Can I Fix It With A Sandwich?

I like helping people. I like volunteering for stuff. Particularly when it comes to feeding people. Whenever sign-up sheets went around in church for a pitch-in, potluck, taking a meal to a family, or hosting the missionaries for dinner I always signed up. For me, feeding people is the easiest and best way to show someone you care about them.

sandwiches.

If someone needs something, and I have a something that I don’t particularly need or use? I’m happy to hand over that something. It’s easy for me. I like doing it. It’s just a thing I do. It’s not a big deal. (It’s kind of how society should work, isn’t it?)

At my peak of helping others was also the peak of my mental health. I WAS SOOOO GOOD! Just sailing along with little trips here and there.

Well, surprise! After last year helping people became hard. I still tried to do it, but I never bothered to take care of myself first so helping others simply exhausted me. What’s worse is it took away from what I was able to give my family as well. You’ve probably heard the announcement on airplanes “Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others?” Same applies to life in general. It’s not selfish, it’s common sense.

I also began to pull away from emotionally difficult relationships. I certainly didn’t need anyone else making me feel worse, I’m perfectly capable of making myself feel like garbage, thanks! Slowly things started to improve and with therapy I can actually feel the old me begin to bubble up. Several people have already mentioned how much happier I seem, and that means an awful lot to me.

This is where things get tricky. Pieces of the old me are starting to show up. I am happier. But I am still not strong enough to wade in the emotional struggles of others.  I am an empath. Always have been. Addie is one as well. For the last year I have actually hated being an empath because it has made me such a delicious target to awful people throughout my life. Being an empath isn’t a bad thing, but right now I really need to take care of myself so I’ve learned if I can’t improve a situation with a sandwich? Sorry, I’m out.

Our first trip to Cleveland won't be our last. We may even wait over an hour for fried grilled cheese sandwiches again. Special thanks to @mryjhnsn and her family for showing us around and making sure we left in love with her city. Thanks to all of you wh

The good news is I can fix a lot of things for a lot of different people with a sandwich.  So can you. There’s thousands of different sandwiches for thousands of different situations, and I’m happy to provide whatever sandwich is needed when I’m available.

Pastrami sandwich from Shapiro's deli in Indianapolis. Even better than it looks. Promise.

So if you’re an empath, or a giver, or a helper, or a doer, but it is really in your best interest to take care of yourself right now? Ask yourself if a situation can be improved with a sandwich. Sandwiches mean a lot to people. (So do cheeseburgers, burritos, gyros, and falafel.) If it’s not a situation that can be improved in any way with any form of sandwich? Maybe step away.

what I had for lunch.

Maybe have a sandwich yourself.

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WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST ACT NORMAL?

I’ve been processing what happened for over a year and half, I maybe haven’t been processing it in the most healthy and helpful way given I was doing it all by myself for the first year — but the fact is when I tell someone “I was sexually assaulted” the sting of those words has been numbed by time for me. I’ve come a long way in overcoming “the act” (referring to the actual physical assault) because it was physical, it was a thing that happened and it was a thing that ended. Much like a car accident, there’s the actual crash and in a matter of seconds the crash itself is over but in those few seconds your life can be changed forever.

You can even walk away from a car crash physically fine and those who love you will breathe a sigh of relief that you’re okay, but what isn’t taken into account (and sometimes not even realized by you until much later) is that you’re now scared to drive, you avoid certain scenarios, the sound of an accident can set off a whole set of anxious feelings and upset. They’re all triggers, and they all deserved to be recognized — the problem is unless someone else has also been in an accident most people won’t understand what you’re going through. “You’re fine! You lived! What do  you mean you don’t want to drive on snowy roads at night?” Obviously you can’t avoid snowy roads at night forever, but there will be a time when winter driving will be harder on you.

It’s all the emotional stuff that surrounds the act that is hard.

The shame, the embarrassment, the guilt. It’s gross and I hate it.

It’s why I didn’t tell Cody for over a year. I didn’t want him to think of me differently, or worse find out that he thought it was my fault and blame me for what happened.

Was it the right thing to do? Probably not, but you go ahead and watch any Shonda Rhimes show and point out a single time when her characters act in a completely logical way after something goes wrong. (I realize my life is not How To Get Away With Murder or Scandal, but it’s real easy to sit on a couch and holler “WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST ACT NORMAL?” when it’s not your life.)

The specifics of what happened to me have their own category on hardcore or “dark” porn sites. The thing that broke me is titillating to many. What has been my nightmare for a long time is a fantasy of others. That’s a very strange dichotomy to work through in the sexually saturated world we currently live in.

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aftermath.

I’ve learned over the last year that there are two ways people generally deal with traumatic events similar to what happened to me.

The first is managing to make yourself so busy with so many other things, people, activities, and distractions that you simply don’t have time to think about anything else but running away from what happened. Hoping the pain will just fade or go away the busier you stay. I’ve seen a lot of people go on to do great and creative things while running away from terrible pasts, the problem is when they are alone or still for too long everything comes crashing down a hundred times worse.

The second is quite the opposite, and it is the one I have been stuck in for over a year.

I went into hiding.

If I didn’t leave the house or interact with anyone I couldn’t get hurt again. No one would be able to get close to me. I wouldn’t have to be vulnerable or feel scared or ever wonder if it will happen again. I once trusted people, a lot. I was kind and outgoing and was always the one championing the benefit of the doubt.

I used to go out in bright colors with my face towards the sun.

Now I go out fully covered with my eyes down so I don’t have triggers, flashbacks or worse — see him. Or someone that looks like him. Or someone who knows him. Or something that reminds me of him.

I stay quiet so I don’t draw attention to myself.

People have told me that by staying quiet and locked away I’m letting him win. That the best thing I could possibly do is pick myself up and become even stronger than before as a proverbial middle finger to him and what he did to me.

You will either understand this or you won’t — the idea of building myself back up gives me the same sense of dread as threatening to drop me in the middle of the ocean without so much as a life preserver.

My insides have been nothing but a knot of anxiety, fear, and sadness for over a year. I don’t remember the last time I was truly happy for any extended period of time.

I don’t say this because I want sympathy, and the truth is I am trying to get better.

In fact, I am fighting like hell and I’m fucking exhausted.

I say this because I never thought I would be here. That I would be so damaged from the actions of another that I would consider myself completely broken. A pile of pieces slugging through a life I once knew and only participate in out of habit.

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