Who have you become, America? Who will you become?

*trigger warning: assault*
When the letter accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct came out I thought that there’s no way we will move forward with this man as a potential for the Supreme Court…. and then we did and that’s where my disappointment has stemmed from for weeks. I have tried as a teacher, and when I was a public figure in the Miss America organization to keep my mouth closed, and I have finally read enough arguments on Facebook that I can no longer do so. This will be my last statement on the issue. Any negative comments will be deleted.

My social media from this point forward will not address political issues unless they are positive it will be used to talk about my volunteerism which is a big part of my life, to talk about family and friends, and clearly to talk about my excitement for my upcoming wedding next summer to my sweet, handsome Caleb.

I do reserve the right to unfriend any family or friends who choose to continue the discussion over Brett Kavanaugh’s accusations against his sexual misconduct.

Now let me pause there, I know this unfriending business is a sensitive subject for some people…and I’ve seen this increasingly particularly on Facebook lately. I actually see posts about it in more being a sensitive subject for generations older than me. I get being unfriended or uninvited or whatever can be upsetting, however, I do think that everybody has a right to unfriend somebody. Just as everyone has their own opinions. I have actually in the last few weeks unfriended some family members and friends, myself because of some of the stuff they have said has been very reminiscent of what I encountered in the first few months of coming forward about the assault I dealt with in high school and it has been a little triggering for me. it’s been very upsetting to me and so I didn’t want to continue to read those things. 

Now when I created my social media it was with the purpose of seeing friends and family‘s post about babies, dogs, you know, what they’re doing with their lives, not their political opinions so I will go ahead and say that I have gone full-blown political the last few weeks was never my intention; but it seems to me that that’s the only way to get into a few thick skulls (sorry if that’s offensive to you, probably lost people right there but that’s what it is). I do think however that no political candidate is ever going to read your Facebook post or your Instagram post. They do not care. If you want to change a congress member’s opinion write them a letter, give them a call, that is the way you make the change; this post is not for them, this is for you who are reading it on my Facebook list or whoever they’ve shared it to.

So let me jump into the meat of the argument. I think quite a few of you already know where I stand on this. It’s been very difficult for me to be non-partisan on the Brett Kavanaugh accusations of sexual misconduct. I’m a social studies teacher and I should be non-partisan but this one’s really tough for me because we already have a President in office who has been accused of sexual misconduct, that we still put in office and now he is trying to put someone on the Supreme Court to make decisions for us nationally who also is being accused of sexual misconduct, and it’s not only of one woman it’s now, I believe up to, what four women, so that’s not just one woman seeking to further herself. I just lost some of you, but I promise this is not a rant on Trump. This has a legitimate point.  

So if you read my Facebook post, you know I have already made the argument that women do not come for sexual accusations in this type of arena for fame. Take for example the Larry Nassar or the Bill Cosby accusations or even Kevin Spacey. Men and women who have come forward are not getting fame for this; I’m willing to bet that you can’t name the women and men who are coming forward with these accusations; I’m willing to bet without googling it, you cannot name five of Bill Cosby’s accusers and he’s been convicted recently.  The only reason that you may be able to name more than a few of Larry Nassar’s survivors of his assault and molestation women is because they already had fame these women picked themselves up and kept moving forward and were able to achieve amazing things but they didn’t get there because they came forward and said “Hey, Larry Nassar did this to me and I want him put away.” Their achievement had nothing to do with that; they had already achieved their moment in the spotlight it was not about getting fame for them and that’s not what Christine Blasey Ford is doing. She already has a career, she already has the money, she already has her degrees.

So my question to everyone who has argued well why didn’t she come forward sooner is: if it was you, if it was your son, daughter, or your cousin, or your aunt, uncle, mother, father, whoever it is that you value most in your life, would you force them to come forward, if they were uncomfortable doing so? Which clearly Dr. Ford was not comfortable at the time. She was embarrassed. She was scared, which most victims whether male or female are at the time. Even the statistics from the National Assault Hotline/RAINN say that most people who were calling in I have not told someone before. I’m one of those people. When I came forward two years after my assault it was the first time that I had chosen to talk about it since it happened. I had told one person and I didn’t use the word assault at the time. I didn’t say what he had done to me. I said he did something I didn’t want him to do and do not ever tell anybody. The whole reason I did not come forward at the time is the questions and victim blaming I knew I would get, and I then got when I finally did come forward. The questions most victims are asked, that I was asked, is exactly what we’re pulling today, it is exactly what you people are putting on social media right now about Dr. Ford and it’s disgusting. 

I don’t care what it a male or female had on, how drunk they were or were not, if they had ever had contact with the assailant, or if the assault was at random. For the record: tennis shoes, jeans, sweatshirt, I did know him, and he had no right to lay a finger on me. It is never a victim-survivor’s (whatever term you want to use) fault and how dare any of you blame this woman of it being her fault or her seeking fame, you all are enablers.

The next piece of the argument I want to address is that Mr. Kavanaugh is innocent until proven guilty. That’s fine. But someone who is innocent would have said from the get-go to do an investigation because you will find nothing. Which that has been Mr. Kavanagh’s last resort which tells me that something is not right. “If something does not feel right, something is not right.” if Mr. Kavanagh does truly believe that he is innocent he doesn’t act like it and the fact he has allowed the attacks on Dr. Ford continues to prove to me that he is not innocent, or he at least is not a reputable man who cares nothing about anyone but himself and his own pocket/power/reputation.

Now. Maybe I’m sensitive because I had this argument about a year ago with someone that survivors are not actually talked about it, that the result is nobody knows; but let me tell you people knew, even though I didn’t talk about it, he told people that I had done things with him, that I had not done by choice, and I just kept my mouth shut, I knew I would be victim blamed, and rumors were spread about me. I kind of now equivocate it in my mind to like on “13 reasons why” if you’ve watched that show. So for me, in my head, Mr. Kavanagh is pretty similar to that kind of situation so if he was innocent he would lay this to rest and do so in a respectful way of Dr. Ford insaid of letting her reputation as a woman be blown to shit.

Now I do understand that Mr. Kavanagh may believe in his head he is innocent and he wants the respect of his family and his children and wants this justice position. I’ve got that. But if he is this “respectable man” that you all believe that he is he would help this woman through this time, help her find who did actually assaulted her (use that law degree, boo boo), he would lay this to rest, he would go through the investigation he would prove to his family that he is, in fact, innocent instead of continuing the barrage of misconduct against Dr. Ford and her psyche.

I also cannot bring myself to believe that Dr. Ford is just out to get Kavanaugh when she sent the letter a year ago. She tried a year ago to prevent this entire incident when he was on the shortlist. Ours being the rape culture that we live in she was ignored, now she’s being questioned, now she’s being blamed, instead of being believed as a survivor who has a dealt with this in silence and alone for almost 4 decades that’s indicative to me of the direction that our country is headed. And it’s not the direction I want to go in.

As a teacher, as a female, as an active citizen, as someone who has believed in the American ideals and in the American dream for her 25 years I’m scared for the direction our country is headed. Because I know that we can do better.

I know that there were issues when we are founded. I know that there were things that our founding fathers did that we would prefer not to talk about. I know that there are things that have gone on in our 242 year history that we would prefer not to talk about as a country, that we have worked as a country to correct. I know that there are things as a country we are still working on; but as someone who believes in what this country can be, Brett Kavanaugh is not the answer.

Our founding fathers created us to be a republic, that included a representative democracy, (if you don’t know what it means, please tell stop by my Civics class and I’ll explain, seriously). That means this country chose Donald J Trump as our president whether I disagree with that choice or not. That means our military fights for the right for me to write this post, for Colin Kaepernick to kneel in front of the American flag during the national anthem, for Donald Trump to violate Twitter user policy literally every day. 

For me to continue to believe in this country we cannot put another man who committed a crime of sexual assault on our Supreme Court. We did it almost 30 years ago but I will not stand for it a second time. I had nothing to do with who was elected or appointed in the 1990s because I was not born. I have a say so now. I have a voice. I intend to use it. This will not stand for.

I am devastated by the rape culture that has been created in our country. I am devastated at my own treatment. I am devastated at the treatment of women I have gone to high school, church, college, with. I am devastated at the treatment of women I have worked with. I’m devastated at the treatment of some of my own family members and friends. I am completely and utterly devastated at the treatment of Dr. Ford by my fellow Americans and people on my Facebook and Instagram friend list.

If you wouldn’t want it done to you, if you had had a man or woman do that to you don’t do it to her, don’t do it to any other survivor. I’ve seen people say how Ford is somebody’s mom, friend, daughter, but she’s more than that, she is SOMEBODY. I just wish everybody would think about that.

As America wishes to be respected internationally, I hope everyone who is trashing Dr. Ford and praising Brett Kavanaugh and playing into rape culture continues to think about how they are being viewed internationally as well, because I can only imagine what people in other countries will think if we put yet white male sexual assault assailant in power in this country.

Trump had a shortlist for the Supreme Court nomination that Brett Kavanaugh was only one of. If you trust Trump, if you’re conservative, why do you not trust that some other person on that list is also reliable? Why is Brett Kavanaugh the only option to you? Is it just about being right? Or what is the purpose of having this man on the Supreme Court?

I am completely and utterly devastated, I’ve used that word already in this post but that is the only word I have for what I feel in the situation. The other day I caught myself sitting at the gas station unable to drive off because I was literally just crying at what this woman is going through, what she is being put through nationally and it’s phenomenal and not in a good way.

God promises in Psalm 10:14-18, that those who have been attacked will be restored. I fully believe Dr. Ford will have an extra jewel in her crown for standing up for survivors internationally. I am proud of her. It has given me a little bit of extra strength although it has also saddened me beyond compare.

So I’ll end with this: What is the point of having Kavanaugh, is it just “the win?” How are you treating other people? How would you feel if it was someone you loved? What do you want for America?

 

 

P.S. If you’re reading this, as a survivor, and you have been overwhelmed at the barrage of media and the treatment of Dr. Ford….please accept my virtual hug and my whisper that it is in no way, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, your fault. I wish I could tell sixteen-year-old Logan that, so I’m telling 25 year old, Logan, and I’m telling you, whoever you are. I hope you hear me loud and clear.

 

“For the Lord is righteous,
    he loves justice;
    the upright will see his face.” Psalm 11:7

My 5th Recovery Birthday

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Self-Harm, Suicide

When I began this journey, I wasn’t sure that I would make it to this day. Today is my 5th “Recovery Birthday.” I have been clean from my addiction for 1826 days…5 whole years.

In college, I had an addiction. And before anybody passes out or starts whispering, let’s clarify. I know my southern baptists and super conservatives are already sweating. I was addicted to self harm. And on April 28, 2013, it came to a head and I thought I wanted to end my life. I thought after everything I’d been through I didn’t want, or deserve, to live.

I let a seemingly small incident be the straw that broke my back. I had health issues that felt like they would never be solved. I had been victim blamed for an assault I finally felt comfortable talking about. I had gone through a breakup that was really hard for me to deal with (though I praise the Father now I got out of that relationship when I did). I had seen multiple people I knew, one that I cared very much about, complete suicide. I had started drinking to feel better. I had been cutting to make my pain something I could see and control as a physical experience. I was acting recklessly. My PCP interpreted the actions and emotions I was exhibiting as something it wasn’t and began medicating me for an issue I didn’t actually have. My body didn’t react well to this medication; I gained weight (like 20+ pounds in a few months), the chemicals in my brain were being altered, the actual issue wasn’t being treated, I felt alone. I hated myself. I hated most of the people in my life for not realizing what I was dealing with. I hated God, if there was a God, I was seriously questioning his existence at the time and frequently screamed curses at the ceiling.

So. On Sunday April 28, 2013, you wouldn’t find me at church. You could have found me in the floor of a bathroom with a blade cutting my wrists. Then “Wonderwall” came on. If you know why this song matters to me, you know why I laid the blade down and paused. You know why it was significant that within moments my sister found me and called 911.

In a chair in the ER, God whispered to my heart. God shook me back to life. God held me. He said “Sweet child, I have been waiting for this moment, for you to allow me back in. I wish it wouldn’t have taken this long, but I promise you I will redeem this pain, I will use this test as a testimony, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Breathe. You are mine. You are Covered With Grace.” And he breathed life back into my weary, broken, thirsty soul.

He has not let me down on that whisper to my weary soul. Within 24 hours I returned to campus. I threw out my blades with supervision of an at-the-time friend (if you ever see this, friend, thank you). That same friend and another watched over me that night while I caught up on sleep and tried to prepare myself for finals. I passed my finals. I passed my semester classes. I moved home for the summer. I opened my Bible. I was covered in grace. We went to Disney. I started being thankful for being alive. I started trying different churches. We found our church home as a family. They welcomed me. They loved me. They heard my story and spoke the Word of Truth over my heart that God felt my pain and loved me and would indeed redeem this story.

God opened doors for me to serve. God opened doors for me to share my testimony. God set my soul on fire. God gave me new goals, new dreams, new callings. And as I obeyed, he opened the doors. He answered my desire to travel: he sent me on mission including to Africa and a pitstop in Paris. He answered my desire to serve: I was able to serve in homeless shelters, raise money for suicide prevention, he opened various opportunities to serve with so many nonprofits.  He let me be hired by the job that I wanted. He gave me the gift of being loved by some really awesome people that he knew would build me up and support me as I continued this journey.

My weakness became a place for Him to show His strength. I don’t think anymore that God “lets” bad things happen to us. I definitely know there is a God, if there wasn’t I wouldn’t be writing this post right now. I think the bad things that happen are a result of a fallen world around us, or they can be something we perceive as bad at the time that God is actually using to redirect us to the path of goodness He intended for us from the get go.

I don’t think God let me be assaulted, I don’t think God let me become depressed, I don’t think God took people I really loved away from me to hurt me, I don’t think God let me have an addiction to harming myself, I don’t think God let me try to numb my pain with self harm or alcohol or anything else I tried to fill those gaping holes with.

I do think God used each and every one of those painful experiences for good and let it shape me into the woman I am today. I do think God removed some very toxic people from my life after April 2013 and replaced them with people who were good for me and loved me. I do think God sent us to an amazing church that changed my perception of the body of Christ. I do think that God used the pain I had experienced to develop the empathy I have for others and the way I treat others, speak to others, and serve others. I do think that God used the brokenness to rebuild something even better. I do think that God drew me nearer to Him after I questioned him and tried to put myself as far away from Him as possible. I do think that God turned my story into my testimony. It was never without purpose, and I believe He has fulfilled the promises he speaks to each of us in Scripture during the rebuilding of my life in the past 5 years.

I want to end today with a few things. First I want to encourage you that no matter what you are dealing with right now, it is not without purpose. Even if you do not see the purpose now, or if you do not see it in this lifetime, it will not go without being redeemed if you are faithful to the Almighty who promises redemption and blessing to a thousand generations who serve Him. I promise you He will be the same today, tomorrow, and forever. I promise you that HE promises He will uphold you with his righteous right hand.

I realize this paragraph may sound a little like prosperity gospel or preachy or fake. I want to put a disclaimer here that nowhere does God say our lives will be perfect. The last 5 years have been far from perfect. There have been times where I have gotten dangerously close to relapse. There have been times I have questioned what I was going through….some current circumstances have even made me ask God why I can’t be done with the struggle. I have expressed that sometimes I think I’ve gone through enough that I don’t need to continue to struggle with health problems, or mean girls and boys, or fights with people I love, or a low income that sometimes makes me wonder how I’m going to pay the bills. But I have to remind myself and pray very fervently that previous pain has had purpose and current struggles will as well.

I also want to thank those of you who have taken this journey with me. God has worked to put some amazing supporters around me to love me as I continued to find myself and draw nearer to Him. No amount of words would accurately express the gratitude I have to the village who has surrounded me, loved me, encouraged me, spoken truth and life to me, and just been there for me.

So today, we celebrate 5 years. Here’s to another 50+! 

 

*The featured photo was taken about a week before my attempt.