“Genuine beginnings begin within us, even when they are brought to our attention by external opportunities.” – William Bridges
About two weeks ago, Cheery and I were walking home after having gone out for a lovely evening of movie watching, shopping, and milling about. We were entrenched in conversation and laughter when all of a sudden someone jumped out from behind a corner and demanded our purses. Someone grabbed for my purse… I probably should have let them have it, but instinct kicked in and I held onto my purse, screamed help, and fought. I suddenly realized that there was more than one person. I was dragged across the street by my purse strap. I held tight, and kept kicking and screaming for help. Two of the thugs began kicking and punching me in the head. Eventually my purse strap broke and they were able to take my purse. One of the thugs held my hands behind my back. I’m not exactly sure what happened after that.
Some neighbors heard me screaming and called the police, who showed up surprisingly fast. In fact, I could still see the thugs half way down the block as the police arrived. Cheery and I jumped into the back of the cop car and went after them. It was probably the wrong thing to do – the cops should have started running after them on foot – there were too many places for the thugs to duck into.
I quickly began going into shock. For me, going into shock looked like hyperventilating and sobbing uncontrollably. I could not get my breathing under control, which for me, is really telling because I’ve been practicing Ujjayi breath for 10 years. After getting out of the cop car, I had to sit down on the curb, and then as I got dizzier and dizzier, I had to lay down. The paramedics came and asked if I wanted to go to the emergency room. At this point, I didn’t know what to do. The bumps on my head were growing; I was in a lot of pain and feeling dizzy. I kept saying that I didn’t know and that I was in shock. I eventually chose to go to the ER. It took me about 2 hours to calm my breathing and to stop crying.
A few years ago, after my incident with Henry, I took a 10-month self-defense class where I was taught Defendu. That’s where I learned to scream and to fight. I’m so grateful for the training. During the attack, my mind heard my instructors yelling at me to scream louder. My body moved instinctively into fighting positions.
Should I have fought back? It’s definitely arguable. Most people I have talked to say that they just hand over their possessions when confronted with thugs. I didn’t know there was more than one person when I began to fight. While it was extremely dangerous, I am glad that my fight-instinct kicked in. I’m glad that I didn’t make it easy for them.
Obviously, being attacked is extremely traumatic. I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of emotional processing after the attack was over. A heavy depression set in the following morning and lasted for a couple of days. The depression quickly morphed into anger.
I’m used to sitting with my feelings and processing them. But I started being inundated with angry thoughts and I couldn’t stop them or even process them. I just felt bombarded and out of control. Luckily for me, work was extremely busy the following week and I was able to sufficiently distract myself and allow time to dissipate some of the anger I was feeling. Of course, it only delayed the real processing work that I am now facing.
The level of support that I have received has been heart-opening. Qtask gave me a new phone, and the CEO gave me some cash so that I didn’t have to stress. My friends called and wrote to offer their support and ask if there was anything I needed. Zoltan held me tight in my weaker moments and provided continuous love. I am tremendously grateful for the people that surround my life.
I am practicing good self-care and working on ways to find the lessons in all of this experience. Please feel free to share your experiences with trauma and things that have helped you use those experiences to further your self-growth.
“And when a human being transforms himself, when *you* transform yourself radically, you are affecting the whole consciousness of mankind. You are mankind, you are the movement of mankind. This is fact, this is actual. If you change, you affect the world. So it is your tremendous responsibility.” J. Krishnamurti, Total Freedom