5 Things We Forget We Are Thankful For

5 Things We Forget We Are Thankful For

A time we can reflect and be thankful for all of the amazing gifts we have been given throughout the whole year

It's Thanksgiving and the time of year when we stuff our face with calorie dense food and celebrate the love of family. It's a time we can reflect and be thankful for all of the amazing gifts we have been given throughout the whole year. Typically, every year, my family goes around the table and says something we are extremely thankful for from this year.

Of course, the most common things we are thankful for are our families, friends, pets and our faith; but, we often forget these 5 things to be thankful for.

1. Education

We are so lucky to live in a country where education is a privilege! There are so many children in other countries who are denied the opportunity to learn. We have the ability to read and pursue our dream careers, all because as United States citizens, we are granted the right to learn.

2. Dressing accordingly to the weather

Around the world, some countries are not as lucky to put on a heavy snow jacket when it's cold or shorts and tank tops when it gets hot in the summer. We have the ability to chose what we wear, based off our own personal style, and dress for whatever weather is coming our way.

3. The Internet

Living in the US is awesome because we are a progressive nation, we get to stay ahead of the time and hop online to google, watch tv or play on our social media accounts.

4. Our sense of smell

We can enjoy the aroma of our favorite foods, beautiful flowers and a clean house.

5. Yourself

You've been given the beautiful gift of life and made perfectly imperfect in the image of God. Nowadays self-criticism comes so much easier than self-praise and it's important to love yourself and everything that goes along with it.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and don't forget to count your blessings everyday, big or small!

Cover Image Credit: Google Images

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On Hiding From An Assaulter Who Refuses To Admit His Crimes

Terrifying, life-altering, devastating, sad and unchangeable are all words that come to mind when I think of my life post-rape.

At least once every few minutes, it's constantly in the back of my mind. That being: checklists and safety procedures. In other words, hiding from a predator.

In high school, I began to have a penchant for psychology, most specifically, the abnormal kind. I found it fascinating as did I the characters in movies like who Glenn Close played in "Fatal Attraction" and Jennifer Jason Leigh in "Single White Female."

I watched these movies spellbound over the psychological complexities that were truly so disturbing, yet at the same time, magnetic.

How can someone act like this? What makes someone that way?

Luckily, my closest brush with these types of personas was only in film, but then I got to experience several up close and in real life. Although my family of origin was a breeding ground for personality disorders and dysfunction, I still had never seen a truly disturbing example. Perhaps, they made me jaded that no one could truly impress me with their dysfunction; I'd seen it all, or so I thought.

I really hadn't seen it all to where I found myself in a situation where my antenna had never shot up so terrified and alarmed. Within the first few seconds, before I was assaulted, I'd never had such a horrid feeling come over me that said, "You're in deep trouble here." It was what one police officer described online in regards to sexual assaults as,"Every rape attack that I've known of had it's 'Oh shit!-moment.'" And she was right, that was mine, although I didn't really pair it with assault when it occurred.

Every real survivor of rape experiences it; it's when suddenly we are in a position where the throttle has been drastically pushed to full-steam ahead and we realize,"Oh shit! What's going on here?" There's hardly time to react to that because at that moment it's mostly just too late. You've been drugged, trapped, compromised, overpowered, jumped on, lept at, or forced to the ground, and you know the only avenue on the mind of the person doing this to you is sex, whether you want to or not. That is the predetermined requirement to an "Oh shit!-moment."

At that junction, I distinctively recall checking out of my body. I put myself out of my head because I knew that what was going to happen was not what I wanted, and I bravely assumed it would be over quickly. I thought,"This man wants to have sex with me, and he's being very persistent. He is not taking no for an answer. I might as well do what he wants so I can go."

Reasonable? Sensible? Well, no. That was just my way of getting by and surviving. That was the same attitude I had every time I went home for the holidays or for any family event, "Take a deep breath and check out if you must. But you just need to hold your breath till you get through it."

Sadly, that defense mechanism only made it that much easier to be raped, because I knew all too well how to endure, how to shut up, and how to get through a bad experience without making so much as a whisper or complaint. That made me the perfect candidate for: him, my rapist. That made me the ideal victim, regrettably, and I did not know it. I got a rude awakening when the brutal encounter lasted well into the early morning hours. I'd never been through something so devastating sexually-speaking. I was shifted, tossed, ordered, moved, bent, ushered, prodded, and violated. It was like some terrible dress rehearsal. What surprised me was how my attacker never seemed to stop.

He never grew tired or expressed any thoughts. His mind seemed intent on repeatedly contacting me like a drug, and he couldn't get enough of it. I remember laying perfectly still waiting for the time to run out. After long enough, I recall laying there looking at the ceiling and feeling tears bubble up under my eyelids. The warm swells were making their way as I stared ahead at the ceiling. A wave of sorrow was brewing, but I ceased it from unleashing full force. "I'm not that experienced," I thought, "Maybe this is just how some people do this."

I held those tears back, while my eyes turned red, "Don't let him see you cry. That's what he wants. Don't let him see how much this hurts you." So like a champ, I kept a brave and stoic face. Eventually, the ordeal would be over and swept under the rug. He'd apologize, it all would have been some miscommunication or misunderstanding, and life would go back to normal.

Little did I know that my life would never ever go back to normal after what happened to me. There was no more normal. It was gone, erased, annihilated into tiny bits of metal that blew out over the entire galaxy. It was a rape that lasted a long time, but it's impact was going to last with me forever, and it only got worse.

Once I realized that this man, this psycho, was, in fact, a really scary guy, I felt snagged on a rusty nail. I couldn't just walk away now that he had seen my intimate side. This was the side that I rarely showed to anyone. It was deeply personal to me, as I am deeply personal about my body and sex. What if he told everyone I was just some slutty girl who he had a wild time with? I couldn't allow that because that would have broken my heart.

I stayed past that point because of the ache, fear of exposure, humiliation, and damage to my reputation should I have just walked away never understanding it. Needless did I know, that once I was raped by this type of guy, that my worst nightmare was bound to happen either way. Whichever road I took, I was screwed because I was never getting back what he had taken, and he was never going to get caught. Whatever direction I committed to, I would be hurt.

When I confronted him shortly afterward I told him, "I didn't come over here to have sex with you," as his response left me dead inside. He responded,"You said that you wanted it," and that nearly killed me. Why? Because I was too terrified to ever say that to any man. I still have yet to ever say that. It took enormous strength for me to ask a man to make love to me once, yet my rapist was going to say that to my face when I knew that no drug in the world could ever make me say something I'd never say to a man I barely knew.

The only way I'd ever tell a man that I wanted sex, is if I were in love with him, and I didn't love my rapist. Even if I did love a man, I probably would not have used those words. Because, if I had wanted sex with a man, he would have known in more ways than one. He would have known by the way I moved, by the words I said, and by the fact that my eyes never once teared up because I was in pain. A man I loved would have known that and at least asked me if I was OK or if he were hurting me. Most of all, a man I loved would have stopped when he saw me in agony.

I also knew that because I took that deep breath, that I basically said not one word. I didn't utter one syllable throughout the ordeal. There are some things people will say that will blow your mind and when they try to overshadow the worst night of your life with peppered lies to your face that you know are absurd and false, it hurts in so many ways, the worst of which, was how utterly fabricated and fluent of a liar he was. Horrifying was the fact that the worst thing that ever happened to me barely registered a response from him, the culprit. Whereas I saw my life as no turning back, he was so happy; he was hungry. I couldn't even feel hunger, in fact, my stomach all but shut down after that.

One thing that I had to learn about being raped initially was the mere fact that what he said to me was so innately untrue because I knew who I was in that regard. He didn't know me in that way and most of all, he didn't care to. At that moment, he was like a salesman trying to sell me a red popsicle while I wore white gloves. However, what he said did distract me from the fact that these are exactly the types and kinds of things that rapists and abusive people knowingly say to the people they rape and abuse whether or not they really resonate with them.

Maybe they think, "She won't remember if she said this or not." Maybe they think,"She might believe this if I tell her it happened." But what my rapist didn't know was what was going on in my brain at the time. And what he was trying to say was that although my memories are of completely checking out, being so scared, unable to move or speak, and trying my hardest to make sure I didn't cry in front of him, all he heard or what he chose to reiterate back to me was how I supposedly claimed to have wanted that. Did he just happen to miss my eyes pooling with tears? Did he miss the dazed look on my face when I refused to speak to or look at him? Maybe he thought that all of that meant I wanted it so bad, but in truth, even the best criminals cannot convince themselves of that based on all of the facts. They dismiss them to ignore them and line over them all with lies that make the brutality of what they did, not seem so barbaric.

If a girl is visibly or audibly objecting then they can't deny it, but if she is silent, they have a way of filling that silence with the perspective that they had, as a rapist. So everything one would hear from him about that catatonic moment was that even though she wasn't actively crying, shouting, or fighting, she wanted it to happen, and her silence would then be manipulated into some perversely-constructed consent that only the rapist heard or saw. How convenient for him.

Maybe he could convince other stupid people of that while leaving out key points. Because let's face it, it is not sexy bragging to your friends that you roofied a girl you barely knew so you could assault her. Oh and let's not forget to mention how he completely tricked and lied to her by pretending to be a seriously interested guy just so he could pull this off. He omits the roofie and inserts some fairytale phrase that never occurred. That's how they manage to evade the law and hurt the people they consume.

Maybe I would have just walked away and had to live with the shame of not getting any of it. If I hadn't tried to get to the bottom of things, I wouldn't have gotten to know the man who did it, not that that was a pleasure; it was more of a nightmare. I think the choice resided somewhere in thinking that even if I had tried to get help, that no one would have helped me in the ways that I required. So, I tried to understand the way his mind worked, thinking that I could handle it and yes, somewhere smugly in the back of the mind, I thought I could trick him or guilt him into giving up something he had done wrong. I thought that eventually, he'd feel so guilty about what he'd done that he would tell me the truth. After all, that is what decent guys do.

But he didn't. Instead, it became more and more clear to me that he had planned this event all along. He had premeditated what happened and not only that, he was proud of his efforts and culmination. He couldn't help but boast about it and brag to his friends. But what was he saying to them? That I went over there and demanded what happened? That was far from the truth when the truth was so far from me.

I can no longer prove that he drugged me, but I learned that he likely did. Then, that has to really settle in as I go back and transport myself to those times where I sat stunned or traumatized and all the while he danced around, ecstatically. He carried on in such a cocksure way that at the time made me feel so much worse. Realizing the truth brought it to an extra bad level of evil. It's like he murdered someone and then danced on their grave directly in front of the mourners because he never got caught.

Once you survive a person and endeavor like that, it will never end because the truth that matters most to him and men like him, is planning stuff that they know is illegal, doing it with the foresight to know what to say and do to make it happen and lastly, to be sure that nothing ever comes back to them. That means that the single most important thing to him is not being called out or caught ever. If he went to all of those lengths to commit that crime and others, what makes anybody think he doesn't have an even bigger plan for keeping it under lock and key for life. If there is one thing that might terrify this man and his cronies more at this point in time is being found out or having one of them or someone they know rat them out. I'm sure he's much too busy threatening people who might know something or bribing them with money to care about trying to stop me.

You see he's been trying to stop me since the morning I woke up post-assault. He bought me breakfast as he whistled a happy tune. I sat in silence staring ahead at a wooden fence for what had been several minutes. It occurred to me that my face was blank when I had to get myself to snap out of it.

Since then, my life has been deliberately in hiding. When other people post cute photos of themselves on social media, I just sigh and know that I'm special because if I do that then I'll attract attention from the wrong sorts of humans. When other people go on vacations and trips to other cities, I sigh and know that I can't go because I never know who is going to be there and if there is a danger in me going there alone. When other people get their jobs and post about them online, I think, "That's great, but I cannot even mention the name of my employer online without being afraid that somehow the man who terrorized me won't try and contact them with information meant to cause me further harm."

I'm not sure what he does, but he made it clear that he had his ways. I know his ruthlessness is unending. He's like those characters in those movies that acted so extreme and so pathological that I wondered how anyone could live like that. That is why I am constantly speculating how my predator can live like he has.

Who could have planned something like that and been so utterly convinced that they would get away with all of it? Who thinks like that? How can someone like that survive in this world?

It blows my mind wide open and most of the time, I am still aghast with wonder how evidently evil people can walk with the rest of us while those they harmed seem unable to get a fair shake or attempts at justice. It's almost like he laughs at my efforts to get some accountability because he knows that the majority of us survivors lose that battle. We never get our day and as long as he has what he has, he can do what he needs to do while attempting to take every resource away from me.

"What? Does he finally now realize that he picked the wrong girl? Did he seriously think I'd ever give up?" The only wrong calculation he made was assuming I was weak-willed and would never put two and two together. He knew if he had slipped any of this information back then, when it was more credible, that I would have gone for help immediately.

So, he deliberately hid it; he hid it all, meanwhile he doused me with insults that I was stupid and dumb. "Really? If I was so stupid and dumb, then how come you didn't just tell me the truth?" A dumb person would have said, "OK!" A smart person would have gotten upset and low and behold that is where I am now that I've realized the truth. That being, "You lied to me, you robbed me, you deceived me, you used me, and you expect me to say that is just fine? It's not fine because unlike what you scary men do to women and others around you to make rape seem conventional by lying about the ways things transpire, that's also the flip side of the truth that decent men know of. You cannot get to where you are without having grossly lied about everything and when you lie to that extreme while overshadowing the life of an innocent person, that is bound to make them pissed off and angry. That's what really healthy people do."

The worst thing about this was using that deep-seated trauma that you intentionally inflicted on me to warp several stories around into your version of a fictitious reality, when the reality was what you made happen and how you did it by abusing an injured person. Don't forget that the principle injury was inflicted by you as well.

He probably sees DJT as a role model on how to be so openly corrupt and leave people frightened by their inability to change that. And because of that message, a lot of us hurt by men like that have few recourses.

Today, I live in hiding. I have to do everything different from everyone else. Like I said, the day after my rape was the start of my old life dying in the dirt. I had to let that girl perish because that was the only way to overcome the trauma. The woman who survived bears the scars of that event but blocks them away as something that happened to someone else; someone who I no longer am, someone that will be OK to see the damage and not feel it shred my insides apart because that is what it would do to any rational person.

I hide because he plays pathological games like cat and mouse. I hide, I research, and I learn. I learn his chances of being brought to justice are slim to none. I learn that there is not much I can do about what he has done to me except tell the truth and try to move past it. I read and smile when I think maybe someday karma will serve him up just right in a way no one ever saw coming.

I realize all of these things can happen. But while I try to rebuild from the ruins, I remain hidden, every day, never taking one second of my safety for granted again.

One certainly never expects to see themselves in this situation, victimized by a crime or more, and then having their perpetrator rub it all in their face as they struggle to go on. No one ever sees this happening to them. We see in all those movies and t.v. shows that the bad criminal does something wrong, and then the police come and the family comes and they catch the bad guy. That's not what happened in real life. A lot of bad guys get away with a lot of bad stuff, and the people they hurt watch as their family and friends abandon them, and they lose everything of value to them that remains. They get upset and still, no one comes to save them. They have to learn to move on despite the injustice and all the destruction it caused.

We think people will care. We imagine the whole world and our friends standing by our sides, but that's not the reality. The reality is that we have to learn to be OK with being alive. We have to learn to be OK that we merely survived, even if it broke our hearts and continues to do so every day. Sometimes there is no complaint system that will correct or amend that wrong. We feel disappointed by the entire world, we feel like a special sacrifice, and it hurts. "I didn't volunteer for this role!" I scream. I certainly expected more to be done about it! But the reality is that there is nothing more to do in a system that is so obviously badly broken. It works in the favor of rapists, criminals, and rich, white folks. For the women and men who survive legitimate rape that is the most heartbreaking aspect of all: "If he's got money and he's white, good luck winning there. He's practically entitled to rape and get away with it."

Brock Turner, DJT, they symbolize who ultimately wins in cases of abuse and serve to dissuade survivors while pumping up sick members of that group. If a similar male knows this and he's clever, he'll see no point in passing up the opportunity to do so. If this man had been black or ethnic and poor, the police would have dragged him off by now, but since he isn't, the police tuck their cowardly tails between their legs and realize it's easier to go against the poor and disgruntled survivor; as if she had many choices but to be upset over this.

The only real disadvantage I ever had was less money than him. I'm more educated than him, more accomplished, kinder, sweeter, more helpful, and more caring, none of which he can truly say of himself. I had no family to go to and evidently, he did. But the biggest factor was not having the cash because if I had it, he knows I could have hired a lawyer and taken him out. The police also would have taken me more seriously. But I was a struggling, recently single gal who needed her two jobs. I had no trust fund sitting at home. The one thing he knew he could use was my lack of money and my strong-rooted need to provide for myself.

Years later, I still struggle much in the same way. I often cry at my inability to get even small things done because after all, I've worked so hard. I didn't do anything wrong here. I don't think my request is too hard, I only wanted a normal life where I wasn't drowning in debt or being denied an income I deserve. That is what makes me cry the hardest. All of that work didn't amount to much of anything. A year and a half of my life shrouded with abuse by an evil man was all it took to turn my life over on its head. It's such a hard and lonely road to walk; it's hard not to feel despair and anger.

You try not to take any of it personally, all of the loses; you try with all your might not to accredit it to the aforementioned creep when something bad happens. But deep down, you knew your life was totally changed once he hurt you, and it's impossible not to relate the two together. I have to consciously tell myself that maybe a negative reaction had nothing to do with being raped, at least, that is what I hope for. But when unpleasant things continue to happen like an incessant assembly line of pain and loss, it's hard not to see a correlation. "This never happened before the rape, at least, not to this degree," you say.

Then it becomes less important about whether or not people believe you anymore, as it becomes more important that you let it go. It requires re-evaluating every friendship and association into those who helped you and into those who didn't. Then there were those who did nothing and you can only hope to offer them a smile, but nothing else. For those who did nothing, nothing needs to be done. I realize where their loyalty stands and who and how they legitimately thought of me based on one year and a half of my life. That adds to the heartbreak when you realize it was wrong, not even close.

Even those who helped me get a silent companion who says much less and doesn't joke around anymore because she's seen the empty side of people's hearts. She's seen the cruelty by the masses. Next, a seriousness replaces a common carefree nature out of necessity.

Maybe it's better if things had turned out in another way, but the way this world is running, I don't expect that anytime soon. So, meanwhile, I see someone I'm friends with on FB posting a picture of themselves in a swimsuit. "That's nice," I say to myself. "Can't do that because it all leads back to where it all began. Also, she's lucky she didn't go through what I did or else she'd never consider it. She'd never want to put another picture of herself up again because she's all too aware of the repercussions."

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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A Day In The Life Of A Girl Who Struggles With Anxiety

Anxiety affects different people in different ways, and does not define who they are.

Anxiety sucks. You never know when you'll feel it but, when you do, you TRULY feel it. You may not know this, but just because it's bad at one point and some people have extreme cases, it doesn't have to be the same for everyone. Anxiety is a disorder that effects different people in different ways, and does not define who they are. Here's what my daily routine looks like in a nutshell.

I wake up, eat, go to class, do homework...just average stuff. Every day goes on as normal, or as normal as it gets. What you don't see is that I'm constantly questioning myself and overthinking the simplest of actions.

Oftentimes, I struggle to hold a conversation with someone I'm not very familiar with because I'm scared I'll say the wrong thing that'll come back and bite me in the ass, or that the other person is not genuine and that they're gonna go behind my back and say nasty things about me.

Now I know that other people's behavior doesn't have any control over how I live my life, but I'm not going to deny that it hurts me emotionally. In fact, I use that emotional pain as motivation to go out and do my best. The best revenge in life is success. If someone else feels intimidated by how well I'm doing, then I know I'm doing something right.

But to make difficult situations slightly more bearable, I surround myself with close friends and others that I trust will have my best interest in the event something goes awry. Generally though, everything works itself out without calling for desperate measures.

Contrary to popular belief, living with anxiety doesn't mean that a person is constantly living through a panic time. A few times I may experience panic attacks, but they're usually mild and go away in time. My anxiety doesn't interrupt my daily life and doesn't keep me from doing the things I love.

Whenever it starts to, I always remind myself that everything happens for a reason and just because I don't feel well in one moment, doesn't mean that I'm always going to feel that way. It usually subsides rather quickly.

I am not defined by my anxiety, and in fact having anxiety helps me be more aware of my surroundings and to be more considerate of others. Whenever someone else has an issue, I will listen to them and help them calm down. My experience allows me to be more empathetic towards people and to be of assistance to them in ways others cannot. Anxiety attacks are really uncomfortable, but they don't go on endlessly. Like Axl Rose sings, "Nothing lasts forever in the cold November rain".

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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