I’m not always as tough as I’d like to be.
And I don’t like to admit that.
Last week I had jury duty (no, not on the same day as G-Dub), and it was a day I would like to forget. Sure, most people aren’t huge fans of getting summoned, but it turned into an experience I was not expecting.
After we watched some thrilling video explaining a little bit about our civic responsibility and the jury duty process, my number got called to go be part of the voir dire for a case. I went with the herd upstairs and waited until the bailiff came to assign us our specific numbers. I was 27, which gave me a corner seat in the back row. As much as I’d love to drop the “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” line, I kind of preferred it that day—and it later turned out to be a good thing I was there.
The case involved a car incident from a few years ago, and a couple was trying to get money from the defendant. The prosecuting attorney did his little spiel and asked us questions, making notes on his legal pad. He reminded me of someone I used to know (and not in a good way), so I was very happy when he was finished talking. I shouldn’t have been so excited, though.
The defense attorney stepped up for her turn, and not long into her talking, she said something I wasn’t ready for. She mentioned the intersection where the car incident occurred, and it was the exact same two cross streets where a rather traumatic experience happened to me. Of all of the places in the entire metroplex, WHY THERE?? I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a panic attack of the magnitude of the one that ensued. I stopped breathing temporarily, my heart was beating faster than I felt I could handle, and I had no idea where I was. My mind flashed back to that dark morning on that empty street, and all I could hear was the forceful voice of the man holding the gun. All I could see was darkness and him standing there with his weapon in his hand, ready to do whatever he wanted. All I could feel was the need to run as fast as humanly possible away from this unknown man who had followed me. And all I could do was pray.
After a few moments, I finally came back to reality. As I said, it’s good I was in that corner, as it allowed me not to cause a scene with my unexpected overwhelming fear. I didn’t hear a word the defense attorney for the rest of the time. Finally, everyone stood up because the judge had given us a break so they could decide who the 12 jurors would be. I stayed back to talk to the judge, and obviously I was not chosen for the case.
I feel kind of wimpy that this thing that happened to me six months ago is able to haunt me so much. Maybe some people think it’s ridiculous because nothing actually happened. Maybe they have the opinion that the cop did that it isn’t a big deal because the guy didn’t shoot at me. For me, that’s not the scary part. I think I’m more afraid of what could have actually happened. If I had stopped running, what would he have done? Would I be here right now? Would I be scarred for life? I know it’s not good to live in the mindset of “what if,” but what frightens me the most is that he is still out there, and there are still so many individuals out there looking to take advantage of others. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m terrified of rape.
And it’s a crime that is far too often overlooked.
Perhaps it is ridiculous that I still can’t even drive down that street or that I get anxiety when I unexpectedly hear the intersection where he stood and yelled at me. But there are things in life that affect us all in different ways, and this one is apparently taking me longer to get over than I would like.
I don’t think it’s wrong to be afraid—but I also don’t think it’s good to live life in fear. At some point, I will have to go on that street again. At some point, I will have to stop panicking when I hear the street names. At some point, I will have to be brave enough to sit through a full day of jury duty.
Every day is a new day to walk away from pain. Every day is a new day to become stronger. Every day is a new day to be brave.
And every day is a new day to celebrate the fact that you have a new day.