bent rules. So, I am sorry to the extra strain I put on the people around me. And THANK YOU so much for letting me finish! And onward we go!! :-))

(We’re now 45.5 miles in to this project! :-))