Before we start: this may strike some of you as whiny, self indulgent crap – others have been through worse etc – and if that is the case, then that is fine with me. But hopefully venting might help me to get over it. So here goes.
On sunday 31st October, at about 10:30pm I was on my way home from a High Society shift at Bluewater Shopping Centre. While walking along the road I live on, 2 guys pulled their bikes over (one behind me, one in front), pulled me to the ground and stole my phone and wallet. Doesn’t sound like a lot, and didn’t cost me anything of value (phone was going to be upgraded anyway, all stuff in wallet was replaced within couple of weeks). Apart from a bump on the head, a couple of scrapes and a bleeding mouth, I was physically unharmed and was able to scramble home and Sayem was able to get hold of my sister, who called the police and an ambulance. They checked me out, took a statement, all the standard procedure. Nothing has come of it, but they went and investigated anyway. In terms of what the police have to deal with, not a major issue, not a major crime.
The thing is – and this is the part that is more personal so if that’s not something you want to read, stop here – that I have not forgotten what happened, and I know that it is still affecting me. I am still afraid to go outside anywhere near my neighborhood any time after about 3:30. I still look suspiciously at anyone wearing a hoodie or tracksuit bottoms (that is what the two guys were wearing). Even though it has been almost four months, I still don’t feel comfortable being alone, outside, in pretty much any part of south London. I weigh up the fastest way to get around, whether it be to the gym, to Emma’s place, to the station – including which station to use, which one will have more people so I am less likely to be targeted, that kind of thing. It has been nearly four months now, and while I am relatively confident when in central London of walking around on my own after dark, quite simply I am too scared to do the same thing in my own part of town. I am frightened of a part of London that I have been either visiting regularly or living in for the better part of the last six years.
What really bites, beyond the financial strain of paying for taxis from the station when on my way home after dark, is that I do not know how to stop it. I don’t know what I can do to make it better, to feel comfortable and safe in my environment, and to not shake with adrenaline every time I make it to my own front door. There are more important things that I want to be able to do. There are more fun things I want to get involved in. Hell, there are really mundane things that I wish I could do like I did before without panicking or running away from some imagined attacker.
I don’t know if it is a weakness, an overactive imagination or just part of the process, but I know that people have been through much worse things than my experience. There are people who live with much worse pressures, fears and problems every day, who are able to function, grit their teeth and push through it. I desperately want to be one of those people. I need to get over this. I need to move on with my life, and stop one minor event from destroying my already anemic social life, stop it from preventing me from finding a job that will allow me to actually pay my bills, and above all, I just don’t want to be scared of everyone anymore. It makes it very hard to enjoy all the pieces of good fortune I have.