How Do We Move Forward?

Yesterday I walked around Boston and felt a sunken energy in the air that I haven’t felt before. People were defeated, broken, angry, fearful, and a whole compilation of feelings. I could relate. I too felt a sense of defeat, a broken heart, and a fear that exceeded most. I woke up with tears in my eyes as so many did afraid to know that hatred won. There are many reasons people are afraid and it relates to everyone so similarly yet, it’s a different experience individually.

As a woman, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and someone who goes between being a survivor and a victim of sexual assault, I had my reasons to wake up anxious about my existence in this world. But my fears are very different than the fears of people of color, immigrants, muslims, trans identifying folks, those with disabilities, etc. All of these fears felt are valid but I acknowledge I’ll never fully understand their experiences as they will never fully understand mine. They’re different, mine are different, all of ours are different but all of ours are real and valid and important.

I’m struggling with the correlation of fear with anger and hatred. It is the deep fear of Americans that has lead the country to this point. That hatred was brewed by the deep fear of the changing world. But this hatred and fear isn’t new, it’s been here all along, it just has finally come to the forefront. We can’t look away, it’s in our faces. How do we as lovers, givers, and human beings move forward in effective change without too giving into the fear and the hatred? Because hating those we don’t see eye to eye with will only put fuel in these already burning flames. How do we rise out of this pain and hurt from a place of openness and love? That’s what I’m searching for.

The most amazing changes this country has gone through wasn’t because of the systems in place but from the Americans who have fought for what is right, who fought with dignity and love and openness. Because fighting with hatred and fear makes us no better than those who hate us. Fighting with love, that’s where change really occurs. This is an opportunity. An opportunity to go out into the worlds with open arms and fight hard, with the purest love in our hearts. Love for the people we care for, for our home, for the greater quality of life. Finding compassion in those we differ so greatly from can be extremely difficult but how else can we connect and unite? How else can we ever be heard?

Take care of yourselves now. Allow yourself to feel the pain and the emotions that arise because they are important and valid and essential to reaching growth. Process them but don’t sulk in them. Allow them to flow through you. When your feelings are felt through authenticity, not pushed away or shoved down, that’s when clarity comes through. Take the time to feel. Because that clarity will give you strength and the ability to go out and fight. It’ll make you want to fight with your whole being but most importantly, it’ll allow you to make incredible change from a place of love and openness. I chose love.

I hear you, I love you, I’m here for you. My lovely readers, don’t hesitate to reach out. Let’s cultivate change. Let’s love hard.

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My Rape is My Story to Own

I often tend to be the loudest in the room. My voice can echo through out a whole building. One of my favorite quotes from a friend of mine was over the holidays she came into a party and said “Chelsea Cav! I knew you were here cause I could hear you from the parking lot.” Basically, that’s my life in a nutshell. I’m loud and outgoing and live to see people laugh but when it comes to things that hurt me, I am silent. As a natural entertainer I’ve always buried the bad so the good could shine through. Only recently I learned there are no “good” or “bad” emotions, there is only human.

The best way for me to express has always been to write. As a songwriter it’s been an easy outlet to share the hard over the years but not every hard is a heartbreak you can put into a song. I was raped my third day of my first semester at Berklee. As an eegar 18 year old I was so ready to experience my first time living on my own in the beautiful city of Boston. As many of you know, I dedicated most of my time in high school to my music so to finally go to a school to do the very thing I loved was so amazing. Unfortunately the experience didn’t go as planned. But does anything ever go “as planned?”

I headed to my first college party with a group of new friends I had just made. We walked around Boston disoriented trying to find our way and all flowing with fresh emotions. I’ve reflected on that night a lot and I still don’t think there was anything I could’ve changed. I had two beers because I wanted to be composed in front of my new peers. It was all so nerve racking and thrilling to not have authority to respond to. The party was exciting and afterwards a few of us headed to a practice room to play songs. They were all so talented it was intimidating and when the guitar came to me, I denied saying “I play left-handed.” This excuse saved me from the nerves I was feeling but they egged me on to go upstairs to my dorm and grab my guitar and so I did. I wanted to play for peers. I wanted to show them what I could do. One of the guys came with me because he wanted to use my bathroom. I guess you can figure the rest out from here. He never used my bathroom and I never got to play a song.

Afterwards I lost a huge sense of identity which is a pretty scary thing when you are 18 in a new city with no one you know. Honestly, who could I have told? The peers I just met? The friends and family back home and risk my college experience? I was scared and lonely so I did what I do best, I buried it inside and moved forward. But the funny thing with trauma is, it’s going to find a way to come up regardless how hard you try to push it away. My body felt it was being pulled in many directions. It felt like a foreign stranger yet my mind was trying to show this new world I lived in who I really am. It’s hard to make friends when your self gets taken away. Everything I tried to say felt foreign or forced. Eventually I became depressed and full of anxiety. I didn’t believe something like this could happen to me. Growing up I saw rape as something that happens to girls by scary men in dark allies not by college peers who ask to use your bathroom. Was I simply too naive?

Things only got worse before they could get better. I became reckless and careless for I lost my sense of self. It was taken from me. I abused substances and hurt people I cared for. I spent a lot of time in treatment. Being raped took a lot away from me. I lost people I loved, I lost self-worth, and I lost passion in the things I truly cared about. It took me 8 months before I built up the courage to share my story with someone. Often times it still feels just as fresh and big and scary when I think about sharing it. But it’s important to share for me so I can keep moving forward and make meaning of my past. When I learned the shame I carried around and held onto tightly wasn’t my shame, but his, I knew I needed to start setting it free.

Too often we are afraid of our own shadows so we stay away from the light. Once I started letting the light in, I swear I began a new life. It’s never easy to understand why you are put on a journey when you are standing in the midst of everything but there is always a reason. Healing is a tough process and sometimes you can never be completely healed, that’s okay. As long as you push on each day you will amaze yourself at how far you can go. My journey has lead me to self enlightenment. I’ve never loved myself more or have been more in touch with my body. I feel more connected to the earth and more mindful with each day. I know why this happened. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone but I’m grateful for the place I am in. A year and a half later I’ve learned that this is something I need to share to help release it from being trapped inside of me. It might have took a while to come to this point, but I needed to be fully okay and capable of owning my story. I want to be a source of comfort for those who feel just as scared and damaged as I did. It’s okay to not be okay. Know if you ever need a friend I can be a voice to confide in. I feel for where you may be.

My rape is just a stepping stone on my path. It does not define me, it does not control me no more. So I am releasing the shame I’ve held onto. I am not damaged, I am whole.

The Bittersweet of Moving Forward

 

There probably aren’t very many teenagers who can relate with me on being a “local celebrity” throughout their adolescence. I’m currently looking through old photos and reflecting on my journey feeling the true bittersweetness of growth. I adored my music career. I do not believe there is a better way to spend those vital years. My heart has spent the past year overwhelmed with confusion once I started to feel the tug of growing apart from that adventure. I knew moving to Boston would change things but I didn’t know exactly to what extent or how much longer it would be before fog covered my path. It was a very confusing transitional time period for me. I really loved my little life, my fans, and my hometown career. I didn’t want to ever leave it. But life is funny and sends you lots of curve balls. Life strains you away from what you love the most so it can eventually shine light on new trails. My career as a musician and as a performer has not been a failed one. It’s not one I ever see ending either. My eyes swell with tears because of the beautiful experiences I got to live. I am so grateful it hurts. I also mourn the chapter of my life I can’t go back and grab. I want to squeeze it and hug it and tell myself to hold on tighter. But there is purpose in everything that happens even if you can not comprehend the madness. You can never predict your outcome. Something you dreamt up at twelve may not necessarily be your dreams at nineteen. You do not have to tell her you didn’t become famous or tour with Taylor Swift, she doesn’t understand the world quite yet. That’s okay, she will get there but don’t feel like you are disappointing her.

The friendships I made throughout my career were so wonderful and important to my growth and the woman I am today. Not many kids spend all of their after school hours surrounded by adults. It taught me a lot. I had more mentors to turn too and an even greater comprehension on connection than most of my gossip absorbed peers. I am grateful. Beyond grateful to had been surrounded by incredible strong people. It hurts to say goodbye to a beautiful life chapter but it’s best to acknowledge it for what it was, beautiful. No one can take away those memories. Here are a few of my favorites.

The crazy cool opportunity of recording and releasing an album chuck full of songs I wrote when vulnerable on my bedroom floor. 1098209_513180965433050_1903497703_n.jpgThat one pretty cool time I got to open up for Eric Church at my first Countryfest and first show with my band when I was 16.

856994_493137424055881_1863402845_o.jpgI got to be on the cover of a magazine and I felt like princess during the whole photoshoot.

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I won a contest to perform at the Taste of Country Music Festival. It was bad ass being on the same stage and festival with Trace Adkins, Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, etc. 1014325_536509013052055_1398030830_n.jpg

It’s not everyday you get to perform with Sheryl Crow and Darius Rucker

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Or turn eighteen on stage with your favorite people10011148_659336124102676_5121883281885486817_n.jpgI can promise there is no better feeling than seeing the long line of people waiting to meet you when you get off stage

579643_435172073185750_1259402524_n.jpg1048629_498543326896814_1124494283_o.jpgTheres something really ridiculous and magical about having a stage this big to yourself at fourteen539519_108052862678481_1187680785_n-1.jpgI try not to forget where that young naive eager girl started

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I also believe it pales in comparison to where she is going11537576_876155892420697_1589915113306660645_o-1.jpg10649506_740293386055139_6098993336809171129_n.jpgThis isn’t a goodbye to my career by any means, it’s just a mere reflection of my growth. Whether I perform or not, music and connection are deeply embedded in me. I cannot let go of that.

Connection is really beautiful. 11703455_1000304070054068_7358402370068640064_o.jpg10153036_10153969892658626_7547007430863738463_n.jpg11081423_466189240198173_4261858246585324656_n.jpg11078077_466188670198230_6140243410078643185_n.jpg20587_466188506864913_2733942238647766323_n.jpg10984623_925001744227763_7388934424896095949_n.jpg10550959_341762935974138_7148653019654577349_n.jpg