One Woman’s Truth: Rape Exchange

[Content Warning: discussion of rape and emotional aftermath.]

Recently we asked you all to voice your truth. We provided an anonymous space to do so, because we know it can be incredibly hard to do.

Our friend and long time reader Andi recently shared a powerful, profound truth on her blog, The World 4 Realz. In her post, Andi says,

I wrote “Rape Exchange” in the middle of the night after reading a poem about another girl’s experience. The poem itself — “Rape Joke” by Patricia Lockwood — is staggering in its powerful display of emotions held in check, its tongue in cheek approach, and its {dare I say it?} sense of humor.

Click here to read her original post in its entirety, and followup.

Kel and I asked her if we could share it here because we both found her truth-poem incredibly moving, and because we know she’s not alone. 1 in 6 American women have been the victim of a completed or attempted rape. I think that number is probably higher, because 60-95% of rapes are unreported. And I know that she’s not alone because it’s happened to me too.

One change I think most women would want to make is to have a world without rape. Before that can happen, we need to be able to have the messy, uncomfortable conversations about how and afterward and oh no, you too? In that spirit, here is one woman’s truth:

Rape Exchange

I wanted to write about my rape.

My rape. Mine.

As though it’s an item that belongs to me.

Hello, I’d like to return this rape, please.

It seems to be broken.

This isn’t a gem I’d like to own.

I can’t even give it away,

Because to whom would I gift this treasure?

Hello, would you like a piece of rape?

I baked it fresh, just for you!

But really? My rape. Mine.

I have to hold onto it

And keep it

And own it forever.

So I wanted to write about this object.

But then I read another poem,

And she said it better than I ever could.

I felt both validated

And stupid.

Validated because,

Hooray! I’m not the only one!

Others feel this way, too!

Stupid because,

  1. I just got excited that someone else was raped.
  2. My writing will never be evocative and rich and deep with meaning. Not like hers. Her rape reaction is better expressed than mine.
  3. Her rape was real.

Did you see how I did that?

Her rape.”

It definitely belongs to her.

And her rape is better than mine,

More “valid,”

More cut and dry.

Since rape is a thing now,

An object,

An item,

I wonder if we could switch?

Hello, I would like to make a rape exchange.

My rape for yours.

She might actually go for it.

Her rape sounds like it was a lot more painful and forced.

Mine wasn’t that bad,

As far as rapes go.

If you’re going to be raped,

You want your rape to be lacking in blood and tears.

Sometimes I wonder,

“Was it really rape?”

Because it didn’t hurt.

And because I went into the room willingly.

And because I was drunk.

And because I didn’t mind having sex with the first guy.

And because I hated myself anyway, and didn’t care what happened to me that year.

And because by the time I realized there was more than one guy, it was too late to say no.

And because I was too surprised to shout, “Stop!” which is what you’re supposed to do when you’re being raped.

And because I laughed, since the whole thing was so surreal; I mean, honestly, who rapes people? That’s just ridiculous.

And because they didn’t even act like they were doing anything wrong, so maybe they weren’t.

And because I got dressed with all of them watching, and then I walked out of the room.

And because I wasn’t shaking or scared or upset or sad; I wasn’t anything; I was nothing.

And because I didn’t realize yet that it was rape.

And because I didn’t tell anyone, since it wasn’t rape.

And because I saw the guys around all the time after that, and we always smiled and waved and exchanged pleasantries, and if it was rape, we wouldn’t be all chummy with each other, right?

I can’t remember when I realized it was rape.

It’s not like suddenly my rape walked up to me and announced its presence.

It was more like a growth that became itchy and annoying over time, until eventually I realized I had a mentally cancerous cyst, and it couldn’t be popped, so it got all infected and had to be lanced, and sometimes even now it swells back up again.

The rape itself was fine; the emotional aftermath was the bloody part.

So that’s why I want to trade rapes.

Her rape didn’t come with questions and doubts.

Her rape was definitive and fits in a box with perfect labels.

My rape is kind of clumsy and rusty and awkward and comes with glances that slide sideways because people aren’t sure how they should look at you once they know:

  1. You were raped.
  2. But maybe you weren’t.

If I had to rate my rape on a scale of one to ten,

I’m not sure what number I would go with.

Is it wrong to wish my rape was a perfect ten?

If it fit all parameters, and qualified as legitimate,

Would I sleep better at night?

Probably not.

Would it be easier to discuss?

I don’t think so.

Would people stop with the victim-blaming?

Nah; I blame myself, so why shouldn’t you?

Regardless of how it went down, despite the fact that her rape was way better than mine, I will always hate that it happened, and that I didn’t stop it from happening to the next girl, and that it took so long to recognize it for what it was: my rape.

So I won’t bother with requests for a rape exchange.

I’ll just box mine up myself,

Put it back on the shelf with all the other miscellaneous oddities I’ve collected through the years,

And be content with what I have.

My rape is mine.

It’s not the best rape on the market,

But it’s the one I’m stuck with.

The Self Care You’re Starving For

Is there something more that you need than bubble baths and a smidge of stolen peace? 

“She chose to live in a way that supported the tranquility of her soul.”

-Caroline Myss, Sacred Contracts

I haven’t been able to stop whispering this to myself since I read it. Caroline Myss was referring to the poet Emily Dickinson, but as soon as I saw the words, I knew I wanted that.


I wanted to be able to look any one of you in the eye and say, with total honesty, “I do these things to support the tranquility of my soul.”

Which leads to a few obvious questions: What things? What would it feel like to have a tranquil soul?

What does tranquility even mean?

tranquility of your soul

One of the practices Kel and I have developed for working through different issues is to dig down and find a definition of the word that we want to use. I decided to work with this definition:

Tranquility is a state free of anxiety or restlessness, a state of composure.

Oh, I know that place. I’ve visited there before. Now I want to live there.

That would be next-level self care.

All the self-care I’ve done in the past few years–the bubble baths, the playing with beauty, the dabbling in meditation, the walks in nature–they’ve all given me moments in that place. They’ve given me glimpses of what brings me peace and insights into how to make that happen for myself.

But lately they haven’t been enough. Not for next-level self care. Not to satisfy this hunger for tranquility.

I suspect I’m not alone in this wanting.

The basics of self care, those things you read about in magazines and occasionally go to a spa or lock a door to obtain, are important. If you’re not doing them for yourself, start. Think of these actions like the small, bland meals you’re giving someone who has been starving. You don’t want to overwhelm a malnourished system with too much to start.

But after a while, you’ll realize you’re ravenous. Your body and soul are crying out for real nutrients, and now that you’ve stopped the starvation, you can hear the whispers. Give us more! Take us to the next level!

You won’t find a list of spa treatments for next level self care in any magazine. I can’t give you a nice tidy set of bulletpointed to-dos in this post. What I need to do at this point might be the worst possible choice for you.

What I can do is tell you this: You already know what you need. You just have to listen.  

Breathe deeply, and remember those moments when you felt tranquil. All the instructions you need are already there.

It might not look like a glossy magazine spread about self care. It might look like spending more time planning, or bringing reusable bags to the store, or speaking your truth in places where you were previously silent. There might be less clutter, less busyness, more silence, more compassion, more education, more listening. I’m willing to bet each thing will create a closer match between what you feel on the inside and what your life looks like on the outside.

You already know what your soul is starving for. You don’t need me to tell you anything more than that my soul has been starving too, and I want to see us sitting at the table together, nourishing ourselves with the things we each need most.

Tell me in the comments: what would support the tranquility of your soul?

Tracy at women making changes


what makes YOU fierce?

The “mama bear” is a powerful force. Unleashed, it can move mountains and shake the world.

I’ve felt it–I’m sure you have too.

I’ve also been completely unnerved by that feeling of raw, intense power.

I’ve spent a lifetime cultivating the rational, non-emotional side of myself, thinking that was how I could make things happen.

But now I wonder what would happen if I learned “how to be with this force within me”? What could I do? What could I change?

What could we do if we each tapped into that fierce, primal power of feminine love?

Both Kel and I saw Chameli Ardagh‘s TEDx talk, “The Fierce Face of the Feminine” several months ago. But now it has a deeper, more powerful meaning for us, and we want to share it with you:

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Previously, we asked you to share your truth. (If you haven’t yet, please do.) Today we want to know: what makes YOU fierce? What makes you want to stand up and say “ENOUGH”?  

Channel a little of your own fierce feminine and tell us in the comments.

Tracy at women making changes


voice your truth

Muriel Rukeyser quote one woman told the truth about her life

Maybe the world doesn’t need to be split wide open, but it certainly needs to be rocked a bit. Radical change can’t begin until we voice our truths.

What is truth?

  1. sincerity in action
  2. being in alignment with reality
  3. the real, genuine, authentic you

In walking our paths of self-discovery, we uncovered many truths about ourselves. Here are two:

Kel: I bought a house and filled it with stuff to gain someone else’s approval. Now, not only do I have a house and stuff that is not in alignment with who I really am, but I don’t even have contact with those individuals.

Tracy: I have never had to work hard to “succeed.” I don’t even know what it would look like to show up and give 100% effort to my own life.

We want to create a safe place for women to share and start believing in their truths. Standing in the reality of our truth is a powerful place to begin change.

Your truth will be completely anonymous. It cannot be traced back to you. From time to time, we will share a selection with our readers, because in sharing our truths, we discover that we are not alone.

Will you share your truth with us?

What's Your Truth?

Please enter the text you see under the picture into the field below. We're interested in the truths of humans, not the links of spambots.


(If you’re reading this by email, click here to share your truth.)

Kel at women making changesTracy at women making changes

putting creating space into action

When I chose my theme for the year, creating space, I did not expect that it would enter a trial by fire the very next day.

Silly, silly me.

We–my husband and I–have been ushered firmly into the “sandwich generation”. I’m writing this during a layover in Denver. Right now I’m not sure exactly when I’ll be going home, or what exactly I’ll find when I get to my destination…I just know I’m needed, and that I was able to create enough space in my life so I could do this.


We women are so often the caregivers, whether it’s for a child or a parent, or someone we love who simply needs more care and attention than others. Most of my experience has been on the kid side of this, and I’m incredibly grateful that all in all, my kids have been pretty healthy. But between what I’ve experienced and what I’ve seen others do, I suspect that caregiving in any form can become a very…constricting experience.

The space in our homes becomes dedicated to other people’s things, whether it’s toys or medical equipment or just other people’s mess. The flow of money becomes tighter. Careers might be left or narrowed or stopped. It’s harder to connect with friends. Time becomes scarce–free time becomes a joke.

If the walls are closing in, if the money’s so tight it’s strangling you, if your time is so crunched all you can do is put out the raging fires right in front of you…how are you supposed to breathe? Where is the space for you, for your creativity, for your skills, for your dreams?

My friends, this is a tough love moment: YOU are the only one who can change this for you. If you keep letting your space shrink smaller and smaller hoping someone or something will come along and rescue you…you’re going to run out  of air.

I’m not suggesting we run away from the ones we love, or dump all the responsibilities we feel we own on the ground as we run off into the sunset like Thelma and Louise.

I’m simply saying that if you want more space in your life for the things you want to do, then you have got to start creating it. Start small–so tiny that you can’t even imagine it’s going to make a difference. Do one small thing that gives you a little more breathing room. Maybe it’s deciding on the very next meal now, and making it an easy one so you have a few more minutes to rest. Maybe it’s setting up a jar for change to start saving for your dreams. Maybe it’s training your little ones that when Mommy closes the bathroom door, it stays closed.

You know where your life is closing in on you. My challenge to you is to take one tiny step on one little thing to create a little more space in your own life.

You see, I believe that we women can create amazing change in this world–change that is desperately needed. But I know that until we have enough space in our lives to breathe, enough space to see who we are and what gifts we have, those changes are going to keep waiting.

You have something amazing for the world in you. Make a little space in your life so you can see what it is.






PS: We’re discussing chapter one of  Women Who Run with the Wolves over at the WMC forum starting tomorrow.

Steadfast in Nature



A new year, a new calendar, a new focus!

I couldn’t be happier for a new year, and was not sorry to see 2012 go.  I spent most of last year quite sick, starting on New Year’s Eve of last year, up until about a week before this past Christmas.  In fact, the first 3 weeks of December I was hooked up to an IV.

The reality is, without health everything is so much harder.  I was forced to sit and be still with the IV and I didn’t take that time lightly.  My health just has to take priority in 2013.

Two years ago I worked very hard to reduce meaningless busy work from my life.  Reflecting on this past year I realize that in 2012 what I’ve done is replace it with new distracting busy work.  Illness, a new project, and even blogging have distracted me off my carefully chosen path of a more focused, mindful, and creative life.

So I tried to come up with a single word for 2013 and like Tracy, found it difficult.  I ended up with a short phrase that captured a way to refocus my days. The words remind me, both together and separately, what I really want this year.

Steadfast in nature


  • Details–quality over quantity
  • Unwavering–not allowing outside forces to sway me
  • Patience–taking the time,even though it may feel long, to do “it” right
  • Daily effort
  • Discipline–remember what I really want
  • Un-hurried
  • Finishing–especially unfinished business


  • Restoring my natural state of health
  • Listening to my body and what it needs and its natural rhythms.
  • Taking time to breathe and be quiet
  • Spending time outside in natural settings
  • Starting and keeping a nature journal
  • Making my own natural cleaners, pet food, and cosmetics
  • More unprocessed natural foods
  • The Saving Face Project–producing art with wild things and wild places in mind
  • Walking–a natural way to move AND be outdoors  This is my inspiration.

In an effort to start the year off with my focus in mind we drove up to the rim on New Year’s Day.

steadfast in nature

steadfast in nature


steadfast in nature

The snow was REALLY deep!  She’s sunk up to her belly.

steadfast in nature


steadfast in nature

steadfast in nature


Nature is my focus in 2013 and I return to it in a steadfast way, and being steadfast is my nature!



Photo credits: Kel Wilson


1. We have just started reading the book Women Who Run with the Wolves (disclaimer: this is an affiliate link) by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.  We would love for you to join us for the reading, discussions, adventure, and fun!

2.  The year has just stared.  Do you already feel like you could use a good rest?  Join us in February at The 30 Day Focus for our workshop on rest for only $30.00!  Imagine, a whole month of focusing on rest…bliss!