Wellness and trauma
Two days before my wedding, I was mugged.
A friend and I were walking home with groceries when four people pushed us down in an alley and started kicking us and demanding money.
I was more angry than afraid. My wallet was under me, in my back pocket, and I was determined not to give it up. Our attackers were all wearing shorts and sneakers, and I noticed that only one of them was kicking me, while three were kicking my friend. That seemed unfair. My friend was screaming. I was silent.
Most of our groceries were scattered on the ground, but the hamburger rolls were up in a bush. I wondered about the ice cream. It was a balmy evening, just around sunset, and I noticed people sitting and talking on nearby porches. After what seemed like forever but was probably just a few minutes, one of those people yelled something and the four would-be thieves sprinted away down the alley empty-handed.
We picked up the groceries, thanked the man who had yelled and walked home. We called the police and filed a report, then ate our hamburgers accompanied by several stiff drinks.
Two days later, I had big bruises on my thighs, and my friend could barely walk. When I told my mother what had happened, she said, “Thank God they didn’t get your face.”
I got married, danced with my bruised friend at the reception and went on my honeymoon. Everything seemed fine. I told myself it could have been worse. I don’t remember anyone ever asking me if I was OK once the bruises faded. But I felt different. I was afraid. Ever since then, I’m wary when I pass an alley.
In the great continuum of trauma, I think this is at the low end. But it had an impact. And my mother’s appalling (but understandable) reaction was a wound.
In one way or another, we all experience trauma and its aftermath. It shapes who we are. A big part of wellness is our ability to recover and learn from trauma — and our ability to be supportive and empathetic when those around us experience trauma.
For that reason, we are making trauma and recovery the theme of our 2024 wellness issue, to be published in January.
Telling stories helps us heal. I just shared my trauma story. Now I want to read yours. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is Oct. 1.
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