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

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 traumatic happens it can leave us wondering if it happened at all. 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.

ReStory 

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 you 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.

Quiet the Mind – Images from the Past

OK, it happened. I was there, but seriously! How many times do I have to relive it? Does it ever end? If it there is an end, how do I get there?

Talking about it helped. It helped to figure out what what was going on. It helped to put some of the pieces together. It even helped to deal with some of the intense emotions.

Helped yes. But my mind’s playback button is still clocking in at triple overtime.

Breath

Simple but powerful.

Catch a breath in through your nose. Exhale through your mouth. Repeat a few more times.

Question

Ask yourself:

Is this happening now?
Answer yourself.

Most likely your answer is no. Take a glance around. Is it happening now or is it here now?

No. Ask again if you need to.

Keep asking until your mind doesn’t have as much to say. Keep asking until the image or images don’t feel as strong. 

Keep asking and answering until your mind gets quieter. Until your emotions settle down.

What is different? 

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

Not What I Expected

No, this is, definitely, not what I expected.

It isn’t like you got up this morning, or any other morning, with the alarm clock buzzing inside your head. Kicking it off your nightstand, you stagger to your feet. Forcing your eyelids open, you look into the mirror.

Looking back at you stands a rumpled post-a-note begging you to add today’s goals or intentions.

OK fine, but they did not include:

The almost humorous bank robbery with a bicycle for a get-a-way car.
Nearly being run over by a car careening through your office windows.
Giving CPR to a co-worker outside the break room. 
Hearing the news the vice president’s secretary didn’t make it.

It probably didn’t include anything like what you experienced. Yet it happened. You were there. You didn’t choose it but now you must deal with it.

Now what?

Acknowledge what happened. Even that it did happen.

Give yourself a chance to grieve and to get the support you need. This could be a trip to the gym; a new pair of shoes; a case of tissue paper; a call to a friend; a mini-therapy session with your dog . . .

Breath.Breath in through your nose. Breath out through your mouth. Repeat until things feel calmer.

Give yourself permission to be who you are in this moment.

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing Stories – Changing lives.