Year 3, Day 260:
Yay hockey. Yay front page. Yay 10 months sober.
Year 3, Day 260:
Yay hockey. Yay front page. Yay 10 months sober.
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Year 3, Day 247:
Year 3, Day 240:
Wow, I have been terrible at updating this semester. In my defense, I don’t have a lot of spare time for “fun” writing these days. I’m normally working on an article or 20, so there’s that.
Hmmmm. The pictures here are from Valentine’s Day, which was a good time even though I was single and worked that night. I’m okay with both of those things.
I legitimately do not have it in me to ramble on about my life right now. I need to go be productive in it instead. But to all you followers, yes, I am still alive and well.
Year 3, Day 234:
My story on the Sartell swim boys was on the front page of the website today and above the fold in the actual paper, so that was neat.
Also, when I got to work I found flowers and a card from Diane as a congratulations for the ACP award. It was seriously so sweet and unexpected.
There are a lot of thoughts in my head right now (about many things) but for once I am going to keep them there because I am tired and semi-sick, so I need to rest.
Year 3, Day 233:
Por fin, hable con mi familia chilena…y mi Colomba esta corriendo por toda la casa! Un parte grande de mi corazon esta en Chile todavia.
I finally talked to my Chilean family..and my Colomba is running all through the house. A big part of my heart is still in Chile
Year 3, Day 232:
Today (Sunday) was the awards ceremony for ACPBOM and the Record took first in the four year weekly newspaper category. My story on sexual assault took second in the news category and Adam’s took fifth. We left pretty darn happy.
My mom offered to feed us all lunch, so we detoured to my house which was well worth the extra driving (super extra cause I took everyone the long way, oops). We had a yummy home-cooked meal and I was able to see my family and puppies. I think the group enjoyed it as well.
Year 3, Day 230:
We left for the ACP Best of the Midwest conference today and toured Star Tribune and WCCO, just like we did last year. Except this year was better because I feel much more like a part of the group. Not that I didn’t last year, but it was just different. This group has a difference dynamic and I love it.
A healthier lifestyle makes a big difference…20 pounds in this case. #transformationtuesday
Year 3, Day 227: The Biggest Day
I’m as guilty as the next girl when it comes to having a Pinterest wedding board.
But I posted on Facebook yesterday saying that I hate when girls claim that their wedding day is the biggest or most important day of their life, which seemed to rub some people the wrong way. To clarify, I know it is an important day, just maybe not THE single most important day of an entire lifetime. Maybe I’m just a negative person and I’ve never been in love, or maybe I do have a valid point. I’m unsure.
Someone actually commented on my status saying that perhaps the day you decide to marry someone is the biggest day, bigger than the wedding itself. I find that to be a more valid claim. Making that choice to spend the rest of your life with one person will affect every day of the rest of your life - the color scheme and floral arrangements at your wedding will not.
So much money and preparation goes into a wedding, which makes it almost impossible to meet every expectation when the day arrives. I know for myself, I like things to be right down to the last detail, and because of that, I often set myself up for disappointment. I can’t even imagine the amount of disappointment I would be facing if I were to label my wedding The Biggest Day of My Life.
That being said, I actually started thinking about what My Biggest Day would be…and that’s a hard question that can probably only be answered in retrospect. Or maybe there isn’t an answer.
Either way, I think The Biggest Day of Your Life isn’t one that can be planned months in advance. I don’t even necessarily think it is a happy day. One of the most pivotal days in my life thus far is May 6, 2013, when I ended up hospitalized after drinking; God knows that was far from a happy day. But what made it so huge is everything that stemmed from it afterward, none of which would have happened if May 6 had not happened.
Actually, writing this just made me remember a Grey’s Anatomy quote which sums it up well. Ironically, it was after an episode with a wedding, but let’s forget that.
“You never know the biggest day of your life is going to be the biggest. The days you think are going to be big ones, they are never as big as you make them out to be in your head. It’s the regular days, the ones that start out normal. Those are the days that end up being the biggest.”
I don’t know, this was just an elaboration of the thoughts that were in my head when I posted that status. Just my two cents.
God is stronger than every broken thing in me.
Lately so many people have said to me, “I don’t know how you do it” – “It” being going to bars and parties and being around so many people who drink when I no longer do. They seem to want some enlightening answer, but I don’t have one. It just doesn’t bother me. I don’t feel tempted to drink, it’s not some big internal battle with myself each and every time I go out. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s not an option for me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be around it. Other people can control themselves with alcohol and I completely respect that. I choose not to try, and everyone respects that as well. That’s the thing, no one cares if I drink. They don’t have a good time based on whether or not I am sober.
So how do I do it?
1. I make sure to always have a water or pop in my hand. People are less likely to question it or offer a drink that way.
2. I look in the mirror and actually like what I see. Then I think back to last year and what I saw, which was someone who had gained weight, who was always bloated and tired. I don’t want to be that again.
3. I surround myself with people who love me and support me, which hasn’t been a hard thing to come by. Nearly everyone has my back here.
4. I’m honest. If people ask me why I’m not drinking, I just straight up tell them that I don’t trust myself to drink and haven’t for a long time.
5. I repeat things back to myself, things other people have told me that have stuck with me as a reason to stay sober.
6. I talk about it. Being sober is something that probably comes up at least once a day, it’s not something that I push aside and revisit on the weekends.
7. I remind myself of the terrible relapse dreams I have had and how I have woken up in a complete and utter panic, only to realize I was okay and it was a dream. I know the reality would be 4359048598 times worse and I don’t want to experience that kind of disappointment in myself.
I’ve said it before, but I will say it again. And again. And again. I am so glad I hit rock bottom and stopped drinking when I did. I was looking back on blog posts and photos from about a year ago and I feel like I was always writing about how tired I was, or how I had too much going on and no energy. Well no shit, Beth. That’s what happens when drinking takes the front seat in your life. I can’t believe I literally was blind to that fact a year ago, but that is part of the insanity of the disease. You justify things and manipulate them so that the root of the problem never appears to be alcohol, when in reality it is. Always.
I can see that clearly now because I have more going on in my life than ever, yet I am healthier and happier than I remember being in a long time. My life has balance again, and I don’t need to rush through things in order to get to the next, so that I have time to go out and drink with everyone.
Instead I can be content in the St. Cloud Times office on a Friday night, eating pizza and laughing with co-workers. I’m content with a glass of water at a party because I know that water isn’t going to sway my mind and assist me in making terrible choices. I’m content getting free pop at the bar since I’m sober cabbing. I’m content to be in a state of mind where I know I will remember everything the next day. I’m content because I am a better person when I am sober. My relationships are more purposeful and more legitimate. I’m content to watch all the interactions unfold around me, and laugh when appropriate or intervene when necessary. It sounds cliché, but I see people in a new light now. I can honestly say I have no desire to be that falling down drunk girl, because you know what? It’s not fun and it never ends well. I’d rather be the sober one watching it all unfold.
Year 3, Day 223:
What was supposed to be another ordinary night for Megan Klapperich escalated into an event that affects her daily life almost a year later.
“I was at a house party with a couple of my friends late in the evening,” Klapperich said. “I went to the bathroom and was pushed into a bedroom and assaulted by a man I had never met. Afterwards I called one of my friends to come pick me up and walk me back to my room. At that time I didn’t know what to do or how to feel.”
The Gustavus Adolphus sophomore was a first-year at the CSB when she was sexually assaulted in February of 2013.
Klapperich’s report was one of five reported in 2013—the highest number of sexual assaults reported in the last three years—and it’s a trend that appears to be continuing into 2014 with two sexual assaults reported just this month.
While sexual assault has been a recent concern at CSB/SJU, due to the increase in reports, it has also been approached nationally. President Barack Obama recently said sexual assaults are an “affront” to society when citing a White House report stating that one in five women will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime—college women, such as Klapperich, being especially high risk.
“It’s horrible and regrettable that sexual assault happens on these campuses—but it’s a reality,” CSB Dean of Students Jody Terhaar said. “I am glad that the students involved in these incidents are brave enough to come forward so we have the opportunity to respond, that’s a very brave thing to do. People always think ‘this won’t happen to me’—they don’t personalize it—but we need to start engaging people in meaningful conversations on our campus about relationships and intimacy. This is very important.”
Although she is open about the experience now, Klapperich did not speak out immediately following the attack, as she wasn’t sure how to handle her feelings regarding the situation.
“I kind of joked and cried about it to ease the pain and the feelings I was feeling, as I wasn’t sure how to feel,” Klapperich said in an email. “I didn’t even know my perpetrator. However, I wasn’t able to go to classes and was traumatized. It was then that I decided to report it to my resident assistant (RA). It was good I did so when I did, because there were still bruises present. My RA was able to document the bruises. Had I waited any longer, that evidence would have been gone.”
Every sexual assault case is different—some are dealt with only by the institution where the assault occurred, while others are taken to a higher level, the choice being the victim’s.
“I reported it through the school and he (the perpetrator) was found guilty through the school process which they have in place,” Klapperich said. “He was expelled from school before I came back to campus. In addition, we did get involved with the St. Joseph Police and Stearns County to prosecute criminally. There was an order of protection put in place to help with my safety on campus.”
Klapperich’s case was taken to authorities, which can be a long and frustrating process in which difficult emotions are brought back to the surface.
“Coming face to face with my perpetrator in court was the hardest part of the process. Having to re-live the story was extremely hard. Many people, including authority, asked for personal details that I didn’t always feel comfortable sharing. At the same time, that helped the healing process.”
When a report is filed, CSB/SJU students receive an email alerting them of the situation and when the alleged assault occurred. Five reports were filed all last year (the fifth was an alleged assault occurring over the Dec. 14, 2013 weekend that wasn’t reported until Jan. 2014). However, just this month, two sexual assaults have already been reported, both allegedly occurring the weekend of Jan. 18 and disclosed to the student body last week.
Whether these growing numbers are due to an increase in assaults, or an increase in reporting and awareness is difficult to determine. Either way, the school does play a role in the process following a report.
“CSB/SJU is going to continue to work diligently to respond to complaints and allegations of sexual assault,” SJU Dean of Students Michael Connolly said. “But we’re also going to make sure we’re educating all community members on how important it is to have a safe environment.”
In addition to the process for reporting assaults on campus, CSB/SJU also has a group which works to raise awareness in hopes of avoiding situations such as these before they occur. CERTS, which stands for Consent, Equality, Respect, Talking, Safety, is “a student/staff partnership designed to facilitate honest, open conversation regarding sexual health issues in order to foster healthy, safe decisions around sex and an environment that does not tolerate, accept or condone sexual activity without consent.”
“I got involved (with CERTS) because sexual violence, the Bystander Effect, victim blaming, healthy relationships and helping victims are important issues to talk about on any campus,” junior Joslyn Brugh said. “I believe in the positive impact that CERTS has on the students at CSB/SJU. It is also a great experience in health promotion, which interests me because I am a nursing major.”
Certain faculty can also be utilized as a resource. Ethics and theology professor Kari-Shane Davis Zimmerman is a strong advocate for sexual assault awareness and was a speaker at orientation sessions for CSB/SJU first-years this past August.
“People know more than they admit,” Davis Zimmerman said. “I tell my classes to stop being bystanders and that friends need to be more protective of friends and need to be held accountable for each other. When a person consumes alcohol, they are responsible for their actions, but as a community we need to stop sitting back when we see someone out of control drunk. You can’t tell me that in every case like this, there isn’t someone who saw something.”
CSB/SJU also offers counseling services free of charge for students in need.
“I did seek out counseling through CSB,” Klapperich said. “The CSB dean of students Jody Terhaar was also very helpful. I came to her with a lot of emotions and she was right there every step of the way. I continue counseling services, but they are a lot less frequent. The hardest part I find is that no one knows exactly what you are going through as a victim. No one can fully understand.”
In the time since the assault, Klapperich’s life has changed drastically—she transferred to Gustavus Adolphus College and was inducted Hynes Scholars Cohort, which is a group of sophomore women who dig deep into gender and leadership.
“Transferring was a very difficult decision for me,” Klapperich said. “I had been contemplating it for a long time. I had so many wonderful people that supported and cared for me at St. Ben’s. I was a part of the CSB Senate and the women there were incredible. They were my family. However, I lost the sense of safety at my home that I called St. Ben’s. Security and everyone else was very helpful, but I didn’t like having to always look over my shoulder. In addition, I was looking for a fresh start. Although the assault will always be with me, I wanted to move on and leave it behind me.”
Kalpperich’s relationship with her family has also strengthened since the ordeal began.
“My family was very supportive,” Klapperich said. “I still remember telling them. I came home for long weekend and told my mom first. She then called my dad home from work. He got home and called the police right away. No parents want to see their son or daughter hurting. My parents came up to every court appearance or police meeting I had, and my mom on one occasion stayed in my dorm room. Overall, their support got me through the trying times.”
Although Klapperich has become closer to her family, other relationships have shifted since the attack.
“This experience overall has made me less trusting in males,” Klapperich said. “I have grown very independent and don’t rely on males for anything. I have definitely built stronger relationships with females and lost friendships with males. I broke up with my boyfriend of two years because I needed to focus on myself and healing. In addition, small things like holding hands really turned me off.”
Since the assault, which occurred almost one year ago, Klapperich has spoken out in hopes that her story can help bring awareness to the topic of sexual assault.
“I decided to speak up because I was never taught about it in high school,” Klapperich said. “Even my younger brothers didn’t understand what a sexual assault was. Education is important. I think it also encourages young people to report assaults. If my story has helped one other woman, then I feel like I did my part.”
While there are a variety of on-campus options for college students to seek help, there are also other options within Minnesota. One such option is the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center, located in St. Cloud, Minn., as well as the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, located in St. Paul, Minn.
“I do advise them (victims) to seek out help,” Klapperich said. “No one should have to experience an assault, and no one should have to do it alone. It is not easy going through it alone. Let your voice be heard and make sure that it doesn’t happen to other women, maybe even your friends. My assaulter had a previous record of acting inappropriately towards women. Most perpetrators will assault again. Finally, know that it isn’t your fault. Victims tend to blame themselves, but you did nothing wrong. Even if you were drinking, you weren’t asking for it. Finally, be aware of your surroundings and look out for friends.”
Year 3, Day 216: