Following the armed robbery on Saturday night, I am trying to write down my emotions and thoughts as they pass through me this week, capturing just a few of them here to share the raw experience of my journey in the immediate aftermath of this trauma (though I find myself disliking the word ‘trauma’ intensely!). It’s both my form of therapy, and something that anyone going through something similar can tap into if they wish. This comes from my knowledge of how useful many found it to read of my emotional journey of coming to terms with the death of my mother nearly three years ago, and how healing it was for me to write of it. Please, friends (especially those who posted support on facebook in the past few days), DO NOT take any of this personally, or to heart! It’s been an emotional roller coaster and I am just trying to share my fleeting emotions as honestly as possible – I might feel irrational anger one moment, and it’s gone in the next, and I have greatly valued all the love and support that have been flooding us from all sides. There will also be odd time delays, at least for a while, around when I get to write, and when I can manage to get online to post things: I will try catch up on the past couple of days, and keep them in sequential order.
Day 2: Monday 12th May 2014
(Written in bed yesterday morning)
To my surprise, I slept deep and long, without nightmares: dreams about travel, ball gowns, and my mother. Exhausted, after less than an hour of sleep the night before, my mind and body had slipped into what felt like a healing, restorative sleep.
The instant I rose to consciousness, however, I had a flash of those faces as they rushing into our living room, and another of lying on the floor, bound. I lay in bed in the dark for a while, feeling a deep resistance to the cold air outside my duvet, or facing people outside of my family. I eventually picked up the phone I have borrowed, and half-heartedly clicked onto facebook.
Yesterday, when I initially posted about the robbery on facebook, I was in an exhausted daze and something of a rush, and just wanted to let a few people know why they wouldn’t be able to reach us. Of course, in retrospect it is easy to see how naïve that was, and it instead set off a storm of concern – messages, phone calls, and of course facebook comments. I am not someone to shy away from a bit of drama, but creating a stir at that point was the very furtherest thing from my mind, and my reactions to it have interested me. On Sunday, I found the responses incredibly comforting: while I didn’t want to engage with anyone directly, it was connecting and reassuring to know that there were all these people out there sending us love, prayers, and thoughts. Today, I feel so frustrated with myself for the post: apart from the direct and useful offers of help – loans of phones and laptops – I just don’t want anyone to know. I don’t want anyone asking me questions or sharing their opinions, especially about wishing the perpetrators are caught: I really don’t care about them, or want to think about them, at all. I have no lust for revenge or ‘justice’ and am merely relieved that my family and I were not hurt or killed. Whilst my logic knows that it would be better if these men were not able to do the same thing to anyone else, my emotional reaction is to want to forget about them as quickly as possible, and besides, their parting threats hit me at a very deep level: “If you make trouble for us, you and your family will die.” I just want them as far away as possible, and to be able to move positively forward with my life free
I feel that if I can find the space to start to really face what happened head-on, at an emotional level, which I haven’t even begun to do yet, I will be able to let it go as nothing more than a memory, and experience – this is not one of the great traumas of my life, and will not cause the long-term emotional damage that others have. We are all still alive and well, and things are just things. However, I realise that I also need to be careful not to downplay it – for myself – at this point: I need to let the most difficult emotions out NOW so that it doesn’t become something bigger than it needs to be.
I am starting to be increasingly aware of the risk of continuing to hold the line we held yesterday: “We’re just so lucky that we’re alive and safe.” I’m not saying that isn’t true: it is completely, utterly, deeply and importantly true, and we feel it with gratitude. I do indeed feel suffused with gratitude, and want to continue to live with that feeling. However I also feel a need to give myself space – at least for a little while – to also acknowledge that yes, we were extremely lucky, but it was also a traumatic and deeply distressing experience to go through, and those truths are not contradictory.
This isn’t a new balancing act: it holds less powerful echoes of feeling grateful for all that my mother was, and all the time I had with her. I AM deeply grateful for those things, consciously and regularly, and I am grateful for my genuine and unforced gratitude (yes, I often find myself grateful for feeling grateful!): but that doesn’t mean the ache of the fact that she is GONE doesn’t still wrack me with pain sometimes. I think it is so important to try and give each other the space for both of these realities, with soft empathy: offer comfort without needing to paint a silver lining that leaves the person you are trying to comfort feeling as if they have to put a upbeat spin to their experience, and unable to express the truth of their pain.