Yesterday, I did it! I finally faced my fear of returning to the scene of the crime. It only took me 1 year, 28 days and 12 hours. Better that than never, I’d say. There were so many times I thought I’d never be able to go over there again. It’s not like the attack happened in a remote place that I normally would never go near. I live on an island that’s not very big, and the beach side of the island has been off-limits to me since it happened. Physically, I was unable to go there.
Last Thanksgiving morning, as I was walking uptown to get a bagel, Kim called. So instead of going the more direct way, I chose to go the ‘longer’ way to have more time on the phone. That longer way would entail walking up to Ocean Blvd. Never gave it a second thought. My body, though, had other ideas. When I was just a couple blocks away from the beach, I literally was stopped in my tracks. Just as those grocery carts that cannot be taken off the property of the supermarket, I could go no further. My heart started racing and I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I had to backtrack and go a different way. Luckily, I did not have that reaction yesterday.
I cannot remember now exactly when my body started feeling somewhat safe again. It was a very long, gradual process, which is why I can’t pinpoint it. What I do remember is being in therapy, week after week, in physical pain, and Susie telling me that the pain wasn’t real, that it was muscle memory. It sure felt real. And for a long time when I went out to walk, even if it was just 4 blocks up the street to the store, and, of course, only in the middle of the day and never regularly (as I recounted in the previous post, I was ‘stuck’ to my bed), I was in so much physical pain from the attack that it made walking difficult. I basically suffered whiplash when he slammed me to the pavement, not to mention the fighting for my life that left my arms and ribs so incredibly sore. All of that trauma was stored as memory in my body and that pain would intensify as soon as I went outside. Oddly enough, it didn’t happen when I was off the island. Or at least not to the same degree. Of course, then I was almost always with my boyfriend and I felt safe with him.
As I said, the pain subsided over (a long) time and yesterday all I really felt was anxiety over retracing that walk. I would say that I felt fine as we (I had my friend Laura along for emotional support) got closer to Ocean Blvd; well, as fine as could be expected when going back to where the worst thing I’ve ever experienced happened. There were lots of people around, the sun was still shining. I had built up such a fear of the ‘place,’ though intellectually I knew I was safe. Still, I had to continuously remind myself that I was, indeed, safe. I also was/am aware that it’s not the ‘place’ that did it, just as I know it’s not the fault of the island. It was a person who attacked me, and he is no longer here to harm me or anyone else.
I thought I’d just KNOW exactly the spot where the attack occurred. Didn’t exactly jump out at me, though. We kind of had to figure it out. The whole last 13 months, in my mind, it happened at the corner of the Beach Village and the Windsor Cottage, but in reality it had to have happened in front of the Windsor Cottage because of the way the path/sidewalk winds around. It’s not a huge difference, but it makes/made the difference in my being heard and/or seen and rescued by my angel. The picture below is where it happened. It looks so unassuming.
And from the opposite direction.
And the shot below is what I would have been seeing if I would have been looking anywhere but my attacker’s face as he attempted to rape me. It sure doesn’t look like anything bad could ever happen there. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Lastly, me on the spot.
I guess it is a relief that I finally did it. I am still processing it. Another step closer to being finished. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it, but I did!