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I'm Kara Rodriguez

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I'm dedicated to encouraging other women through story. My healing journey is one of transforming the involuntary vulnerability that resulted from the abuse into an intentional openness, an offering of hope for others. Up until recently, most of my writing revolved around this part of my story.

And then I became a mom, which has turned out to be quite difficult at times too. But here's the thing: My childhood was much too serious. There was simple no room to laugh about it. But now, I'm living my life in reverse, tapping into that childhood that was shortchanged, and I'm finding the funny among the hard things. My most recent book is GOT MILKED, an equally honest and humorous book on early motherhood.


Babies Made


Books Written


Projects Done


Photos Made


Got Milked

According to Amy Poehler, “Every mother needs a wife who takes care of her and helps her become a better mother.” And yet many are quite surprised to learn that most husbands make awful wives. (Note that they also make pretty rotten mothers.) That husband of yours simply cannot provide you with the same level of validation and support that Kara can. From the mom every woman would be lucky to lock down, GOT MILKED is the hilarious and candid kitchen dish out that weary, modern-day moms are desperate for.

While there are about 368 ways to approach virtually every aspect of mothering these days, moms all have this in common: They need to laugh and be encouraged. Every mom needs to be reminded that: One: Even the pregnancy unicorn can have a difficult day or two (or year). Two: Even the most anxious, sleep-deprived, lonely person postpartum can survive the first year of motherhood and ultimately remember it with fondness. Like a nasty case of the stomach flu, GOT MILKED gushes from both ends.

Dripping with honesty, humor, and “other” things, GOT MILKED is the relatable and reassuring gem that moms are dying to get their hands on.

Click here to order!

My Father's Shadow

Dedicated. Driven. Determined. These words have all been used to describe Kara, but most aren't aware of the devastating past that made her this way. Beneath the facade of a family fairy tale, a horrible secret was kept. At the age of 12, Kara realized that she had repressed memories of being sexually abused.

MY FATHER'S SHADOW is Kara's revealing memoir detailing the abuse, the overwhelming struggles, and her search for a savior amid great distress. Kara writes of the joy of becoming a believer in Christ, the highs of traveling the world, and the wonder of finding healing from the abuse.

What do you do when a secret—kept or told—continues to haunt you? What do you do when you’ve been betrayed? When your heart’s been taken and used and thrown away? Kara's memoir provides great insight into the trauma of sexual abuse and the damage sin can cause.

A true survivor memoir, MY FATHER'S SHADOW is poised to change the face of literature on the topic of sexual abuse.

Click here to read a sample chapter.

If you would like a FREE ebook copy in exchange for an honest review, please use the contact form below.

Death by Beauty

Numerous books address beauty and body image concerns as they relate to media and culture. But what if those issues exist under an additional layer of shame and distortion? In DEATH BY BEAUTY, Kara Rodriguez tells of her struggle with processing sexual abuse and insecurity. She elegantly combines her vulnerability with detailed research, giving the essay a stark authenticity and immediacy.

To feel like the ugliest person on the planet and also be convinced that beauty and sex determine worth is without a doubt overwhelming and heart-breaking. This coming together of two very opposite poles—this performance-based paradox—is poison to a woman's soul. These poles that are similar in nature have distinct origins and opposite pulls, one magnetism being sexualization and shame, the other draw being a mixture of sexualization and pride. One tug is to hide the body in all circumstances; the other is to reveal more of the body at all costs, but neither is what God intended.

In DEATH BY BEAUTY, Kara evaluates the complexities of sexual abuse, body image, and insecurity. She explores the convolution of shame, pride, and sexualization, and considers God’s Word to define real beauty.



I've really struggled with resentment since James and I added Wally to the family, so I picked up this book (9 Steps to Heal Your Resentment and Reboot Your Marriage), ignoring how cheesy and self-helpy it sounded. It's helped me to look at and realize a few practical things.

First, the book had me list the things I'm resentful about. I won't recap them all, but so much of my resentment has revolved around an imbalance of work load (house chores, parenting), a lack of understanding (who I am as a mom, what I needed during that first year), how parenthood has affected us differently, wanting to matter, needing personal space (taking time for myself, having more boundaries, not feeling controlled), and fear (not feeling secure in his love for me).

But when we numb the painful, we numb the positive too. So we have to feel it all.

The book highlights the fact that we can only control ourselves, so why not take control. I'm responsible for my own happiness. I'm not a victim of my marriage or of motherhood or of my own life. So instead of straining to change James, I was to practice lowering my expectations and list three things I could get rid of:
  1. Working - I plan to quit! DONE!
  2. Always being the default parent - Practice taking time for myself
  3. Buying groceries, which is something James is supposed to do - simply stop and write what we need on a list for him

A basic exercise of simply saying no. Then I was to list things just for me, like little rewards, and experiment with using them. I was supposed to come up with 25 things, and I could only list 7 at first! I think that says something right there: Do I even know what I like?
  1. Getting a massage
  2. Reading a book
  3. Meeting someone for a beer
  4. Getting a coffee alone in the morning
  5. Taking a nap
  6. Going for a solo walk and taking in the falls, the leaves, the air
  7. Cookies - eating them and baking them
  8. Snowboarding
  9. Going for a run
  10. Getting outside
  11. Writing in my journal
  12. Writing on my blog

My Non-Negotiables:
  1. Running / exercising
  2. Writing or reading
  3. Morning time

The next part was difficult. The book had me list everything I've lost / everything I miss as well as everything I've gained as a result of marriage and having kids. The goal was to acknowledge and grieve and see that getting married and becoming a mom breaks you down and rebuilds you.

What I've Lost and Miss:
  1. Complete independence - not having to check in
  2. Freedom and control - even around simple things like money
  3. Praying in bed in the morning
  4. Traveling alone
  5. Having more time with friends
  6. A strong sense of self
  7. The chase
  8. Bulk of alone time
  9. A sense of being understood - less complicated life
  10. Minimal stress and anxiety environment

What I've Gained:
  1. A constant friend - someone is always around
  2. Not being alone at night
  3. The stimulation of growth
  4. Joy - watching Wally grow and the little moments
  5. Confidence of commitment
  6. James' cooking
  7. Hugs and kisses
  8. Someone to share walks, running, movies with
  9. Joy - witnessing James be a dad
  10. Date nights
  11. Beautiful home
  12. Family trips
  13. Laughing at silly things together
  14. Having lots to write about

The next part was to list everything I could about my own family dynamics in order to recognize the patterns that have been ingrained. I realized that I'm triggered by a failure to listen, controlling behavior, unhealthy boundaries, not being treated like I matter, the not helping...partly because my dad didn't do well with those things growing up. When feeling resentful and triggered, I'm to ask what's really asking for my attention right now?

Tips I Found Most Insightful:
  1. Ask for help and for what you want.
  2. Practice saying no because every time I say yes to something I don't want to do, I'll end up feeling resentful. And every time I say yes to something, I say no to something else.
  3. Focus on three positive interactions for every negative.
  4. Write one good thing about James per day.

To sum up the message, overcoming resentment lies mostly within gratitude, what I choose to focus on, taking responsibility vs. blaming, and taking time and doing things for myself.

Thoughts & Anxiety

Maybe this seems a bit intense for a beach vacation, but it was actually nice to remove myself from every day life to think about something more serious, thoughts I've struggled with.

When I shared with my therapist the anxious thoughts that I've been having and how disturbing I find them, she said, "You know, medication can really help with that." But I refused to believe that a simple pill can clear all my anxious problems up. Mask them? Sure. But truly address them? So I picked up this book (Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts: A CBT-Based Guide to Getting Over Frightening, Obsessive, or Disturbing Thoughts) out of my unwillingness to just surrender to them.

What I've learned is that just about everyone has intrusive thoughts. And when they are disturbing in their content, it's easy to hold onto them and start making judgments about yourself, your mind, your intentions. But here's the thing: "What you resist tends to persist."

A Few Voices Inside Our Heads

The book speaks of the voices in your head, Worried Voice and False Comfort:
Worried Voice articulates the fears and doubts and misguided conclusions that predict tragedies and awful outcomes...False Comfort is actually so disturbed and frightened by Worried Voice that it continuously tries to argue, control, avoid, suppress, reassure, reason with, neutralize, or work around whatever Worried Voice comes up with.
Worried Voice goes nuts when the content of the thoughts is essentially the exact opposite of who you are and what you truly want to believe. The ultimate goal is to experience the thoughts without judgment or evaluation.

Suffering about unwanted intrusive thoughts is a disorder of overcontrol, not undercontrol. Doubt and uncertainty. Trying to control those things that you can't control (the thoughts) and wanting to be absolutely sure that nothing bad will happen. And that's how the thoughts take hold. It makes perfect sense why I'd struggle, someone who wants to feel in control and wants to be reassured all the time.

But simply being alive involves risk. Loving involves the risk that you could lose the ones you so deeply care about.

Common thoughts are of harming, either yourself or someone else. Thoughts about death and dying. Worry is even a form of intrusive thoughts. Especially when you worry about the fact that you're worrying all the time. Toxic worry tries to solve problems that cannot be solved or addressed (i.e. I'm worried that the plane could crash). Anxiety is reacting to something safe as if it's dangerous.

While thoughts have no power to change probabilities in the real world, experiencing disturbing thoughts somehow makes terrible things seem more likely, and so you work hard to "make sure" they never happen.
They fluctuate in intensity and frequency based on the fuel they receive—triggering events in the real world or the stickiness of your mind due to fatigue, mood, or anxiety—and, ironically, by the amount of effort you expend to try to counteract, avoid, or suppress them.
The basic premise of the book is that people who struggle have taken their thoughts too seriously, as if they actually say something about the people they are and the things that might happen. And so the key is to think of the thoughts in a different, non fearful light.

What the Book Teaches

The initial fear experienced as a result of the thought is unstoppable, but the ongoing fear is what we have the power to change. And that first bit of fear goes away quickly when you realize you are not in any danger.

Passivity is actually far more efficient than effort. Sometimes you just have to figure out how to let time pass. Without rationalizing or analyzing.

Most preached techniques involve trying to control. Trying to control the thoughts is entirely the wrong attitude. It ignores the fact that the thoughts are meaningless and harmless, and don’t require controlling. Because when you don't recoil from your thoughts, they lose their power.

The book also hit on a very important point for me involving faith and prayer, but simply by asking God to remove it, I give the thought power and am taking it seriously. And so the prayer feels ineffective, leading to doubt and questioning God. Giving the thought importance leads to it sticking all the more.

And so we are to recognize that they are just thoughts. Accept and allow them to be. Not to distract, not to engage, and not to reason them away. Float and feel them. Let time pass. And proceed. Continue on with normal activities.

Acceptance is the opposite of fighting with the feeling or fleeing from the thought.

Trying to figure out what the thoughts mean or whether or not they are true only keeps them coming back. The problem is thinking that Worried Voice is actually re-assurable. Worried Voice has to learn to tolerate that it can’t have a 100% guarantee about anything in life. And not everything has to mean something.

Anxiety tries to convince you that intrusive thoughts have a special meaning. Part of beating anxious thinking is refusing to be taken in by this misleading message.

Imagining a horrible future does not allow the present reality. 

And so it's best to return the mind to the present, noticing the floor under your feet or the sound of the wind. Focus on what you can sense right now. Sensations change from moment to moment, so do thoughts.

Intentional Exposure

This therapy takes recovery one step further by intentionally exposing yourself to triggers, like carrying the written thought around in your pocket. Saying, "I'm seeing the image of..." over and over to yourself.

The most important aspect of exposure is to stay in contact with what frightens you until the feelings seem more manageable. The goal is to allow all thoughts and feelings into awareness. Avoiding them reinforces and empowers the thoughts. But if intrusive thoughts just don’t matter because you have less fear of them and you are able to tolerate them much better, they then fade out on their own.

The books says that instead of responding to a what-if question, pivot your attention gently over to your senses: what can you hear, see, smell right now here in the moment? What does your body feel like? Notice without judgment or struggle.

Any thought can be tolerated...because there is no real danger. It is only a thought.

The Current War Within

I have to believe that there's something more to this. I can't wrap my mind around the idea that there is this condition, like a disease, that must be addressed with something that's so passive, so simple, so...effortless.

I really thought that I was on to something this last week. I'd arrived at a desperate place once again, so easily serenaded by the sweet sounding words, "A pill is all you need to take." Because the deepest part of me wants to believe it's true.

"YES!" my inside screams. For a few hours, days, weeks even, I'm soaring above it all, wrapped up in the romance of such a simple fix.

Here I am, doing this, and yet I'm finding that I can't. I just can't do it. I can't take the risk. After how sweet it sounded. Knowing how easy it could be. The risk is driving me more mad than the anxiety itself.

Perhaps a drug can make it somewhat better, but a drug is still a drug. And a drug doesn't address how it got there, why it stayed, why it won't go away.

I have to remember that my anxiety is so much deeper, so much more complex than what genetics, science, and psychiatry all want me to believe. I'm lonely, isolated, imprisoned by my work, trapped in my guilt, longing for and needing so much more. And beneath it all are the lies I believe. About God. About life. About myself.

The story I'm hearing over and over. I'm not loved. I'm not known. God isn't there for me. God won't protect me or my family. And at the end of it all, maybe...maybe...He won't be there...The doubt.

Who wouldn't be anxious?

And on top of the issues themselves is a layer of thinking, of believing, of allowing my work to imprison me, of resentment and bitterness, of refusing to believe just how much God loves me, of letting my mothering say absolutely everything about me and not trusting where God has me in this moment.

Byproducts, really, of being isolated. The lies.

But this means that there is a solution. A hard one, but maybe a better, more permanent one. I will always be anxious if I'm doubting God. If I fear death and the safety of my family, the thoughts will overtake me. If I don't trust where God has me in this moment, the guilt will overwhelm me.

God, please have mercy on me.

I must do the simple work of caring for myself with food and water and activity. And I must do the difficult work of removing the bitterness, confessing, letting go, engaging harder in a community and putting energy towards finding the one for me.

I like to think that maybe I had to go through this struggle to actually step up and start fighting. That this blip mattered.

What I hate most about medication is feeling like there's something wrong with me. There is something wrong, but there's a difference to me between a pill-sized missing link in my brain and the sin and lies I've been steeped in. There's no pill big enough to overcome the bitterness that's taken hold, the lies that have become rooted, and the hopelessness that's ensued.

And I can't just sit here and take a stupid pill because the work of marriage and motherhood and believing is "too hard." Especially when it's not just about me, but this baby too.

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Minneapolis, MN