(Trigger Warning: Threat of violence)
Everyone thinks they will do one or all of these things when somebody points a gun at them. They will cry. They will pee in their pants, or they will pepper spray the offender.
None of these options are ideal—the last one, I imagine, could have gotten me killed. I did none of those during a recent carjacking (no shame if you have), and I’m alive and healthy enough to blog about my experience. Thanks be to God!
I did what experts advise: Give them what they want (thankfully just a car) and stay alive.
I have mostly restored the physical items that were taken in the carjacking. My peace of mind hasn’t come back yet. I feel panicked when walking alone or getting in or out of my car.
Mental health professionals say that reactions to stressful and threatening experiences, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is normal as long as those reactions don’t affect one’s day-to-day life. If victims continue to relive events in memories and thoughts that prohibit them from moving on, there is help.
Aside from a host of expenses and inconveniences, this is a felix culpa, which means something has positive consequences after a disaster. Right now, I can’t act like the carjacking didn’t happen, but I must focus on the here and now and be thankful that I have my life. I don’t want to Pollyanna my way out of this scary event—as I’m prone to do—but I don’t want it to define me or change me either. I want to feel safe in my surroundings again, but until then—focusing on the good in my life seems to be helping me. I take time to practice gratitude and be less cranky.
So, remembering to be thankful more often and enjoying the life I have is the happy consequence of the scary carjacking. Have you experienced a felix culpa? How did it change your life?
Elizabeth McBride is lucky and thankful to be alive. She is also thankful to her former colleague and friend, Terri Lackey, who first mentioned that she experienced a felix culpa.
If you have been a victim of a crime there are phone numbers and resources available.