I do not follow football, so I actually have no idea when the big game is actually to take place. But I know it must be soon, with all the soda, beer, and snacks lining the entrances to every store I enter these days. So sorry, this post has nothing to do with the Super Bowl. Except I’m sorely tempted by the soda and snacks lining the entrances to every store I enter. But we resisted. No soda or snacks jumped into our cart and followed us home.
Today M and I went back to the scene of the crime as it were. I needed to return some documents and keys and M being M, he needed to see where the incident occurred and connect it to my description of what happened.
It was stressful to say the least, yet I am so glad I went and saw it through his eyes as I walked him through where they were, where I was, what I did, and how I did it. Looking at it now, with a couple of days between then and now, I see that I reacted pretty well under the circumstances. I moved a heavy, nearly full dumpster all by myself and did not even realize it until today just how heavy it was. In the heat of the moment, I just reacted with a very primal fight or flight type response.
I am apparently stronger than I realize. It alleviated my guilt for not being braver or more courageous in the moment. It also makes me realize I have nothing to feel guilty about and that they are now cooling their heels in jail and will not be able to hurt me.
Seeing it in the bright sunlight, it’s just a dumpster and a parking lot. The feral kitties are still there, but the bad men with the big knife and malice and ill intent toward me are gone. Being there, seeing the reality and how it is now just a benign place released the powerful, vise-grip lock the experience has had on my heart and mind the last few days. I walked away, physically unharmed, safe. Maybe I can let go of my irrational guilt and shame at not being braver or doing something differently.
I am not so naive to believe the nightmares will cease or that I can now return to my unaware and therefore mostly fearless state, yet I think the worst of the minute-by-minute torment of the last few days is behind me. Or I like to hope, anyway. We ran some other errands and got a few ingredients needed for the bulk cooking extravaganza presently underway in my kitchen, and I was calm and fine and normal throughout. No jitters, no trembling, no heart-racing panic building whenever someone passed me in the aisles. Okay, maybe a little jittery, but nothing like it was on Friday and Saturday.
While we were out it occurred to me that J would likely be texting me about tomorrow’s appointment – the one I hope not to be sleeping through the alarm on and am now 100% sure is tomorrow. I was pretty sure he was going to ask me if I wanted to review or add new stuff to the rotation, and I found myself smiling, maybe even grinning, as I thought “bring on the suck!” and meant it. Progress.
When I have thought about the last few days, I have felt poorly about my attitude and performance. Because, you know, I’m the only person in the world allowed to have a crisis and not struggle with everyday activities afterward. I am presently not-so-secretly feeling pretty damn proud of myself for sucking it up and going to the gym to practice when all I really wanted to do was stay locked in my house with the alarm armed and every single gun in the safe loaded and the safe door wide open. And I am pretty pleased that once I got to the gym, I did my warm-up and then 3 sets of whatever List I was working when I really just wanted to curl into a ball and not do anything at all. When Friday came, I sat and I went to my law firm office for a little while, until the partners got wind of what happened and insisted I go home. But I worked from home, on their stuff and other items on Friday’s to do list. I carried on and mostly did a good facsimile of normal behavior. Mostly.
I am not naive or unrealistic enough to believe this is not going to haunt me for awhile to come, that the nightmares are going to stop and I will never have to use another of the Valium tablets in my possession. However, I have had stretches of 3, 4, even 5 minutes today without the whole scene replaying in my mind along with the racing heart and the smell of my own fear as well as their own dark rankness. I’m grateful, so grateful for even that little bit of peace. It makes me literally sick to my stomach to endure those flashbacks, and I want to be able to just sit and be without them invading my mind and squeezing the living daylights out of my heart and lungs.
My anger at those men knows no boundaries right now. While M and I were there reviewing what happened, one of the management people from the other building saw us and came out to talk to me. He is someone I have met a few times while his firm was in the process of negotiating the building purchase. A casual acquaintance – a really stupid, thoughtless, insensitive and now former acquaintance – made the life-altering mistake of commenting that the bad men are homeless and desperate. I completely lost my shit, right there in the parking lot. I mean, screaming, rude, ANGRY lost it. Really? REALLY? So that gives them a free pass to terrorize women? To threaten with a knife? In that moment, the contents of my wallet or even my nice, late model car was not their primary prize, you f–king idiot! Try to take a moment put yourself in a woman’s shoes and imagine how that feels like, then come back and tell me how they are homeless and desperate. Better yet, ask your sister or your mother to imagine how that feels and then tell them that they are homeless and desperate. Yep, totally lost my shit.
And it felt really GOOD, so much that I am not at all sorry now. Usually I’m crushed with embarrassment when I am this rude. Not this time. Maybe progress?
That exchange had me shaking with anger. Old anger, new anger, a mixture of both. But it crystalized what I truly feared – that somewhere out there was some clueless chump that wanted to imply I was somehow at fault. M had to literally wrap his arms around me and lead me away I was so upset. He was pretty angry as well but I was yelling and screaming and pitching a perfect fit at someone other than him (for once), so his hands were full coping with me. It was kind of a refreshing change; it is far too often the other way around, although M does not pitch fits in the same way I do. Thankfully.
Today’s experience has been a painful reminder that there are incredibly stupid and insensitive people in the world. However, overwhelmingly, there has been so much support and encouragement and just … really good, graceful, tender, and amazing stuff from all corners, near and far. I really cannot adequately express my gratitude, but thank you.
I had/have been making positive progress on improving my internal dialogs, and come Tuesday and my next appointment with therapist TM my hope and tentative plan is to discuss with him more coping strategies for when things do not go my way. Granted, last Thursday was a big, unprecedented event that in fact truly did go my way, yet let a big chunk of me shattered and I am still trying to pull myself back together. And I will; despite my “woe is me” the last several days I have little doubt I will get myself back in order. Only I want it done yesterday. Nope, still not patient.
My thoughts have been swirling about how this incident impacts me, how I think, and how I feel. At my core, I have felt as if I deserve it for reasons well beyond my comprehension. Despite this setback, it is just that – a setback. I stayed the course with my practice and have not allowed myself to cancel sessions with J. I did not give in to the temptation of ice cream or other junky food. While I still believe I am right to not want to return to my former employer/client, even to train a replacement, more time and my misplaced loyalty makes it seem likely that I will soften my stance. Maybe.
Essentially, today I am pleased with my actions and reactions. It’s what makes me happy and excited about returning to the gym tomorrow. In this skirmish with my own psyche and sense of self I am winning. I am scarred, not broken, and I can and will continue my quest to be better. Not perfect, not heroic. Just better.
Or so I tell myself. Only this time, I actually believe it. An excerpt from a text exchange with J yesterday:
Tonight, normalcy is closer than I realized. Bring it on.