Thursday, August 23, 2012

My personal legitimate rape

The scene when I was 12 years old was dark and dank.  We were up in the rafters of a chicken house, in a make-shift loft with crappy old blue carpet.  We had climbed bales of hay like steps to get up there, and being drunk this particular time made it no small triumph.  It was the middle of the night and there were at least five of us, but I think there may have been two other people that I don’t remember as well.

I hadn’t ever been drunk before then.  Once when I was littler I tasted my brother-in-law’s beer, but was instantly turned off.  The booze my cousin gave me this day was Mad Dog Purple Passion-flavored and tasted much better than beer.  I have no memory anymore of how much alcohol I actually consumed that night.  I remember sitting in Mike’s house looking at the bottle, then I remember climbing to the loft and all that happened up there.

Martell was 15 or 16 then, and he wanted to get in my pants.  We had made out quite extensively the prior summer and, though it had been fun, I didn’t want to continue that this summer.   I had started getting much more interested in the boys back at home in Orem, so Martell’s charms weren’t as effective this time around.  With my hindsight I’d bet money he didn’t like that, but at the time I was 12 and naive, so I didn’t know anything was awry.  He came on pretty strong once we were up in the loft.  Alan was all over his girlfriend, Mike was somewhere, and I think another couple was going at it too.   Martell kept trying to open my legs up with his hands but I had pretty strong legs and I imagine he didn’t want be too forceful.   He found that if he kissed me I would melt and be submissive and he could manipulate things much more easily.  In between kisses I said “No” several times, but wispily and airily and definitely not sternly.  I only remember him working around down there and kissing me just like we kissed last summer.  It wasn’t so bad!  All of a sudden I had a sharp pain in my crotch as Martell thrust into me.   Even in my drunken state I knew what was happening and I couldn’t believe it, but I just kept kissing and it was over very quickly.

I rolled away from him as soon as he pulled out of me and I crawled to the opposite side of the loft.  I pulled up my pants (or shorts, or something) and fastened them.  Mike started hitting on me, trying to maybe getting something started.  I kept my legs tightly together and forcefully told him no, even though I had been more interested in him at the beginning.  Martell called to Mike, telling him to try kissing me, to see if that would do the trick.  It didn’t.  Not this time.

I did not know I was raped.  I was a member of the LDS church, and I knew right from wrong very clearly.  I also have a very strong will and an outgoing personality, so I know if I had felt victimized I would’ve pushed him, screamed, and fought back.  This was sex.  This was not only a mistake I made, but a sin I committed.  It was clear.  I had chosen to consume alcohol and smoke cigarettes.  I chose to be there in that setting.  I held that belief, that guilt and that shame for 6 years, all the while knowing someday I would have to confess my sins.

I never even wrote in my journal about the experience, though I faithfully wrote throughout most of my teenage years.  Only my very close friends knew of this experience.  I dove into the LDS church within the next couple of years, loving the doctrine and learning about the forgiveness my Elder Brother, Jesus, offered me. Six years later I got the courage to talk to my bishop about it.  Here is what I wrote in my journal then, Sunday January 14, 1996, when I was 18 years old:

“I pray for Christ’s Light to encompass my life.  I’m so weak & I know I need only His Spirit to survive. Today I have an appointment to talk to Bishop ****** about my life and my repentance.  I can’t believe that over six years have past and now today is my resolution day.  I’ve been in tears since I got home from church. … Today, I face my fears, lose my cloak of pride & humble myself before my Father in Heaven.  I’ve always thought I lived righteously – and yet as I look back there been no time of absolute humility or Pure Love of Christ.”

I went to the appointment that afternoon, and I currently only have one memory from that appointment.  A very poignant memory, but still only one: after listening to my story, Bishop ****** looked at me directly and said, “Laura, you were raped.”  I can’t even remember my response to his words.  I remember being confused by what he said, but I don’t think I believed him.  Here is what I wrote after the interview.  I was writing about a boy named Derek I was interested in at the time.  

“… I also told him about my bishop’s interview and what the feeling of forgiveness is like for me.  What a burden lifted!  I can leave it behind me from this point on.  Today I felt the presense of Christ next to me.  I told Derek once – while in hysterical tears – that I love Christ but I need something to hug, something tangible.  Today Christ’s hand held mine and let me know that He IS tangible if only I will open my heart.  I know exaultation is within my grasp if Christ is beside me.  Today is the start of a new life, a clean slate, so to speak.  I’m forgiven and I want to live that way for the whole of my life.

My Brother, my Savior, my Friend, HE IS MY KING!!  Let my voice forever proclaim it.  I need Heavenly Father’s strength with me as nothing else.  I’m so weak.  I pray continually for guidance and cleanliness of thought – for that’s where I find myself mostly slipping.”
That’s it.  No mention of how the bishop put the R-word into my mind.  It's scary how many times I call myself weak or talk about submission.  After it was clear that Derek wasn’t interested in me, I started to give up on myself and my faith.  My journal entries started to decline very quickly; within 2 months I was saying I could visualize myself not going to the temple, and I started habitually going on the internet chat rooms.  3 months later I was head-over-heels for a complete loser living in Georgia, divorced, 3 kids, no job.  I was seriously thinking of moving there!  4 months later I met a much more decent guy online and uprooted my entire existence to be with him in North Carolina. 

I believe the decline happened because the mere idea that I had been raped was too traumatic to acknowledge.  I had programmed the event into my brain-archive as a sin I committed, so I blurred the facts of being only 12 years old, being out of normal control due to alcohol, forgetting that I didn't want to even kiss Martell that particular summer, etc.  I did what most people do - I blamed the victim.

Now I’m 34, and I have a beautiful daughter who is 12 years old, and I’m finally addressing the fact that I got raped when I was her age.  It's only now that I'm starting to be able to call it for what it was, instead of protecting Martell or blaming myself or minimizing the impact.  I was raped when I was 12.  He took away my virginity in a non-loving, aggressive, uninvited way.  The fallout has been my 22-year journey to find my personal self-value and learning to let myself be vulnerable and non-controlling.

I will not give power to my perpetrator any longer by denying what it was!  I will not feel guilty for something that someone else did to me!  I will not sit idly while ignorant misogynists misdefine rape and attempt to keep the dark dark!  My new personal motto:

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Psyche! We got you. We didn't really mean it.

Let's pretend I am a faithful Latter-Day Saint once again, just for fun.

In my youth I read several accounts, and was taught by several authority figures, that we must listen to the prophet and must trust that what he says is coming directly from the Lord Himself. It is up to us to prayerfully ask Heavenly Father if what we have heard is what we should believe, just the same as we ask Him about the truthfulness of the BoM. But the expected result will be that Yes, indeed the prophet is speaking God's Truth, just the same as the certain response that Yes, the Book of Mormon is indeed what it says it is.

It seems like leaders of the 2012 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have forgotten this, and whenever a new prophet or apostle comes into play, we are supposed to wipe our memories of the past "revelations". To quote the official spokesperson (Michael Purdy) for the LDS Church:

"For a time in the church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent...It is not known precisely why, how or when this restriction began in the church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago. Some have attempted to explain the reason for this restriction but these attempts should be viewed as speculation and opinion, not doctrine. The church is not bound by speculation or opinions given with limited understanding."

We have documentation of the "some" whom Purdy is referring to: Brigham Young, Joseph Fielding Smith, George Q. Cannon, Mark E. Petersen are just to name a few. These men were Prophets or Apostles, Seers, and Revelators at the time their "speculations" were offered. These men were not mere BYU Professors, speaking beyond their station. At the time they spoke about the doctrine (yes it WAS doctrine) regarding the black mark of Cain and the curse on his descendants, they were not speculating, they were explaining and enlightening.

Along comes the revelation in 1978 from President Spencer W. Kimball, where it was announced that all worthy men would be eligible for the Priesthood. Not long after that revelation, Elder Bruce R. McConkie said the following:

"Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world."

Oh, I see. Well as a faithful LDS member, I have to say that this would concern me. How can I trust what the current prophet is saying if the next one might completely contradict them and tell me to forget what the last one said? If they are just speaking merely as men and not as mouthpieces of God, how are the people to discern at the time?

There is a reason why religions use a sheep as a metaphor for the faithful followers. I'm just saying. Okay it's not fun pretending anymore--I'm glad I'm out.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Proud of Me

Back about 16 or 17 years ago, my best friend and I decided to try hiking to the big white Y on the mountain-side in Utah County, Utah. It's a west-facing mountain, so for most of the day it gets full sun and very little shade. My friend and I didn't take water, and we started at about 11 am on a typical hot, Utah July day. This was a mistake!! We got about 2 turns into the hike (maybe 1/5 of the full distance, if that) and we said "Forget it!". It was steep, it was hot, and it was HARD. I never went back to try again.

Fast forward to yesterday. I'm now 33 years old. I have spent years being in the worst shape of my life, but over the course of the past 6 months I've been working to change that. I will admit that I felt nervous when it was first suggested that we have a family hike to the Y. Nervousness, interchanged with minor dread, rocked me for a few days. I knew I was in better shape now, but I still remembered how difficult it had been for me the last time when I was much younger.

Then yesterday as I was standing on the slope of the mountain, there on the painted white rocks that make up the Y, those feelings were completely absent. Instead, there was only elation. SUCCESS!! I don't get that feeling very often, and I don't feel proud of myself all too much. But in this case, I just wanna scream I DID IT at the top of my lungs. :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

On top of my high horse...

...all covered with cheese...

I can't be an "inspiration" yet. I don't want to be labeled "good example". Because when it comes down to it, I'm struggling like crazy this month. I got through the year-end holidays with no problem, but trying to avoid the chocolate around Valentine's Day has been brutal. In other words, I haven't been avoiding it very well!

Blah! Tracking sucks right now. I know I gotta do it but I'm being a baby about it. Okay okay okay okay. *breathe* Gotta get 'er done.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Some of the secrets to my success

I have to be honest here: weight loss isn't exactly easy. There are a bunch of reasons why weighing your food and tracking your calories just doesn't fit into hectic life, which we all typically seem to have now.

So here are a couple of tidbits that I have found which are making the journey a bit easier. These are the things that have always been obstacles for why I couldn't start my weight loss.

1) Do it with a partner - this seems to be key in the success stories I have seen, and I know it has been crucial for me. This person is doing the same thing you are, so it is exciting for them too. I find that on my hardest days, it's nice to have someone say "Keep going! You're doing great!" Then when Lee has his hardest days, I usually have the motivation he doesn't, so I can say to him "Keep going! You're doing great!" Motivation, accountability and celebration all seem to increase when you have a partner involved.

2) Make time (for yourself) - the thing I have learned is that it takes time for this all to happen. Time to price out the best values on healthy foods. Time to pre-weigh foods for easy access. Time to talk to people about calories or weight loss, or read articles. Time for the results to show. Time for the habits to form. The crucial thing is that you need to be able to focus a good chunk of your time to this process, for the prep work and for the daily grind and for the final results. So make and allow yourself time - it is totally worth it. For myself, I need to work on the goal of making time to exercise in some form, but I'm not quite there yet. :)

3) Allow yourself goodies - it seems counter-productive, but the idea of total deprivation doesn't sound very appealing to anyone. The trick that has made my weight loss successful this time is budgeting my food. Budgeting means that you will stay under a certain calorie mark every day, so if you want to eat a treat and you still have calories to spare, GO FOR IT. Lee and I actually split a big ol' cinnamon roll for breakfast yesterday morning, and I didn't feel guilty! I could only get through 1/2 of my 1/2, since I knew about how many calories I was taking in and I couldn't stand it. So I might've had guilt if I would've finished it, but who knows? Point is, have a treat and savor it. Enjoy it. Make it really count. Then get right back to eating the low-cal nutrient-packed foods you should be eating!

4) Give yourself credit - my main goal is to feel better about myself, so even if I didn't quite reach a goal I'm shooting for, I still give myself a pat on the back for what I WAS able to accomplish. So what if I didn't lose 10 lbs this month? I lost 9, and that's still very very cool (actually I might still hit my -10 lbs goal). It's all hard work, and it all deserves a little credit. When you reach a goal, give yourself lots of credit! You did it! Now...what's the next goal?

Okay so I don't mean to be up on a soap box about this, since I am not really the best example of taking care of yourself. But (to my credit!) I am working on it and have been really proud of the little I have accomplished in the past 62 days. I know this is a life change, not a diet. I know I'll never be able to eat a cheeseburger mindlessly, without thinking about how many calories it is.

Change is hard, but it CAN HAPPEN! Love.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My blog, my place to geek out

Since I am fairly certain that I am starting to bore the people in my life with talk of calorie-counting, I decided to take some of my internal discussion here. Until I am censored or restrained in some way, I get to use my blog how I want! :)

Man. I love the website that I am using to track my calories. It's called, and it's the site for Lance Armstrong's foundation. Why do I love it? Because it's a melting pot of people who are in my same boat. People who have been overweight, have had the light-bulb moment in their own life, and have made changes. People who work hard and struggle through the fight to drop pounds. The stories are GREAT inspiration for me. I love the personal stories with pictures of the transformations. Keep it up, Livestrong!! I have a hard time finding issues with the site to complain about, since I'm realizing that this free site is key to many people's successes. Right now it's definitely key to my success!

Today I am down 16 lbs. The only time I remember being this weight is around the time I was pregnant with my first child. I was very nauseous and could hardly eat, so instead of putting ON weight, I started dropping weight. My doctor was okay with this, since I had plenty of weight to lose, and the baby was very healthy. I ended up dropping about 10 or 15 lbs (I cannot remember exactly right now), and then once the morning sickness tapered, I gradually put that weight back on. After having the baby I immediately dropped to a weight that was 20 or so lbs less than my pre-pregnancy weight. Of course, it didn't take long to put those lbs back on, plus several more on top of that.

Now I am back at that (post-pregnancy) weight again, only this time it was from making good choices and staying focused on the goal. I'm wearing a clothes size that I think I wore in high school (and was still heavier than most people around me). It's nice to see the scale number gradually decrease, but the best part is when I can fit comfortably in clothes that I had to store away.

2011 is my year. Before I turn 34 years old this November, you can bet that I am going to make myself proud of myself. I'm ready, and I AM STOKED.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Another chapter of the saga-

La: finding myself within myself

Today is a good day for me and my boyfriend. This morning both of us hit 10 lbs of weight lost!! We have been counting calories for 4+ weeks now, since December 1st. We are both still excited and motivating each other, and we're feeling better than we have in months. It's a good day.

I need to write today and contemplate again why I am doing this. I simply am doing this as an exercise to keep myself on track and to not lose sight of the big picture. I do this because behind me right now there are donuts sitting on a table (someone brought in "late treats") and they look freaking delicious. Fortunately for me, they are BEHIND my back. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Yep.

Why am I doing this? Well. I'm sick of clothes fitting weird. I'm sick of my back hurting, and I'm scared that my knee has begun to have regular pain too. I'm tired of not fitting into seats in certain places.

I want to be fit enough to do anything I want to do. That's the real reason. As a female, a Sagittarius, and a lover of all things new, I daydream about adventures that I want to take. I want to hike to cool places. I want to hang glide and do other fun special-equipment activities. The only that has ever stopped me from being as adventurous as I want to be is my weight and how much of a struggle it is to be active.

I am gaining a new point of view about food: it is my sustenance, not my source of comfort. I eat now to nourish my body, not because I'm bored or because something looks good (damn donuts). That is a great achievement for me!

So I write because as I open myself up publicly, I believe I will be held more accountable for keeping up with my progress. Oh, I need to take a before-picture too, because I'm going to look very different here over the next few months. Maybe I'll be brave enough to post that before-picture publicly! Baby steps, Laura.