After camping in Cuyamaca, my friend and I decided to take an impromptu drive to Mount Laguna. I had never been and was curious. Plus, I am always down for an adventure. I had no idea what the drive would be like and I must admit, if I had known, there is a very high probability that I would not have gone. I have driven up mountains before. But I had never experienced driving up a mountain where the road is a few feet from the edge and there are no barriers or rocks to prevent one from falling. I looked in the rear view mirror at my friend who was driving behind me. “What are they going to do if I accidentally fall off the edge?” I was freaking out, to say the least. 😳

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love being in the mountains. I love looking out and feeling like I am a part of this great big world. I love the instant peace that accompanies it. But I HATE driving up mountains. The first time I went to Big Bear, I refused to drive the mountain part. My friend did the driving. I was actually thinking about this person before I reached this point in my drive to Mount Laguna. Thinking about our trip to Big Bear. Thinking. Grieving. The sadness hit me like a wave right before I realized Mount Laguna was where my story would potentially end. Okay. Okay. ‘maybe‘ I am being a bit dramatic. 🙄

The thing is, even though I was afraid, I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t go back. I had no choice but to ride it out and keep moving forward. I kept breathing. I reminded myself that my car does not have an auto pilot so as long as I stay focused, I should be okay. And I was. I made it to Mount Laguna and it was beautiful! Oh my god! The trees! Orange. Yellow. Yes! I moved to San Diego from Tennessee in 2015 and one of the things I miss the most are the colors of the trees in the fall. (And my friends, of course.) My friend was looking at me with a weird expression and I explained to them how amazing it was to see trees with colors other than green. I was grateful. I am grateful. I have a hidden child-like wonder about me and I can sometimes find joy in the simplest things.

Wherever we are on our journey, there will always be moments of fear. There will be times we have to take risks and we can’t always know what will happen. As a matter of fact, we can’t ever really know what the future holds. But there is one constant that will always remain. Beauty. There is always beauty, should we choose to see it. I don’t know if I would have gone to Mount Laguna if I knew about that drive. I do know that if I had not gone, I would never have gotten to take in the beauty of the trees. It was worth it. Now had the trees been just a regular green… I would have given Mount Laguna the side eye. 😕Just kidding.

Take risks, my friends. Our journeys will take us to places that bring up fear. grief. sadness. joy. wonder. Beauty

#love and be loved


6,000 Nights

“Everyone has a chapter they don’t want to read out loud.” – unknown

How does a single moment become six thousand nights?

One night. Two men. 17 years ago. That’s how.

I heard footsteps and low voices walking down the hall. I didn’t have enough time to run. Fight. Flight. FREEZE. Staying as still as I possibly could, I kept my eyes closed and pretended to be asleep.

And then I did something that I had never seen anyone do, except on television shows. I became powerful and strong. I became free! I soared above the ground, defying gravity. With every leap I took, I could feel myself being supported by the wind and air around me. It carried me. It kept me from falling. It kept me safe.

And that is the memory I chose to hold on to. I couldn’t embrace the reality of what had happened. I was sixteen. I was home alone. I couldn’t run. I didn’t scream. I didn’t fight. I was powerless. I did what I had known to do since I was five. I soared. I set my mind free from my body that was being raped by two men whose identity I will never know.

I didn’t call the police. I didn’t call my mom. I told no one. I let my mind forget. I slept under the bed or hid in the closet whenever I was home alone after that. I wasn’t just raped that night. My PTSD caused me to relive it. I had insomnia. I couldn’t sleep in the dark. I could hear the footsteps. I could hear their voices. I didn’t scream that night I was raped but the screams came. Night after night. I screamed. Night after night. I cried. Alone. I was afraid. And I still am. Over 6,000 nights later, the fear has not completely dissipated.

No one wants to talk about sexual assault. The scars that stay. The time it takes to heal. One moment that turns into eternity. It is more than just a memory. More than a moment. It lingers.

I have carried shame that was never mine to carry. I was sixteen. I was innocent. I did nothing wrong. I have compassion for my sixteen year old self that carried the shame of silence. The shame of freezing. The shame of not fighting. I realize now that I DID fight. I fought the only way I knew how. I fought to survive.

And while I understand cognitively that I did not actually defy gravity, there are occasional moments when that memory feels real. Moments when I need it to be. Moments when I feel unsafe and afraid and vulnerable to the world around me. Moments when I feel powerless.

But I am NOT powerless.

I make the choice to heal. To take back my voice. To take back my power.

I make the choice to read aloud this chapter of my story.


#love and be loved friends.

You are not alone. There is hope. There is healing. There is love. austin-schmid-37423

Climbing Trees

I was on a day trip with my friend and we saw a kid who had climbed up a tree. My friend told me she used to climb trees when she was a child and then one day she stopped. She had climbed a tree, as she had done many times before, but this time she was overcome with fear of falling. She called out to her dad to help her, which he did. That was the last time she climbed a tree.

I didn’t understand. Why would she stop climbing trees because of that one time she felt afraid of falling? She had climbed trees numerous times and not once had it resulted in her experiencing pain. The fear of falling was greater than the joy she experienced from the climb.

I guess that is how fear works. It is so strong at times that it paralyzes.

I have never climbed a tree. Well, there was that one time I shimmied up a huge branch to take a picture while visiting my sister. I don’t think that qualifies. It was pretty close to the ground.

No. I have never climbed a tree.
But I know what it is like to take a risk. To open myself up and become vulnerable to the unknown. To learn to love and be loved. I did not learn how to express my emotions as a child. I was too busy surviving. I was well into adulthood when I began to identify my emotions. I only accomplished that as a result of being given an emotions chart; my therapist helped me begin the journey of connecting to myself. I had no idea what it meant to be vulnerable. To be seen. And while I have been on the journey of healing, restoring and reconnecting to the beautiful and broken pieces of me for quite some time, it is still very difficult. Have you ever been around a child who is meeting you for the first time and instead of coming fully into the room, they just kinda peek around the corner first? That is how I feel sometimes. That five year old me is peeking around the corner of human relationships trying to get a glimpse but too afraid to enter fully.

I don’t want to be hurt. I am afraid if I show you my soul, you will hurt me. I am afraid that I will uncover my scars and you will dig into them. or you will leave. or you will judge me. or you will leave. or you will betray me.

Or you will leave…

I am like my friend. So afraid of falling, that the thought of climbing that tree one more time feels paralyzing. I just want to stay on the ground where it is safe. Where I am safe.

I have taken many risks with my heart. I have allowed people to see me. I have chosen to trust and believe and experience true intimacy. And I have made wonderful connections with people who love me. I have also been hurt. Each time I am hurt, I want to stay on the ground. I want to hide. And that is where I am at this moment. My anxiety and fears are at an all time high and I really want to retreat behind my walls. At least they are familiar. I know what to expect from them. They have never let me down or betrayed me. I don’t want to pick up the phone. I don’t want to go to happy hour. I don’t want to go hang out with people who I call friend or people I barely know. I don’t want to go to that trans group or reach out. I don’t want to do these things because I am SCARED.

but I still do them. I push through  my fears of rejection and abandonment. I lift my feet up off the ground and risk falling. The thing is, unlike my friend, I have fallen many times. But not EVERY time. I have seen things that my eyes would never have seen had I stayed on the ground. I have felt things my heart would have never known. and I have experienced the beauty and healing of connecting with other human beings who see me and allow me to see them. I think it’s worth the risk.

I will keep climbing trees. Scared. Hurt. Vulnerable. Sometimes still bruised from the last time I fell. I will climb. Maybe slower this time. But I climb.

#love and be lovedforest-on-a-sunny-day

The body remembers…

I would move the shoes over so I could have room to sit but I found comfort in the feel of the clothes. I didn’t think anyone would look for me here. As long as I was still when they came, I would be safe. I hoped.

For years I could still hear their whispers as they walked down the hall. Two of them. A memory. No. It was more. It was past and it was present. It lived in a continuum of space.

The whispers. The sound of footsteps. Getting closer and closer. Flight or fight. I freeze.

I keep my eyes closed. My only goal is to survive. I leave the room for a little while. My mind takes me away. I disappear. My body remained and it felt the pain as they took turns unlocking a part of my soul. Unlocking…? No.

Kidnapping. There was no ransom that I could pay.

I was relieved when they left. I was relieved it was over. relieved I was still alive. I didn’t know that it would never be over. That I would die again and again. And again.

And again.

After that night, I would sleep in the closet when I was home alone. Sometimes I slept on the floor beside my mom’s bed in a space where I could be hidden. I preferred the closet. But I never really slept. I sleep more now but there are way too many nights when I don’t.

I never told anyone. I didn’t call the police or make a report or go to the hospital. I needed to forget. So I pushed the memory as far into the depths of my brain that I could. The brain can do some amazing things to aid in our survival. It can replace a memory of being raped with that of skipping and flying. And the false memory will seem truer than the reality. Sometimes I can still remember those moments of flying. I skipped then soared into the air, happy and free. There still remains residual sadness when I have to remind myself that I never defied gravity.

I made my brain forget. But the thing is that while the brain can forget. The body remembers. And it can sometimes respond to a subtle touch by evoking strong emotions that don’t align with the present moment. The body will tell the truth even when the brain lies. Because the body remembers. My body remembered. I could barely receive a hug at times without having anxiety and I hated being touched. I long to be touched but the vulnerability that comes along with it can create intense feelings of fear. I don’t mean mere hugs. But the vulnerability that comes along with being truly embraced. The trust it takes to lay my head on someone or let someone comfort me. What if they hurt me? Some risks are worth taking. Because it is through trusting and being vulnerable that I can heal some of those wounds. I continue to heal.

Periodically, the shame will surface. Why didn’t I fight? Why didn’t I call the police afterwards? Why didn’t I tell anyone? I try to have compassion for my sixteen year old self. I remind them that it wasn’t their fault. That they needed to forget. Forgetting was the only way they could survive at the time. Forgetting was necessary.

But now. In this moment. It is okay to remember. To heal. and share. It was never truly forgotten.

The body remembered. And now the brain and soul can too; they can all heal. together.


Caution tape around my heart

I lay still in a body bag. Will I awaken from this sleep? The sidewalk stained with red. from wounds that cut too deep. Warning signs: Do not come near. I must protect this space. Warning signs: Don’t get too close or better yet, just walk away.

This invisible barricade. I carry it everywhere. It is hidden from your eyes but I assure you it IS there. I really can’t remember but there must have been a time when it did not exist. Five years old. Big eyes and chubby cheeks. sex was introduced. Ten years old. This feels wrong but I think my dad loves me. Thirteen. They think I’m bad. there is no escape from this. Sixteen. Two grown men. Took even more from me. Knife to skin. I pretend. The scars they don’t exist.

I am afraid. I barricade. The world’s not safe for me. I am afraid. Must barricade. Cannot. let them hurt me. I am afraid. I barricade. No one! is getting past this line. I am afraid. Must barricade. It is here, where I will hide.

Then when you appeared at the scene. You wanted to take a peek. Vulnerable, I took a risk. Slowly showing parts of me. I removed this barricade. Hoping I was safe. I  let you see. Into me. My insides screaming. Please. Do not hurt me. But you stabbed me where I was already bleeding. pierced the skin covered with stitches. trampled on bones that were already broken. The heart has no insurance. I pay no premiums for my soul.

They say people leave imprints on the heart. Well, sometimes they leave holes from pieces they collect. Sometimes they love. Sometimes they betray. And in that moment. that time in space. that memory keeps replaying and there is nothing to replace… Can I please have my pieces back?

There is no undoing. No ‘take backs’. The damage has been done. It will never be what was. Infatuation or illusion? This ambiguity of love…I will never be who was. Can I please have my pieces back?

To trust is to be seen. To betray is to deceive. To trust is to believe. To deceive is to mislead. To trust is to be seen. To betray is to deceive. To trust is to believe. To deceive is to mislead. To trust……

I lay still in a body bag. The sidewalk stained with red. There is blood that wasn’t cleaned. My heart pumps blood. Does that mean ‘it’ bleeds? Am I alive. Am I dead. Asleep. Am. I. Awake.

I lay still. My heart beats; I lay still. My heart speaks;

Put out the caution tape.

Kai Love #loveandbeloved

My Skin is Starving

A TSA agent was going through my things. I had been pulled to the side for additional screening. There was confusion around my legal name change and apparently my legal documents weren’t enough to ensure I wasn’t a threat. Apparently.

Another TSA agent was standing next to him speaking words I was unable to hear.

The third TSA agent, a woman, approached me. “This is what is going to happen”, she stated. “I am going to do a full body scan. I will have to touch you all the way up to your sensitive areas.”

Sensitive areas?! Tears streamed from my eyes without my conscious permission. I tried to contain them, but I couldn’t stop crying. I felt embarrassed. The TSA agent continued to talk but I didn’t hear anything she said after ‘sensitive areas.’

Stop crying Kai. Get it together. Words I had told myself so many times and never thought I would have to repeat in an airport surrounded by strangers. I felt vulnerable. I try with everything in my being to stop crying. The tears continue.

The thing is… I have a hard time with touch. When hands collide with my body. My skin. Feelings explode like fireworks on the 4th of July.

The TSA agent has stopped talking and I am breaking down.

Stop crying Kai. It’ll be over before you know it. You are safe. She won’t hurt you.

That’s what my dad said. I was special. I was his favorite and he loved me more than my sisters. He didn’t love them as much as me. He said he wouldn’t hurt me. He told me I was safe. He lied. His hands scanned my body all the way to the ‘sensitive areas’.

Studies show that when children are deprived of safe touch and affection or experience sexual and physical abuse, their development is stunted. It can be difficult to receive touch even into adulthood. On the flip side, physical touch is needed to thrive.

The internal dilemma I face: Don’t touch me… Please touch me. Come close. But not too close.

My skin is starving for affection. My constant struggle with skin hunger can feel overwhelming. My need and longing to be touched conflicts with my fear of being touched. My brain and body are at an impasse.

And then there are random moments where I feel triggered; such as standing in an airport. My body and brain are reminded of moments where I felt powerless. Where I didn’t want touch. In these moments, the files within my soul are retrieved and I must read them all over again.

But there is hope. I am healing and I have made progress in allowing myself to receive physical affection. The journey continues.

There is more to be said.

#love and be loved

Call me Kai

“I had to face a lot coming through this journey, a lot of sacrifices, difficulties, challenges, and injuries.”Gabby Douglas

Where do I start?

I am not sure there ever was a beginning: It is almost as if I was breathed into existence with no beginning or end. I am here. I exist. I am a living being moving about in this world with vials of emotions and experience kept securely within the vault of my soul.
I am on a journey with no road-map, no GPS, no ‘turn left’ or ‘keep straight’ signs.

But I am not lost.

Who am I?

Call me Kai….

I was born in Memphis, Tennessee; the fourth of five children.
I don’t remember much of my childhood and teenage years. I remember a lot. And I have forgotten a lot. I am not sure ‘forgotten’ would be the truest expression of my lost memories. But there is information; information that contains moments, fears, joys, and spaces of time: Lost in the black hole of my subconscious. I am like a puzzle with missing pieces.

So here I am on my journey. Living, breathing moving. I am building, rebuilding, taking down and making room for something different.

Brick by Brick. I am reconstructing my walls of secrecy. wounds. past. pain. fear. hatred.
I had to and am facing a lot coming through this journey. And I want to share with you not only my sacrifices, difficulties, challenges and injuries. But my healing, my hopes, my failures, my success, my explorations, my dreams. My words.

Join me on this journey @

#Love and be Loved

The Missing Peg Dilemma

So after I moved into my lovely midtown apartment, one thing was clear: The lack of bedroom closet space! This is a known commodity (or lack thereof) amongst many midtown apartments. A friend was gracious enough to give me a wardrobe closet: Sweet, right?

Her and her husband brought it to me and set it up. That’s first class service there.

So one day, I take it apart so that I could utilize a part of it for a yard sale at a friend’s house. I knew I would have to put it back together, which couldn’t be that complicated. I mean, it’s not like I was assembling a microwave from spare parts. Even though the idea of that sounds like loads of fun. The kind of fun where time flies because you gave up on building the microwave and decided to go see a movie instead. Yep.

So where was I? Oh right. The wardrobe closet. 🙂

After the yard sale, I put the wardrobe closet back together. Notice that I’ve written wardrobe closet several times! I love writing and saying it because it reminds me of the movie Chronicles of Narnia. (If you’ve seen it you know what I’m referring to.) If you haven’t its magical and heartwarming and one of the main characters discovers a wardrobe closet that takes them to the world of Narnia. Ok that’s enough about that. You didn’t come here to read a synopsis. Rent the movie.

So I put it together (the wardrobe closet. hehe) and after I was done I noticed it was a little wobbly. I was sure I had put all the pieces and so I shrugged my shoulders. Beginning another task, I spot it! There it was. The missing PEG. Sigh!

I tried to just slide it in, once I found where it went. But in order to add it, I would literally have to take most of it down and start over. UGH! I seriously stood there contemplating whether or not I would make that effort. What would it matter if I just left it out? Oh, I forgot to mention that I had also hung up clothes. It was sturdy enough…

I began to think about this peg as it relates to my life. Do I want to put in the work to be complete or am I okay to just let a piece of me hang out there, knowing it’s accessible and in my reach? Am I willing to rebuild and reshape some things in my life in order to feel whole, or is the work more daunting than the end results? Is it worth it to take down the wardrobe closet and start over?

I have been faced with the missing peg dilemma many times in my life. Times when the fear and pain had become somewhat comfortable yet also uncomfortable. The paradox of not wanting a thing but yet having had it for so long that to let it go felt scarier than the thing itself.

Sometimes I would let it hang out there. Sometimes, (most times) when I saw the piece, the solution, I rolled up my sleeves and put in the work.

I faced my fears of traveling alone outside of the States. I went to Puerto Rico and had the most amazing adventure. I even got lost trying to take a city bus and it was okay because I knew I would eventually make it to where I was supposed to be. Life is a journey. And sometimes different routes will still lead us to the same destination.

I have allowed myself to be vulnerable, to look within my soul, my past, my abuse, my anger, my loneliness, my hopes, my shortcomings, my character (or lack there of, at times) my dreams.

And the journey hasn’t stopped. There will be many missing pegs along the way and I will always have a choice. But because I have made the choice so many times and have found insurmountable courage and healing beyond my heart ever thought possible…

I took the wardrobe closet down. Started over and put every piece exactly where it should be. Now, it wasn’t just sturdy ‘enough’. It was able to encompass all that it was designed to do. To hold the weight of my clothes and accessories without faltering and wobbling.

As am I. I am able to move forward to become who my Creator designed me to be and stay grounded, without wavering, when life happens and I find myself with an extra piece of ‘clothing’.

This is the beauty of the missing peg.

#love and be loved dear friends