Monday, November 21, 2011

What Im Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving!

Its been just over 6 months since my life changed and I think the meaning of Thanksgiving is hitting harder this year than ever before. I am enthusiastically looking forward to going home and visiting family. The smell of turkey and stuffing and baked apples. Were continuing our new tradition of a Turkey-day evening movie, and I cant wait to see all the family, to gossip with my cousin about her wedding ideas and to spend a rousing Saturday afternoon watching my Hokies take on the Cavaliers of UVA to win our division of the ACC and head to the conference championship game.
Despite all that I lost back in May, it has made me so much more thankful for what I still have. I have my health, I have a wonderful job that I enjoy, I have school thats going well and keeps my mind stimulated. I have my Roxie, safe and sound after her kidnapping and trip to the DC crime lab. I have the world most wonderful friends, who have been and continue to be so caring and compassionate in my times of greatest need.
I have the best family a girl could ask for. A mother to have long winded conversation, to cook and go shopping with and that I know will always be there and always love me no matter what I do- good or bad. A father who I can have a serious current event chat with, or go crazy have a few drinks and make silly jokes with, the one who taught me to drive and took me out thieving corn on the cob 'for the halibut'. A man who aches everytime he sees his little girl sad, rejoices in her victories (and wishes shed gotten a better look at the attackers so he could lead the posse to hunt them down) and along with my mother, has always sheltered and protected me. A big brother to stick up for me, to fight with occasionally, to laugh and joke and play games with and to confide in when life is going all crazy. Aunts and Uncles and a Grandmother who are always there to share a smile, pile on the compliments and make everything that much sweeter. Lots of cousins to give and receive advice and share our ups and downs with, and one in particular who has always been like a sister to me, who I fought with and played dress up with, sang and danced along to dirty dancing with, and who I am lucky enough to be able to stand beside on the day she gets married.

Thanksgiving is a time to think about what really matters in your life, and at this time my fears and uncertainties are invalid. It is not a time to think about the material things I lost, or the sense of peace I have yet to regain. My family and friends are my strength, they got me through the first few days, with messages, words of encouragement, flowers and hugs, and will continue to get me through the rest- bad times and great times. Those are the things I am most thankful for.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Returning

Petrified...

Thats how I felt on the first trip back to Eastern Market and the house (no longer home to me) where all my things were. A wonderful man, who I was semi dating at the time was letting me stay with him until I found a new place to live, and he accompanied me back to the house to start packing my things.
We had to park a block away because I was too scared to park on the same street where my robbery had occurred. I had to be on the inside, closest to the houses as we walked down the sidewalk, and I clutched desperately to his arm the entire time. My eyes were large, I was trembling and with every little sound I would jerk my head around to find the cause.
I can only imagine what would have happened if any young children had been out playing, running down the street towards me... I probably would have had a full on panic attack.
Its took a couple trips to get some minor stuff before moving, and settle things with the former roommates and landlord. The the day of moving arrived. I was so paranoid that we would be attacked while moving and I would lose everything, and drag the guy I was seeing and both of my parents into my misery as well. I don't think I was of much help that day. I stayed in the house for the most part because I couldn't be outside by myself, the fear was overwhelming.
Unpacking in Arlington was a much smoother event, just being out of the city completely unwound my nerves. I was helpful and we were all in a much better mood.

I got the I told you so from my father... he never wanted me to move into DC, because he was worried something like this would happen. I kept telling him that DC was much safer now and that I would be fine.... here I am now wondering why I must learn things for myself the hard way.
I completely avoided the city for over about a month after that, and sometimes still wish I didn't have to go there. Eventually I did have to face my fears however because my grad school classes are in Dupont. But I still have not managed to make myself go back to any part of Eastern Market by myself since the incident.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Guilt?

I feel guilty saying that I think I might have PTSD over this event.

While everyone i've spoken to agrees that it was a horrific experience I must have gone through, and want to offer any reassurance or help they can to help me move on, I myself am scared that i've created this into something bigger than it needs to be.
Last night I went out with some friends from class. At the end of the night one of the guys walked me back to my car, because I was afraid to walk back there by myself (he was already going in the same direction anyway)

We got onto a couple of random conversations and at one point he mentioned that he talks in his sleep because he has PTSD.

Thats when the guilt sets in. Here is a man who is in the military, trained and studied for all kinds of warfare, who has been deployed, had friends killed in our ongoing wars in the Middle East. A man who has looked down the barrel of a gun on multiple occasions (a much more powerful gun than what was pulled on me). Who am I to say that my experience had as significant an effect on my life to yield the same damage as everything he has gone through!?
And what about other survivors, for example- Colin Goddard is a survivor of the shootings at my Alma Mater- Virginia Tech. He not only was shot, but saw his classmates shot, saw people dying around him, saw the fear of his fellow students and the hatred in the shooters eyes and chaos all around him. That sounds like the kind of situation that should give someone PTSD- not a simple robbery.

Is it my past, my ivory tower and my naivete that has caused this to have such a significant effect on me? Am I being childish not getting over it and being able to move on? And most importantly how do I interact with those people around me who have experienced true terrors in their lives? How do I realize my troubles and work to get over them without it seemingly like i'm trivializing a real issue with my being a fragile little girl?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

An Explaination

So Maybe I should explain why I think of my life before the robbery as an Ivory Tower.

Wikipedia explains an ivory tower as "A world or atmosphere where intellectuals engage in pursuits that are disconnected from the practical concerns of everyday life". In modern times however it has come to signify something safe and secure, a life protected from the harsh realities that exist within the world.

I grew up in what is now called a nuclear home. My mother and father are childhood sweethearts, first meeting and starting to date when only in middle school. Apparently many people thought their marriage wouldn't last when they decided to tie the knot at only 19 years old, but here it is over 32 years later and they're still happily married. Despite not having a lot of money growing up, my parents always made sure my brother and I had everything we needed, and more than enough love. My mom was able to stay home with us until we went off to school, and then stayed nearby- volunteering and working in the schools for years. They were there for me when I got in trouble, and there to celebrate my accomplishments.
Ive known very few heartaches over the years, Love lost as all young women experience, the sad ending of some friendships when the time for them was past, and most significantly the loss of my YiaYia who I was dearly close to and the loss of 32 very dear people, two of whom were friends in the shootings that occurred on my beloved Virginia Tech campus in April of 2007. But this tragedy still did not hit me as harshly as some I know. I was removed from it by a 4+ hour drive.
My education has come easily to me, and my job has provided the ability for me to live a comfortable lifestyle, with a little occasional help from my parents. I have never had to live with the uncertainty of not having work, not being able to pay rent or being able to buy groceries.

I guess it just boils down to the fact that I was naive before the robbery, that I had experienced so much positive in my life that being slammed back to reality hit me harder than I ever could have imagined. Before May 10th 2011 I was just another normal girl, who was always smiling and laughing, incredibly optimistic and ready for the next adventure. Id say i've come to realize life in its reality now, as harsh as it is. Im trying to still be the happy, cheerful person i've always been, and most days I succeed, but i'm more pessimistic and definitely less trusting these days. I won't even get out of my car if there is anyone walking past unless theres a crowd of people nearby. Constantly checking over your shoulder is an interesting change in life and routine to get used to.