Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Senior Year in Hell

What inspired me to tell my story was a movie called "Trust." It's about a 14 year old girl who meets a guy online, meets him in real life and gets raped. I won't go into detail because I don't want to ruin it for you. It's a good movie but it was also sad and it brought up a lot of feelings from my past. 

I started thinking about why I started writing this blog. I wanted to put myself out there and be myself. I wanted to learn about myself and be real.  As I write this I'm not even sure I'm going to be brave enough to hit publish at the end but I'll try.

I'm going to tell you a story I haven't told many people. Only close friends and my immediate family. When I was 17 I was raped. I became a statistic. Statistically, most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, and I knew him well. But lets back up. I grew up in a fairly small town. My best friend lived across the street and we met in kindergarten. We went to the same schools our entire lives. We went to prom together our Junior year, and our boyfriends were also best friends. Two best friends since we were five years old, dating two best friends from a neighboring small town. We lived next door to each other, worked at the same restaurant and had the same classes. How cute right? It stopped being cute the summer between eleventh and twelfth grade when her boyfriend started making sexual comments to me quiet enough that only I could hear. The first time it happened I didn't tell anyone. I blew it off.  Then it happened again. I didn't say anything immediately, but I did tell her about it a short time later and that it made me uncomfortable. She talked to him., he said he'd been drinking and apologized. He said it wouldn't happen again. I was naive for a very long time. It wouldn't stop here, but that is for another story.

One night while my friend was at work and I had the night off, I went to a party with  my boyfriend and her boyfriend tagged along. We had a couple beers, but I was home by curfew. My parents were sleeping when I got home. Her boyfriend asked to use the phone. My boyfriend and hers walked me into the house and into the basement where my room was. While her boyfriend was on the phone my boyfriend tucked me into bed and kissed me goodnight. I went to bed in my clothes. Her boyfriend left the phone by my bed when they left. I don't remember if I was alseep yet when the phone rang or not. I know I was very tired. It was her boyfriend calling saying he'd had a fight with her mother because he came in drunk (he lived with her and her parents across the street), and could he come sit at my house until she got home from work. The next thing I knew he had walked into our house and was in our basement. He asked me to sit on the couch with him while he watched TV. He tried to kiss me and I told him no. That didn't stop him. I told him no a thousand different ways but it didn't stop him from doing any of the things he did that I didn't want. When he was finished he put his pants back on and told me he was sorry. Then he left. I sat on the floor and cried. I considered driving up to the hospital (only a few blocks away) and telling them I'd been raped, but I'd been drinking and I was afraid I'd get in trouble. I didn't hit him or kick him because he had a history of violence and I was scared.  I never cried out for help when it was happening partly because I didn't want my father to see me being raped but mostly because I had those beers. Had I not been drinking that night things might have played out differently. I did make it perfectly clear that I wanted him to stop but that wasn't enough.  I eventually went to bed. I called a rape crisis line a couple days later but I hung up on them. A couple weeks later my friend broke up with her boyfriend and I finally told her what happened. She made me tell an adult so we went together and told our manager at work. She convinced us that we needed to tell our parents so we did. We told her mom first and then mine.  That was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. To see their faces when they realized what had happened. I told a couple friends, and one confessed to me that he had also tried to rape her. I called and told my boyfriend of two years what happened and he broke up with me.  I guess best friends stick together. Well, some do anyway.

My friend's mother made a deal with him that she would pay him some money if he would leave the state and move to Washington. We agreed that if he did that we wouldn't press charges (because who really wants to live through it again in a courtroom?) and it worked. He took the money and moved his things out of her house. As he was leaving he told her family how sorry he was. Then he was gone.  That summer I made an appointment with a women's shelter to talk to someone but they won't speak to you unless you've reported the rape to the police. They made me an appointment with the police but I forgot to go. I forgot a lot of things. I tried to forget what happened too. I met a new guy. He was very sweet. We went out on a few dates. Then my friend changed. She became angry with me. There was a period of  a couple weeks right after school started where we were ok, but that ended quickly. She told me she had been talking to her (ex) boyfriend via phone and they were getting back together. I tried my hardest to understand why she would do this. We'd been best friends for twelve years and she was choosing a man who raped her best friend over me. He told her I seduced him, that I tricked him. I don't know what else he said to her but it worked. She hated me again. She rallied mutual friends to harass me. I was followed. I was threatened. It was very difficult to go to school, to work and even come home since she lived right across the street. One night I came out to find a dress I had loaned another friend on top of my car, shredded, burned and with a note that said I'd be next. I called the police but they didn't do much.  I inquired about restraining orders but it seemed that was out of our reach financially and realistically since we went to school together, worked together and lived 50 feet apart. Looking back I don't know WHY I didn't quit that job. There are a ton of crappy jobs out there for teenagers (or there were then) but I kept suffering. My senior year was pure hell. HE moved back to town. I missed a lot of school which everyone seemed to be understanding about. Most everyone. I tried to talk to my vice principal about letting me transfer to a special school - the kind that helps teenage mothers, drop outs ect. He told me I must have done something to deserve this. He almost encouraged me to drop out of high school my senior year. I didn't have a lot of friends, but you don't need a lot. You just need a few, really good supportive friends and at least I had that. I am still thankful to this day to those few people. I also had a really good boyfriend and that helped too.

Right before graduation my friend married the man who raped me.

High school ended. Me and my boyfriend ended, & I quit that job and went to college part time. I went to a rape victim support group a few times but I felt out of place there. They wanted me to talk about "my special gift that I have to offer the world" and I had no idea what they were talking about. My mom and dad sent me to a counselor a couple times but when I found out what it was costing them I quit going.  The best thing about college was  I didn't have to see her/them all the time and  I started to feel better. A lot of things have happened since then and it gets a little better every day that passes. I still have a few issues. I don't like to be held down and tickled. It might sound silly but it makes me feel like I have no control and it scares me. I don't ever want to feel that way again. I felt really stupid and I made a lot of bad choices but deep down I know it wasn't my fault. A lot of the friends I have made since then have confessed to me that they also have been the victim of a sexual crime. I don't know if this means it happens a LOT more often than we realize or if I just happen to make connections with people that are similar to me. I am so thankful to all the wonderful friends that I have met along the way. I have never talked to the girl that lived across the street from me again. I know she is still married to him. I know they have children. I don't need to know any more.

If  you've been through a similar situation talk to someone. If that doesn't work keep trying and don't give up. Things may be hard but they DO get better. I don't want people to feel sorry for me. I want to send a positive message that it will be OK. I don't know if I have done that. I still don't know if I will publish this, but at least I'm being real. (It took me almost 5 months to post this after I wrote it but here it is!)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

European Regimental Signal Ball 2012

This year the European Regimental Signal Ball was in Heidelberg, Germany. For the first time we got an overnight sitter and a hotel room so we could stay and enjoy the dancing. We checked into our hotel room and the clerk asked if we were superstitious...

 Since my daughter weighed 6 lb 6.6 oz at birth, I was born on the 13th, and all five of the cats I've had in my life have been black, we answered, "No, we're not." LOL!

Getting ready 

The walls were pretty thin so we tried to block out some of the noise coming from next door...

The bracelet my friend Nina gave me at our first ball five years ago

The earrings are from our wedding

Cocktail hour

The first course

We got to take the centerpiece home

A few soldiers getting down

All the state flags around the room

They demolished the cake. I didn't get a picture of it before the cake cutting.

Mmmm, bloody mary!

We had a really great time. It's too bad it may be our last ball. 

Copyright © 2012 Family Gray Photography

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wondering What To Do With All Your Child's Artwork?

I started scanning my daughter's artwork into the computer when she first started drawing and I didn't want to throw out those first precious drawings but they were starting to take over a basket in our office. Then I could throw the majority of them away without feeling guilty. Of course I saved my favorites but just a few. After we moved I got lazy about scanning them and the pile from the last two years was starting to build up again. Especially since she started pre-school last fall. I finally sat down and scanned in the last 270 drawings. But what do you do with them? 

The timing for this couldn't be better. Let me give you the back-story...
A while ago I had an offer from Groupon. (If you'd like me to refer you I get $5 credit for each referral, cough cough ;) Anyway, the offer was to purchase a $50 gift card to Mixbook for $15. The catch is the gift-card is only good for six months. After the six months it is only worth the amount you paid, (in my case the $15). I purchased one of these in December that I had to use by May 4th. I used it to scrapbook all of our trips and time in Europe. I got a pretty decent sized book out of it too and only had to pay shipping. I waited until five days before it expired to order so I could fit in every last adventure. The second gift-card I bought in February and it had to be used by the end of August. I knew I won't have enough vacation photos to fill it in the next three months but it was such a good deal that I couldn't pass it up. After I finished scanning all the drawings in dawned on me! 

I'm going to put all of her art in a photo-book from Mixbook so it will be easy to take with us wherever we move! Luckily I have the next three months to get it just the way I want it before I have to put the order in. When I finally get it I'll make sure to show you. (If you'd like to see the draft send me your e-mail and I'll invite you to see it.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Water Marble Nails

I have a military ball coming up in less than 2 weeks. I have my dress (well the alterations place has it LOL), I have my jewelry (I just need a new chain for my eternity pendant), my shoes (comfy ones this time!), and I have an appointment the day of to get my hair and make-up done. The only thing missing was nails. The local salon is booked until after the ball so that's not an option. I've never been one for fake nails anyway so I thought I'd buy some new polish today and experiment. I had seen a tutorial on Pinterest for marbled nails and thought I'd try it. The first tutorial I watched made it look super easy. I'm guessing that person has had a TON of practice. I removed some of my worst paint jobs and tried them again. The second attempts were much better. If you did it enough it would probably turn out really neat. I don't have enough patience to keep trying so this probably will not happen for the ball but maybe another time. 

I couldn't find the original video I watched but I found another that works just as well. (Click here to see the tutorial) I like her colors and designs. The colors I used are subdued since my dress is a dark grayish brown color. Hand model I am not so please, ignore my old wrinkly fingers!! 

This is probably my favorite one


I guess I'll keep practicing!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lake Alpsee

At the bottom of Schloss Hohenschwangau in Bavaria is lake Alpsee. The water is aqua blue and crystal clear. It's the most beautiful body of water I have ever seen. The entire area is beautiful!

The view looking from Schloss Neuschwanstein over to  Schloss Hohenschwangau with lake Alpsee to the left

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bavarian Castles - Schloss Neuschwanstein

This is the castle Walt Disney used as inspiration for Cinderella's castle in Disneyworld!  I found the tourist information a little confusing when we first arrived. I'll try to make this simple so you know what to expect...Parking is available in the village for 5 Euro a day, you cannot drive your car up to the castles. There is a ticket office in the village where you can purchase tours of one or both castles. You can also go in and get a free map of the town (suggested!!) . It's a steep walk up the mountain to the castle and they don't sell them at the castle so make sure if you want a tour you buy the tickets before you go up.  These are only needed if you want to tour the inside rooms of the castle. It's completely free to go inside the courtyard and walk around the outside. The best pictures of the castle can be taken from a viewing point on a bridge around the back of the castle, or from a viewing area toward the front side of the castle. To get to the top of the hill where the castle is you can walk (not suggested personally), you can take a horse and carriage ride for about 6 Euro up and 3 Euro down (each) or you can take the bus, 1.80 Euro up and 1.00 Euro down for adults (children were slightly less). The bus will take you very close to the bridge and then it's a short walk to the castle. The horse and carriage ride leaves you on the other side of the castle near the front viewing area. We felt the best choice was to pay for the bus up, checked out the bridge (p.s. you can also see the gorge from here), see the castle, and then take the horse ride down. Unfortunately there were A LOT of people waiting for the carriages and it only comes around a few times an hour so we ended up walking down the hill. Wow! I was so glad we didn't walk up. Walking down was enough of a work out for me!  The castle is being restored so there was scaffolding on the one end. The website shows this is expected to be up until the end of 2012.

View of the castle from the bridge

The bridge

A love lock on the bridge (if I had known I'd have brought one!)

View down from the bridge

Walking to the castle (yes, there was scaffolding on the one end)