For a 2 day trip I have a surprisingly high number of things to tell you. There are far to many for a single post and with trying to catch up with the rest of my life and working on other non Cornered Cat posts, I have decided to write one overview post and then incorporate other aspects of the trip with later posts.
I was surprised at how not nervous I was. I kept waiting for the butterflies to develop and for me to break out in a cold sweat, but it never happened. I hate to fly, hate it. Well, I love to fly, but I am not fond of the plummeting to earth in a fiery blaze aspect of flying. I was flying alone to a place I had never been, other than driving through on my way somewhere else. I was meeting people I had never met and I was going to be training in front of them. I thought I would be nervous about how I would shoot, if I would embarrass myself or if I would be my typical self and just melt into the background.
I arrived at the airport and checked my in at the counter. I let them know I had an unloaded firearm I needed to declare and the man behind the counter got a blank stare. He was very, very nice, but he was not sure what to do, so I think he just started making things up. I had my gun partially broken down and in a locked box and in a separate locked box, I had one box of personal protection ammo. He insisted that I could not have ammo and my gun in the same suitcase. I assured him I could. He went on some diatribe about how if they were in the same suitcase someone could steal them and start shooting up the place. This was second man that I came in contact with who seemed terrified about my gun. Two more times he brought up how one of the workers in the back could gain access to my suitcase and have a full fledged rampage. I don’t know his fellow workers, so I did not argue the point, but I did calmly repeat that I could in fact travel the way I was traveling. Finally, he decided to call TSA and they told him that it was fine. I could. Great. In hindsight, I should have printed out a copy of both the TSA rules as well as the guidelines for that specific airline.
I proceeded on to security and had my first naked body scan. I am not overly modest. Meaning if I am in a locker room with a bunch of other women I have no issue showering or changing even if I don’t know them, but for some reason this scan made me feel a little violated. A while back, maybe 2 years ago, I had a friend bring up these scans and how she thought they were awful and I thought who cares? Friday, I kind of cared. Now, it was not a big deal. I did cry or get all embarrassed, but as I stood there with my hands over my head, I thought, this does not feel right.
My plan was not to tell anyone where I was going or what I was doing, not sure why, but I thought it best not to. That plan went out the window from the second I sat down on the first flight and did not end the entire trip. I sat down next to a very nice couple from Virginia who are on a grand adventure moving to the midwest. The usual chit chat…Hi, Nice to meet you. Traveling on business or pleasure? What are you doing in Memphis? That kind of thing. The husband has a carry licenses and likes to shoot and she is thinking about it. They have friends that shoot etc. As I waited for my next flight a man sat down next to me and we exchanged similar pleasantries. He owns several guns. A Sig, a Glock a Kahr etc. and he knew a lot about them. We discussed carry laws in different states and what not, but he has only shot about 20 rounds in his life. He is more of a collector he said. I just smiled. I have 6 or 7 other conversations like these all weekend long. One with my driver that I will tell you about later.
Made it to Memphis got picked up and headed to my hotel and then a very nice lady, Ericka, who reads my blog picked me up and we went for dinner. I have a lot to say about this woman, but it will have to wait, but I LOVE her. Kindness and generosity ooze from her every pore.
Lots happened that night, but lets skip to the next morning at the training. I walked into the room with Ericka and the only available seats were in the front, so up to the front we went. I held true to form and didn’t say much of anything. I just sat there and listened to all the Kathy had to say. She gave the basic run down on safety and why we were all there. Gave us an overview of the day and then we headed to the range. She gave a demo on the draw from a holster and what she wanted us to do and then we partnered up and proceeded to run some drills. I don’t want to brag here, but seriously, I was shooting like a champ. Both Ericka and I had shot several rounds into the same target from varying distances and our target had a nice tight little group. I would like to say here that I planned to take a lot of pictures, but I tend to get very serious at training and I just didn’t do it. I took some, but not many. I did not feel nervous, but for the first time in months, I did revert back to my habit of taking several minutes between shots. Kathy walked up, whispered in my ear to trust myself and take the shot. I did and my accuracy improved.
Kathy is the perfect mix between caring, calm, supportive, gentle while being confident, strong, in control and tough. She is soft and funny. She is smart as heck and she is deeply passionate about women and their defense. I don’t actually want to share to much about the stories she shared because they are her stories to tell(most you know how I feel about each person telling their own story) and if you are fortunate enough to take a class from her, I don’t want to rob you of any of the experience, but I will say, I see a lot of similarities between me and her. I hate to speak for her, but I think she sees them too. She has mentioned a few things I have written that she could relate to or felt as well. She is a very connectable person, so everyone might have felt the same way.
I will say I was a tiny bit annoyed by the time we went to lunch because during both the classroom portion and the range time several woman were chit chatting laughing and making comments as Kathy spoke. Now, let me be clear, they were not doing anything wrong. Not being disruptive or bothersome to anyone but me. I realized I was annoyed and did some self analysis. I can be very type A and very serious when it comes to learning, especially something like this. My husband says I was born 30. Even though I think I have a sense of humor and am crazy hysterical(if I do say so myself), I do lean to the serious side. I have come a long way and can recognize the signs when I see them. I decided at lunch that I was going to relax and that it was ok to have fun.
When we got back into the classroom for the holster discussion, I forced myself to lighten up. I generally would never contribute to a lecture or offer my input on a subject I am not an expert in and I most certainly would not contradict a person in authority, so I was surprised when I did just that. Kathy was sharing her knowledge and experience with holsters and she came upon a holster she does not like, at all. She was very clear and I sat there listening, but it happens to be a style of holster I use daily and like and I thought just stay quiet it doesn’t matter. People have different opinions, it’s fine, but then I thought, stop being such a puss, just say something. And I did . I raised my hand and expressed my opinion. We had a nice little exchange and while I do not think either of us changed the other’s mind, it was fine. I have been practicing this idea of sharing my thoughts even when it differs from others. Mostly on other gun sites and while I have no desire to become confrontational and I still believe often times it is better to just move on, I think one should not keep quiet out of fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of anything. I am not a fan of fear.
There is a ton more to tell, but again lets skip to day two. First thing in the morning Kathy announced that we were going to switch partners and I was none to pleased. Not so much because I didn’t want to shoot with the other ladies, but the grown adult in me does not like being treated like a 5 year old. I am a walking contradiction. In many ways, I do exactly what I am told and at the same time, I really do not like being told what to do. Not my class, so, of course, I didn’t argue. I am not in anyway willing to concede that Kathy was right:) BUT, I was thrilled with the partner I got. I am betting that no matter who I would have been paired with, I would be typing the same thing, but this woman, my partner, is something special.
I was first up to shoot and she was very keenly aware of every move I made. After each shot(in the beginning), she offered helpful tips, ideas, suggestions and was very encouraging as well. When it was her turn I offered a suggestion or two and she was receptive and incorporated them and we both benefited from our time together.
Day two was a lot more shooting and while I had done most of the drills, one thing I had never down was shoot from cover(can stop a bullet). It was really concealment(can’t stop a bullet), but we set the scene and the scene was that were behind a concrete structure of some kind. It felt odd and I did have my first little flicker of butterflies as I held my hand against the “wall” and tilled my gun about 5 degrees. The whistle blew and I shot 6 consecutive shoots down range, dead center mass in a smaller than fist size group. Nice!!
My partner is an excellent shot. Her groups are ALWAYS, nice and tiny and frankly it is annoying, so I was shocked when it was her turn, the whistle blew, she took one shot and the hole was at the bottom of the target. She holstered her gun, called me over and said, I closed my eyes. We both laughed and discussed how awkward the positioning was. I think also it was uncomfortable since we were standing out the booth and could see the person next us. I see the person next to me at the outdoor range, but there is something about being told repeatedly not to take your gun outside of the booth and then taking your gun outside of the booth that is creepy. It felt that weird.
Round two, she aimed, the whistle blew and 6 shots bam, bam, bam…perfectly placed. She holstered, I walked up to her and whispered. You are a very good shot when you keep your eyes open. Again, we laughed.
Again lunch and again range time and then classroom discussion. I had to leave early in order to catch my flight, but the portion I got to hear was very useful. Day two’s presentation was on legal issues and mindset. I heard most of it before, but Kathy offers some unique insight. It was the first time I shared any hint about what had happened to me.
Kathy was talking about the 3 elements that must be present in order to have a good legal case. Basically, was the person showing that he was intending to cause you grave harm, did the person have the ability to inflict such harm and would any reasonable person agree that this person was in fact going act.
Since my attack, I have always believed that if I was ever in that situation again, I would shoot the guy before he could grab me, but as Kathy was explaining all the different scenarios that would be acceptable, I panicked, She gave examples of a guy with a gun or a knife or disparaging size. She gave examples of a guy making threats and yelling and as she did, I got sicker and sicker to my stomach.
My bad guy didn’t do any of that. To my knowledge he did not have a weapon and he did not say anything threatening. He kept saying over and over, I don’t want to scare you. I am not going to hurt you. Although, those words terrified me, how could I prove to a court of law that when he used those words, his intent was to harm me. I knew in ever fiber of my being that he was going to hurt me. I knew the minute I saw him and yet, I had no proof. I thought, my God, I couldn’t have stopped him.
I raised my hand and tried to speak, but I could not. The words would not come out. I sat there trembling for a few minutes with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. Ericka reached out and wrapped her arm around me and I heard a voice behind me say, your ok., I finally was able to compose myself and asked her, My bad guy wasn’t any of those things. There was no legal proof that he was going to hurt me until he did. When could I have shot him?
I was not crying because I was traumatized by the memory or by telling the story or even by the what this guy did. I was rendered speechless as I thought holy crap, I have been working off the premise that in the same situation, I could end things before he got his hands on me, before he knocked me to the ground, before… Now, I wasn’t so sure and that scared me.
Kathy knelt down, grabbed my hands and said I could have shot him before he grabbed me. She acted out what the right thing to do is…yell STOP and GET BACK(which I know) and then if he kept coming, that was the threat and I had enough cause to shoot.
I did tell him to stop, although not with enough force and he did, but then he would tell me he didn’t want to scare me and he would take a few more steps towards me.
Later that night on the plane, I played that conversation over in my mind and I remembered that John has told me the same thing. If I told the guy to stop, he should have stopped and if he didn’t his plan for me is not a good one and that was enough to use deadly force. I can not explain why my mind went blank and why I had forgot that. I think it was my mind preparing me for the next part of my healing.
I sat there with my eyes closed I replayed the entire attack in my mind over and over. Piece by piece. I could see every single detail in slow motion. My mind had never let me accept that there was plenty of things I could have done to avoid the attack all together.
When I saw that man walking across the parking lot, I knew instantly he was a bad guy. I have seen lots of men in a parking lot before and I have even been alone with them in elevators and have not been afraid. When he first started towards me I remember, now, that there were other cars. As I thought about that day, I could see clearly that they were pulling out of their spots. 3 of them. When I first saw the bad guy, I was not more than 6 or 7 seven feet from the entrance to the store. I kept walking to my car. Farther and farther a way from safety. I had eye contact with him the whole time and consciously, I thought, “I am in trouble” I was making a plan for my daughter’s safety. I had accepted that something bad was going to happen. I have never admitted it was something I could have prevented. The minute I saw him, the minute I felt uneasy, I should have turned around and gone into the store. I should have gone back into the store. Done, finished, end of story.
I didn’t and if you have been reading this blog long then you know why and all the reason and all the gory details, that I won’t go over again, but my work, my plan has always been dealing with the attack at the point where I tell him to stop and he doesn’t stop. I had not accepted responsibility for the fact that I could have stopped the attack before I ever would have needed to draw my gun.
Listen to me clearly…THIS WAS NOT MY FAULT. I should be able to blindly walk to my car without a care in the world without fearing for my life. NO ONE has the right to harm me ever, for any reason, regardless of my situational awareness.
I am not blaming myself or feeling guilty, but since there are mean vicious assholes in the world, it is in my best interest to see my attack, every detail for the reality that it was, so I can do better in the future to keep myself and my children safe.
Bit by bit my mind lets me see more and more and brings people and events into my life so when I am ready I can handle the next part, not only so I can a heal more fully, but so I can be more prepared and more capable.
It was a good weekend.
P.S. someone emailed me and asked me why I lowered myself to cussing. I am not going to address the crass way in which someone chose to address me, but I will explain. I am getting tired of saying “bad guy”. It implies that he was just not nice. It comes across like he attempted to steal my parking spot instead of my money, my body, my spirit. I have shared much of that day, but not every detail. Not every word he uttered once he grabbed me, not the images my daughter saw, not every mark he left on me. This was not a nice guy. He was more than a bad guy. He was mean and cold and he hurt me, deeply. He is a monster and I feel that vicious asshole is quite appropriate..