Being the youngest of four girls, spending most of my childhood as the only one living at home, I journaled. I wasn't necessarily good at it ... but it helped me get through some pretty rough times when I was a kid. Fast forward thirty years and here I am ... journaling (on this website) to make sense of an unthinkable situation (in hopes that it will help others from facing the same result).
Making Sense of the "V" Word
Nobody chooses to be a victim. They don't choose to be attacked, injured, or robbed by someone else. They don't choose to be cheated or fooled by someone else. They don't choose to be harmed by an unpleasant event (like a medical condition or accident). People don't just wake up one morning and decide they want to be at the mercy of someone else against their will or to feel physical or emotional pain. Most of us choose the exact opposite.
For example, "Invictus", by William Ernest Henley, has inspired many to overcome obstacles and achieve the impossible:
Out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole,I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud.Under the bludgeonings of chance my head is bloody, but unbowed.Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the Horror of the shade,And yet the menace of the years finds and shall find me unafraid.It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll,I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.
We are encouraged to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in ... to "seize the day" and take control of our destiny. We are applauded for taking "massive action" in pursuit of a goal that will maximize joy and fulfillment and produce massive results. We are commended for helping others and cultivating our communities for the better.
What I found out yesterday afternoon is that nothing can prepare you for the moment you realize you have become a victim.
October 29, 2016 - 2:02PM
You never think it will happen to you ... UNTIL IT DOES.
Although a phone call from my mother in the middle of the day is not unusual ... the one she made at 2:02pm was very different. She had left the house that morning to go out shopping at 11:30am. When she came home she noticed the front door open, assuming I had come home early from work. She called for me as she entered the house, only to be met by a young man she did not know, running down the stairs towards the front door. He pushed her aside, stole her purse and continued running down the street. Obviously shocked, but unharmed, she found her cell phone and called me. I didn't pick up.
My mom immediately went to the next door neighbour's house for help (and to use the phone as her cell phone had died). Our neighbour immediately came to the rescue and also tried to get a hold of me. She came over to our house to see what had happened and be a witness to the crime. The garage door was open, the locks were not damaged, and nothing was obviously broken. The two of them also walked through the neighbourhood to see if they could find the man who was in our house or find any additional clues.
I finally got a chance to check my phone at 2:40pm to hear the voicemail and immediately called them back.
October 29, 2016 - 4:05pm
My mom stayed at my neighbour's house until the Calgary Police (and their crime scene investigation unit) arrived. While she spoke with the constable on the scene I tried to stay calm as I informed my colleagues of the situation. Because it was such a busy day on location (and we were understaffed) I was unable to leave until over an hour later. I then went to the back office, grabbed my laptop, bag and jacket and headed to the parking lot.
As soon as I stepped out the main entrance I stopped dead in my tracks.
My car was gone.
October 29, 2016 - 4:25pm
I immediately went back inside as my brain was going a thousand miles an hour:
- Someone broke into my car.
- They found my address on my registration and insurance.
- They used my garage door opener to get into my house.
- Did I leave my car unlocked when I got to work?
- Did I leave the inside door to the garage unlocked when I left the house this morning?
- Were they watching me when I left my car?
- When did they take my car?
- How long were they in my house before my mom got home?
I went to the back office to regroup and looked for my wallet to make sure I had enough cash to pay for a taxi to get me to my mom across the city. Then, my heart stopped.
My wallet was gone.
Not in Kansas Anymore
At that moment this became so much more than just a person who broke into our home, stole my mother's purse, and stole the car. This nameless, faceless person walked into my place of work (leaving my laptop, work bag and all other things untouched), selectively stole my purse, walked out into the parking lot, used the key fob to set off the alarm and locate my car, went through my glove compartment to find my home address, and immediately drove to my home to search freely through my belongings so he could take even more. The way I viewed the world changed in that very instant.
I felt excruciatingly violated.
In that very moment I lost all faith in the kindness of human beings. My belief that people were essentially honest and good-hearted was immediately crushed. The strong sense of safety I felt living in Canada was gone, into thin air, and I felt empty inside.
I began thinking about people who have survived natural disasters and if they felt this way. But then I came to realize a tornado or hurricane victim, at the very least, have minutes to protect themselves from disaster. They know it's coming and can take action before the storm hits. This was not the case for us. Our lives changed the minute this person decided to steal my purse and take whatever he wanted ... including our sense of safety and freedom.
Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining
The last 36 hours have been a blur. I am pretty good at multitasking and getting a superhuman amount of things done in a day ... but this day was incredibly RIDICULOUS:
- Phone calls and face-to-face meetings with Calgary Police,
- Finger prints and forensics,
- Phone calls with insurance companies,
- Phone calls with banks and credit card companies,
- Phone calls with locksmiths and two emergency lock replacements,
- Writing police reports and "documenting" every aspect of my life,
- Being reminded, with every item that is gone, that our lives will feel "empty" and "uncomfortable" for a while,
- Playing the "would have ... should have ... could have ..." game, and
- Many bouts of uncontrollable tears.
But what I will remember through all of this are the incredible acts of human kindness, caring and selflessness that my mom and I have witnessed by the amazing people we have in our lives. We can't thank enough the following people:
- Our neighbour who opened her doors to protect my mom from harm and keep her calm through a devastating experience,
- My dear friend who dropped everything to drive far across town to pick me up from work and take me straight home to my mom,
- My amazingly kind and supportive colleagues and coworkers who kept me calm and helped me "keep it together" as we pieced together the ridiculous events of the day,
- The Calgary Police Officers who came to my home and continue to do everything they can to find the person who did this to us (i.e., canvassing our neighbourhood, questioning the neighbours, finding surveillance cameras that might have seen something, etc.),
- The constable who has been there through every step to make us both feel safe and "important" amidst all of the chaos she deals with on a daily basis,
- "Iron Man" who always makes me feel like a VIP at his restaurant and helped me to remember to smile again (which also included a variety of shots to diffuse the situation),
- My fellow yogis who bring laughter and light to my day, who remind me I am stronger than I believe, and that they will always be there if I need them, and
- The man who found some of the personal effects while on his morning stroll and called me using the number he found on my business card,
- My "chauffeur" who made sure I could get to the bank before it closed so I could get access to some money before I ran out of emergency cash.
Although it only took one person to completely ruin my faith in the goodness in people, I was quickly brought back to my roots with the people that REALLY matter in my life! Anyone can take something away from us but they can NEVER take away the community that holds us up in times of crisis.
Don't Let This Happen to You!
In the end, my mom and I are both safe and unharmed. This experience has made us stronger and we have come to appreciate one another even more than before. The next few months will be really challenging (and emotional) ... but we'll be fine.
Through this experience we've gotten a crash course on crime here in Calgary ... and how often it actually happens. Apparently, many thefts (similar to the one we experienced) are motivated by drugs and finding quick cash to buy more. Also, times are a bit tougher these days and people are struggling to make ends meet. They may be more motivated to steal what is available to provide for themselves or their families.
To be honest, I didn't help the situation either! For example:
- I didn't put my belongings in a safe place (behind locked doors),
- I kept my insurance and registration in my glove box (which includes my home address), and
- I kept my garage door opener inside my car (which gives anyone access to my home).
Although these are actions that many of us do without thinking about it, they help make crime easier and much more convenient for seasoned thieves.
So, please learn from our experiences and take caution! Don't let this happen to you, too.