The Attack, Ctd.

The Attack, Ctd. November 1, 2011

This past Wednesday marked one year since I was assaulted by two thugs outside a DC Metro station, and everything changed. What’s odd is that I had been kind of bracing for the first anniversary of the event, as though there was a sort of rent in the universe where it happened in time, and when the Earth passed through that space once more, as it will with every year’s revolution around the Sun, I would somehow feel it; almost as though it would happen all over again.

Of course it didn’t, but even more surprising to me is that on the actual day, it barely registered. Life got in the way. Work, parenthood, new projects, etc. All of these demanded my attention, leaving no room for re-experiencing the attack.

Don’t misunderstand me. I live with it every day. The fear, the guilt, the worry — it’s all still there, and I keep feeling it in new and unexpected ways. In fact, in my ongoing therapy sessions, part of the treatment is to experience the assault over and over again in my own mind, until it almost becomes boring.

I also live with the physical damage to this day. Where my orbital bone was fractured, just below my right eye, the nerve damage has yet to heal at all — my teeth just below the fracture are still numb, and sinuses on the entire right side of my head continue to feel as though they are clogged with rusty lug nuts. My wrists will probably never get any better either — already problematic before the attack with pain and weakness, they took several impacts from my being knocked to the ground several times, and they continue to hurt, they continue to bear weight poorly, and the old problems once-unrelated to the attack have come back with a vengeance, and seem to be worsening.

In the broader picture, the attack spurred enormous changes in my family’s lives. We decided to move from DC to Maine, we got new jobs, and we struggle with finances and with questions about where we belong.

But I guess the most important thing is that we’re okay. Toby thrives (though he likes TV way too much), Jess’s job is a good one, if not the epitome of creative fulfillment, and I’m just starting to find my feet at work and with other potential projects — but just barely. All in all, though, “just barely” is not so bad, particularly considering the state of the economy.

There are a lot of challenges we still need to meet as a result of all these changes. We are extremely fortunate in the family support network we have here in Maine and elsewhere; we know that none of them would ever let us fall on our faces. I’m continuing to work very hard in therapy to address all that the attack caused and all that it dredged up. I’ve learned that so much of that damage is bigger than the attack itself, so the work is more overwhelming than I ever could have guessed.

But had this not all happened, I may not have started that work. We wouldn’t have come to this wonderful place. I don’t at all mean to imply that it was “good” that the attack happened. It was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. But at the very least, it’s spurred a series of events that, in the end, may prove to be a net positive.

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