We’re expected to shrink

We’re told to be less








We’re expected to shrink

but if we’re constantly shrinking,

how can we have anything left to be less of?

Soon enough, there’ll be nothing left.

And yet –

we’re told to be less.



April was exhausting.

April has always been exhausting. It was especially exhausting this year. April is full of last minute projects, papers, and preparing for final exams. This year had all of that. I’m finishing my first year of graduate school, and that has its own level of exhaustion. But in addition to all of that, this April was the first that I was truly aware of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

In April, social media became a trigger minefield. Throughout the past three years, I have become increasingly more involved in politics, activism, and social justice. Because of this, I now follow more activist accounts on Twitter and Instagram than I do my IRL friends. Most of the time, I love scrolling through my feed and seeing the inspiring work being done by social justice activists around the world. Last month, not so much.

“Top Ten Signs of Invisible Abuse.” “What You Can Do for a Sexual Assault Victim.” “Stand with Survivors.” “Statistics Regarding Rape and Sexual Assault on College Campuses.” The list goes on. Every time I got on social media, I got hit in the face by past experiences.

I’m quite conflicted about this. I am a huge advocate for talking about stigmatized experiences, especially sexual assault. The only way to end rape culture and sexualized violence is to start by talking about it. Bring it out of the shadowy corners of vague legislation and biased opinions that no one asked for. But, April was exhausting. I’m ready to go back to my regular social media feed. I’m ready to not have a simple scroll through Instagram end up in a minor panic attack. I’m ready for social media to become self care again.

I’m also ready for society to stop only paying attention to sexual assault in April. So many people’s lives are forever impacted by sexual assault, and yet, society continues to brush these under the rug, discredit survivors’ experiences, and actively oppose legislation that protects survivors. Society continues to defend and even praise individuals accused of sexual misconduct (RE: R. Kelly, Ryan Seacrest, Aziz Ansari, Bill Cosby…I could go on). Law enforcement continues to second guess reporters of sexual assault. This nation even elected to the presidency someone accused multiple times of sexual misconduct and assault.

April was exhausting. I’m not sure what to do about it yet, but something needs to be done. I think April will continue to be exhausting for a while. Maybe April was exhausting for you too. I think if we all took sexual assault seriously, April would be exhausting for everyone. Maybe then, something would change.


Two Years

I go out to a nightclub

In a tight sparkly dress and platform heels

Drinking and dancing and celebrating life



I go to the grocery store

In jeans and sneakers

Filling my cart with fruits and vegetables and life



I worship my God

In my Sunday best

Eating the body and blood of Christ and being filled with life



I lay in bed all day Saturday

In pj pants and an old t-shirt

Drinking black coffee and embracing life



I go out to lunch alone

In a shirt that says ‘no is a complete sentence,’ my headphones blaring ‘Praying’

Eating sushi and taking back my life



I drive an hour away to fieldwork

In khakis and an embroidered maroon polo with an official name tag

Following my passion and helping patients reclaim their life



I go to a park near my house

In a sports bra and leggings

Beating my feet into the ground and running for my life



I sit on my porch and journal

In a sweatshirt and shorts

Realizing that revenge is sucking away at my life


Everywhere I am

Everything I wear

Everything I do

Surviving what you did to me


Goodbye, 2017

2017 has been a year of much change. Much joy. Much heartache. There were some big ticket events: I graduated college. I started therapy. I went on anxiety medication. I started graduate school. I became a vegan. I participated in protests. I got a kitten. I lost best friends. There were also many small ticket events: I started writing again. I tried dark lipstick. I learned how to make ravioli. I laughed with my best friends. I cried with my mom. I read beautiful books. I listened to music that spoke to my soul.

I have recently been thinking about the difference between the spirit and the soul. My dad briefly made the distinction in a sermon a few weeks ago: the soul is who you are on the inside – your true identity. Your spirit is what gives life to your soul – what keeps you getting out of bed in the morning. Sometimes, I feel like my spirit is tired. Lots of homework can make my spirit tired. Too much time alone can make my spirit tired. But it seems lately that I am more than tired. That I have a heavy weight on my chest and electric eels in my stomach. Like I have a blood pressure cuff around my head and lead in my eyelids. It seems lately, I have become more aware that my soul is wounded. 2017 has wounded my soul. Processing the trauma from the past three years has made me aware of the wounds it inflicted on my soul. Losing three friends in the span of three months wounded my soul. The social media phenomenon of #MeToo made those slowly healing soul wounds feel fresh and bloody. Over the past few Christmasy days, the wounds of my soul made my spirit tired.

The problem with my soul wounds feeling fresh over Christmas is that I love Christmas. I love being with my family and extended family. I love baking cookies and wrapping presents. I love playing board games and watching movies. It’s exhausting to not feel in control of my emotions at a time that has always been so celebratory. It’s disheartening to think back on the past year and see so much grief and loss. It’s saddening to remember traditions that used to bring so much joy, but now the memory of them feels like a knife in the gut. It’s especially disorienting to not know where to go from here.

Lots of people choose a word to bring into the new year with them and shape their actions. At the beginning of 2017, I chose to shape my actions with the words lean in. I feel like 2017 didn’t give me much of a choice in living into that phrase. I was forced to lean into things that I would have preferred to ignore all together. This week, I am happy to say goodbye to 2017. I don’t know what’s to come in 2018. I hope it will be a year of building new traditions. Investing in old friendships. Participating in causes that I will forever be passionate about. Learning how to better care for my spirit and my soul. I’m not sure what word encompasses all these hopes. It seems impossible to find a word that I could carry with me for the next twelve months. I think perhaps my attitude at the close of a hellish 2017 and the opening of a fresh new year could be summarized better by a phrase able to be quietly whispered in good times and hard times, for 2018 is sure to have both. A phrase that can convey hope, comfort, and strength. A phrase that breathes healing into my soul and energy into my spirit. A phrase echoed in Kesha’s rally cry song “Bastards.”

Don’t let the bastards get you down.


A letter to the friend I never should have trusted.

It has taken me a long time to be ready to write this letter. Maybe it should’ve taken me longer. Maybe I’m not ready.

But sometimes, you have to do things whether you are ready or not.

Isn’t that the game?

I’ve made a lot of choices in my lifetime. Some of them have been really great choices. Some of them have been really crappy choices. Some of them have just been average, and some of them haven’t been my choices to make. Not that long ago, I made the choice to stop trusting you. To stop letting you into the intimate details of my life. To stop letting your opinion affect my choices. It was a hard choice to make, let me tell you that. Whatever you may think, I did not decide to cut you out of my life on a whim. No, there was build up to that choice. A lot of build up.

It took me a long time to realize that you were toxic. That there was an underlying self-motivation in everything you did or said. That you had spent almost our entire friendship putting me down or making me feel bad for decisions I made or beliefs I had. That we had very different expectations of what our friendship should look like. It took me a long time to realize that I was better off without you.

Sometimes I don’t believe that, you know. Sometimes I think I made a huge mistake, and that you really do care about me. I think that I should just call you, and we’ll laugh this whole thing off, and everything will be back to normal again. It takes a lot of willpower to not pick up the phone and do just that. It takes a lot of remembering. Remembering what was real instead of the romanticized version of our friendship.

All that time of trusting you and then realizing that I was wrong all along really messed up my understanding of trust. I used say you should trust people until they prove they aren’t trustworthy. Now, I’m not so sure. There’s been too many times where my judgement was wrong. Where making excuses for you or giving you the benefit of the doubt or forgiving and forgetting instead of just forgiving has led only to deep pain and betrayal. Now, I think people should earn their trust. I’m suspicious of everyone. I’m paranoid about making new friends or meeting new people.

What if I’m wrong again? What if everyone turns out to be untrustworthy after I tell them my deepest fears and insecurities? What if every future friendship turns into the train wreck that was the dissolution of our friendship? These constant insecurities stem directly from the trust I gave you that you smashed to the ground.

But people can’t live like that. It’s not sustainable. So I’m working on it. I’m working on creating boundaries and identifying red flags. I’m working on learning what makes someone trustworthy and what doesn’t. I wish I had known two years ago the things I know now. I wish someone had told me what today would look like without you.

Maybe this isn’t really a letter to you after all. Maybe all the “friends” over the years that have lied to me, manipulated me, and made me feel worthless should no longer be my focus. Perhaps this letter was to myself all along. A letter to tell me that I’ll be OK. Perhaps this letter is to you, dear reader, who might need someone to tell you that you’ll be OK. Sometimes you just need to take that leap of faith and believe that there are better friends out there.

Ready or not.

Because #MeToo is more than a hashtag

Sometimes it feels like everyone is against me and no one is doing anything about it.

Sometimes it feels like society cares more about protecting others’ reputations than protecting my safety.

Sometimes it feels like ugly and manipulative lies are believed and valued above fearful and vulnerable truths.

Sometimes it feels like people in authority care more about abusers than survivors.

Sometimes it feels like well-wishers are only willing to engage in visible slacktivism and not invisible activism and support.

Sometimes it feels like I am alone. Weak. Helpless. Exposed.

The recent accusations against Harvey Weinstein and the subsequent social media explosion of opinions surrounding that topic, in addition to the overwhelming response to the #MeToo campaign, have weighed heavier on my soul than I expected. These events have left me feeling these sometimes feelings constantly instead of once or twice a week. My triggers have been more prevalent this past week. My responses have been more intense. My coping mechanisms have been less effective.

When I get overwhelmed by these feelings, it is easy for me to resort to anger. I get angry when I read someone online talk about a “witch hunt” mentality developing in the workplace (if you haven’t heard of this, some people are legitimately more concerned about an epidemic of women falsely accusing a man of sexually harassing or abusing her, leading to the man having to hire a lawyer to “defend his honor,” than they are concerned about actual sexual harassment and violence in the workplace). I get angry when I read an article that tries to make a point about vulgarity by using the term “rape-adjacent sex” (which, according to the author, is “…sex with someone you don’t know well enough to tell whether they’re just tipsy, or too drunk to consent…”) when what they’re actually describing is rape. I get angry when I hear that yet another valuable human being has been taken advantage of in the form of sexual violence, has been brave enough to speak up and say “Me Too,” and is shut down by people who either don’t believe them or think that just because someone else has “had it worse,” anyone’s experiences are invalid. I get angry when I see my abusers in public because they were conniving enough to stay just under the threshold of breaking the law while choking the life out of me.

I don’t like being angry. It’s exhausting. I have enough to worry about with grad school, adulthood, and processing my own emotions and trauma to waste time being angry. My parents raised me to believe that if I don’t like something, I should do something to change it. I don’t like the society we live in. I don’t like the victim-blaming rape culture that surrounds me every day. I don’t like losing friends by outing myself as a survivor. Some of these things can’t be changed. Some friends are going to leave regardless, and some friends aren’t really friends, and it’s better to cut them out of your life with the sharpest kitchen shears you have. But some things can change. I can effect change in my environment. You can effect change in your social circle.

Change isn’t often loud and public. Advocacy isn’t often visible to outsiders. For me, change starts here, with this blog. Advocacy starts with telling my story and fighting against the stigma of being a survivor of relationship violence. For my friends, sometimes it looks like talking to me on the phone while I walk across campus because I forgot my headphones and can’t cross campus without them. For you, it might look like donating to Friends of the Family. For everyone, it should look like speaking up when you hear or see someone being taken advantage of. It should look like calling someone out when they tell a sexist joke. It must look like compassionate listening and believing your friend when they confide in you that they’ve experienced sexualized violence.

Together, we can effect change in our society. Together, we can be advocates for a better and safer tomorrow.

Things Change. People are Different. Get over it.

Hello, reader,

I used to tell people that my life motto was, “If you don’t like something, just change it.” I’ve prided myself on being someone adaptable. Go with the flow. Receptive to change. As an Army Brat, there really isn’t another way; if you don’t like change, you won’t like life in the military world. My childhood and adolescence were filled with changes. I lived in seven houses and four states before moving to Texas for school in 2014. Those moves brought changes in friends, living arrangements, churches, and co-op groups. Growing up, I welcomed these changes with open arms and an open mind. Even when my college to career path changed freshman year, I adapted, made a new plan, and moved on. Change is always good, I thought. Change is always easy, I thought.

Until it wasn’t. A lot changed this summer. Since the beginning of summer, when I wrote this post (CW), I have lost a lot. Friends who didn’t believe me. Communities that betrayed my trust. Routines that were disrupted. I lost things that, at the beginning of this summer – and probably for a while before then too – I thought defined me. Things that I thought I couldn’t live without.

Friendships and communities are so precious to me. Being an Army Brat, I learned to make friends fast and never take them for granted. I invest myself, my time, and my resources into good friends because I know they are few and far between. I don’t end friendships. I don’t leave communities. It’s a good quality, I think, but it must have limits. I’m not very good at limits, as you might have guessed. It takes me a long time, and usually someone else’s guidance, to realize that someone has pushed over the limit. There have been a lot of crossed limits in the past few years, but only this summer have I allowed myself to see them. It’s hard for me to burn bridges. It’s hard to leave toxic situations when they were good in the beginning. It’s especially hard when the people crossing the limit have been friends for a long time. When they feel like home. But people change. Long-time friends betray your trust. And suddenly, change isn’t so easy.

My therapist told me to embrace change this week. I told her she was delusional. That this change is too hard. That losing friends, changing churches, and starting graduate school was too much to embrace. I won’t do it, I told her. The thing about change, though, is that it happens without you sometimes. Embrace it or be mowed over by it are the only choices you have.

So here I am. Writing about change. Attempting to embrace because I’m tired of being mowed over. Working through hard change to move forward. Trying to look at the big picture. Learning to find gains in the midst of loss.

In the words of my dear friend, Jackie (said in the nicest way possible), “Things change. People are different. Get over it.”