Over the past few weeks my mind keeps drifting around the topic of fear. I’ve spoken about fear on this blog before, mainly facing the fear of trying something new. However, when it comes to a deeper level of fear and the feeling of vulnerability, I haven’t had to delve too deep in that realm. Until now.
A couple of weeks ago, on my way home from an early work dinner, I was mugged. It was quick and invasive, but thankfully not violent. I was lucky in that respect.
I took the Luas from Jervis to Heuston, as I do almost every day. I took out my phone and started scrolling, again as I do almost every day. When the tram stopped at Smithfield I could sense someone standing on the platform, looking at me through the window beside the open door. Quick as lightning he was almost nose to nose with me. He shouted into my face (as a distraction I suppose), ripped my phone out of my hand, and then jumped back off the tram.
Immediately I begged “No! No! No!”.
To which his response was to laugh, jump around on the platform and shout back “Yes! Yes! Yes”..
Without thinking, I did what you are not supposed to do; I ran towards him. He was on his bike, which had been lying on the ground, ready for his get-away. I remember reaching out and my hand being on the phone, so close to getting it back, and then I got this horrible sensation of other people around me. They felt so close and I suddenly realised what I had done, I had run straight into a potentially dangerous situation. For one horrible moment, I was afraid that the Luas was going to pull off and that I would end up alone on the platform facing multiple attackers.
So I stopped, stood back and watched in horror as he cycled away with my brand new, 8 day old phone. (Which I had JUST signed a two-year contract to get.)
It is bizarre how your brain reacts to a heightened situation like that. I went from thinking it was a joke to feeling a rush of sheer panic.
‘This can’t be happening’
It turns out that the people around me on the platform were just confused passengers who didn’t realise what was going on. Within seconds the Luas onboard security team were there to take over the situation, they were so good to me. They felt almost protective, and one of them even insisted I contact Brian using his phone to let him know what had happened.
It took hours to get home, between dealing with the guards and then having to wait on the last train. By the time I got to my station, with the weight of the night sitting heavily on my shoulders, I was exhausted. I stepped off the train, feeling anxious at the thought of walking home so late by myself, only to look up and see Brian waiting for me. I burst into tears as soon as I saw him. I have never been so relieved to see someone in my life.
A few weeks have passed now and the initial shock has died down. I don’t feel as upset about it anymore, and I would go as far as to say I don’t even feel angry anymore (the anger arrived very quickly once I realised my insurance wasn’t going to cover me as my policy was less than 14 days old!). Yet, some feelings have remained and this experience has given me a new clarity about the world we live in.
I was almost too confident before it happened. Naive. I felt somewhat untouchable, as if day to day crime or danger wasn’t REALLY something I needed to worry about. Before this I would have always said things like ‘You can’t paint everyone with the one brush’ or ‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover’, but those are not my mantras anymore. Now, I am constantly tuned in to who is around me and if I don’t feel safe; I move away.
I’ll be honest, it has created a kind of nervousness and vulnerability within me that wasn’t there before, the streets of Dublin don’t feel quite as shiny and safe as they used to. But being fearless is not my goal. My goal now is simply to be brave, even in the wake of fear. Yes there are people and things out there that can hurt and frighten me, but I know I can use that fear as a tool to protect myself against something similar happening again in the future.
As I said at the start of this post, my story is thankfully not a violent one. This happened the same week that two young Irish women were attacked and beaten by strangers, in two separate incidents, so I know things could have been a lot worse for me. I have just had a very expensive wake up call; I need to be more aware of my surroundings and not put myself into silly situations. I am not invincible.
On a lighter note, I’m on my third book since it all happened. My new phone (thanks to my very kind other half) does not make any public appearances. I no longer travel with my head lost in Instagram or Netflix, I’ve been reading during my commute instead. It’s actually been quite nice to give myself some time away from the virtual world and let my imagination do a bit of extra work instead.
Lastly, in a strange way, this whole experience has made me more grateful for my hometown too. I really appreciate having a place of calm to go to after a hectic day working in the city. City life is awesome, but I am starting to accept that I like my tranquillity too – and that’s ok!
So, until next time, be safe everyone..
Written with love,