Everyone knows what you’re supposed to do when life gives you rape lemons. The problem is figuring out how to get that rape lemonade made. Of course, you have to go get rape water and rape sugar — and rape cherry juice if you want to make it rape pink — or is that breast cancer pink? Or unluckiest gender pink? Or just pink, the color of so many unasked-for problems? Anyway, I’m a rape survivor who’s been working on my own lemonade recipe for years, and I am happy to share my tips on taking something truly bitter and making it metaphorically sweet.

After I first got my lemons, I spent years acting out, drinking alcoholically, hitting bottom, getting sober, and then slowly and painfully turning my life around. Success! So have I finally gotten over it? Well, no, not entirely. Because that shit takes forever.

Sex is so weird when you think about it. The act by which we make other humans, the act through which we experience supreme physical pleasure — that same act can also be used as a weapon. That’s like having a nuke that, if you just use it differently, can also make everyone orgasm. Why aren’t scientists focusing on that? I mean, which will future generations thank us more for inventing: driverless cars, or actual, working sex bombs? Let’s see the UN try to sanction those!

Personally, I have found it helpful to think about rape from a big-picture perspective. After all, it’s just a misuse of power, and it’s very hard to get away from that in this life. Just look at our friends the honeybees. Any honeybee drone who manages to have sex with the queen has his reproductive organs ripped off afterward. And then he dies. See, it’s not just my lone experience: the birds and bees themselves have a dark side.

PS, parents, we might want to rethink the “birds and the bees” metaphor. Maybe it’s time for us to have that big talk about “seahorses.”

I’m a contemplative, so part of recovering from rape has meant thinking about it a lot. But I’ve reframed my PTSD and obsessive thoughts as part of my work as a scholar of human boundaries: where do people begin and end? How and why am I affected by things that are not currently happening? I like thinking about these ideas so much that I put “Human Boundary-ologist” on my résumé, right up there after “metalhead” and “poet.” Yes, I am unemployed.

As a rape survivor, the idea of being overpowered by someone who wants to harm me is not abstract. I wish I had had access to a good violence prevention program when I was a kid. There’s one in New York City now called Prepare. There’s also no joke in this paragraph.

There have been times, I’ll be honest, when I wasn’t ready to make rape lemonade, and all I could do was lie in bed and drink my own bitter tears. But in the same way that homemade kombucha has a “mother,” those despairing tears were my lemonade “starter.” Painful, yes. But a lemonade fountainhead!

Making rape lemonade is about looking on the bright side, though, and one thing I will say about trauma — when it happens, you know you’re alive. Also, having gone through it, I know I’ll never have to experience it again for the very first time. That is, aside from the flashbacks. Cheers!