I write for two blogs. One is for the Atlanta City Moms Blog, to which I am very committed and for which I keep all my deadlines. I also have this blog, to which I am completely irresponsible and only write when I have an unexpected event or an a-ha moment.
This post is neither. I am writing this one because I need to be free of a burden, and I am drumming up the courage to spill my tea.
The day before my 41st birthday, (I am almost 44 now), I was in my local Kroger. I had lost a ton of weight, and had put lot of hard work into Choosing Joy. However, my family was in the middle of a catastrophic ordeal, as my father had suffered a brain injury and was hospitalized for quite some time. But his condition had improved enough that I could return home and help my mom manage things via phone.
And I was on the phone with her when, while shopping, I noticed a man out of the corner of my eye. He was pacing back and forth behind me as I put together my lunch at the salad bar. I thought he was just impatiently waiting his turn, so I moved on. I finally made it to the spice aisle and was texting someone when a very loud voice inside my head instructed me to “keep walking”. I did, but then stopped further down the aisle to finish the text. Behind me, I heard the crunch of a potato chip bag. And then it happened.
I think victims of sexual assault deal with the crimes committed against them in different ways. Mine was to freeze, to demand to know what he was doing, to tell him to get away from me, and then freeze again.
But I wish I had chased after him. I wish I had kicked his ass. I wish I had been stronger.
I also wish the Kroger staff hadn’t left me and my groceries alone in their deli for over an hour while I waited for the police and my husband. Thank goodness one of the patrons there took the time to lean over and quietly ask me questions, trying to calm me down.
Although they had the entire incident on video, the police never found him, and my case was closed. Well, for them anyway. From the moment that man put his hand up my dress and did the unthinkable, I have never been the same. It took me a year to re-enter that Kroger, and when I did, I had a full-on panic attack.
I retreated from my world, and, in turn, my world retreated from me. MealTrain apparently doesn’t have a category for “crime victim.” As time went on, feeling such deep rejection and hopelessness, I cut myself off completely. Thank God for the angel friends and family who stuck with me, despite that fact that I had nothing to give them in return. They keep me going even now, and I bet they don’t realize how much they help me. I need to tell them.
This is so very personal. But if there is one thing I am trying to learn, and hope to impart, it is that while my happiness is my responsibility, I cannot recover without support. If you are going through something, and you feel alone, don’t be afraid to be raw and real with someone you trust. We all need at least one person in our lives to whom we can say absolutely anything. And we need to give ourselves permission to feel all the feelings, because healing can’t start until the band aid is ripped off.
I am tugging at that band aid – and it is starting to give. So don't cry for me, Argentina. And don't give up on me either.
Until next time, keep crowin’ and don’t stop trying to find your joy!