I was cleaning out my garage yesterday. Up in the rafters was my daughters old metal scooter, like the one pictured here. As I was working hard, getting things re-arranged to get my car to fit. I was clunked in the head, hard, it hurt.
I saw the scooter hit the ground, so knew it was that. It was very sudden, and it left me stunned. I took a few steps and in response to the pain put my hand to my forehead. I thought it felt wet, but my brain told me there was no explanation for it to be wet, so it must be my imagination.
I looked at my hand and it was bloody, a little bloody. I put my other hand to my forehead and my forehead was very wet, I knew I was bleeding. I looked down at my t-shirt, drips of blood were now falling off my face.
I thought, “plan, focus, execute”. I got my keys, my car unlocked, got my phone, called my daughter. I went back towards my garage, a little stunned, yet. Thankfully my neighbor overheard my phone call and was curious. He looked at me and by the look on his face, I knew it was ok to ask for help.
I asked him to look at it. I lifted my hand. He said “oh my god”. I put my hand back over the area. I wasn’t sure what to do. I knew my daughter was on the way. I asked if he had a towel or anything. I couldn’t think of anything in my garage that would help. He said, yes, then instead of getting something in the garage, he went into the building.
I tried to play out what was happening in my head, what did I need to do next. I made sure I had my insurance card, wallet, keys, locked the car. Called my daughter back to say “really, this is urgent”. The neighbor returned and he wrapped by head with an ace wrap, really tight. Gave me a towel for the blood, and my daughter arrived. I ended up with 3 stitches, right where the hair and forehead meet.
It was enough trauma for me to experience and compare to the text book trauma knowledge I have. I have seen trauma played out for others, and this was enough to validate a traumatic experience. Mind you, I know 3 stitches isn’t ALL that traumatic. Yet- I drew some comparisons to what I experienced and what I have seen, learned and heard from others.
Returning “normal” – as my neighbor, who I didn’t know, was wrapping my head, and my face was in very close to his chest, I noticed he was wearing a Vikings t-shirt. He had just asked me my name. It felt akward to be in his personal space, so I made small talk. “Did the Vikings win today?” I asked in my calmest voice, while noticing he was shaking like a leaf. I can only remember that moment, not his response. I believe in the human desire for homeostasis – keeping things the same. I was trying to restore a balance, and perspective that I was “ok”. I think victims of trauma, seek this out. Trying to get back to a state that existed prior to the trauma. One of our volunteers told me the only thing that is the same in her life before her daughters death, is that she volunteers. All other pieces got shattered, gone with the tragic loss of losing a child. I was trying to be normal with my football question.
Understanding what happened. Victims often seek understanding, why and how did this happen. For some victims of crime, meeting the offender and asking these questions, lends to the understanding. The number one question for victims, is “why me?” followed by “are you going to do it again?” Some victims want and need to see the crash site, or talk to others that were involved. One mom learned that the driver in the crash that killed her son, advised his passengers to put on seatbelts. The Mom, took this piece and made it into “gratitude”. When meeting with the offender, she thanked him for that, otherwise the family would not have been able to have an open casket. (Talk about a lesson in grace for all of us).
I had to walk back into the garage, I had to see all the blood drips on the ground. I had to see the scooter again. I had to re-trace and replay the events with my daughter. “what did I say when I called you”. My instincts were on auto-pilot it seemed, my mind was racing, evaluating, planning. I wasn’t totally remembering our conversation, because I remember trying to think how would I know this is more serious. It was important of me to make ‘meaning’ of what happened and understand it. I know that making meaning, getting perspective is an important part of integrating trauma into your life, as a crime victim. This helped me realize just how much.
The final part, I really understood, it “residual fear“. As I tried to go to sleep last night, I had this fear something was going to hit me in the head again. I even got up turned on the light, and checked what was on the shelf above my bed. I have been sleeping just fine, with that shelf and the items on it. I knew rationally, NOTHING was going to fall on my head. But laying down closing my eyes, left me vulnerable, and since this clunk on the head was out of the blue and random, I just worried. It made me understand how the fear placed by crime, stays with a victim. Despite rationale explanation. I understand the burglary victim that sleeps downstairs until her spouse is home. I understand the offender who killed someone in a drunk driving crash, being afraid their own family member would be harmed. I understand the feelings associated with harm, and that when you get harmed in a way that stops your day, it can be a little traumatic.
I’m okay, now, I just had to make a little meaning of the incident and put the restorative justice spin on it.