Robbery – Story’s Shift

Being the  ill-fated middle – person between the barrel of a gun and a robber’s forced cash withdraw didn’t show up on your bucket list. 

A gun aimed in your direction is terrifying. For me, it came out ok. For others it didn’t.

Wrapped up in the routine of the day, a demand for money note appears in front of you. Just in case you weren’t sure you were being held up, someone flashes a gun. All questions answered.

You fearing for your life. Your terrified about might happen to the people you love if something happened to you. You hand it over, just like the note said. In the moment, feels like days, the robber makes a get-a-way. Still breathing you wonder if you were really robbed. If what happened really happened.

Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. But whether it did or didn’t it is done. If you have any other questions you can review the security tapes after the law enforcement officials and news teams leave.

Now matter what happened or how it happened, people react differently. We are all unique creatures with different life experiences so it only makes sense.

Robbed and Talking

Hanging out in the pool area at a local sports club, iced swimmers migrate towards heated whirlpool waters. Some people sit, while others stand. The aroma of chlorine and the hum of muffled conversations and the mechanical drone of jet-propelled water fulls air space.

“My husband was robbed at work … ” comes the persistent tone of a woman’s voice. Quieting, attentive hot tub listeners lean in.

“He was held up at gunpoint … ” Her story continues. “We’ve been in counseling for two years just in case it happens again.” 

Pausing, she looks down. “I’m not a member. My husband can’t work. He could have gotten killed … “

In a different location, filtered sunlight floods the entryway to the local National Bank. Perched on stark metal chairs employees share the experiences of the latest robbery. A young employees father briefly interrupts, finding it hard to believe his daughter is still alive.

An older lady speaks up. “It’s my third time. I don’t think it gets any easier, but some [robberies] are just funnier than others.”

Wiping a tear from her eye, “He had a gun.” Laughing and crying, she continues, “This time the get-a-way car was a one speed bike.”

A few months later this same lady in the same bank was robbed again. Her story continued. “Going to court was the worst but after that I just felt sorry for the guy. I still write to him in prison.”

Get-a-Away not Getting You

Robbery happens. Robbers usually don’t target specific people at a set date and time. They want the goods. Robbery is just a way of getting them.

It would be really awesome if robbers used publically accessible calendars or social media news flashes. If they did, we would plan our day a different way. If they did, we might feel less of a target, even when we are not. If they did maybe we could just put the goods out front and save all the hassle and drama. But they don’t. 

Robbery and being robbed has lots of meanings to it. Being robbed of a promotion, your ideas, your role, your program or your goods can leave any of us feeling targeted and vulnerable.

Going back to work or the place it happened now takes courage. Then trying to double dodge the deafening voice in the back of our heads screaming about something we are sure we did wrong, but didn’t.

Gutting through the survivor guilt. Feeling like somehow if something worse happened to us instead of someone else this whole thing would be easier. Or even trying to figure out how we change what happened when we can’t.

What you can change is you. Your story can change too. The one about what happened, why it happened and what happens next.

OK it happened. You’ve talked about it. It sucks. But … What if you told this story a bit differently?

ReStory – Your Get-a-Way

The truth is there are things you did which helped yourself or someone else. Find something you had the courage to do. Or something you did to help someone out, including yourself. 

Did you have the courage to go back to work? The courage to tell your story? The courage to make the call. The courage to … 

When you are ready, review what happened. See the strength and the courage you brought to the situation.

Look at some of the amazing people around you. How did they help? What hidden strengths or courage did they do? What did you learn about yourself in some unexpected way or ways?

Did the drudgery of seemingly endless, routine training drills pay off this time? Did some people’s actions surprise you? Did you work together as a team in way you didn’t think was possible? 

Did people offer helpful support in unexpected ways?

Start your new story. Acknowledge your strengths – the strong stuff. The positive, unexpected things that seemingly came out of no where. The strength you already showed. The courageous steps you have already taken.

Let the people around you know their strengths. How they helped. Other good stuff you saw in them. Your story is already changing.

Being the hero or heroin of your story, means saying yet it. So name it. Say it out loud. Tell someone else about it. 

How does it feel? What’s different about your story now?

If life throws a challenging curve, find the support you need. Find the strength inside yourself. If you are honest, it has always been there. This can make a different in how you move through the trauma.

This is your story. Tell it like it is. Tell it only in the way you can.

Be the hero of your story instead of a victim of circumstance.

Until next time … Story Impact: Changing Stories – Impacting Lives

Reporting for Duty – Military vs. Civilian Life

“Hello. I’m writing from home but I’m not at home.”

Whose’s writing from where? Actually more like texting or messaging from here to there or there to here. It depends who you are on what time you are. Being in the military means being two people in one. A soldier. A civilian. Still a person.

In a neomorphic collision of inter-earthly worlds, Soldiers interchange identities. 

Uniforms, uniformity and a commitment to service dominate military life. Soldiers go where directed. They provide service where and when they are needed. Military life commands a call to duty. A call to service. A call to serve bigger than themselves.

Civilian life clamors for uniqueness, individuality and self-empowerment. It values flexibility, spontaneity and creative engagement. Civilian life is like a do-it-yourself or a take-it-at-your-own-pace, a self-directed course in life living.

Then it happens. You, your family and your friends are hanging out in your custom designed canoe.  Paddling through not-so-bad waters

Then it hits. Like the torrential downfall of misguided waterfall appearing mid-stream. Orders are issued. There’s no place to land. So you do what any normal soldier does. You jump. You hit the water running. They re-arrange themselves and keep paddling. The distance between you and them become more like lifetimes of distant, outdated memories. 12 o 18 months across countries. Across worlds might as well be across lifetimes.

Back home, the unstructured zaniness of civilian life clamors on without you. The once familiar …

“What’s for dinner?” 
“Where’s grandma? The neighbors called. She ditched her dentures in their backyard again.”
“Who used my toothbrush?”
“What, you flunked 1st grade for the 3rd time?”
“If it’s not your fault the dog ate the turkey than whose is it?”

A canter and a language no longer you own.

Coming home … who moved the canoe?

In the wake of the splash, your families and friends re-adjust; without you.  New roles are taken. New structures and daily routines formed; without you. They moved on; without you.

For you, coming home means hopping in the canoe where you left it. Only now it’s gone. It’s left without you. It moved on. You’re only chance is to chase it down and hope there is still room for you. The insider gone outsider.

ReStory Support

Magical trinkets. Electronic devises. Kind words. Unexpected smiles and encouraging words all make our journey easier. More palatable. More humane.  For soldiers and their families needs a bit of extra support, Give an Hour gives the tools of free, confidential counseling.

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing Stories – Impacting Lives

Clocking Out – Trauma’s Time Warp

The clock ticks. Time slows. Life stops. 

Tick. Tick. Tick. The hollow sound of the clock drones on.

when something really bad or traumatic happens it can leave us wondering if what happened really did happen. Or if what happened it is just an ill-fated dream, with morning only moments away. Only this kind of morning never comes. Yet, the feelings and experiences are real.

Anger, grief and fear are now familiar, much like worn out friends on a sour day.  Feelings taunt us. They trick us into thinking this is normal. So normal, we are almost afraid to let go. Because if we do, their absence would threaten to separate us from something or someone we once knew and loved.

Time slows. What once was, no longer is.

Find a quiet spot or a quiet time of the day. Grab a piece of paper and your favorite pen. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Then write, draw or scribble anything that comes to mind. Words, feelings, images, doubts, fears … whatever it is, write it down.

When you are finished, destroy the paper. Don’t go back and read it. Just destroy it. What is done is done. 

Afterward, ask yourself these questions. Someone people write down the answers. Seeing your answers can help you know that some things can be different. 

What was it I like to do this?
What has changed? 
What is different now than when you started?

Time is time. Clocks are clocks. What happened, has happened. We are who we are. What you choose is up to you.

For many of us, when we stop fighting with ourselves and our experiences we can begin to see what is possible beyond them. Whatever things feel like now, life around us is still happening. Life is still changing. You are not the same person you were when things happened.

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing Stories – Changing Lives!

Disclaimer:  This exercise is not designed to diagnose or treat challenges relating to mental illness, crisis intervention or life-threatening situations. If you are experiencing any type of mental health emergency, immediately call 911 or contact your healthcare team.