"First things first
I'ma say all the words inside my head
I was broken from a young age
Taking my sulking to the masses
Write down my poems for the few
That looked at me, took to me, shook to me, feeling me
Singing from heartache from the pain
Taking my message from the veins
Speaking my lesson from the brain
Seeing the beauty through the
You made me a, you made me a believer, believer
You break me down, you build me up, believer, believer
(Pain)" - Imagine Dragons.
In February 2015 - I was assaulted; attacked - whatever word you choose - at a Baskin Robbins at Meadowvale Town Centre. It was one of the worst experiences of my life because it shook me to my core. Yet, I did not fully process it then or deal with it because there was so much else to figure out in my life. Or perhaps because no one helped me. Not one person. Actually, that's inaccurate. The lady at BR helped me. She rubbed my back, gave me water to drink, went out to try and get the license plate number of the car the girl who attacked me was driving. Yes, it was a girl. A stranger. A black woman. Who for some reason followed me to BR to assault me. At first I was in too much shock to make sense of just what was happening; but then I gathered my thoughts and forced myself to remain calm because I knew if I retaliated; it was going to get much much worse with her. After she left I could feel myself shaking, gasping for air and crying. I dialed 911 and after being transferred twice - the female officer on the phone told me to go to the nearest community police station. We had a partial license plate and a description of the girl and they really couldn't do much. I remember my dog, Charlie, was in the car with me and all the time I was being attacked at Baskin Robbins all I could think about was him in the car and I hope she doesn't do anything to him. Anyway, I drove to the community station which was inside a plaza nearby and I broke down in front of the one lonely male officer in there. And he did nothing. He didn't offer any support. He didn't take down any information. Instead, he raged at me about how such occurences are common in the area and was probably a result of road rage. I was like, road rage?? He then continued on and said that he hated people and his job and when he retired he would go to a place where no one was around. Can you imagine the scene - I've just been attacked, I'm shaken and distraught and I go to a police officer because he is supposed to help in some way. Instead, I end up feeling more upset and let down and leave because he is essentially useless.
Why am I talking about this now?
Because I keep seeing myself and I feel sad for the person I see every now and then. It broke my heart literally. So many things did back then. If you will bear with me:
In October 2014: my soulmate Jackie died.
In Feb 2015: The BR incident happened.
In March 2015: Pi came to my life.
In Sept 2015: I moved back home and came back to Brampton
In March 2016: my mentor, my friend, my neighbour, my boss, my confidante, my protector, my cheerleader - Paul - died.
In April 2016: My dad had his craniotomy
In June 2016: I took 6-7 weeks off and drove my dad, daily, for chemo and radiation
In June 2017: my dad had a stroke
In April 2018: my dad had a fall and broke his hip.
I'm still trying to breathe most days. So the BR incident was shelved. And now it's back. and won't go away. I realized how each of these things has changed me - seeped into every pore and changed the constitution of my being. I was so angry and sure I still am - but it lessens with time. It lessens with a lot of inner work. Every time someone calls me brave I, sometimes, cringe inside because I am not. I am scared often. My smile has changed. I check my rear view mirror a lot as I drive because I'm paranoid about who is behind me. Because she followed me in her car and then sat fuming in it before she came in to BR. I keep a lot of stuff in and you would never know any of the things I have gone through and overcome unless I say it. This is why someone once said about me, "still waters run deep".
What has all of this taught me? I can handle a lot. I'm strong. I wish someone had helped me and protected me and taken care of me. Goddammit I wish someone had. But I kept myself safe. I had the presence of mind to stay calm and not do anything else to make the situation worse. I felt so ashamed and vulnerable and even writing this out is extremely difficult. I never share or use my words lightly. I don't throw words about for effect of dramatization or attention. Especially in such matters. Everyone is going through something. Perspective really does help. Maybe this is why when someone complains about the weather to me I've forced myself to stay silent instead of saying, "you live in Canada. Of course it's going to snow!" or stopped telling people who complain about the water coolers in Brampton, "you need to visit a 3rd world country; then you'll really have something to complain about." Yes, I've actually said these things to people and then just slowly started shutting up. I didn't want to shut down.
Because despite any of this - any of the bad, horrible, traumatic stuff life has delivered to me since I was a child - I still believe. I believe in kindness and hope. I believe in the kindness of strangers. I believe in people coming together when you really need them. I believe in your reactions being more important than what you're facing sometimes. I believe that you can be strong beyond what you thought was possible. I believe you keep yourself safe. I believe that rainbows and sunshine and children and puppies have ultimate healing powers within them. I believe in myself to keep me safe. I believe I can rise up to the occasion. I believe I will not turn bitter. I believe if I can help, I will. I believe I have enough people in my life who help me carry on. I believe I have possibilities to look forward to. I believe life is what you make it - you only have the one; so choose to live it. I believe I am important. I believe I am worthy (even though I am plagued with self doubt). I believe in, "just breathe" any time I feel anxiety coming on. I believe I have risen through all of my despair because I choose to live. I believe humour and laughter are very healing - maybe that's why I try to be funny. I believe in all of the good times and good people in my life. And most of all, while I can't believe I'm ending this with a Shawn Mendes song lyrics - the kid knew what he was singing about, I believe
"Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can't
It isn't in my blood
It isn't in my blood"
Because the pain cannot win.
Because the pain cannot win.