Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

This was probably the worst weekend of my entire time at this duty station, but it did bring about some good, so I can’t speak too harshly of it, if I’m being honest. It was pretty bad, though. Instead of just telling you what the event was that ruined my weekend, though, I’ll tell you the whole story.

It was Friday night. Due to the overwhelming number of responses from the friends I polled that I should, in fact, go out and have fun, I had decided to go out for a few beers and then call it an early night, because I’m a responsible grownup. Or boring. Boring works, too. Anyway. Rose had done my hair in two French braids for me and I had opted to go for clothing that was more “me” and more focused on comfort than looking good, because honestly when I’m me and I’m comfortable I’m confident and what is more attractive than confidence? I wound up wearing my Uh-Huh Baby Yeah! t-shirt, skinny jeans, and my slip-on Vans. I was comfortable, I felt more like myself than I had in a long time, and I was in a really good mood, something that didn’t often coincide with going out. As an introvert, more often than not, going out feels like a chore. Well, as I was putting the finishing touches on getting ready, Emmett texted me and asked if I was planning on going out. I told him I was and we made plans to meet up (with Nico, too) and go out as a group. We met up in Nico’s room, I helped him figure out what to wear, (I swear the boy is the most adorable diva on the planet), and then we went out. We went to Dardo first, since it was finally re-opened and we had all been missing Chicho. I had one drink (both of the boys had two) and then who should saunter in but dear sweet Rob Nixon. We promptly included him in our group and he informed us that his roommate was at Brixton. Well, Rob’s roommate is Chris, so I immediately paid my tab and headed for Brixton, because I wanted to see Chris’ handsome face! I adore that man.

Now, two things to keep in mind. The first is that Emmett and I were having a heated and hilarious gif war on Facebook Messenger while we were out, which had kept both us and Nico entirely amused while we were at Dardo. The second is that I had invited CJ to come out with us and he had blown me off on the pretense of wanting to stay in and have a quiet, chill Friday night at home. No one understood that better than me, so I teased him a little but didn’t push the issue.

So. Brixton. We all had a few more drinks (I had one and both of the boys had two), talked with Dave, Chris, and Rob, and chilled out. Well, I got a sudden, intense vibe that I should leave. I texted Nico and told him that I was probably going to head out soon, partly to inform him of my intent but mostly to see where he was at – if he was ready to leave as well or if he wanted to stay out for a while. He replied immediately that he, too, was considering leaving shortly (at which point I remembered that he had a volunteer thing the next day). About fifteen minutes later, as we had decided to wait on our friends to finish their drinks, who should walk into Brixton like he owned the place but CJ. I hid behind Emmett because I didn’t want to deal with CJ and decided it was time to leave. Emmett, who instantly realized what was going on, was leaving with me. I stopped by the bar long enough to hug Chris and tell him goodbye and then made a beeline for the door. Now, according to Emmett, he saw what was about to happen and tried his level best to warn me, but he was just a few seconds too late. As I had turned from the bar and started to walk out the front door of Brixton, someone slapped me on the ass as hard as they possibly could. I froze. I couldn’t even compute for a few seconds. And then, suddenly, I felt a surge of rage the likes of which I hadn’t experienced since the days when I fought competitively. I turned around to face CJ at a slight angle, almost in my fighting stance. His eyes widened and he backed away from me, blurting out, “Oh, God, she’s going to fucking hurt me.”

And then, in what I believe to be the most impressive display of self control of my entire life… I turned around and left the bar. I power walked home, headphones in and blaring music, with Emmett and Nico trailing in my wake, rage pounding through my veins and in my head. As I got back on base, however, the anger started to drain from me, being replaced by panic and terror and tears. I was holding it together fairly well until Emmett, who genuinely didn’t know any better, touched my shoulders to let me know that he was leaving. Now, I love Emmett. Absolutely adore the boy. He is one of the sweetest people I know, which is why I feel so bad that my knee-jerk response to his touch was to pull away like he was going to hurt me. He looked at me, bewildered, and I just shook my head and took off. Nico tried to touch me to comfort me, and I shied away from him, too. I wound up having a full blown panic attack, crying for several hours, and passing out.

 

It got worse during the following day’s conversation with CJ. He had tried numerous times to apologize to me and the previous night I’d merely responded with the information that he was lucky I didn’t want to bruise my Naval career by fighting because otherwise I would have put his ass in the ground and told him to never touch me again. The next day, he had continued to try to apologize but, when I didn’t immediately accept his apology and tell him everything was fine, he yelled at me, causing me yet another breakdown into tears and resulting in me telling him to leave me alone.

Now, I realize this may sound like an overreaction to some of my readers, but here’s the thing. The incident that I just described to you is sexual assault. A part of my body that is inherently sexual was touched without my consent. And the worst part, for me personally, was that it was someone who knew that I’d been sexually assaulted before – someone I trusted. It’s been two days and I’m still not okay yet. I’m still shaky and avoiding physical contact and feeling nauseated. There are no words to describe how violated I felt, and am still feeling today. It put me in a depression tailspin a little bit, but thankfully I had friends ready to pull me out of it and be there for me all day Saturday. I’m working on moving forward and I know I’ll be okay, but things like this are why I try to raise awareness for the reality that is sexual assault.

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds.

And Now For Something Completely Different…

Given that this month – and the approximate next rest of my life – is going to be dedicated to self-improvement in every area of my life, I went ahead and tacked one more thing onto my list: taking care of my spiritual health. As I’ve told people time and time again, I would have to be… well, as stubborn as… Honestly, I can’t come up with an example – even a Biblical one – of how stubborn I would have to be to deny the hand of God in my family’s life. I’ve witnessed first hand what faith can do and where it can take you and I would have to be… I don’t even know. I still can’t even put into words what kind of person I would have to be to deny the existence of someone who is so clearly involved in my day to day life. And it’s not like God is some fairy godmother who just waves a wand and fixes everything and then your life is perfect, and I think that is where a lot of people get hung up. For me, personally, any time I start to get frustrated and feel like my prayers aren’t being answered, I think back to a conversation I had with my dad back in the day. I still remember with great clarity all of our father-daughter trips to Lowes and Home Depot and the subsequent lunch dates and how we spent the entire time talking about stuff that actually MATTERED. I mean, sure, there was the occasional “who would win in a fight, Lion-O or Batman?” type talk, but it trended more to politics and religion/spirituality and REAL talk, and that’s one of the things I’ve missed the most since I’ve been away from home. But. I am getting off topic. I remember the conversation I had with my dad about God and prayer and how, first and foremost, we need to remember that God doesn’t work on our timeline. He works on His, and that’s okay. But it was the second point that my dad made that day that has really stuck with me, and that was this: if you pray for patience, is God going to grant you patience? Or is He going to give you opportunities to be patient? If you pray for wisdom and discernment, is He going to give it to you? Or opportunities to be wise and discerning? And that just blew my tiny teenage mind. I had never thought about it in those terms, but once I had, I couldn’t STOP thinking about it in those terms, and it really did change a lot of my life. So, when I went to work and prayed for patience and then immediately bumped up against a difficult customer or that one coworker that just really got under my skin, I realized it was an opportunity from God to practice the gift I’d been praying to Him for.

So, this morning, I did listen to my DNCE playlist a little bit and shimmied around my room to “Danza Kuduro” by Don Omar, sure, but once I had gotten to work and had to run out to my car to get my wallet, I set foot outside and heard the birds singing and “This Good Day” by Fernando Ortega popped into my head. I started to sing it, which just made me think about my dad more, because he loved Fernando Ortega. So, I’ve been playing my worship playlist ever since and I gotta say, between my conscious decision to have a good day and be in a good mood and the introduction of Jars of Clay and Bleach and Delirious into my morning, I am in a great mood and I feel like I’m ready to take on the world. Which is probably good, considering that my PRT is this afternoon. I know I probably won’t pass, but instead of having a bad attitude and saying “screw this” and refusing to even try, I have decided to give it my absolute best because, again, work as unto God and not unto man, and why shouldn’t I? I let myself go and let my depression overwhelm my life for too long a time while I’ve been here in Spain and now that I’m starting to fight back with medication and getting closer to God again and every other way I know to combat the monster that hides under my bed and stalks me throughout my life, I see no reason not to start remembering the sailor I was when I first joined the Navy: motivated, squared away, determined to do the Navy, the United States, and my family proud. That is who I am, and the fact that my depression ever made me lose sight of that breaks my heart, but also motivates me and makes me that much more determined to be that person again. I want to make my parents proud. I want my family to be able to show pictures of me to their friends and say “This is my Sailor. She has done so much and we are so proud of her.” I want the God who created me to look down on me and smile and say “That’s my kid. She’s doing my work and making me proud.” And if that isn’t the best possible motivation, I don’t know what is.

Another Tuesday Morning

I didn’t get a chance to write yesterday partly due to a busy workday and partly (okay, mostly) due to I forgot. I’m working on it, I swear.

It’s been a weird mixed bag these past couple of months for me. The ups have been ups and the downs have been downs, but… I don’t know. It’s just been weird. I’m starting to feel better overall, but some of the downs have still been pretty disconcertingly low. I’m seeing my therapist today and my psychiatrist tomorrow so hopefully, between the two of them, we’ll figure something out.

In other, happier news, I had an actual event horizon/miracle go down this past weekend. I am an introvert, by all accounts, so typically when I go out, I only enjoy about half the evening and then I kind of just want to die/go home and crawl into bed and never come back out. This weekend, the other corpsman from my clinic and I took our new corpsman out in town for drinks and tour of Rota with a few friends and, much to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire evening. I socialized with a bunch of other corpsman from the hospital, hung out with my kiddos and smoked hookah, swung by Donor Kebab for the best “it’s two AM and I’m drunk” food on the planet, and generally just had a really good time. It was the best kind of weird, possibly ever.

I may or may not have discussed this previously on this blog (I honestly can’t remember) but I am a survivor of sexual assault. Due to the circumstances surrounding the assault coupled with my introverted leanings, I have a habit of getting extremely anxious and unhappy in the types of social situations like the one I just described, so the fact that I was able to enjoy the entire night is actually a huge breakthrough for me. I’m hoping that this trend continues and that I start being able to function normally in social situations and actually enjoy going out as opposed to spending the entire time feeling paranoid and uncomfortable.

The whole assault was harder for me to process than it probably should have been, largely due to the fact that I didn’t tell anyone about it for over two years. I had rationalized the assault, telling myself that I’d wanted it and any number of other lies to justify it and, in retrospect, I can’t help wondering if I did this because I subconsciously knew that I couldn’t handle the reality of the situation at that point. It wasn’t until, several years later, I heard a young woman I was friends with relate the story of her own sexual assault and it started to sound eerily familiar that I came face to face with the ugly truth. It was still even longer before I started to talk about it, and it took me a long time to come to terms with having been a victim. Moving forward, I’ve done my best to work alongside the SAPR (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response) teams in the Navy and I’m hoping at my next command to be able to be a victim advocate. All that being said, this past weekend does look like progress and hopefully it continues.

More updates on this front as events warrant!

 

It is Taco Tuesday. That just dawned on me. Oh, man, I’m gettin’ tacos tonight! And the best part is that I have the totally valid excuse of needing to take my new corpsman to Cream’s for the first time. I need to make sure I do my Spanish homework today, though, because the waitresses and bartenders there are trying to help me buff up on Spanish, so they don’t speak to me in English anymore!

On that note, I suppose I should go do my Spanish homework. Until next time, stay frosty, nerds!

Heeeeere’s Monday!

There has already been a weird start to this week, and it’s only Monday. It is time, ladies and gentlemen, for me to tell you all about The One That Got Away.

I met Him on Tinder (yes, I know, eye roll, etc.) in I want to say either October or November of 2015, and we hit it off instantly. I wound up asking him if he’d like to get a beer and hang out, and he said he would, but he was going TAD the very next day to Virginia for a few weeks. He said he’d hit me up when he got back, and I took that as a gentle brush-off, chalked it up to a loss, and moved on. Well, on December 29th, 2015, I got a message. All it said was, “I’m flying back in tomorrow. Still down to get that beer this weekend?” I was absolutely floored. After we’d sorted out his duty schedule, we ended up making plans to meet up on New Year’s Day. I spent that entire 96 with him and we’ve been together off and on ever since. We both have our share of depression and mental health issues, and we’ve always been there for each other, no matter what. To give a few examples, he’s literally told his Chief to fuck off and walked off his ship to come find me before, because I told him I was having a panic attack. When he was struggling with some suicidal ideations, I stayed up with him until three in the morning on a work night to make sure he would be okay. Without going into too much detail, suffice to say that I’ve never met anyone else like him, and that applies to all aspects of our relationship. It had been so long since I’d been with a guy who treated me well that it almost made me slightly nervous at first. But, the more time we spent together, the more I came to realize that he was just a genuinely good person. He had my back and I had his, and it was sort of us against the world, for a while there. Because he was on one of the ships that calls Rota home port, he’d be gone on patrol for four months and then back in port for four months, but the four months apart never really seemed to affect things. It was like he went on a short business trip, and when he came back and we picked up right where we’d left off, like he’d only been gone a few days rather than a few months.

He left for the States on the 10th of this month, and we didn’t get to say goodbye. Nothing I can recall has ever fucked me up quite so badly as that fact, especially since we didn’t talk at all after that until recently. I thought I’d lost him – I really did – and on Saint Patrick’s Day, I drunkenly messaged him, telling him that I missed him. I never expected to hear back from him but, about a week later, he messaged me back. “Pick orders to Portsmouth.” I was floored. He still wanted me in his life, at least in some way. I couldn’t believe it. We haven’t talked much since – we’re both pretty busy right now – but knowing that he cares enough to tell me that I should pick orders to where he’s stationed means the world to me.

 

All that to explain the fact that I nearly smashed my phone when my alarm went off this morning, because it woke me from a dream about him that was one of the best and happiest dreams I’ve had in… well, ever. I spent the morning listening to music that reminded me of him while I went about my day-to day life (i.e.: gym, shower, galley, work, etc.) and, who knows? Maybe I still have a chance. I kind of doubt it, but a girl can dream, right?

In other news, the advancement exam is finally in the past, meaning that I can now relax (at least a little bit) and stop studying. I have so much free time now I almost don’t know what to do with myself. It’s weird. Hopefully by the end of April/beginning of May, I’ll find out that I picked up Petty Officer Third Class and I can celebrate with my other friends who will be getting frocked with me.

It’s been a pretty happenin’ month, March has. My best friend and the (possible) love of my life left for the States, I took my advancement exam, my hair is finally getting long enough to be able to be put up for work, and I’m getting my life back on track, slowly but surely. We’ll see how things go, I guess!

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds. Excelsior!

Hello, Darkness…

My old friend, my ass. Two posts in one week!? It’s like CHRISTMAS. But seriously, folks…

I’ve been battling depression since my early teens, with ebb and flow in terms of severity. It tends to run in my family as well, with my father and middle sister struggling with depression as well. As far as I know, my father has never attempted suicide or self-harmed; my middle sister has definitely self-harmed before, but I’ve never asked about any actual suicide attempts. As for me, I’ve made multiple suicide attempts, but only self-harmed for the first time a few weeks ago. My mental health has always been in kind of a flux and flow state, though I do feel there’s been some significant improvement since I’ve been in the Navy.

It’s ironic, given that the military lifestyle is one of such intense stress, but the healthcare – and, more specifically, the mental health care – that is available to military members is leaps and bounds beyond what I had at my disposal prior to enlisting. The doctors I have now and the knowledge that I’ve gained in my time as a corpsman have all contributed to my current state of… not sure I’d call it well-being, per se, but definitely better-than-it-was-being. I seem to be stable on my current meds, I follow up with my shrink in a few weeks, and my therapist and I are back on a seeing each other every two weeks kind of schedule.

 

I’ve wavered back and forth in terms of my intentions for my military career – whether I wanted to get out or stay in, and if I were to stay in for how long – but more and more lately I feel like I’ll probably stay in for quite a while. My current career path has me re-enlisting and commissioning as soon as I finish my Bachelor’s, and I like where I see that taking me. I try to balance the amount of time I spend in the present and the future, but the idea of a brighter future ahead of me is what has kept me going here lately, especially with the amount of complete and utter bullshit the Universe has been throwing my way lately.

For me, the biggest determining factor in whether I stay in or get out is going to be my next duty station. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed my time at my current duty station, to a certain degree, but the command that I’m with here isn’t exactly the best and I’m looking forward to getting a taste of what the Navy is like elsewhere. In roughly a week or two I should be finding out if I got selected for orders during this last pick, and I’m torn between hoping I did and hoping I didn’t, as some personal things have come up lately that would change some of the billets I chose, but – at the end of the day – I’m just ready to move on with my life. It’s time.

 

For the next eight months or so (which is about how long I have before I PCS), I need to start making a concerted effort to schedule my self care. I need to work on telling people “no” and taking me time when I need it and not letting others strong-arm me into things I don’t want to do. I need to set aside time for myself to read with a cup of tea or do yoga or just sit quietly alone somewhere and meditate or whatever it is on any given day that I feel is the best self care option for me. My therapist has been telling me this ever since the first time I saw her, but more and more now I’m seeing the actual need to do it, something which I’m sure will have her rolling her eyes at me. She knows that I’m exceedingly stubborn and does her best to be patient with me anyway. She is an excellent human being. Most people don’t put up with me like she does unless they’re related to me or I’m paying them.

 

Well, I guess that’s all for now. Just a reminder to all of you out there struggling with your own mental health issues: you are not alone. Always keep fighting. There are people who are here for you. There are people who need you here, alive and well. And remember that suicide doesn’t end the pain. It just passes it on to someone else.

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds. Excelsior!

FML

Fruit Monkeys Lie. Obviously. Well, it’s once again a Monday. I’m grumpy and everything sucks. I suppose I should begin at the beginning, so here it goes.

Friday night, which was Saint Patrick’s Day. I got all dolled up and went out with my usual crew, plus a few new pals. I nursed a (green) Adios Motherfucker and tried not to keep one eye on the door, waiting for blind date to show up. Tucker had told me that he would be coming into Rota around 2000, so when it hit 1945 and he still hadn’t shown up and the squad wanted to go out in town, I shot him a message, letting him know where we’d be. A few hours into the evening, I resigned myself to the fact that I’d been stood up, and not just for one night. He’d told me he was going to spend the weekend with me, so there went my entire weekend. As the evening wore on, I stepped out of the bar we were sitting in and lit a cigarette, sagging against the wall and rubbing my face. Complete and utter waste of makeup and a cute outfit. And then I heard the rumble of a car engine approaching; when it slowed to a stop in front of me, I glanced up cautiously and found myself smiling for the first time all night. It was one of my best friends, a guy named Aaron, who kidnapped me a proceeded to brighten my evening up.

Saturday day was pretty decent; I ventured out to Cadiz with my squad (me, Taylor, and Ben) and spent the day sight seeing and eating amazing helado. I had made plans to grab drinks and hang out with an Air Force guy… who proceeded to be the second person to stand me up this past weekend. Luckily for me, I’d taken two of my girl friends out with me, and they kept me from slipping into the depths of self pity and despair.

I pretty much grumped around all day Sunday (though I did get to catch some awesome Pokémon) and didn’t do shit, because I was down and felt bad about myself after being stood up TWICE IN ONE WEEKEND. I did get some laundry done… but that was about all I did. Oh, that and get trolled by some douche bag frat boy asshole and his little buddy on Tinder. Which actually bordered on cruel.

Which brings us to this morning, Monday. I actually woke up in a relatively good mood (which should have been my first red flag.) I showered and made myself some coffee and got all the way to work… and then realized that I’d left my locker key at home on my nightstand. So, I opened my clinic, texted my co-worker, and then walked my happy ass all the way back to my barracks to get my locker key, then all the way back to work to get ready for my workday.

I am disgruntled, people. Dis. Gruntled. Is it Friday yet?

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds.

All the News That’s Fit to Print

Two posts in one week, what?! I know, right? But that’s where we are.

Normally I’d open my blog post with something cliché about “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” but that is no longer applicable. Which, overall, is actually a very good thing. I feel like I’ve finally fully settled into my position at my new clinic (Optometry is actually really interesting and I work with really good people), college is in full swing, my advancement exam is almost here (which means soon it will be almost over and I can stop stressing out about it), I’m on a 29 day streak with my Spanish homework and a 5 day streak with my writing in 750words, I’ve been to the gym more days than not over the past three weeks, and I’m finally starting to be okay with my ex-fiancé not being a part of my life anymore. I feel like, in spite of the amount of stress I’m under right now, I’m finally starting to get it together.

There are plenty of things going wrong in my life right now, of course, and plenty more that I could complain about, but why bother? Obsessing over things outside my control isn’t going to do me any good, so I’ve chosen to just focus on the good stuff, you know? What’s that old, cliché adage… “Lord, give me the coffee to change the things I can, the wine to accept the things I can’t, and the smarts to know the difference” or something? That’s about where I’m at these days.

There’s a potential for a newly blossoming romance in my life, I get to dog-sit for my favorite first class for over a week starting this weekend, and I was recently told that I look skinnier, that my arms look like I’ve gained some tone, and that I look like I’m starting to develop abs, and all three of those things were noted by different people. Needless to say, it made me feel great about myself, and it did also contribute to my motivation to get into the gym. Hopefully this trend continues, because prior to this I had a really rough few weeks.

 

TRIGGER WARNING: suicidal content, self-harm, depression

 

This past weekend I self-harmed for the first time, taking a kitchen knife to my upper left thigh and leaving a series of perfect, even cuts from just above the kneecap up. After drowning in my own depression and suicidal ideations for three days and coming to terms with some serious rejection and abandonment issues, I decided that I wanted to feel pain that I was in control of. It relieved the feeling at the time, but I don’t think it will be a repeat experience, honestly.

I spiraled out of control a little bit that weekend, but prior to those three days and since then, I’ve been feeling better. My depression is definitely still there, in the background, occasionally rearing its ugly head and making it difficult for me to get out of bed in the morning, but I’ve been telling it, politely, to fuck right off and getting up at five AM anyway, to get my workout in before work. My new medications, courtesy of the excellent psychiatrist we have here on base, do seem to be working for me, balancing me out overall, and hopefully that will continue and we won’t have a repeat of last weekend. I haven’t truly felt suicidal in a few weeks, and that’s been a welcome change from what had become my norm for well over a week, where it wasn’t just that I didn’t want to be here anymore but I truly wanted to die. If you’ve never struggled with suicidal ideation or depression, it’s hard to convey what that feels like, but the best description I’ve ever read was simple: having depression is feeling like drowning when you can see everyone else around you breathing easily.

 

All of this being said, though, I do feel like I’m doing better. I re-chose orders at the end of this week, my professor graciously gave me an extension on my homework, and my support network here seems to be growing somewhat, which has also been a huge load off of my mind.

 

Well, that’s all she wrote this time. Until next time, stay frosty, nerds. Excelsior!