Eleven years ago, my daughter Jess, who was eleven years old at the time, and I, were held at gunpoint and tied up by three armed men who broke into our home, while my husband and son had left to go and fetch our eldest son from work, just 15 minutes before.
This was not the first time I’d had a gun pointed in my face, and like then I did the same thing… holding my child behind me in our bed… I told the gunmen they could take what they wanted… however not to touch us.
And they did… although this was our third break in, in as many weeks… they took cameras, cell phones, my bag with all our passports and bank cards, and my wedding ring, which I’d worn for 19 years since we were married, and as heartbroken as I was about losing my ring, I realised that the relationship I share with my husband who I love very much, is not measured or influenced by the jewellery I wear, and is more important than any worldly possessions that we had.
My daughter was obviously traumatised and slept on a mattress next to our bed for weeks, while I lovingly and gently helped her regain her inner courage and confidence. My husband and sons were angry and distressed, and it took weeks for us to find the love and laughter we so naturally shared.
When our only car, filled with a month’s groceries, thousands of rands of loaned tools, and a full tank of petrol was stolen just a few weeks later… we were devastated and a bit broken… with not a lot of options while we waited for the insurance to pay out, the pittance that they did.
And of course we were angry, and resentful… frustrated and unhappy.
However, today I had to be reminded of the incident… because I’d forgotten about it. Honestly, I had.
In retrospect, although difficult and challenging to come to terms with what happened, and despite all the negative emotions that inundated each of us at different times, we did “get over it” …by focusing on the blessings, and there were so many.
Neither Jess nor I were harmed or even touched. The policemen who arrived after my husband phoned, asked over and over again how this was possible, as it’s such a rarity.
Our dogs, who were also obviously traumatised… we think they sprayed poison in their eyes and faces, also recovered.
The two police detectives assigned to our case, followed up often, recovered some items (none of it ours), and arrested the ‘gang’ responsible. One of the men was shot in an undercover incident. I felt so sad for his parents and family.
And so very grateful for my family and that we were all still alive.
Our friends helped in amazing ways.
Without us asking, they paid our rent, sent money for food, and gave us incredible support.
I realised it wasn’t the worst thing to happen to me in my life, and felt determined to recover the confidence and peace and happiness I’d lost. When incidents, and accidents and other traumatic things happen to us… it obviously affects us, and will always change us… however, that change doesn’t have to remain negative.
My feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness, hatred and wanting revenge, wouldn’t affect the men that broke into our home and held guns pointed at me and my daughter… they did and would continue to affect me, and my family and those I love.
My wanting to forgive, and recover emotionally would make a difference to how I felt… and have an influence on my family.
It was hard. It was tough. It took a while. Every time one of those negative, angry feelings snuck up on me, wanting to consume my waking thoughts… it took choosing to count my blessings and be grateful,
I’ve lived in seven countries, all in Southern Africa… and South Africa is the hardest and most challenging. A lot of my family and close friends of the past 35 years, have moved overseas… and with family overseas, we could to. Maybe one day we will.
We stay because we love our life here… Kwa-Zulu Natal is still one of the most beautiful, vibrant, incredible places to live… and I’ve lived in really beautiful places.
We stay because our family and some of our friends are here… and we stay because we want to.
We stay because we want to make a difference… and I hope we do in some small way.
BEing happy, really is a choice.
There are days that is feels impossible. There are days that it is impossible.
BEing grateful, really is a choice.
Gratitude is always possible.
Love, Laughter and Blessings to You and Yours