In The Blink Of An Eye Life Changed
From what I can remember, it was a pretty routine day back on Friday, June 4th, 2010. Little did I know my whole life was about to change forever in more ways than I ever imagined possible!
Life to me was just perfect, at a time when spring was in the air and summer was almost here, I felt terrific. It is the best time of year in Lower Michigan.
I was finally about to graduate from college, and I felt on top of the world. Exams were due Monday, and there was only one more term to go.
Determined nothing was going to stand in my way!
I had just won an award for my designs.
Little did I know my life was soon going to be ripped away by a thief in the night.
Little did I know my life was soon going to be ripped away by a thief in the night.
It was a usual day, to be in the workshop anywhere from 12 to 24 hours a day, yet the first time in four years, school wasn’t open 24/7 especially during exams.
I can’t count how often I was there a few days at a time, usually in midterms and final exams.
Soon security was announcing we needed to leave, as they were closing campus. As I was packing up, dreading my hour drive home only to turn around to come back in the morning.
As I was leaving a classmate I ran into walking out; Knowing the long drive I had kindly offered me to stay with her. She lived very close to campus, & saving me hours of driving.
I knew everyone and everyone knew me! Weather they liked me not sure, like to think so! I had a rare opportunity to work for the, Detroit Pistons, for ten years meeting tons of people.
I was an outspoken individual. I often had strong opinions and beliefs.
I had recently spent the past 10 years figuring out who I was after previous life struggles. I was working on moving past some childhood experiences! Before starting School I was almost always with someone in the above photo.
I’m blessed some of the most amazing friends and family I could ever ask for! Their love & believing in me so much to succeed at all my crazy passions got me to this point. Supportive of my crasy callings. I was on my way with great opportunities after graduation I set up a plan for the future!
There was always a very close group of us from college who always pushed each other to reach new heights. We knew each other well, knowing the chances are only a few of us would make it. Based on statistics fashion is extremely high cut throat industry. We were the few who always put in the work.
We were so determined to take it to the top! Rather than be self serving, it wasn’t uncommon for us to lend a hand in need. Especially, if one of our inner circle was to overwhelmed. A group of us very dedicated to succeeding became more like family! Often spending more time together, then our actual family’s. I’ll always be eternally grateful for them, & love each of my fashion family!
Unsure, how the other girl is feeling now or her scaring I’m respecting her privacy not saying her name. she invited me to stay saving me 2 hours of driving time on no sleep! See we looked out bit. Although, if I knew then what I do now I would have drove that 100x over!
I followed her home that night. It was so dark, looking up and not a star in the sky. I also remember it raining at some point that horrible night. It’s weird how you become acutely aware, of your surroundings at times with smells, sounds, a chill in the air, after the fact.
We both run inside and lock the door behind us. Being that is was nearing summer, it was extremely hot that night. We ended up cracking the 2nd-floor balcony door for air. We were studying for a bit, getting a lot of done and feeling good. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think the end of my world as I knew it was mere seconds away.
My friend stepped away to return, holding up a bag with two bagels in it, asked if I wanted one. I stood up quickly, took one step forward as I pointed to one, yes, please.
Within just seconds, my life was going to change, unaware of what was about to happen.
We had turned our backs from the cracked balcony door for only a brief second!
Suddenly a masked man was standing behind me with a gun to my head. My head was going crazy. These questions still haunt me.
How did he get in here that fast? Had he been watching us for a while? Did he follow us there? Did he know my friend?
All these thoughts and questions are going through my head as I stand there, fearing for my life. Things like this don’t happen here; this is not normal.
I couldn’t help myself. I screamed, bloody murder when I saw a gun to my head. I swore someone had to hear and would call the police!
But it had to be a joke better yet!
Reality became clear, as we then instructed to drop to our knees and put hands behind our back! As crazy as it sounds there was something I trusted when he said don’t make another noise & I won’t hurt you! He said this while tying our arms up so might have been crazy! But it was all I could do to stay calm!
He then walked us into her room. Then laid us across her bed face down. As he began going back to the door he let in other men. We never saw with our eyes covered .
Then they began searching every room. Soon realized it was for something to tie our feet up with. He grabbed a phone cord charger for that and covered our heads. before they proceeded to let in another 3-4 other men we never saw! As he began going back to the door he let in other men.
I remember that for someone that’s hard of hearing. I could hear everything now. It was like God knew I needed my hearing it was the only sense I had to work with! Although the way we set, her an I were able to clench fingers.
I was so thankful because, that was what kept me from crumbling. We would squeeze our fingers, like we were not in this alone!
Your body goes into a state of survival that’s unlike anything else when your life’s in danger.
I’ve never been able to explain the full-body calm that comes over you in a time like this.
I wanted to react, but I was also calm somehow and wanted to believe him, hoping his statement was true.
My rational mind says; who trust someone holding you hostage, but my mind in fear wants to believe him.
I just remember how tight I clung to her fingers to remember we were in this together.
I just couldn’t understand why the police hadn’t arrived yet. I had screamed for my life, as loud and terrified as you can imagine, praying that someone had heard.
I had a gun put to my head, where was our help?
These men, although I couldn’t see, I could hear clearly for one of the only times in my life. I could hear the steps on the floor. I was trying to count how many I heard.
I listened to everything hoping to remember something to help. So when we got to the police; I’d be able to answer questions. I wanted to find out about who these men were.
Your Focus Determines Your Future
As I heard them opening everything and going through boxes, one of the men who was very mean, kept asking me what was in a box near my head.
I didn’t know; I didn’t live there. Suddenly, he kicked me demanding answers, when I was spoken to. I said I don’t live here and have no idea!
Next He wanted our info and said if you lie, I will kill you!
Now honestly, there wasn’t anything I was not telling because I knew he meant it.
I just kept praying she did the same because he had a tone in his voice like it didn’t matter.
He started asking for our debit card pins. I gave mine hoping they would use it, which could help the police find them.
He also wanted all of our passwords and pins for everything.
We were asked over and over again by the mean guy for our password and pins, and it became clear he wanted to make sure we were not lying.
I remember the relief felt realizing she had answered correctly also.
This when on multiple times over the few hours we were held.
They soon wanted more answers to where things were in the house. Again, the mean man kicked me so hard demanding, “what’s in the box?”
I cried, no idea! I don’t live here, but if I knew I’d tell you.
Time was moving so slowly, it was not that big of a place!
I don’t understand what they were doing or what was taking so long.
As the hours passed by, I knew no one was coming to help, so I gave up on hope.
We were utterly alone, no one knew we even needed help at this point, so that’s when some despair started setting in.
But, wait could it be?
I finally heard them talking about leaving.
Wait No, I just heard my car door unlock. Then hearing it drive away.
All I could think of was I have no way out of here.
The worst was it still wasn’t over because we heard the mean man say he was staying here, to make sure they got away.
It put chills down my spine. It had seemed like forever as he walked so loud as he waited.
Suddenly it was so quiet in the house, I couldn’t tell what was going on, but then I felt like a finally alone.
Like the silence after a snow storm. We were alone; they had all left.
Intense fear washed over me, as I had no idea where the mean guy had gone, or if he had left, so I waited but was starting to tremble, shaking.
I waited for what felt like forever but was probably 10 minutes before I cried out, “are you still here, we won’t get up if you are.”
We continued to wait, but that’s when I started to hyperventilate; I was terrified and needed help.
With what little bit of sense I could muster, I thought for a moment, and then I clenched my fists to begin to break free. I didn’t want to mess with any evidence.
I did what they had taught me in Taekwondo, to keep pulling my fists through the ties. It took a while, but eventually, I got my hand free.
The closer I got, the more I was breaking apart emotionally.
Where did they leave out? What direction had he gone? It haunted me!
Not knowing where they had gone was paralyzing me with fear.
Once I got my hands free, I then helped my friend. She was so much calmer. I didn’t understand how, but after getting her hands free. We both freed our legs.
I tried to stand, but my knees buckled, full of fear. We both laid on our stomachs to army crawl with our elbows to the door as we didn’t know if we were being watched, and it was making us both crumble in fear.
Our phones and computers were gone, so we had no way to call for help.
There are no words to describe my sheer terror at that point. One would think we were safe, but not knowing where he’d gone was paralyzing us.
As we both let ourselves fall apart, for a few minutes trying to process things.
I looked her straight in the eyes and said we need to get out. Yet, so scared I can’t move we need to call for help.
She was brave and opened the door; thank God there was no one out there!
I went to knock on the neighbor’s door, but she stopped me saying that was a family! Without hesitation, I thought perfect because they are likely to help. Then as the dad cracked the door, I just cried “please we need help call the police please.”
He hadn’t even unlocked the latch, so it was still locked as he proceeded to close the door.
We were banging on doors begging for help after the 1st man dismissed us in such dier time of need. Who does that when we just said we needed help?
No one answered until we got to the bottom floor, then finally, a couple let us come in until the police arrived.
The neighbor said, “oh, that was the scream we had heard.” My heart sank, I thought, he could have helped us if he heard it and called the police to check it out.
Neither of us could go in the apartment once we got out, regardless of police we couldn’t return.
I looked at her as I realized my tailoring jacket was in my car that had been stolen and immediately just focused on my exams that were due Monday.
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks!
That they had taken my keys along with my phone and my car pretty much my whole life! My brand new Malibu watch had home programmed in, and so did my phone.
It gets worse, they had my keys to get into my parent’s house.
Immediately began calling to warn them and let them know what happened, but no one answered, I called every phone number! This was not like them, this started to make me worry more.
Did this mean the thieves were already there?
My mind jumped to the worse. It was so unlike my parents as my mom sleeps with one eye open, I swear.
Why weren’t they answering and were they ok? It felt like the longest 45 minutes before I got a hold of them to warm them to put on the deadbolts.
Soon on their way to the Amber apartments to get me.
The days to come are a blur. To this day, I still haven’t fully processed what had happened.
The Troy police officer, was very surprised and admitted he was new to the unit but had never seen anything like this.
Despite trying to stay calm, I was shaking uncontrollably as we told the detective what happened.
Beautifully Broken Is My New Reality
I started to realize how broken I was and the damage that was done.
The next few weeks would be some of the toughest of my life.
My way of coping; I stressed over my exams, my jacket that had been done to perfection and completed all but the hem. This was our main senior project. It was designed and made over 2 terms.
I had made a purse to match, busted my tail, getting it done. I loved my army green denim fabric with a bright, colorful polka dot lining that fit me perfectly. I have a photo of the purse I made to match, even adding a red button. I added a large button in the bag to clip my keys to since I always lose them so hoping this would help them not get lost so easily.
I don’t know if this was the best way of coping, yet who knows what’s normal as nothing I was going through was normal.
I hoped keeping busy would help keep my mind off reality.
Life's Never Be The Same
My life was forever changed in ways I never expected.
I used to be so full of life, loving, carefree heart has now turned to stone only full of fear.
I can’t go anywhere without wondering if they’re here or near.
It’s made me so sad I often just cry, as I remember how much I tried to live my life to the fullest.
When you’re afraid to leave your house or be alone, it makes living difficult.
Adjusting to a life of flashbacks & nightmares, I try to keep smiling, pretending I’m not broken.
The reality is, all I want is to be happy again, that genuine feeling that makes you feel full inside is empty and dark. As dark as the night it happened in a starless sky, my dreams now are evolving, and I understand why.
I need to help others find a reason to push through and try.
Trying to remember my loved ones don’t understand; however, it doesn’t mean they don’t try. The only way to truly understand what it’s like, one must experience it, yet I wish that on no one.
Dreams Delayed but not gone Forever!
Now 10 years delayed. I’m about to do my life dreams. I got some amazing experiences from those years. Through, working with brilliant people who helped me get here! Ready to become vulnerable again.
I’ve realized how important it is to start the discussion about Mental Health Awareness and support for Trauma Survivors. I’ve decided that I’m going to use my passion to share my love of fashion, in addition to including education for the many women suffering Mental Health Illness and Trauma Survivors.
By Choosing this path I’m deciding to take back control of my life. Choosing to use what I went through to help others. Unfortunately, stigmas need to be changed and I strongly believe most are due to lack of education. By helping educate our society is essential to winning the battle. It’s been too long now there is a negative association with anyone suffering mental health.
We all make a choice in life, to be part of the problem or part of the solution. In my experience I know all to well the lack of support for this cause. I’m choosing to be a change I know is needed.
My Dream is to help women build their self-love and confidence to accept themselves in every way. No one is perfect, so by continuing to make a conscious effort to improve our mindset and allow ourselves to be authentic. I hope this will help improve how many see yourself and see our strengths as ways to make this world better more loving and accepting place.
Especially, for the friends and family of individuals suffering. I needing them more then ever trying to sort through the new way of life. Yet, it’s a double edged sword, your feeling more lost and alone than ever before. We push people away not understanding how bad it is! Don’t let your loved ones do that regardless how hard they try. Your exactly what they need most.
My life is forever changed in ways I never expected. My dream now is to help create much needed change.
Sadly, it can be anyone’s future. We never know, especially with the number growing of both school & public shootings. Each one is creating a far larger number of people suffering effects of trauma and mental illness.
I’m sharing this deeply personal detailed experience of how my life changed in the blink of an eye.
Yes, it’s scary, traumatizing, and ultimately life-changing part of my past. I’m sharing for anyone suffering invisible scars to know you’re not alone.
Keep fighting because you’re stronger than it!
When you’re feeling the fear of it just push a bit more, that’s how I’m trying to accomplish more. Most importantly, if there’s one thing you take from this. Those of us broken by invisible scars on our soul and are still damaged and broken, please don’t judge us negatively.
It’s easy to think we are not hurting because we probably look the same. The hardest comment I heard over and over was, at least you are ok. I was so not ok, not even close, just remember the invisible scars can hurt the most.
Never judge your loved one because that’s the worst for the person in pain on the inside. We need our families more than you know, and even when we say “no,” just keep on loving us anyway!
“You can never tell a book by its cover.”
Lester Fuller and Edwin Rolfe