It Matters How You Think
I knew a person once we said to me “I know that if someone wanted to harm me, I could not protect my self or my children and I am fine with that.” “If it is my time to go, it is my time to go.” Of course she said that, but she didn’t really believe it, otherwise she wouldn’t take her child to the doctor or wear her seat belt or turn on the alarm in her house, but it’s what she tells herself because thinking about being mugged, raped or murdered is scary. Thinking about your children being harmed is unimaginable and it is easier not to, until of course you have no other choice. Often what appears to be easy, turns out to be the hardest thing of all. I understand that mindset. I was pretty much the poster child for that mindset. When I get a comment like I did yesterday from anonymous I am not angry with him or her because I was him or her. I told someone last night that this person who keeps posting anonymously, it feels personal to me. I keep thinking it is someone who knows me. Someone who is close to me, but maybe it is just that I can so intimately identify with the thinking that I feel a connection to him or her. I don’t know.
While, I understand the thinking, I also know how dangerous it is. I can promise you sticking your head in the sand and crossing your fingers that the bad guy won’t kill you is not a good strategy. Even if one is prepared to die, most are not prepared to live with the aftermath of survival. Death sucks, but living comes with it’s own set of issues and in my case, not dying was when the real fight for my life began.
When you survive an attack, for most people there are all the usual feelings of fear, shame, embarrassment, and anger, but for me I also felt completely demoralized and an enormous amount of guilt.
On that day I did not fight. I did not protect myself or my daughter. I know, I know, we have been through this a number of times and I am not feeling guilty today. This is not about that. This is about the cold hard facts that someone who isn’t willing to think about the consequences of not fighting needs to know. It has been said “You did everything you needed to because you are here and you are alive”, but that isn’t true. I did nothing. One of the things that the bad guy said to me when he was on top of me was, “We are going to get up from here and you are going to leave with me.” and I would have. I know it without a doubt. He knew we couldn’t stay in that parking lot, eventually someone would come along. There is no way to know for sure what his intentions were when he first spotted me, but I have done a lot of reading on instinct and have learned that people do actually know more about a person and their intentions then we give ourselves credit for. As I have replayed that day in my mind, I have come to believe that he was a bad guy and probably had committed many crimes before, but I also believe he just wanted a few bucks. The way he approached me and the way things played out, I believe he became bolder and bolder the more compliant I was. He went to take a little, I gave it without issue, so he went for a little more and a little more. I don’t think his plan was to knock me on the ground and drag me out of there, but as I lied there with fear in my eyes, I think he thought, “She is weak”. “She will leave with me.” and he was right, I would have. That is something to think about the next time you tell someone it might be easier to just give them what they want. I did nothing. I did not fight because I thought it was the best way for me to survive. It wasn’t a choice. I didn’t assess the situation and decide that not resisting was my best option for survival. I did nothing because not fighting had been so ingrained into the fibers of who I was that I did not even have the natural instinct to protect myself or my child. The cold hard truth is that, had those 2 cars not pulled up, this story would have more ugliness, that I am sure of. Not having the courage to face the possibility of an attack nearly cost my everything. It’s not about having a gun or not having a gun, it is about mindset. My mind is what almost got me in bigger trouble that day.
After something tragic happens there are really only 2 choices: give into it or get over it. Let it beat you with depression, alcohol, withdrawing, anger whatever, or move on. Moving on might seem like the easier choice, but it is a hard and painful road. Death is hard, but surviving is no cake walk.
In my determination to change my mindset and to find joy and happiness again, I lost much. I lost myself. I lost parts of me that I had identified with for so long and parts I loved. I lost several close friends that I had before the mugging. The new me was not to their liking and even though they said they would always be there for me, when things got tough, they rather coldly and brutally walked out. My children suffered and so did my marriage. My family and friends needed to protect me and I needed them not to.
There are people who read this blog that have known me a long time and they can tell you that our family was the perfect white picket fence, annoyingly happy family that no one thinks exists. Of course, we had ups and downs and hard times, but our foundation was solid. Our kids are good caring people and my marriage had been the kind people dream of. Twenty years with a man I have always adored and who has always cared for me and put me first. I have my faults and he has his, but somehow we just fit. I have always been able to be me and to get through life’s obstacles because my husband was by my side. When my brother died, he was the rock. He took care of everything as my father and I tried to get through the day. When our daughter A came home from China and our family was reeling from the realities of what life had tossed her way, he made sure everything was taken care of, so I could focus solely on her. He is kind and generous and strong and he has always been who I turned to, but this time I couldn’t.
There was no conscious thought process. I did not decide I could not depend on him or others, I just did what I could to get through the days, move forward and not go crazy. As I began to depend more on myself, my family and friends didn’t know where they fit in. We are all protectors of each other, not really talkers. We are all ‘suck-it” uppers. If something bothers me for the most part I don’t say anything and that is the kind of people I surrounded myself with. They knew I was hurting, so they didn’t say anything when their needs were not being met and I was too focused on myself and E to pay attention. A huge chasm began to develop and those relationships suffered. By the time I was healthy enough to notice, most had already been destroyed.
My story has a happy ending. My children are happy, healthy and carefree. My marriage is more solid, more connected and more pervy than every before. The friendships I have been able to maintain are deeper and closer and the new ones I have made have added a richness to my life that I never experienced. I meant it when I said I am the happiest I have ever been, but I would have preferred to have thought about these things prior to that day. I would have preferred to have been prepared. I would have preferred to have not lost so much.
Fighting for my life, for my family, for my marriage, was a painful, gut wrenching process and when I look back on the mindset that got me into the fight, it hardly seems worth the price I paid.