Life update part 2

Hi there! I was so touched and blown away by your loving response to part 1 of my story, and I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You guys have been the best support system, and I really appreciate you.

So, to update you on my current life: everything has gone alright. Some days are better than others. I have been getting into a good workout routine, and that’s helped immensely. The hard times are when I’m home alone. The first night was miserable and then from there it’s been better. I’ve recently had some family come stay with me and that’s been a big blessing. After they leave, I’m going to focus on working outside on my backyard. It’s a disaster and I really want to make it a pretty space.

Anyways, there isn’t an easy way to transition this, so if you are here for the second part of my story, here it is: 🙂

My coach at the University of South Dakota called me into his office after that second underage drinking ticket, and we had a long chat. His name was Coach Houk and he is currently the assistant volleyball coach for a top 5 program in the country (my favorite team to follow– the Minnesota Gophers). Looking back, Coach Houk was the best volleyball coach I have ever had. Not only was he challenging on the court, but he pushed us to grow personally, too. After that ticket, the advice he gave me is something that has defined me as a person. He told me that if “you don’t stand for something you’d fall for anything.” Simple words, but when applied, mean so much. I always have them in the back of my mind when I am in a tough spot.

after that conversation, I decided Vermillion was not the city for me, and transferred to South Dakota State University. I moved to campus early and trained with the Volleyball team. My volleyball coach was pretty clear that if I was around anyone who had alcohol I would be kicked off the team. Which was fair. I pretty much just worked out, went to practice and class and ate and that was my life. It was actually going really well for probably 6 months. My team was great and we had a ton of fun actually. The girls I played with at SDSU are still some of my favorite friends.

Stephanie Kroeze
Go Jacks always!

After the fall season things started to get a little uncomfortable for mentally, and this is when my anxiety fully came to a head. Some of my teammates pushed out our coach, which was probably for the best, and we were in the process of getting another coach. I had zero interest in playing for a third coach. I also was dating this basketball player who was extremely religious. I had obviously had the trauma I had, and that experience made me feel so dirty and disgusting. It was really hard to be loved by someone who I thought was so pure and perfect. Now looking back, I just want to give me a hug, but at the time, those feelings were pretty heavy. I am almost positive that if I told him how I was feeling, he would have been so kind, but I just wasn’t ready for that. (We broke up after dating for like three months and he ended up making out with my teammate immediately after 😏. Now he is happily married, and she and I don’t speak).

Anyways, after we got a new coach, I knew I wanted to quit the team, but instead of confronting it, I just pushed forward, and went through the motions. I called my dad before every 5 A.M. workout so anxious and stressed. He was encouraging and helped me get through the workouts. At this point, my stepmom was concerned about me calling so much, so she had me go see a doctor for anxiety.

Some of my faves from my volleyball team

I knew that all that I needed to do was just shared what happened to me (refer to part 1) and what I was going through with the doctor so that I could be free of this burden I was carrying, but I was still scared . I told the doctor that I was socially anxious, I didn’t like to be around people, and that I was stressed with volleyball and school. I was just hiding from the truth.

This doctor diagnosed me with generalized anxiety disorder at that point and gave me anxiety medication. She started me off on Ativan I think, and it completely changed me as a person. I was high as a kite, but because a doctor gave it to me, I thought it was okay to take. I became unattached, and even more anxious! The medication was awful for me.

My dad was very involved in my life, and after seeing what the medication did to me, he told the doctor to take me off of it, which she did.

My dad + my hero on the day I got sworn in as an attorney

My stepmom was still convinced I had an anxiety issue, so she took me to another doctor. That doctor put me on a low-grade anxiety medication, that I eventually stopped taking because I didn’t like the way it made me felt. It made me feel slow, not wanting to get out of bed, or exercise and I just felt numb. It covered up what I needed to face.

After that, I quit the volleyball program, and moved to Colorado for the summer. I spent the summer with my sister in Pueblo and worked at Tony and Joes and a law firm. After the summer was over, I went back to South Dakota, switched majors, and maxed myself out in every credit I could. I got really immersed in my schooling, and that’s when my trauma started to spill out.

College days 🦋🥺

I took a ton of classes about domestic abuse and human development. I started to realize that what happened to me was not random, and I was not alone. It turned out that my story was extremely similar to a lot of other people. Things started to click with me that a lot of my decisions and anxiety were because of my trauma, and my response was normal.

What I mean by this is that unfortunately, the majority of perpetrators will tell their victims something bad will happen if they share the abuse, and that the victim goes on to suffer from a lack of self worth, safety in relationships, anxiety, depression, stomach issues, etc. after learning this, I started to get confidence that it would be ok to talk about.

Omg this pic of us from that summer i moved down to colorado o

Since I was in a place where I knew it was safe to discuss, I decided to call my sister after class and tell her what happened to me. It took me 19 years to share what happened. After I did, I felt relieved.

Prior to telling meagan, and long before I was an attorney, I analyzed everything about what legally could happen to the perpetrator. It happened in minnesota, so i looked up the statute of limitations, to see if he could still be prosecuted. I personally did not want to confront him. I have the most respect for victims of crimes who are able to report it and see through to the end of prosecution. I think that you are brave, and strong, and are doing the right thing. I also believe that if you are too scared to confront your abuser, you are strong, and grace, and are doing the right thing for you too. There are many reasons why this crime goes unreported — whether it’s because the perpetrator is a family member, you feel pressured about not reporting it, you don’t have the resources, or your local authorities are inadequate at prosecuting. Whatever the reason may be, I hope you know you are not alone.

Let me know if you are interested in Part 3 ♥️ please message me on instagram at @attorney.attire or leave a comment if any of this resonated with you!

Thanks for being here.

xoxo, Steph

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