image When you try to keep it together, but some days you just can’t

**⚠️Trigger warning ⚠️ Do not read this if you are sensitive or easily offended by potentially distressing material ⚠️**

I started blogging because I wanted to share with everyone what I learned about other cultures. I wanted a space in which I could share my thoughts about the world, and my desire to see people respect each other’s differences, and their respective cultures. It is sometimes hard to write things like this and pretend to be positive, when inside me I am waging my own battle for peace.

I am a Mormon, I am an assault survivor, I am fierce and kind, but lately I haven’t been feeling all that courageous. We can’t always keep it together. We can’t always make everyone think that we ‘have our shit together’.

I’m 33, I’m educated, and I still want to travel the world and ‘be that change I wish to see in the world’. I’m too ‘good’ to fit in with the EDC/Rave/clubbing crowd, and yet I’m not ‘good enough’ to be considered a suitable match for a temple marriage, as most Mormons believe is paramount in their trek through life.

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I tried to find someone through online dating and I was Cat fished by a man pretending to be a single father with a 2-year-old daughter whose mother died when she gave birth to her. I was working 65 hours a week and barely had time to think for myself. My days off were mostly to do my laundry and let my mind be sucked into a useless TV show. Luckily, through my own (and my aunt’s) investigative work, I was able to find out that he had stolen someone’s Facebook identity and profile pictures, and made them his own. This was very disconcerting that someone could so perfectly replicate a total stranger’s life!

Every year I get older, I get asked or told, “Why don’t you try online dating?” “Why aren’t you married yet?” ‘Well you’re just being too picky.” “Maybe if you lost a little weight.” “You won’t meet anyone if you decide to move so much.” I am too embarrassed to explain how I got duped once online, too nice to say “screw you” when someone asks me why I’m not married yet (LIKE I KNOW), too irritated to try and explain that I’m picky because my friends all complain to the single girl about how their husbands don’t do this or that, and I don’t want to end up like them or another statistic. And the last one, “Maybe if you lost a little weight…” Well, I’m sorry I don’t fit into your arm-charm, size-8, Stepford wife category, who will keep her mouth shut like the rest of them. I think people are surprised when I can actually hike for three hours, go camping, go hiking, do a 5k without a problem, kick their ass at the gym; I’m made for comfort, not speed people. Get over it.

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I was told to try Tinder when it was first new, and was too naive to know what it was ACTUALLY used for. I talked to an Indian Man, met up with him, and ended up being raped.

I remember crying to him about how I still was in love with my ex-boyfriend; he told me he had just had a bad breakup too. I won’t get into the details, but after I was examined, I remember the nurse hugging me with tears in her eyes telling me she was so sorry that it happened to me. I still have vivid nightmares. I feel like no one could ever love me after what happened; who would ever be able to understand? I can’t even go to the gas station down the street because an Indian man works there and I try not to feel the rage, but I do. Logically, I know that it isn’t his fault, but I can’t seem to control it; the rage at seeing him and hearing his accent. The first time I saw him at the gas station, I got really snippy with him, raised my voice and got so frustrated that I ended up not even getting gas at all. I walked out of the gas station that day feeling uncontrollably livid and sat in my car and sobbed. What have I become? I have always loved Indian people, and he ruined that, he wasn’t even a citizen, and I trusted in his culture’s honor system. He was a man without honor.

What is really sad, is that the night that it happened, eight people, who were supposed to be my supportive church friends, snubbed me. I still wonder, “why me?” and if they would have shown up, would it still have happened? Why did God let it happen? The friends I have shared it with tell me, “Just forget about it now; it’s in the past.” Trust me, if I could, I would, but that’s the trouble with PTSD, you don’t know what will trigger the memory that will put you into a fight or flight-like state.

Now it’s incredibly difficult to let anyone into my life, even my own family at times. Yet I still have such a desire to have my own family. So, most of the time I’m battling the feelings of being utterly worthless with the feeling of the courageous lioness inside that says, “I won’t let him win, I won’t let this destroy who I know I am.”

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Three months after it happened, I decided to travel to Scotland to see the lands of my ancestors. My great grandmother was a McFarland and I had become an Outlander superfan (a TV series on STARZ). I followed my heart which said that I needed to get away from all the mess in Texas. I knew going to Scotland wouldn’t solve my problems, but when I travel, my thoughts and feelings, the great battle within, seem so much more diminished and small. I think it’s because when you travel, you realize how big the world is and there is something so HEALING in disappearing (in a way) for a few weeks.

It was my first solo trip and I had planned it months before (what I now call) my “incident,” and I was determined to go. It was terrifying, but I was able to get outside my head and learn of the Battle of Culloden and how my ancestors fought there; how the ruggedness and magical landscape of the Highlands made me feel like I was finally at home. The landscape was so vast, harsh, and beautiful, and the people from Scotland have warrior spirits that do not bend, despite the harsh winters and the history of decades of brutal suppression by the British.

I returned from my trip and realized that I was more than what happened to me. I was not a victim. I am a survivor. Now I realize that (and worry) that after exposing myself like this, there will be many opinions. I’m not afraid of what people think anymore, just at cruel things they tend to say. I know that telling my story will touch some, and repel others, but I can’t hide anymore behind what once was. In talking about it, I feel like it is releasing me from the feeling that I need to hide from the public. For the last year and a half, I have felt vulnerable and couldn’t wait to get home to the safety of my house and my beloved puppy Zoey. Now, I am turning 34,  and I know that I need to start pushing myself to go out in public again; to try and retrain my brain that most people are not going to hurt me and can’t see straight through me. My goal is to not be afraid anymore; to not be afraid of someone finding out about this through the grapevine. This is something that I never thought I would share in a place like this, but it is allowing me a certain sense of freedom in doing so. I hope you will be able to understand where I’m coming from, and be able to understand that it has taken me weeks to decide to publish this.

I don’t have it all together…yet, but I will, and I won’t stop until I do. I know that there are not a lot of men who will understand, and many won’t have the compassion and understanding I will need on the nights that I wake up crying from nightmares. One day, I trust that God will show me the way to my soulmate, someone that I can give all my heart to that won’t be afraid of the hard things. For now, I’m focused on healing and developing healthy coping mechanisms. I am also trying to regain my faith in the fact that I once knew that God’s plan is perfect and he will never give us something that we cannot handle. I just hope I can return to that place of faith and unyielding courage again in the near future.

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Thank you for reading my story and I hope you will honor the amount of courage and vulnerability it took to share this experience with you. Happy travels my friends, and thank you for being on this journey with me. I know I’m just typing this on a screen at the moment, but somehow, it seems to release something inside me. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.


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6 comments

  1. Well written Janiel. I cannot imagine the difficulty of this trial for you. I actually have had 2 different roommates who were assaulted. I can’t say that I was helpful with the first. I didn’t try to seem repellent, but I think I didn’t really know what to do or say – it was in her childhood, so it didn’t seem like there was anything much I could do. But I should have been a better listener and a better support. For the other roommate I’d like to say I was more mature and hopefully helped her more. I convinced her to go to the Dr. I helped her find some priesthood holders in our ward (Brett being one of them) to give her a blessing. I even went to court with her when her case against him came up.

    I’m sorry you didn’t have the support you needed, but I sincerely hope that you get it now. I think you are courageous and awesome. I love hearing about your travels and your appreciation for diversity. I think you’re smart, self-motivated, and kind, and I’ve always been jealous of your beautiful dimples and eyes. A part of me wishes that the 13 year-old me would have been a better friend to you in Jr. High choir – I was so oblivious to other people at that age. Not that it would have made much of a difference in the present day, but I do wish I had been a better friend then so that I could be a better friend now.

    Anywho – great post. And I’ll pray that you can return to that faith as you said, but I think you already possess “unyielding courage.”

    • Thank u so much, and u were actually a fantastic help and friend to me in Junior High 🙂 Your words mean a lot – and we are still just as good of friends today I promise.

    • Thanks so much Jane! It’s hard to be vulnerable because I’m such a private person, but really the more I am open and name my skeletons the less they are seeming to haunt me 🙂 I really appreciate your words, they mean a lot

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