#iamstrong – one year later

One year ago, I made the best decision I could possibly make as a runner and as a human. I walked into the doors of EVOFIT for the first time to fix my broke body and my broken confidence. I was on a quest for physical strength, but little did I know, it would be my spirit that was strengthened.

One that day I shared the following quote:

“To reach only for that which pleasantly enchants you is the least of imagination, if even imagination at all, by the obvious reality of remaining within your means. The greater of imagination is parallel to risk. It extends beyond your comfort zone or haven, or sense of beauty, or what you personally believe suits you in exploration of what may not.” – Criss Jami

Sunrise. One year ago.
Sunrise. One year ago.

It was time to move beyond my comfort zone. I knew nothing about going to the gym. I knew nothing about lifting weights or doing burpees or pull-ups or rowing. I only knew how to run. I am a runner. It’s what I do. It’s what I’ve always done. After the Chicago Marathon, my body felt weak. Running wasn’t sustaining me anymore, and I wasn’t sustaining my body for running. My well had run dry. I had asked too much of my body without giving it anything in return.

My running coach Jerry practically pushed me in the door, but today you’d have to drag me out. My gym, Evofit, has changed my perception of myself, my body, and my life. It’s given me more than I ever imagined.

Today my body is strong.

I am strong.

My husband has followed me down this path. It’s transformed his life and our marriage. My parents have joined, and I am watching it transform their lives too.

Physically lifting weights has emotionally lifted my spirit, my confidence, and my approach to life. It’s given me focus. It’s given me a family.

Tuesday after work I walked through the doors of Evofit ready to tackle the day’s workout. The nervous and self-doubt that followed me in that same door a year ago feel like a lifetime ago. I was ready to tackle whatever workout was listed on the board.

The workout of the day:

5×5 power cleans

Then 4 rounds of 200m run, 5 hanging cleans, 10 wallballs, 12 pushups, 15 hallow rocks.

Power cleans have become one of my favorite workouts. It was one of the first workouts where I surprised myself. Back in April the workout was powercleans 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 increasing weight with each round. I ended with one rep of 68 pounds. It took several attempts, but I finally did it. My confidence grew. This week I did 5×5 with 63 pounds for the whole workout.

As much as I love knowing that I can lift heavier weight with each visit to Evofit, it’s my approach to the workout that I appreciate the most. I used to be scared. I used to look at the workout and doubt myself. I was timid. I used the lowest weight afraid anything more would be too much. Today I like a challenge. I’m okay with getting to the point where I have nothing left to give. I enjoy finding my edge because I know nothing bad will happen when I get to the spot.

I’m finally confident with being uncomfortable. This weekends Wicked 10k was proof that I can do hard things and finish with a smile.

The ego says, ‘I shouldn’t have to suffer,’ and that thought makes you suffer so much more. It is a distortion of the truth, which is always paradoxical. The truth is that you need to say yes to suffering before you can transcend it.” ~Eckhart Tolle

Over the past year, I’ve found my version of strong. I have defined #iamstrong for myself, and today I believe those words. One year ago, I wanted to feel strong. Today I not only feel it, but I know that my strength is so much more than muscle, pounds lifted, and pace per mile. My strength comes from my core, and nothing can take that away.

My evofit family

 

 

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I was raped 

For five years, I’ve shared my story in this space but I always avoided it. I danced around it. I alluded to it. But I never acknowledged it. I never said the words I was raped on paper until yesterday. It’s never been a secret. It’s something I share in conversation with friends. It’s something I’ve never hid from, but why was I hiding here. Why did I consciously choose to not share? 

The answer is simple. Fear. I was afraid. I was afraid of people believing me. I was afraid people from my past would verbally attack me again. I was afraid I would be called a liar. I didn’t want to relive the trauma – not of the rape but of not being believed. 

Recent news has brought attention to the rape culture in our society. Today in 2016 a dad of a rapist believes that six months in jail is “too steep a price to pay for 20 minutes of action.” Today in 2016 a judge believes that six months in jail is a worthy sentencing for a man who raped an unconscious woman. When is our society going to stand together and say enough is enough. You will not do this to our children. You can not sexually violate my daughter or my son. 

Rape is historically a silent crime. The victims suffer in silence. 68% of all rapes are not reported to the police. 98% of rapist won’t spend one single day in jail. By remaining silent, we are sending the message that this is okay. IT IS NOT OKAY. It will never be okay. 

I remained quiet on my blog because of the same fear that silenced me in my journey. I was afraid, but today I’m breaking my silence. 

This is my story. 

This is my truth. 

I was raped. 


On May 4, 1998, a friend pulled into my driveway. As soon as I saw his car, my instincts told me to hide. I thought to myself, “I should pretend like I’m not home.” I quickly dismissed my thoughts as irrational, and I answered my door. We chatted. We hung out. He kissed me. He then disappeared upstairs. I called and called for him to come downstairs. He ignored me. Finally I ventured upstairs too. He needed to leave, but he wouldn’t get out.  He wouldn’t put me down. He wouldn’t stop touching me. He wouldn’t leave my pants on. He wouldn’t get off me. 

I begged him to stop. I said no over and over again. First as a statement then as a whisper. The more aggressive he became, the more I got lost in my fear. My nos turned to whispers. I became paralyzed by fear. I cried when he walked out of my room. As he finally went to walk out of my house he looked at me and said “I feel bad. You said no the whole time.” He left like nothing happened. He went about his day like what had just happened was normal. I was broken. 

I crawled into a ball on the couch because my bedroom felt disgusting. I cried myself to sleep. I entered a fog of confusion. In the days that followed, I seeked support. A phone call to a friend left me more confused. When I shared the details of the story, she told me “it’s normal. That happens to every girl.” Finally another friend looked at me and said “there is a term for what happened to you. It’s called date rape. Kristy, you were raped.” I was broken. 

My downward spiral continued. I slept in every class at school. A few teachers pulled me aside to ask if I was okay. I finally went to our brand new computer at home. We had just got internet and AOL. I searched date raped. I finally understood what happened to me. I understood the filth I felt all over my body. I was raped. I was broken. 

Four days after I was raped, I crawled into my parents bed late at night. I couldn’t stop crying. My dad had seen my searches on the computer. He knew. He called the police. 

What happened next I wasn’t prepared for. Police swarmed our house. Detectives took apart my bedroom. Fingerprint dust was spread on everything I remembered him touching. I was then taken to a local hospital with a rape center. In the middle of the night, I was escorted down back hallways to a secluded part of the hospital. I was greeted by a male nurse who explained everything that was about to happen. I was striped of my clothes. I was examined and photographed. Every part of my body was measured and touched and examined. My insides and my outsides were photgraphed. They were looking for all evidence of trauma. I laid naked on an examine table being photgraphed, and I cried.  I broke again. 

As wonderful as the detective was who oversaw my case, and as gentle and compassionate as the nurse was who guided me through a fragile moment, I felt exposed all over again, but this was just the beginning. 

My rapist was arrested at school. Rumors began to fly. He was released on bond, and quickly began talking. I became the attacker in the eyes of gossip-driven, drama-hungry high schoolers. I was the girl who cried rape. People stopped talking to me. They whispered as I walked by. Then it got worse. People started threatening to beat me up after school. I was afraid to walk down the hallways alone. I broke again. 

It didn’t stop. With my rapist back at school, I saw him. I saw him everywhere. I broke every single day. 

It didn’t stop there. In the middle of his science class, he threatened to kill me. He threatened to come to school and shoot me. He was finally asked to not return to school, but the attacks didn’t stop. His friends still threatened me. His supporters still tormented me. 

I was broken. I was lost. 

The next year of my life I relived every moment as I navigated the legal system. I went to therapy. I tried to create a life for myself that had nothing to do with rape, but it found me everywhere. I met my college boyfriend, and people told him not to date me because I was the girl who cried rape. While working at the mall, my rapist would walk back and forth in front of my store. My rape was everywhere. It clung to me. I couldn’t get it off my body or out of my life. I was broken. 

A year later, his court date finally arrived. Since it was the state versus my attacker, I was a witness in the courtroom. This meant I wasn’t allowed to be present during the court case. I could only be in the courtroom to testify and for the verdict. While I waited outside, I imagined pictures of my vagina being shown to the court, my rapist and his supporters. I know pictures of the lesions inside my body were shown. They shared my bruises. They shared my blood. They stole more of my privacy. 

During my testimony, I was asked hundreds of questions that felt irrelevant and confusing. Everyone wanted to know details about Internet searches and my understanding of the Internet. For what felt like a hour, I was asked about instant messaging and how I saved conversations. When he apologized to me for raping me over instant messager, I saved it. This became a focal point. When his highly paid attorney asked me questions, he got closer and closer to me in the witness stand. At one point his foot was propped up on the step that lead to my chair. I don’t know what he asked. I couldn’t breathe. My rapist was staring at me, and his lawyer was inches from my face. 

I was broken. Our system is broken. 

His lawyer is well known around town. He’s expensive, and to criminals, he’s worth every penny. I didn’t have a lawyer. I was a witness in a crime against the state of Virginia. The district attorney who was in charge of my case quit before the trail. The new lawyer meet me for the first time minutes before court began. 

He was found not guilty. He confessed to the detectives when he was arrested. He confessed to me over a recorded conversation set up by detectives. He apologized over instant messager. He was found not guilty. 

I ran and I ran and I ran. Down every flight of stairs in the courtroom. I ran until I hit a deadend, and I fell on the floor. I cried. I was broken. 

No one tells you what to do next. No one picks you up and tells you it’s okay. No one said they believed me. 

At nineteen years old, I had a solid (yet small) group of believers. My side of the courtroom was filled with my family, my boyfriend, and my two best friends. They believed me. They were my champions. They held me together when every piece of me fell apart. 

It’s been eighteen years, one month and  two days since I was raped. I take pride in overcoming something so large and so traumatic. I’m proud of my strength. But as I read the story of the rape survivor over the weekend, I still felt broken. I cried with her, and when she rose up and used her voice to fight back, I cheered her on! I would be her champion. I would share her words and rally behind her. But something deep inside of me still felt broken. Maybe you never heal. Maybe all the pieces never get put back together. 

I need to be her champion, but I need to be my champion too. 


For years I’ve been afraid. I’ve been afraid to put my story on paper because people don’t believe, didn’t believe, or won’t believe me. I don’t want to be the girl walking down the hallway in high school that hears nothing but whispers and fears for her physical safety. 

But this is my story. This is my truth. 

I was raped. 

But I’m not broken. 

I’ve always wonder which break hurt the worst: being raped or reliving the rape for the year after and during the trial. The wounds may heal, but the scars last a lifetime. 

I still panic the moment I feel like I don’t have control of my body. I’m sensitive to touch. I still have nightmares. 

But I’m not broken. 

Rape changed me forever. It altered my life path, and it has impacted all my life choices. It’s part of who I am. It’s part of my story. 

But it’s my story. It’s my story to tell. For nearly five years, I’ve avoided it because I still let the story belong to him. I let the story belong to his supports. 

Today I’m taking my voice back. 

I beg you. Please stand with me. Rape doesn’t come in one size fits all. It looks like my story. It looks like the woman’s story who was raped in Princton. It looks like the story of the approximately 293,000 woman and men who will be raped this year. We are millions of people strong. We deserve to have a voice. We deserve to be heard. We owe it to our children to rewrite the script of rape in our society. 

Share my story. Share your story. Please keep this conversation going. 

Rape is something that happened to me, but it is not who I am. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a friend. I am strong. I am unbreakable. 

This is my story. 

Safety Net

“Listen–are you breathing just a little, and calling it life?” ~Mary Oliver 

The past month I’ve felt myself standing on unstable ground. I’ve felt alive. I’ve felt afraid. I’ve felt engaged. I’ve felt committed. I’ve felt lost. My thoughts have wandered down so many paths. 

When I made the decision to walk away from Operation Smile, a good friend wrote four questions on a piece of paper for me. I tucked them away into my journal knowing I’d revisit them when the timing felt right. Today was that day. Each of the questions is meant to guide your thoughts towards defining a life purpose. I let my thoughts wander some more. I wrote down everything. A common theme quickly emerged. 

Home. 

Engagement. 

Safety. 

Support. 

Love. 

These words kept finding there way to my paper. If you were to ask me what I want to be be when I grow up, my answer is simple and complicated. I want to be a safety net. I want to provide my boys a safe environment to explore, to succeed and to fail. I want to be there for Christian when he needs someone to catch him. I want to be someone people can count on to lift them back. 

As all these thoughts took shape on paper, there is one moment that came rushing back to me. 

Utah. 

My heart always wanders back to Utah. During our canyoneering adventure, Christian and I faced so many obstacles that have defined our marriage. This past month isn’t an exception. 

Later in the day on that life changing adventure, we approached the edge of a waterfall. There was one way down. We would lower ourselves using our own strength to get to the pool 30 feet below us. 

  
I was paralyzed. Taking a step down, trusting myself to support myself, froze me in tracks. I sat and stared. I cried. I couldn’t make my next step. In that moment Christian wanted to save me. He couldn’t. I needed to do this on my own. 

I don’t know how long I sat there. I don’t know what convinced me to take the first step. But I do know the fear that I felt. I do know the relief I felt when I made forward (or downward) progress. I do know the rush of satisification as my body was submerged in the pool below. 

 

My facial expersion: fear and relief
 
The past month I’ve been sitting on the edge paralyzed. 

As I filled my journal with words today my vision became clear. If I want to be a safety net, it has to start with myself. I have to catch myself. 

“…there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do —

determined to save

the only life you could save.”

~Mary Oliver

This journey has been messy and inspiring. It’s been confusing and reassuring. It’s reminded me of everything I already know. 

It’s time to start living it.