When All Goes Dark

“You are so brave and quiet I forget you are suffering.”

Ernest Hemingway

Hey hey, 

If you’re here for the first time, please check out the post before this one titled “Beginnings” and it will catch you up to my story up until this point. I will go ahead and say that this is not going to go into all of the details of the issues contained here. There are a lot of them. I will go into a lot of this after my story has been caught up to this moment and talk about the individual issues/incidents/stories. I just feel like it is important to tell my story as it happened chronologically. I’ll pick this post up where the last left off. 

When things seemed to be spiraling out of control, I had one adult that reached out to me. She was my English teacher and she noticed that I had been falling asleep in class. She had known me for a few years by now and knew my usual demeanor had changed. My mom must have told her that I was having night terrors too. She took me aside and allowed me to just open up about the stress of school and how anxious I was. I never did mention that the assaults never stopped or that I was self-harming. But, this conversation set up a safety line for me. I trusted her with a small part of my life and she helped me regain a little control over my life. I felt safer when she was around. She noticed me and she noticed my change of behavior. This meant that not all adults were against me. 

The following summer was the best two weeks ever. Yes, my summer vacation started and ended very fast when I became very ill. It took about three weeks of me being sick to finally put together that I was bitten by a tick. I had Lymes disease. The disease was so far advanced that it permanently damaged some of my body and made it so I spent the rest of the summer inside. My mom brought me to the school because she had to work. I spent a lot of time running the halls and sitting in closets reading Harry Potter so I could catch up before the next book was released. 

Even though my summer was spent in confinement, I was excited for school to start. I was going to be a high schooler. Since I was the only one in my grade, I moved up into the sophomore/junior classes. I had some separation from the boy that tormented me. I no longer had the latin teacher (he was fired). I was in class with my best friend. My favorite teacher was my teacher for most of my classes. I began to relax and enjoy school more. Slowly, I stopped using self-harm as a way to cope with life. It wasn’t an intentional choice to stop. I just needed that coping mechanism less. 

This fragile sense of safety was shattered one day when Tyler decided to repeat the slide-incident except this time, it was in front of a lot of people. He choked me with a jump rope. I was mortified. Everyone saw. Surely, I did something to cause him to act like that because he did it again. And he did it in the middle of a school event. Teachers reported his behavior. Then, he and I were shut into a room with the school administrator. He read me the worst apology note ever. Then the administrator told us to “hug it out”. (There is a lot wrong with this, but for now, I’ll just tell it how it happened.) His mom just said “Boys will be boys.” and that is when I learned how dangerous that statement is. 

The following year was set up much the same, but Tyler was now sharing classes with me again. I stuck very close to the adults in my life. Even though the previous situation was far from resolved, at least there were some repercussions. I was so tired of being my own security. I was exhausted from being hyper-vigilant. I began to act out in class and I was disinterested in school. Life was spiraling. I was constantly teased for one reason or another. Then, the teasing became hazing. 

I was hyper-vigilant so scaring me was easy and I had severe anxiety so I overreacted to everything. This entertained my classmates. They’d throw things or come up behind me and yell. I’d jump or start crying which was an overreaction to be sure. All that was happening beyond what they could see was eating away at me. The other students would steal things and hide them and watch as I would frantically try to find the missing item. Sometimes it was something important, like my Bible, (who steals a Bible?!?) or something small like my favorite pencil. Either way, this on top of the psychological warfare going on in my head added to the lack of safety I felt in my school every day. I will talk about this later, but in case you aren’t around for that, I’ll say this now: Be careful how you treat someone, you don’t know what is going on under the surface. An overreaction to a small infraction or joke could be a sign that the person is not in a good place. So, try to be aware of this. 

I felt like I wanted to scream my thoughts to anyone who would listen. But even the thought of someone asking if I was alright, I’d fade into a puddle of tears. I was afraid someone would ask me how I was because I didn’t know how long I could keep up the lies. I had to lie because I felt that all that was going on was just me being sensitive or I was overreacting. Often, this pent up anxiety presented itself as a moody teenager who would swing from high to low emotions. More often than not, I felt absolutely numb. I reverted back to my self harm and it was worse than ever. 

If I thought my life was burning then, it became an absolute forest fire in just a matter of a day. It was a cold February Friday. I was sent to go set the gym up for basketball practice. Our gym was in a separate building from the rest of the school. I walked outside and noticed Tyler was behind me. I thought he would turn right and go to the classrooms. I checked behind me. He didn’t turn. I had never felt fear quite like that before. I felt like I was going to pass out. My hearing was muffled and I was nauseous. I started running towards the gym. If I could reach the door before him, I could lock him out. But, of course, I fell on the ice right in front of the door. I fell hard enough to leave a gash that is still evident by the scar on my left knee. This fall is the reason he caught up to me, but I think it also played another part. 

Tyler pushed me inside and pinned me up against the wall. I tried to fight him and I remember saying “Do not touch me!” over and over. He choked me. I think the assault would have gone farther than just him putting his hand up my skirt and him pulling down his zipper. I can’t say why it didn’t. He finished. My knee was bleeding by now and the blood was everywhere. He ran off, presumably to try to get the blood off of his pants. If someone had found us together, there’d have been no way he could deny it. I crumpled on the floor. I remembered that basketball practice was starting soon and I didn’t want anyone to see me. I got up and walked off.

I can’t imagine what my coach thought when she walked into the gym and did not find me or my tasks done. But she did find a smear of blood on the concrete floor. I had walked to my classroom. My teeth chattered out of pure shock. And I felt so ashamed for what happened. It was an instant reaction, shame. I felt I had done something to cause what had happened. I didn’t fight hard enough or something. I didn’t turn and run back to the school. I blamed myself. 

I thought that just maybe a teacher would find me and know what happened without me having to say. A teacher did find me sitting on the floor. I am not sure how this teacher didn’t realize that my “I fell while running” excuse was a lie. This teacher was nice. But she was not an observant person. I had blood on my socks from my knee. I was missing buttons on my shirt. My skirt was twisted and I had a handmark on my throat. She did not notice that I, clearly, did not cause most of my injuries. I just kept saying,“I fell “ over and over. I got cleaned up by the nurse and went home. I swore I wouldn’t tell anyone. I didn’t know how to tell anyone. I thought I was overreacting because it wasn’t “actual” rape. I had no understanding that sexual assault in any form is wrong or that there are different degrees of sexual assault. 

I felt shameful and fearful. I did not trust the adults to handle the assault. I told no one until I was twenty two. I did become so depressed that I somehow came down with strep throat and the flu in one weekend. I did not return to school for a month. During the month, there was some suggestion that I had become depressed. I was found out in the snow in below freezing weather one day. I don’t know how long I had been out there. All I remembered was feeling feverish and wandering out to the yard in my shorts. I didn’t want to die. But I also wasn’t opposed to the idea. This was the first attempt at suicide. The next attempt, I woke up on the bathroom floor with the worst headache I’ve ever had. 

At this point, my parents noticed that their once bright, kind, and loyal daughter was not any of those things anymore. I lied about small things and hid most of my life from them. They had found me outside that day and truly thought I had hallucinated and walked myself out there. I am so thankful now that I was unsuccessful and that no one found me after those attempts. Just a year later, I would learn that my suicide attempts failed for a reason. 

I’ll pick up again in the next post. This post has been a difficult one to write so it’s taken a bit to post and it might take a bit to refocus and continue the story. As always, I appreciate you reading my story.

xoxo, Cait

Beginnings

“Every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

-Aslan, Chronicles of Narnia. C.S. Lewis

Hello fellow humans and possibly pets/inanimate objects that are being forced to listen to this because their human is on quarantine reading out loud,

Well, I told myself I would only mention quarantine once. So, we’re done with that. Welcome to my first official blog posting. I hope you feel welcome here. (I didn’t mean for that to come out with such a Pelle-Midsommar vibe) I figured I should start from the beginning or overall story of my life. I will be posting this in parts because it’s long. I will break down certain things in the following posts. This is just a general story. It isn’t always pleasant to become this exposed in a way that really makes you reflect on your life, so here it goes. 

I was always a wild and sweet kid. I was painfully quiet around people I didn’t know and I was often afraid of adults. The wild side that I had was more of an adventurous spirit with little fear of trying new things. I was always brandishing skinned knees from falling off my bike and a freckled nose from being in a pool all summer long. My fingers were usually stained with markers or paint while I furiously created something. My shyness and anxious spirit found a way to express my thoughts on paper. I had a good childhood. 

This was until my teacher solidified my fear of adults. I was in third grade and my teacher found some sort of twisted pleasure in embarrassing small children. Often, students related her to be more of a Ms. Trunchbull from Matilda. My usually quiet nature became more anxious and unhappy. My parents made the decision to put me in a new private Christian school. 

My first year at the school was definitely a new adventure. I began to grow into more of a communicative child. I had teachers that loved to teach and loved their students. Some days were better than others. That first year was a good one. 

My parents enrolled me in summer camp. This camp was a constant in my life from there on out. I loved it there and still do. The most important event that happened there was my acceptance of Christ. My camp counselor introduced me to a simple story of Romans 8 and I accepted Christ in the middle of the Appalachian foothills next to a bonfire. 

Unfortunately, I was approaching middle school by this point. Fortunately, I had Jesus. My story goes a little backwards. Most people accept Christ after they go through some sort of tragedy. Faith is a relationship. It changes. Faith’s journey never looks the same for everyone. 

I had never put much thought into boys and I wasn’t interested in them by the time I reached 6th grade. They were loud and usually had some sort of body odor. One day, my best friend, Bailey, and I were sitting at the top of the double slide watching her sisters while all of our parents were in faculty-staff meetings at school. Some of the other faculty-staff kids were around too. One boy running around, named Tyler, would always pull my hair or tease me whenever he could. I avoided him. As Bailey and I were talking, Tyler put his uniform belt around my neck and pulled. I gasped and started elbowing him. Bailey ran to get help. While we were alone, he started to rub himself. I noticed this and began to panic more. I broke free and somehow managed to knee him in the rib cage as I stood up. That was the only part that the teacher saw. My explanation was null because “no matter what others do, you can control your behavior.”. This is true in some situations. But, I was physically fighting to get away from him after he hurt me. I didn’t know then that it had a name: sexual assault. But, nevertheless, it continued with similar incidents because he got away with it. Tyler would flick my uniform kilt from behind. He grabbed my bra strap and snapped it in class. He even managed to choke me one more time. Each and every incident was shrugged off by the adults. Teachers said “boys will be boys”. My parents were tired of fighting and told me to avoid him. His parents seemed proud that their son “had a crush” on a girl. (Annnnd this is how sexual offenders are made. More on that later.)  

I firmly agreed that I would be in control of my body. This control came at a cost though. The cost was an anxious, depressed, twelve year old with a seriously bad habit of self harming. I felt unworthy and afraid. I had a latin teacher who actually despised “women” as he told us in class. He threw staplers and other inanimate objects when we mixed up our endings. I couldn’t trust adults and I couldn’t trust my classmates. How could I trust God? I struggled with where my faith fit into all of this. I trusted no one but myself.

This is where I will end part one. I will post part two soon and continue the story. As I mentioned above, this is just the overview of the story. I will have more posts following the completed story that get into it a bit more. I hope you return to part two!

Love, Cait

Introduction to B&W

Hey, Hey!

My name is Cait. Yes, this is a pen name. Yes, this is all that I want to share with my public blog for now. I am using a pseudonym so please remember throughout the blog all of the names and places will be concealed as well.

I have always been told ‘Cait, you should write a book’ about my witty stories and wild adventures. While this blog will contain some of those fun stories, it will also contain some parts of me and stories that aren’t ready for the world to know they belong to me. This is where I will collect those stories so that maybe one day I will publish them with my full real name attached.

In my other tabs you can explore the reasons I named my blog what it is. But, if you haven’t ventured that far yet, here’s the fast version. Bookends hold books together and keep them from falling off the shelf. Bookends are flexible storage. Meaning their use is able to be rearranged. No matter how many books I seem to collect on my shelf, the bookend never complains. It always leaves just enough space for the newest book. I am a textiles student. Warp ends are the yarns in a fabric that run vertically. They must be perfectly spaced with precise tension so that the weft (filling) yarns can weave in-between them. They play a critical role. They allow designs and patterns to be made while every row is different, the warp yarns are constant.

To me, Christ is that bookend. He holds my chapters together and stabilizes my life. He is also very much in my tapestry. Everyone has heard the story of the yarn that by itself seems to be useless. But, in a tapestry you can follow it and see the bigger design. Christ is that for me. I can make designs and see the row I am working on. But unless He guides where my filling yarns go, the grander tapestry does not make a pattern or design.

My textile or tapestry has it’s dark rows that are woven into my life. Those dark chapters where I need the bookends to stabilize are going to be recorded here.

Now, before you start to follow my blog, please note that there is a CW/TW (Content Warning/Trigger Warning) in my ‘about me’ tab. My story has a past of anxiety, depression, self-harm, panic attacks, suicide, and sexual assault. If you don’t feel like you’re in the right head space, maybe skip my blog for now. Maybe you want to keep reading. That’s alright! Just find some accountability. Read it with a friend or have a friend check up on you after you’ve read so that you can decompress. Remember, triggers and alarms in our head are not always bad. They signal us to be on-guard or to remove ourselves from a situation. Listen to them and respect them. (Go read The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker and you’ll find more information about triggers and our natural fears.)

But, for now, you are welcome here and I hope you enjoy my blog and decide to stay here with me for a bit.

Love, Cait