It’s been a toasty minute since I’ve written a new post. The last couple of weeks have been semi-unpleasant. First, classes started and my schedule immediately got all thrown out of whack. I told myself I’ll get the one the week after. (Procrastinating this early into the year? Come on Elizabeth.) The following week came, but then I got slammed with an illness. I’m not going to thank my weak immune system for having me confined to my bed for a week, but outside of the constant state of pain I was in, it was a nice vacation. Just sleeping all day, drowning myself in hot tea and soup. But I wasn’t writing. I started some things and those will get posted eventually, but I wanted to get this one out first. Just a warning; it’s about to get real.
For the past few weeks, I haven’t been feeling like myself. I tried to blame it on post rave blues. After returning from Decadence, I was shining brighter than the sun. Happy and actually smiling. I remember thinking, “Holy shit, I’m actually smiling without force. There’s no camera in front of me, I’m not on a stage. I just can’t stop smiling.” For a depressed little lamp, that’s incredible. It’s like walking on water. I didn’t believe I was truly happy, but it was a good feeling to smile without a purpose. Then I drove back to my life and the smile started to fade. There was this incoming storm that I felt and the next few weeks were looking cloudy. I have been battling to keep these dark clouds away because I don’t want them here. Harshin’ the vibe. That’s rude. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I am not being the authentic me that I promised to myself. In turn, I feel angry and bitter at life. The complete opposite of what I’ve been setting out to do. There are (currently) three clouds sitting on my head, damaging my happiness. So here’s the first.
We all remember the first blog post I did, right? To recap, I got removed from my college marching band because the director doesn’t recognize mental health as a logical and important reason to miss rehearsal. That’s the cliff note. I recommend reading the OG post because this is the part two that transpired because of the part one. So I was banished on a Saturday morning. That afternoon, the impulsive side of me had complete control and said, “Liz. We got to get the fuck out of New Mexico.” When we’ve been holed up in our houses all day, we get the urge to go out. Whether we have a reason or not, we desire a change in scenery. That’s what I wanted. Except I didn’t want to see anything resembling New Mexico. Lucky for me, that same day was Day 2 of Escape: Psycho Circus in California. I wanted to go to a rave that month anyway. So in the spirit of livin’ like Liz, I left. Bought the next plane ticket to Los Angeles, bought my ticket to the festival, left my cat with a large bowl of food and water and I left.
When I say impulsive, I really do mean IMPULSIVE. So impulsive that I didn’t bring anything except a tiny backpack with my phone, keys, wallet, kandi, lucky lighter and charger. I threw on my rave outfit; a small, but oversized hoodie, bralette, rave bottoms and furry boot covers, and I left my cat to rave. I got to the venue around 7:30 P.M., so I’d still have a good few hours to turn up. I just had to find my friends in the sea of people, then I could relax. I never got to talk about this or post like I usually do, but Escape was dope! The stages were unbelievable, the lineup was amazing, and the whole theme was Halloween, it was the sweetest place to be. It could’ve been one of my favorite fests under different circumstances, but I’ll have to blog about the details at a later date. My friends (thankfully) said I could stay at their Airbnb and my plan was to leave the next day. I have to get back to my cat, ya know. The cat. But with a little persuasion, I was convinced to stay the extra day and have a fun weekend in Cali. No harm done…
I’m not going to get into the gory details out of consideration to the whole situation, this is about me. Long story short, I was sexually assaulted during my stay in CA. I wish I could say the worst part was the actual [part], but the worst was everything that happened after. (But first, a bittersweet moment.) I wasn’t into gloving yet, just practicing to see if I could, so I remember laying in bed after everything, staring at the ceiling with these god-awful blue strobe lights flashing on the walls and all I could focus on was my hands. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t move. I was too frozen with fear and hopped up on drugs (and yes, I will admit that,) but I kept thinking, “As long as I keep doing this, I know I’m alive.” Not suggesting that I really thought I was going to die, but that was the only thought I could formulate at the time. That was the day I knew I had to buy a pair of gloves. This simple art form of hand movements kept me sane during (legitimately and undramatically) one of the most terrible times of my life. I was tiptoeing around the idea of getting a pair, considering how much money I just threw away to get to Escape, but that was one of the first things I did when I got home. And I haven’t been able to stop since. My fingers are always moving, it’s kind of nice to have a transportable mode of stress relief. So just know, this story isn’t all low points and despair. But here’s a low point with a lot of despair.
Upon beginning the comedown of the cracktivities, I felt my spirit return to my body and suddenly got the urge to pee. The problem was my body wasn’t all caught up with my mind yet. My friend laying next to me was still awake when I told her my dilemma. I had to pee badly, but I couldn’t get up. She forced me out of bed so I could hobble like Gollum to the toilet. I didn’t even bother to turn on the light or close the door, I just peed. But I have to explain this pee. This wasn’t our typical ‘held it in too long, barely made it to the bowl’ type of pee. This was a ‘if I didn’t get out of bed at the exact time that I did to release my bladder, it would’ve exploded’ type of pee. I have never felt such pain like my bladder deflating, but that’s definitely in my top five of all time physical pain. (I know I’m making this kind of lighthearted, but I have to stress how terrifying that was for me.) As someone who has had urinary tract infections, I know the dangers and discomforts of ‘holding it in’ and that moment wasn’t me holding it in to avoid the bathroom because I was focused on something else. My body was so paralyzed in fear that I couldn’t feel anything. I should’ve felt the urge to pee hours before, but it was like my mind had shut down and my body with it. That’s a scary feeling. It’s one that I’ll never be able to forget.
After managing to save my bladder, I tried to go back to bed. Then I heard a song that might be the only reason I’m still alive right now. Peace by Alison Wonderland started playing and my heart shattered. There are a couple songs that I’ve heard at the right time that I’ll always have a connection to. This is probably my favorite one. Go listen to the song to understand why I love it and her. So I’m listening to this song play in the other room and here come the big baby Liz tears. (I’m a very emotional person and have embraced my crybaby side.) Needless to say, hearing that gave me the strength to do what I did next.
When the sun was up and I had gotten some form of sleep, I went straight from the Airbnb to the nearest hospital. My plan to fly home on Monday was now postponed because there was no way in hell I could return to my ‘normal’ life without filing a police report and getting a rape exam done. I sat in hospitals and talked to an officer all alone for an entire day. I was getting poked and had my insides dug around in and I kept telling myself, “Stay unfazed. Be strong and stay unfazed. You’ll be home soon.” As much as I didn’t want to stay there, but didn’t want to go home, I was looking forward to seeing my cat. I stared at all the pictures I had of him and cried, knowing that he was home alone and probably didn’t need me, but hot damn I needed him. That silly fat cat was giving me the strength to make it through one more day of pain. (Reason #278 of why I love my cat more than anything.) I didn’t call my mom until it was all over and I was in the airport, waiting 4 hours for my flight. 2 A.M. waiting in the Ontario airport, bawling my eyes out, trying to tell my mom that I was in California and had been assaulted the day prior and my cell phone connection wants to die out. My phone had been bugging out for the last week, but the moment when I needed it most, it really wanted to play my whole life. The (not so surprising) thing that truly ruffles my roses is the amount of people who walked past me, sat near me, stared at me clearly in distress begging anyone to use their phone so I could call my mom and no one did a damn thing. THE BYSTANDER EFFECT IS REAL AND DAMAGING TO OUR HUMANITY.
Eventually, I got home and here we are. Here I am. 3 months later. Barely breathing, but oh so alive. (Fucking hell, it feels like it’s been a year, but it’s only been 3 months.) Since that weekend, I have been dead inside. My spirit has been stuck in that hospital. Stuck in that airport. I may be writing this, but my soul is still crying on that airport bench. The reason I’m telling this story is to give the correct light as to why I am going the direction I am now. When a person strips away our humanity and violates our bodies, it’s hard to recover from that. This is my second sexual assault, but the first time I decided to take a stand. Now that I can sense the warning signs of my trauma, I know how to handle myself better. Looking at the entirety of these series of events, I did the best I could. Normally, I’d find something wrong and end blaming myself for not being smarter, but I did everything right. I did what I was supposed to do to take care of myself. I’ve lost some friends along the way, but that doesn’t matter. For the first time, I fought for what was right and I did that for me. As horrible as that weekend was, I view it as the turning point to what it took to finally love and accept who I am. To be who I really am. Keep that in mind as we wait for the second cloud to roll in.
To be continued…