Monday, January 30, 2012

On being a victim

I was robbed last week, a couple of blocks from my apartment.  On a well-lit street, and at the extremely reasonable hour of 8:45 PM, in a place I'd walked literally at least a hundred times before, often late at night.

I was unhurt.  I lost my purse and its contents: my wallet (and everything inside it), my keys, my (new) iPhone, and (ironically) my bible.  The robbers were more interested in getting away than they were in hurting me, for which I am thankful.  At the time, I was shaken, but also boiling over with indignation.  That indignation strong enough to carry me through a couple of days, so strong it held me together.

It's now been five days, long enough for it to have sunk in to a greater degree.  Long enough for other things to surface through the indignation.

And I'm sick of it.  I'm tired of this already.  Tired of how I've felt since it happened.  Tired of being jumpy and unfocused, of sleeping weird hours.  Tired of battling anxiety anytime I walk anywhere (which I've forced myself to keep doing), especially after dark.  Tired of giving wary looks to people on the street who don't deserve them, but that I can't stop myself from giving.  Tired of assessing every heavy-set man with dark hair and medium-light skin who I see on the street, comparing him to the man who grabbed my bag.  Tired of feeling my heart rate spike whenever a jogger rushes past me, or I see anyone running on the street.

I hate feeling this way.  And yet I can't control it, can't stop it.  I want to move past it, ignore it, keep living my life.  I want to be stronger than this, don't want it to affect me.  It wasn't really that bad.  I wasn't injured, wasn't violated, wasn't explicitly threatened.  So many people have survived things that are so much worse.

And yet... I still have to process this.  It doesn't really matter that I don't want to be affected like this: I am.  The fact that I don't have time for it is irrelevant.  I need to work through it.  I probably shouldn't be so angry at myself for being so bothered.  Except I am... because somewhere in my head, I'm at fault for letting it bother me.  I feel ashamed for being so weak, for being so shaken inside.  And further, ashamed of myself for feeling ashamed.

I'm not familiar with being a victim.  It's not a role I've ever sought, and luck hadn't forced it on me before this (which is some extreme luck on my part, I recognize).  At some level, feeling powerless in this way is a new experience for me, at least (or especially) as an adult.

If anything good comes out of this, I hope that it will make me more thoughtful and empathetic if (when) in the future anything remotely like this happens to one of my friends.  That if nothing else, it will give me a better understanding of what other people might need.  To give other people the support I am having so much trouble articulating my need for.  Because that, at least, would be a recompense of real value.