Why I’m afraid to run, walk or be alone in public

Trigger warning: If you have been assaulted/violated, this may trigger you.

I’ve never loved public transportation, my greatest fear was always that I was going to get off on the wrong bus stop and be lost. This was the early 2000’s, I had graduated high school a few years prior. Cellphones back then were not the smartphones of today. So getting lost always felt like a real danger, even if I was just going a few miles to the community college I was attending at the time.

What I wore that day is seared into my memory. I remember it was a black off the shoulder top, a denim skirt and black flip flops. I even remember what eye shadows I had on: Urban Decay Midnight Cowboy and Grifter. I was feeling cute, a rare moment of feeling good about myself. My self-esteem has always been shaky, at best. But on this rare day, I felt pretty.

The bus stop was not far from my house, 2-3 blocks. Most of it was in residential areas, you just crossed 1 main street to get to the stop. I lived in Whittier, a slice of suburbia in the San Gabriel Valley. In my immediate area, it felt like a safe neighborhood. I sat there at the bus stop, knowing me I was probably reading or on my phone. The large bus stop ads were to the right of me, so I didn’t see the car stop.

Suddenly, a man walked up to me. He said, “I just had to stop and tell you how beautiful you are.” I was polite and said, “Thank you.” He said, “Can I give you a hug?”. Alarm bells went off in my head, a hug? That’s clearly not a normal request for a stranger. I said, “No” I think he asked me again and still declined. He said, “Aw ok, well I just wanted to stop and tell you that” and walked away.

I was so relieved he was gone, maybe I started going through my backpack? That part gets fuzzy. But what I do know is that before I knew it was back and he grabbed my thigh and said something like, “Oh let me just get a little touch”. I grabbed his arm and said, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” He told me to calm down. I don’t remember what he said after that but I do know he walked away.

At this very moment, I am shaking after having written that. Shaking like someone who is terrified… and crying. A lot of my peace was absolutely shattered in that moment and it changed how I would operate in this world forever. What if I had let him hug me? What if I hadn’t grabbed his hand and showed him I was ready to fight back? WHAT IF, WHAT IF. What if I had just stayed home that day?! Was it my outfit?! Was it my makeup?! WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE IT?!

Everything after that moment is blacked out in my mind. I think I walked back home and called my sister Mercy. My mother at this time was in the hospital so telling anyone else felt like a burden. My sister ended up telling my father what happened, unbeknownst to me. But when he asked me about it and I told him what happened he basically said, “Oh, that was it? I thought it was worse. So you are ok?” Mind you, we are sitting in a hospital…my mom is very sick…and I don’t even know how to process this. I said I was ok, and that was that.

In that moment, unfortunately I fully metabolized, “It’s not that big of a deal”. So, as I did with most things in life, I sucked it up and soldiered on.

At the time I was actively keeping a daily livejournal. I wrote EVERYTHING in it. I was in a terrible relationship at the time, so when I’d write about really bad things I’d make the posts private and rant or cry away. I went back looking to see if I posted something when this happened, I didn’t. This was so shameful and dark I couldn’t even write about it to myself. And I wrote about some DARK stuff back then. But not this, this didn’t get to see any light. Shame 101.

Anytime I am tasked with being in public alone, I am terrified. I failed all my courses that semester because I could no longer get myself to ride the bus. It’s probably why I quit school eventually, as I could not consistently get myself to go to classes.   Every time I did go I would LITERALLY wear pants, a hoodie (EVEN in summer) and keep my backpack in front of me. I’d stare at every car that passed by to make sure it didn’t stop, I also never wore makeup.

Flash forward to me as a full fledged adult in 2016 getting a new job. A job that required me to take public transit because we have minimal parking. EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DAY was a struggle. Getting on that Metrolink felt like war, walking to work from the Metro station felt like walking through a warzone. I STILL only wore pants to work, I STILL wore hoodies, I still paid attention to every fucking male on that train/in the street and tracked their every fucking move. I walked with keys in my hands, ready to fuck up anyone. I also never wore headphones on the train or my walk…I needed to be 1000% alert.

If my friends were out for the day at work and Adam wasn’t available to talk to me through my entire walk on the phone, I would not go anywhere alone. I would eat out of vending machine if I happened not to bring my lunch. I’d rather eat a lunch of Doritos and a Snickers then put myself at risk walking alone. This is 2020, this is NOW. I wore a skirt to my current job once and a man on the street told me I looked pretty, I don’t think I ever wore one again until I started parking at work.

When I moved in with Adam, my need to take the metro stopped. But my need to walk to lunch or Trader Joes did not. My co-worker has invited me out so many times. But it literally takes so much mental strength to take an uber/train alone anywhere. And everytime I do, I am texting someone the entire time. Telling Adam, “I’m leaving now” so he can watch me on find my friends. I AM ON CONSTANT ALERT when I am alone.

I told myself if it ever happened again, I would scream, I would raise hell, I would stab the person. NO ONE was ever going to get away with violating me EVER AGAIN.

Until…someone did.

All my best laid plans were to protect me, in public, were to protect me from strangers. The boogeymen, the people lurking around corners and in the streets. I didn’t have a plan in place mentally for someone that I knew.

It was Thanksgiving 2019, I was somewhere I had been many times, with people I had been with many times. All guards were down, why would I need them?

Adam had stepped outside, but I was still in a room with 15+ people. They had just called us to take a group photo and I felt someone run their hand slowly across my ass. They said something to me before they did it, so I know who it was. I remember I just walked away and took the photo and smiled. I didn’t tell anyone, I acted perfectly normal, I was a guest in this persons house and it was fucking Thanksgiving. Once again I was left saying, “WHAT DID I DO TO DESRVE THIS” Once again, I no longer felt safe, it shattered me.

I kept it in for a few days until I finally told Adam what happened. I honestly didn’t want to but I also know enough about what happens with shame when it hides in the dark. It turns into an even bigger monster.

Even after I told him, I still could not shake the feeling that I had fucking failed myself. I HAD FAILED. This moment that I had been prepping for for over 15 year and I blew it. I fucking blew it, I didn’t scream, I didn’t yell I didn’t punch him in the fucking face. I walked away. I absolutely fucking failed myself. I had learned nothing.

If you knew how many times I’ve cried since this happened. If you knew how many times I have beat myself up for both these incidents…but mostly this one now. Because this time, I fucking knew better and I failed myself and all fucking women who have been through this.

I’m shaking less at the moment, but I am still crying.

We were once again talking about this, and Adam told me something that really, really resonated with me. I was once again beating myself up about not fighting back and he said, “Our natural instinct isn’t to automatically fight, we assess the situation and will usually choose to run before we choose the fight.” I’m well aware of what fight or flight is, but I hadn’t put it in that context. I wasn’t walking down a street or sitting at a bus stop, I was not in fight mode. So when it happened it went into flight and shock. That makes me feel like less of a failure.

If you have ever experienced anything like this, or worse, you are not alone. You are not stupid and this is not your fault. I can tell you that with 1000% conviction. But it’s a lot harder to say that to yourself as you look in the mirror, I’m also well aware of that.

This is why I don’t go running, or walking or do much of anything alone. Prior to last year I had gotten to a point where I could ONCE in a great while go for a walk/jog alone. But since this last incident transpired I’ve regressed. It will probably take me along time before I am able to attempt those things again.

Decades

I distinctly remember not that long ago listening to Prince’s “1999” and marveling that we were actually going into the year 2000. THE FUTURE.

Growing up teachers always made a big deal in my classes because we were the, “Class of 2000”, the first graduating class of the millenium. I distinctly remember telling my then best friend one day, “OMG we have a few more years here then it will be Jr. high, then high school then we are graduating!!” I was probably in 5th grade…yes ladies and gents I have been overthinking life ALWAYS.

So what lessons did I learn those first 10 years of the space age 2000’s?

There were harsh ones.. like being assaulted (grabbed) while waiting for a bus and subsequently not wanting to go to college anymore. Leaving an abusive relationship after 7 years. Watching my mom be diagnosed with a rare disease. And eventually starting a job I absolutely hated.

But there were beautiful ones too. Learning I was strong enough to leave a bad situation and eventually learning not everyone can do that. Immersing myself into music and meeting amazing people I’m still friends and some guy I live with now . 🙂 Having nights with my sister so wild and fun they could have easily been pulled right from “The Hills”. Taking my mental health seriously for the first time and visiting a therapist. Watching my mom reprioritze her life and leave so much anger behind.

I blinked and it was 2010. Literally blinked. This was supposed to be THE decade, the one where all the pieces came together and I lived my best damn life. Right?!

I lost my crazy nights, I traded them for 6 more years at the job I hated. Oh and my weekends too. But the most debilitating thing by far was loss. I lost my mom, I lost my sister I lost my entire way of being in this world and I spent the last half of this decade trying to recover. Trying to pick up the pieces and figure life out again. And in my heart of hearts I feel like I didn’t accomplish shit the past 5 years especially. I feel like I have been on pause and I’ve made very little forward motion. I feel like I failed. And it hurts…

I am hard on myself, it is my greatest curse. I am not where I want to be. But does that mean I’ve truly gone nowhere? My negative mind says, “YUP!”. That loud annoying voice that reminds me daily that I’m an introverted failure. “If you were just more like ____. “If you just acted a bit more outgoing/personable/friendly.” Oh and my favorite, “If you weren’t so anxiety filed maybe you’d actually HAVE a life.” That inner voice is great isn’t it?

So what have I done this decade?

I got a job at an amazing place and I wouldn’t have gotten it without having worked that job I hated. I learned how to drive. I fell in love with my longtime friend and I moved out of my house for the first time with him. I got medals for running races. I went to Maui, I went to Walt Disney World for the first time in my life, and then again! I became a Disneyland AP again because I realized my love of Disney far outlived and outweighed a relationship I didn’t care about anymore. I bought a guitar and learned how to play it. I stood on stage with my friends and backstage at some of the largest music festivals and the Hollywood Bowl. I got to experience things that many fans don’t get to see, ever. I was an honored guest at Disneyland and go to experience what it’s like to win a contest. I stood in the Disneyland hotel, free. I went to at least 12 concerts and countless live shows. There is probably more, probably a lot more, but that’s what comes to mind. Oh and Reggie, how can I forget Reggie.

I still look at that and my mind goes, “Well…you didn’t do anything important though.” *sigh* My mind will never let me be great. So I have to be great despite it.

My urge is to cap this off with a lot of positivity about the upcoming decade and how it’s going to be the best yet because I’m going to use all my knowledge from the previous ones. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I talk to much, I think to much, I need to just do it.

So instead, I’ll end this with an ask. I’ll ask that you be a little kinder with yourself and not look at yourself so harshly, because I assure you, you’re probably doing awesome. And I hope there is someone in your life that will tell you as such.

And if there isn’t, I’ll do it for you. It’s not as bad as you think, you’re going at your own pace in your own race. You’ll get where you need to go. You’ll find your way.

I will not break…I will not…

Do you just continuously do things that are bad for you? Make the decisions that put you facing the opposite direction of where you want to go? I totally do and it’s becoming more and more apparently to me.

I went through my February life coaching with Rachel Hollis and then revisited my January coaching again. I had listened to the coaching session live in January but had done so while I was working. I even took notes! But when it came to February was I was too busy to even listen so I had to go through the session over the weekend. I realized how much more impactful it was to actually just sit there and be a student vs trying to do 2 things at once. So, I re-listened my January course.

It was like I had never even listened to January! The way everything absorbed and hit me. I’m so glad I spent the two hours this weekend really focusing in on what Rach was trying to teach. But, it also made me realize that since January I had basically made NO movement toward my goal.

The first goal I’d like to work on is getting healthy and fit. I feel like it would be a gateway and a confidence booster for all my other goals. But in my Start Today journal this has been, “The first goal I’m going to accomplish..” since October. And I can sheepishly admit that I have made ZERO freakin’ progress towards this goal. Actually things have gotten worse because my gym membership expired in Feb..so now I don’t even have a gym to not go to!

This kind of ties in with February’s lesson and my biggest takeaway from that was that people don’t accomplish their goals because IT’S HARD. We all KNOW what to do we all know where to find the info/what the steps are to take but we don’t do it! This is SO true for me. Self-discipline is something I am apparently NOT good at. Another huge takeaway for me was anything good that has ever happened to you has probably been through your own effort (one way or another).

What made me write this? Well I decided to simply keep track of my calories today. And I realized that snacking is REALLY not helping any of my efforts. It has made me conscious of how many calories those delicious smores girl scout cookie sitting about a foot and a half away from me actually are. AND YET I am sitting here dying to snack on more.

This is not about cookies and calories though, this is about me constantly letting myself off the hook to the commitments I make to myself. (Rachel also touches upon that in “Girl Wash Your Face”.) But this is exactly why I have not made any movement towards my goal since October and before. And I don’t just do this with food I also do this with finances and even some relationships. “Let it slide…I’ll do it next time…next month…next year…” Next, next, next until 2020 rolls around and I still have the same goals. I’m paying for this coaching but I need to take action and use it.

If I tell myself I’m only going to have two cookies I need to just have those two cookies. I could have saved one and ate it later..but I didn’t. It’s about keeping promises to myself and to yourself. But obviously I have not figured out a magical way to do that at the moment. Hence my struggle.. Though I must admit, writing this out and putting it in my own face has squashed my craving quite a bit.

I think everyone has an area in their life where they KNOW they should be doing differently and they don’t do it. Because it’s just so easy to say, “I’ll do it next time…” I don’t think self-punishment or negative self talk is the answer to this either. How do you deal with this? What have you done to navigate around your weak points? I should have set myself up to win last Friday and not bought the cookies in the first place. But I can’t go back in time…so I can only do better in the future. So that is what I’m really, really, no REALLY, going to try and do.

Maybe I need to improve on keeping promises to myself more than even fitness and health?? Maybe that should be my first goal.

Setting my sights on the future: My experience with Warby Parker

I had looked at Warby Parker frames online before and they also came highly recommended by my co-worker Kate. Their prices also seemed REALLY reasonable. So I decided to visit their store in Glendale, CA.

Let me start of by saying that my vision is pretty bad. I wear glasses every waking hour…unless I happen to be wearing contacts or taking a photo. So you’d think that I would have put a lot of thought into an accessory that I’m wearing constantly… you’d be wrong.

I have been putting off getting a new pair of glasses, literally (this is not an over exaggeration) 3-4 years. My last 2 visits to the optometrist have been shitty.  I had to separate doctors that were rude and left me feeling pretty crappy.

I literally didn’t like my glasses from the moment I picked them up with my prior optometrist. I was trying to get something, “different” but somehow I picked a frame that did not go with my personality/style. For the next 3-4 years I had glasses I literally hated, this didn’t make me feel good in any regard. Maybe I picked them in a hurry because I just wanted to get it over with?

 

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So alas, every year would pass and every month I’d say, “I’ll do it next month, I’ll make an appointment next week” and time would pass and I still wouldn’t do it. But then, 2019 rolled around and I’m REALLY trying to make some changes in how I feel about myself. And this terrible accessory/necessity on my face did NOT fit that bill.

So a few weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk and I said, “F*ck it” and I picked an optometrist simply based on them taking my insurance and being 1 mile from my work. I am happy to say that my experience with this doctor was GREAT. She was super nice and even explained why the visits can be difficult for me. Because my vision is pretty bad it’s hard for me to decipher the nuances when they are trying to pinpoint the prescription. The, “Is 1 or 2 better?” part. That other doctor I went to just made me feel inept because it wasn’t easy for me.

SO, battle 1 was complete. But now onto the war…finding glasses I actually LIKED.

I had looked at Warby Parker frames online before and they also came highly recommended by my co-worker Kate. Their prices also seemed REALLY reasonable. So I decided to visit their store in Glendale, CA.

I found two frames I loved at a base price of $95. Hallie and Oliver were the two designs I settled on. I have NEVER owned two pairs of glasses at the same time but if I was really got to look at this as an extension of my style..then I needed options!

The “Oliver” frame is a smaller frame with a low bridge fit (it does come in regular too) and even though polycarbonate lenses come standard with Warby Parker, because of my high prescription, I had to opt for “high index lenses”. This was basically to insure that the lense wouldn’t be thick and stick out of the frame a ton. That was only $30 extra.

The “Hallie” frame I picked was much larger however, so even a high index lens wouldn’t have been enough to keep the frame thin. So I had to get a “Ultra high index” lenses. That added an additional $130 to the base price. This really gave me pause, especially because you only need one pair of glasses. But I really am set on feeling better in my lenses and less stuck, so I bit the bullet and bought the Hallie frames as well.

This is where things…get a little strange and where my Warby Parker experience took a little dip.

So I pick the glasses, they do all the measurements I pay for them and walk out the store. Super excited that I FINALLY did this! They send all their glasses in the mail, so I didn’t even have to worry about coming back to pick them up. They took all my info including my email and phone number. (Remember that for later.)

We were sitting next door having dinner at Shake Shack and I looked at the account of the card I used because it happened to be a new card. There was no charge, not even an attempt at a charge or a verification of the card. I thought it was strange but shrugged it off, at my job we wait to charge CC’s until a certain point in the day. SO, I thought maybe Warby Parker had a similar system. I happily ate my chicken shack and didn’t worry about it.

SO, we go to Target after and at some point I look at my email and I have an email from the Warby Parker store saying that my card was declined…huh? It’s literally a brand new card. They had already closed at that point but said that I could call tomorrow and give them a new card. I said ok, but I was still bummed, I thought this task was FINISHED.

So the next morning I look and the store opens at 11am. So at 11:15 I’m calling the number that is given for the Glendale store. Only..it sends me to corporate. There is NO way for anyone to call the actual store. Whomp whomp.

Oh, with my email they said they made me an account. And I had even logged into that account when I was sitting in Shake Shack. So, the guy I get on the customer service line asks me for my account email and I give it to him. Then he says, “There is no transaction on here do you have another email?” I said, “No, that’s the one I gave”

Guys my transaction DISAPPEARED into thin air. This lovely man even went transaction by transaction at the store and couldn’t find it. He found the prescription they had entered on my account..but NOTHING else. So poof, my order was gone.

Luckily the lady who had emailed me from the store had mentioned the style names in said email, because I would have NEVER remembered which ones I picked. After like 20 minute search the guy said we could just place the order again on the phone. So we did just that and he was even nice enough to give me a $30 credit for the wackiness.

I know a lot about CC transactions and charging CC’s because that’s what I do all day at work. Guys, that transaction, for some reason was never entered. My card was also never charged initially, because if it had been and had ACTUALLY declined the transaction would have still existed. There was nothing wrong with my card, they lost the transaction somehow at the store and then blamed me. (??) If the order would have went through they would have had my number to call me too.

Ok, so back to the phone order. I get the email confirming my order with an ACTUAL order number (didn’t get that before either) and then to my horror I realize the guy selected the wrong style of frame!

Warby Parker has a HALEY and a HALLIE frame. So when I said Hallie he selected Haley. I even told him the frames I wanted were blue! DOH. So I had to call Warby Parker right back, again, and get them switched.

Finally after the second call..the order was placed! *does happy dance*

I placed the phone order on Super Bowl Sunday February 3rd and I recieved my glasses this past Tuesday on February 19th. They said the longest they’d take would be delivery on the 22nd, so I was ok with that.

 

So how do I like them? I have to say, I love them!! Through all the hoops it was so worth it to finally do this for myself! This is a very strange form of self-care and I am so here for it! I no longer groan when I see my glasses and I would happily give my old pair a viking funeral.

 

So through all that, how do I feel about Warby Parker?

Even though I hit some strange bumps in the road both of the customer service members I spoke to were AMAZING. They were so sweet and very apologetic. I have a feeling this isn’t a common occurrence and more then likely you wouldn’t have to deal with that hoopla if you went to a Warby Parker store. I’ll go out on a limb and say I was the exception not the rule.

The only other thing that kind of sucks about getting them in the mail is that if they need to be adjusted, and mine do, you either have to take them back to the store or another place that sells glasses that’ll adjust them for you.

With all that said I would totally buy glasses from Warby Parker again. I think their frames are stylish and super affordable. Especially if your prescription isn’t as strong as mine, they’re really inexpensive too! I can’t wait until my Haliee’s are adjusted so I can wear them! But my Oliver’s have been awesome too.