Day 17

Fear was my companion on my walk this morning.

The only time I could fit a walk in today was 5:30 a.m., just eight hours after I’d finished seeing the movie The Lovely Bones with a friend. Among other things, the movie was disturbing and ignited my fear.

For the first eighteen years after my accident I was intermittently stalked by a man who had an amputee fetish. No matter if I lived in Kirkland, Seattle, or Bellingham, he found me, assumed a different persona – always someone loosely linked to my life – and called, trying to worm his way into my life. I lived in fear for many years, not knowing when he’d return.

It’s been twenty years since a compassionate policeman found my stalker and put the fear of God into him. I haven’t heard from him since, but the man in the movie last night, although far more disturbed and deranged than my stalker, reminded me of the ugliness in the world. I left the movie feeling a little sick to my stomach and unsafe.

I don’t want to feel scared when I walk and I resent that I did this morning. I was hyper aware of my surroundings: the shadows from the bushes, the sound of cracking twigs, the squeak of a door. I took a slightly different route so I was walking on streets with better lighting. I planned how I could use my prosthetic leg as a weapon if I were attacked. I knew my screams would echo in the morning stillness and neighbors would come to my rescue.

This isn’t the first time I’ve played out being attacked in my mind, but it’s the first time in a very long time. My inability to run has always made me more aware of my vulnerability. I’m cautious of where I walk. If I ever were attacked, my body would instinctively go into Fight or Flight mode. Flight would not be an option for me so fighting is my only recourse. And I don’t trust I’d do a very good job.

I’ve been feeling rather on top of the world with the success of my daily walk, like I’m harnessed to a large pretty balloon that is lifting me six inches off the ground. The complete abhorrence of the character in the movie last night and my fear this morning has been like a pin popping that balloon.

I know that through the course of my day I’ll have positive encounters and emotions which will help erase the disturbing images of the movie and my morning walk. They’ll get tucked away and my positive actions will pump air back into my balloon. There’s no guarantee that I’ll never be attacked but I don’t want to give that fear any more energy today.

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