The feeling of being harassed is like waking up in a nightmare. One second I think I am an empowered and confident woman, the next minute I notice my darting eyes and short breath as I plan my escape.
Today I was harassed while driving. I suppose you could call it road rage, but for the time that I was under the spell of panic all I knew was that I wanted to get away.
I’m fine. I should start by saying that, but apart from the physical, I am not fine. What happened began as a typical situation: I was driving to work while eating a slice of pizza and the car in front of me was going a bit slow. As I became closer the driver braked and pulled over, so I passed as I saw that he was an older man. After that I drove ahead to the next stoplight where I stopped at the line waiting for the light to change. When the driver behind me came near, he pulled his tan SUV up beside me in the left turn lane, except he pulled his car harshly in front on mine completely blocking the road in front of me. I heard him yelling at me through the windows of his car, while mine were cracked only a couple inches leaking out sweet classical tunes.
I knew this man was aggressive so I quickly thought the best thing to do was to get away, so I quickly turned right on red even though it was not my intended direction. To my surprise the aggravated driver followed me! I panicked as I realized the car in front of me was also going slow, a mail truck. I respectfully kept a safe distance and began deep breathing to stay calm. Soon the car behind me grew impatient and turned left. I thought he was gone but I still felt shaken. I felt like each street held potential danger.
A few moments later, a car pulled up behind me, it was him. He had taken another route and ended up right behind me. As we approached a light and a major intersection, I had no choice but to stop in my lane as he pulled up next to me, only a few inches away. I felt encroached upon. His window was all the way down and his arm was out, I pulled my window up. He yelled “You’re under arrest!” And I said “Who ARE you?”
I kept my focus straight ahead and as soon as the light turned green I slowly as safely as I could continued on. I thought perhaps he would crash into me as a way to confront me further. I looked at the GPS and saw that I could turn onto a side street and likely surprise him. I stopped behind several cars at a light ahead and he stopped next to me, too close, even though there was several car lengths room for him to pull forward. When it became obvious he was stopped in a clear lane and the light turned green, he gave up and went forward as I made a sharp right.
Then I went to the school where I was heading to pick up the girl I nanny. Imagine if this crazy man had followed me there? I was terrified of confrontation and even more so of bringing kids into it. I knew surrounded my parents and teachers I was safe, but it would take some time to reflect and heal on the trauma that happened today.
I share this story because something happens when trauma enters our experience. We could be seemingly so strong but when our safety is unexpectedly threatened the body and mind enter a fight or flight mode. It was as if for me my whole worldview changed in a second. It’s hard to describe, but if you have experienced it you know what I mean.
If you ever need someone to talk to, someone to listen, I am here for you. We all deserve to feel safe and I hope by sharing this story you feel less alone. ❤️